December 19, 2005

Peace In Our Time- Peace In The Middle East

Students of history are probably familiar with the Munich Pact and Neville Chamberlain's role in it.
Chamberlain left Munich with a declaration signed by Hitler that assured peace. The prime minister returned home happy, believing that he had achieved 'peace with honour. I believe it is peace in our time'.
The echoes of his decision and so many others are still being felt today. Millions of people were slaughtered during the war, not just Jews, but millions upon millions of people. I think that it is incumbent upon us to look at the past and to learn from it. Appeasement is not a successful policy. It is not something that brings real peace but a sad, pathetic facsimile of it.

Not unlike so many others I am quite concerned about bringing peace to the Middle East. I look at Israel and wonder when the time will come when real peace will come. Will I live to see it. Will I be part of the generation that sees a new dawn. What will I witness?

Treppenwitz and Soccer Dad have a couple of posts that I think are applicable here. I'll address them separately.

Soccer Dad's post is called Beneath The Surface in it he writes about the current situation. I strongly encourage you to read the whole post because you'll miss some key elements if you rely solely on this excerpt.

"(The Arab/Muslim world holds a number of contradictory assessments about the Holocaust: it denies it, it claims that the Holocaust is the reason that Europeans were allowed to build a country in the Middle East, it claims that Israel now carries out a Holocaust against the Palestinians.)

You don't need to read that statement closely to realize that Prince Turki is denying Israel's right to exist. According to him the only reason that the world acted to create Israel was sympathy to the European Jews. The idea that there's any historical tie of Jews to Israel is absent."

The comments and gist of this are in reaction to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that the Holocaust is a myth. Or should I say the lack of or limited reaction. There is no attempt to understand why this would be considered offensive, outrageous or unacceptable.

Most of the comments I have read essentially say that if it happened it was a terrible thing but what Israel did was much worse. This is not the language of people who are interested in establishing real relations. It is not all that different from justifying rape because of the clothing the victim wore. It is a deflection from the real issue.

In this case I think that part of the problem is the education that people are receiving. I blame the Arab nations for teaching their children that there is not a real Jewish claim to the land, their painting of Jews as being subhuman, monkeys and thieves.

And just so that it is clear I don't completely absolve Jews/Israel of responsibility. It takes two to fight, but I am not interested in getting into a pissing contest about who did more. I'll save that for a different post.

On the flip side so to speak was Trep's post Shifting Perspectives. Read it. In the meantime here is my excerpt.
"Each terrorist attack forced me to see every Arab as a potential stone thrower, sniper or suicide bomber... turning me into an unapologetic racist and bigot.

Every response to these attacks (curfews, road blocks, check points etc.) forced the Arab villagers to view each Israeli as the architect of their horribly inconvenient lives... turning them into unapologetic racists and bigots.

So can two communities of unapologetic racists and bigots ever come to terms?

All I know is that a couple of years ago I couldn't look at individual Arabs any differently than I did their communities. Over time this perspective has changed. Perhaps the terrorists are losing their ability to drive their wedges quite so deeply.... or perhaps the racism and bigotry hasn't taken root as deeply as I'd originally suspected.

It might just be a small shift in perspective on my part... but if it's happening to me, who knows where else perspectives might be shifting?"

I'll be obnoxious and quote myself. This is from the comment I left about blogging and its relationship to changing perspectives.
"A snapshot of life that lends itself to promoting the humanity of all."
I think that part of the value in blogging is that it offers us a window inside a world we might not ever see. Inside our homes we have the luxury of learning about others. We have the opportunity to see the person on the other side and to learn about what we share in common. I truly believe that in some cases it can lead to improved understanding and goodwill among all people.

Not to end this on a downer, but I really think that the major problem and the reason why I don't expect to see peace anytime soon is that we are still too quick to call each other animals and inhuman. Until we get beyond that and teach our children about our similarities we are bound to be stuck on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

5 comments:

Zeruel said...

"The echoes of his decision and so many others are still being felt today. Millions of people were slaughtered during the war, not just Jews, but millions upon millions of people. I think that it is incumbent upon us to look at the past and to learn from it. Appeasement is not a successful policy. It is not something that brings real peace but a sad, pathetic facsimile of it."

What could Britain have done? The pact was about Hitler's expansion drift, so even if Chamberlain chose to protect the borders of the nations not yet invaded by Hitler what happened in the third reich itself was beyond their control.

When Churchill took office the Russians were actively engaged in the war and so were the Americans. The nazis were weakened in the east, wasting their resources in the desolate cold of the USSR.

If Chamberlain would have decided not to arrange a peace agreement, no matter how flimsy, and chose for conflict than Hitler would have obliterated any British forces that came his way. Look at how difficult the allied forces and the USSR had it against Hitler.

Morality is an unaffordable luxury when there are practical implications to consider. And comparing the current middle-east conflicts with WW2 is utterly ridiculous. Completely different situations lacking any resemblance.

Its actually dangerous for the world when amateur historians like the neocons feel inclined project historic events on current conflicts. I think Iraq is a good example of that.

Soccer Dad said...

Thank you very much for your kind mention!

Jack's Shack said...

Z,

It is too early to say that Iraq is a victory or a failure.

David,

It is my pleasure.

Zeruel said...

"It is too early to say that Iraq is a victory or a failure."

Just like in Vietnam the primary focus of the U.S. at this stage is how to leave Iraq without too much reputation damage. The war resulted in a complete affront for all that started. Just like the many public voices predicted. Iraq transformed from a brutal dictatorship into a terror infested ethnically divided hellhole. Quite the improvement.

Jack's Shack said...

Z,

Nice try, but that doesn't wash. It stil is too early to make any significant judgement of the success or failure of this venture.

You may end up being right, but we need to see what happens once the coalition actually pulls out,