In the past few weeks, Israel has been pounding Lebanon in a series
of strikes aimed at achieving peace by killing hundreds of
innocent people. I’m no military strategist, but I would have thought that a great way to turn average Lebanese civlians into ‘terrorists who hate your country’ would be to kill women and children, and destroy roads and bridges.
One of the reasons that I built this site initially was so that I could
express my thoughts and feelings on events like those that have
unfolded in Lebanon, but on this occasion its taken me weeks to write
anything at all.
From an Australian perspective, it has been incredibly frustrating to watch my local media “focus on the local angle” and lose sight of the fact that bullets and shrapnel hurt just as much whether you hold an Australian passport or don’t. The basic angle has been, “Can we get the Aussies out of this warzone?” or “Is the government doing enough to rescue the Aussies” – what about the 3.8 million Lebanese? What’s the deal? As long as people who know Advance Australia Fair don’t die, every thing’s going to be okay? The bigger story should have been, “Is the International Community doing enough to make sure Israel stops bombing?”.
On my 2002 trip to the USA, I was traveling through the Capital area. I
was on the commuter train from Maryland to Washington DC, and there
were a few ladies on the train dressed in blue and white. I asked them
about their ‘team colours’, and they explained they were going to a
Pro-Israel rally. I knew next to nothing about the Middle East at the
time, so I listened as the women explained that the newly waged “War on
Terror” was all about from a Pro-Israel perspective. The women
encouraged me to join them on the Capital. I went along, as attending a
protest on Capital hill seemed a little more of an adventure than
checking out the Smithsonian with the tourists.
The protest I had stumbled into turned out to be the world’s largest-ever Pro Israel rally – 100,000 are said to have been present.
The mood was generally jubilant, and my presence at the event was
enough to make me everyone’s friend. There was so much energy and
enthusiasm. I remember one common catch cry, duplicated on placards and
t-shirts, was, “AMERICA DON’T WORRY, ISRAEL IS BEHIND YOU” this was
punctuated by the image of an Israeli jet.*
In the months following my attendance at the protest, I began to read
more and more on the plight of Israel and her neighbours. One of the
stand-out speeches I have heard on the topic of Israel came from a
US-based academic named Sut Jhally. (You can download Sut’s presentation at Active Ingredients).
*The irony of this sentiment only dawns on me now, when I consider the fact that the US has been contributing an average of $US1.3 billion a year to Israel’s defence force since 1971.