For an interesting conversation from two very different, thoughtful worldviews, go to neo-resistance.
I commented there, but I had more to add, and I don’t think naj would like me to use her comment space as my personal opinions pages!
When discussing the current situation in Israel and Palestine, Divajood asks:
Do you condone suicide bombings? Do you condone young people strapping bombs to their bodies and walking into crowded cafes, detonating those bombs and killing civilians?
Personally: of course not!
But I think one element which has blown our minds away in the past decades (as Middle Easterners) is how brutally biased the rest of the world has been in their naming convention.
During the 30s and 40s, Jewish militia groups carried out gargantuan terrorist acts to realize a Jewish state.
Organizations like Irgun, Lehi, etc were involved in murder, kidnapping, bombing and assassination plots.
Today, those Irgun members responsible for the bombings of the British military headquarters in Jerusalem in 1946 in which 100 people were killed can sit on prime time TV and mock the world for calling them “terrorists” because they were simply fighting for “their” land.
And the world nods in agreement.
So what are the Palestinians doing?
As Divajood correctly points out, the 1946 bombing was against a military target – it was not in a restaurant where dozens of children and families were enjoying brunch.
However, I still believe that Israeli terrorism is not viewed as badly as Palestinian terrorism – no matter who the target. Does Israel not target civilians? Could Palestinian militants who have waged attacks on Israeli militants show up on prime time?
America devastated & destroyed hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners after 9/11 on the basis that the men who carried out those attacks against her land on September 11th were from the Middle East and belonged to a greater Middle Eastern organization.
Through out history, men have fought brutally for their lands. Historically, what has been the main reason for war?
Often times provoked by the greed and hunger of few.
Have any of these acts been less brutal than the other?
Was Jewish terrorism, kidnapping and murder to realize a Jewish state any more “right”?
So why do we only constantly pound the Palestinians?
When fighting for their land today, (albeit via means which many of us find deplorable) nobody ever says: hey! We were doing that 50 years ago!
Iran has been mocked and devoured for “originating the culture of suicide bombing” in the eight year war she fought with Iraq. As says former CIA agent Robert Baer: “The origins of suicide bombing lie among the Shi’ite in Iran”.
But nowhere does Baer acknowledge how this war was thrown on Iran, and how this was the only way Iranians found to defend themselves against an ever increasing international presence in Iraq.
Why was America’s use of a nuclear weapon to end the second world war “patriotic”? Why were 15 year old British boys in the trenches during the first world war “heroic”?
And why is our fight now despotic and evil?
The most fundamental problem in the Middle East today, is not, as many point out, terrorism, or fundamentalist Islam, or dictators. But rather, double standards towards violently similar conduct. Such standards disarm us of any possibility for progress, or any rationale for peace.
To many of us, no matter what we personally feel, a man like Ahmadinejad fares leagues better than a man like the American president; simply because no matter what he may utter, he has very little sphere of influence in comparison. That is while Bush’s time in power has yielded more chaos and bloodshed in the Middle East than recent history can recall – and history in the Middle East has much bloodshed to recall.
And yet, even to many Iranians who deplore both men, somehow it’s as if Monsieurs Bush & Blair are more “acceptable”; more human or humane.
What is their difference but the color of their skin?
Despite all our claims that the current U.S. primary elections prove that she has overcome her great racial divide, and despite our claims that modernity has indeed erased many of our racist practices through out the world, in the day of iPods and MacBook Air, our racism and bigotry has only taken on a much more complex, vicious form.
That is why Bush will play rich cowboy for the rest of his life and Ahmadinjead is exempt from a UN + Italy summit on food crisis.
Many of us Iranians will never forget the four years of Ahmadinejad (here’s hoping it really is only four). We will remember him for the destruction his minister Harandi brought to once semi-vibrant cultural ministry, for his chaotic domestic policies and his ability to bleed dry any last sign of hope that were once out there on the street.
But no other time have I been filled with so much rage than when I read that he had been kept from this summit.
Why is death and destruction, ruin and bloodshed o.k. if you wear a tie?
What other more brutal form of racism is there? To accept (even if only with a pinch of salt) such bloody catastrophes and those who were responsible?
And to shun those whose mere words we don’t like?
Why did the world ruin the Palestinians for electing Hamas? And applaud the Israelis when Yitzhak Shamir, a prominent member of Lehi, became P.M?
What is this?!
Why is one movement called “resistance” and the other “terrorist”? Why is one region simply called “disputed” when it is in all reality “occupied”? Why is one man “controversial” and the other a “warmonger”?
How much more racist and bigoted can we become?
Obama, during his victory speech declared that the U.S. would have to innovate new ways for producing fuel as to no longer be in need of “petty dictators and their oil”.
Not because I disagree: the oil rich rulers are all petty dictators; every last one of them. But because while he calls them by their rightful name, he would never go far enough to call his likely predecessor, Bush, a petty manipulator, a murderer, a savage beast.
Of course he wouldn’t. Because he’d be ousted from his party, his position, his supporters. The madness against him would never end. He can criticize Bush’s policies, but he can not go that far.
The people living in America today can simply not imagine what it is like to go to sleep one night and die under bombing. They can not imagine how it must be to die in a battered hospital after being attacked on the fields with nerve gas. They can not imagine what it is like to have your entire life go up in flames and shadows and death.
John Lennon may have been the one to sing “Imagine”, but here in the Western world, “imaging” such realities is not to be.
I find myself more and more angered at criticism thrown at the Middle East. Not because I disagree, but because I am tired of seeing that it goes only to Iran – and not Jordan. That it goes only to Palestine and not to Israel. That it goes to Iraq and not the U.S.
And I know my mode of thought is philosophically and morally not valid.
It is Ahmadinejad.
When asked about Iran’s human rights record, he points to Israel. When asked about Iran’s women’s activists, he points to Palestine.
During a speech Ahamd Zeinabadi – one of my favorite Iranian journalists – gave in my school a few years ago, he rightly acknowledged that Iranian politics is neither that stupid nor caring to support Palestine the way it does. Rather, the Iranians are using her as life support. Without Palestine and Israeli’s atrocities to point to, they would be in deep waters about their own conduct: both with their own people and those outside. There would be nothing else to talk about but their own deeds and their own actions. For now, she is their life jacket, or airbag – something to fall on and leave those harder conversations aside.
So I see the problem in my logic. And yet, for many of us, it is inevitable sometimes.
Our life as Middle Easterners amongst the rest of the world is more and more like two naughty children in a playground making trouble … but constantly, day after day, one is pampered and the other savagely beaten … and beaten … and beaten …
The only difference in our story?
It’s not in a playground, it’s our daily life. And there’s no end to the game.
Only silence and shadows and waiting.