Friday, July 31, 2009
The Most Important Problem on Earth
The Palestinian Problem appears to be the most important issue on Earth to Arab Muslems, Wahhabists and Salafists everywhere, Jews everywhere, and partisan zealots--left and right--in Europe and America.
But in the hierarchy of the world's problems it's a blip, folks.
Even if all the claims of Jewish mistreatment of Palestinians were true, those crimes are dwarfed by what people in power are doing in the eastern Congo, Darfur, Burma, Uganda and many other places. They're also dwarfed by how Muslim parents sexually mutilate their daughters in the millions--literally--across Africa.
Or if you consider sheer suffering, we'd alleviate more by supplying mosquito nets to the regions suffering from malaria and dengue fever than by any sort of settlement in Palestine/Israel.
And if you consider long-term, large-scale dangers to civilization, we should focus on the carbonation of the world's oceans (caused by CO2 dissolving into the water, altering its acidity), which will almost certainly kill off all the world's coral reefs and shellfish within a few decades, an ecocidal catastrophe that will cause immense suffering to vast portions of humanity that depend on those ecosystems for most of their protein.
Throughout the blogosphere partisans fulminate about those wicked Zionists. Those barbaric Palestinians. When the one billion humans who go to sleep every night desperately hungry would think they'd died and gone to heaven if they could live like Palestinians or Israelis.
Above all else, the world contains roughly FIVE BILLION more people than it can actually sustain, and because of this and the unspeakably selfish and shortisighted practices of powerful individuals around the world, Earth is experiencing the largest mass extinction of species since the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs. And if you think that isn't coming back to bite us--even if you only care about humans--you're as shortsighted as the Indonesian and Brazilian agribosses burning down their countries' forests on a vast scale.
So yes, everyone in Israel/Palestine--about the size and population of the San Francisco Bay Area--should learn to get along with each other. But it should be around #100 on everyone's list of 100 Big Problems.
But since so many Arabs believe this is the biggest world problem ever, here's a solution: have the Jews they drove from all the Arab countries with just the clothes on their backs give up their Right of Return to those countries--along with their descendants--in exchange for the Palestinians who were driven from Palestine/Israel giving up their Right of Return. A few more Israelis were dispossessed, but it was roughly 800,000 each way. Then let the Palestinians emigrate en masse to those countries (along with their descendants).
Sure, it isn't fair. They want their ancestral homes. And I don't deny their claim. I just deny the realistic possibility of the Israelis packing up and moving to...where? At least the Palestinians would be moving to countries whose militias wouldn't murder them on sight, as would happen if the Israelis tried to return to their homes in Morocco/Libya/Tunisia/Egypt/Lebanon/Syria/Jordan/Iraq/Yemen etc.
And it's not as if lobbing tin cans full of nails and gunpowder at the Israelis is going to make them leave. Get real. Palestine is jam-packed and the average huge family size of Palestinians is making Palestine packed-er and packed-er. But there's plenty of room elsewhere in the Arab world. We just need to overlook the civil wars instigated by Palestinian migrants in Jordan and Lebanon.
Bottom line: the quest for justice and the nursing of historical wrongs is a luxury this suffering planet just can't afford. While we're squabbling the Earth is about to rise up and smite us. Then there won't be a place for anyone to live. Get your priorities straight.
I originally wrote this entry as a comment on a NewYorkTimes column.
Someone who read that navigated to my blog and sent a comment. However, it contains an obscenity so I won't include it using Google's "publish" option, which doesn't let me edit comments. Here's what the guy said with the naughty word excised:
My tax dollars do not pay for the other stuff you mention. The other stuff you mention does not make a billion people hate my country. The other stuff you mention is all straw.
I bet you are a jew. Jews seem to love straw arguments when it comes to anything addressing their crimes. Why defend the undefendable when you can just reel off a litany of others [censored word] behavior. Do two wrongs suddenly make a right? If you are a jew the answer appers to be a resounding YES.
I could care less who kills anyone elsewhere on the planet. As long as they don't do it on my dime.
Was it an accident that you never mentioned that Israel's crimes might matter to people in the USA because we pay for them? I don't think so.
I think you left that out because you are a fraud.
BTW. Cutting and pasting your blog entry into the comments section of the NYT's is weak.
What's interesting to me about this comment is the underlying idea that individual Americans should get to tell the government how to spend their tax dollars. Well, we do. They're called elections. However, when a majority elect representatives who'd promised to spend our tax dollars in ways we don't like, we have to live with that. It's called living in a democracy, for which the key is abiding by the results of elections when the other side wins. And if our representatives spend our taxes in ways different than what they promised, we can impeach them if enough people object, or turn them out in the next election.
It seems like people should understand this, but both right wing and left wing zealots constantly harp about "their" tax dollars. But they aren't ours--not individually. The taxable part of our income belongs to the People through our representative constitutional government. We pay them in exchange for the benefits of being American citizens. I've traveled in many countries, and I'm constantly thankful that I'm an American citizen, and I'm glad to pay my fair share--even though, like every single other American, I would spend those tax dollars differently than the government does in some respects.
As for this person's interest in whether I'm a Jew or not--what bearing does that have on the validity of my arguments or the truthfulness of the facts I cite? Now if I'm parrotting the ideas of some Jewish organization, that could be relevant. But I don't know of one single Jewish organization that says what goes on in Israel is unimportant--as I say here. Nor have I ever read a letter to the editor or a forum entry by a self-identified Jew who said this. So it seems illogical for this person to claim I'm a Jew in some way that's relevant to the discussion.
It seems more logical to assume that this person doesn't like Jews for some reason. I don't get this either. Jews gave America its most patriotic music (such as Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man), and as the hero says in Spamalot, you can't put a play on Broadway without a Jew...American culture wouldn't be distinctly American were it not for the contributions of Blacks and Jews, and that's key to what distinguishes us from European culture. Have you seen Europeans try to dance to rock 'n roll? It's hard to look at without wincing.
He does allude to the fact that America supports Israel to the tune of about $3.5B a year. That's a lot of simoleans. However, we spend a comparable amount on surrounding Arab countries. Does he propose that we cut out all foreign aid everywhere, or just to Israel? The latter seems to be the implication. But if so, why single out Israel? Why not at least mention Egypt/Jordan etc.? It's not as if they aren't police states that commit crimes against humanity on their own people every day (including Egypt's current economic destabilization of its Coptic Christians).
And look what we spend on Iraq. Does he realize that one thing the Iraqis have done with their new-found freedom, courtesy of us spending a gazillion bucks to liberate them, is to kill or drive out Iraq's nearly one million Christians, most of whose families had lived there for millennia. How's that for a use of our tax dollars? That strikes me as far more significant than Israel's treatment of Palestinians, even if you agree with the Arab League's claims re: Israel.
As for "Israel's crimes"--well, as opposed to what other country? I haven't forgotten Israel attacking a U.S. Navy picket boat some decades ago, killing several American sailors. That was a crime covered over for political reasons. But I don't think this writer is referring to this incident. Treatment of Palestinians? That's Hitler's fault. He murdered all the gentle Jews of Europe. The Jews tough enough to survive his death camps emigrated to Israel, and the Arabs' War Without End against them hasn't made them softer. The Settlers include some murderous bullies, but they aren't representative of Israelis as a whole. And as my whole blog entry points out, their "crimes" are inconsequential in a world context--including a world context that's only concerned with the behavior of countries we send a lot of tax dollars to.
Lastly, I copy and paste (not cut and paste--think about it) many of my newspaper comment entries into my blog. How is that weak? I wanted a single place people (including me) could go to for my political writing. It's this. Here. There are numerous unique entries here as well, on most of the topics I write about. I think the whole thing is about the length of a novel at this point.