Religious Fanaticism and the Arab Israeli conflict

As I log on to facebook for the millionth time, my wall is flooded with links of one gruesome video after another showcasing the Arab-Israeli conflict at its ugliest. I will try to be impartial in this short article as I try to make a few points but how can I? I would have an easier time listening to ‘both sides’ of a case involving a serial killer in court.

Unlike Israel, the serial killer is actually in a court.

If and when we reflect upon the recent escalation of violence in what the NY Times ironically calls an ‘exchange’ of fire between Hamas and the IDF, we will ultimately ask ourselves why this conflict rages on and why every peace settlement continually fall apart and why Foreign Policy speculates that the role of USA as the broker is now ended.

We will wonder why support for Israel is quickly turning into a partisan issue in America and why young democrats and liberal Jewish Americans are turning away from ‘our ally’ in the Middle East.

The recent spark of violence was of course due to the death of 3 unfortunate Israeli teen’s possibly kidnapped by rouges that have nothing to do with the conflict. Or was it? Before the kidnappings, 5 children in Gaza had been killed by the IDF alone and these deaths did not at all stir the media into a frenzy. As for the kidnappings and killings,  a sensible state would have investigated the attack and gone after the criminals. Instead, the deaths become an national issue and Israel erupts into a tantrum like a Middle School bully. The sheer numbers (273 airstrikes in Gaza alone) of what has happening in June (and currently happening) astounds any decent human being.

Israel aside, Hamas is not making a good name for itself either. It has fired a whole host of (albeit pathetic) rockets into several Israeli cities- an obvious response to the devastation by the IDF.

While these two unequal parties clash heads, innocents die and Israel’s settlement policy – the culprit behind the dismantlement of the peace process and general devastation of the path to peace – is quietly ignored.

One must understand that Israel’s greatest flaw lay in its constant support of religious fanatics on its borders and that by doing so, it’s slowly transforming into the ugly, apartheid state where Arabs, regardless of their religion are treated as second class citizens.  Even Secretary of State John Kerry had to hint at this. Israel has tried multiple times to freeze settlements in the past (with very little intensity) but fanatic adherents to an orthodox Judaism continue to pour into Palestinian land and building right on their soil. Why? Because “Yahweh said so”.  This belief of God ordaining land for one’s self is nothing but fanaticism in the 21st century. This is undoubtedly why the Jewish Settlement Movement is perhaps the greatest, most dangerous obstacle to the peace process in the Arab Israeli conflict. To add to this, these settlers are not exactly peaceful neighbors asking to live along-side their dear Arab friends. The numbers speak for themselves in this UN study.

Of course the PM of Israel will dismiss all of these valid criticisms as anti-Semitic, even though literally every single nation in the UN believes otherwise.

Is it anti-Semitic to say that Jewish religious extremism is turning the wheels in Israel? Is it anti-Semitic to assert that these fanatics on the borders of Israel should be dealt with in the same way Israel deals with Hamas – by bombing exposed civilian populations and administering collective punishment (which ironically is illegal under the Geneva convention but who cares?) ? If a criminal is caught in Saudi Arabia, their religion is not taken into consideration. If a criminal is caught in the United States, their religion is the last thing taken into consideration. Why should it be different in the ‘Sanctuary’ of democracy that is Israel?

If Israeli tanks rolled into settlements with the same zeal they roll into civilian Gaza, we would have a two state solution and 73 people (53 of them children) would not be dead in the course of a month.

We are essentially clueless about the conflict, regurgitating republican talking points and trusting our prejudices with the added bonus of not being able to identify the victims of the conflict. As Israel continually isolates itself in the eyes of the international community, we must understand that the root cause of the conflict is Fanaticism clothed in a Jewish fragrance and identity.

Fanaticism caused the crusades, now it is the cause of the longest standing oppression of a civilian population in the 21st century.

But then again, I don’t really know anything. Extremists only wear turbans.


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