Searching for understanding among the hyperbole

I feel I must preface postings of this nature with the words “I do not support terrorism. I do not sympathize with terrorism”. I resent having to do so, but it is the nature of debate in my country at this time that communications such as these that are about to follow automatically label oneself as a pro-terrorist, or at a minimum, a terrorist sympathizer. So:

“I do not support terrorism. I do not sympathize with terrorism.”

Mike Sanders posts material from Thomas Friedman an opinion journalist writing for the New York Times. Interesting opinions. Let’s just take a look at some of Mr. Friedman’s points one by one, from a purely historical context, shall we?

Friedman states:

The world must understand that the Palestinians have not chosen suicide bombing out of “desperation” stemming from the Israeli occupation. That is a huge lie. Why? To begin with, a lot of other people in the world are desperate, yet they have not gone around strapping dynamite to themselves.

Friedman implies that these acts are not born out of desperation, but are coldly calculated acts. Surprisingly enough, I would agree. I would imagine that there are people in Palestine who are, at this moment, calmly and coldy calculating the costs of a suicide bomber at this location or that.

However, I also imagine that this has happened in every violent revolt since Man first fought with something other than his own hands, including the United States Revolutionary War.

For instance, Nathan Hale was reported to have said, “I regret I have but one life to give for my country” before being hanged for treason during the Revolutionary war. He was captured and executed because he was found behind enemy lines spying for the revolutionary war effort. In fact, he was caught trying to leave New York as a result of heightened security due to a suspicious fire set in the city at the time that destroyed over a quarter of the city, putting the British commander in the area in a rather pissy mood. No mercy was shown Hale, and he wasn’t even given the dignity of a firing squad.

Hale wasn’t a “desperate” man, but he was resolved in achieving freedom for his country, regardless of the cost to himself. He was assigned to his duties as a spy from a commander who also wasn’t a “desperate” man — a man who calmly, and coldy analyzed the cost of the effort that Hale could provide compared to the cost of Hale’s life — and then sent him behind enemy lines.

No successful revolt in this history of humanity was ever based on “desperation” — it was based on commanders who coldly calculated the cost in lives to achieve a goal, and it was based on those willing to give their lives to follow these commanders, again to achieve that same goal.

Next point:

More important, President Clinton offered the Palestinians a peace plan that could have ended their “desperate” occupation, and Yasir Arafat walked away.

There’s been a lot of discussion about this — why did Arafat walk away from a peace plan that would have ended all of the bloodshed, and given the Palestinians what they wanted.

Actually, you can find the answer to this at a posting at In this posting, Meryl says:

Oh, that’s right–there are other nations in the Middle East that have Palestinians in their midst, and have had them for more than fifty years. They still live in squalor. They have no voting or citizenship privileges.

Reading the whole post, Meryl brings this fact up as a criticism of Arab unity, but look at the words. The Palestinians have been a people forced out of their home, looked down on and despised throughout the Middle East for over fifty years. Over two generations of people have been without a home, and without the dignity of a home. What would you do if you were one of these people? I’m not condoning terrorism — I’m just asking a question: what would you do? Or more importantly, what would you not do?

There is and has been one item on every peace plan that has led to failure of that plan — reinstatement of Palestinians back in their original homes within the borders of what is now Israel. Not occupied Israel territory — Israel itself. Israel has said this will never happen. Palestine has said there will never be peace without this happening.

Finally the last point of Friedman’s article that I’m going to cover in this posting:

Still more important, the Palestinians have long had a tactical alternative to suicide: nonviolent resistance, � la Gandhi. A nonviolent Palestinian movement appealing to the conscience of the Israeli silent majority would have delivered a Palestinian state 30 years ago, but they have rejected that strategy, too.

Sorry, I have no idea what this is based on. India’s independence from Great Britain? Mr. Friedman would have to explain his premise on this one in more detail before would could intelligently comment.

I found a web page at MidEast Web that lists documents  that basically map the history of the current state in the Middle East. Documents, not opinions. I would suggest that all of those who point to one side as being more entrenched in hatred than the other might consider exploring the documents in this page. In fact, I think it’s time we all stopped with the rhetoric and the hyperbole and started learning a bit more about the situation in the Middle East.

Along with the historical timeline and documents, I also found the following words at this web site:

If any one person, viewpoint or source had the �straight story� about the Middle East, it would an easy matter to solve all our problems. It is easy to read a biased summary of �talking points� regarding any issue and march off on a crusade, disseminating more biased opinion and rallying followers to the attack. We have far too much of that in the Middle East. If you read a �fact,� consider the source. If you hear a news story, check that that it is true. Getting the facts straight is the beginning of understanding. Making sure that everyone gets the same facts – all of them – is the beginning of dialog and understanding.

I just discovered MidEast Web. I hope it lives up to words of understanding I’ve seen so far. I’ll know more after I spend time looking around. The beginning is promising.

Getting the facts. It might lead to understanding. And understanding might lead to peace.

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