Saturday, June 08, 2002

Blame it on Allah

I hate to see someone as knowledgeable as Ken Layne repeat the naive assertion that the Palestinian situation is about religion. Religion is not the root cause of the conflict, it's the tool used to garner support, especially internationally. Palestinians aren't angry at Israelis because they "don't pray five times a day to their version of Allah" any more than Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland dislike Protestants because they don't go to Mass. They don't like having foreigners come in and build a nation on their land, and they don't like when that nation expands further into their land.

Warblog fatigue does seem to have set in over the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Personally, I've run out of stuff to say. The bottom line for me is there are two sets of bad guys running the two sides, and both are happy to sacrifice lives on their own sides to continue their agenda.

It bothers me that most people outside the region tend to pick one side or the other as the bad guy, and then ignore the bad stuff the other side is doing. If you see the destruction of Palestinian homes and construction of Israeli settlements as bad, then Arafat is excused for failing to do anything about terrorism. Or, if you see permitting terrorism against Israeli civilians as an unacceptable way to defend your people, then Sharon is excused for using tanks to pave the way for settlers.

I see it here, of course. The news covers the terrorist attacks, but the coverage is brief and somewhat vague - X people killed in an attack in city Y. Most people don't seem to be too aware of the details, i.e. that it was a wedding pary, and several of the dead were children. But Israeli action tends to get more detailed, close up coverage, as do the Palestinian victims. American coverage seems to be the reverse, lots of detail on suicide attacks and their victims, and more vague accounts of Israeli action - "troops moved back into Jenin today to fight terrorists." By emphasizing the evils of one side, it encourages people to assume the other side is a bunch of hapless fuzzy bunnies.

I guess it's easier to swallow it all if you throw up your hands and say it's all because of those wacky religions.