27 July 2006

"We Europeans must never forget that we created the Middle East conflict"

Of course, the "pro-war left" (to say nothing of various shades of right-winger) will likely see this as a "Blame America First" or "Blame Europe First" whining, Timothy Garton Ash has a typically perceptive essay this morning in The Guardian. I think he is correct about the historical role of European Anti-Semitism in the genesis of this crisis:

"Yet observing European responses to the current conflict, I want to insist on Europe's own strong claim to be among the earliest causes. The Russian pogroms of 1881; the French mob chanting "à bas les juifs" as Captain Dreyfus was stripped of his epaulettes at the École Militaire; the festering anti-semitism of Austria around 1900, shaping the young Adolf Hitler; all the way to the Holocaust of European Jewry and the waves of anti-semitism that convulsed parts of Europe in its immediate aftermath. It was that history of increasingly radical European rejection, from the 1880s to the 1940s, that produced the driving force for political Zionism, Jewish emigration to Palestine and eventually the creation of the state of Israel."

I also think he is corect about the road to resolving or at least dampening the crisis:

"It does not follow from this terrible European history that Europeans must display uncritical solidarity with whatever the current government of Israel chooses to do, however violent or ill-advised. On the contrary, the true friend is the one who speaks up when you're making a mistake. It does not follow that we should sign up to the latest dangerous simplifications about a "third world war" against "an Iran-Syrian-Hizbullah-Hamas terrorist alliance" (according to the US Republican Newt Gingrich) or a "seamless totalitarian movement" of political Islamism (according to the Conservative MP and journalist Michael Gove)."

And:

"One proposal is for European forces to participate in a multinational peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, but that only makes sense if realistic parameters are established for a clear, feasible and finite mission. Those are not yet in sight. Even a ceasefire is not yet in sight. . . . The truth is that now, more than ever, the diplomatic key lies in the full engagement of the United States, using its unique influence with Israel and negotiating as directly as possible with all partners to the conflict, however unsavoury."

What is troubling is that the Israelis are now claiming that they will occupy parts of southern Lebanon until a multinational peace-keeping force can relieve them. That could take an awfully long time.

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PS: Having posted this. I will warn commenters that I am going to be away until Monday and will be out of e-mail contact. So, feel free to comment if you feel so moved. And don't take my lack of reply personally. Thanks.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although your blog is dedicated to photography, you have recently posted on events in the middle east, and the politics and political use of images from the region. With that in mind I think you might find a piece of music that was recently "created" in Beirut interesting. The work, Starry Night, is by free improviser and trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj with a little help from the Israeli air force. The piece is interesting and disturbing and at points strangely, or perhaps eerily peaceful to my ear. I think it raises questions/concerns about the intersections of art and politics.
You can link to the piece Kerbaj's blog http://mazenkerblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/other-websites.html
there is also a commentry in guardian - http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/culturevulture/archives/2006/07/28/striking_home.html

30 July, 2006 22:12  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Thanks for the suggesiton. I will pursue it. Music is another domain about which I know little but am very interested.

31 July, 2006 02:43  

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