By Dr. Aslam Abdullah
Are we blind to see the game? Are we deaf to hear the bell? Are we dumb to say the truth?
What is happening in Lebanon and Palestine is nothing more than a pseudo religious game being played by dominant powers and their surrogates in the region to serve their political interests as well as to cause severe psychological damage to Muslims all over the world. The total subjugation of neighboring Arabs to the might of Israel, the total decimation of any Arab and Muslim opposition to the continued brutal occupation of Palestine and the total disregard of the world opinion, are some of the highlights of the most recent conflict sparked in the wake of the so-called kidnapping of one Israeli soldier in Ghaza and two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanon borders.
The reality of the middle east cannot be understood through numerous useless United Nations resolutions passed with reference to Palestine, nor can it be understood through the annals of justice and fairness. Rather, it can be understood only through analyzing the extremist reductionist religious beliefs of the leadership of the most powerful groups in the United States and Israel.
Despite the secular claims of the power elites in the two countries, the fact is that the perspectives and policies in the Middle East by several Christian and Jewish groups are determined on the basis of prophecies all of them are waiting to be fulfilled. It is no wonder that President Bush and his team, as well as Prime Olmert of Israel and his team, pursue policies that in their view hasten the fulfillment of prophecies. The dominant Jewish and Christian leaders of Israel and the USA believe in different set of prophecies. The Jewish leadership believe that their Messiah will come and build the third temple, and the Christian leadership believe that Jesus (as) will return and engage in the final battle with Jews killing one-third and converting the rest to Christianity.
In this understanding of their religious teachings, the religious and secular leaders of the two communities are concerned only with less than 30 percent of the world population as the others are either defined as antichrist or gentile-born without a divine plan, without any dignity or decency. Of course, after the enlightenment and renaissance in Western Europe and after the interaction of Christian and Jewish leaders with Muslims, many started saying that non-Christians or non-Jewish people too have some dignity, but these are later day additions and they are in defiance of what the earlier followers of these religion believed in.
It is only in this framework that we can understand the realities in the Middle East.
Otherwise who in his right mind would not stand for a people who have been forced to live in refugee camps for the last 60 years in sub human conditions on a land their forefathers inherited from their forefathers.
Who in his right mind would justify the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists? Would anyone believe that Israel was justified in forcing itself upon the Middle East? Or that Palestinians should not be permitted to return to their homes?
Some people may argue that the US policy in the Middle East is driven by oil interests, and the state of Israel is concerned about its security and borders.
In a market economy the oil is sold to those who pay a good price. So far, the US has not had any disruption of oil supplies based on this market principle.
Oil will not stop flowing, and there will always be buyers for this liquid gold. There is no reason to believe that any other country will replace the US as the main buyer of this commodity in the region. The security of Israel and its borders is a major joke in international circles. Israel has never defined its borders, and the anti-Israeli pretensions of a few individuals like Mr. Ahmedinejad cannot be used to define a real policy trend in the region. No–in fact the reverse is true–it is the survival and dignity of Palestinian that is at stake.
Yet we rarely hear about that because according to religious arguments of those fanatics it is the presence of the state of Israel that is crucial in the divine plan for the region and the world.
Obviously, when one is confronted with this type of thinking one cannot look at the reality from any rational or logical or even humanistic perspective.
The irony is that none of these prophecies are said to be concrete and many within the Jewish and Christian faiths have challenged them as forgeries and misinterpretations, yet they are the backbone of the worldâ€™s most serious crisis that has taken thousands of lives.
Israel and the US, in their attempt to hasten the arrival or return of Messiah adopt policies that go directly against their own religious teachings. For instance the preservation of human life is a sacred duty according to the Old and New Testaments, a duty that has never been held sacred by the dominant religious leaders of the two communities, despite their claims. The two communities can safely be held responsible for some of the biggest carnages that have plagued our world since time immemorial.
Of all the deaths that have occurred as a result of war and violence in our world, Christian and Jewish communities are in fact primarily responsible. During the last 100 years, these killings have multiplied. The main reason for the increase in human suffering is that people who believe in these ideas overtly or covertly have assumed power and prestige in our world. They have manipulated events to suit their interests. They have produced false research and facts to substantiate their argument and they have sedated the people with false hopes and false ideals.
Why is the ordinary human being not speaking for the suffering of ordinary people in Lebanon, Palestine or for that matter any other place? Simply, because the ordinary person in the USA or Israel or other places have been forced to a lifestyle where there is no room for other people, and where concerns for human rights and human dignity are secondary to the survival of oneâ€™s own self or family.
Despite the fact that we all are witnessing the massacres of innocent people by a war machine in Lebanon and Palestine, we are unable to speak out because we have become indifferent to human sufferings or many of us see in that a divine plan to bring Messiah back to the world.
If we fail to realize this reality, we would always be making mistakes in our dealings with others. Under the present intellectual and religious as well as political leadership, neither the state of Israel nor the United States seem to be committed to peace or human dignity in the region. The leadership may use terms such as democracy, human rights and human dignity to deceive the world opinion, but it is essentially committed to the idea of brining the Messiah back to the world.
The only way to counter this might is not through military means but through peaceful means of education and grassroots action. Hamas and Hizbullah fell in the trap of these Christian and Jewish extremists by arresting Israeli soldiers, having known that they have no match to the war machine that is lubricated by the worldâ€™s only superpower. They cannot escape the responsibility of causing further harm to innocent people as well.
A response to the fanatics in the US and Israel who can be described as lunatics, would not come through these emotional or childish acts as we saw in the past few days. It would not come through military means as the might of Israel and the US would crush and crumble any opposition in the Middle East instantly. Rather, the response is in educating people in the United States that the prophecies they believe in are wrong–that God does not discriminate among His creation between the chosen and the gentiles, and that God does not allow conflicts to escalate on the basis of oneâ€™s claim over land, property or anything material. Unless people are convinced that God has plans not only for Jews and Christians but for the rest of humanity and that His Grace and Mercy supersedes His wrath and anger, and unless the existing power elites are replaced by people who view human beings as one community, things are not going to change.
This may be a very long struggle, but without this struggle, this change is not possible. Until then we must develop the stamina and patience to see the carnage and massacres unfold infront of our eyes on a regular basis.