Straight lines on a map! I almost can’t believe I’m saying it.

Just a few thoughts:

We don’t want our governments to arm other states but, successively, they have issued licences to do so while simultaneously throwing around dish du jour accusations with mock outrage. They’ve obsessed over picking which rebels to arm in conflict zones and they have no hesitation in supporting flavoursome states with their contractual awards. They’re continually totally misjudging the weight of their influence, manipulating and swapping their alliances and constantly colluding in nefarious activities. And yet, our present regime is affronted at the idea of anyone it disapproves of, also doing so. The hypocrisy is incredible! Even when the humanitarian card is played, noble as it sounds, it is, at its heart, always economically, territorially and resource driven. Consciously or by sheer incompetence, they seem increasingly seditious.

And who are they mostly yelling at now? Why, Russia, of course. And who are they overtly not yelling at? Yes, Israel. It’s all very do as I say and not as I do, isn’t it?

On this most recent Israel-Palestine conflict/slaughter, Ed Miliband has shown more leadership and integrity in these last few days than David Pompous-but-Empty Cameron could dream of and yet Downing Street has the temerity to suggest that Ed is “playing politics” – For a start, politics is his purpose, being leader of the main opposition party, and all. Also, Number Ten is a gargantuan pot to be calling out that kettle. Someone in a position of leadership had to speak more sensibly on this. And no, Conservative Party, Lynton Crosby and dumb media: he isn’t “playing”.

Everyone must know, the Israeli government most of all, that the Palestinian people have been and are habitually patronised; that they have been and are being systematically physically displaced, separated and squashed; their land and resources stolen; their freedom to move and invest and trade and thrive independently and autonomously, remorselessly inhibited and controlled. Even without the military onslaughts, their lives are being stolen. Everyone must surely realise that, barring mutual destruction, gods forbid, in the end, Palestinians either acquiesce and learn to love their chains (ain’t gonna happen) or the Israeli government, encouraged vigorously by the real ‘International Community’, gets a grip of itself, ends this occupation and learns to properly respect all humanity, international law and the right of its neighbours to sovereignty. And, failing that, the UN must force Israel to. No one has the right to profit by oppression, exploitation, carving up of land and theft, be they individual, group or nation. It’s high time we all acknowledged and accepted this basic principle way beyond the Palestine-Israel context. Everyone, from you and me at street level, to our neoliberal political leaders, to global corporations.

The Jewish people were fortunate to have been especially afforded their own space all those years ago. (Would the world offer a similar thing today, I wonder, as the seas rise and low-lying, populated islands are swallowed up?) After all, many other historically persecuted groups, like the Romani, for instance, they have not been so offered. They are still mistreated, viewed with suspicion and moved on, across Europe, even to this day. No collective guilt has afforded them the human dignity they deserve. I’m not suggesting for a moment that the neglect of one group negates the cause of another. Nor am I questioning Israel’s right to exist – she does exist, period. I’m just struck by the anomaly, is all. I hope that’s allowed – to be struck by anomalies…

Before anyone goes off on one about anti-Semitism or who is a democracy or what constitutes a terrorist, let me be clear:

1) I find the bigotry, hate speech and violence of anti-Semitism just as offensive and frightening as I do of racism, homophobia and Islamophobia.

2) I don’t like any organised, orthodox religion very much. It’s just another form of politics to me. But I have no such dislike for the Peoples of any religion. (I even believe in God, in my own way, in case you’re thinking it’s relevant.) I have no problem with the Koran, the Torah, or the Bible, either. They are like poetry and music – subjectively and conveniently open to literal, artistic, cultural and political interpretation – one’s sensitivity may be stirred by their shared truths and beauty or to offence and ridicule. Where I do take issue, as regular readers know, is with any of these tomes being used by middlemen as the representation and rule book of the gods. I have a problem with these books being used as a doctrinal platform on which to wage political causes and as a vehicle of herding and oppression. Truth be told: I’m just not keen on ideologues, fundamentalists, utopians or fascists, full stop.

3) I believe in Democracy and I personally prefer secularist/pluralist governance. However, I see no real evidence that any government, anywhere, is truly representing or even respecting its people’s interests; I see no democracy in the world that is not in some sort of trouble. I also see a great many populations around the globe who wish for the beginning of any democracy at all and particularly for secular governance. I think it’s important, particularly given the state of mainstream propaganda in most countries, that we don’t think of any government, national media or opinion poll as some absolute reflection of the attitudes in its countrymen and women. Including Israel’s.

4) One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, isn’t s/he? It’s a matter of perspective – so much so that it’s quite possible to graduate from one to the other. And, no, in believing that Hillary Clinton’s recent comparison of Putin to Hitler is as outrageous as is Netanyahu’s comparison of ISIS to Hamas, I am not saying that I support either Putin or Hamas.

But to Palestinians, Palestine is not just Hamas and not just Gaza, is it? And really, what does Bibi dream will replace Hamas if he keeps this up? Something more moderate? Or something to strengthen his cause? There’s a lot of self-fulfilling prophecy going on in the governing world, lately. Look, I’m not condoning terrorism but I’m also enormously grateful that I’ve never been in a situation where I felt such dramatic activity to be my best or last resort. There but for the grace of..

And I tell you: I’m upset the world is so messed up that I felt I actually needed to explain those points…

Anyway, I’ve been thinking lately that, for once, it might actually be a very good idea if some powerful people – yes, I use the term advisedly – let’s imagine informed, altruistic people with authority instead – them, getting out a pencil and ruler and drawing some straight lines on a map. I know! Straight lines on a map! I almost can’t believe I’m saying it. I have nothing but contempt for the base cartography a century ago so I’m acutely aware of the irony in my suggestion. Still, maybe just two lines, straight and parallel, equidistant to either side of Jerusalem, from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, providing a permanent geographical breathing space between Israel and Palestine. UN peacekeeping forces could maintain the corridor. It’s also time we said that Jerusalem, itself, belongs to no one and everyone, irrespective of passionate declarations from the Abrahamic faiths; that we allowed those UN World Heritage people to take proper charge of it. Or maybe an atheist organisation (I’m being a bit facetious, now).

Perhaps you think me too controversial or naive. Perhaps you have nit-pick buts aplenty about the convoluted history and myriad details that have accrued over more than sixty years (and yes, I know we could actually go back centuries). Perhaps you think I am overlooking too much but I think the history has been done to death, already. It builds a case, sure, but it’s not necessary for a viable solution now, one based on humanity and justice for each side. Perhaps you have taken offence at my view. There’s a lot of that about, these days. It was not intended but neither do I care. I’ve had an earful and an eyeful of witnessing and receiving the wilful misunderstanding of others these past weeks, be they government spokespeople, journalists or common trolls.

Or perhaps you just think I am actually quite mad but really, you shouldn’t worry: I’m hardly likely to be in charge of the pencil and ruler.

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5 thoughts on “Straight lines on a map! I almost can’t believe I’m saying it.

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