Sowing the seeds of a century of hatred and conflict

From a comment on GoComics:

“between them, hamas and the israeli forces have sowed the seeds of another century of hatred and conflict…”

Not sowed the seeds. It is already a well-established and ancient forest of hatred and conflict. It has been fed and watered frequently with bitterness and blood since before records began.

They like it this way. It is embedded into people’s culture and lore, into their tradition and values.

It can be changed, but not until: they want it to change; the rest of the world stops interfering to make it worse; the privatised arms industry is dismantled or otherwise not allowed to profit from provoking war; the women say “enough!” (which is hard when the cultures suppress women’s voices); they recognise that people with different value and beliefs are equal; they accept compromise and forgiveness over vengeance; they accept mistakes and harm are caused on all sides; they convince one another that getting along without bloodshed is what they want; they recognise that everybody has to live somewhere; they accept we are not entitled to anything when we are born other than what we are given by other people and that means someone else has to go without so we must share.

In the above ‘they’ means ‘everyone’ and anyone who says otherwise is part of the problem and not ready for change.

It can be done, and has been done many times around the world. But this one is particularly tricky.

“i’ll stick with what i said, thanks. yes, the conflict has gone on for a long time and both sides have scuppered solutions that have been suggested along the way. but what i said above was that the two sides have given the conflict renewed life with their latest actions…”

Yes, you are right. I did not mean to imply I disagreed.

between them, hamas and the israeli forces have sowed the seeds of another century of hatred and conflict” and “the two sides have given the conflict renewed life with their latest actions

Absolutely.

The ‘leaders’ on both sides with their desires for violence, and those external to the area who provoke and promote it, are terrible people. They are also spineless cowards since they do not take any risks themselves.

There was something more honourable in the days of feudalism and before, when the kings and princes and dukes and chieftains stood amongst their lines. They knew if they were defeated, they would at best be ransomed but as likely killed. And those doing the fighting did it eyeball to eyeball and saw the pain and screaming and blood for themselves. And then came home too ashamed to talk of what they had done.

Politicians now send others to do their dirty work. Safe and rich and powerful and the more people die, the greater they believe their military fantasy. And the more support they get. It is obscene: more sickening than a mass murderer who at least stabs people themselves. Even the sickos who shoot schoolkids in America have the decency to look at their targets and risk being shot themselves. Even they are less contemptible than cowards in tunnels who send suicide bombers to kill women in shopping queues. Or rich men in palaces who send bombers against hospitals and tanks against children.

And the contempt I feel for these ‘people’ will be as nothing compared to the hate and angst and despair felt by orphans, widowers and other relatives of their victims. And we know there can never be justice against the leaders, they always get away with it.

And people – through a lack of empathy and imagination, people with full bellies and nice homes – wonder why other people – starved, widowed, robbed of everything and with no access to justice – resort to terrorism.

Not until the citizens themselves – the women, the widowers, the conscripts, the reserves – refuse to allow it to continue will it stop.

The 1960s line was “Suppose they gave a war and no one came”.

Hopefully, this will be Israel’s Vietnam with the IDF troops going home afterwards traumatised at what they have done, and the atrocities being revealed and realising they were not war heroes after all but victims themselves. Forming an Israeli branch of Veterans For Peace, campaigning for conscientious objection and becoming a generation of pro-peace activists as so many ex-soldiers do after an unfair war.

Hopefully, it will be the Gazan Northern Ireland, where the women find a voice to tell their sons and husbands that this has to stop, that they do not want or need vengeance and just want to live peaceful lives. That there is more honour in working together with one’s enemy for a common good than losing more sons and husbands for a principle. Ultimately forcing the opposing sides to grow up and find a way to tolerate one another.

Hopefully, it will be the Israeli citizens’ Ukraine, realising the world knows their government has done a wrong thing and they have been lied to. That they are considered responsible for what their leaders did by the rest of the world, and not want it to happen that way again.

Hopefully, it will be the businesses’ South Africa, where those who want to make money realise that peace and reconciliation, trading with each other and the world, is better financially for all concerned. On realising the sanctions being imposed by citizens and organisations boycotting Israeli goods and goods from the occupied territories hurts their profits. So they demand a change in government policy, one that supports free trade through peaceful co-existence.

When will Middle East conflict end?

From a social media post:

“Hamas and the Israeli forces have sowed the seeds of another century of hatred and conflict…”

Not sowed the seeds. It is already a well-established and ancient forest of hatred and conflict. It has been fed and watered frequently with bitterness and blood since before records began.

They like it this way. It is embedded into people’s culture and lore, into their tradition and values.

It can be changed, but not until:

  • they want it to change;
  • the rest of the world stops interfering to make it worse;
  • the privatised arms industry is dismantled or otherwise not allowed to profit from provoking war; the women say “enough!” (which is hard when the cultures suppress women’s voices);
  • they recognise that people with different value and beliefs are equal;
  • they accept compromise and forgiveness over vengeance;
  • they accept mistakes and harm are caused on all sides;
  • they convince one another that getting along without bloodshed is what they want;
  • they recognise that everybody has to live somewhere;
  • they accept we are not entitled to anything when we are born other than what we are given by other people and that means someone else has to go without so we must share.
  • In the above ‘they’ means ‘everyone’ and anyone who says otherwise is part of the problem and not ready for change.

It can be done, and has been done many times around the world. But this one is particularly tricky.

It is International Women’s Day today.  I wonder how many will be killed in conflict today.  Probably about 10 to 20 in Gaza, some more in Yemen, some more elsewhere.  Does anyone keep count?  Perhaps someone should.  How’s that for a global metric?

This Land is Mine

This simple 3½ minute video This Land is Mine is a superb explanation and demonstration of who started the fighting in Israel, who is right and who is wrong.

This video should be put out instead of the news one day.

If I was working with children, I’d use it as the key part of a discussion.

 

10,000 dead children in Gaza? Really?

From someone in a social media discussion:

85,000 children dead in Yemen due to their civil war. More than 10,000 dead in Gaza since October.

Which got the reply:

The 10,000 number for Gaza is an exaggeration. Hamas is a terrorist organization that pulls numbers out of a hat. The only way the 10,000 could be accurate is if they are counting their teenage soldiers as children.

My response:

1) HOW MANY DEAD CHILDREN?

It is so unusual to have precise numbers in a conflict it made me doubt the figures too. So I did some light research. Checking with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the medical, reporting and conflict resolution sectors, plus the UN and independent aid agencies gives some insight.

These figures are validated, verified and the records independently checked. Trusted news organisations have looked into how they come about and are content.

The US government challenged the numbers because israel’s were one tenth of the Palestinians’ numbers. Israel was wrong and released much bigger numbers nearly the same as the Palestinians were giving out.

The numbers you see online of total deaths and child deaths and confirmed and trustworthy.

The IDF claims they are killing just two civilians for each combatant. They give no more details at all than that. The US says the IDF has killed between 5000 and 9000 Hamas combatants, meaning a ratio of between 1:2 and 1:4. Let’s assume the IDF figure is accurate, and not as flawed as their previous numbers.

Let us also pretend that ratio applies to the use of child soldiers, regardless of how young so including babies.

That means there are at least 6,600 confirmed civilian child deaths.  Is that an acceptable number?

By the way, teenage soldiers are still children. Child soldiers are victims too.

2) ACCURACY OF THE NUMBERS

The principal source is the Gaza’s Ministry of Health (MoH). On the face of it, probably the least reliable of sources since it is run by Hamas. However…

In December, when the MoH reported 15,899 dead, the Times of Israel reported the IDF confirmed 5,000 combatants + 10,000 civilian = 15,000 deaths. So the IDF is giving similar numbers. This is far higher than the Israeli government had been claiming in November; it is the Israeli government that has had to revise its reporting, upwards by a factor of ten! It later said this was because they were providing numbers of confirmed terrorists, not Palestinians. This discrepancy was used by Joe Biden to erroneously say the MoH figures were wrong.

MoH uses a centralised computer system with each hospital providing details of each casualty and corpse. They release figures every few hours. When the US queried the details in October, the MoH provided the raw data including names, ID numbers and so on. At that time it was 6,747 named dead and 281 unidentified.

The data is shared with the totally separate health ministry in the West Bank. It confirms the numbers itself and says it trusts the figures provided. The ID numbers for Gaza, West Bank and Israel are held by the Israeli Population Registry Office and so can be validated.

The MoH has a long track record of being reliable, according to the World Health Organization and the UN. In conflicts in 2008, 2014 and 2021, the MoH’s figures at the time matched the UN’s own subsequent investigation figures to within 4%. Israel’s own figures for the 2014 war were 2125 killed, UN said 2251 and MoH said 2310 – so within 9% of Israel’s estimate. When Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem tallied up deaths in 2014, it made it 2185 (9% fewer) but said such differences were “fairly normal” and down to different ways of counting.

3) WHO TRUSTS THE NUMBERS?

Médecins Sans Frontières confirm the numbers (plus detail attacks and airstrikes on medical facilities and staff).

Airwars – a charity that investigates civilian deaths in conflicts – has done a specific analysis of scores of these records to check them and confirmed them. They have now checked and independently confirmed the details of over 900 of the bodies.

The charity Every Casualty Counts studies death tolls in wars and they say all they found was one person recorded twice in the data.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analysed the data statistically, such as correlating ID numbers and age, and could find no evidence of falsification.

Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director: “These figures are professionally done and have proven to be reliable”.

The Guardian newspaper, generally considered a very reliable source for such information, are content the numbers are realistic. The BBC has also investigated and reported on the numbers with the same conclusion. Ditto for Reuters.

Note that these numbers are only the known deaths. They do not include people missing or bodies still buried under rubble and not reported. The Palestinian Red Crescent and US government’s assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs say the numbers must be higher than those published.

It is also only confirmed dead. Tens of thousands have had hospital treatment, many with life-changing wounds. That will include children, and have created orphans.

ICJ’s judgement on Israel

The International Court of Justice is an important part of the United Nations.  It adjudicates disputes between nations and provides legal advice on international law.  Its rulings and opinions on a case are binding on the parties involved.

On 26th January 2024 the ICJ ruled that Israel must prevent genocidal acts in Gaza.

On social media, many people are saying this is meaningless as the ICJ has no teeth.

I think it does have some effect.

In the workplace, when someone bullies another, one can either call it out or let it go. When someone objects to poor behaviour, we can support them or just say “toughen up” or “that’s just they way they are”.

Another outcome is to stand up and say “This is wrong. Do not behave that way.” That gives others the confidence to also stand up and say “We agree, that is wrong.”

That makes most other people think twice before also bulling people. They don’t want to be called out and embarrassed. We have said bullying is no longer normal behaviour.

The same thing really does apply on the world stage. When the ICJ says “This is wrong”, it might have little effect on Israel, but it does send out a message to diplomats, politicians and the media round the world that it is not acceptable. They can’t say “But Israel did it, so we can too”. People feel empowered to say to their leaders “I don’t think we should do that”.

Some see it as ironic that it is South Africa calling it out, given their history. It is not ironic, it was inevitable. They have been through the pain of apartheid, terrorism, revolution but then peace and reconciliation process. South Africa today is not the South Africa of 50 years ago. Change can be radical, and a bad example can become an exemplar.

It is one of the ways the world is very slowly becoming more humane.