A complicated issue
Editor of the Reformer:
I find the editorial cartoon in your July 15 issue simplistic and unhelpful. In contrast, your editorial on July 17 ("Is it apartheid?") makes a significant contribution to the discussion.
There is plenty of blame to go around in the Middle East. Some of the most disturbing violence is fraternal. Shiite and Sunni treat each other with little affection, confusing support for Palestine amongst other Arab nations. Yitzhak Rabin, a most reasonable Israeli politicians and a clear proponent for peace, was assassinated by a right-wing Jew who could harbor no thoughts of loving his neighbor as himself.
The deadly quagmire has devolved to where extremists on both sides hold undue sway over their populations, and a significant amount of weaponry. The Israelis’ weapons are as advanced as money can buy, and can inflict tremendous casualties very quickly. Conversely, the armament of the Palestinians is clumsy and inefficient at best, but still lethal.
Both the Netanyahu regime and Hamas often behave reprehensibly and ignore coherent options for peace. As Netanyahu has control over vastly superior funds and might, it is no surprise that the death toll is both horrific, and quite unequal. Both sides wage propaganda campaigns that add fuel to the fire, rather than work towards peace. The Reformer cartoon was too close to propaganda for comfort. If we are to truly help the plight of the Palestinians, we need a much more nuanced approach.
This is an extremely complicated situation, long in the making. What is needed is a comprehensive understanding of the history and many problematic influences, along with disempowerment of those on both sides who seek the eradication of their enemies, rather than peaceful coexistence.
After the murder of the Israeli teenagers, I was deeply disturbed by calls from Netanyahu and many others that their deaths be "avenged." Hamas also often clamors for revenge. Vengeance is reactive, born of fear. Its desired result is to create more fear amongst one’s enemies. The power-brokers on both sides use the tactic of sowing fear and creating a lust for vengeance as a means of bolstering their control. Add to these emotional manipulations the religious convictions of many involved that bring often quite contradictory instructions about what God supposedly wants and how to behave. These tactics and beliefs cloud the deep economic struggles that perpetuate the conflict.
In stark opposition to vengeance is justice -- a creative act, born of love. Its goal is to create harmony amongst all involved. If we consider the situation with an eye towards restorative justice, we see that exponentially greater economic prosperity and freedoms must be established for the Palestinians. Likewise, threats to Israel’s way of life must be sustainably minimized. Without addressing these fundamental issues, it may be impossible to break through the debilitating cycles of revenge, and the fearful greed that drives economic domination.
Brattleboro, July 22
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