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October 7th, 2004
11:51 pm
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Israel and Palestine
I noticed this in a news story just now, and it really struck me as the simplest, profoundest possible illustration of the mess the Middle East is in (emphasis mine):
JEBALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) — An Israeli missile strike on Thursday killed two Palestinian teenagers who were playing with a tube and a gasoline-filled bottle in a game imitating militants firing rockets at Israel, relatives said. The deaths brought to 84 the number of Palestinians killed since Israel began its offensive into northern Gaza on Sept. 29 after a rocket attack killed two Israeli children, according to a count by The Associated Press. More than half those killed were militants. Sixteen of the civilians were age 16 and under. Throughout the raid, which Israel launched to prevent militants from firing homemade Qassam rockets at Israeli towns, Palestinian children have emulated the violence in a series of games, using pieces of wood to represent guns in games of "firefight" and holding simulated funerals. In recent days, militants have appealed to parents in local radio broadcasts to keep children off the streets.
Children at play holding fake funerals.

... This would be sadder if it wasn't also so scary. Disturbing enough on its own, yes, but what makes it scary is that by some accounts, the region is approximately six months away from quite possibly launching a global religious war:

Our eschatological heifer story begins on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where tens of millions of Jews, Muslims, and Christians believe the central events of each tradition's Last Days will play out. ...
 
"What happens at that one spot, more than anywhere else, quickens expectations of the End in three religions. And at that spot, the danger of provoking catastrophe is greatest," writes Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg in The End of Days, his 2000 book about the apocalyptic struggle over the Temple Mount.
 
So how does the calf recently born in Israel figure into things? As Gorenberg explains, the ashes of a flawless red heifer — an extremely rare creature — were required by the ancient Hebrews to purify worshipers who went into the Temple to pray. In modern times, rabbinical law forbids Jews from setting foot on the Temple Mount, thus violating the site where the Holy of Holies dwelled, until and unless they are ritually purified. ...
 
"These kinds of circumstances are exactly what people are waiting for," says Richard Landes, a Boston University history professor and director of its Center for Millenial Studies. "We could be starting a war. If this is a real red heifer, and strict Orthodox rabbis have declared her worthy of sacrifice, then a lot of Jews in Israel will take that as a sign that a new phase of history is about to begin. The Muslims are ready for jihad anyway, so if you have Jews up there doing sacrifices, talk about a red flag in front of a charging bull."
Read the whole article for more context, but the short version is that a Texas fundamentalist's red calf breeding program (yes, I know, it sounds like a bad sitcom premise; no, this isn't a sitcom) produced a candidate in March 2002 after an abortive attempt some years before. This one seems to meet all the Biblical red-calf requirements, except for the little detail that it has to be three years old to be sacrificed. Bottom line: In March 2005, the Middle East may completely explode.

I couldn't find any more recent information on the subject than the birth announcements, though, and a lot is riding on whether the calf remains cleared for the sacrifice by then; can anyone point me toward further reading?

Update: This article's footnote says the calf was later disqualified. Whew. I guess the Middle East has some more years of quagmire left to go before descending into war. (A few more years of young kids playing at funerals. Somehow, this is not quite a wholehearted relief.)

Current Mood: thoughtfulsomber
Current Music: Presidents of the USA, "Back Porch"
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From:kistaro
Date:October 8th, 2004 12:07 am (UTC)
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I mourn these lives that know nothing but fear. Such is what destroys souls.
From:onebluedragon
Date:October 8th, 2004 12:49 am (UTC)

Feh....

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And people think we have it hard here in America.

You have one snippet that's heartbreaking, and another that's fairly unnerving. And half the country couldn't care less if that place became the glass desert.
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From:starlights
Date:October 8th, 2004 03:58 am (UTC)
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What I find the most disturbing is how we, as Americans, are teaching another country that it's okay to run around killing people.

Israel looks up to us. And invading Iraq has only shown them that they should do the same to their neighbors. It's like how a little brother looks up to his older sibling and mimics his behavior.

Monkey see monkey do..
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From:lysana
Date:October 8th, 2004 09:20 am (UTC)
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Israel has been invading its neighbors since shortly after its creation. Go study the history of Israel and Egypt.
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From:starlights
Date:October 8th, 2004 12:47 pm (UTC)
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My point is that it seems to have gotten worse and we aren't helping at all with our own actions.

But next time I take a history course, I'll be sure to take one about Israel to better learn about it's political state.

Thanks for the information.
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From:baxil
Date:October 8th, 2004 01:15 pm (UTC)
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli-Palestinian_conflict offers a good summary and some links if you're interested in further reading.

But, you're right, it's a vicious cycle. One of the things that has scared me the most about the Iraq war, in fact, was that once we settled in as "liberators" (occupiers), we basically lifted whole pages from the Gaza Strip playbook. We've been treating insurgents in almost exactly the same way that Israel has been treating Palestinian rebels.

Only a fool does the same things in the same way under the same circumstances and expects different results.
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From:thrames
Date:October 8th, 2004 10:21 am (UTC)
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And this is why theocracies never work. This is why I think it'd be in everyone's best interests if America and Russia told them to come up with a peace treaty in two weeks, or all of Israel/Palestine is consumed in nuclear fire. Of course, no one wants to hear that, even though it'd probably solve everything. And if the Muslims there refuse to comply, well, fuck it, Medina's getting bombed too. And if everyone gets pissed at that, well, fuck it, figure out how many nukes are in the US, plot out a grid pattern on earth, make a few more cobalt-wrapped nukes, and kill as many people as possible and make the world as unpleasant as possible to live in should one survive the nuclear hellfire. This is a case where plenty of violence is the answer.

Or, we could just demand that America, France, and England pay for their immense fuck-up in splitting up the Ottoman Empire. That will never happen, of course. Ot we could just demand that the Jews move to Argentina and transport all their shit there rather than continually agitate the Muslims in the Middle East. But, once more, no one listens to reason.
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From:baxil
Date:October 8th, 2004 01:10 pm (UTC)
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The problem isn't the people, it's that both sides have mutually contradictory goals for the exact same holy sites that each piss off the other side. Killing lots of people would solve the dilemma, I guess, but I can't countenance a scorched-earth solution.

A single tacnuke would do it without tremendous loss of life: evacuate Jerusalem to the best extent possible (yes, I realize many would rather die than leave) and crater the Temple Mount/Jesus' birthplace/any other site with religious significance to both sides.

n.b.: I'm not suggesting this because I'd like to see anyone die. It's the King Solomon solution: Cut the damn baby in half already. Unfortunately, I don't think we have any nuclear powers willing to take this step, especially with so many touchy Christians in the United States and an administration marching in lockstep with Tel Aviv.
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From:thrames
Date:October 8th, 2004 07:08 pm (UTC)
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The problem isn't the people, it's that both sides have mutually contradictory goals for the exact same holy sites that each piss off the other side.

I contend that it is a problem with people. If there were no people, there'd be no problem! ;)

More seriously, I still think threating a scorched earth would be the best option. I'd do it for all geographical problems, like Kashimir. I'd also start prolifeating more nukes, too. I'd try to get the stockpile up to 50,000 in as short a time as possible. If people can't live together in peace and harmony, then people won't live, period.
From:noitaroproc
Date:October 8th, 2004 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Oh snap!

Armageddon's a-comin'!
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