It’s an age-old story of sibling rivalry and a senseless, ongoing, bloody feud whose roots extend so far back into history that members of the present generation no longer remember why the fighting started in the first place, or at what point disagreements turned into blinding hatred and murderous rage. These tribes hail from the same ancestral lineage which somewhere along the line ended up splitting off into three factions: Muslims, Christians, and Jews. All three of these tribes proclaim to be descendants of Abraham, their religious father and patriarch. All three are guilty of unspeakable crimes against one another.
The mutual wholesale slaughter committed by the children of Abraham throughout history is based upon a profound misinterpretation and subsequent misapplication of the ancient adage, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
Over the centuries, many people have used this phrase in the name of religion and self-defense as “justification” for murder and war; however, this principle does not sanction the practice of vengeance. Rather, it merely states and points to the basic spiritual law of karma which Buddhists have recognized and taught for thousands of years: That which you do unto others shall return to you in full and equal measure.
The present-day, escalating violence between the Israelis and Palestinians is, in light of its greater historical context, clearly a mindless, unquestioned continuation of thousands of years of “bad blood” and misguided justification for revenge between them.
Each group lays sole and exclusive claim to common ancestral lands and cities by reason of being God’s “chosen people” and hence does not recognize “the other” as equally entitled heirs.
In fact, each side fails to see “the other” as human beings at all. Individuals of both camps condemn the murderous acts of the other as “terrorist” while reserving use of the less offensive term “self-defense” as a rationale for carrying out their own brutal acts of inhumanity.
For the past thirty-seven years, the Palestinian people have suffered occupation, humiliation, and human rights abuses at the hands of the Israelis. They have seen their homes and businesses expropriated, their lands seized and built up with illegal Israeli settlements, their mosques burned, and their holy places desecrated.
They have been held hostage and prisoners in their own land, denied freedom of movement and self-autonomy by a ruling power that has defiantly ignored and blatantly disobeyed UN resolutions handed down since 1967 that address the occupied territories and the proper treatment of Palestinians.
As a people who have lost all sense of moral leadership and direction, the Palestinians, in turn, have chosen to sink to the level of their oppressors by essentially handing over their sons and daughters to the influence of extremist militant groups where they are sacrificed on the altar of “martyrdom” by means of the despicable crime of suicide bombings.
They may have mistakenly hoped to subdue their sense of despair, anguish and misery in the form of “due justice” and “wake-up calls” to unsuspecting, innocent Israeli civilians.
Unfortunately, this myopic approach neglects to take into account that like begets like and that the use of violence can only breed more of the same. Rather than awakening the common Israeli to champion their cause, that of liberation, they have instead initiated a whole new cycle of retaliatory killing and violence and are now reaping the wrath of a powerful, merciless U.S. supported Israeli army.
In the past 18 months, Israelis have killed more than 1,200 Palestinians, including over 120 paramedics. They have savagely attacked and sacrilegiously ravished Palestinian refugee camps, places that by their very definition are meant to provide safe haven for a persecuted people.
In their reign of terror, Israeli soldiers blew up electric transmission lines in these camps – cutting off electricity to over 20,000 civilians – deliberately destroyed drinking water supply lines and rooftop water tanks, forcefully entered households, wantonly smashed furniture and property, and even used the inhabitants of these camps – mostly women, children, and elderly – as human shields.
There have been reports that Israeli soldiers stormed and ransacked Ramallah’s Arab Care Hospital terrorizing patients there. A Dutch volunteer paramedic, shocked in disbelief at what he witnessed, equated their actions to Nazi war crimes. Other reliable foreign press releases report how Israeli soldiers have blocked emergency medical vehicles from reaching and treating the wounded, even to the point of arresting five emergency service drivers.
The prevailing Israeli attitude of “take no prisoners” has lead to the capture and summary, Nazi-style execution of ordinary Palestinian police officers as well as members of Arafat’s elite guard found within his compound. They have even gone so far as to shoot at international peace demonstrators, wounding seven. All of the aforementioned actions by Israeli soldiers constitute an unequivocal perpetration of war crimes under international law.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Bush, fully engulfed in justifying his own sanctioned U.S. killings of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians in his “war against terror,” chooses to see only Sharon’s side of the “self-defense” equation by placing full blame of this horrendous situation squarely on the shoulders of Arafat.
Bush remains uncommitted to attempting to fully understand and recognize the connection of the recently intensified suicide missions to the unbearably inhumane and long-term “imprisonment” and demoralizing subjugation of the Palestinian people by Israel.
His demonization of Arafat and the Palestinians is most likely an attempt to hide the fact that U.S. weapons ($2 billion annually) supplied to Israel are being used against an oppressed and, for the most part, defenseless people.
To question Sharon’s violent military response to supposedly “unprovoked” yet nonetheless inexcusable terrorist acts would be to delegitimize America’s own shower of death rained down upon innocent Afghans in our hunt for Osama who quite suddenly no longer appears to be a concern.
To suggest that Arafat is somehow directly giving orders to carry out these bombing missions in order to undermine the peace process is ludicrous. Those who utter such an allegation are in total denial of the fact that he has become, in reality, a powerless leader.
He has proven himself unable to control or stop the fundamentalist groups responsible for these suicide bombing missions which seem to have taken on a life of their own ever since Sharon stopped the peace negotiations in 2001 and began trying to cow the Palestinians into submission through the use of violent military tactics. Even if Israel were to find a way to carry out their proposal to exile Arafat, they would find the violence against them unabated.
Seeking to place blame on one side or the other is absolutely fruitless at this point. Both share equally in the culpability for the senseless bloodshed and wanton destruction of lives and property committed by one against the other.
It is obvious these two tribes of Abraham are so deeply mired in their hatred for one another that they could never be able to reach any form of compromise for peaceful coexistence on their own. Some sort of non-partisan, parental authority figure needs to step in, separate these adolescent, warring children, and teach them how to tolerate and respect one another as dignified human beings with equal rights.
What is needed is an international UN peacekeeping force, culled from a wide variety of nations, that would occupy both countries, secure law and order, and reestablish some semblance of normalcy and sanity.
This presence should remain as long as necessary until a final and definitive peace plan – one that recognizes the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis to form self-autonomous countries with well-defined, respected borders – has been worked out and proven itself to be successfully implemented. Only then will the Middle East finally attain its presently elusive, yet long-desired peace.