In case you didn’t know, there is no peace in the Middle East. There hasn’t been for quite some time.
Whence began the cradle of civilization, also emerged the world’s three foremost monotheistic religions. From Abraham sprouted Judaism. From Jesus spawned Christianity. From Mohamed birthed Islam. And the world hasn’t been the same since.
Ever since man stood erect and peered over the tallgrass, exercising his limited scope and senses to evade and ultimately dominate predators, the inherent territorialism that is human nature reared its ugly head. From hunting in packs, to irrigation to the wheel, man has exponentially surpassed nature’s seemingly omnipotent grasp over the ecological and living balance. What’s his has never been theirs, and the double helix will ensure that this axiom predominates both current and future interactions with the planet. What once was a symbiotic relationship with nature, man has time and again managed to exceed and exploit this balance of life.
And then “God” spoke to Abraham and told him to slay his first born in what is perhaps the most vile and revolting test that the bible has in print. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son…” How such a despicable act of malevolence could be mustered by a universally hailed benevolent creator is a question scholars have pondered for millennia.
- Lolz Ike, I is gonna cut you
And so it began, man, once accountable only to himself, his senses, and his biological imperative for self-preservation, now became subservient to to an invisible deity who took pride in smiting hordes of people (his alleged children), casting plagues of death and destruction, and officially establishing the notion of “the other”.
To imagine the conflict between monotheistic religions, which in actuality by definition share the same ultimate god, is to conjure up the image of a schoolyard debate between children. “My religion is better than yours!” “My god is truer and more righteous than yours!” “My god is the only god, and na na na boo boo, let’s spill blood to prove it!”
Fast forward to the crusades, to the inquisition, to the great pogroms of Europe, and we see the curse that is religion and its effects.
But to say that it’s all bad would be a declaration of ignorance and limited perception. One can easily glance at a select few of the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus, and the (ultimately contradictory) notions of brotherhood of Islam, and see that everyone kind of just means well. But the road to hell, as it is said, is paved with good intentions.
Strife erupts like seething hot magma any time a fanatic aims to assert his religious superiority over another. Sure, he means well, of course, but remember, you’re going to hell if you’re not a believer.
Much time is spent in both Christianity and Judaism fixated on the return of the Messiah. The coming of the Messiah is said to be the end of old and beginning of new, a fresh start for humanity, the erasure of sin, and the dawn of a new era. But if you read the scripture closely, the inherent contradiction between the seemingly mutually inclusive rapture leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth.
Jews wake up every morning hoping it will be the day that the Messiah returns to the land of Eretz Yisrael, but the entity in question will raise hell before the day is done. Fundamentalist Christians support Israel with the same fervor that they do for the Holy Trinity, for it is believed that the biblical land of Israel must be intact, established, and inhabited by the “chosen people” of the Old Testament, the sons of Abraham, before the delightful preachings of the book of Revelations can come to fruition. But what some like to gloss over is the fact that whilst it is the Jews that must be present in order for the Messiah to make an appearance, once he does, if the Jews don’t convert to Christianity, they’re going straight to hell.
- This is going to be a bad day
Muslims and the Arab world have loathed Jews since antiquity. Christians have tolerated Jews and been at an existential standoff with Muslims for over a thousand years. And Jews have just been trying to sneak under the radar and hope that no one will try to kill them on any particular day.
Ever since the Jews were expelled from their biblical home by the Romans before the dawn of Christ, some have always tried to venture the journey back; and since the Spanish Inquisition of the late 15th century, this imperative has increased markedly. But the Arabs whom have since inhabited those lands weren’t too pleased that their sworn enemy was hoping to come home for supper.
But the Holy Land is holy to everyone: Jews, Muslims and Christians, alike.
- A new beginning
And so in the late 19th century began the musings of one Theodore Herzl, credited with the concept of Zionism, or most simply, the re-establishment of the biblical land of Israel. Despite what some white supremacists and Muslim fundamentalists would have you believe, it’s not just the Jews who have acquired wealth over the centuries; but it was incidentally the wealthier of said Jews whom began to legally purchase land from Arabs throughout the later part of the 19th, and first quarter of the 20th century. And once again, despite what virulent anti-Antisemitism and varying propaganda would have you believe, the inhabitants of Palestine were more than gracious to accept cash money for their worthless land. And by worthless, it is not meant in the sense of sentimentally void; it was barren, harsh, and borderline inhospitable land. Some arabs left more freely than others. Some stayed and vowed to fight to the bitter end. And many, in fact, lived in harmony with their brothers of past. Yes, brothers. Both semitic people, Jews and Arabs emerged from the same blood, yet this fact is made fiction to fuel the mutual fear of the other.
In the wake of World War II, after six million Jews had been systematically identified, herded, starved, beaten, tortured and murdered, the patriotic Jewish inhabitants of Palestine vowed for it to never happen again. After the British up and left after establishing a bi-state solution, but unable to maintain the peace between the feuding families, Israel formally declared its independence on May 19th 1948. And boy, did those Arabs not like that one little bit. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq invaded the new state from all sides, garnering fervent military support from Arab sympathizers Morocco, Sudan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. After a year of brutal and merciless fighting, a cease-fire was reached. But that wasn’t the end of the argument.
Wikipedia’s account of the events put it succinctly: “Arab countries over the years refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, and Arab nationalists led by Nasser called for the destruction of the state. Syria, and Jordan massed troops close to Israeli borders, expelled UN peacekeepers and blocked Israel’s access to the Red Sea. Israel saw these actions as a casus belli for a pre-preemptive strike that launched the Six-Day War, Israel achieved a decisive victory in which it captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights.“
- Sticks and stones will break your bones, but Tomahawk missles will fuck up your shit.
Religion has been in bed with politics since their first drunken hookup a couple thousand years ago, and the United States, fervently implementing its policy of containment against the Soviet Union, infused Israel with economic and military support, being its only democratic ally in the region of arab states deeply vulnerable to the influential sphere of Communist expansionism.
And so Israel became stronger and stronger, the arabs became angrier and angrier, and a poor, marginialized, seemingly forgotten few were caught in between: the arab Palestinians who still presided.
The inherent nature of Zionism is exclusionary and extreme. If you’re not Jewish, you’re just not invited to the party, and consequently hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were left to knock on doors and hope for admission. But once again, don’t let the propaganda fool you: as much as the arab states would have virulently argued for the plight of the Palestinian people, no Arab nation would allow these woeful souls across their own borders. Unwanted by all, desperation grabbed the people by the throat and forced them into violent and controversial acts of self-preservation. Israeli domestic policy is abhorrent to anyone with any semblance of morality and compassion, as it ironically seeks to segregate and starve the Palestinian people much in the same way as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 did to the Jews of Germany.
Here we are today, each side screaming “you started it!” atop the shrills of air raid sirens and thunderous roars of artillery and bombs, irrevocably entrenched in an existential conflict that has no conceivable end. One side sends suicide bombers into cafes, the other erects a massive wall to keep the other out. One blockades port cities preventing food and energy, the other fires rockets indiscriminately and haphazardly across kilometers of desert. One dies, a hundred more are slaughtered collaterally by gunships and rocketfire. And so the dance of death and destruction spins and staggers day by day, with the question of “who started it?” becoming increasingly moot.
Why? Because of religion, of course. Because of territorialism. Because of xenophobia. Because of blind fear and hatred. Just because.
Maybe, after all, what we really do need is a swift and tidy apocalypse to wipe the slate clean. Only in this version the four horsemen carry machineguns, and the archangels rain nuclear fire.
Why can’t we just get along? Well, it wouldn’t be humanity if we did, now would it?