03 July 2008

Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that the problems of the Middle East are complex.

It also does not take a rocket scientist to know that rhetoric like this means that the problems of the Middle East are not going to be resolved any time soon.

With this post I am not stating a position in favor of one or the other. For me the holocaust perpetrated against the Jews is a historical fact that cannot be disputed. Whether it was six million or five or four is irrelevant in the big scheme of things because they are numbers that many of us just cannot comprehend. The numbers are obviously relevant to those who lost loved ones during the course of the perpetration of this evil. My point though is that for most of us the numbers are so huge that it makes comprehension difficult.

If it was four million then this is the same number of people who live in Sydney. Try imagining a here one day gone the next scenario. One day Sydney is a bustling city the next day it is devoid of citizens, trucked and trained to camps. Scary thought.

Is what is happening in Gaza a holocaust? Not on the scale of the holocaust perpetrated against the Jews during the Second World War. However, serious questions must be asked as to whether the consistent and widespread targeting of Palestinians constitutes a genocide? This post does not lend itself to a detailed debate of the legal issues, but it is worth thinking about.

The Middle East issues are not going to be resolved with dialogue alone. These issues are going to require us to look deep within ourselves to our core humanity and make some hard decisions about the sort of world in which we want to live.

Should we be scared by rhetoric such as this? The simple answer is, Yes! If enough people start believing in it then perhaps this will metamorphose into the next clash of civilizations. Simply, two diametrically opposed views such as these can only mean bloodshed, and lots of it.

The screen capture is of Dr. Walid Al-Rashudi, Head of the Department of Islamic Studies at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, and are from an interview which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on 29 February 2008. Al-Aqsa TV is a satellite news channel run by Hamas. This is old news but I only just found it and I find it to be interesting and important at the same time as it characterizes for me the intractable nature of the problem.

Some of what was said includes the following:

"we will not be satisfied even if all the Jews are killed. So what are we supposed to say in the face of the Gaza holocaust? What compensation will satisfy us? By Allah, we will not be satisfied even if all the Jews are killed."

"One of the important things that we must tell people is that what is going on in Palestine today is a real holocaust. This is the real holocaust. A holocaust is not the burning of 50-60 Jews in Germany or Switzerland, but the Jews continue to call it the Holocaust."

The interview was recorded in Arabic and I must confess I cannot read, write, or speak Arabic and have relied on translations provided by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). I hope they are accurate. The links I have included will direct anyone interested to the original Arabic language versions.

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