Thursday, November 22, 2012

How To Preserve the Cease-fire in Israel and Palestine



 Collage J. Stewart using public domain images

Christiane Amanpour asked a hardhitting question of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, namely, was he ready to take responsibility for the men, women and children killed and wounded by Israel’s missiles. He did a double take and of course denied, but Amanpour is right. Both leaders are equally responsible for their own being slaughtered. But I think her question begs an even more important one.

For a real treaty to happen between Israel and Palestine, everybody seems to be agreed: no violence, either of you. It’s an excellent start. Nobody in the world wants to see a full-on war in the Middle East. Or that’s how it seems on the surface, that’s what everybody is saying, and a lot of countries are getting involved to try and keep the cease-fire in place.

But here’s the chink in the argument. A lot of the countries who supposedly don’t want war are also manufacturing and exporting arms. Their economies rely on these industries, politicians often get to stay in power by triggering off conflict somewhere, stirring up fear and patriotism, and creating more jobs. In the arms industry.

While calling for peace. We’ve become so inured to the sight of tanks and guns and missiles and bloody massacres that we don’t even question war any more. It’s a part of our daily life if we watch the news. If we don’t, it’s infiltrating our lives anyway. So many movies, TV series and books have some level of violence and gun-toting. Censorship blocks swearing but it doesn't block violence. 

Journalists passionate about exposing wrong in the world risk their lives to report on areas where it’s happening and the injustice of it. They’re courageous and it’s good that they wake the world up, because unless these violations get shoved in our face we don’t get involved. except that it doesn’t shock us anymore the way it should. Even if you’re outraged and horrified, and saddened at the tragedy, that reporting loses its edge after a week or two. 

Or three. Or four. It’s only when we’re at the receiving end of a bullet or a missile or we watch our child’s legs get blown off that all the numbness is dissolved as if we were dunked into a bowl of acid. Even then, do we even stop for a minute to consider the source of the problem? It’s not with leaders and fanatics, it’s not with those whose savagery dominates them. It’s definitely not with the men and women who defend themselves against it. 

The real problem is that the world wants to carry on manufacturing arms, and sinking huge sums of money into research and development, pouring resources into an industry that has one purpose. To maim and destroy. That’s where the journalists should be flocking. That’s what we should be watching and reading about every day and every night. All the politics of it, the high finance, the corrupted power.

It would make for great journalism, and we wouldn’t have to watch movies and TV series in the thriller genre any more. Reality at its best. Saving the world. One gun at a time. Making it impossible for anybody, no matter how deranged they are, to blow up children, women, men, animals, everything that is beautiful about life.