Not Getting It


Leonard Zwelling

         Currently, I am being bombarded with emails and links to web
sites about the crisis in Israel and Gaza. Apparently anti-Semetic traffic is up on the internet. And an article in today’s NY Times discusses how the rest of the Arab world beyond the Palestinians are rooting for Israel.

        But I think this is not about Gaza
or even about this latest fighting, the most ferocious in a quite a while. It’s about the ultimate battle for the
nature of the world in which we live.

         On one side is the highly developed Western culture of
democracy, free enterprise, capitalism and equality. Are we there yet? Of
course not. There are still many people discriminated against because of who they
are, not the least of whom are women. But we are progressing. After all, it’s
only been about 100 years since women have voted in America and 50 since the
races gained equality in American class rooms, so we are on the way. America has always
been a work in progress and let’s hope it continues to be.

Western Europe has been at it longer, they too are challenged by the influx of
many foreigners to their shores seeking the benefits of their more socialized
government largesse. How this all sorts out is unclear, but we all assume it
will be through peaceable debate and elections and not a reversion to fascism.
I happen to believe that the European penchant for socialism at least partially
derives from its acute aversion to the memory of fascism and fascism’s roots in poverty and
social injustice. Europe will do anything to avoid any further Nazis, and that
looks like it includes appeasement of the Russians. Bad bet.

         In the current conflicts around the world, the “civilized” side
is represented by Israel, and the Ukraine both of which want to be Westernized
democracies with free citizens. As Americans, we all should say, welcome!

         The other side is quite different. It is totalitarian,
oligarchic, theocratic and anti-woman. The worst example of these countries and
movements are run by people who wish to be governed by Sharia law. (As one of
the latest emails made clear, Muslims are only free in non-Muslim countries). Women
will not have equal status. Boys will be raised to be killers and martyrs.
While many of these autocratic states are Muslim, they certainly do not
represent the real teaching of Islam as practiced in many peace-loving
countries around the world (mostly non-Muslim).

Russia must be included among the hostile states as must Gaza and some of the
nations in the Middle East, both Shia and Sunni. (That Jews simply disagree on
what synagogue to attend or which pudding to consume [MyTeFine or Jello] depending on whether they are orthodox, conservative
or reform, while Muslims seem to have to kill one another over differences in
interpretation of their religion is notable as well).

         What is playing out in Gaza is really the first battle of
Armageddon, which is fascinating because Megiddo, the supposed site for the
real Armageddon of Revelation, is in Israel to the north. I have been there. It
looks like a place where the ultimate battle could take place.

         Many will read this and say I am blowing this way out of
proportion. Really? I think not. While it is true that the Zionists of 1948 did
displace indigenous Arabs and occupy the land, that is not all that different
from the way most countries have been formed (including the US. Little Big Horn
was a blood bath, as were the Alamo, Lexington and Concord, and Gettysburg).
That is not a justification. It’s just reality.

what is playing out now on the shores of the Mediterranean is different. When
the leadership of a small enclave wholly dependent on Israel for its life blood
wishes to go to war against their Israeli neighbors by raining down missiles
and diverting cement intended for school and hospital construction to build
tunnels to attack the very people keeping their constituents alive, it is time
to do more than “mow the lawn.”

         The reason there is no peace in Gaza is that neither side
wants peace and no amount of silly diplomacy by either the UN or the US will
make any difference. Israel cannot stand by and allow the shells to fall on its
people or to have secret raids threaten farmers. Hamas cannot relent for they
are out of options. Egypt is now against them as is much of the Arab world. Their leaders hide in foreign
territory and their people are dying for the leaders’ nonsense. They have to have
something to show for their depravity and cynicism. And Israel must be as
resolute in demonstrating that this sort of behavior cannot be rewarded.

         I am not suggesting there is no peaceful settlement. Wait a
minute. Yes, I am. This is our fight as much as it is the Israeli fight. The
people who threaten Israel will threaten us as well soon enough. President
Obama, Secretary Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban can fly anywhere at any
time for any purpose, but they better “get” that the very existence of Western
culture is under attack in Gaza. The dead and dying are just the pawns of those
willing to put them in harm’s way.

         This fight has been going on for hundreds of years and it
will likely go on for hundreds more, but we should make no mistake about what
is at stake.

         Shakespeare or Sharia? You choose.

Leonard Zwelling