(August 5, 2014) – I posted a video on Facebook yesterday – As a defense of Israel, it was satisfying in its clarity – explaining the current situation in a way that made it impossible to misunderstand Israels actions this past two weeks – these most current hostilities as they relate to recent history and serve as predictors of the future. However complicated the ultimate solution may be – however long that region of the world may have to wait for a durable peace – Israel holds the moral high ground and with it, justification for whatever may need to be done to preserve sovereignty and protect it’s citizens. Good guys and bad guys. Black and white. At a time when so little is clear, I found satisfaction in this video’s and my own conclusion that Israel was fighting the good fight. However many Palestinians might die that night, the Israeli army are the good guys. They were my team! I slept well.
I take pride in the fact that I’m a life-long, non-fan of team sports. Instead, I picked a sophisticated, modern army to make me feel like a winner. My subconscious mind didn’t take the night off. Aware of my hypocrisy it used the quiet night hours to chew its way through my defenses. That next morning, after posting a link to the video for “all” my Facebook friends, an element of discomfort crept in. The video’s message was simple to the point of simplistic – supportive of Israel to such a degree as to make me wonder if its message might have ignored that always present, “other side of the story,” Telling only one side and a simplified version was not sufficient. Information consumers are judged incapable of understanding, or simply not worth the effort required to explain complicated situations This happens so often that we’ve come to accept what is offered. Maybe the news gatherers for the masses are right. We may not be stupid but all too often we are lazy. Rather than demanding better coverage by network and cable news organizations, we need only look to Google. There is little that we should know that is not available if in fact we want to know. The story of Israel and Gaza, Israelis and Palestinians, is too important to explain away simplistically. Even if we are basically correct in our conclusions, there are facts we should know, details that create subtle but important contours in our understanding of the world and those we share it with. The well-informed mind is a lonely hunter. So much for my flirtation with team sports.
There is another YouTube video made by an Israeli, Miko Peled – the son of an IDF General. He has a book for sale which demonized Israel as being the heartless aggressor. No doubt, some of what he claims is true. As I have just suggested – in this case as with others – there is always another side and more information. However, for those who have followed the story of Israel, the Palestinians and Middle Eastern Politics long enough – holes in this fellow’s narrative are evident. The video shows Peled speaking in a church somewhere in the US, before a sympathetic audience. Miko has much to say and his family and personal credentials seem to give him the access and elevation to speak as he does. Many of the points he made impressed me as being accurate or at least truthful as far as he knows the truth. As such, they were to me, disappointingly damning of past and present Israeli governments. Though uncomfortable as a result of what I was hearing – if there were elements of truth in this, “other side of this story,” – wanting to be fully informed, I continued to watch.
Then the false note. “The Children,” he said. “The Children!” he repeated. Careful listeners will detect a dramatic ploy. Peled was speaking to an already sympathetic audience. Still he reached – over-reached for even more shock and outrage. Peled was adding “steroidal” kickers to his message. Wary now, I began to hear the sound of a story twisting under pressure as Peled picked carefully among evidential artifacts to craft his message – to make a case without regard for the whole truth. Half truths do not reveal half of the truth. A half truth tells part of the truth in such a way as to mask the whole truth. This was what Peled was doing. The data was beginning to cry out, as this twisting of it’s particulars increased. As the saying goes; “You can make the data say anything if you torture it long enough.”
Miko Peled’s video is long and you can watch it yourself if inclined. So in this article let me simply pick out four points – four concerns Peled focussed on to tell his story – used to bring the audience to the conclusion he intended. I will tell them another way. Readers can judge for themselves as to whether I have been unfair to Miko Peled or the Palestinians – the tragic stars and co-instigators of this world engaging drama.
Let me start with the children – as in my opinion Peled’s emotional appeal centered on the plight of, “The Children, The Children!”
1.) Children in Gaza have access to little or no water, says Peled. Fact. Israel “trucks” water to Gaza daily. Truth. Israel should not be required to supply water after all these years – when they – the Israelis have drilled for and developed water supplies in the most hostile areas to the East and South of Gaza – the Negev desert. Money from the IMF, Europe, UN and US has flowed “like water” in Gaza for years. Little of it has ever been used to build an infrastructure – including a desalinization plant similar to the one Israel operates to supply the water Gazan children are supposedly deprived of – infrastructure that a responsible state develops for its citizens. Weapons and those sophisticated tunnels built to transport and hide them – this is where the money apparently is spent. In an act of appeasement – land for peace – Israel left Gaza. Israel gave up the land but never saw a day of peace in return. Now recognized for the strategic mistake and societal tragedy that it was – Israelis, Gazan residents at the time, were forced out – forced to leave behind whole cities – including a sophisticated, fully functional agriculture industry and all the water wells required to grow crops that were previously available in abundance. It now lays in shambles. Here was food. Here was the water. Still, Arab apologists prefer to portray the Arabs of Gaza and Samaria as subjugated, mistreated – waterless – refugees. Arabs in the region have used this story in a variety of contexts for 70 years. No doubt there are those who suffer in Gaza. But let Hamas use Euro currency notes to wipe away their tears – the smallest of fractions would be sufficient, as we are talking of hundreds of billions in aid money that apparently aided no one. Sad but true, Arabs hold fellow Arabs in subjection, for political capital.
2.) The Nakba – the Arabs day of catastrophe. There are two sides to this story. Miko Peled tells only one. No doubt there were shameful acts committed by the Israeli army. But there is a larger story. It was the beginning of what we see today – former Arab residents of Israel, confined in refugee camps located in Lebanon and elsewhere. Again, aid money has been allocated – only to be diverted. The people do suffer – they have for decades. But where did the money sent to help them rebuild their live – to build homes and municipal infrastructure – how could so much continue to evaporate like water in a desert? No one will produce a full or accurate accounting. Still, it is instructive to note that Arafat – just one of dozens charged with responsibility for these people – Arafat’s wife and family lived luxuriously in Paris – still do. Arafat himself died with money in the banks of Switzerland – several billion.
3.) Homicide/Suicide bombings. Peled dismisses them as being statistically inconsequential. Really, Miko?
4.) Peled claims that Israel has fabricated the threat posed by Iran to divert attention from the Palestinian issue. No more need be said. Miko Peled’s credibility is shredded as he dismisses Iran’s self stated hostility, open threats and covert support for Hezbollah and Hamas – two of many groups who direct attacks and stockpile billions in weaponry – an ever-growing threat against Israel, Europe and the US.Who has misdirected whom? Do you hear a “whirring” sound? That’s the sound of multiplied thousands of Iranian centrifuges. Spinning at 90,000 rpm’s they are concentrating a supply of weapons grade uranium that grows larger by the day.
Watch his video, (Google: Miko Peled – YouTube), and find yourself wondering if what he says is true – how much is true? Then think about some of these specific issues and realize that he is not just mistaken. Homicide bombers on buses and city streets Statistically inconsequential? Miko Peled has gone out of his way to mislead and misdirect the unwitting.
So will we see an end to the fighting? Actually… “We,” those of us removed by distance, ethnicity and nationalities – “We” don’t count. As to whether “We” will witness peace in Jerusalem and Gaza – peace in the Middle East – It’s not really our concern. Our anti-war, “Peace in our time,” sensitivities are not the issue! However - if there were a way, we do have a responsibility to help anyone in need. But all to often our best intentions result in more trouble. Few places on earth have seen this fact demonstrated so often or for so long.
We ask Israel to surrender, to end military actions and “free” the Palestinians. Figuratively – but all to close to reality – the, “world voice” would be satisfied if Hamas’s snipers would simply not stand behind girls and boys – The Children – while firing at IDF soldiers. But even this is asking too much and will not happen because Hamas knows that if a child dies, “The World” will concoct a way, however twisted, to blame their deaths on Israel. Not surprisingly, neither side listens to much of anything we are saying. So maybe it is us – the rest of the world who needs to surrender our meddling, our self entertaining anxiety and financially motivated, strategies for peace. We know so little. I don’t think we really care all that much either.
“Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.” This is a Biblical injunction. It occurred to me recently that it did not read, “Pray for the safety of the Jewish people – nor for the preservation of the State of Israel.” Neither does it say,”Pray for an end to the occupation of Arab land, or pray for the freedom of the Palestinian People.” This prayer is a universal plea for Jerusalem – the past and present capital of the nation of Israel. Once the center of government and culture during the Ottoman occupation – now home to persons of all nations and ethnicity, Jerusalem is a magnet to spiritual and religious groups of all persuasions. Among these and central to the current narrative are the three Abrahamic faiths – Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Considering all this international, multicultural and wide-ranging religious attention – all these claims of heritage, ownership and responsibility – to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for peace throughout the world! How fitting, as Jerusalem holds, as it has for centuries or longer – the attention of the world.
Miko Peled’s book and video will not bring an end to the suffering of the people he champions. Nor will my rebuttal untangle the problem. What to do then? How can this ever end and what could any individual or concerned group expect to do? Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We can pray for intercessory influence – Divine power and the perennial, though little understood wisdom resident in each of our hearts. To pray in this general way is to suspend individual opinions – to favor neither side or solutions of our own imagining. It means surrender. Not surrender to political expediency nor to interpretations of religious texts. And not to local or international government agendas. This is surrender to wisdom – call it acceptance of fundamental goodness – a level far above good intentions. If I surrender and you surrender too… If all sides actually came to the point of surrender at the same time, there would be peace in Jerusalem. Absurdly impractical? Given the statements and actions of fundamentalists – yes. It is quite unreasonable.However, taking a lesson from the small rudder that steers a big ship or the small, nearly naked man, Gandhi who changed the course of nations – Prayer, offered by even a few engages power beyond numbers and probabilities. May those who have ears to hear – read and recognize reason to hope. May hope motivate some courageous number to surrender. May others witness and follow this example. Friends, countrymen, citizens of the world… let us all, Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.