Middle East conflict and selective amnesia

THE guiding rule in this tsunami of drivel apparent in the mainstream network news media, is that the viewers should be denied the slightest access to any historical context, or indeed to anything that happened prior to June 28, which was when the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas hit the headlines, followed soon thereafter by the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.

By Debbie Menon

Published: Tue 8 Aug 2006, 4:26 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:36 PM

Memory is supposed to stop in its tracks at June 28, 2006.

Let’s go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extra-judicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.

Back we go again to June 13, 2006. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another attempted extra-judicial assassination. The successive barrages killed nine innocent Palestinians.

Now we’re really in the dark ages, reaching far, far back to June 9, 2006, when Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing 8 civilians and injuring 32. That’s just a brief trip down Memory Lane, and we trip over the bodies of 20 dead and 47 wounded, all of them Palestinians, most of them women and children.

Israel regrets. But no, Israel doesn’t regret in the least. Most of the time it doesn’t even bother to pretend to regret. It says, "We reserve the right to slaughter Palestinians whenever we want. We reserve the right to assassinate their leaders, crush their homes, steal their water, tear out their olive groves, and when they try to resist we call them ‘terrorists’ intent on wrecking the peace process’".

Now Israel says it wants to wipe out Hezbollah. It wishes no harm to the people of Lebanon, just so long as they’re not supporters of Hezbollah, or standing anywhere in the neighbourhood of a person or a house or a car or a truck or a road or a bus or a field, or a power station or a port that might, in the mind of an Israeli commander or pilot, have something to do with Hezbollah. In any of those eventualities all bets are off. You or your wife or your mother or your baby gets fried by precision guided missiles. Is this an issue of terrorists hiding behind civilians? Nonsense!

Israel has been able to target Red Cross ambulances, UN observation post, killing unarmed UN Observers with precision guided missiles, mind you, rushed to her by United States. Israel regrets, But no, it doesn’t regret in the least. Neither does George Bush, nor Condoleezza Rice, nor John Bolton who is the moral savage who brings shame on his country each day that he sits as America’s ambassador (unconfirmed) at the UN and who has just told the world that a dead Israeli civilian is worth a whole more in terms of moral outrage than a Lebanese one.

None of them regrets. They say Hezbollah is a cancer in the body of Lebanon. Sometimes, to kill the cancer, you end up killing the body, or bodies, bodies of babies. Lots of them. Is any one government calling on the US-Israel and Britain combine to stop this barbarity? No one. No one dares to. Cowards all of them.

I’m praying for peace. I want peace. I want Israelis and Palestinians and Iraqis and Lebanese and Afghans and Somalis and Hutus and Tutsis and Kashmiris and Tibetans and Nepalese and ALL THE PEOPLE to live in peace, including me.

For peace to be possible, the grievances of both sides must be recognised. The wrongs committed must be acknowledged. The agreements and "compromises" must be made without undue duress and the sacrifices agreed to for the sake of peace must be even-handed.

What I object to is the US, British, and Israeli stance of "we are right and you are wrong" "we are justified, you shut up and put up" —you WILL accept the "peace" we impose or else.

Such a stance can never lead to lasting peace.

The more I read and hear, the more I think that neither the US, nor Britain, nor Israel truly want peace. Those governments (and NOT the people they supposedly represent) want total hegemony over the region and thus the world. By controlling the Middle East they go a long way towards effectively controlling the entire world.

This is not a "you’re either with us or against us." Being appalled at the actions of one side does NOT mean approval for the other side. I reiterate, what I oppose strongly is "blind", knee-jerk support for Israel, especially when she is in the wrong. Israel continues to build walls across occupied territories the UN said Israel must give back. Israel continues to bulldoze homes, farms, orchards. Israel continues its "extra-judicial" assassinations —including on foreign soil and usually taking "collateral" civilians with it.

Israel does not have a moral leg to stand on with regard to its treatment of Arabs now or ever. Bombing innocents as revenge for real wrongs committed is also wrong. In that sense, two wrongs do not make a right and Arab terrorism is just as wrong as Israeli terrorism.

Gandhi said 55 yeas ago: "Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb."

"They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs.. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds."

Times have not changed much as what Gandhi said still rings true.

I recall when we were kids, boys scrapped and fought, as boys do, or did at the time. They had ‘rules’, and the other boys, who participated as onlookers to the scraps of the day, would monitor, shout, and see that the rules were enforced.

No two-on-one! No kicking! No eye gouging! No hitting when he is down!

They fought "fair!" And, they did not fight other boys’ sisters, or malign their parents!

We’ve come a long way since then. Kids no longer carry sticks. They come with knives, guns and, recently, bombs. Rules change. Seldom for the better. I suppose this follows the dictum, violence begets violence. This kindergarten wisdom does not seem to have dawned on the current leaders ruling this world.

Debbie Menon divides her time between Dubai and Melbourne, Australia. She can be reached at d_p_kmenon@yahoo.com.au

More news from OPINION