"...I couldn't find anything about the Israel-Palestine conflict on your wall. Was it because you didn't get the news about what is happening there or you just didn't give a damn on what's happening in the far middle east?"
It’s mostly the latter.
Oh, well, okay, that’s not entirely true.
That question came from a reader who follows me on Facebook. This essay is an expanded version of my reply there.
It’s not that I really don’t care about what’s going on over there right now, because I do.
What happens in the Middle East, particularly when it comes to Israel’s precarious relationship to its neighbors affects the whole world in a thousand different ways big and small.
So, I do care.
But honestly, what can I say about the current mess that hasn’t already been said elsewhere? Oh hey, look at that, Israelis and Palestinians are busy slaughtering each other again. Show of hands, how many of you are surprised? No, really, how many of you charmingly optimistic people honestly expected the Israelis and the Palestinians to sit down and live together in peace and harmony?
Yeah, me neither.
I look at the dead kids and the rockets and the rubble and the ground invasion into Gaza and I think, goddamn, I can’t tell if this is live or archive video – because it’s just oh so familiar. We’ve seen it over and over and over and over.
Of course I care about the innocents caught in the middle of this insanity. Sure. But the conflict itself? The countries and the politics and the religion and the assholes who keep it going? That’s been going on my whole life, and long before, and frankly I’m long past caring about the extremists on either side. You know, it occurs to me that there has never been a week in my entire life that these goddamned people haven't been in the news killing each other. They've been killing each other for as long as I can remember - and a hell of a lot longer than that.
Everybody's God is buried in Israel.
Or they have some ancient wrecked temple there.
Or one of their various Holy Joes did a rain-dance and spoke some mumbo jumbo or consecrated a shiny rock or a magic shrub or had some divine world changing epiphany there.
Jehovah gave the land to the Jews. Jesus gave it to the Christians. Allah gave it to the Muslims. Or the British with the willing complicity of Europe and America, out of guilt for their inaction during the Holocaust, gave it to the Zionists and screwed the Palestinians. Take your pick. Everybody has a historical claim, no matter whose history you believe.
Both sides are right.
Both sides are wrong.
Both sides are guilty of atrocities, both sides are aggrieved, both sides are convinced that the other side are terrorists, and both sides are positive they’re justified in their bloody violence.
And Israelis kill Palestinian kids.
And Palestinians kill Israeli kids.
And there’s enough death on both sides to fill a battlefield with dead children and dead husbands and dead wives and dead mothers and dead fathers and dead bystanders of every stripe.
The Israelis started it.
The Palestinians started it.
Hell, nobody knows who really started it, it depends on where you draw the line and you can easily find evidence to support any viewpoint you like and plenty of folks do.
The Jews are the victims.
The Muslims are the victims.
It's all the Israelis’ fault.
It's all the Palestinians’ fault.
This land is the Jewish homeland.
This land is the Palestinian homeland.
The Israelis are dedicated to an exclusively Jewish nation.
Hamas, speaking for Palestinians, is equally dedicated to the destruction of that nation.
On and on, round and round, eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, life for a life and the fuck all I care at this point.
We Americans, we have this idiotic naive idea that we're somehow going wade into the middle of this shit-fight and broker some kind of lasting peace complete with flying bunnies and magic rainbows. We've got a road map and everything. Every new administration sends the Secretary of State over there with some big plan and they make a bunch of speeches and the TV shows Jews in suits and Muslims in robes shaking hands like they’re touching raw sewage with their bare skin. They all face the cameras and smile with their mouths and not their eyes.
Then the US Secretary of State announces that things are looking good … about thirty seconds before it all goes straight to hell.
Eventually they all sign something and maybe they even stop killing each other for five minutes. Whichever political party is in power in America pats themselves on the back at their cleverness and says, see? This time it'll be different because those other guys, that other political party, yeah they suck and they hate Israel and they hate America. Not us, see? Boyah!
And while we're handing out the cigars and the peace medals, Hamas lobs a rocket into a Kibbutz daycare center or a bunch of radical Zionists dust off their Mogen Davids and fire up their bulldozers and they're all back to killing each other before the ink is dry on the peace accord.
These people and their murderous bullshit are the fundamental cause behind 90% of the problems in the Middle East. Damned near every violent conflict over there ultimately traces back to this idiotic war and America’s constant meddling in it.
Let’s be honest for a minute, shall we? Brutally honest. Strategically honest. We get nothing from Israel. The relationship is strictly one way. We give them money and support and take it in the ass from every other country in the Middle East over our unending love for Israel. Hell, Israel attacked us and killed our people, and I served under a Master Chief who was right there that day as the aerial torpedoes smashed through USS Liberty’s hull, and we still give them unconditional support with no strings attached. And as a result we have been at odds with the rest of the Middle East, the Muslim world, for seventy years – the very Muslim nations that we, America, depend on every single day for the oil and the money to run our entire economy. Now you tell me, which one is more important to us? Really. No, be brutally honest, which one is more important to America? The nation we get nothing from, or the nations we can’t run our economy without?
What’s that? Oh, yes, the birthplace of Jesus, right. How foolish of me. Maybe, if we pray enough, he’ll show up and multiply the barrels for us the way he did those loaves and fishes.
Half of America wrings its hands in woe, wishing for peace and crying about all the little children. We argue endlessly about Israel. Can’t you see? Israel has a right to their security! No no no, the Palestinians are second class citizens in their own country! Fuck the Arabs, they’re just terrorist animals! No fuck the Jews, those murdering fascists they’re no better than the Nazis! On and on and round and round and an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and it just never ends.
Meanwhile the other half of America thinks the slaughter is a dandy idea. They think it’s the beginning of the end and they just can't wait for it all to explode so that 90 Foot Tall Angry Bearded Robot Laser Jesus will return in fiery End Times to wrestle his evil devil twin from the Mirror Universe and to slaughter all the people they hate like it says in their holy book. Then they’ll get sucked up to heaven and live happily in their perfect ever-after – made all the sweeter by the thought of the rest of us broiling in Bible Hell for all of eternity right next to the Jews and the Muslims.
Look, I’ve been to Israel. It’s an okay place, in the brief moments between the slaughter.
But I’ve talked to the Jews and I’ve talked to the Arabs, and while I in no way claim to be an expert I come away with the impression that neither side is all that interested in peace. Oh they say they are, but it’s a kind of peace. The same kind of peace the extremists here want for America. The kind of peace where if the other side just either knuckles under or, more desirably, just fucks off and dies, then there’ll be peace they can live with.
These people, they don't want to live together, none of them, and they don't pretend anything else - it's all the rest of us who suffer that delusion.
These people, Israelis and Palestinians, won't have peace until one side or the other, or both, are all as dead as their prophets.
To be honest, I've long since lost patience with these idiots and I don't give much of a damn about either side.
If you insist on taking an eye for an eye, sooner or later everybody ends up blind.
As long as there is even one of each left, they'll keep right on killing each other.
So, maybe the sooner they get it done, the better for them and for all the rest of us. Harsh? Sure it’s harsh. And cold. And immoral. And unsympathetic. You bet. And I take no joy in it, but none of them care what I say, they just go right on killing each other regardless of the impact their hate and their war and their slaughter has on the rest of the world, so, really what sympathy do I owe them? If they, the Israelis and the Palestinians both, are perfectly willing to keep throwing their children into the fire, why in the hell should I care? Why should I care more about their lives than they do themselves?
But, of course, I do care.
And I’d love to see this conflict end in real peace. Hell, if the Catholics and the Protestants of Northern Ireland figured out how to do it then I don’t see why these religious assholes can’t too.
But they won’t.
See, I’m a realist and I grew up with a recovered alcoholic and he always told me that you can’t make somebody else quit drinking. And he was absolutely right. If they want to drink, then by God they’ll find a way. They’ll drink themselves into the grave and they’ll take just as many enablers along with them as are willing to climb aboard and they’ll feel not one shred of guilt just so long as they can get one more sip.
No, the only way somebody quits drinking is if they want to.
Nobody, nobody, can make them.
And it’s no different here. I’d be perfectly willing to help if they really wanted to stop. But, these people are at war because they don’t want peace. If they wanted peace, the Israelis would start treating the Palestinians with some respect as full citizens in their own homeland. And if they wanted peace, the Palestinians would stop shooting rockets into Israel and engaging in terrorist attacks. And if we wanted peace, we Americans, then we’d stop enabling this conflict and start treating both sides equally instead as an extension of our own partisan civil war.
The simple brutal truth of the matter is that the reason there isn’t peace in Israel is because nobody wants peace in Israel.
Other than the poor sons of bitches caught in the middle.
The world will never have lasting peace so long as men reserve for war the finest human qualities. Peace, no less than war, requires idealism and self-sacrifice, and a righteous and dynamic faith.
- John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State under Eisenhower