donderdag 31 juli 2014

No longer

Gaza, it is a poignantly unequal battle.

But curiously desired by both parties.

By the victim, I don’t know why.

By the culprit, I knew why, but no longer now.

Also see Gaza

I don't understand

There are a number of things about Israel that I do not understand.

This number does not, to be clear, include the current military action in order to curb rocket attacks from Gaza for some time. Because I can understand it – however terrible the war suffering is. No country, democratic or not, can just let itself be shelled while it has the means to stop the shelling. Sooner or later it will deploy those resources. Nobody likes that, I can see that, but apparently at this moment fighting for both Hamas and Israel is worthwhile.

One of the things I do nót understand is the unconcearn with which Israel perpetuates the occupation of the West Bank, and even actively strengthens it. I can see it no different than that the illegality of it, combined with the humiliation of the Palestinians, is a serious threat to Israel’s future.

I’ve also never understood the light-heartedness with which Israel lets itself be supported by Christian Zionists such as American Evangelicals or Dutch Christians for Israel. From an opportunistic, short-term perspective I can indeed understand that. In a world with a lot of hostility directed against Israel, you welcome any support that is available.

But the question is whether is that opportunism is a wise position to take. I think not. First, because such support is fundamentalist inspired. Characteristic of the groups referred to is their belief in the authority of the Bible, which they explain in such a way that the state of Israel figures as willed by God, namely in preparation for the second coming of Christ on earth. This appears to me to be an alien motif within the secular-Jewish project that Israel essentially was and still is. If motifs are that far apart, you should be careful with close ties.

A second reason stems from the very same fundamentalism. Because it implies that the Christian Zionists are not primarily interested in the Jewish cause, but in an idea that is linked to their theology. In the absence of an intrinsic human concern a switch in that theology or exegesis may as easily lead to a switch in attitude. Enthusiasm for the Jewish state can then change into indifference or even hostility.

At present something like that seems to occur indeed in certain Evangelical circles. There is talk of a return to the good old ‘fulfillment theology’. Which implies that the Kingdom of God was established by Jesus on earth and history was then fulfilled. The Jewish people, according to that vision, for God has no meaning any longer, neither has the State of Israel. From this kind of theology a lot of trouble for the Jews emerged already earlier in history.

Before you trust the sincerity of your supporters, it is important to know who you are dealing with and what their motives are. Jews should understand that anyway.

Also see The many dimensions of Ari Shavit and Accurate enough

zaterdag 19 juli 2014

Accurate enough

“Of course I condemn all violence. This applies to violence by the Palestinian ánd the Israeli side. Nevertheless the commotion about the murder of three Israeli teenagers gives me a bitter aftertaste. When mid May two Palestinian teenagers in Ramallah without any reason were shot by the Israeli army, there was no one who expressed his outrage, not even the Dutch foreign minister, who in the case of the three Israeli boys had his judgement immediately ready. The three teens were Israeli settlers. They lived in an illegal settlement on Palestinian land. If their parents had just continued to live in Israel, they would be still alive”.

This letter to the editor sent in by Jan Ramaker from Tiel struck me somehow. But in what way exactly?

First, I was struck by an inaccuracy, namely the following: The three teens were Israeli settlers. They lived in an illegal settlement on Palestinian land.

That’s not right. Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar lived in Modi’in, Eyal Yifrah lived in Elad. Modi’in and Elad are cities in the Israel Center District, both within the Green Line. One can not be enough accurate in these matters.

However, they went to school in occupied territory. Naftali and Gilad in Kfar Etzion, Eyal in Hebron. So they went to schools that do not respect the Green Line. One can not be enough accurate in these matters.

I also got caught by the statement If their parents had just continued to live in Israel, they would be still alive. That should, in view of the foregoing, be changed into the statement “When the boys were just gone to school in Israel, they would be still alive”. With the addition that this only applies since the separation wall was built, because before that time also within the Green Line your life was not safe on the way to school.

Finally, I am just touched by the bitter truth that When mid May two Palestinian teenagers in Ramallah without any reason were shot by the Israeli army, there was no one who expressed his outrage. Also in showing your outrage you can not be accurate enough.

Also see The Green and the Red Line, The new Middle East and A Palestinian State

vrijdag 18 juli 2014

Alcoholism and Jihad

It’s bold what Lamyae Aharouay did in her column lately, but I can appreciate it. There she draws a parallel between Isis supporters and alcoholics. This is in the context of her argument that it is not appropriate to reproach moderate muslims for the behavior of fanatical jihadists. She had recently heard one of our politicians do so, and also another columnist who had said: “If Muslims slaughter Muslims on a grand scale it remains virtually silent”.

The comparison consists in the observation that alcohol abuse and jihadism are both problematic. And that, a little as you can blame moderate Muslims for the danger of  problematic drinkers, just as little you can hold moderate Muslims accountable for the danger of the extremists.

This statement by Aharouay is right, I think. At one point, however, the comparison is wanting, and I would like to see the parallels extended, precisely on that point.

The point I have in mind is the extent to which the problem is recognized as a serious threat and the extent to which the problem is being actively combated. As Aharouay indicates, alcohol addiction is explicitly mentioned by the World Health Organization as a serious threat to public health. The organization reports on it, so we know that alcohol makes for one of the 20 deaths per year, which is 3.3 million people worldwide.

Apparently our society is quite aware of the danger of addiction, and has established an organization to analyse the connecting problems and to encourage further awareness. This includes for example asking questions such as: to what extent is alcohol abuse encouraged by our individualistic lifestyles and widespread loneliness? What is the role of the intrusive adverts?

Elaborating on the comparison, something like that would seem to me desirable with respect to the addiction danger of Islam. Here too, analysis and reflection are needed that  penetrate to the heart of the matter. Where that addiction danger could be located? Could there possibly be something intoxicating in the central doctrine of complete surrender to Allah? And could the absence of the relativistic effect of (moderate) use of alcohol possibly stimulate religious radicalization?

Asking these questions and reflecting on them seems to me to be very urgent. Again, and in accordance with what Aharouay says about that, not in order to harass moderate Muslims  with it. But, as with alcohol, to discover the mechanisms that in interaction with social conditions lead to death and destruction.

Also see Alcohol