08 January, 2009

Aid to Victims Blocked and More Ripples

Reading: Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieria de Mello and the Fight to Save the World by Power & Islam and Social Work by Crabtree, Husain & Spalek
Recently Watched: Starting Out in the Evening and Sacco & Vanzetti (both excellent)
Thankful for: the great libraries here, that make my book habit non-life-threatening
Working on: Making a big pot of harira

From the Jan. 8th edition of The Washington Post, not exactly the bastion of liberalism and Palestinian solidarity:
"The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it had found at least 15 bodies and several children -- emaciated but alive -- in a row of shattered houses in the Gaza Strip and accused the Israeli military of preventing ambulances from reaching the site for four days."

The news that rockets were fired from Lebanon is troubling, but not totally unexpected. Let's hope this isn't the stirrings of a broader regional conflict. Juan Cole, always a good read for grasping the wider ramifications, reports al-Sadr calling for Iraqis to kill U.S. troops in retaliation for the Gaza assault.

707 dead and more than 3,000 wounded since Dec. 27 in Gaza. 11 Israelis killed, eight of them soldiers, four of them killed in friendly fire incidents. Enough?

Academically, I understand P.E. Obama's insistence that there is not much he or his administration can do until he takes over on Jan. 20. Emotionally, I don't know what or who will be left to negotiate over by then, nor am I sure if the rest of the world will see this as simply another Bush failure. Will Gaza haunt the new administration?

Again, those of you in the U.S. must understand how different a view, how neutered a view we get of this and other conflicts, to say nothing of the rest of the world on a good day. In a country where even the respectful photograph of flag-draped coffins of our own dead soldiers cannot be published, how can we ever expect to get a realistic view of the world and of war? Most of us in this society are so insulated from the notion of death, both in relation to war and in a broader sense, and I believe that is so dangerous because it takes the concept of consequences out of the equation. "War" is that cockpit image of a smart bomb hitting it's target on the nightly news or that first-person shooter game your kid plays all day long. It's all happening over there to somebody else. However, the world doesn't work that way anymore; it's smaller and more mobile. When other people around the world see things like this (disturbing) or the images we don't see of our own war dead (and, yes, they are out there), we need to see it and understand that all actions have consequences. Call it what you like, but understand that this is what the rest of the world sees. Most in this country would do well just to go back and look at the photographs of corpses on battlefields of the Civil War made by Mathew Brady or Thomas O'Sullivan. War is hell.


PS: One spot of good news out there. Add that to the apology Air Tran finally gave a Muslim-American family it kicked off a recent flight. I guess I can wear my اين الحب؟ tshirt next time I fly.

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