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Is Israel Trying to Start WWIII?

March 13th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

This past week, Israel made two announcements. First, they intend to develop nuclear energy. Second, they will build 1,600 new homes in disputed east Jerusalem and forcibly keep the Palestinians out.

For a country surrounded by enemies who want to obliterate them, they sure have a lot of balls…or rather, chutzpah. On the one hand they call for sanctions on Iran for developing nuclear energy, while on the other hand they say, “By the way, we’re developing nuclear energy.” On the one hand they condemn the Palestinians for not talking peace, while on the other hand they continue to encroach on Palestinian territory and ignore international calls to stop the settlements so that peace talks can ensue.

The 1,600 new homes are just the latest incursion into disputed territory that Israel is embarking on. The settlements on the West Bank, which former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon very bravely called to be removed and given back to Palestine (and it cost him his job) were not removed and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t even go so far as to freeze the development. “We’re willing to talk peace, but only if you are willing to accede to 100% of our demands, including letting us continue to take your land.”

Netanyahu and the current right-wing Israeli government don’t seem interested in peace at all. The announcement to develop nuclear energy also seems like pure muscle-flexing, practically goading Iran into a conflict. “Hey Iran, we’re going to build nuclear power plants and probably more bombs to add to the ones America already gave us. What are you gonna do about it? Huh? What are you gonna do?”

Now I’m not one of those ultra-ultra-lefties (at least on this issue) who say that if America and other nations can have nuclear capabilities, why not Iran? Yeah, it would be one thing if was just safe nuclear energy for building power plants, but it’s not too many steps from nuclear power plants to nuclear bombs and a nuclear Iran in its current political state could be potentially catastrophic. The other nations which have nuclear weapons are run—at least for the time being—by relatively reasonable people with no interest in starting World War III because they stand nothing to gain by it. But the Iranian government consists of ultra-religious ideologues who believe that their God, Allah, wants Israel wiped from the map, and if they had a nuclear bomb the odds are that they actually would use it. In this case, the principle of fairness is greatly outweighed by the potential consequences. While I believe that security should almost always take a back-seat to justice, I’m willing to make an exception when dealing with the potential annihilation of the human race.

But it’s not just Iran that threatens to bring about a nuclear holocaust—it’s Israel. Their government also consists of ultra-religious ideologues who believe that their God, Yahweh (don’t get me started on that evil bastard) has promised them that land and they have every right to kill whoever stands in their way of keeping it. The religious texts they adhere to are filled with stories of war and conquest, of totally annihilating the enemy down to the last woman and child.

Israel has the backing of the United States, the world’s most militarily powerful nation, which also happens to have a government filled with ultra-religious ideologues, many of whom believe that their god, Jesus, wants the Jews in Jerusalem so that the Second Coming prophecies can be fulfilled and Armageddon can take place. As long as America has Israel’s back, Israel knows it can do whatever it wants. They’d be happy to be attacked by Iran, as they and America would then respond by turning Iran into a radioactive wasteland. The “chosen people” will have their glorious triumph, assuming Israel gets through the conflict unscathed. And of course they will because Yahweh will protect them—He’s never let bad things happen to them in the past, right?

The whole thing is a little frightening, but a hell of a lot of religious people have a hard-on for the prospect of a nuclear conflict in the Middle East. As soon as the first mushroom cloud appears, they believe, Jesus will come down and rapture their asses straight to Heaven where they can watch and laugh as all those brown people get blown to smithereens and cast into Hell where they will burn for all eternity for the crime of not realizing the religion they were raised in was false and the Americans had it right all along. It’s such an incredibly just scheme of things God has going, isn’t it? Seriously, the more I think about God and what one has to believe if they accept the truth of Scripture, the more baffling it is that so many people still believe it.

Just look at Israel as a whole. The Palestinians were living there for centuries until all of a sudden they get driven out in 1948 as millions of displaced Jews decided to go back to the homeland. Now, I don’t want to come across as anti-semitic, although it’s probably way too late for that. I think the Jews have just as much a right to a state as any other ethnic group that wishes to insulate itself from all other ethnic groups (there I go again), but you can’t just take a state that already exists and claim it’s yours now. That’s called invasion and occupation.

I didn’t always see it this way. In fact I used to feel the exact opposite. My first exposure to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came through Leon Uris’s novel Exodus which is radically pro-Israel. When I read that book in high school I was so moved that for awhile I actually intended to convert to Judaism and move to Israel to help them fight the good fight. Seriously. Of course back then I also believed that the Bible was really the word of God and the most moral thing a person could do was fight, kill, and die for one’s religious convictions.

But as I gradually shed my religious beliefs and began to look at the conflict more objectively, I began to see that the Muslims might have some legitimate grievances. Eventually I decided that the Palestinians were actually in the right and Israel was in the wrong, but that since they’re all there now you might as well have a two-state solution. But with the way Israel has been behaving lately, I’m tempted to just say the whole damned nation should be dissolved and Palestinians should get back everything.

Seriously, what gives Israel the right to exist where it is? They just invaded and occupied that land and declared it a country. Their justification? God said it was theirs. Sure, the Palestinians claim that Allah said it’s theirs, but Allah isn’t real. Yahweh is obviously real because…because…well, because the Torah says so, and since the Torah is the word of Yahweh it must be correct. Simple logic.

Sorry, but “Yahweh said so” is not justification for anything. If we did everything Yahweh ever told us to do, we’d be executing homosexuals, adulterers, people who work on Saturday (oh shit, it’s Saturday right now…but I doubt God would consider blogging ‘work’) and abiding by all kinds of crazy laws about the proper way to sacrifice oxen.

Still, I won’t go so far as to join those right-wing Islamic militants who want Israel wiped from the map. Its government may be reprehensible, but so are most governments. The people are, for the most part, blameless. Most of the people want peace. They shouldn’t be punished because their grandparents decided to invade and occupy another people’s territory. That would be like saying all Americans should either leave the continent or be executed so we can give back the land to the few Native Americans who remain. No, what’s done is done and while apologies are certainly in order we have to find the best way forward.

And the best way forward is not starting World War III and relying on God to bring you victory. The best way forward is to leave God out of it altogether, to be willing to settle for less than 100% of your demands, and to actually make a good-faith effort to end this world-threatening conflict once and for all.

DISCLAIMER: Because anyone who is anti-Israel is assumed to be anti-Jew, I just want to be absolutely clear that I have the utmost sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust and I believe it was one of the worst crimes in human history. The Jews are entitled to see themselves as a victimized group because they were in fact victims, persecuted as a group and nearly annihilated as a group. However, that does not give them the right to invade and occupy the territory of a people who had nothing to do with that persecution. That would be like a group of Navajo suddenly invading Turkmenistan.

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