Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ahh, another chance to use that college and graduate-level history education . . .

If the last couple of weeks in the eastern Mediterranean aren't making you nervous, then can I have some of what you're taking?

Please don't construe that I'm taking the Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah situation as some freak-of-nature event that just popped out of the ground. If you're a modernism, you can go back as far as the Balfour declaration:

"Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild:

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty's
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:

His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge
of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,
Arthur James Balfour"

If you're more of an expert in the region's ancient and modern colonial history, then you can take it back a little further.

And if you have an exceptionally well-developed sense of the ironic, then either point of departure should keep you well entertained for hours without end.

But watching Israel's recent efforts to recover its soldiers and stamp out Hamas and Hezbollah show that very little under the sun has changed.

In this case, the Israelis have assumed the role that the British held up to 1948. In their own charming way, Hamas and Hezbollah are reprising the role of the Stern Gang and Irgun.

And the United States, given how various segments of society have reacted in the last century toward a Jewish state in Palestine, is playing the same schizophrenic yet somewhat medicated role it has always played. In some ways, it isn't too far removed from the U.S.'s role in the British-Irish 'troubles' in the last two and a half centuries.

In fact, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has at times been pretty abusive in the mutual sense. From my family ties with the Navy, the "Liberty" incident and a few sea stories from the 1970's regarding Israeli military forces still color my opinion of that country's willingness to act in a civil manner to its friends.

And the Israeli state's fixation on Jerusalem as a capital . . . well, even we in the U.S. allow the spiritual and religious to cloud our political judgment at home and abroad. Besides, if Manifest Destiny was good enough for us in the mid 19th century, why shouldn't it be good enough for Israel now?

And there's the failure to realize that, while Jews were certainly displaced and unwanted after WW II, that there seemed to be damned little concern about displacement or desirability of Palestinians - either by the west or by Arab states - in the wake of 1948.

And we wonder how something like the current Gaza and Lebanon incursions could happen?

Not that I have any real love for Hezbollah (thank you, you worthless, heathen, pseudo-Islamic rat-bastards for killing an unarmed U.S. sailor during an airliner hijacking back in the 1980s. May you all slow-roast in hell) or for Hamas. But I can understand how such groups could form.

And, at the same time, our much-esteemed President (who probably doesn't know that Alaska doesn't occupy a mystical box just off the Pacific Northwest coast) decides he's going to declare war on terror without any grasp of who exactly organized and supported suicide attacks on American citizens. Granted, while the U.S. helped support the organizations that eventually became the Taliban and al Qaida, we probably had a right and a responsibility to conduct a rat hunt in Afghanistan despite the long-term odds of success there.

None of this is new. None of it just magically started last month. And just like in the Crusades, volumes of people will die and the sand will eventually cover the remains until the next fanatic and indifferent states and empires come along.

18 Comments:

Blogger Pamela said...

Since I was on vacation, I took a vacation from the news as well. On coming home I see that once again they're at it over there.

It's a struggle as old as the land.

It will never end until they've all blown themselves up over and over and over and...you get the picture.

3:41 PM  
Blogger jromer said...

killing doesn't work. unfortunately, like most problems whether it be drug use, abusive relationships, dead end jobs, dead end attitudes, the people involved don't see it nearly as well as the people on the outside.

on a side note...i have people in my life that i've been mildly arguing with all my life and no matter how many times i try to rephrase my statements, i get the same results. this is with someone i love. we are still locked in the same battle. i finally decided not to battle...but it's taken me 35 years. i can't imagine we will ever have true peace between ourselves. and that's just my family!

4:19 PM  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

They do have a talent for it - so much for centuries of Talmudic and Koran scholarship. It's wasted on the current bunch as well

4:19 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Amen Brutha. Amen.


Anna, I know what you mean. I truly do.

9:30 PM  
Blogger tom909 said...

I preclude this comment with the imformation that I know next to nothing about this kind of stuff so I could be utterly and totally wrong.
In this case this is not about muslim/christian religeous crap, isn't it more about territory and human rights.
I'm not sure we can excuse it on the basis that they are some knd of violent mad people - the Palestinians are a repressed and violated minority force, and I'm pretty bloody sure that if someone came and started crapping all over me I'd fight back sooner or later. Hezballah was formed as a direct result of massive Israeli attacks on Southern Lebanon in the 80s.
If you look at most major troubles in the world (including the AQ bollocks) they stem from humans rights abuse by more powerful and greedy forces.

3:05 AM  
Blogger Miss Cellania said...

4000 years since the Hebews invaded Canaan and slaughtered the current residents and what has changed?

The artillery.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous raincoaster said...

Here's the blog of a friend of a friend, who lives in Lebanon. Very enlightening, and frightening.
http://colddesert.blogspot.com//

8:20 AM  
Anonymous raincoaster said...

And Jesus' General has, as always, some words on the subject. Warning, they are very strong words, accompanied by very strong pictures.
http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/

8:27 AM  
Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Outstanding.
I am astounded that Iran is so eager to tempt Israel into exercising Operation Samson. Should the entire Arab world decide that now is the time to reclaim that patch of desert every Arab capitol city will receive a Nuclear retaliation.
The millenialists are all wetting their pants at all of this but it is little children and grandparents that ultimately pay for all of this crap.

We are lucky that Al Haig is no longer 'in charge' of the White House because he was going to connect the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman by creating a large crater right in the middle. George on the other hand wouldn't risk losing all of the oil that is in that thar crater.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

Nice serve Tom - and even among the victims a pecking order has developed through the centuries.

And HE, rest assured that there's plenty of Nixon-era cronies to pursue the dream that eluded Haig.

And Russia - don't be skulking off because you, as a Soviet and an imperial entity, have been playing both sides of the fence for years as well, you scummy bastards.

Oh yes, there's plenty of blame to go around on this one.

1:26 PM  
Blogger jromer said...

i agree that we can't just say that this is because such and such group of people are mad and violent but my example given earlier was an attempt to explain how overwhelmed i am looking at the problems residing in the middle east because i can't even handle a conflict resolution between myself and a family member and we both, i'm sure, feel justified in our feelings. i've only laid down my side of it because i can see that after 35 years, it's not working, the fighting.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

Anna,

And you too have a good point.

For most of the 1970's, my father was a sailor in the Sixth Fleet - the Navy's forces in the Mediterranean.

In that time he:

was off the coast with a shipload of Marines awaiting a possible Soviet airborne intervention in the Sinai;

spent four cruises as U.S. and Soviet ships generally showed the flag and butted heads in the Med;

remembered along with thousands of sailors that the Israeli Defence Force spent the better part of a day in 1967 trying to sink a marked U.S. surveillance ship in international waters;

saw his share of how the IDF was more than capable of going beyond action in defense of the Israeli state;

and helped man landing craft during the evacuation of American citizens during the 1976 Lebanese civil war as PLO and IDF forces lobbed rounds back and forth.

After years of those sea stories, I think damned near everyone in that region has become insane in various ways.

While I'd hope rational people would prevail eventually, it hasn't looked good in centuries.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Carmenzta said...

Depressing, indeed. Then we are shocked when kids beat each other to a pulp in the back of a school bus.

Anna, I too have many subjects that cannot be broached with family members, but we have managed to keep a kind of "peace" so we can continue being a family. When you know you can't change someone (and that is most of the time) you switch tactics and are forced to become more creative and accepting.

11:20 AM  
Blogger jromer said...

Yeah, I guess my whole...I can bearly hold the peace in my family bit, how can I expect an entire region to get along...doesn't really hold up here....

5:13 AM  
Blogger jromer said...

or maybe i'm just burnt out from work. just got home...

5:14 AM  
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