When a zionist once asked me why I think partitioning Israel may have resulted in the current conflict I had to point out that I came from an ethnic group whose identities of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi were determined by a similar partition and indeed on the same religious grounds.
And for this? Between 7 to 10 million people died in the fragmentation of the Raj and the arbitrary lines drawn up for the sake of peace.
Israel vs. Palestine.
How much do we actually know about Israel and Palestine? I mean the conflict? We are all out there posting images and stances on Facebook and writing blog posts, but how much of it do we actually understand. The Zionist/Pro-Israelis demonise the Palestinians and provide highly worrying arguments excusing the “manifest destiny” of Israel ranging from historical ownership of the land, the denial of Palestinians as an identity and a belligerence of aggression by cultural superiority and indeed a destiny manifest by religion.
Various reasons. On contrast? The Palestinians side generally try to keep religion out of their depictions of suffering and portray their demands on more moderate terms. Hamaas however? Are more explicit in their demands for a pure Palestinian home land.
The Palestinian side is easier to understand in this issue since we see them as a group of people who have lost their homes struggling not to lose any more under the thrall of Hamaas as they are the only protection they have.
The pro-Israel stuff is just weirder. Historical ownership of land doesn’t make current ownership valid. It would be like Marching all white americans to the Death Valley and leaving the land to the First Nations and Native Americans. To defend it via the atrocities visited on the natives doesn’t excuse it. One atrocity to cover another does not make things square or equal. And yes there was no Palestinian nationality as such prior to threats of formation of Israel. But you know what? There was no India either until after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and the formation of a nationalist movement among the Middle Classes. India was a balkanised series of Kingdoms of various sizes in ever changing wars with everchanging borders. National identity can develop over time and today no one can say that there is no National and indeed a racial identity as Indians. And finally is the religious excuses and the recreation of the mythological borders of Israel by a modern army and that the Palestinians deserve their torments. They are the eggs that need to be broken to form the Israeli Omelette. The modern Israelis are the Inheritor of the will of Moses and Moses didn’t really care about genocide.
But this is a simplistic view. All the following is a simplification of a highly complex situation complicated by international interventions and individual actions with huge ramifications.
At the core we have to define what Israel and Palestine are.
Israel is the only officially Jewish country, and is located in the Middle East.
Palestine is two separate territories made up of ethnically Arab people who are mostly Muslim. There are Christian Palestinians too. They are divided into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. 8 Million Israelis, 4 million Palestinians BUT with a huge number of refugees numbering in at least another 4 million or so. Honestly? This is rather tiny as populations go. The city of Mumbai has as many people as Israel and Palestine within it’s metropolitan area.
Now the Palestinian lands are not independent . There is massive international contention on who the Palestine state should belong to for various reasons ranging from humanitarianism to solidarity. Long story short? A lot of countries treat Palestine as independent and demand that it be recognised. Fewer think it really should be a territory under Israeli occupation but in that few are a lot of western nations. Most importantly the USA which by itself is all the legitimacy Israel needs for it’s occupation status.
So why the fight?
We like to think it is about religion. The issue is deeper.
At it’s simplicity? It is about land. Who gets what land, who is in charge and why is it acceptable for one group of people to be displaced at the behest of another. At it’s core the question of land boils down to two views.
1. The Israeli view that Israel must remain a Jewish state and that it was fought for hard by Israel to create the state today along with support from it’s allies in the west.
2. The Palestinian view that they have been displaced from their homes and cannot return due to the occupation of Palestine and it’s old boundaries by the state of israel and the lack of the right to return to their homes.
There are conflicts on top of this conflict complicated by broken promises and actions on both sides. And by the overlapping conflict that this has manifest itself as is the current state of affairs where Israel practices a suffocating and paralysing Military Occupation while Palestinian groups fight back through terrorism and militancy.
Now while both sides have squandered peace, Israel tends to be making demands that are often considered insulting and harmful. For instance? During the Syrian Refugee Crisis when Palestinian Refugees from the Syrian refugee camps were offered sanctuary by the Palestinians in the West Bank they were prevented from entering. During a major humanitarian crisis, Israel turned away refugees to Palestine (not Israel) unless….
Unless Palestinians gave up the right to return. AS this is one of the defining parts of Palestinian Nationalism (AKA yearning for a homeland stolen), the Palestinians refused. To understand why? It’s simple. Crazy Horse. Sitting Bull, many of them opposed the reservations and fought against American troops to defend their way of life. Palestine are a modern version of this.
While many pro-Israelis tell me that they had no nationalism before, I have to point out that nationalism is not a static entity and can grow. There was no American Nationalism during the American Civil war but “true patriots” can be found in the South these days.
Palestinian identity may have developed post Israel and developed as a product of the occupation. While both sides may have squandered peace and helped perpetuate the conflict? It is Palestine that pays the price. Israel hides behind the Iron Dome and the threat of Palestine is behind walls and distant fireworks.
The violence drives the resentment. This drives the distrust and scuttles peace initiatives. The reality of Palestine is a million miles away from Israel and this complete disconnect creates a lush breeding ground for the facebook comments where both sides don’t understand each other and yet make sweeping generalisations about how all Israelis are Zionist miliamen and how all Palestinians are Hamaas. However this means those voices are listened to because there is no one out there who can say “well actually, what the Palestinians want is a very rational thing” or “what the Israeli’s want is a very rational thing”. It is easy to talk about total annihilation because one side is portrayed as the descendents of Moses… epic shithead and genocidal fuckhead. The other are the second coming of Osama Bin Laden. We need to stop the caricatures. Sure these people exist, but we should not make these people the people involved in the dialogue as they simply wish to derail any peace process.
The peace process that has been going on for decades but despite breakthroughs during the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accord (A musical break if you need it) the status quo quickly re-establishes itself. In it’s current terrible cycle, violence is like a herpes infection. Periods of latency to rebuild and terrible periods of violence. And with each cycle peace is further away and harder to achieve.
There is plenty of truth to the notion that both sides are responsible for the violence. I would need to be a Hindu god to point out the number of people culpable without running out of fingers. We can point fingers at the Nazis, Zionists, The British, Arab Nations, Palestinians , Israelis, Likhud, Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat….
We can clearly say that the death of Yizthak Rabin was the point where peace died. HIs murderer can be argued as the lynchpin moment in history where we turned left instead of right.
But the important truth here to take away is that the price is paid by the Palestinians. We can see that in the current conflict. Compared to 30 dead Israelis with 28 soldiers and 2 civilians, the Palestinians have taken 600 casualties at the time of this article. Mainly civilian.
But how did this all start?
A brief history? It all started in the early 1900s. In 1917, ownership of Palestine passed hands from the Ottoman Empire to the British Empire and the area was called the Palestinian Mandate. The movement of Zionism had hundred of thousands of Jews move there from the Middle East and Europe, ostensibly to escape persecution but with the added bonus of creating a Jewish state.
This however caused tit for tat violence as Jews were perceived to receive external benefits from the British Empire and the Arabs began to fear marginalisation.
A word on this? This is a serious issue in many ex-British colonies. The principle was called divide and conquer and enabled the British to create fractured populations that made it hard to work together. Testimony to it’s efficiency? The ENTIRE India Pakistan animosity is down to this practice.
Communal Violence spiralled out of control. It wasn’t “Muslim on Jew” violence but tit for tat. The UN plan was to divide the two into Israel and Palestine with Jerusalem being a UN administered neutral zone. The plan never got fully implemented. Arabs and Palestinians saw it as colonial theft and Israelis saw it as an insult to not occupy the boundaries as promised by their zionist ideal. This lead to the invasion of the region by other Arab nations which was repelled. How it was repelled is simple. It wasn’t divine power.
God supports the country with the best weaponry. Israel was equipped with WW II surplus while many nations fielded WW I era weaponry. It’s awfully hard to dogfight Spitfires with a biplane. Tank battles between Italian era WW I and interim tanks versus Shermans and even a few examples of German weaponry meant Israeli forces were outnumbered but not outgunned. And in response they pushed beyond the International boundaries set by the UN. Nearly a million refugees were created and their descendents number around 7 million and they have still been unable to return home.
These are the rough borders established by Israel. The borders between Israel and Palestine are heavily disputed (As this would effectively mean that Israel is an occupying force within Jerusalem and therefore settlements are illegal under international law, but since Palestine exists in a grey area its okay and the USA has a veto to keep Israel safe). The current issue over the borders and the refugees are the main sources of contention in the dispute.
However? Palestine was free. Until 1967 when Palestine was invaded and placed under military occupation.
So why the occupation?
In 1967 another war took place between Israel and Jordan and Egypt. Gaza was administered by the Egyptians and West Bank by the Jordanians. Syria’s Golan Heights and the SInai were also captured but the Sinai was returned back to Egypt while the Golan heights remains with Israel. Since then Israel has been the defacto ruler of Palestine. It is during this period we see the rise of Palestinian as a separate entity and Palestinian identity solidify.
The Gaza Strip is different. It withdrew settlers and troops from Gaza and instead just walled the whole region in and a full blockade is maintained. The only way in is via Israeli Checkposts and indeed past the Israeli Navy or via one of the many tunnels Gaza is forced to use to keep itself functional. There are reports that Israel has utilised the wall as collective punishment, denying aid set for Gaza entry. Many describe Gaza as the world’s largest open air prison. It’s Arkam City if you will.
But there is another word for such an entity. Ghetto. Gaza is the world’s largest ghetto. Complete with high walls and no traffic.
It isn’t pleasant behind the walls. There is no trade. There are few job opportunities. Unemployment is at 40% and povety is rife. The entire area exists solely through aid donations as it cannot sustain itself. Power cuts occur and 95% of the water is undrinkable. Israel can even shut off the drinking water to the region and has done so in the past.
Many cheeky sods inscribe a german quote on the wall. It’s not racist.
Ich Bin Ein Berliner.
So why is this all necessary? Israel says that this is needed to protect Israel from Palestinian attacks and these walls (that are also found on the West bank) provide a buffer from foreign invasion. Which is fine I suppose.
But there are settlers. The Settlers are Israelis who move into the occupied territory. The ones in Gaza have withdrawn due to the blockade while the ones in the West Bank still remain. There are two attitudes towards this. Some say that it is because of the desire to settle all of Historical Israel others say it allows poorer ex-Soviet Jews cheap housing while providing an excuse for the military occupation of the West Bank.
The settlers are widely considered to violate international law which forbids the occupying force from moving it’s citizens into occupied territory. But so far? Half a million settlers live in cheap housing in frontier villages/towns a few miles from the Israeli borders. Some live deep into the West Bank.
The deeper settlements are run by zionists who wish to claim all of the West Bank for Jews. The official line is that this is forbidden but the Israeli government has been complicit in the demolition of Palestinian homes and defence of these settlements. Settlers of all types make life even harder for the Palestinians. The settlers often require walls that cut out Palestinian fields or their roads. Many roads in the West Bank are for the usage of Israelis only. SOme for Palestinians with a permit.
One of the major reasons for the tolerance of the settlers is that should a peace deal be brokered, Israel having a stronger hand than Palestine would probably get all the land the Settlers are on, in effect taking Jerusalem.
However? For the Palestinians? The Israeli occupation is life. Travel is hard and through check points. Many roads are off limits for Palestinians and you can be shot for using them. 20 foot walls cut off fields from their farm houses and a 10 minute walk can easily take a couple of hours. In effect? The west bank is under a stranglehold. One can be cynical and point out that it is designed to cripple any sort of economic growth by halting the movement of goods. In order to work? Most Palestinians take jobs in Israeli companies as cheap labour.
Every day at least two children are arrested, tried by military courts and jailed.
The life of a Palestinian is the life of any person with no freedom. Indignities are to be born silently no matter how large. Familes whose children were shot for throwing stones or killed by settlers often have no recourse and when they do? Punishments are laughable. In one case an Israeli soldier was jailed for 6 months for shooting a child in a school. Israel’s civilian army is prone to error and bias too.
Any wonder why Hamaas finds recruits? Since Hamaas control the smuggling that does occur within these territories, Hamaas can often be seen as saviours providing medical aid, education and indeed being the only ones standing up for the rights of Palestinians.
You may see them as terrorists.
The Palestinians would be more likely to see them like the people in the above photograph of French Resistance fighters. As heroes and freedom fighters rather than terrorists.
A lot of Palestinian culture and solidarity is due to the unifying force of the PLO and Hamas in creating the idea of a free Palestine. Not just from Israel but from the rest of the Arab world. Of a right to self determination. One of the things we must remember is that we never really listened to what the Palestinians wanted when they were peaceful. We only began to pay attention when Hamas and the PLO began terror attacks. We have a share of the blame too.
What about Today?
The PLO has effectively disbanded as a militant entity especially after the death of Arafat. The majority of attacks from Gaza are carried out by Hamas and Palestine Jihad. Hamas does seek the destruction of Israel and does target civilians but Israel playss kind of fast and loose with Civilian safety. In addition? Hamas tend to be armed with the weapons of a guerilla fighter while Israel has a real standing army so the firepower is assymetric causing more casualties even by accident. Gaza is a barrel full of fish so practically anywhere Hamas resides is in theory near civilians and indeed Israel’s demands that Hamaas be an open organisation is just laughable for the same reason the real French Revolution never draped themselves in a French Flag and shouted obscenities at the Germans. Because it’s a good way to die.
The latest fighting seems to have been caused by Hamaas in the West Bank who murdered three Israeli youths studying there. While this seems to have occurred under the initiative of low end soldiers, the command structure lauded the attack. In retaliation Israel began airstrikes against Gaza while arresting West Bank members.
This would have been the end of it. Hamaas had paid in blood and arrests. Israeli settlers exacerbated the situation by torturing and burning a Palestinian teenager to death. The protests against this were not Hamas based but run by the Palestinians who wanted Justice for the murder of a Palestinian. Would they be seeing arrests? What ensued was a crack down on protests compounding anger. Every group in Gaza began to retaliate and the war escalated culminating the invasion of Gaza.
Whiile Israel claims to target militants and Hamas targets civilians (Hamas’s claim is that every Israeli is a soldier) the advanced weaponry of Israel plus it’s willingness to use overkill weapons has lead to catastrophic casualties. Attacks on Hospitals to target Hamas fighters who also need medical care have killed innocent patients. White Phosphorous and Flechette rounds have been used in civilian areas. Out of the 600 dead, at least 400 to 450 are civilian casualties according to the UN.
Why does this happen?
War is the status quo of Israel and Palestine. Peace is a risk, any failure is seen as a failed leadership and so no one wishes to take the risk to meet each other half way. Control over the violence is seen as preferable and the Israeli and Palestinian populations show less Interest in suing for peace. When 40% of your family is unemployed due to a whopping great wall, you can’t get grannny her meds and your house was blown up along with all your stuff? That Hamas boy scout badge looks awfully tempting.
But this creates an unwinnable conflict. Hamas cannot win against Israel. Israel are supplied by the USA and have weapons that may as well be considered magic. Hamas make their most advanced weapons out of piping and these were considered obsolete after WW II. All Hamas achieve are civilian deaths of Palestinians. Israel however strangles the economic life of Palestinians, robs them of a future and a determination of self, has reduced them to second class citizens and punishes any insurrection. This creates a rich recruiting ground for Hamas.
A second thing to remember is that Palestinians PAY ATTENTION. i read today about a man travelling in the USA where he was stopped by a TSA agent who didn’t believe a driving license because he didn’t know where the District of Columbia is (Hint. Washington DC.). The Palestinians have a lot of their life riding on politics so are incredibly politically strong and have a vibrant culture with regards to it. Gaza looks at the West Bank. Palestinian leaders kowtowed to the Israelis and sought peace and compromise and negotiation only to be rewarded with Military occupation and the continued Ghettoisation of the West Bank. Gaza? While surrounded and under siege is free. Hamas may die but you die free. You don’t die because you have no future, you die because the future you have chosen is to die on your terms. To put hold your gun is to rage against the machine.
Because to them? Negotiation got them nowhere. I don’t endorse the logic, but I don’t have to live it. Behind that wall? People may think differently.
Palestinian hopelessness and distrust in the peace process has been a major contributor to the violent in recent years. Partly due to the unwillingness of Israel to enforce the settlers and remove them. In late 1980s was a mass uprising of Palestinians called the First Intifada. This is a cultural milestone because it was Palestine not Hamas or the PLO taking to the streets to protest and riot. In late 2000, the second Intifada took place. This was much more violent. Little old ladies attacked Israeli soldiers with Kitchen Knives. In this period of fierce nationalism, Palestine picked up the weapon of choice of the oppressed freedom fighter/terrorist. Remember? I am a Tamil. We are known for the practice too. Palestinian suicide bombers became a way of fighting back against Israel. In the ensuing struggle? 3000 Palestinians died, a 1000 Israelis died in return. The Palestinians saw the Israelis as inherently distrustful to negotiation.
And vice versa. Israeli distrust of Palestinians was solidified by the second Intifada where Israelis began to excuse counter attacks on civilians and ignore the Palestinians.
And alongside this, the violent fringe of Zionists has become more outspoken and their actions create conflict zones that boil into wars.
So what can be done?
You have 3 possible outcomes. One is realistic, Two are peaceful and One is an atrocity.
One State – This should have been done in the first place. the partition left a lot of bad blood particularly among the Palestinians displaced by the wars and forced out of their homes and who demand the right to return. Israel would not acquiesce to this because it would mean trading a position of extreme power to instability. There are 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. There are 7 Million in refugee camps across the Middle East. There are only 8 million Israelis. Palestinians having been disenfranchised for decades and would seek to equalise the score or at the very least destroy the institutionalised Judaism of Israel. Israelis living under the shadow of the Holocaust would never surrender a their state after the notion that this is the reward for thousands of years of persecution. Israeli Jews would never wish to become minorities especially among a population seen as hostile. It is too late for this solution.
Destruction – Either Israel or Palestine has to be wiped out. This is terrible. It is only included here because it is an outcome. But it is the go to plan of fundies on both sides of the argument. There have even been demands for the reinstatement of Slavery as a method of dealing with Palestinians. These are fringe arguments made by fundamentalists.
Two States – Palestine must be free and the right to self determination must be respected. Palestine must be compensated and developed. Palestine must have rights to the agreed up on the borders before the annexation. However? The longer the conflict draws out the more unlikely it is that both sides will agree with the other out of pique. It is a long and drawn out process and many Israelis and Palestinians oppose it because it would mean the unified Palestine/Israel dream must die and that Jerusalem will no longer be a Muslim/Jewish city (delete where appropriate).
So why is no one doing this?
There are three MAJOR sticking points to any peace plan.
Jerusalem is claimed by both sides as a capital but at the moment the illegal settlements surround the city effectively keeping the city in Jewish hands. The City cannot be divided between administrations and no one wants to blink first when it comes down to agreeing to make a concession with regards to this.
The borders have to be drawn and there is no clear determinator of borders particularly considering the Settlers. An option is to pull out all deep lying settlers which would be unpopular but offer land of equal valuee from Israel in exchange for the settled land. However this has issues since some of the land the settlers are on was constructed on destroyed Palestinian housing and many seek their lands back. In addition? Israel would have to give up on it’s strategic hold over Palestinian resources.
Security is a huge issue. Palestinians need a sovereign state of Palestine entitled to the defences of all sovereign states. In short? Palestine wants the capacity to shoot down Israeli planes bombing them and say “those guys had it coming because they were bombing us”. At the moment these operations are seen as “police actions” which is amusing since most criminals don’t require air to ground missiles to fight. Israelis fear an independent Palestine could ally with other Muslim nations and challenge them militarily partiicularly since a two state solution would come with the same military aid to Palestine or a cessation of Military aid to Israel. More worryingly, Israel fears that the West Bank may be taken over by Hamas. Israel’s demands include a demilitarised Palestine which Palestinians do not accept for quite sensible reasons (Our oppressors want us to not have guns and to get rid of the guns we already have and then they will give us freedom. Not….)
Palestine is also unwilling to settle for International Peacekeepers for the same reason. Their demands are nothing less but full freedom and self determination. A lot of people suggest that this is unrealistic, but we have to take into account that this is a request no different from any other group of people on the planet.
And finally? The Refugees. At the moment? The refugees are Palestine. Palestine is a nation without a state since the bulk of Palestinians are refugees. Israel encourages their imposed banishment and yes, the irony of Jews enforcing the banishment of another ethnic group isn’t lost on me. These were residents of places like Ramis and Jaffa and the survivors of Incidents like Shabra and Shatillah. One of the major points of contention is the right to return. That Palestinians wish to return to places like Ramis and Jaffa and live there as equal citizens with full rights but such an influx would weaken the Jewish nature of Israel. The other issue is financial restitution and the economic development of Palestine to the level of Israel. This is a lot of money. A frankly astounding amount since we would have to fix some of the damage caused by the Israeli occupation.
As I said. There are no Mathematic lessons in a Fox Hole. To train and educate a new Middle Class and bootstrap the Palestinian economy after nearly 50 years of stagnation would require a major effort by the International community and Israel.
But time widens the wounds. The longer we drag the conflict out the lower the chance for peace as the more incredible the demands get. As it is the demands are hefty. Had this been solved in the 60s we would not have to foot the cost of nearly 70 years worth of reparations to 12 million people and instead only have to worry about around 5 million people while fixing the brain drain and damage to the economy and education. With every year more things are broken that need fixing and fewer people are inclined to fix the things.
Israel has two choices. Either withdraw and follow the peace plan. Or maintain an apartheid state. It won’t abandon a Jewish State.
And in this environment breeds extremists. The violence is the status quo. Peace is novel. Unless Israel and Palestine can break from the cycle peace is impossible. All it needs is one idiot. Or two.
And the price is paid by the future of Palestine. It’s children are often victims. Jailed for youthful rebellion and killed in reckless strikes. Israel has failed to realise that the deaths of children only strengthens the resolve to not bow to child killing jerks in the same way that Hamas hasn’t realised that attacks on civilians encourages Israel to keep shooting and killing children.
In the current war it is children and women who have paid a high cost among the refugees.
There are people who suggest that Palestinians are not helped because of their usage of social media. That they regularly release images of their dead and wounded online and that such is exploitative.
The reality is dead children, war photography has shown the reality of conflict. The sanitisation of the first Gulf War lead to a problem in the USA. A lot of Americans complain that we sanitise the news. For a country so in love with guns it rarely is shown the repercussion of it’s actions. I think that’s why places like r/WTF exist. Places where Americans and indeed other nationals of the First World can live a little vicariously and see a little bit of what other people across the world deal with as “basic news”.
We saw a war fought by TV screens and at range without anyone on the ground and we didn’t see the cost of war. We just saw buildings with missiles going through windows with the assurance that the building was filled with baby eating douchebags. Exploding was too good for them!
You don’t like dead children and don’t wish to see them. That’s cool. That’s fine. Don’t read the threat. I wrote a story about another aid worker in Afghanistan having to flee due to her life being unsafe as she had t he audacity to protect a 10 year old rape victim from honour crime and the rapist and no one wanted to read that. But here is the thing. How are you any different from the people who hide their heads under the sand ignoring the truth in front of their own eyes. We atheists demand people to stand up against Islam, but when someone does you don’t wish to pay attention because it is upsetting.
People don’t want to read sad things. But here is the thing? Sometimes you have to. It’s how the world really is. Your little bubble needs to be burst otherwise you fall into the same trap of the Gulf War.
The first Gulf War’s photogenic nature made the Iraq invasion “easier”. No one had to deal with Vietnam’s imagery. There was no MASH to remind us of the cost of war. We went in naively and paid the price in the blood of a million Iraqis and thousands of our young men.
And the US tried to hide its dead. Remember.
If dead children make you uncomfortable then imagine how much worse it makes the victims of war. That is the point of a war photograph. To bring to the masses the taste of war, to inflame the passions of men and women to do something about it for the betterment of society.
How many pictures of dead children must we see before we decide killing children is wrong? None really. But how many times has Israel claimed to have killed militants when it has been shooting up hospitals?
One can argue about respect for the dead. Yet where is our respect for the living? Maybe it is my Hindu upbringing. The dead aren’t valued as much. The body is gone, it is cremated within the day. My grandmother was cremated within 8 hours of her death. Funerals are efficient possibly because we don’t value the physical remains of the dead.
It is the living we must think about. To the usage of war photography to tell a story, it was always the living. War Photographers of the past tried to tell a story with their photos. Today the rise of cheap cameras mean any damn fool can take a photo. What they choose to do is portray the inhumanity.
There are Americans who think that Israel’s killed 600 odd terrorists not “open fired wildly into residential areas inflicting huge levels of collateral damage”.
You may think that the dead detract from the immensely complex nature of the conflict but it really is that simple.
The war in Gaza is killing innocent people. Children have Died. Adults have Died. Israel needs to be reigned in. Hamas need to be reigned in. This is gone on too far. And it has worked hasn’t it? Aren’t we talking about it? The CAR and Darfur didn’t do social media all that well and we didn’t give a flying fuck about them.
All wars don’t look the same. There is still footage from the first Gulf War out there and we can compare that to the footage of the current reporters in places like Syria. A very different sort of war imagery. I do think there should be warnings about disturbing imagery but I do not think we should balk at witnessing the reality of what happens in these situations.
Remember I work with the people whose traumas cause your traumas. I say why not? Perhaps we will then learn what other people endure. It will teach us to think before we waggle that flag or encourage wars. You say all this but remember Iraq? We knew killing kids was bad but we killed them anyways.
If you wish for a sanitised world view then fine. I agree about trigger warnings but frankly I don’t agree with sanitising the world for the sake of people who wish to ignore the plight of people who I work with. I have had this argument before.
If I didn’t write about South Asia and the terrible things I see and help alleviate then I am nothing different from the countless other people who write. We would never listen to any minority who struggled.
If we could convince people through logic and reason do you think we would have wars? Where was logic and reason then? Logic and reason are often over rated. We are far away from the consequences of our actions. Sometimes it is worth learning the cost of our life.
The difference between “me” and “some guy who writes in the USA” is that I have lived through some of the things I write about. When I write with expertise while they write with second hand knowledge.
There is a huge and long trend of ignoring the suffering of people online because our stories are too “terrible” and “sad”. If your eyes prick between bath and pre-lunch beers then GOOD. That’s the damn point. That’s how change occurs. We have seen countless times the effect of war photography and how it cements a story. Hell even bloggers are told to add photos simply because it solidifies ideas. If we don’t then its just a sad story with little to no evidence. Remember one of the biggest arguments pro-Israeli zionists make is that there is no evidence of such atrocities. Hell I got a guy telling me that Medicin Sans Frontier is part of Hamaas despite MSF doctors putting up photos of their work.
This is our work. This is what we do for a living. These are the people who often rely on us. To hide them because someone in the west feels a bit squeamish sounds daft. I am sorry, your suffering is too much for our genteel audience, do you mind suffering in silence AND away from the camera?
The price paid for the conflict is the blood of Palestinian civilians. In defending itself Israel has failed to realise that it has become a symbol of what its citizens sought to escape. We have to take a step back and realise that Hamas and the Israeli Government are both the problems as they both perpetuate a war at the cost of Palestinians while we simplify the dialogue to “Oppressors” and “Terrorists”. This helps no one. The situation is far more complicated despite the solutions that seem easy and all we do is bring our prejudices about Muslims and Jews to an argument that boils down to land but is complicated by religion.
Some may say I am sympathetic to the Palestinians more than the Israelis and am more critical of Israel. My stance is simple. I think the formation of Israel and the original zionist movement and our encouragement of it was foolish beyond belief. I think the collective guilt of Western nations over the holocaust and Christian Doomsday Lobby Groups who believe that the formation of Israel is a “sign” merely exacerbated the problem. In addition the USA’s usage of Israel and blind funding has created more problems. I do realise the situation is that neither Israel nor Palestine can go away and that a generation or two of Israelis have grown up within Israel. The displacement of Israelis would be akin to the displacement of Palestinians and two atrocities do not cancel each other out. I do think Palesting and Israel should have been promoted as a single secular state to begin with and perhaps a more harmonious result could have occurred. However the problem is that the tit for tat violence has not just gotten out of hand but has gotten out of response. The attacks from Palestine are less an Intifada and more a frustrated action of a caged human. The attacks from Israel are a calculated attack to cow Palestine into submission for the sake of it’s own defence. What once was a cause that could be understood has since exceeded whatever road to hell that could have been paved with good intentions. What I support are the people of Palestine who I believe have the right to a free West Bank and the right to self determination and freedom. And that the only way the wounds of history can be healed would be through the dialogue of peace that is respected by both sides rather than the impotent bluster of Hamas or the deadly retort of the IDF. For this Israel will have to blink first as Palestine is a caged and wounded animal. The peace progress cannot occur as long as the cycle of violence continues.
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