With the latest terible outrages against humanity – Lahore, Yemen, Ankarra – we should be thankful that there is one war that we need not bother about. Another Palestinian attempting to stab to death an Israeli civilian, another Palestinian shot dead. Can we be grateful that at least one war is under control. As our leaders step forward with their usual condemnation of the Palestinian stabbings and their oft-asserted ‘right of Israel to defend itself we might allow ourselves a little time for reflection; that, if our current war against IS lasts even half as long as the the one involving Palestinian knives it will be our grandchildren paying for it and out great-grandchildren fighting it.
Just possibly we might be even more reflective. What level of despair and hopelessness drives a young man into the kitchen to grab a knife and rush out into the street and attempt to kill another human being? Can we imagine why that would seem a reasonable act? And, while attempting that we might consider that these young men know on the basis of history and experience that they will very likely die in their unsuccessful attack, and, that their families will suffer.
Having loaded our imaginations with all that we’d best finish the job and look from the other side. The reason this ‘war’ is relatively benign is that the kitchen knife (and the stones) are confronting a military armed with the most up-to-date killing machines available to humankind; $3 billion a year seems to be the going rate. What is missing from the narratives peddled by our superiors is any attempt to explain and understand, ‘why?’
We are told, with absolute confidence, that attacks on European cities by IS have nothing to do with Europe’s & America’s past actions in the Middle East. To even the most untutored eye that argument must seem threadbare. The reason they attack us is the same reason the Palestinians attack Jews: they hate us, they hate our freedoms, they hate our democracy.
I’m sorry, that simply does not make sense. I can easily imagine a few dozen psychotic ‘crazies’ hating in that kind of way, anarchists in fact, if not in ideology. But not the tens of thousands who are mobilised in different ways in different places? They may not all be ‘fighting for Palestine’ but the ongoing oppression of fellow-Arabs at the hands of ‘western colonialism’ won’t have been ignored. And the longer we ignore our part in that oppression the longer it will continue. And the cost will be borne not just by their children, but by ours. If nothing else self-interest should move us to action to stop the ‘benign war’ in Palestine before it is too late.