Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lessons From History

For those who currently think that the leaders of organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah can't or won't negotiate or pursue peace, let me remind you of a little relevant history:

"On 22 July 22 1946, one of the most dastardly and cowardly crimes in recorded history took place. We refer to the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Ninety-two persons lost their lives in that stealthy attack, 45 were injured, among whom there were many high officials, junior officers and office personnel, both men and women. The King David Hotel was used as an office housing the Secretariat of the Palestine Government and British Army Headquarters. The attack was made on 22 July at about 12 o'clock noon when offices are usually in full swing. The attackers, disguised as Arabs, carried the explosives in milk containers, placed them in the basement of the Hotel and ran away."


"As head of the Secretariat, the majority of the dead and wounded were my own staff, many of whom I have known personally for eleven years. They are more than official colleagues. British, Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Armenians, senior officers, police, my orderly, my chauffeur, messengers, guards, men and women - young and old - they were my friends." - Sir John Shaw, Chief Secretary of the Government of Palestine


On July 22, 1946, the King David Hotel was blown up by Jewish terrorists killing 91 and injuring 45 - mostly British and Arabs. The attack was ordered by the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary terrorist organization which was the precursor to the IDF. The actual attack was caried out by the group Irgun under the leadership of Menachem Begin, later the Prime Minister of Isreal.

60 years ago, a group fighting for its people committed horrific atrocities against the British "occupier" and the Arab community in Palestine. These people, many considered heros in Isreal and around the world, acted exactly as the leadership of Fatah, Hamas and even Hezbollah are acting today. Yet it was this very leader, Menachem Begin, that signed the first peace deal with an Arab state in 1979 and started the first real efforts to bring peace to the region.

Had the British acted in 1946 as the Isrealis are acting today, there would be no Isreal, only a history of more bloodshed and death. Yet the British continued with efforts to secure the peace, rather than sink into more violence.

The lesson is that today's terrorist can be tomorrow's statesman if given the opportunity and a fair shake. Peace cannot happen otherwise.

**Note: It is another bitter irony that many right-wing Isrealis blame the British for the deaths in the bombing, claiming that they didn't evacuate the hotel when warned. The British, after denying they received a warning, stated they did not receive it in time. Regardless of any warning, 91 people died because of a terrorist attack and the terrorist should not be excused of their culpability because of issuing a warning. The more things change, the mre the reman the same, sadly.

15 Comments:

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Glyn (Zaphod) Evans said...

That is very interesting. You are correct of course as well. Given a chance, any leader can become a broker of peace. It has worked in other places as well, Ireland?

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Yeah, Ireland is one to glyn. Yet despite all of the historical evidence to the contrary, I'm sure I will be accused of being a pacifist, an anti-semite and a Hezbollah\terrorist sympathizer because I dare suggest a current course of action that has worked in the past, even at the foundigs of Isreal itself.

The words of George Santayana jump to mind.

 
At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Nightingale said...

Mike: This and the previous post are both terrific. Like you, this entire situation has me seething. I watch so many bloggers using the horror of this war to somehow justify their own prejudices. It makes me sick. I haven't the slightest idea why so many people with a (very) limited (at best) understanding of what is going on over there are so intent on taking sides. It basically comes down to a "these civilians are worth more than those civilians" mentality and it's just deplorable. What is so hard about empathizing with the innocents on both sides and condemning the ones doing the killing on both sides? It comes pretty easily to me...

Anyway, nice to see you posting again.

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Thanks Nightingale.

I have even seen some on the progressive side who canot accept that Isreal could be wrong in this.

I have seen post on certain sites (more than one) that discount completely the idea that the two Isreali soldiers were actually in Lebanon (either on purpose or by mistake)when they were captured, calling it "conspiracy theory" and "hysteria". And then the very next entry is one claiming that the incident at Qana was faked by Hezbollah. The cognitive disonance is mind boggling, but understandable - Isreal has been the Good Guy(tm) for so long that for many its hard to accept otherwise, even in the face of obvious evidence.

Check out Zorpheous post over at the Wingnuterer....he makes a great point.

 
At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Nightingale said...

"Check out Zorpheous post over at the Wingnuterer....he makes a great point."

He usually does...provided one can read Zoorfeeyus :)

 
At 8:48 PM, Blogger DazzlinDino said...

Oh man it's nice to see your still alive......

I have a question, where should Harper stand on this then, I'm thinking you feel he should remain neutral.

Any conflict during a PMs' reign is never a good thing. If he supports Isreal, there are the current feelings. If he had supported Hezbollah, he would be charged with supporting an organisation deemed as a terrorist one by most of the planet. If he remains "neutral", he's is spineless and unable to commit.

All three scenarios spell doom for PMSH.....

 
At 8:59 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Hey Dazz,

I think what PMSH ought to do is less remain neutral, which conveys not caring, and more act as an 'honest broker' - don't take sides by be constuctive.

Of course he ought to call for an immediate ceasefire. Despite the rhetoric, that favours no side. He ought to be pressing the US to stop sending weapons to Isreal, the same way he is pressing Iran and Syria to stop sending weapons to Hezbollah.

A ceasefire, will cool tempers on both sides and give NATO and the UN a chance to get into the area.

You are right, he is in a tough spot, but no one ever got bad press calling for peace and siding with most of the world. I think he can commit and still remain neutral.

 
At 12:18 AM, Blogger Nastyboy said...

The whole situation there breaks my heart. I've been in many war zones an have seen first hand much death and suffering.

That being said, I understand why Isreal has responded in the way they have. They lived up to their part of the withdrawl, while Hezbolla use the opportunity to arm themselves and recruit.

As I said on my blog, is their responce "measured"? I don't know. Thankfully I don't live in a country surrounded by enemies dedicated to our destruction.

The whole situation makes me sick to my gut.

btw, glad to see you posting again. I'll be in your area in Sept. Love to meet you for a beer.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I agree Nasty and rest assured I did not coe to my conclusions easily. Not does any criticism I make of Isreal mean I support Hezbollah - I don't.

But I certainly can see the current Isreali course of action as having the exact opposite effect that they want - Hezbollah will have more support and hence be more powerful. Isreal should ahve sold some weapons to the Lebanese army so they could finally deal with them.

As for a beer, drop me a line...I may be travelling my self in September, but I'm sure we can work it out.

 
At 1:33 PM, Blogger Wayne said...

Would a ceasefire not just let Hezbollah regroup to attack again?

Do you think a UN force with real teeth, would help?

What about Iran in all of this?

I now see where you are coming from, great post.

 
At 2:27 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Wayne,

Thanks. So let me take these in order:

1. Would a ceasefire not just let Hezbollah regroup to attack again?

No I don't think so. Hezbollah's rockets are not that accurate. Even in an all out "war" with Isreal, they have managed only to kill about 39 civillians in 22 days (Compared to over 600 with the Isreali "precision" weapons). Most land in open fields. Remember too, it is Nasrallah offering the ceasefire. If he renegs on the deal, he will have lost any credibility within Lebanon and the world at large. Most Lebanese support Hezbollah because the provide schools and social services, and currently, appears to be defending Lebanon. Isreal is the bad guy because they are seen rightly or wrongs as the agressor in this - they massively overreacted to the kidnapping of two soldiers by launching an all out attack on Lebanon, which led to Hezbollah launching rockets in defence.

2. Do you think a UN force with real teeth, would help?

That's a tough one. On one hand I think they would do very well in blocking weapons shipments to Hezbollah coming overland through Syria. They could certainly provide security and separate the combatants. My concern is that they would be drown into fighting Hezbollah as Isreal's proxy, when trying to disarm them. I think a combination of a UN force (made up of Europeans and Russians - no US or Canadians, since we will no longer be seen as honest bokers) and a strengthened Lebanese army would help. It may mean not only a force in Southern Lebanon, but in Northern Isreal as well.

3. What about Iran in all of this?

Well what about them? So far lots of typical rhetoric but not a lot of action. A strong Lebanese Army to nderdict would be good, but you won't see that until the infrastructure is rebuilt. Lets see how much they are really involved before we make invasion or bombing plans.

The bottom line is, as Haaretz says today, love or hate, these two sides need to live together. Continued overreaction on behalf of Isreal will make that nearly impossible.

Most people in the middle east what you you and I want...to live our lives and be left alone. I hope this madness ends so they get their chance.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Wayne said...

"I hope this madness ends so they get their chance."

I agree, thanks for your post.

 
At 3:57 PM, Blogger Polunatic said...

Excellent post. Hope it turns a few heads around.

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SIR; YOUR COMMENT NO HEAVEN NO HELL SAYS TO ME YOU ARE AN UNBELIEVER. If you read the bible you might learn something about your subject.Whether you believe or not,your saviour is jewish.Read genesis chapter 17 verses 11&12 speaking of Ishmael,he will be a wild man;his hand will be against every man,and every mans hand will be against him.sounds like a peace loving nation. there will be peace when the world becomes Islamic.Which by the way will never happen,because I,ve read the end of the bible "WE WIN"I,m praying for you,because JESUS loves you.

 
At 9:27 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Wow Anony, a year late to the posting eh?

Uhm the Bible is a book of fables. It is no more true that the Torah or the Koran or Gulliver's Travels. It was written by Middle Eastern mystics that believed in nonsense and it is full of nonsense. it is flat out wrong and contradictory on thousands of places.

It is certainly not a book I would read for moral guidance or authority, unless its moral to murder children, marry your sister and hold slaves.

There is no evidence that your Jesus character even existed.

Now, why don't you just go back to church and let the adults talk here, m-kay?

 

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