Women, Contradictions and Terrorism in society
Terror Free Zones
Contradictions in Society
(For readers who are used to my funny stories-apologies-this is a serious essay about the effects of terrorism on me, so If you want a laugh please read one of my other hubs.)
I TRY ESCAPING
I try escaping to the Coast Mountains away from smog and news broadcasts. But the B.C. forests are burning this summer. Lord Shiva is up on our snowy peaks dancing his endless circle of fire, creating with his right hand as he destroys with his left. At the same time my Jewish God is busy sending threats and thunderbolts from his holy mountain. Cycles of creation and destruction are poetic metaphors so long as the fires are not burning your homes, and bombs are not destroying your beautiful children in New York, Mumbai or Jerusalem. I am an aging woman who can escape the city but not the contradictions clamoring in my aging brain.
Contradictions in The Middle East
“I can forgive you killing our children, but I can never forgive you for forcing our children to kill your children”
This statement is attributed to Golda Meier whom I idolized when I was a Zionist teenager working on a Kibbutz in Israel’s Negev Desert. Golda was a member of a Kibbutz; also Israel’s Prime Minister and she aimed this quotation at the Palestinians. I am sure some Palestinian mother could have tossed the very same statement back to Golda.
A Grade Seven Student encounters Marxism and Socialism
I was in grade seven, starting to fancy myself a thinker, when I competed in a debate at our Vancouver Synagogue. My topic was “Resolve that Kibbutz life is Utopia.” I concluded socialism and even communism were the answer to all human problems. Karl Marx became another hero. His theory of dialectical materialism describes how one historical force stimulates an opposite force to gain power. The two forces collide and out of the brutal conflict a synthesis arises. For example, Tribalism confronts organized warlord powers and becomes Feudalism; Feudalism faces businessmen and Kings and becomes Capitalism, Nationalism, and International Imperialism. Then Capitalism faces the workers of the world and becomes Communism.
I got very excited about the possibility that I could join the revolution and I could save the world. We could all inherit Utopia a world with no wars, no poverty, no crime, no anti-semitism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, ‘Swords and guns and uniforms would lie scattered on the ground.” Who needed God? He didn't save us in the pogroms or Holocaust. Who needs the nation state? Not us Canadians who in the 1950’s wondered how to be nationalistic.
Even Karl Marx Couldn't See Our Future
However my former hero Marx and I didn't foresee the contradictions that were yet to come: never-ending ethnic and class based genocides; the rise of the multinational corporation, the demise of Russian Communism, the break up of the USSR, the West’s militant fear facing Islamic power, the crash and bailout of US banks, the skyrocket trajectory of Chinese Communist Capitalism, global warming,earthquakes, tsunamis, the ecological extinction of life on earth.
Marx clearly identified contradictory forces around him in 1850’s, but he couldn't see into the future. In 1950’s I was just young, idealistic and arrogant. Now years later I more humbly face my contradictions. I am a lucky, upper middle class Canadian, Jewish, lesbian who drives a SUV reads Margaret Atwood, and climbs beautiful mountains. Is it middle class guilt that obsesses me? How can I live ethically in a diverse world, with all people, including Fundamentalists?
I have a big head start in living with diversity, because I live in liberal minded multicultural Vancouver. But what if I had been born in the Middle East, say in Iran? I could have lived without a veil in the Iran of the Shaw, gone to university, visited friends in Israel and America and then come home to Iran. However the Shaw of Iran was despotic and might not have been happy about me being a lesbian. The Fundamentalist Islamists who deposed the Shaw put women back behind the veil and massacred opponents. Currently Iran may be making nuclear missiles that if successful, could destroy Israel of parts of Europe. Twenty years ago I could have lived without the veil in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, studied, worked, and maybe even been a lesbian, because apparently Saddam was a secularist who gave civil rights to all citizens, even gays if they supported him. But Saddam would have jailed, tortured, killed me if I opposed his rule or wanted to support my Jewish relatives in Israel.
Now in Iraq following the US liberation (or was it occupation?) women are back behind the veil and Gays murdered and torn to pieces in the Iraqi prisons. I find it ironic that we Jews and Gays would have lived better under Saddam or the Shaw. It’s even worse for women in Warlord/Drug lord ruled Afghanistan under Canadian occupation. We face so many contradictions. I don’t want to think about what happens to gays in Afghanistan to-day.
Palestinians are suffering terribly under Israeli occupation, and many have also died as different Palestinian factions kill each other. And all religions die from when terrorists send suicide bombers and rockets into Israeli condos and malls. This pattern repeats around the world. In many countries foreign occupations, or rival ethnic factions fight for control. When one faction dominates this stimulate stronger more radical oppositions. Billions are spent on trying to maintain control, on armed destruction of the opposition, while little money is spent to rebuild and support civil society.
In Israel fundamentalists and militants dominate, but gays have basic rights. Gays and Lesbians are even welcomed into the army, probably because every warm blooded young Israeli is needed in the army. I also wanted to go to the Israeli army when I was a teenager, but when I met a cute young soldier who put his arm around me and showed me how to aim his gun, I was afraid to pull the trigger. He cajoled me, flirted, and finally gave up.
I wasn’t going to be a killer but I remain a Zionist; which means to me that I am committed to an Israeli state existing in peace. I know Israel can never exist in peace in the Middle East until both sides make painful compromises. Then maybe all the terrorists will stop killing Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and each other. However the Palestinian terrorists probably won’t stop until Israel stops the occupations and returns the West Bank, Gaza, and Muslim areas of Jerusalem to Palestine.
Even if Israel gives back all those areas, some terrorists would probably keep fighting. All over the world terrorism resembles Northern Ireland. At some point people tire of the bloodshed and most people want peace. But a small faction commits their life to continued killing. The vast majority of Palestinians and Israelis agree it’s worth it to give up land for peace. They are tired of endless conflict that leads nowhere. But they don’t speak up out of fear. Where does this put me with my safe life and liberal middle of the road views? Zionist ultra nationalists would hate me for wanting to return territory to Palestine? At the same time Fundamentalist Palestinian extremists would kill me for being a Jew, a Lesbian, or a Zionist? The contradictions are clear, but not the solution.
Anti-Israel groups in Canada demonstrate to ban Israeli professors from teaching in Canadian universities, to ban Israeli films from the Toronto Film festival and to ban Israeli products from sale in Canada. One night this summer in downtown Vancouver, anti Zionists, Jewish and Non Jewish, argued with pro Israel people on a motion that MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) our biggest outdoor equipment company, ban outdoor gear made in Israeli factories. Since it was Vancouver everyone was reasonably polite. The pro Israel faction handed out leaflets saying the Israeli outdoor equipment company treated their workers well and had a sub contract in the Jordan’s West Bank, run by Palestinians. The Israeli company stated “that establishing eye to eye business relationships with Palestinian neighbors can make a difference in this conflict that has been going on so long. The anti Israel speakers compared Israel to South Africa under Apartheid, and to Nazi Germany. Emotions ran high.
A grizzled crumply dressed professor who I used to idealize stood up at the microphone:
“The Nazis soldiers marched my aunt and my grandmother out of their village gave them shovels and made them dig a ditch. Then the soldiers shot my aunt and grandmother and pushed them into the ditch. If the MEC had been there, would they buy products from the Nazis, no matter how well the Nazis treated their factory workers?”
“A woman sitting next to me said “I couldn't speak at this meeting, I would start screaming.” I had to admit I suffered from a similar lack of self control. The MEC staff ran the meeting efficiently, no one screamed. MEC members voted for the Co-Op to continue selling the Israeli goods. The anti Israel group vowed to keep up their agitation. Some of the rhetoric threatened violence, but no blood was shed. This is the Canadian way. If only people in the Middle East could be reasonable, and if Jerusalem,Tehran, Kabul, Islamabad, New York, Mexico City, London... could be terror free zones.
- Tough questions in Jerusalem
The Jerusalem limestone steps are hot in the noon sun, and worn smooth by thousands of feet. They lead tourists and pilgrims off the