Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brother Killing Sister

Peace seems to be out of the mainstream geopolitical vocabulary lately. The explanations that intend to justify Israelstinian fighting does not seem to include the concept of peace or the way to peace building at all. It is, yet again, a constant mutual accusation of who shot first.

One lesson to learn from politics is how humble you become when you realize we all have glass ceilings, therefore we shouldn't throw rocks. Trying to establish a moral argument behind throwing rocks increases the risk of having your own ceiling shattered by somebody else claiming moral authority as well.

Another lesson to learn from diplomacy is that it is better to think twice before speaking and in the end say nothing, than to offend or insult or to come up with lies to tilt public opinion one way or another. Humans are persuasive beings. Aristotle referred to us as "zoon politikoon", or political animals. Being persuasive does not imply being manipulative. That is expected of children, who know nothing better than manipulating adults emotionally, through a very scarce verbal language, and with an understanding of the world a few inches beyond their noses. From adults, instead, who have the capability of voluntarily increasing their intellectual understanding of the Other and of the world we all share together, manipulation is an immoral, unethical lack of virtue.

I don't know if the few concentration camps I have visited in my life are part of a myth that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian President, says was the Jewish Holocaust during Second World War in Europe. From what I have witnessed, those gas chambers seemed real, the amount of shoes and clothes and teeth collected at mass graves seem real. They constitute sufficient scientific evidence to make a solid, irrefutable historic claim.

If the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 seems to be the beginning of the last phase of the Israelstinian conflict of the last 60 years, it is imperative to understand that it was also the end of the most horrific phase of civilization's attempt at annihilating the Other. And we vowed never again. It was not too late to intervene, as it was not too late in Rwanda or in Kosovo, despite the damage that we, the human civilization, suffered from witnessing brother killing sister.

There is also no justification to attack a severely maimed population that has reduced access to clean water, to energy, to food, with very few opportunities for development of their population, without even much possibility to migrate abroad. The disparity in strength between both parties, and the disproportionate use of force of the attacks of one and the other, makes it impossible to legitimize such an attack.

I empathize with my Palestinian friends, the loving and friendly professors from the University of Gaza I have met in peace conferences around the world. Despite the sorrow and the stress, they still have faith and energy to stay up until late at night trying to work out a solution for the conflict that would bring peace, development, and justice to their nation.

I empathize with my Israeli friends, the hard-working and easygoing men and women who wanted to organize a conference in Israel so we could see what they had made of the desert. Despite the hostility from their neighbors, they are still proud to present what they have been capable of, and they never halted or failed to make us feel their warm hospitality.

Brother killing sister is not the way to peace. It has never been. It will never be. It is never too late for both parties to go to bed at night and think if there is any virtue in what they have achieved, launching a rocket to a neighborhood or bombing a university. Peace is a chain of virtues.

One sad reminder: Hiroshima. Japanese soldiers kept fighting, kamikazes kept flying their planes into allied targets, and Japan was not surrendering, despite there was nothing more at stake for them, except honor, of course. The war was over, and Japan kept on fighting. The US, out of a very limited number of options, chose to drop an atomic bomb in Hiroshima, and three days later in Nagasaki, to force Japan's surrender, which came immediately.

The good news is that anyone, in any conflict, no matter how violent, can take the initiative to stop aggressions and start thinking seriously, constructively, creatively, empathically, harmoniously, about peace.

Israelstinians, you are giving shame to us all. You are behaving as civilization at its worst and most primitive. Grow up, evolve, clean your act, wipe your tears, bury your dead, shake hands, move on, apologize, forgive: reconcile. There is no trace of morality or development in acts that are not virtuous. Brother killing sister is no virtue at all.

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