Runs the CoDependent River

I’ve contributed twice today to the dotCommonweal discussion on, as commenter Bob Schwartz puts it, “selling Israel down the river; we did it to South Vietnam and no big deal.”

The seed is Thomas Friedman’s NYT op-ed here.

Realizing that modern society will naturally spin the opinions of a pacifist right out of the room to start with, let me restate my thoughts here anyway, and see if it tickles any viewpoints from CS followers.

One of my very first blogposts was on this very topic. I haven’t changed my mind in six years.

My sense is that the powers-that-be on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide are content with the status quo. Anger is a powerful drug. The indulgence of anger is not often considered as part of the kingdom of addiction. But it is. For too many human beings, being angry is too much fun.

As for that cozy little country in southwest Asia, my father never seriously considered emigrating there. He qualified, his aunts told him. His mother was Jewish. Dad identified more with Protestantism than Judaism. “I’m a Presbyterian because my father was a Presbyterian, and his father was, and his father before him.” Upon hearing that litany my mother used to crack, “You haven’t darkened the door of a Presbyterian Church in years/decades.” No way was Dad going to leave the US, even if they did have golf courses in Israel. He was a Red White and True Blue American.

But when I was posting #2 at dotCommonweal today, I was thinking about the miasma of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The world cares little enough for pacifism and peace. I was struck by considering it as a lost opportunity of capitalism. Maybe the biggest loss of the 20th/21st century. Half the world’s population: Muslims and Christians would flock to a peaceful Israel/Palestine for religious-based tourism. That doesn’t even consider the nice climate in the eastern Mediterranean. If it’s not worse than Arizona, I’m sure that lots of people might love to hang out in Israel for a week or two: golf, swim, stuff one’s face with dates and such. Throw in some casinos and it would be a bigger playground than Disneyworld or even Branson.

What a waste.

So if Mr Schwartz wants to get all hot and bothered about our impatience with the Israelis and Palestinians, I think we can let him. There’s no chance that our codependent confreres in State will abandon Israel, as he suggests. The tie between addict and spouse is too tight. Even tighter than the allure of profit. That says something about the world, doesn’t it?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Runs the CoDependent River

  1. Liam says:

    Agreed. Israel and Palestine need to want peace more than the lack of it. They don’t really yet. Not enough.

    It should be noted that Arafat’s mafia used the Intifada as a cover for a pogrom against the the Palestinian middle classes, leaving Palestinian society like a body without a spinal column, and Arab states are not as yet particularly interested in undoing this damage.

  2. Todd:

    As someone with a specialized background in this area, who has spent time in Ramallah and the West Bank, studied Arabic, modern near easter history, etc.

    I sum it up this way:

    There are victims everywhere – as far as the eye can see. And not an innocent in sight.

    It won’t change until a significant number of people are willing to simply absorb their losses and grief, and for the sake of future generations, say “I won’t pass on the responsibility for vengeance for my losses on to my children and grand-children. I will pay the price so they won’t have to.” Both sides need a few Ghandi-like figures, drawing upon the realities of their culture, religion, and history, but in a wholly new and transformative way.

    It is almost impossible to describe the hurricane force cultural and institutional winds on all sides that make that stance absolutely heroic. It is almost impossible to not side with one party or the other there.

    Everything about life there is intended to separate you – to set Jew and Arab apart. (My experience was probably distorted by the fact that I was in the Ramallah/Jerusalem area. I’m sure it is even more complicated for Israeli Arabs living in Israel proper.)

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