Familiar Path Leads to Dead End

By Jason Menard

Where’s the public outcry? Where’s the mass condemnations? Or does Israel get a free pass when it comes to international relations.

Interesting how a country that’s in the process of developing nuclear capabilities, like North Korea, is met with swift and decisive condemnation and American sabre-rattling for just lobbing a few missiles, based on antiquated technology, into the ocean.

Yet Israel, a country with nuclear capabilities, is in the process of bombarding a sovereign neighbouring country as I type. In fact, our Prime Minister has gone on record supporting Israel’s actions, stating that questions regarding whether Israel has used excessive force are just questions of nuance.

I’m sorry, missiles landing on public property aren’t matters of nuance. They’re pretty much black and white – oh, and red from the innocent blood that inevitably gets spilled from actions of this sort.

South of the border, the Americans have used their veto power in the very United Nations that they’ve worked so hard to discredit to squelch an Arab-backed resolution condemning Israel for a disproportionate use of force, and which would have called for Israel to halt its offensive.

Navigating through the murky waters of Middle East politics is a treacherous endeavour at best. Criticism of Israel is often cast as anti-Semitism, regardless of whether or not the criticism is valid, reasoned, and substantiated. On the other side, it’s hard to feel sympathy for a people – the Palestinians – who choose as their elected representatives parties built upon terror and violence.

In fact, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one that many North American prefer to turn a blind towards. There are so many issues, so much history, and so much misinformation out there that the average person feels overwhelmed by the magnitude of this conflict.

For me, the best way to look at the issue is to acknowledge that both sides are right and both sides are wrong at the same time. Israelis have a right to defend their homeland in an area where many of its neighbours would like nothing more than to wipe her off the map. On the other side, Palestinians have a right to feel slighted by an international community that appropriated their land to create the nation of Israel. Both groups have valid claims to the territory, and neither can be considered wrong in their desires.

However, both sides can be considered wrong in the means they use to reach their desired ends. Kidnappings, terror, and launching of missiles that kill civilians and destroy civic infrastructure are tactics that only serve to further inflame the conflict, not work towards a solution.

After all, might doesn’t necessarily make right.

So what is the solution? How do we solve the conflict? How do you answer a question that seemingly has no answer amenable to either side? I don’t have the answer – and it certainly doesn’t seem that the powers-that-be in the region do either?

But what I, and many others around the world, can agree on is that this type of violence is not the answer. It’s inevitable that, no matter how well-intended or well-targeted the strikes may be, civilians will be the ones that bear the brunt of the attack’s force. By attacking Lebanon’s airport and civic infrastructure, it’s not Hezbollah that gets hurt – it’s the average Lebanese citizen who is simply trying to make do on a day-to-day basis.

Conversely, while suicide bombers are rampant in the Middle East, it’s rarely the political movers and shakers who are targeted, but rather the average citizen that’s trying to live a life with a semblance of normalcy, in spite of the conflict.

Whether you’re a supporter of Israel or Palestine, I think all can agree that there has to be a better solution. In the end, we’re not supporting an ideal or a nation – we’re supporting the people who are represented by those concepts. And people aren’t concepts – they’re living, breathing, entities who are just like us, regardless of their political or religious leanings.

Well, they’re living and breathing up until the point when they become collateral damage.

In the end, I can’t say that I’m on the Israeli or the Palestinian side of the debate. In fact, the only side I’m on is that of the people on both sides of the border who, like me, are just trying to live their lives. Unlike me, though, they have to do it under the daily threat of violence, terror, and the potential for paying the ultimate price for the folly of their leaders.

At this point, we don’t have the answer. But while there’s no road map to resolution, it’s safe to say that this road of violence has been well-travelled. And we’ve seen where it leads, time and time again – a dead end.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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