Monday, March 21, 2011

Hey! Look at Me! Look at Me!

Somebody once asked a rocker (it might have been Keith Richards) what message he thought rock and rollers were trying to get across: he said it was, "Hey everybody, look at me!" That seems to be a common thing in the world ,too. There are a couple of countries that seem to be unable to stand being ignored. North Korea is one, South Korea is another. Gaddafi was good at it, and America, because of its importance, has not yet really been tried since its early days, which then had some promise. One of the best 'crier' is gallant little Israel.

Maybe it's because the 'threat' never really goes away. Maybe it's because it has been a nation-in-arms for the past 60 years. Maybe it's because it has kicked the tripe out of every one of its neighbours, some of them twice or three times, in that 60 years, or maybe it's just because the cash might stop coming if the crying stopped. But Israel makes a lot more noise about 'needing' than many other places far worse off, or with far greater needs.

Israel started advertising itself as the place that 'made the desert bloom' back in the fifties and although they've turned the place into an Arizona look-alike since then, it's probably had as much to do with having tremendous financial resources available, almost from the very beginning, than it's had to do with hard work. For, since the first Zionists arrived, they've been hiring the locals as day labor. It's not much different to-day. For a lot of Jews in Israel, the 'job' is just being Jewish, that aggrevates the non-religious Israelis who actually have to work for a living. When you look at what Israel actually exports to the world you find that, for all its modernity, it doesn't actually produce much at all.  But you wouldn't think so from looking at  google world. Israel is a lush green colour surrounded by dun-coloured neighbours. How could this be possible, with only a little help from friends and an 'edge' on the local resources.

Considering it has no oil production of its own and one of the highest ratios of citizens to automobiles on earth, and an active military, you have to wonder why you never hear Israel moaning about gas or oil shortages. If there is anywhere on earth that should have them, given the hostile neighborhood, it's Israel. But Israel never seems to have to scrimp at home while running a war anywhere else. Why is that? Well it could be because Israel, by some strange twist of kismet, got itself located at the end of an oil pipline from Jordan to the sea that exports mainly Iraqi oil, for Jordan has precious little of its own, either. For all their wanting to 'destroy' Israel, its oil rich Arab neighbours don't feel any constraints about oiling its war machine. Strikes me that, if they were as serious as the Israelis say they are, that tap would have been offed long ago.

Egypt controls the Suez but the thought of making Israeli shipping take the long way from Ashkelon to Eilat doesn't seem to have occurred to them. Even lately, the Egyptians were letting Israeli subs through their canal while the Israelis were whinging about a glorified Iranian tugboat being allowed through for the first time since the Ayetolleh was Homeini. Once again one would have thought, that, to 'strangle' Israel wouldn't have been such a difficult thing to do. The Arabs may have navies, some quite powerful on paper, but it's the Israelis who range the eastern Med fending-off those 'existential threats'.

This week the blogdom of the Jewish world lit up with the news that a settler family had been 'massacred' in one of those west bank outposts. It was unremarkable in that every one that I read stated, without any doubt that the Arabs had done it, because 'that's what Arabs do'. And the other unremarkability was the bloodthirsty nature of the proposed 'price extraction'. This week Jewish blogdom is riven by arguments about whether, or not, the on-site photos of slashed parents and bloodied babies should have been used to illustrate the story. While the effect of such lurid details was debatable; whether  the Arabs might actually not be guilty occurred to only one or two Jewish commentators. Or whether the actions of the IDF and settlers in the nearest Arab village, or whether the extension of that particular settlement onto newly 'abandoned' Palestinian land (suitably named from the initials of the 5 dead)  were appropriate reactions to such a horror, were noted by very few bloggers and commentators. Those commentators  were, naturally, greeted with the 'meshuggeneh' reaction.

Without getting to deeply into what seems to be 'an on-going investigation', in this instant we have what an American in Iraq once described as "what happens when you  bring your kids to a battle". This particular family of settlers, the Fogels, were among those who had 'settled' in Gaza, and had then been removed by the IDF. Funded by the Israeli government they moved into a West Bank settlement on what was considered to be  'legitimately-appropriated' land. For some reason they left that established home to break ground in a new settlement near Hebron.  Since it was started, the settlement has been in a literal 'war' with its Arab neighbours.  People, on both sides, have been beaten and killed, the notion of 'extracting a price' from Palestinians in destroyed property started near here,  and numerous Palestinians have been arrested and jailed under a military administration that often fails to identify settlers involved in provocations or violence. The Fogels may have been raising their children 'well',  but that included a readiness, in that community, to meet Palestinan "violence" with even more violent Israeli offensive "defence".

Along with a general round-up of young males in the nearby Palestian village (two policemen were identified immediately as suspects), the Israeli police also rounded-up all the 'foreign workers' in the settlement itself. These settler camps, like many other places in the middle east,  make use of  the  cheap labor of Thais and Philippinos to build or tend to things the settlers apparently don't have time to do. Some commentators have posited that it was one of these workers who may have killed the Fogels. For an outsider to enter the 'front line' camp, and 'execute' the family of two otherwise healthy adults, (one an IDF officer) - missing two of their children at home (who may have slept through the mayhem) and a third who was out at a meeting - without raising any alarm and then exiting the village undisturbed,  just seems to verge too much on the miraculous.

Both sides in this sad story have their martyrs, and their martydoms. Neither is particularly conducive to peace or reconciliation. No one, especially children, should have to suffer for the sins of their parents, but that, once again sadly, is, often, life.  By the same token,  no one should be dispossessed of their homes for anyone else's previous or historic 'rights'. If  that were the universal case, there would be few places on earth that wouldn't be challenged by  'former' owners. I really don't think that Jews from anywhere, other than Palestine, have any 'right' to land there, particularly if it currently belongs to a Palestinian. They should, perhaps, have a right to buy, if a Palestinaian wants to sell, but there is a lot of 'buying more than was sold', or buying rights to property from someone who doesn't hold them, and then using the courts and the law to gain freehold after encouraging  the residents'  'abandonment' through intimidation and violence.

As things stand now, with Israel continuing to 'cry out' and be heard by Americans and their government, nothing fair or equitable can be expected. What the world will get is more violence, for those like the Fogels, who claim a 'divine right', have no place for any non-jew in "Eretz Yisroel". Their only solution is ethnic cleansing. The non-religious Jews might be more temperate, but many of them see that they're in the same boat with the others, that the best way to keep 'safe' is to keep on top of the Palestinians, to make sure they can't go anywhere, be anything or do much but labour for scraps, if they stay in, or even near, Israel. Which leaves Palestinans with no real choice other than to give up and hope for some change of heart, or to keep fighting, and breeding, in hope that either they drive Israelis to do them what the Germans did to their sires and become 'pariah' to their supporters, or until they outnumber their masters and  their masters have no choice but to change.

For all the crying, the world isn't helping by running to 'pick up the baby'. It's already been spoiled, so there is no easy 'cure'.

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