Frontier Former Editor

July 15, 2006

Ahh, another chance to use that college and graduate-level history education . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:57 pm

If the last couple of weeks in the eastern Mediterranean aren’t making you nervous, then can I have some of what you’re taking?

Please don’t construe that I’m taking the Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah situation as some freak-of-nature event that just popped out of the ground. If you’re a modernism, you can go back as far as the Balfour declaration:

“Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild:

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:

His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge
of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,
Arthur James Balfour”

If you’re more of an expert in the region’s ancient and modern colonial history, then you can take it back a little further.

And if you have an exceptionally well-developed sense of the ironic, then either point of departure should keep you well entertained for hours without end.

But watching Israel’s recent efforts to recover its soldiers and stamp out Hamas and Hezbollah show that very little under the sun has changed.

In this case, the Israelis have assumed the role that the British held up to 1948. In their own charming way, Hamas and Hezbollah are reprising the role of the Stern Gang and Irgun.

And the United States, given how various segments of society have reacted in the last century toward a Jewish state in Palestine, is playing the same schizophrenic yet somewhat medicated role it has always played. In some ways, it isn’t too far removed from the U.S.’s role in the British-Irish ‘troubles’ in the last two and a half centuries.

In fact, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has at times been pretty abusive in the mutual sense. From my family ties with the Navy, the “Liberty” incident and a few sea stories from the 1970’s regarding Israeli military forces still color my opinion of that country’s willingness to act in a civil manner to its friends.

And the Israeli state’s fixation on Jerusalem as a capital . . . well, even we in the U.S. allow the spiritual and religious to cloud our political judgment at home and abroad. Besides, if Manifest Destiny was good enough for us in the mid 19th century, why shouldn’t it be good enough for Israel now?

And there’s the failure to realize that, while Jews were certainly displaced and unwanted after WW II, that there seemed to be damned little concern about displacement or desirability of Palestinians – either by the west or by Arab states – in the wake of 1948.

And we wonder how something like the current Gaza and Lebanon incursions could happen?

Not that I have any real love for Hezbollah (thank you, you worthless, heathen, pseudo-Islamic rat-bastards for killing an unarmed U.S. sailor during an airliner hijacking back in the 1980s. May you all slow-roast in hell) or for Hamas. But I can understand how such groups could form.

And, at the same time, our much-esteemed President (who probably doesn’t know that Alaska doesn’t occupy a mystical box just off the Pacific Northwest coast) decides he’s going to declare war on terror without any grasp of who exactly organized and supported suicide attacks on American citizens. Granted, while the U.S. helped support the organizations that eventually became the Taliban and al Qaida, we probably had a right and a responsibility to conduct a rat hunt in Afghanistan despite the long-term odds of success there.

None of this is new. None of it just magically started last month. And just like in the Crusades, volumes of people will die and the sand will eventually cover the remains until the next fanatic and indifferent states and empires come along.

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