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The Waste of War

I came across an article recently on BBC, and the bitter irony of it struck me...

Basically, after the recent massacre in Gaza, a UN team and (separately) Hamas operatives went around collecting unexploded ordnance - it was all stored in a
" site in Gaza City where more than 7,000kg of explosives was being housed.

It included three 2,000-pound bombs and eight 500-pound bombs, which had all been dropped from aircraft but failed to explode.

There was also a large number of 155mm shells for delivering the incendiary chemical white phosphorus.(BBC:17/02/09)

The UN was waiting for permission and special tools from the Israelis to be able to dispose of them, but
"On Sunday, when UN officials returned to the warehouse, which was under a Hamas police guard, they say they found most of the explosives had gone missing.

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the stockpile had been "commandeered by Hamas"." (ibid.)

Well - it hardly surprises me.

Imagine: there's all this lethal equipment that was meant to kill your people, and only by luck did not go off. Then, after collecting it you're meant to guard it, waiting on the permission from the people who dropped in on you in the first place, so that it can be taken from you and destroyed... It's just grotesque! :-(

On a related matter, there's an interesting letter/article written by King Abdullah of Jordan in 1947 called "As The Arabs See The Jews". It's worth reading for some historical perspective - here are couple of choice quotes:
"I was puzzled for a long time about the odd belief which apparently persists in America that Palestine has somehow "always been a Jewish land." Recently an American I talked to cleared up this mystery. He pointed out that the only things most Americans know about Palestine are what they read in the Bible. It was a Jewish land in those days, they reason, and they assume it has always remained so.
Only once, during the empire of David and Solomon, did the Jews ever control nearly—but not all—the land which is today Palestine. This empire lasted only 70 years, ending in 926 BC. Only 250 years later the Kingdom of Judah had shrunk to a small province around Jerusalem, barely a quarter of modern Palestine.

In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and never again had even the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finally wiped them out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem, rebuilt under another name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted to enter it. A handful of Jews remained in Palestine but the vast majority were killed or scattered to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great Dispersion. From that time Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any conceivable sense.

This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly pretend they still own Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map of the world would dance about!

Italians might claim England, which the Romans held so long. England might claim France, "homeland" of the conquering Normans. And the French Normans might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated. And incidentally, we Arabs might claim Spain, which we held for 700 years."

And another - remember that this was written in 1947, before Israel was founded and not long after the end of the Second World War
"We are told that we are inhumane and heartless because do not accept with open arms the perhaps 200,000 Jews in Europe who suffered so frightfully under Nazi cruelty, and who even now—almost three years after war’s end—still languish in cold, depressing camps.

Let me underline several facts. The unimaginable persecution of the Jews was not done by the Arabs: it was done by a Christian nation in the West. The war which ruined Europe and made it almost impossible for these Jews to rehabilitate themselves was fought by the Christian nations of the West. The rich and empty portions of the earth belong, not to the Arabs, but to the Christian nations of the West.

And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian nations of the West are asking Palestine—a poor and tiny Moslem country of the East—to accept the entire burden. "We have hurt these people terribly," cries the West to the East. "Won’t you please take care of them for us?"

But we say that Palestine has already sheltered 600,000 refugees. We believe that is enough to expect of us—even too much. We believe it is now the turn of the rest of the world to accept some of them."

Just in case you're wondering - my stance on the Israeli-Palestine conflict is that I think an injustice was done by forcing Israel on the Palestinians, but it cannot be reversed now. They need to live side by side in a two-state solution that rests on the pre-1967 borders, and perhaps some land swaps for the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank.


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tom on :

I just couldn't believe that why these people can't just stop putting religion in the middle of everything but put human into the context of the conflict and get over with it already...


julian on :

Yep too much religion and not enough sense, IMHO ...

Harmony on :

They don't seem to understand that it will go off without any warning too. :-|

Sam on :

Hi this is Sam
Your Blog is really great and informative...Keep Blogging !!!!! :-)

eugene on :

Mmmm... Based on what I know, I think it was significantly longer than the 70 years claimed by King Abdullah of Jordan. At least 500++ years (longer actually), from the genealogy of Jewish Kings. I think why King Abdullah only names David and Solomon is that it was the golden era, and both are also important kings in the Quran, Daud and Sulaiman. The Quran and the Torah have different datings. The best way to adjudicate, I guess, would have to be based on archeological studies.

julian on :

Harmony - I reckon they do, but they're willing to take the risk in order to get at the explosives inside...

Sam - Thanks :-) Will do

Eugene - He's talking about controlling "nearly—but not all—the land which is today Palestine", which probably corresponds to the 'golden era'? I'm no expert in it anyway. But I think the basic point is that we can't look back 2000 years and say 'Hey my ancestors used to rule that area, so we want it back!' - on that basis, I could stake a claim to any part of the old British empire - including Penang, for example :-)

eugene on :

Yeah, I know that was what he meant. Besides, those (ancient) days were chaotic with conquests and counter-conquests (and migration and intermarriages), but at the same time, it does seem that the idea of people of the land still some degree of sway (even today), and one that I partly hold on to, as with Malaysia, which is why I do hold on to some idea of unique rights (but in a non-discriminatory sort of way).

The interesting thing is that for the Jews, Egyptians and perhaps the Chinese, there was a strong sense of a collective that constitute what may be the earliest form of nationalism (most other ancient empires and the 'lines' of influence they had have since dissolved, merged, redrawn etc). Anyway, I better get back to my dreaded thesis... sigh...

eugene on :

Though I might add, that I do believe we need to adapt as well to present realities... which was what King Abdullah was trying to argue. So, it's quite a difficult 'position' to adjudicate - a complex issue with competing claims...

julian on :

Ya, the Jewish people did keep a sense of a collective as you argue - no doubt reinforced by European persecution through the ages (though it was clearly not dependent on it, seeing as it also persevered in the Muslim territories and beyond). But the issue really is that do they have the right to claim 'Israel' as their own, when it did not exist for 2000+ years...

Anyway, just to reiterate - I'm not saying that Israel has no right to exist now, but the whole 'it was once ours and therefore we want it back' argument is not tenable when so much time has passed; and even more so when it involves kicking out people who actually live there already.

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