CRUNCH TIME IN BAGHDAD
- at least for George Bush and his coterie - many Iraqis actually perceive us as illicit invaders of their country rather
than as liberators. And at least some of those Iraqis will resist to the death any effort on our part to become conquerors.
Our attempt to inflict democracy on Iraq as a political system is the secular counterpart to attempting to inflict Christianity
as a religion.
Western powers incited by various Popes tried to do that on seven occasions around 750 years ago and
utterly failed for one immutable reason: Social systems, both religious and secular, can never be other than what the underlying
cultural melieu enables and mandates.
What arrogance, what chutzpah it takes to believe that our way - religious or
secular - is the only "true" way. If the shoe were on the other foot, many of us would be behaving exactly as many Iraqis
are today. Our leaders and media choose pejoratively to call them "insurgents," "rebels" and "terrorists," but their counterparts
in American history were called "patriots" and "heroes" just as their counterparts in the history of France during the German
occupation were called "freedom fighters" or simply, and accurately, the "resistance."
OR WHAT IS TO BLAME FOR MIDDLE EAST CHAOS?
A former classmate took me to task for writing a piece he felt "blamed"
Zionism for the current chaos in the Middle East. In his view, my research must have been flawed. In response, I wrote as
Although the results of my research are at odds with some fairly widely-held beliefs, I think it's those beliefs
rather than my research that's flawed.
As I see it, there's plenty of blame to go around. Top of my list of arch villains
is the British government for fostering massive immigration of Jewish people to Palestine beginning early in the last century
in the face of strong opposition from the Muslim and Christian people who were already there.
Next on my list is the
United Nations, first for carving up Palestine in 1947, and then for failing to make it stick.
Harry Truman and the
United States are a close third for their support of the partition, Israel's pre-emptive declaration of independence, and
lop-sided support of Israel ever since in disregard of America's own best interests.
In that shameful derby, Theodor
Herzl and his latter-day disciples are, at best, "also rans."
In dealing with history, it's frequently difficult to
sort out divergent biases, perceptions, and misperceptions of the writers. So it's only fair to disclose some of the biases
I realize have shaped my views about the Israel/Palestine situation. Obviously, and lamentably, there may be other biases
of which I'm unaware.
The biases I'm aware of have resulted from my continuing study beginning in junior college and
reaching back at least 3,500 years. Three sources have been especially intriguing: "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas R. Hofstadter,
"The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of The Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes, and "A History of God" by Karen Armstrong.
known biases are tentative conclusions resulting from research and reflection (perhaps not exhaustive, but certainly non-trivial).
Although those conclusions now seem highly probable to me, I'm aware their validity isn't susceptible of unambiguous, demonstrable
I believe turmoil in the "holy land" begins with widespread, deep-seated superstitious beliefs in what Alcoholics
Anonymous might call a "higher power." The varying mythologies adhered to by Christians, Jews, and Muslims (not to mention
variations within all three systems) cause real differences in their perceptions of reality, all of which seem largely intractable,
just like free floating anxieties.
I find it difficult to believe the "universe" originated by chance in a vacuum or,
alternatively, "always was." But I find it even more difficult to believe the "universe" was intelligently designed, begotten,
organized, directed, monitored, and randomly intervened in by an incorporeal, intentional, clandestine, puissant, consciousness
(whether known as Jehovah, God, Allah or by some other name) that, itself, originated by chance in a vacuum or "always was."
don't believe the Israelites were "God's chosen people" or that God bestowed Canaan on the Israelites as the "promised land,"
because I don't believe there was a "God" available to do such choosing or promising.
I believe such mythology was
devised by Israelites to justify, buttress, and rationalize their superior (or counter their inferior) self-concept, their
conquest of Canaan, and their self-serving assertions. I even believe "Emanu-El" reflects adoption by the Israelites of "El,"
chief god of the Canaanite pantheon who came to be called Jehovah by latter-day Hebrew myth-makers.
The "promised land"
myth, propagated by sincerely believing Jews for nearly two millennia since the Roman expulsion of the Jews from the "holy
land" to the Diaspora in 70 A.D. is a fundamental provocation in the "holy land" today, but Muslim claims of cosmic "right"
to the territory, while equally sincere, are also equally mythological and tenuous.
Fundamentalist Christians are a
wild card in this whole matter. They sincerely see themselves aligned with the Israelis as self-proclaimed inheritors of Jewish
"chosen-ness." While laying no claim to territory, their mythology includes a belief Hebrew hegemony throughout the "holy
land" is crucially prerequisite to "the rapture" - "the second coming of Christ."
I am as dubious about a second coming
as I am about a first, and I believe Mohammed may have been smoking opium when he single-handedly penned the "Koran," much
as Joseph Smith must have been on Peyote or some such when he wrote down the "Book of Mormon," and Mary Baker Eddy on who
knows what when she wrote "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
In fostering Zionism, I believe Theodor
Herzl sincerely believed the "promised land" was fact rather than myth, and Arthur Balfour found it expedient to endorse that
view as a means of deflecting from Britain undesired Eastern-European Jewish immigration which was then in the offing. Today's
residents of Israel/Palestine and the rest of the world are burdened with the legacy of applied Jewish mythology and British
Much as Europeans invaded the land of the Native Americans by immigration, Jew re-invaded the "holy land"
by immigration between the two World Wars. Just as Humpty-Dumpty can't be put back together again, that historical reality
can't be reversed.
The best we can hope for now is some sort of peaceful, pragmatic, reciprocal accommodation among
all the parties involved. Consideration on all sides of existential reality rather than mythology would facilitate such resolution
but, lamentably, it isn't likely to happen in the short remaining span of my lifetime.
IT BE AS EASY AS THIS?
(A TVLS recipient sent this food-for-thought item.)
Just before World War I, there were a
number of terrorist attacks on the United States forces in the Philippines by, you guessed it, Muslim extremists. So General
John "Black Jack" Pershing, graduate of West Point, captured 50 terrorists and had them tied to posts execution style. He
then had his men bring in two pigs and slaughter them in front of the now horrified terrorists.
Muslims detest pork
because they believe pigs are filthy animals. Some Muslims simply refuse to eat it, while others won't even touch pigs or
any of their by-products. To them, eating or touching a pig, its meat, or its blood is to be instantly barred from paradise
(and the 72 perennial virgins) and doomed to an eternity in hell.
The soldiers next soaked their bullets in the pigs'
blood, and proceeded as a firing squad to execute 49 of the 50 terrorists. Then the soldiers dug a big hole, dumped in the
terrorist's bodies and covered them in pig blood and entrails.
The 50th prisoner, who had witnessed all of this, was
released to go on his way. For the next forty-two years, there was not a single Muslim extremist attack anywhere in the world!
this just a coincidence? If not, would this approach work again? Might there be a Muslim backlash in Israel?