Enough is enough.
Reading news coverage of the Middle East is more often than not a somber affair. Don’t get me wrong: most news, wherever you are, is depressing, but it always seems to be the same story in Arabia: human rights (and humans) being crushed. Tyrannical governments. Islam and oil being pretty much the only things that flourish in these arid lands. It almost makes this writer, who is planning on pursuing her MA in international studies/relations, apathetic towards the ideas of reconciliation, peace, dialogue and justice.
Witness: the case in Syria. Back in March I discussed this situation, and things have only taken a turn for the worse since: the recent massacre in the town of Houla where 108 people were murdered (15 of them children) is chilling. The revolution (and can one still use the term ‘revolution’ afterwards if the revolters are crushed?) in Syria is embarassing, namely because it shows that unless oil/wealth or a power play are at stake, the United States and Western world will not step in to help (although France recently said that they’d support an intervention). Civil war, by default, should be left to the country it’s taking place in, otherwise it becomes a sort of world war, wouldn’t you say? (What, today, constitutes a world war? Every continent jumping in the melee?) Nevertheless, countries do interfere in civil war business (see Libya) so it is shameful that they won’t now, just like outside countries rarely help (in any way) in the civil war strife of African nations.
To “punish” Syria, Syrian ambassadors from several countries, including France, have been expelled, to which I can only say: do you think Bashar Al-Assad really cares? This is the man who is accusing Islamist rebels of staging the Houla massacre to get international intervention in the crisis: I doubt he will change his position because his ambassadors have arrived home (will they return home, or declare themselves refugees?) And considering that Syria has the support of Russia and Vladimir Putin (see the article from France’s Le Monde in the Links section) I’m not sure the Western superpowers (or even the Arab League) would want to start up something militarily with Syria. This is not to say that Russia is militarily superior to the rest of the world, but I doubt anyone wants to test the system of alliances (and Putin) and start World War III; after all, didn’t World War I start over a small country and alliances?
Enough is enough!
This was my sentiment exactly when watching the documentary film “Death in Gaza” about the Palestinian situation (situation seems such a wrong word, considering this ‘situation’ has been going strong for how many decades now?) The film centers mostly on children: filmmaker James Miller wanted to film both Palestinian and Israeli children and get each side’s opinions, but unfortunately he was killed before interviewing the Israeli children by-ironically-the Israelis, hence the title of the documentary. Although it was filmed in 2004 and Palestine-Israel violence isn’t the center of the news, that doesn’t mean that the violence and ill-will doesn’t continue every day.
Death in Gaza is terrifying and certainly more fascinating than anything you can go see in a regular movie theatre. One encounters children who throw rocks at huge Israeli tanks, children who hate the ‘dirty Israelis’ (and they’re so young, how do they know to differentiate between people??) and boys barely at puberty who sit on the floor at secret rebel meetings where everyone wears ski masks and is holding a gun.
How can an 11-year old be political? Then again, in a place where homes get bulldozed with people still inside them and curfew is imposed at dark so that if you go outside you might get shot (which is what happened to James Miller), how could one not be political? The film is very raw and real; I felt as though I was hovering at the windows in that very house Miller had been visiting before he was killed, the night outside, breathing in horrified anticipation as they heard the gunshots. The film was almost disgusting, when you realize that scenes from movies are people’s everyday horrors. This is what Syria must be like now, and yet the Palestinians have been dealing with this every day for years–and no one has stepped in yet.
Israeli president Benyamin Netanyahu recently stated that
I think I could deliver a peace agreement,” Netanyahu said. “I could get the Israeli people to follow me if I believe I have a serious partner on the other side willing to make the necessary compromises on the Palestinian side.”
Inquiring minds want to know: who is this ‘serious partner’ on the other side? In any case, Netanyahu doesn’t seem particularly charged up for this idea: Israel detained pro-Palestine protesters arriving at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport back in April admist “hysteria.” But, as was mentioned in GFDDG book Hezbollah, “Who authorized [Nasrallah] to represent all [Lebanese] to make decisions for them and to embroil them in something they didnt want to be embroiled in? ” (p. 118) This quote (insert Netanyahu and Israelis in the brackets instead) applies perfectly here. Not all Israelis want this situation to continue, but yet their government will not listen. In a sense, all governments are as such: one person ultimately says yes or no, no matter the democracy.
Peace? Negotiation? Dialogue? Are these impossible? What is the point of setting up organizations like the United Nations when certain nations (ahem, the United States) wield more power than anyone else? What is the point of creating the Arab League if it can’t stop one of it’s own from massacring it’s own people? What is the point of creating groups like the Human Rights Watch when human rights are trampled every single day? What is the point of creating alliances when they only promote blindness, bullying and favoritism? When will dialogue match up with action?
3. Richard Norton, Augustus. Hezbollah, A short History. 2009.
4. A Death in Gaza, 2004.