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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Peace Demonstration


I heard after Shabbat yesterday that there was a peace demonstration in Israel. I found this rather amusing, mostly in the ironic sense. It kind of struck me as amusing in the same way it would strike me as amusing for a child to throw a tantrum until there was snow on the ground. The government of Israel can't make peace any more than the child's parents can make it snow.

There's a saying (I'm not sure who originated it, but it is so true): "If the Arabs put down their guns tomorrow, there would be no conflict. If the Israelis put down their guns tomorrow, there would be no Israel." This isn't just a bit of doggerel -- it's very, very true.

The roots of this "conflict" are in the corrupt demagogues who rule the area and the rabid anti-Jewish feelings the pervade the earth. Because there are only about 15 million Jews in a world of six and a half billion people (with most of the Jews concentrated in the US -- mostly the Northeast, Florida and California -- and Israel -- Only 5 countries have Jewish populations greater than 1% of their population and in no countries do Jews make up more than 2.5% of the population), most people in the world have never met a single Jew in their entire lives. They depend on the media for their view of the Jews and Israel (mind you, the entire population of Israel is barely over 7 million with Jews making up less than 5.5 million).

It is amazing that so many people see the Jews (who make up about .2% of the world's population) and Israel (which is populated by barely over .1% of the world's population in an area that is less than .15% of the world's land mass*) as the central "problem" of the world.

But this world view stems from the inability (or unwillingness) of the leaders of the surrounding countries to give their people a reasonable standard of living. The leaders of most of the countries in the Middle East are corrupt and self-centered. They need to get the minds of their people away from blaming them for their poverty and their harsh lives. Toward this end, they give the people something and someone to hate, a scapegoat to direct all their vitriol toward. That something is Israel and those someones are the Jews.

If the people in the countries that surround Israel were ever to ween themselves from the constant nursing at the breast of hatred they might actually notice that the people in Israel have the highest standard of living in the Middle East. They would notice that in Israel, all are welcome (whereas the rest of the Middle East, for all intents and purposes, is Judenrein[free of Jews] and relatively free of Christians and other non-Muslims), in Israel we agree to disagree without killing our detractors, in Israel women are not treated like chattel. And their leaders are afraid of this. So, in order to keep their people "in place", they feed them a consistent diet of hatred.

Despite this unvarying diet of animosity, there are people who are realizing that Israel is the solution not the problem. There are Muslims and former Muslims (like Salmon Rushdie, Irshad Manji, Nonie Darwish and others) and non-Muslims who grew up in Muslim countries or spent a lot of time around Muslims (like Brigitte Gabriel, Joseph Farrah and the late Oriana Fallaci) who are raising their voices and working hard to bring true peace to the world.

It is unfortunate that it will probably take war to reach that true peace because it will only be through war that we will be able to show the majority of Muslims that their lives don't have to be horrible. We need to be in a position to show these people that Islam can be a religion of peace and that everyone prospers when we all live in peace. But as long as these countries are governed by unscrupulous men who don't have their people's best interests at heart there can never be true peace.

* These percentages mean that there are about 2 Jews for every 1000 people in the world and 1 Israeli for every 1000 non-Israelis and that Israel has 1 1/2 square kilometers for every 1000 square miles in the world. By way of comparison, there are 50 Americans per 1000 people in the world, about 323 Christians per 1000 people and about almost 170 Muslims per 1000 people on earth.

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