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Gaza: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

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Back in the 1960's, I saw an episode of Star Trek entitled "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" in which Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise come across two humanoids; Bele and Lokai, from the planet Cheron. Each of them is half black and half white, starkly separated down the middle of his body. The only difference is one is black on the right side and white on the left, while the other is exactly the opposite. When I saw the show, I thought of it as a satire of race relations in the USA, but today I thought about it and realized that it might be more fittingly mocking the Jewish/Muslim battle now taking place in the Middle-East.

If either Bele or Lokai were to stand in front of a mirror, he would see the image of his most hated enemy. A mirror image of a man white on his left would be a man white on his right. That is so fitting of today's (and yesterday's and probably tomorrow's) senseless slaughter taking place in and around Israel, because the Israeli and Muslim enemies are mirror images of each other. Abraham (Genesis 16) had two son's, one by his wife's maid-servant Hagar and then one by his wife Sarah. The two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, are generally considered to be the fathers of Islam and Judaism, so the fight between Jew and Muslim is basically a family feud.

In the "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" episode of Star Trek, when Bele and Lokai return to their home planet of Cheron, they find a scene not too unlike that of Gaza. The whole planet is lifeless except for the two of them who beam down to continue their fight to the finish. Must the Middle-East lead the rest of the world down the same path taken by the planet Cheron?

Some will blame the problem on the Israelis. "They are bullying the Palestinians and Hamas", they will tell say.

Some will blame it on the Muslims. "Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist groups" they will say. "Iran and Syria are terrorist states arming terrorist groups" they will tell you.

Bele and Lokai also had their excuses. "I'm white on the right, can't you see the difference?"


Yet the Jews and the Muslims are both using the same tactic: Kill civilians until the civilians put enough pressure on their leaders or until the civilians choose new leaders to force their side to stop. But what has the despicable killing of civilians actually done? It has hardened each side's populace. There are many fewer Jews now ready to make piece with their Muslim brothers than there were three weeks ago.

You might remember that after 911, the Republicans and Democrats came together in the US Congress to give President BuSh anything he wanted. There was unity in the streets of the USA. People: Black, White, Hispanic, Democrat and Republican were then Americans first. Osama Bin Laden and Al-Quaida had brought the political left and right of the USA together. Israel's killing of civilians in Gaza has brought the Sunnis and Shiites of the Middle-East together as never before. And the Sunni counties that have been friends of the USA are now criticizing Israel (and the USA) as if those Sunni countries were Shiite.

President BuSh claims to believe in the sanctity of human life. He has vetoed legislation that would (in his opinion) destroy human life that is smaller than this period. Yet, he and Condoleezza Rice have proposed a peace-plan that must have "a lasting piece" (just as they did during the 2006 Israeli attacks on Hezbollah and Lebanon) which is a code-phrase for "when Israel wins". The Israeli prime minister told Ms. Rice that he might need 10 days to two weeks to win. Are we willing to watch both Israeli and Palestinian babies die for the next two weeks? Are those children any less valuable that the embryos that BuSh wants to protect?

About 400 Palestinian civilians including many children have been killed in the last 2 weeks. There have been about a dozen Israeli civilians killed. Ms. Rice and Mr. BuSh claim that terrorism must be stomped out in the Middle-East (and around the world), but is it not terrorism to launch missile strikes, to fire artillery, and use F16's and helicopters to bomb populated areas? Is it not terrorism to launch a ground strike with armored vehicles and tanks? Hamas is wrong. Hamas is a terrorist group, but that does not make Israel right, nor does it make Israel any less of a terrorist country. People and countries must be judged, not by their friendship with the USA, nor the "Good Guy" sign that they fly, but by their actions. Israel is killing over 40 Muslims in Gaza for each Israeli that dies in the Hamas missile attacks. Doesn't "an eye for an eye" have any meaning to the Israelis? The bible does not say "40 eyes for an eye". Both sides are wrong. Neither side wants to be seen as weak for trying to negotiate in good faith. On each side, a small group of macho right-wing militarists is controlling the agenda, while those who would use diplomacy are treated as weaklings, as apologists, as appeasers. There must be discussions that include all the parties in the Middle-East, states and non-states alike.

Both sides must stop fighting now. The USA must insist that there be talks. The USA must not block UN resolutions for a truce and a ceasefire. The USA must drop the self-serving line that we don't talk to terrorists. Pretending that Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran do not exist just keeps the killing of babies going on for a longer time.

It would be easier if there were no religions. But in the Middle-East with everything based on Holy Books, religious dogma and knee-jerk reflexive action and reaction, compromise is very difficult; impossible unless each side is willing to talk and make sincere sacrifices. I am not saying that Hamas is right, nor Hezbollah. I am not trying to grade the relative rightness of Israel, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries of the Middle-East, nor am I trying to grade the relative rightness of the USA's policies, neither past under BuSh nor future under Obama.

I don't know if you saw the "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" episode of Star Trek, but both Bele and Lokai were sure that their side was just and neither Bele nor Lokai were willing to come to a compromise or at least something each side could live with, and neither were the leaders of their planet. Yes, Hamas and Hezbollah are bad, but people without hope join those types of groups when they see their brethren killed. My fear is that Israel and the US will win every battle but eventually lose the war, just like Bele and Lokai lost, the leaders of the planet Cheron lost and all the civilians did. Yes! I know that "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" was only a allegoric story, but so was Orwell's "1984". Allegories have a way of coming to fruition.

I doubt that if US cities had a major disturbance, set's say that President Obama was assassinated and the mostly Black sections of many cities erupted, that unbridled force would quell the disturbances. On April 4th, 1968, Bobby Kennedy was scheduled to make a (presidential primary) speech in Indianapolis before a mostly Black audience. He informed the crowd that Martin Luther King Jr. had just been shot and killed, and then he told them that his brother also "was killed by a White man". His remarks may have been the main reason why Indianapolis was one of the few cities in the country with a large Black population not to explode that night. Am I advocating that law enforcement allow wanton destruction or violence? Of course not. But when people feel hurt, oppressed and hopeless, anger builds up. I hope we can get over the past days of racial discrimination in our country soon, and I hope the Muslims and Israelis can get over the similar situation taking place in the Middle-East, but killing will only lead to more killing. Might may make right (at least in the minds of the powerful), but it does not always guarantee long term victory.

The only way to defeat Hamas and Hezbollah is for the people of Palestine and Lebanon to reject them. The only way to stop the Israeli military is for the people of Israel to say, "Enough". We need leaders. We need leaders with the courage to take chances. Leaders like Israel's Yitzhak Rabin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat who were both assassinated by their own people for trying to make peace by coming to a fair resolution. A major roadblock to peace is the yo-yoing of Israeli governments; one government makes a deal with the Palestinians and then after suicide bombings by radical Palestinian groups, a new government takes power and reneges (in effect) giving radical Palestinian terrorists control of the situation. The Israeli government claims that they don't negotiate with terrorists. No! They don't negotiate with terrorists, they just give the terrorists what they want.

I am sure that the Goebbels propaganda machine condemned and belittled the Jews that sniped at Nazi soldiers and the Nazi infrastructure in Poland and Germany, but when people are oppressed, then there will always be terrorism. Many people are shocked at the Israeli reaction to the Palestinians plight over the years, since at one time the shoe was on the other foot. No! I do not think of the average Israeli as a Nazi, but power can be very corrupting, and Israel has the power, both the military power in the Middle-East, and also the power to put its best foot forward to try to end the violence. It might require negotiations with Iran and the groups that Iran funds and supports, but isn't it worth a try when the alternative is never ending war?

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I was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1945, worked as aircraft mechanic for 35 years and moved to Florida from Brooklyn in 2003. My wife and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary this year. Our only son is 41, married and has one daughter, plus his (more...)
 
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Thank you Mr. Venezia for a very unique take on th... by William Whitten on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009 at 1:27:27 PM
I second that. ... by Jade P. on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009 at 5:18:28 PM