Friday, August 04, 2006

The futility of religious wars

Nonie Darwish, an Arab woman, castigates her own people in a recent opinion piece on the HuffingtonPost. She grew up in Gaza and her father was an Egyptian Lt. Colonel who was killed in conflict with Israel. She internalized the experience by viewing the greater picture of what caused that conflict and many more since.

We Arabs must abandon this obsession to destroy Israel and tend to more important issues, such as honor killing of Muslim girls, stoning of Muslim women, killing and torturing of gays, amputation of limbs of criminals, female genital mutilation, the murder of apostates who leave Islam, polygamy and its devastating effects on family relations, and the imprisonment of Arab reformists and writers and cutting the tongues of those who speak out. We must speak out against the self-anointed and hateful Ayatollahs and Sheikhs who incite violence, rage and anger from the pulpits of mosques. They are condemning the beautiful Middle East society to a permanent condition of war, terror and jihad.
She urges fellow Arabs to show restraint and distance themselves from Hezbollah, and she points out the myopia of tribal associations with any perpetrator. But Israel's response to Hezbollah's initial provocation is equally short-sighted.
The latest violence brought Israel's death toll to 70, including 42 soldiers. Lebanon's confirmed death toll is about 700, mostly civilians killed in Israeli strikes.
The 10-to-1 death toll could have been predicted given Israel's order(s) of magnitude greater firepower. The obscene disproportion of collateral damage was avoidable simply by not retaliating in the first place, so the debate is not about whether Israel has the right to self defense but rather at what cost? And Israel is certainly aware of America's failure in muting the Iraq insurgency without preventing innumerable civilian deaths. The subsequent Arab reaction could have been predicted too, and this should come as no surprise to anybody:
Hundreds of thousands of Shiites chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" marched through the streets of Baghdad's biggest Shiite district Friday in a massive show of support for Hezbollah in its battle against Israel.
The only thing they seem to have in common is strong convictions rooted deeply in religious/cultural ideology. That, and a lust for violence.

Among many quotes about the futility of war, this one in particular by Rich Jeni comes to mind in times like this.
You're basically killing each other to see who's got the better imaginary friend.
Our association with and/or support of either side is further damaging our country's already fragile reputation.

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