Monday, July 31, 2006

Shylock Draws Blood!

Like Shylock, Israel has a right to justice. It withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and UNIFIL was charged to disarm Hiz'b'allah and ensure Israel's security. The contract was broken and Israel, unprotected from unprovoked assault, has a right to self-defence. But, like Shylock, who could take a pound of flesh but couldn’t spill a drop of Antonio's blood, Israel may disarm Hiz'b'allah only if it doesn’t kill anyone, according to the EU and prevailing media.

Kfar Kana is a town from which, for many years, many rockets have been launched at Israeli farms, towns and cities. Israel warned the residents of the impending bombing to knock out Hiz'b'allah positions well in advance. Has Hiz'b'allah ever warned residents that a bomb was coming?

News agencies all over the world have gone back to New Testament times and call Kfar Kana "Qana." The rage over this particular killing of innocents has been pretty intense and, with a CTV newsreader on Wednesday night beginning his report: "Qana, where Jesus attended a wedding and turned water into wine. Today it’s blood." One can’t help wondering if there isn’t some unconscious anti-Semitism here that’s stewing the minds of reporters. Or is it just that Hiz'b'allah knows how to offer news junkies (such is the beast) the junk that bleeds and leads? Or are there other motives, conscious or unconscious in the culture of the West?

All three. Clearly the Jew card is been played again, as it was in Nazareth when Palestinian gunmen took over and trashed the Church of the Nativity. Somehow the Israelis got blamed for that while subtil Arafat provided the soundtrack: "See? They’re killing Jesus again!" his eyes bulging like a silent screen star’s.

There can be no doubt as to the expertise of Hiz'b'allah propaganda. Hamas too. Many staged events are distorting the picture and issues of the middle east. The boy killed in the crossfire was staged. The bombing of the beach in Gaza was staged. The photo of the "Palestinian youth on the Temple Mount" was staged. And the news from Beirut is staged.

But the most interesting and possibly most important thing going on here is the Western proclivity for order, for proportion. Israeli response has been, it has been charged, disproportionate. It is this same feeling for proportion that leads so many to believe that there must be a cause for Arab hatred for Jews and so it’s assumed that the hatred is mutual. To the Western mind this is a reasonable expectation and any other possibility is rejected because it is simply too painful to contemplate.

Horror movies are full of all kinds of characters (Freddie, Jason,…) who stalk and murder for no reason whatever. This is the greatest terror, that death stalks us for no reason and, good or bad, we all die in the end. Kafka’s great novel, The Trial, is precisely about this. The reason why it’s so frightening is that it’s so true. Death has no favorites; he takes us all and the reason why horror movies are horrible is because we repress that fact. The horror movie brings all this to the surface.

So does war, and just as the death of a loved one must have a "cause," i.e. cancer, heart attack, too much butter, too much sun, too much fun, so hostilities must have their cause. It is so unimaginable and repugnant to the Western mind that there are people who bring up their children so that they will kill themselves in order to kill the enemy. Good people assume that the same must be true on the other side because if it isn’t, the world is a world full of Freddies and Jasons.

The world is full of Freddies and Jasons and they are checked only by the rule of law. Today we hear renewed calls to remove the Old Testament from the Christian Bible. Decisions taken more than 16 centuries ago are now under debate again. Separating the two books is an odd way to ask the question, "Shall we throw the Jews to the wolves?" How, without the Old Testament, could such a thing be done? What justification for such an act could be found in the NT? It was the OT and, most of all, its concept of law, that allowed a real world Church and real world nations to survive history.

These new musings are ominous for the Jewish people. But there is a silver lining. At least these biblical musings show that, unconsciously at least, the West is not so far from its roots. As secular as it appears, the West still has a foundation and, as terrorists strip away its polite fictions, it, the West, is beginning to feel those foundations pressing against the soles of their shoes.

It would be a mistake, in the Crusade that is starting and stopping today, to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Jew and Muslim have been historically lumped together by the Christian when, in fact, they needn’t be. The Christian stands to the Muslim as brother, to the Jew as son. Kronos and Zeus, El and Baal, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau: History is an endless repetition of the same problems. Do we have the wisdom yet to — not to solve them: I don’t ask for that much — but at least to see our problems clearly through our natures, our natures clearly through our problems?

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