Israel-Lebanon conflictI'm keenly watching the current Middle-East war, and I'm extremely disturbed because people are dying in a totally unnecessary war. The war has thrown up a lot of questions, that I hope to address in this and following blog posts, starting with the core problem: why the hell can't the Israelis and Palestinians live together ? Other questions that need to addressed being - What is the ideal solution ? How are we going to achieve it ? What is the point in having UN ? Can war-crimes be committed only by the losers ? What do you do about terrorism ?
So, what if they belong to different religions ? Even if all citizens of a country are of a single religion, people somehow find enough excuses to fight among themselves. Casteism in Hinduism (India) though it can be argued that casteism is a social and not a religious disease, Shias and Sunnis in Islam (Iran/Iraq etc), Catholics and Protestants in Christianity (Ireland) ... I don't know much about Buddhism or Judaism, so can't comment on them. But, anyway, the point being that Jews and Muslims can't live together is rubbish. It is an excuse.
I've always rebelled against the rigid rituals of religion. But, I do think that religion has never caused violence, per se. The root cause for all so-called "religious conflicts" has been the struggle for power - power to control others, exercised using deliberate mis-interpretations of religion. So, don't blame religion, blame the power-brokers.
There are some other practical aspects of this two-nation theory concept. From whatever I remember from macro-economics, I wonder how will Palestine (or Lebanon or Syria or Jordan) ever going to be a developed country ? Can they generate enough to maintain a good balance-of-payments position ? What will their main income be ? Can they sustain themselves ?
It can be argued that the past of Jews and Arabs has been so bloody that peace is unthinkable. Ok, accepted. But, what crime did the children do that they should suffer because we can't forget the past. Past is dead ... if there is no forgiveness then we will meet the past in the future, which is what is happening. Then there is the fact that Israeli Arabs are considered 2nd-class citizens of the country, despite the fact that Israel promises no discrimination. Ok, change the constitution. South Africa had a bigger mess with apartheid. They did a great job with Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
South Africa and more importantly, India, have demostrated to the world that diverse people can indeed live together, and it is possible to forgive the past. Are Israelis and Palestinians courageous enough to learn to tolerate their differences ?
I think it is time for all the players to step back and see where Middle-East should be some 50 years from now, and how we are going to achieve it.
So, I'm not advocating a cease-fire. That is too short-term. I'm advocating a single-nation theory. One secular and democratic where Arabs and Jews live with each other and as first class citizens. Perhaps unified with Lebanon and Syria (heh, if I can dream, I can dream big enough). That would be a country with a future.
Is it impossible ? No, if Berlin Wall can fall, and Germany can reunite, then this is also possible. But, it is going to be difficult. Because this is something that can't be dictated from outside. Do the Israelis and Palestinians want peace desperately enough ? Or are they still going to kill each other for next 2-3 generations ? In other words, how can they deserve peace ? But, ultimately, however long it takes, this is going to happen. I hope they are going to realize this soon enough.