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Further Reflections [Nov. 15th, 2004|09:21 am]


I recently posted my thoughts in liberal and my personal journal about the celebration by some of the death of Yasser Arafat, which had an equal number of responses on both sides. Some people truly understood the post, while others decided to continue expressing their joy and jubilation.

However, I have one friend who really gave me pause to think, and it's because I always appreciate her thoughts and expressed feelings. I've always enjoyed and appreciated her talking points and comments, even now. However, I think I'll try to explain myself and clear up some overall misinterpretations she might have in this post and overall, and hopefully address others who have put forth similar comments or questions. I thought I'd share the post with my friends in peaceisfree.

I think she accidentally misquoted me and might have taken my previous post out of context a little, but I'll respond to her comments:


Giving respect over someone's death or attempting to understand their ideology and struggles doesn't mean one condones terrorism. I feel quite devoted to a life of trying to understand the way things are and why. I abhor terrorists and people who see things as a means to an end, no matter if they're rogue or sanctioned by mass support. I believe to inflict violence and oppression upon others is wrong, even in response to violence. While many who are quick to dismiss my feelings - and those of millions of others - as naive and wrong, I will only say that an eye for an eye leaves us all blind, and still with the same anger that started the problem and does little to address necessary solutions.

My attempts to understand their feelings, as I try to understand the nature of conflict and divisions in general does not mean that I'm dismissive of their wrong actions, nor does my attempt for understanding mean I support or agree with ideology. Wars are sometimes inevitable as we have not evolved to that point of problem solving before problems become crises. If we invested more time and energy into developing communication tools that encompassed not only speaking skills, but listening skills as well, perhaps we would make monumental strides toward moving beyond violence as a means of addressing conflict. It's not impossible to follow a peace-building path, it's that we've operated under the repeated patterns of "not showing the enemy your weakness" and "might makes right." I think it takes more courage to follow a path that not only speaks of our desire to find peaceful solutions, but to follow them.

I'm in that group of people who subscribe to the notion that understanding is the foundation for resolving conflict. Without understanding the motivations of actions, we never fully address the roots of what drives people into terror. It's good to keep in mind that there are motivations for it. There has never been anything I've read or heard that supports a theory that terror is completely random and without motivation.

The world has known terrorists for centuries and some are seem as revolutionaries, some as heroes, some purely as megalomaniacal psychotics. There have always turned out to be reasons for terror, and most historians and social scientists document their studies and findings that the overwhelming rationale of terrorism is to end what is perceived as a social injustice and/or economic oppression.

Arafat invented terrorism.

There are centuries of conflict between the Jews and Palestinians that date back at least 2 millennium. Terror didn't start Yasser Arafat, nor did it start from the tactics of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1800's, long before the birth of Arafat. It existed long before the barbaric travels of the Huns in the years 434 - 453. History is filled with examples of terrorism and terrorists dating ear least 4 millennium. Terrorism is a tool used by people and leaders through history that usually finds an equal response, either through overt, political, military or economic responses.

I would never say that I agree with or justified violence, and I'm not sure if you're saying that I'm am...it's kind of open ended about what you're saying specifically.

As for me educating myself, I can assure you, I've probably invested a great deal of time into this effort and will likely not stop trying to educate myself until my last breath. As you already know, I'm very engaged in my politics and beliefs. I feel like I'm well versed in the rich history of conflict between Palestinians and Jews, Jews and Christians, Jews as an oppressed people, Palestinians as an oppressed people, terrorism and the roots of it. I have lots to learn, especially since much conflict has happened in the world since before my participation in it. However, I still subscribe to the base that understanding is the first step to problem solving.

On what do at you feel I'm not educated? I know there are a great many things, but I'm sincerely asking for suggestions on readings, lectures or programs you might find helpful for me to ingest; I'm very open to learning and researching if you want to give me a place you think I should examine. I hope I never get to the point where I think I've learned all there is to know about any subject. I appreciate your educate yourself comment, and took it with gentle gratitude.

Remember the Munich Olympics, and that planeload of Jews that went bye-bye?

Yes, there are dozens if not hundreds of examples of this kind of terror, some silently condoned by Arafat, some committed by his direction and some in spite of his later years of turning a blind eye and dear ear. Many of these actions happened without his direction or knowledge, yet for even those that happened with his participation, I try to understand what goes through the mind and heart of someone who is the instrument of such horrible conditions. As a Jew, I feel like I need to understand not only the struggles of my own heritage, but the motivations behind those who seek to do harm. To fully engage in peace building, we as the human race must endeavor to find the root of suffering, as the Buddhist say. Before you can end suffering, you have to understand it, greet it and find ways to move beyond it. I don't find that a naive approach, as many would say. I find the naive approach is the simplest one: reaction to violence with violence.

To borrow from Christian theology, wasn't Christ advocating for loving your enemy and turning the other cheek. Violence only increases the equal reaction. Like physics. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The struggle of life is to find ways those frictions can live in union. There will be a lot of hard work to build and maintain a peace in life: it's that way with personal relationships and relationships between neighbors. I'm young and idealistic, but I follow the path of my parents and my father's parents who have devoted lifetimes to increasing opportunities to build peace on the planet. Because it's seems easier to resolve problems by using guns and tough rhetoric does not mean that is a solution. I would ask, is it wrong to try to understand what really drives people to such acts and to attempt addressing them before they take such actions?

Wouldn't that be a better way to prevent such crises? It's clear that the treat of retribution and retaliation does not work. The death penalty is not a deterrent for crime, and neither is military response a deterrent for terrorist action. It would seem the history of actions on this planet would help us learn this lesson by now.

What about the opportunities he had to make peace, to obtain a large portion of land for Palestine, and refused to?

From all that I've learned about the Peace Talks where Arafat and his negotiating team left it was because they wanted to have restored control of Jerusalem, while the Israel negotiators refused. Neither side agreed to share control, so the Palestinians left. Jerusalem was a big part of the issues for what the Palestinians where negotiating. It's a bit simplistic to say they just walked away from peace. Both sides made historical concessions, but neither side was willing to share the city of Jerusalem.

What about their uni-vision: Death to all Israelis??? They will stop at nothing less!

Who is 'they'? Palestinians? Not all Palestinians want that, and to think that would be foolish for us all to believe. We only get to see and read about the militants on either side who use violence as a means, so to be dismissive by saying they discounts the millions who only want peace, the shelter their family, earn a decent living and live a good life. Why not try to learn about the reasons they develop such visions and address those before they develop in future generations at the same time we eliminate the need for that kind of thinking?

What about all those little kids being trained to be terrorists and being taught that "Death to all Israelis" should be their life purpose?

Yes, there are Palestinian children being trained this way, by extremists. There are Jewish children being trained to hate Muslims just the same. Christians in America are being subliminally programmed to hate and mistrust Muslims and Jews alike. In fact, this is a tactic used through centuries. Ignorance only breeds ignorance, which is why we must strive to learn more about how to achieve long-term settlements to peace. Using violence, guns and war simply leaves a lot of people dead. To change thoughts takes a lot more work. I'm of the belief that killing in the name of justice only creates more hatred and contempt by those who are being killed, yet we seem to be stuck in the cycle of failing to learn from history. This is a lesson that humanity repeats continuously through different religions, regions, cultures, nationalities and race.

I'm floored that in the face of all this, you and your "Jews for Justice for Palestinians" group actually think there can be any viable, peaceful solution to this conflict.

You may think it's ineffective, but groups like this have done more to work within communities and engage people from both sides than you'd believe. While soldiers and militants continue to kill in whatever perception they have of justice, groups are working to find long-term solutions that are more practical and viable to learning how to bridge the difference and build upon the common interests of Jews and Palestinians. Guns, bullets and bombs only serve to kill people and create more reasons to hate.

I've tried to be thoughtful in my responses, and I hope they neither seem condescending, nor ridiculously reactionary, since I was trying to be honest about my perceptions. We may not agree, and that's fine. I welcome anyone's views and thoughts, as long as they're doing it in a way that's respectful and evident they're sincere.

From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-15 05:30 pm (UTC)
i agree with you. we do need to understand first... i am glad that you are taking the time to understand other people. personally, i think it is the first step towards peace. (of course, understanding goes hand in hand with listening) if everybody took the time to understand people, we would have a much better world. ignorance kills. and you're right - war is inevitable unless we make it not so.

peace to all
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[User Picture]From: drnknwarer
2004-12-22 06:01 am (UTC)

Reflections of a Jaded eye

Some how in my search fro people from my home town of Kennewick Washington, I came across this post. At first I was willing to just click the back browser and continue my search, but after the words "Arafat invented terrorism" pulsated into my pupils, well I was hooked. A response if you would, from a not so militant, Militant.

In response to your first selection of statements I think that the best responce I have is a quote from a political science Professor at Reed University, "Terrorism is the last action of an oppressed people, when diplomacy has failed them." Now, where I see this as a pretty rash statement to be used in every instance of terrorism, I think it is appropriate in the Israel/Palestine situation. Let me explain, the most contested problem in this crisis is two fold, first the Land of the west bank, but secondly is the death toll on both sides. Understand that as a general whole, Israelis believe that they have a God granted right to the holy land. This being said, neither side will stop till the other is dead. I find the actions of Arafat unjust and appalling, but that does not change the fact that the people of Palestine have suffered about 3 times as many deaths as the Israelis. I know that this is a most inhumane way to judge their actions as justified, but in a logical sense there is a sort of "understanding" I have for the Palestinians. Secondly the land that is now “occupied” by Israel, i.e. the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, was stolen by Israel in the 6 day war of the late 1960's. When one country is invaded, dose not that country have the obligation to defend itself? This war was started long before I was conceived, and will continue long after I am gone.

In responce to your ideals of how "It's clear that the treat of retribution and retaliation does not work." I can concede that there are some merits to your thoughts however in the realm of Middle Eastern politics I would say that this approach will only lead to more deaths. Since the United States has often times blatantly taken a stance of not only promoting the deaths of Muslims, the Iraq Iran war 1980-1988, but contributing to the expanse of Israel as a nation, I feel that any Muslim country who allowed the incorporation of it's sovereign land into another country, will only continue to loose power in the region, and eventually will be over thrown. When looking back to the Civil rights movement in this country, Malcolm X stated "if your neighbor only knows violence, if you come at them with non-violent attitude why good night, they'll break you in two." It is criminal to expect actions of non violence in the face of great oppression, and murder.

I understand where you are coming from in a lot of your post, however I think that taking the spyglass look you have, you have separated yourself to far from the truth about the situation. Neither side has a right to the actions they have committed, but neither side is free from blame. Until the region as a whole comes to the conclusion that their actions are simply unacceptable in the world, they will continue to progress further down the spiral of hate and terrorism. The only problem with that solution is that the U.S. will never allow this point to come about, we will support our allies to the bitter end, and in that end our soldiers will pay the highest price.
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