The Unholy Land
A playpen with automatic weapons.
September 10, 2003
But current premier Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) was quoted as saying that Hamas' leaders were "dead men" while a senior official said that Israel planned to wipe out Hamas entirely. "We intend to liquidate all of Hamas, without any distinction between the political and military branches of this terrorist organisation," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.Usually I appeal to the playground as a metaphor for arenas of conflict, but the exchange in the epigraph doesn’t rise to that level. A playpen is more like it. While we do not usually bother to analyze the antics between hostile toddlers in a playpen, we have to pretend to seriousness on this one because the toddlers are armed and bloodthirsty. You may also note that the above paragraphs more or less cancel each other out. The Prime Minister of a sovereign nation closely allied with the United States is threatening a blood bath — always an encouragement to peace, right? A “holy” man on the other side, Yassin, is being congratulated for not being killed (what a positive reason to celebrate!) in the most recent attempt on his life, and is threatening “an unforgettable lesson” for the Israelis — presumably a blood bath even more gruesome than the Israelis have planned for them.
I have stayed away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the comic concept of a “road map to peace” to end it, for the simple reason that I don’t understand any of it. Since I now realize that no one else does either, my comments can’t do any harm.
With the acknowledgment that I am wearing my absurd hat today and not my ethical one, I propose a more realistic approach to following the road map.
1. Forget cease-fires. We’re talking about an armed playpen, remember. Toddlers do not know when to lay down their weapons. I know it’s hard to get a playpen to follow a road map, but I’m too lazy on a Sunday afternoon to unmix the metaphors.
2. Recognize that the “holy land” is no longer holy—neither to rational believers nor to God above. The first event consecrating that particular real estate was the offering of Isaac in the book of Genesis. There God honored Abraham’s faith by sparing Isaac. Today, nobody’s child is spared. There is no recognizable connection between the deliverance of Isaac and the reciprocal slaughter of Israeli and Palestinian children.
3. If we are going to have slaughter, let’s be organized about it. In the road-map metaphor, let’s not have rest stops; let’s have a sustained slaughter stop. Just as, in a rest stop, we don’t get back on the bus until everybody has used the rest room, the Israelis and Palestinians should not get back on the bus until everyone who needs to be dead is dead, and everyone who needs to kill people gets them all killed. (It would be efficient if those who need to be dead and those who need to kill are the same people. It was the height of efficiency when a great granduncle of mine and his neighbor shot each other dead in a land dispute. It ended the dispute.) Those who get back on the bus together after the slaughter stop (one map, one bus) are those who can stand to ride with each other.
I realize on reviewing this piece that I haven’t proposed anything original. Excepting my comment on the unholy land, what I propose seems to be exactly the strategy being following by both Israelis and Palestinians today.
About the Author:
Barnabas thinks that war is sometimes absurd, not that it is ever funny.
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