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  • February 2008
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Overdue Thoughts

“So, what’s up with your blog?”

The question was asked by a friend of mine at the pub the other day.

I hung my head. As it turns out it is difficult to keep up a weekly blog entry on the Middle East, especially when balancing all the competing priorities in our lives. I had been working on some posts re. Bush’s visit to the region, the blockade of Gaza, and the Rafah wall incident. But then some family things took priority and then traveling and then it seemed too late to post what I’d been writing – yesterday’s news as it were.

My friend and I discussed some ideas of how to streamline my blogging process. He’s a regular blogger so I trust his advice. Anyways, I think I might be back in the saddle. Check back next Friday. In the meantime here are a few things I’ve been thinking about in the past month or so:

  • George Bush’s visit was too little, too late in my opinion. As was the attempt at peace talks at Annapolis. It’s interesting because Bush was the first sitting President to affirm a two-state solution (early in his presidency too), but Iraq has pretty much destroyed his credibility in the Arab world. I can’t imagine a scenario where he will be able to broker any sort of peace deal between Israel and Palestine. Especially considering all of the humanitarian aid that the US had been sending to Israel over the years was converted to military aid in 2007. Palestinians used to claim that Israel was buying jets, helicopters, missile, and bullets with US funding. In the past that was a stretch, now it is not.
  • Israel’s complete blockade of Gaza in January of 2008 was reportedly in response to the incessant bombing of southern Israeli towns by Qassam rockets out of Gaza. Gazans report that the Qassam rocket attacks were in response to missile attacks from Israel the week before, which were in turn a response to previous Qassam rocket attacks, which were in response to previous . . . and on and on and on all the way back to 1947. Who is responsible for what and why? Who knows?! Each side always has a justification and can point to a specific action of the other’s that has prompted the violence du jour. One thing I can say is that completely blockading a civilian populous, cutting off all supplies of outside food, medicine, and fuel seems heavy handed. Imagine the city of Los Angeles being blockaded due to gang violence and drug trafficking. Every citizen of Los Angeles is not responsible for the crimes of a few people. Nor should the entire population of Gaza be punished for the acts of terrorists.
  • I would also like to add that in the past 7 years of fighting only 11 Israeli deaths have been attributed to Qassam rocket fire. B’tselem (the Israeli center for Human Rights) keeps comprehensive death and casualty statistics for both sides. This includes a table detailing the 471 Israeli civilians killed (in Israel) by Palestinians and a table detailing the 4419 Palestinians killed by Israelis (in the Occupied Territories).
    • When you tally up all the categories of fatalities it seems that there have been 4,528 Palestinian deaths (including 878 minors or 19% of total fatalities) and 1,031 Israeli deaths (including 119 minors or 11% of total fatalities). Each one of these fatalities should be mourned. Each family represented by those numbers must be personally devastated. Palestinian suicide bombers should be denounced. But so should Israeli bombing of civilian neighborhoods. If you just look at the number of deaths, you begin to wonder which side should be more terrified (esp. considering that Palestine has 1/2 the population of Israel).
    • And not to be overly macabre, but the combined fatalities in Israel/Palestine do not even touch the 10s or 100s of thousands (depending on your source) in Sudan over the past several years. I mean really, when are we going to start building walls and dropping bombs to stop that conflict?
  • Re. the Rafah wall coming down – it is very surprising that this had not happened previously. I was very interested to note that the people who went into Egypt were doing so to get basic supplies for living – livestock, groceries, fuel oil. Some people said well why did Egypt put up a wall there anyway – must be they were concerned about keeping the Palestinians out too, just like Israel. Actually Israel erected that border fence when they had control of the territory. It only reverted to Egyptian control once the Israeli’s pulled completely out of Gaza. And Egypt has been under a lot of pressure from all sides re. their border policy with Palestine ever since.

Ok, that’s enough of a brain dump from me on month old news. Look again on Friday for some new musings. In the meantime, please pray for the innocent victims of violence (both Israeli and Palestinian) and especially for the families who have lost children and loved ones because politicians can’t agree to live in peace.


One Response

  1. […] Without a Shrine is blogging again. He’s got some thoughts on recent happenings in the Middle East. I can’t imagine a […]

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