Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Israel’s 60th anniversary

As Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its formation, most of the Middle East looked the other way. There may not be any other country in the world which is as reviled, hated and despised as Israel. A country formed by victims of Holocaust has become the perpetrator of unimaginable scale of violence. It is an irony that victims have become perpetrators of the same kind of violence which they were subjected to.

Younus ( name changed) my colleague from Palestine is not a happy man. Though he holds the Palestinian passport, he has never been to his homeland. Having grown up in Syria and having lived in Lebanon for years, he is very keen to visit his “home” . A home he only knows in his imagination and is part of his heritage. A home which has more than 500 checkpoints, all controlled by the Israeli army in a humiliating control mechanism which denies the inhabitants of Palestine the most basic of human needs.

Another friend Albert ( a catholic ) had been to the holy land a few months ago. As a pilgrim to the holy land, he asked me if I wanted something; and I requested him to bring me some holy water for a friend. In his own words, Israelis live in a constant state of fear. Fear of death, violence and mayhem. He said that in his week long stay, he witnessed one suicide bombing. “Muslims and Christians live peacefully even in Jerusalem. While the Jews may have some problems with the others, by and large the Arab culture binds them together. Ultimately, we are all cousins from the same Abrahmic family”, he said. Only if the ultra-orthodox Jews and the Hamas were to internalize this and the US lobby would work towards making some sense of the madness.

BBC recently reported that Condolezza Rice is perhaps the only Secretary of State to have spent so much time and effort in the region with so little tangible results. She seems to have set the clock moving backwards instead of forwards when it comes to the Palestine issue.

While Israel conducts ongoing drills for possible terrorist attacks (as reported by BBC), and the citizens of Israel continue to live in the mirage of having found their holyland, one question remains to be answered : What have they really created ? Have they created a land which offers peace, prosperity and well-being to its citizens or have the Israelis created a state which is constantly under threat and will probably never see peace in our lifetime ? A state which is not in peace with itself, nor with its neighbours.

Thursday, May 1, 2008