Friday, February 09, 2007

The Search for an Honest Peace

Didja hear the big news?

Sure you did. And if you didn't, well, sit tight.

Palestinian factions, meeting in Mecca, came to an agreement on a unity government this week. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is talking about future peace talks. Everyone suffering under a delusion about the reality of the Middle East believes, once again, that “peace in our time” is the next big thing for that region. Syria says that “recuperating” the Golan Heights is central to peace in the Middle East one minute, and then says that solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is central to peace in the Middle East the next.

Well, which is it? The Golan, or the “Arabs of ‘48”, and the refugees of '67?

A lot of the time, you’ll hear advocates for the Palestinian “cause” (which, let’s be honest, is still for the Palestinian leadership a cause meant to result in the destruction of the State of Israel) talk about “peace and justice” in the Middle East. “Peace for Israel,” they say, and “Justice for Palestine”. That sounds nice. It really does...never mind, of course, “Justice for Israel”. But anyway, is that all there is to it? Unfortunately, no. Those who advocate for “peace and justice”, often sprinkling their speech with veiled and not-so-veiled anti-Semitism, know something.

They know that different people on different sides have different ideas of what “justice” is. It is, to a large degree, a hollow sort of justice meant when “peace with justice” or “peace and justice” and Israel and the Palestinians are mentioned in the same breath, or same paragraph even. If you ask me, we should be focusing less on a search for “peace and justice” and more on a search for “peace with honesty”, “a peace of honesty”, or some other way of bringing those words together.

What sort of honesty do I speak of? One of the most simplest kinds there are. Honesty about human nature. And just what do I mean by that?

Look, it isn’t as if the Framers of the Constitution had some overly idealistic conception of human nature. The reason they put the protections, restrictions, and rights they did in that document, which has served the United States and the American people pretty well over the past 217 years and change, is because they knew human nature. They knew humans were, while generally trying to be good, human. They knew that power corrupts. They knew that humans, once in power, would be tempted to abuse it – not, usually, for the benefit of others, but for themselves.

“Peace with honesty” would recognize that, for example, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the side more likely to break any peace agreement with the intentions of committing genocide would be the Arab side. “Peace with honesty” would recognize that in that region
which I am currently happily no longer living in, as good as it was for me to live there – the only peace worth having is an honest peace, because only an honest peace in the Middle East would be a just peace...a peace worth having.

With certain regard for these, our United States, “peace with honesty” with those of the ilk who carried out the acts of war on September 11, 2001 – the end result of which I have the “opportunity” to see every day but generally don’t, ‘cause the PATH train station at Ground Zero is too cold, too open air for weather like this – would only be a peace that recognizes terrorists don’t need the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Americans in Iraq, or any other reason to try and kill us.

The Barbary Pirates weren’t carrying out “al-jihad fil-bahr” – “the holy war at sea” – because the infant United States were after Middle Eastern oil. Hell, back in the days of the Barbary Pirates, the days of Washington, Adams and Jefferson, no one even knew the Middle East had oil like it does (or once did). Christians were enslaved upon capture, and tribute paid to Muslim chieftains, and it had little to do with Europe or America trying to police the world.

It’s like global warming.

Global warming has been happening since long before the end of the last Ice Age (how else would that Ice Age have ended, the mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers die out, etc.?). We can do what we can to stem the tide of human contributions making the Earth warmer than would normally happen thanks to the spin of the Earth, our planet rotating on its axis, and our distance from the sun. But if we’re being honest about global warming, we can only do so much. We can only, literally, do our part.

Scientists, and the media, make a big deal over announcements that global warming will last for centuries into the future. Well DUH, of course it’s already lasted several millennia. Yeah, millennia. What are a few more centuries to a phenomenon that’s lasted since, well, probably since the first few million years it took for the Earth to cool into a floating ball capable of supporting life? Just how many Ice Ages have there been, anyway, and how else could those have ended? Magic?

If we’re being honest, not deceptive or utopian, about global warming, the answer should be obvious.

And, for that matter, if we’re being honest about peace in the Middle East, the key there is remembering that relatively few Palestinian children will hold to the agreements made by the elder generation of their particular sector of the Arab people so long as such children are taught in school to hate, to destroy, to sing the praises of murder...and so on and so forth.

If we’re being honest about the search for peace in the Middle East, we’ll not get excited at the latest reports of a Palestinian deal forged in Mecca to stunt the civil war taking place in Gaza, we’ll not look at the relatively recent suicide bombing in the southern Israeli city of Eilat as an isolated incident, we’ll not get worked up over deceptive “hudnas” when the vast majority of people don’t know what a “hudna” is, and we’ll believe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, when he calls for the destruction of Israel or says something else anti-Semitic.

“Peace with honesty” is a much more mature, thought out and
dare I say it? honest approach to the Middle East. Because quite HONESTLY, any peace in the Middle East that isn’t honest is a peace that – barring the involvement of Providence – is doomed to fail, eventually. Everyone knows it, and few can deny it...unless, of course, they aren't being honest with themselves. Or us.

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