Wednesday, July 19, 2006


EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - I'm writing this post to commemorate two recent events: the heatwave that hit America the past two days, and the sudden increase in violence between Israel and Palestine, with the Israeli government reacting harshly to the capture of an Israeli corporal by members of Hamas.

Monday and Tuesday saw the metropolitan area---heck, most of the country---covered in heat and humidity. I had to go out on Monday---an appointment with my counselor at Rutgers, a trip to Shoprite---and the car I drive hasn't had working air conditioning for months now. But it was either drive that car or risk driving the other car, which has had kind of a stalling problem since, oh, last year. (I couldn't drive the other car anyway, since my mother had driven it to work.) It wasn't pleasant, and I was sweating quite a bit, but I survived it. Yesterday, I didn't go out---didn't have to, because Megamovies didn't need me to come in on my optional "rain" shift---so I kept cool inside my thankfully air-conditioned house.

The only thing I missed in staying home all day? Well, forgive me for being crass and perhaps coming off as sexist, but I missed the opportunity to gawk at the exposed female flesh that is inevitably displayed on such a hot day. In other words, I missed those tight-fitting tank tops. (Sorry; I'm perverted and horny like that.)

But the heat that hit this area on Monday and Tuesday apparently have nothing on the heat that's currently overtaking Lebanon as Israel pretty much air-struck the shit out of the country in what has, according to TIME magazine's article about the fighting in the most recent issue, been "the worst Arab-Israeli cross-border conflict since Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982." After some years of an uneasay peace, it looks as if all that has been burned down to the ground. Maybe this should have been expected, with the militarist Palestinian group Hamas being voted into office.

I was watching CNN yesterday, and a reporter was following a Palestinian living in a village in Beirut as he was showing him around the messed-up area. One of the things he said struck me: something to the effect of "my people will not lose their dignity in this; if they continue to do this to us, we'll keep fighting back." I hope I didn't misrepresent the man's opinion---he sounded like he knew what he was talking about. The only thing I could do when I heard that was wince: sir, it seems to me that there is no dignity at all in war in general. With everyone reverting to their animal instincts and maiming and killing like that, allowing civilians to be killed, I don't see much dignity in it, at least on a personal level. Do you? Of course, if you're thinking solely about some larger cause and not about your own skin, maybe that reasoning would sound appealing. It sounds to me like the kind of attitude---eye for an eye---that keeps this endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict going. Even with moments of peace, one can't help but think, when's the next burst of violence going to happen?

Where is the United States in all of this, some have asked? Apparently, the U.S. is biding its time, according to a New York Times front page article today which suggests that the U.S. is allowing Israel to bomb Lebanon some more---"to degrade the capabilities of the Hezbollah militia, officials of the two countries [Israel and the U.S., I assume]---before sending Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to try to create some kind of buffer zone to curb Hezbollah's ability to obtain more rockets with which to bomb Israel. Sounds like a risky move, allowing the bombing to go on for another week before making its move. How many people in the international community will allow the U.S. to just sit on the situation like that, as more innocent Lebanese civilians die?

But then, the U.S. hasn't really done much intervening in this Israeli-Palestinian mess; it's been too busy with dealing with the Iraq situation and the Iran and North Korea threats. Certainly the latter two may be legitimate threats that must be dealt with, but the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been just as prominent in the world. President Bush's approach to the situation has basically been the same as his approach to other foreign situations: we don't negotiate with terrorists. Has that approach really worked, though, so far? It looks as if all sanctioning and isolation has done is to cause more violence against innocents.

When I hear news like this, I fight the urge to be cynical---cynicism comes too easily for me, and seems too easy a reaction. Sometimes I can't help it, though. All I can say is, hopefully something will be done to curb the violence soon.


Anonymous said...

The conflict in the middle east is greater than simply a dispute between the Israeli's and Palestinians. Israel is a hated entity in that region, by all of the Arab countries (Iran, while Muslim is not Arab but hates them anyway.) The two terrorist groups, Hammas and Hezbollah act with the support, cooperation and assistance of Syria and Iran. Israel is trying to control these terrorist groups and cripple their capability to shell Israeli towns and villages which they were doing, even before the soldiers where taken hostage. They want to inflict heavy damage on the terrorists before they are made to stop through world influence. At present the US is giving them the go ahead to continue the operation and I would venture to say, probably even helping them in covert ways. Civilians are getting killed because both Hammas and Hezbollah have the habit of locating their military hardware and operations among civilians. Their respect for the lives of their own people is sadly wanting. This is why innocents are being killed. Israel does not purposly look to target civilians; its an inevitability of this kind of war.

Israel is a tiny country, it's the size of New Jersey. It is a country of 5 million surrounded by 100 million + Muslims. They have had to be aggressive and vigilant since their founding. Its survival. If they let their guard down they could easily be overrun and slaughtered. The Muslims relish the thought. This present conflict will die down in time and there will not be a wider war---Iran and Syria dont want it and Israel doesnt either.

Negotiations will never work in the region; too much hatred, too much bitterness, too much animosity. Like I said before, Israel is simply not wanted there and even if the Palestinian issue is resolved and their little piece of land (the West Bank) is given over to them for a state (they already were given Gaza back), the problems will not be resolved. Sad, but true.

kenjfuj said...

Thanks for the detailed explanation, anonymous. Obviously you know more about this situation than I do. Yeah, my world-affairs knowledge could use a heck of a lot more depth than I possess.

Negotiations will never work in the region; too much hatred, too much bitterness, too much animosity.

Yeah, that's what's so frustrating. It just seems so damn easy for groups of people to carry a grudge against another group for generations. Do some of these people really even know what they're fighting for anymore? For some land? (Perhaps you have some more insight into this too...?)

Anonymous said...

The bitterness and outright hatred of the Jews by the Arabs is a long standing affair. Way before the establishement of the State of Israel (1948) the Arabs, in what was then British controlled Palestine, rioted and killed Jews who lived there. When Israel was founded, they were immediately attacked by the Arabs surrounding them (called by Israel, the War of Independence). Israel fought again in 1956(the Suez War) and again in 1967(The Six Day War) and 1973(the Yom Kippur War). After the 1967 war, Israel captured the territory of Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Sinai. They returned Sinai to Eqypt as part of a peace deal. They withdrew unilaterally from Gaza last year and they are planning to withdraw from most of the West Bank in the years to come.(Yes they have settlements there of religious fanatic Jews and Yes that was a mistake to allow them and moderate Israeli's know this. These settelements will be dis-mantled) East Jerusalem they will keep as it contains the Wailing Wall, holy to Judaism. When Jordan controlled East Jerusalem (48-67) the Jews did not even have access to the Wailing Wall. The Golan Heights they want to keep because prior to 1967 Syria used it to shell the Israeli farms in the valley below it and so for safety and security Israel intends to annex the Golan. Israel is so tiny anyway, around the size of NJ. Its more than just about land, its about hatred and distain that the Arabs have for the Jews. Its also political---the Palestinian people NEVER had their own country and they have no history or experience to run one (you can see how they have been fighting amongst themselves in Gaza right before this current situation). Yet the established Arab countries do not want to help them, economically, or socially or help them improve their position. They do not want to absorb their refugees. They like having the Palestinians as a scapegoat against Israel and the West and the fires are being fed by Syria and Iran in particular.That is why they fund and support terrorist groups like Hammas and Hesbollah. Radical Islam is anti-west (which equates to Anti-Israel) and it is in the interest of Syria and Iran to keep alive the Palestinian quagmire so that it can bolster their rhetoric. They do not want to go to war over it, thats why there will not be a wider war---there will just be this constant state of unrest and it suits their needs to keep it this way. Its confusing, its complicated, but it boils down to hatred, politics and the agenda of Radical Islam. The region will never be settled, not in our lifelimes---but, Israel will not be destroyed and there will not be WWIII because of these ongoing tensions.