This War

The study of Psychology and Social Psychology taught me that when trying to make peace, while it may occur that people respond to the injustice they have experienced with retaliation, the force of this retaliation and the pain it involves should be at least a little less than that which one has experienced oneself. In this way, the trend should be towards peace and not towards still more pain. A logical conclusion, one would think.
Observing the situation in Israel over a number of years, it seems to me that this principle is not heeded there. Each attack on Israeli citizens is answered by a merciless counter-attack.
Israel and Palestine are unequal opponents. Israel is much stronger and more powerful, but treats Palestine as if it were an equal opponent.
Israel demands that Arafat should put a stop to terrorism. Did the German government man-age to stop the Baader-Meinhof Group? They were but a handful by comparison to the terrorist movement in Palestine that finds support in the population.
No government can control terrorism, and Israeli politicians should know that. The fact is that they do not want to know this. They need an enemy in order to live out their pain. The military need an enemy to legitimise their apparatus and their jobs for the longest possible time. But is this reasonable? Is this appropriate? Is this wise?
When social groups feel abused or ignored, it is necessary to tackle their problems in order reduce conflict rather than aggravate it, in order to avoid violence. Israel is stronger and has more power but does not empathise with the Palestinian people. That cannot work in the long run.
As if that were not enough, the same pattern is repeated on a larger scale. America is behaving as if it were Israel’s big brother. America has power, weapons, force, knowledge, and now a series of partners and would-be partners to back it up, and uses it to strike at little Afghanistan.
Terrorism is dangerous because it is unpredictable. The causes of terrorism are, however, ascertainable and can be explained: revolt against the abuse of power. Therefore, an end to terrorism cannot possibly be achieved by force alone. A process of self-reflection and self-criticism is equally necessary.
The politicians’ current use of force avoids this reflection. They can’t go on this way. Every human life is of equal value, no matter whose, no matter where, whether American or Afghan. Every action must be appropriate. Otherwise, the world is out of joint. A Palestinian is just as valuable as an Israeli. One thousand deaths on one side do not weigh out one death on the other.
A U.S. aircraft carrier costs $500 million a day to run. There are 17 or them. To what better ends could this money be used?
America, the most powerful country in the world, is striking at one of the weakest countries in the world, and the other nations there are on America’s side. The world has grown dark.
Marion Schneider
October, 2001