Friday, August 01, 2014

The News is horrible; why watch it?

Palestinian girl cries as she recieves treatment at hospital 2014
 UNICEF condemned Israel's targeting of women and children
 in its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip.

It is painful, depressing, and upsetting to no end to watch the conflict in Gaza. As our President and all of Congress give virtually unqualified support to Israel, and continue to give enormous financial support to Israel's military, I have refrained from blaming one side or the other alone for the massacre of innocents. Yet responsibility lies with Hamas for its almost ineffective rockets, and the Israeli military for bombing schools and hospitals under UN protection. Nothing is being achieved but death and destruction, as well as increased hate of one people for another. Hate begets hate.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon issues a statement on Gaza, during his visit to Costa Rica, after a school in the Palestinian territory, being used to shelter families, was shelled by Israeli forces on Wednesday. At least 15 people, mostly children and women, died when the school in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit by five shells during a night of relentless bombardment across the territory. More than 100 people were injured ...... (
Why watch this bloodshed on CNN, or even read about it in every newspaper around the world? Why read the sane and well-reasoned essays of liberal Jewish intellectuals or peace loving Muslims? After all what can I do? What am I willing to do? Not much. 
Yet I continue to watch and to read because my own country is so involved in this war. I cry out for the tragedy of all these civilians who are being killed needlessly. I want to be one more voice for peace and acceptance of diversity. 
The justification for increased bombing of civilians tonight is the capture of one Israeli soldier. I mourn for him. He is 23. But he is a soldier in a war. Does his capture justify the death of hundreds of civilians? There seems no proportion or sense of morality or justice here. Terrorists are bad; Hamas is doing great wrongs. This makes it OK to continue bombing civilians who have nothing to do with Hamas? 
Like the liberal Jews (See Jonathan Freedland),  I too support a two state solution.  Let NATO or the UN help protect Israel. Then, make the new Palestine a glorious and prosperous place, lush the way Beirut once was-- a place of prosperity such that the people will abhor war.
Beirut in the 50s

There is little doubt that religion plays a major part in the perpetuation of hatred and intolerance. Given a choice, most people want their religion to be one of love, learning, moral uplift, transcendence of some sort, and peace. The fanaticism of extremist religions, of zealots who demand the obliteration of all others, cannot exist in the present world of globalization and instant universal communication. Nationalism which aggressively attacks other sovereign lands and peoples has to be resisted strongly by a consensus of world governments. 
So I watch and I share the suffering war brings. In a small way I am responsible for it. The leaders of my country are responsible for it. To turn away, to ignore it, to go about my mildly hedonistic enjoyment of life when there is such suffering is itself the kind of indifference that makes war possible, that allows leaders with too much power to use that power against the rest of us.

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