|Mazen Salhi | Engineer||Canada|
Last summer, in the days following the cease-fire of Israel’s latest war on Lebanon, I made it a daily routine to read some of the Israeli newspapers online, and (especially) the readers’ commentary. The subject of the day was the possibility of the war extending to Syria. The tone of many articles and commentary was, well, a real orgy. To my surprise, (I have to admit that with all my preparation, it did surprise me) I found an overwhelming majority of contributors absolutely lusting for such an escalation.
Although it is sad to see the people behind the most powerful army in the region craving so openly about the destruction of your country, I was actually not too unhappy to read what they had to write. Rediscovering that a majority of Israelis still see their self-fulfillment primarily through the violent subjugation of adversaries (aka “war”), help bolster one’s convictions about the justice of Arab cause against Israeli politics.
Throughout most of Israel’s history, the belief in utilizing overwhelming force with any and all adversaries has been non-relenting and only too evident, at least to the countries and residents of the Middle East. This belief was lately emphasized yet again by the report of the Winograd committee, the very committee that was supposed to investigate “the mistakes” of the war. As Uri Avnery observes in his article on May 21st, “the most important part of the report is the one that is not there.” No where is there a mention that this was “from the start a superfluous, senseless, and hopeless war.”
The Israeli establishment seems to be a firm believer in war as an instrument for achieving its goals. Be those long-term interests, natural resources, so-called security, or even real-estate. That belief seems to continue unchecked in Israeli mainstream politics. The 1967 war (which Israel started) won them the Golan, a beautiful, water rich, strategic piece of land. Why give it up if they have the muscle to keep it? If the Syrians want it back? let them try and get it back and “they will lose even more land” said a commentator; a brutally simple line of thought that seems to have many followers in Israel.
But force and war have their evermore shrinking limitations, evermore devastating costs to all sides, and evermore far reaching consequences and long-lasting implications, that one, really, may want to reconsider. On the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, power cravers must learn to stop speaking the language of war. And Israel must realize that the pipe dream of keeping the occupied Arab land forever has to come to an end at some point.
If I were born an Israeli, I think that-by now at least-I would have reached the conclusion that freely resorting to force is not exactly the best recipe for the future of my grandchildren. That I cannot occupy other people’s land, kick them out of it, continue to deprive them of even the right to return to it, and then expect them to lay back and relax. That Lebanon is no longer a walk-over to invade and humiliate before Israeli elections. And that Syrians are never going to give up the right to the Golan Heights, no matter how long it takes.
If I were born an Israeli, I think I would be challenging many of the beliefs of the Israeli establishment, just as many of us in the Arab and Muslim side are challenging and re-examining the paradigms we were raised to take for true.