The Gaza Reminder
is about the value of human life.
When I was a child, my father once threw some Christian evangalists off our property.
They had said, “everyone who doesn’t believe in Christ will go to hell.”
Now my father had a temper, but the way his voice dropped to a whisper, and the step he took towards them screamed incipient violence and they virtually ran.
I didn’t ask why, but he told me.
“I lived in Bangladesh, Malaysia and other Muslim countries for years. Anyone who tells me that the good people I knew are going to burn in hell, can go to hell. I’ll have nothing to do with any God who does that or people who believe that.”
I always remembered that. Truth be told my father was slightly racist himself, he was of that generation. But he was ashamed of it, he knew better, and he fought it. What he understood was something simple: every human life has the same value. Any moral system which places one life above the other is not ethical, it is evil.
We in the developed world, and in America and Israel in particular, don’t believe that. We don’t even, any more, give it lip service. And we especially don’t believe that a Muslim life is worth the same as an American life, or an Israeli life, or well, pretty much any non-Muslim life. When Madeline Albright can say that half a million dead Iraqi children is a price worth paying for the sanctions, even before 9/11, we’ve become inhumane.
Osama bin Laden once asked, rhetorically, if Muslim blood was red, and if Muslim children were worthy of life as much as American children.
Israel is doomed. The generation of young American Jews do not have the loyalty to Israel, no matter what it does, that older American Jews, as a group, have. The world is coming to see Israel as an apartheid state, which is what it is. The demographics are against it, and at some point America will cut Israel off, and Israel’s economy is not sustainable without the US.
And more to the point, somewhere, alive today, is the person who believes that losing Jerusalem is an acceptable price for wiping out Tel Aviv. That person has been created by Israeli policy, by Western policy and by Saudi policy. Israel is a small country. It will not exist in 50 years. It may be destroyed in an apocalyptic terror attack, it may be destroyed in military action, it may be destroyed by demographics, it may fall apart economically. Its military advantage is already going away. Hezbollah took away Israel’s armor advantage, straight up defeating them in their last invasion of Lebanon. The Israeli air force was unable to substantially dent Hezbollah’s missile force, despite complete air supremacy. If Hezbollah had had the good missiles, it could have wreaked much more damage.
Right now Hamas has rockets. They look like something out of the 15th century. They are pathetic. It won’t stay that way forever.
All this before we get to the fact that Israel’s military is incompetent. They are no longer the Israeli military of 68, they are an occupation military, and occupation militaries are only good at fighting weaklings, they always become corrupt, brutal and weak themselves.
Israel faces a stark choice: the two-state solution is no longer viable, there is not enough water and arable land, and too much population. It can no longer work. Israel can either become a secular single state, giving a vote and rights to everyone, it can ethnically cleanse out all Palestinians and become a pariah state, or it can cease to exist (option 2 and 3 may both occur). Its end, moral or physical, may occur through terror, demographics, war, economic collapse, military decline or more likely, some combination, but it is as close to any historical process comes to inevitability.
Israel is acting like a monster, killing vastly disproportionate numbers of Palestinians. But the grave it is digging, in the not so long run, isn’t that of the Palestinians, it is its own.
W.H. Auden once wrote the line that applies to Israel, and to the Palestinians, for that matter: Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.
I can find no joy in this, no happiness, but it is what it is. If Israelis, not Israel the religious-ethnic state, want to avoid catastrophic destruction, their only solution is simple: stop doing evil, and start doing good.
People will dismiss that as naive, but it is the hardest of hard headed pragmatism, and as such, is advice unlikely to be taken.
Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.