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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

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The End of Hope.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The current conflict with Israel and Hezbollah has left Israelis in a profound state of depression. My friend David, who's aunt lives there and reported back to him, calls this the end of hope.

See, all along, so many Israelis bought into the myth. If only there could be a Palestinian state. If only Israel withdrew from Gaza, from southern Lebanon. If only Israel adhered to a set of conditions; if Israel did A, B, and C, there would be peace. So said the Nation of Islam.

So Israel did A, did B, did C. But still there is no peace. Because, to the profound sadness of millions of Israelis, and Jews and good people the world over, all the Israelis did was call the bluff of the Nation of Islam. The kidnapping of these Israeli soldiers-- thugs coming across the border and into Israel, then retreating back-- was designed to send a clear message to the Jews. You are not safe here. Not now, not ever. Not as long as there is an Israel.

See, the bojive about a Palestinian state was all just a crock. This has never been about a Palastinian State. (What is a Palestinian, anyway? An Arab Muslim. Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, all fine Palestinian states right now.) No, this has always been about the Jewish state. The Nation of Islam will not be satisfied until there is no Jewish state, until Israel has been subsumed by the Nation of Islam. If you don't believe that, read the Hezbollah charter (or the Hamas charter, or the Al Qaeda charter.) Fundamentalist Islam believes that the entire world must be part of the nation of Islam. This is why there is conflict every place in the world that the NoI abuts a non-Islamic nation; and it is why the existence of Israel in the heart of the Middle East is so particularly repellent to them.

(Note: I have a copy of the Hezbollah charter in an anthology of writings on Islam. Oddly, I can't seem to find a copy of the charter anywhere on the internet; if you can, shoot me the link. I looked here, at the official English language version of the hezbollah website. Even they don't publish it (but you can order some cool t-shirts from them!) But I'll bottom line it: non-Islam infidels, elimination, blah blah blah.)

If you visit the Hezbollah website, you'll see that they always put quotation marks around the word "Israel" (like I just did.) The implications of that could not be any clearer.

There will never be peace in the Middle East, not ever, as long as there is an Israel.

This has never been more true: If the NoI stopped fighting, there would be no war. If Israel stopped fighting, there would be no Israel. The truth has been laid bare for all the world to see, and it is a sad time for the Israelis.

American media couldn't be more clueless about this (or, really, anything.) To even ask if Israeli response was justified, is to miss the point. It doesn't matter what the Israelis do. The Muslims will keep coming until Israel is gone.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 4:27 PM  

At 7/28/2006 12:07 PM, Anonymous Jeff Griffin said...   

Josh, I have to say that I completely agree with your views on this whole situation. This radical, hard-core group of Islamic Fundamentalists are a disease on the face of this planet. Nothing but world domination will appease them, (The radical factions anyway).

The best line of your post was, "If the NoI stopped fighting, there would be no war. If Israel stopped fighting, there would be no Israel."

I believe, that's true not only of Israel, but the rest of the non-muslim world. Peaceful co-existence is not only not part of their vocabulary, it's against the very principles of their funamentalist ideas. Nothing will please or appease them unless every living human falls in line with their ideals.

Unfortunately for Israel, they're in a bad neighborhood, where sensles acts of violence are more easily carried out. The remainder of the world would be (and is) in just as much danger if they had the means to carry out these atrocities further from their homeland. And sometimes as in 9-11, the Spain Railway, the British railway, etc., etc.....they succeed.

I, for better or worse, really do not follow any formal religion. Music is my religion.

I was not raised in a household where religion in any form was observed or discussed other than in very casual passing. It was just not something that entered into family life for the most part. To many that would seem a sad and tragic omission to a good upbringing, but I have to say, what was taught in my upbringing was bascally to live by the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Respect other human beings and their property no matter what their race, color or religion.

I personally have no issue with anyone practicing and honoring the faith of thier choosing or upbringing, no matter what that may be, as long as it is done respectfully and not at the expense of others. I may not follow any formal religion, but others to whom such a thing is important, have my respect and empathy.

Having said that... To an Islamic fundamentalist, I would be just as offensive to them as someone of an opposing religious view, in that I do not believe exactly what they do. I would be considered just as much an infidel as a follower of some other form of religion, and should be slaughtered in the name of making this world more in line with their beliefs.

And NOTHING will change their minds on this. Nothing!

How do you fight an enemy with no fear of dying, who in fact glorify dying while fighting for their cause? You can not either reason with them nor instill any amount of fear in them.

I saw an interesting speaker on book TV, who wrote a book titled: "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason." His name is Sam Harris.

I purchased the book, but have yet to find the time to sit down and read it, (as I unfortunately tend to do with many books. I buy them with interest with the idea that someday I'll find the time).

I can't comment so much on the book itself as I have not yet read it, but his lecture on television captured my interest due to the simple fact that he advocated real live people, in the here and now, learning to treat each other respectfully and peacefully coexist, rather than bludgeon and kill those who believe differently than you, based on some very ethereal idea of a potential afterlife which may or may not really exist.

I embrace that idea. I don't know what, if anything follows this life, but here we all are, right now, in the flesh, and in the present. Why not try and make the most of what we know for sure?

Can't we all just get along?

At 7/28/2006 6:43 PM, Anonymous Annie said...   

(This comment is from Annie's brother, Phil Berroll, a big thoughts thinker who cannot figure out how to leave his own comments on a blog.)

I speak as a supporter of Israel, and someone who recognizes that of course, it’s true that Hezbollah & Hamas want nothing less than the total destruction of that country. No one can deny this, since they certainly don’t.

The problem with Josh’s opinion, and with so much of the Jewish community, is that they leave it there – these people want to destroy Israel, they kill Jews, end of story. In this view, there is nothing Israelis can do to change this situation, so they might as well concentrate on killing as many of their enemies as possible. (As for civilians who get caught in the crossfire, well, that’s “regrettable,” but what can you do?)

What’s wrong with this attitude? It refuses to acknowledge that 1) Israel has done things over the years that have been very unhelpful (or worse) to the situation, and 2) throwing up their hands and saying “there’s no one with whom to talk/negotiate” is not a serious answer, and not true.

First of all, the fact remains that Israel still controls large sections of the West Bank – the settlements – which makes it impossible for Palestinians to regard the land as their own. (And yes, Josh, there is such a thing as “a Palestinian.” Saying “they’re all Arabs” is like saying there is no distinction between Americans, British and Australians because they’re all predominantly white, Christian, and English-speaking.)

I’m not naïve; getting out of the WB would not cause Hezbollah et. al. to disarm. Nor would taking more care to avoid civilian casualties, or an end to “collective punishments” such as bulldozing the homes of suicide bombers’ families. But doing all that would give the average Palestinian (and Arab) much less reason to hate Israelis (and Jews), and just maybe, more reason to put his faith in a nonviolent, negotiated solution and reject the cycle of endless bloodshed. (Saying “look at all the things Israel has done already, and what has it gained them?” misses the point – in this situation, the WB is the core issue, and to the Arabs, the original sin.)

Because there really are moderate Palestinians out there, which is my second point. Several years ago – at the height of the earlier Israeli-Palestinian clash – some of them got together in Geneva with a group of lefty Israelis to hash out an unofficial agreement, in which both sides agreed that the only way out was for everyone to give ground and accept compromises. Israel would leave the WB; Palestinians would stop insisting on “the right of return” for those who left Israel during the 1947 War of Independence; Jerusalem would be split.

You didn’t know about this? Sure – because these “Geneva Accords” were quickly denounced by the Jewish and Arab establishments, including ADL. (Foxman huffed that they were “unhelpful” and that only “the legitimately elected governments” involved could make a settlement – conveniently ignoring the fact that Sharon and Arafat had been unable or unwilling to do any such thing.)

Call it the Casey Stengel syndrome. Casey was once asked, what is the secret of being a successful manager? He answered, “Keep the players who hate you away from the ones who are undecided.” When we regard all “the players” on the other side as one and the same, they’ll tend to act that way.

Believe me, I understand the attitude of “they all hate us, and completely without cause.” It’s been fed to us since the first day of Hebrew school… along with the myth that the original Zionists came to a land where no one was living except a couple of nomadic tribesmen and their camels. But that’s no more accurate than the Arab myth of Israel as a bloodthirsty monster. What’s missing from both sides is recognition of the humanity of the other – the understanding that in this madness, everyone is suffering.

I’m so tired of people hiding behind their smug moral superiority – as in, “Yes, our side kills teenagers and children, but at least we don’t do it on purpose.” (Do you think that makes a difference to their families?) I’m tired of people who disagree, or criticize Israel in any way, being denounced as “biased,” “anti-Semitic,” “self-hating Jews,” etc. And I’m tired of giving in to despair.

Shooting off rockets is easy; peace takes work. Israel, the Palestinians, the U.S., the major Arab and European leaders, and anyone else with interests in this region ought to get together in a room, lock the door, order out for sandwiches, and not come out until this crisis is defused AND the groundwork is laid for a lasting, workable solution to the Israel-Palestinian dispute. And U.S. Jewish groups (and individuals) should be pushing tirelessly for this.

At 7/28/2006 11:08 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

My post was deliberately brief-- indeed longer than I was shooting for-- so I know, overly simplistic. But my fundamental disagreement with Phil is, simply, that I don't think it matters that there are moderate Muslims. Or even that most Muslims are moderates). There are quite a sufficient number of radicalized ones to constitute a problem, not just for Israel, but for the entire world (ask the gang in Kashmir abbout making peace with their Muslim neighbors. See how things are going in the Phillipines.) Indeed I could have talked about cultural drivers that have led Islam to shun modernism and thus fall behind to the West, and the collective blow to the Islam psyche-- the "Murwa," a kind of tribal machismo, in the Arabic/Muslim culture-- represented by the fall of the Ottoman empire when the Turks picked the wrong side in WWI, and the subsequent carving up of the Caliphate by England and France. This loss of cultural face and self-esteem has been exacerbated by the vast pockets of poverty and backwardness, and today makes hate and violence seem appealing (if my woes are the fault of the infidels, they aren't my own fault.) So yeah, group hugs all around.

But I'm a behavioralist; I don't see as any of this all matters, not really. Everyone has an ax to grind, but not everyone is after world domination. When Islam is called a "religion of peace," that "peace" of which the Koran speaks is the global state that will exist when every man in every country has been "freed" to accept and worship Muhammad (I know, substitute "democracy" for "Muhammad" and it gets eerie.) There is a strain of Islam that believes this (especially the Wahhabis), and groups like Hezbollah are armed and funded to serve as the army on the front lines of the war to achieve this peace.

See, you have your, what, couple hundred million fundamentalists (out of 1.4 billion Muslims), and that seems to be more than enough to create problems for the entire world in general, and Israel (who live in a bad neighborhood, as one commenter noted) in particular. There is no negotiated peace that will hold. Sure, you can negotiate peace with the moderates, but the moderates aren't the ones lobbing bombs into Haiffa.

Are we to believe there is a peace to be negotiated with Hezbollah? With Iran, who's leader alternately refuses to acknowledge the existence of Israel, and then threatens to blow it up? You cannot negotiate peace with extremist zealots who would rather die than watch you live peacefully.

Enough Muslims are commited to the elimination of Israel-- indeed to the concept of the global Sharia-- that you negotiate a peace with these guys, and like whack-a-mole, these other guys (Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, whoever) pop up and lob in missles. If there is any hope, it is in modernizing and upgrading the economic status of the entire Nation of Islam, thus making the hatred and insane zealousness less fashionable to young people, less of a growth industry. But I don't see that happening, and "spreading democracy' doesn't really seem to be helping.

Ultimately, I simply don't share Phil's optimism. Not any more. And from what I'm hearing, a lot of Israelis don't either.

At 8/01/2006 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

With the rise of Hamas in the media spolight a few months ago arose the question of whether Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist. Many senators and representatives in Washington demanded that Hamas recognize Israel, but one not forget that many of these Hamas leaders and there constituents were children when there families were forced and bombarded out of there homes just as many in South Lebanon are sadly today with just the garments they had on. Therefore, to accept the reality that a Jewsih settler from Europe or elsewhere has a right to the land or property of a Palestinian is unethical and absurd. In bare terms it is called stealing.
Whoever in the world makes the absurd statement that they accept the state of Israel, I'd like to see them give their property to a stranger that wishes them death and become homeless . It is said that words carry many to hell, especially words that are immoral and unethical. Therefore, to accept the right of Israel to exist is in other words the right of injustice to exist and that can never happen for God hates injustice and forbids it against his creation. Lets not foret to love for others what we'd love for others, that's the true secret to peace for all time.

Thank you,

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