Thursday, January 7, 2010

Musing on Palestine

I was just watching Witness on Al Jazeera English (we have a satellite dish and I find English-language news preferable to Greek TV since my Greek is so execrable). This week's story was about the old Jerusalem airport which has been turned into a giant check point since the 1967 war. It was told from the point of view of (among others) a woman whose family, prior to the 1967 war, had the only house overlooking the airport. She has a Jerusalem ID and her sister, who lives in Ramallah only five minutes a way, has a West Bank ID so the one from Jerusalem must visit the other because her sister must get one of the few permits allowed at specific times (in this case, Orthodox Easter - I could tell because of the egg boiling and boiled egg fight which is the same here in this mostly Orthodox country).

But what caught my eye were the old pictures from the 1950s and 1960s of the passengers and air staff - not a hijab or khimar (Muslim headscarf) in sight. It seems to me that we (the West) have never considered our actions against Muslims as part of the reason many have retreated into their religion, some more than others.

So, it seems that we have been sowing the seeds of terrorism and our own destruction for some time. This is not a new phenomenon. And it seems that each time we meddle, we make it just a little worse.

We armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets - that didn't turn out so well. We disbanded the army in Iraq only to try to recreate that army after our action caused the sectarian violence that has racked that country. I was reading about how the US occupied Japan after WWII. The US sent in 350,000 military personnel, kept the Japanese army and the police (just disarmed them) and ensured that the Japanese populace had enough food. That was a model that worked. Could have been used in Iraq and feeding the population in Afghanistan would have helped as well.

This was followed by a story of Viva Palestina finally making its way into Gaza and delivering the aid to the people. Many ambulances, wheel chairs, food - a drop in the bucket to be sure, but at least someone is starting to recognize the bucket is empty and needs filling.

If the EU and the US would stop aiding Israel in its policy of collective punishment, a lot would be gained. It is hard to understand what is gained by preaching free and open elections and then punishing those who vote "the wrong way." How do you convince people without a history of electoral democracy that this is the way to go and then punish them when they do what you said? Makes no sense.

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