Saturday, May 18, 2024

Commentary on Recent World Events

 


Years ago, my therapist taught me that anger is a secondary emotion.  It is a symptom of another feeling not being recognized or not being addressed.  For example, one might get angry because one is not able to identify when one is getting frustrated because one is not allowed to have their say in things.  Lately, the occupations of college campuses in support of Palestine have been in the news.  Sadly, most people have not bothered to do a Root Cause Analysis of the problem, and are blaming the wrong set of actors.  Pro-Palestinian supporters are right to complain about the needless suffering and loss of life going on in Gaza.  Pro-Israeli supporters are right to complain about Hamas' kidnapping and killing of innocent Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023.  However, only focusing on the latest atrocities to happen in the region prevents people from seeing the underlying problems in the region and dealing with them in a healthy manner.  Large groups of people are unable to identify the underlying causes of the problems in Israel and Palestine, and are unable to effectively deal with these problems.

What is happening in Israel and Palestine has its roots in the aftermath of World War 1, where the Ottoman Empire was carved up by Britain and France into their own mandates.  The Ottomans ruled the Middle East in relative peace for generations (their rule was far from perfect), and that peace was destroyed by the victors of World War 1.  In Europe, France was responsible for the humiliation and emasculation of Germany, imposing onerous conditions for post-war peace.  As a result, Germany's economy collapsed, Germany's currency became worthless, and the seeds were sown for an authoritarian leader to take control of Germany when the Great Depression happened - and one did. We know how evil Hitler proved to be.  Millions of Jews died in concentration camps.  Many who didn't die fled to Britain's Palestine mandate, feeling that friends in the Holy Land would provide them shelter.

After World War 2, the Jews wanted space in the holy land, and the UN carved out a map which gave the Jews a relatively small area which they could call their own.  However, Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia were against this, and started a war in which they lost land which the UN had allocated to the Palestinians.  Outside agitators kept stirring up the Palestinian people, teaching them that Israel had no right to exist, and drew maps showing Israel as "Occupied Palestine".

Around 1979, Iranians overthrew the pro-US government of the Shah, installing a theocratic government.  That government became rabidly anti-Israel, and has sponsored war against the Israelis and against the US (by its proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah).  And this is where the most identifiable root cause of the problem comes from.

It is no secret that a "Grand Bargain" was about to be announced, where most of the Arab world would follow Saudi Arabia's lead and recognize Israel's right to exist, in exchange for Saudi Arabia to perform limited uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes and to have a national security arrangement with the United States.  I have no doubt that Iran authorized Hamas to attack Israel to disrupt the "Grand Bargain".  Sadly, this action succeeded beyond Iran's wildest dreams, causing Israel to attack what its people see as the root cause of the problem - Hamas' existence.

Of course, fighting Hamas on its own turf would result in needless Palestinian deaths.  But what was Israel to do?  Its people thirsted for blood revenge.  Hamas hides between the skirts of women and children, building its infrastructure in the midst of innocent Palestinian civilians.  To fight Hamas, Israel would need to inflict a lot of "Collateral Damage" on the Palestinian people.  This would cause many people to see Israel as committing genocide against the Palestinians, where the Israelis would see the situation as simply fighting a necessary war against an enemy who doesn't care about the deaths of its supporters. It didn't help the cause of peace that Bibi Netanyahu thought (before October 7th) that he could work with Hamas behind the scenes.  So, Israel is, in part, responsible for giving Hamas the power to cause Israel harm.  Bibi now has to "look tough" to preserve his place in Israel's power hierarchy.  But how much revenge should Israel be allowed to extract?  No one addresses Israel's legitimate needs in the recent protests.

So, why aren't people protesting against the real problem, Iran sponsoring terrorism?  People focus on the symptoms of diseases, and not their causes.  How many of us (like myself) look to take pills to manage our blood pressure and blood sugar levels, when diet and exercise can help deal with these problems when done often enough, with appropriate intensity?  People don't like doing root cause analyses, and this leads people to being divided and unable to properly address the real problems in the world.

Hopefully, we will see the Arab world forced to step up and propose ideas for peace which recognize Israel's right to exist, see Israel give up the unlawful West Bank settlements, and to have an Arab force policing what is to become a Palestinian state until a non-corrupt Palestinian government grows into the role of good governance, Now is the time for the Arab world to take the risks to make peace with Israel, proposing honorable terms for all.  This would block Iran from causing too much mischief in the Middle East, and would sow the seeds for long term stability in the region.

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