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Fri Jul 25, 2014, 12:42 PM

War vs Peace

Q: Speaking of land, what do you think of a homeland for the Palestinians?

Chief Paul Waterman: They own land. They always have. There is enough room for them and the Jews. This conflict isn’t just about land. It’s about who controls the land that produces money. It’s not about religion. The Creator isn’t taking sides in a conflict over money.
(From the interview I did with Onondaga Chief Waterman, shortly after 9/11.)


The violence in Gaza is unacceptable. No matter if one favors the Israelis or the Palestinians, the level of violence that is destroying human lives is terribly wrong. That people have strong feelings about who is at fault is understandable. Yet it is the emotional currents that sweep rational thinking away, and leaves death and destruction in its wake.

Over the many years that I knew Chief Waterman, I came to recognize him as one of the wisest human beings I had met. The Onondaga Nation, which serves as the Fire Keepers of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, has long held other tribal peoples around the globe in high regard. This, of course, includes the Israelis. It also includes the Palestinians.

Yet, I do not completely agree with Paul’s position on this topic. Land is certainly a central issue in the conflict in the Middle East. This includes the idea of controlling land that the Israelis believe is necessary to secure their people’s safety. The Jewish experience, and not limited to the horrors of Nazi Germany, is obviously a significant factor which explains Israel’s foreign policy. One does not have to believe that this justifies any or all of that nation’s recent behaviors, to appreciate that thinking.

Add to this the frequency of threats to destroy Israel by some of the Islamic extremists from that region of the world, and we see why, at least in their own minds, the current leaders of Israel engage in the often brutal behaviors that we see too often. I am reminded of something that basketball great Bill Russell said: “Chose your enemies carefully, for they are often who you come to resemble most closely.”

The experiences of the Palestinians is also a story of great suffering. By and large, they have been the victims of a modern world that places little or no value upon their well-being. Land that is historically theirs has been stolen from them. Their only real compensation has been a culture of poverty, which no one would consider a good deal.

In many instances, which tend to be ignored, the average people in this region get along without hatred. This, too, is a part of the human experience. It’s far easier to fear and despise a group of people you don’t know, compared to individuals who you know as neighbors. Obviously, this is not always the case -- there are people who’s being is so saturated with hatred, that they will always pose a threat to others. Yet, I think of a recent middleweight contender, an Israeli who trained in a Palestinian gym. This created a mutual respect between those individuals. While it is but one tiny example, it shows that people can get along. For hatred is nor inherent -- rather, it is a passion that must be taught and practiced, not completely unlike boxing skills.

Being an old man, living in the wilderness, I often prefer to read (and re-read) books on a given topic, rather than limit my thinking to the materials provided by the mass-media. I’ve picked out two books, to carry out to my pond for my afternoon reading. One is Thomas Cahill’s “The Gifts of the Jews’: Desert Nomads Changed the World With the Word.” The second is Reza Aslan’s “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.”

I find myself wondering why neither the Israelis nor Palestinians are producing non-violent leadership -- not within that group that are identified as political leaders per say, and not even limited to their religious leadership. I do remember that Ho Chi Minh said that Gandhi was fortunate to be opposed to the British Empire, for if he attempted his campaign against the French, he would have died, unknown, as soon as he started.

Still, I am convinced that there is no military “solution” to the current warfare, much less the ongoing cycle of violence in the Middle East. Indeed, the only long-term resolution could come only from brave individuals who are willing to risk peace. And that really should come from both sides.

These are troubling times we live in. I am going out to my pond, to spend the day reading, praying for peace and justice to break out, and to feed the fish and birds.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply War vs Peace (Original post)
H2O Man Jul 2014 OP
bigtree Jul 2014 #1
H2O Man Jul 2014 #3
brer cat Jul 2014 #2
H2O Man Jul 2014 #4
Tierra_y_Libertad Jul 2014 #5
H2O Man Jul 2014 #9
Uncle Joe Jul 2014 #6
H2O Man Jul 2014 #10
malaise Jul 2014 #7
H2O Man Jul 2014 #11
awoke_in_2003 Jul 2014 #8
H2O Man Jul 2014 #12
awoke_in_2003 Jul 2014 #13

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 01:12 PM

1. I don't disagree with the admonitions against violence to both sides in this conflict

. . . I do have a small difference with the characterization of the threat to the Palestinians.

You mentioned "the frequency of threats to destroy Israel by some of the Islamic extremists from that region of the world" and concluded that, "we see why, at least in their own minds, the current leaders of Israel engage in the often brutal behaviors that we see too often."

I'm sure this is just an unintended oversight on your part, but we can also take into account the U.S. and other world powers who align themselves with military actions against 'threats' they perceive from Islamic nations from that region which have served to inflame and deepen whatever resentments that may buttress violent expressions of self-determination or violent defenses of territorial integrity.

I would note that many of those offensives staged by our own nation have been revealed to be about much less noble pursuits than defense against extremists; many of those offensive military actions in that region made in clear defense of self-serving economic priorities like cheap oil.

In all of that we can properly view the actions of some in these Islamic states in the same vein as we consider Israel's own need to defend themselves against unjust and unwarranted attack.

I made the point to a poster earlier that the Palestinians in Gaza (as well as the Israelis) comprise more than one faction, but are actually several different constituencies. I agree that both of their peoples suffer from the lack of a non-violent representation in their governments.

I think the difference in this conflict is that you have an occupied people and an occupier which isn't as discriminate in their defenses as some might expect them to be; as international law, perhaps, expects.

Occupied people will always resist that occupation, often at the expense of their own lives. Recognizing that reality is as much in the interest of Israel as it is an imperative for Palestinians.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 03:37 PM

3. I think that

feeling threatened -- including realistic and less-than-realistic threats -- can cause people to behave in brutal fashion. And I think that is true with both sides in this conflict. Fear twists people's minds.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 01:19 PM

2. Excellent read, H2O Man.

It will indeed take very brave individuals on both sides for peace to be achieved. After all these years of violence it is going to be very hard for many of the participants to accept peace because it diminishes the "value" of what they have done for decades, i.e., if war was the only possible solution, then peace could not be an outcome. It is similar to the people here who refuse to accept that the Iraq invasion was was a mistake because then the soldiers died in vain.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom! K&R for peace.

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Response to brer cat (Reply #2)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 03:52 PM

4. Thanks.

I had recently re-read Erich Fromm's book, "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness" (Holt; 1973). It's a great book, that is as important today as it was 40 years ago. But it is the most under-rated of Fromm's works.

Human beings will be violent, to defend themselves and their loved ones. I don't think that anyone would deny a person's right to do that. And I say that as a person who lived a violent life for my first 25 years, but who has attempted to become non-violent as an adult. Still, a few years back, an individual presented a threat to my then-wee little girls, and I cannot say that nonviolence was the first thing that crossed my mind. (The state police who investigated the incident told my daughters' mother that they were concerned that I'd take matters into my own hands. While I'm old and feeble, I could still do a fuck of a lot of damage -- quickly -- and I'm not talking about using any weapon. I'm not proud or ashamed of that: I accept that I'm human.)

So I think I understand why people in the Middle East may hold grudges, and be prone to striking out at those they see as threats. But all of what is happening today only creates greater momentum, and there comes a tipping point, where people no longer can control violence ....it takes on a force so great that it controls people.

There need to be people on both sides who step up, even though it puts them at great risk. If even a few people were willing to do that, it could offer a way out of this madness.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 04:08 PM

5. 64 public figures, 7 Nobel laureates, call for arms embargo on Israel Haaretz/Israel

 

No cause justifies the deaths of innocent people. Albert Camus


http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.606228

"Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression. Israel's ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world," read the statement.

"We call on the UN and governments across the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid," the letter concluded.

Among the signators were Nobel peace laureates Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Jody Williams, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Mairead Maguire and Rigoberto Menchu.

Also signing were academics Noam Chomsky and Rashid Khalidi, filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, musicians Roger Waters and Brian Eno, writers Alice Walker and Caryl Churchill, and journalists John Pilger and Chris Hedges. Two Israelis, academics Ilan Pappe and Nurit Peled, signed the letter as well.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 06:31 PM

9. Thanks for this,

Very interesting and important information.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 04:51 PM

6. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, H2O Man.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #6)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 06:33 PM

10. Thank you.

I just got in and turned the news on -- bad habit -- and it sounds like one cease-fire plan was rejected, but that a brief one has been agreed to.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 05:10 PM

7. “Chose your enemies carefully, for they are often who you come to resemble most closely.”

So true and so scary!!

Great read Waterman!

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Response to malaise (Reply #7)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 06:34 PM

11. Thanks!

Bill Russell is a highly intelligent person. I've always enjoyed listening to his insights on human behavior.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 05:53 PM

8. War is ALWAYS about money and resources. nt

 

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Response to awoke_in_2003 (Reply #8)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 06:35 PM

12. That's true.

It does not follow, however, that every participant in involved for those specific reasons.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 06:37 PM

13. Yeah, I should have said...

 

that the aggressor is always after resources/land and money.

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