Janus’ Musings

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Cycle of Violence – will it ever end?

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One more attack in Israel – there will be reprisals from Israel for sure. How long will this go on? How will (will it) this end? The other day I heard over BBC radio that a UN resolution over condemning the attack could not pass because some Middle Eastern countries opposed the resolution – they wanted language in there condemning Israel’s attack on Gaza a few days ago which killed about 50 civilians. The Libyan delegate to the UN said (and I agree with him) that passing the resolution meant that we valued Israeli lives more than Palestinian lives – why doesn’t the world get together and condemn Israel when they launch an attack in Gaza killing civilians?

In closed-door discussion among the 15-nation council’s diplomats, Libya insisted the statement should be “balanced” by including condemnation of Israeli actions in Gaza, a Libyan U.N. representative said after the meeting.

The reason for this endless cycle of violence between the Muslim world and rest is in my opinion a flawed US foreign policy – nobody looks at the real reasons behind why the Muslim world is unhappy but choose to focus on the manifestation of that anger. This has to change.

For a background of the Palestine mandate and the formation of Israel see Alistair Cooke’s brilliant Letter from America.

Did you notice something that Lord Balfour’s declaration and the famous United Nations resolution have in common?

A fatal omission of one word.

Balfour said Britain favoured “a national home in Palestine”. The Jews took this to mean Palestine would be it – the national home.

The Arabs said – No, no the declaration says only “a national home” meaning in part of Palestine.

A quarter century later the UN resolution said Israel must withdraw from occupied territories, which to the Israelis meant some territories. To the Arabs it meant the, all the occupied territories.

Each of them through decades of bloodshed and unstinting hate have held to these opposing interpretations. All because of a missing “the”.

Next time you draft a treaty pay attention to the simplest English words that can say so much like “by” and “with” and “from” and “for” – and pay special attention to the definite article, the harmless word of three letters: T H E.


Written by janusmusings

March 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Middle East

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