Aug. 3, 2006


My apologies for blogging so much about the Lebanon war. I know there are some who feel that a bhikkhu shouldn't be commenting on "politics." They have a point, but my feeling is that this episode goes beyond politics and is part and parcel of the great moral crisis of our times. Our world seems to be spiralling down into a new barbarism with only the ethic of "might makes right."

Make no mistake, those who engage in this acts of wanton slaughter are making very heavy karma for themselves. And the same goes for all those overseas who give their vocal support to the perpetration of war-crimes. Anyone, and there are many, who makes excuses for the carnage of Qana is morally bankrupt. Their consciousness is filled with unwholesome dhammas of hatred and delusion.

The hypocrisy of the omnipresent Israeli spokespersons who "deeply regret any loss of civilian life" is pathetic. Air-strikes on apartment blocks (and Qana was not the only one by a long shot) are justified by Hizbollah rockets having been launched in the vicinity. Even if true, and that is debated hotly, this does not qualify as an act of self-defence. Let's call it by it's true name; revenge. The launchers used by Hizbollah are truck-mounted, they are mobile, and by the time the Israeli air-force arrives they are long gone.

The primitive, dark ethos of tribalism and an eye-for-an-eye govern this vicious conflict on both sides. If it seems like I've mostly criticized Israel, it's because on the best unbiased look at the evidence, this war was started by Israel, whatever their protestations. And the damage inflicted by Israel is a few orders of magnitude greater than Hizbollah is capable of. But both sides are hitting civilians. Both sides are using banned weapons; Israel has dropped cluster bombs and white phosphorus while Hizbollah packs their rockets with ball-bearings.

America is to blame too, for supplying and bankrolling the Israeli war-machine. And Canada's government is acting as cheer-leader (although most Canadians are appalled.)

What has been accomplished by this nasty little war? A beautiful country wrecked and poisoned with depleted uranium. A further radicalization of the Muslims world-wide. No doubt an upsurge in antisemitism as well. If, as I strongly suspect, the real aim of the Israelis is to seize the water of the Litani, they will likely fail in that objective as well. That would mean an ongoing occupation against a hostile population and another Iraq, another Gaza. The Americans haven't gotten much benefit out of Iraqi oil even yet.

What is needed now is some real statesmanship, but I don't see much hope of that. The world seems to be governed by nasty, bigoted little men.


Tom said...

I don't think you have anything to apologize for, but I do think that you are overstating your case.

I am not meaning to come to the defence of baby killing, but recent events do not initialize a new era of barbarism if only because horrors come frequently such that barbarism has been in progress for a long, long time.

I have no fix for the situation in Israel-Palestine. In a group blog I participate in, I am not kidding when there I suggest relocating Israel in South Carolina. I say this because I see no other way out, and because I think, heck, there's still room in America.

I don't see things as you do, finding so much blame with Israel. But I do not see peace ever coming to the area and I see weaponry ever improving such that Israel can find no way of having security in the Middle East.

Rodrigo el abrelatas del ojo said...

Yes, it is a situation which leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and a situation which would certainly give rise to anger in many people.

The main problem is that you have a bunch of politicians using words like ‘freedom loving’ and ‘terrorist’ simply to cover up their own corrupt and shameless behavior.

This issue is not about being Jewish or even about being Israeli, it is about a bunch of people behaving in the most appalling way you could ever imagine.

As for the terrorist, Nasrullah, if anyone has heard any of his earlier speeches and interviews, then he comes across as probably the sanest person in the Middle East, and he has no objections to Jews living in Palestine, he simply doesn’t want them treating the Arabs like camel jockeys and sand niggers who are simply there as slaves for Israeli apartheid.

Most people are aware of what apartheid was like in South Africa, yet western governments, and many of their citizens, somewhat doped to the eyeballs on being religious, accept an even worse version of apartheid as being freedom loving and democratic.

Nelson Mandela was a terrorist too, and probably Sheik Nasrullah is the most saintly person in the Middle East, for the Arabs at least, and compared to the people running Israel he wins hands down.

Israelis have to wake up, they are not the freedom loving democratic people they think they are, they are the terrorists.

Alexus McLeod said...

I'm not sure why a bhikkhu shouldn't engage in political talk. After all, politics should be all about morality. If we divorce politics from morality, then it's not clear what the goal of politics is other than to gain wealth and power. If we are concerned about running nations which act in such a way as to be morally good, then politics and morality are inextricably linked. And if people who are concerned with morality and teaching others how best to live (all of the sangha must be included in this) do not concern themselves with politics, doesn't this leave the rest of us to flounder in the difficulties of how best to run a society in ways that foster goodness? We cannot be good in a vacuum, after all. Perhaps bhikkhus shouldn't be in the business of endorsing specific political groups (unless these groups are clearly moral where the others are clearly immoral--but this is almost never the case), but this should not stop them from engaging in political discourse, where moral balance is needed and, as you point out, often lacking.