“Calm will be reciprocated with calm, fire will be reciprocated by fire,”
commented IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. The idea of reciprocation–otherwise known as that ages-old “eye for an eye” rule that was established in ancient Babylonia-remains a popular concept in the Middle East, no matter one’s religion. Lt. General Benny Gantz, an Israeli, was referring to the recent rocket-launching between Israel and Palestine, a situation which classically reproduces the whole “she said, he said” theme and has one pondering the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
The answer is that a circle has no begining. There seem to be an awful lot of circles in the Middle East right now: cycles of violence, poverty and oppression that we see repeating themselves in the same fashion, over and over again. Time and again Palestinian militant groups like Hamas will set off terrorist attacks against Israel; Israel will likewise respond with it’s military prowess. Time and again innocent people across the Middle East die because of retaliation measures taken up by their governments/the people in charge. I think it’s time for us to look closer at the circle. Are those really circles we see, with no true beginings or ends, or do they actually start somewhere?
“Circle arguments,” to coin a new phrase, are those arguments in which both sides will forever point the blame at each other, forever unwilling to back down or admit wrongdoing. (Perhaps you are saying to yourself right now, that sounds like most arguments! To me, politics is nothing but circle arguments). Circle arguments deny any traces of a true begining, as neither side will agree to a common starting point, and they certainly prevent any end point from ever being reached. Although admirable in other aspects of society, circle arguments–or the “eye for an eye” rule–have no place or bearing in government and politics.
Essentially, following reciprocitiy or “an eye for an eye” basically eliminates the chance to forgive; it only enhances the competitition. And do the governments of the world really need any more competition than they already have? Competition eliminates any possibility of peace, and even if world peace will never be acheived for a multitude of reasons to lengthy to discuss here and now, it is still imperative and honorable to aim for it. Many Americans would probably say that invading Iraq and Afghanistan was an “eye for an eye” measure, a proper retaliation for the events of 9/11. But was it really neccessary to subject entire countries to years of struggle, poverty, and terror based on the events of that one day? 9/11 was a tragic moment in history, a moment that should have humbled the entire human race; but it did not merit an eye for an eye approach. Did the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan really help America, apart from ridding the world of Saddam Hussein? Did they really make Americans feel more comfortable and et ease with our worldly image? If anything, retaliation only hurt America more.
The “relationship” (if one could call it that) between Israel and Palestine is a never-ending circle of retaliation and finger-pointing, as both sides try to prove their righteousness. Both sides have acted inhumanely, disgustingly. Both sides have every reason to be angry–but, one must consider: is there a start to their circle? The creation of Israel seems like an obvious start to a circle of hatred and violence, but it is of course a tricky begining, for no one alive today was around at the time of the takeover of the Palestinian state and, therefore, one cannot blame any Israeli today; in fact, if anyone was to blame for the start of violence in this little, ancient corner of the Old World, it would be Britain and those who brought the state into being.
Most recently in the news, an American soldier went on a killing spree and gunned down 16 Afghanis, among them women and children. Immediately, Afghanis declared “retaliation” against the Americans for this act of supreme cruelty. Aha, here we have the “circle argument,” the “eye for an eye” motif again, and again we must ask is it really worth it? Will the Afghanis truly be satisfied by killing American soldiers in afghanistan? No, they will not; this act will not bring back the dead, The act of one deranged man should not be cause to attack his fellow countrymen; by declaring retaliation against Americans/America, the Afghani’s are only weilding the stereotyping and racism paintbrush (so very popular in society) which deems that one person is responsible for all those of the same nation/ethnicity. One man does not represent the whole of America; nor did the terrorists of 9/11 or any other day represent the whole of Middle Eastern Muslim populations. Rather than learn to forgive (or at least recognize the difference between one person and his brothers) the Afghani rebels would rather bring about more violence and fire.
The conclusion? Fight fire with fire in your own private battles, but when it comes to the security and prosperity of an entire nationhood of people, let the people keep their eyes, even if you feel differently. For if the whole world is blind, who can we turn to?
1.Shaky truce appears to end along Gaza-Israel border, CNNWire Staff, CNN