Paul Dorn: Posting to CSAW Listserve, UC Davis, 3.29.02
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THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT IS NOT ABOUT RELIGION

This was a response to a posting on the College Students Against War (CSAW) listserve, a link to a Salon.com cartoon about "Godman" and the seemingly intractable nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

OK, I had a chuckle too...

But, let's be clear. The current situation between Israel and the Palestinians has nothing, repeat, NOTHING to do with religion. It has EVERYTHING to do with control of resources and territory, imperialistic geo-political manipulations, great power competition, globalization, etc.

The history of this is available elsewhere, but in brief: For most of the past 1400 years Jews and Muslims have lived in relative harmony throughout what we know as the Middle East. Certainly Jews fared far better living alongside Muslims than they did in Christian Europe, where Jews were persecuted continuously in pogroms, inquisitions, witchunts, forced conversions, and, most tragically, the Holocaust. During the Crusades, Jews fought ALONGSIDE Muslims to resist the Christian invaders.

This history is available elsewhere so I won't belabor the issue. However, let's be clear. Contrary to some media representations to the contrary, this is not an intractable, age-old conflict between followers of different religious faiths. Saying the current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is about religion is like saying the Battle of Little Bighorn was a fight between animists and monotheists.

The current hostilities in Palestine originated only in the past 100 years, with the concurrent rise of Zionism, the demise of Britain as a colonial power, and the emergence of American imperialism. Following WWII, a weakened Britain was no longer able to maintain colonial control over Palestine (or India, Kenya, etc.) However, the region was strategically critical (Suez Canal, oil, trading routes, etc.) to Anglo-American interests. Hence, the creation of an Israeli "watch dog"--amply funded and lavishly armed--as a proxy military force protecting Anglo-American interests.

Again, all of this is available elsewhere. Certainly Noam Chomsky is a good start. Or Nathan Weinstock's book "Zionism: False Messiah." Another excellent shorter summary by Lance Selfa is available at: http://www.isreview.org/issues/04/Israel_watchdog.shtml

But the point is, the conflict is not a religious fight. Conceding that point plays into the "anti-Semitism" charges that Israeli supporters are always eager to lob at opponents of Sharon's bloody militarism.

Paul


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