The Matter in the Middle East.




              “Peace,” Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu once said, “is purchased from strength, not weakness.” Obviously that’s the foundation of his current attitude. It’s a real challenge. He thereby ought to lobby the major world powers to deny any nuclear arrangement or national preparation that was considered a few months ago. On the other hand, it’s Iran that is the most extreme danger to Israel, and it has no hesitation in making that danger very clear. Moreover the danger is not only to Israel but the world since it can use its influence to engage some strategies that are very dangerous. Hence we are all, directly or indirectly, somewhat acquiescent. Yes, somewhat.  It all reminds me of the view once taken by Abba Eban, the highly respected Israeli diplomat who said: “A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.” How absolutely true, for on this particular matter you will not get anywhere near unanimity.

        The hostility is chilling and enormous not just between Israel and Syria, but with other political movements as well. For example, a highly regarded Arabic journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, looking back over the deep Middle Eastern hostility, reports that the loss of life is almost unbelievable. “According to the figures exposed here,” he says, “total deaths from western intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, since the 1990s, likely constitutes around four million and could be as high as six to eight million people….” Four million! This statistic is not to illustrate just Israel and Iran, but to provide a representation of the crucifying attitude that is alive in a blanket of enmity in most of the Middle East.

      No enmity can equal the enduring tension between Syria and Israel. It’s been prolonged for years and given that it runs deep and then deeper. A few days ago, the Iranian military, launched roughly 20 Israeli military rockets in to Iran, which naturally triggered a response that was vigorous and violent. In recent times, nine civilians, including four children were killed, but we must acknowledge that it was executed by a United States missile. Along with many people who died, many houses were destroyed. An official of the country, Governor Bariza — who is said to promote human rights — has reported that seven British based men were killed in recent times, one of them being a highly placed colonel.

     In any case, yesterday, May 11, revealed that the antipathy of the Iranian protesters has raised  very worrying possibilities. Once again it emanates from Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami in Tehran, who clearly raises the very dangerous threats. In brief, he has threatened major cities, with total destruction. In fact, he is the resource of the so named Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has given notice that Israel will not survive because the Arabic airstrikes will destroy it. This could be only rhetoric, for obvious reasons, but the opposite is probably the reality: it may be the most destructive confrontation that Israel has ever faced. Ayatollah Khatami has been brutal enough to  go on television to tell the citizens of Israel that soon their country will not exist: “The holy system of the Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”  How rude crude and ironic it is that the Arabic people utter this dreadful and crude murderous threat, “Death to America,” as they gather for prayers. For prayers! Let’s all get ready to slaughter the Jews but first let’s all pray. Some religious faith, some spiritual theology, some scriptural obedience!

      As for the involvement of the United States, it has been step, by step, by step, until the action was most worrying by early November of 2016. It seems contradictory to me, but in the early autumn, something terrible happened: warplanes piloted by men from the US, Britain, Denmark and Australia, attacked. They struck a military base owned by the Islamic state that to the pilots above were understood to be just that: planes owned by Syria and piloted by men from the countries mentioned. Dead wrong. It was led by the US military, and they didn’t realize that they had killed sixty military Islamic men. What a dreadful and horrific mistake.

     So. All this planning and all this action, produced very little or nothing. But one thing was certain. The US had intervened and, to its critics, has been positive with some, negative with others. Also many critics have pointed out that the very intervention was awkward and crude. How do we know? Because it’s now two years later and the situation is worse! One revelation is truly shocking: after two years of intervention with the Syrians, the air force coalition in its hard opposition to ISIS had completed well over 5,000 strikes from the warplanes. Sad to say, the 5,616 airstrikes over Syria by the Americans killed 6,295 people, the fact revealed by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (The Syrians have their watchdog group as we do.)

      Their Observatory staff was outraged and, once its staff saw the figures, it virtually exploded: “The Observatory,” it said, “ calculates that at least 642 of those killed – about one in ten – were civilians, We strongly condemn targeting civilians anywhere… The Observatory also renews its call to spare the civilians from any military action on Syrian soil.”

        Benjamin Netanyahu can’t come close to the now distant Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who held the office for many years and was, to many people, the finest man who ever held the Israeli leadership. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was honored many times in many places. I came across a line of his, a year or so ago, and was so taken with it that I retained it. Now’s the time to share it with you, your family and your friends. Begin said this and it is now very relevant: “The people of Israel have lived 3,700 years without a memorandum of understanding with America and will continue to live without it another 3,700 years.” It doesn’t quite match with the thinking of Netanyahu, but after all Menachem Begin was the greatest Prime Minister Israel ever had. If only we could turn back to the days of that great and faithful man.















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