Blogs have become one of the marketing weapons that people have. We knew that all along: spammers sending comments to blogs, for instance; others send press releases.
I have long advocated blogs and dialogues being means through which we, as world citizens, can solve world problems. It was, therefore, interesting to receive an email (non-spam, incidentally) from a Sam, a volunteer for Obadiah Shoher, which he says is a nom-de-plume. I am not the ﬁrst recipient, as I surf the blogosphere. Shoher’s site, Samson Blinded, is apparently a book that has been the subject of bans; hence, Sam is reaching out via blogs to get word out.
Shoher takes an opposing view to the more politically correct peace process—and one can see why it might be taken the wrong way. As I read his book, I realize it has an eye-for-an-eye stance on dealing with the Israeli–Palestinian conﬂict.
Because of my own culture and viewpoints, I cannot endorse his writings. I only raise this link in order to continue dialogues, because I believe the messages of both sides in the Israeli–Palestinian conﬂict have become blurred. This is spurred on by my dislike of censorship, if what Sam says has been the case against Shoher’s words. Some have, apparently, called them hate speech.
People who offer alternatives should be heard; it is why I have said people like Dr Hanan Ashrawi need a voice as much as the more visible leaders of the peace process. It is also why I published an article on the region in Lucire and noted clearly that it was free from the copyright of the remainder of the magazine.
Hence, with this motive, I began this post.
But I am not thrilled with how the book pans out. Shoher has chapter and section headings that are inﬂammatory, such as ‘Israel can annex Palestinian land’, which are bound to cause conﬂict. He sees some of Israel’s past days as glory ones, remembering how the country could unite in days of war, and advocates it as a consistent policy:
An active war policy is an effective peacemaking device. Faced with the threat of Israeli expansion, the Arabs would seek peace with Israel, as they did after the Arab–Israel war of 1967 but stopped after Israel retreated from Sinai. Peace would call for Arab compromise, not demand the 1949 Arab–Israeli armistice borders. After the 1973 Israeli–Egyptian war, Israel retreated under American pressure from her forward positions in the Sinai; Israel eventually gave the peninsula up under the Camp David agreement. The Israeli concession included the viable isthmus area, along with Israeli military infrastructure and the only oil wells in Israel. If Israel had instead expanded west from the Suez Canal, Egypt would have been forced to sign a different peace treaty, leaving the isthmus with Israel to get the rest of the peninsula back and stop further Israeli encroachment. The U.S. might not have pressured Israel into withdrawing from the Egyptian side of the channel, had it been clear that Israel intended to acquire more land as bargaining chips and to increase the tension to bring the enemy to the negotiating table. If Egypt or any other Arab country were in a situation where delaying the peace settlement wit Israel was dangerous and expensive, it would compromise instead of insisting that victorious Israel withdraw. For example, Egypt agreed to settle its war with Sudan instead of clinging to her initial demands. But during negotiations, Israel lost sight of the objective. Instead of the gaining an important oil-producing territory in Sinai, Israel went in search of a treaty, as easily violated as signed and producing no trade beneﬁts.
I do agree with a few of Shoher’s views, however. The ﬁght over territory may be futile as there are more important things in the modern economy:
The Israeli government should worry less about grabbing desert and other useless Palestinian land for the Jewish state and more about creating the vibrant Israeli economy that will let Israel become a scientiﬁc, ﬁnancial, and trade center of the Middle East. Israeli problem is not Islamic terrorism but the paucity of Nobel laureates, multinational corporations, banks, and stock and commodity exchanges. Israel has only about as many scientists per million people as the United States, and in terms of publications and patents, Israeli scientists are about half as effective as their American colleagues. The conditions in Israel are so bad that many Israeli researchers emigrate, as do highly educated Israeli youth who see little reason to work in Israel for a fraction of the salary they can get in the United States. That is the real problem, not the Palestinian issue.
If this is part of an Israeli nation brand, then it could pursue it, provided that the government also looks after its borders. People can unite for reasons other than war.
I disagree with many of the other views he advances:
Heated calls for the preservation of indigenous cultures against the onslaught of the West show that they are endangered—and doomed. Most never actually existed as a mass phenomenon. Only elites practiced them and took the indifference of populations concerned only with survival as consent. The Japanese public has no use for the complicated art forms, and the Chinese do not want Confucian obedience, which was forced on them. The Chinese adhered to the analects as little as Europeans to the idealistic dicta of the gospels.
This I consider to be sweeping: the Māori culture could not be regarded as élite; and some Chinese seem to adhere to Confucian thought because of their education and free will.
Shoher paints a stereotypical picture of Muslims, grouping them into one lot, and assuming they are belligerent—yet another image that dialogue through blogs can shatter. He also talks of expulsion of Arabs—a stance I cannot support. As I read these pages, my instinct acted up—for me, this is a book that rests on the fringe.
Shoher wishes for Israel to put its will on to others who may not accept it, and that does not create peace, only a delay to other forms of conﬂict which will surface. Even those on the Israeli side may seek to scuttle the “advantage” he advocates building in his book.
I am neither Jew nor Arab, so I cannot say I have internalized any of what they go through with regards to this topic. All I know is I have Jew and Arab friends, whom I respect, and whom I hope respect me. I believe Israel has a right to exist, as an inclusive nation, which may put me at odds with some people—but at the same time I believe a Palestinian state can be formed. There is no reason these two states need to be vastly different beyond their religions: both can be functioning, prosperous nations—but maybe not with their current political structures.
I am a Confucianist. And while Confucianism was advanced during a period of war, it is a largely paciﬁst philosophy. Any nation that wishes for respect must act as a beacon for others, a formula which has worked at various stages in history in China, and for a time, in the United States. By all means, one should maintain a defence force that can preserve one’s way of life. That force should be strong. But what that force protects should be something so great it is worth emulating, as Marco Polo looked enviously upon Chinese technology, for example.
Right now, I don’t envy too many nations and how they are run. Those that create underclasses, deny certain rights to certain people within their own borders, those that murder—none of this behaviour gets my vote.
All I know is that there were times when China followed a Confucianist policy and while it never did this to the fullest extent, it saw prosperity and peace, uniting a very diverse population, including Muslims in the west of the country. And I believe we, as a people, are no smarter than any other bunch on this planet, and others can learn from our lessons.
But let’s begin with dialogue, and let the power be from the people, not their governments. As we discuss, then let’s compel our politicians—who are our servants—to take on what we have learned.
I’d prefer exploring how people and blogs can create peace, working toward a common goal, and see if this newer method works, than return to the militaristic, win–lose concepts of the past. People from two sides should be linking, blogging, chatting, and having fun through their interaction, just as Protestant and Catholic kids did in Northern Ireland, studying side by side.
Funny, I believe people evolve to higher and higher levels, rather than stand still or repeat the behaviours that have shown to be temporary or ineffective ﬁxes. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:15
After reading a few chapters, I agree that Shoher's book is on the fringe, and at some points well beyond it. It offers, however, an alternative to the political correctness that saturated this country, and as such is worth the effort.
# posted by Gene A.: 6/10/2006 09:08:00 PM
Thank you for your input, Gene. It was worth linking to and mentioning; and gives an extra viewpoint that I can appreciate, even if I don’t agree with everything Shoher wrote. On reﬂection there are books of this ilk, not necessarily from a Jewish perspective, that do get published, but perhaps the language is slightly more moderate.Post a Comment
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