Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A new Intifada? Or Fundamentalism Strikes Again

Fundamentalism is, I'm convinced, the scourge of the earth. Ha'aretz reports that fundamentalist Jews are attacking Israeli soldiers who are attempting to keep peace in the Occupied Territories. The fundamentalists believe that the land they occupy was given to them by G*d, and it is their sacred duty to defend that land. The article argues that civil war in Israel is a distinct possibility.

And, of course, the IDF was attacked by the other side's fundamentalists, too. All in all, a perfect day to be an Israeli soldier.

In an article in January's Harper's, Bernard Avishai, an Israeli, argues that Israelis must make a decision about whether they will live in an apartheid state or a binational state.

This is where the demographic argument gets you. You put West Bank Palestinians behind a wall where economic life is virtually impossible, and you hive off another hundred thousand Arab Israelis and put them behind the wall too. Meanwhile, you expand your border to include new Jewish settlements and maintain existing political economic barriers for Arab Israelis, a barrier of institutional practice and law, a barrier of land and common ideology. You say Jews and Arabs must be separated because even if Israel's Arab citizens will make the most of what liberties Israel gives them, they could not possibly want to be absorbed into Israel. And after all of this, you suppose yourself a democracy because you represent the general will of the "Jewish majority." But is the choice really apartheid or binationalism?

Make no mistake about it. Israel has the right to exist, deserves our full support, and in a Middle East chock o'block full of despotic theocracies and dictatorships, they are a light unto the world. But the insane connection between American Christian fundamentalists, who believe that the Second Coming won't happen until the Jews are all reunited in their Home Land, and the Jewish fundamentalists, who believe that they were promised a piece of land thousands of years ago, means that we're in a heap of trouble. We need to have a political policy toward Israel and the entire Middle East that is not predicated on Biblical prophecy. We need to have a policy toward tyrannies such as in Saudi Arabia that is not predicated on our rapacious need to drive our SUVs.

What we really need is an American electorate that gets its news from some other source than Fox or from the pulpit on Sunday.

But getting back to fundamentalism. Why do so many people believe that the words of those written in the past carry weight over words written now? Why do we attribute wisdom to the long-dead, and denigrate the idea that perhaps, just perhaps, in some areas of human life, we're making progress and need new paradigms?

Strict adherence to scripture--whether it be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu, has bought us millions of deaths in religious wars. Isn't it about time we think that we should get a rewrite on the script?


Sheryl said...

Have you seen this pin before?

My God Can Beat Up Your God

Some Guy said...

I am always amazed at the struggles in the middle east. Although slightly off the subject, I recall an incident last year when some Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young boy, (if I recall correctly) about 7 years old. He was throwing rocks at a tank that was rolling through his village. He must have been a very threatening little boy to be able to endanger a tank by throwing rocks. Most tanks can withstand much worse, but apparently his rocks were armour piercing, or something.