Saturday, January 20, 2024

Extremism is blocking peace in the Middle East

The world is off kilter right now.  It's off balance.  Too many people view society in terms of black and white.  For them, it's always "us against them", 'either/or," "my way or the highway."  There's never any compromise.  There's no in-between, no middle of the road.  They fail to see the shades of grey, the nuances.  

When that sense of balance is lost, extremism fills the void.  There is a lack of an either/or world.  Unfortunately, the pandemic, social media and Trumpism have only exacerbated the problem.  There is a distinct lack of civility and so much polarization.

In particular, we are witnessing the rise of the extreme right around the globe, as well as a decline in trust for democratic institutions.  Conservatives are becoming noticeably more extreme.  In my own country, Canada, the conservatives of today are not the same as the conservatives of yesteryear.  They are more aggressive and they have moved much further to the right.  It's no surprise that our federal Conservative Party is no longer the Progressive Conservative Party.  The word Progressive has been dropped.

The far-right has drummed up hate for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  He was swarmed by protesters in Belleville, Ontario and he was forced to cancel an appearance in Surrey, British Columbia due to safety concerns.  I have seen anti-Trudeau hate messages around Toronto.  This has never been the Canadian way and it is deplorable.  It seems that MAGA Republicanism has found its way north.

Have we not learned the lessons of history?  Have we forgotten the rise of fascism and Nazism in the 1930s?.  I was sickened to read about a far-right rally that was held in Rome on January 7, 2024.  Videos were later released showing hundreds of men making fascist salutes.  This happened in front of the former headquarters of the MSI group, a neo-fascist party that eventually became the conservative Brothers of Italy.  The Brothers of Italy was co-founded by Giorgia Meloni, who just happens to be the Italian prime minister.

Of course, condemnation of right-wing extremism must be balanced by condemnation of left-wing extremism..  Stalin and Mao were as brutal as Hitler and Mussolini. History teaches that extremism in any form, whether it be political, religious or social, leads to death, destruction and oppression.  

Right now we have a nightmarish situation in the Middle East, with no end in sight.  Both Palestinians and Israelis are suffering terribly.  Yet, around the world, people are using the actions of the Israeli government to unleash the most vile anti-Semitism.  Similarly, there has been a rise in Islamophobia.  Synagogues and mosques are being vandalized and defiled.  Protesters are busy assigning blame to Jews and Muslims for the actions of extremists.  Meanwhile, innocent civilians are suffering and dying, many of them women and children,  Who is speaking for them?  

Where is the steady leadership that is so dearly needed.?  Remember how former President Jimmy Carter brokered the Camp David Accords back in 1978.  Thanks to the leadership and courage of Carter, as well as Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, peace was achieved between Israel and Egypt.  So, why can't a fair and just agreement be reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians?  The reason is that terrorist groups such as Hamas and extreme right-wing Israelis do not want peace.  They would prefer to see innocent civilians suffer than to agree on a fair and just two-state solution.  

Left to right: Begin, Carter and Sadat in 1979

There will be no peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution.  The Palestinian people and the Israeli people are sick and tired of war and suffering.  They desire peace and they want a two-state solution.  Meanwhile, the extremists are doing all they can to prevent peace and to prolong the suffering.  At one extreme, Hamas wants to obliterate Israel. wipe it off the map.  At the other extreme, Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right government reject a two-state solution.  Neither path leads to peace, only more death, destruction and misery.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu has always claimed that he would protect his country's security.  Yet, under his watch, Hamas was able to launch an attack on Israel and kidnap hostages.  Netanyahu has done Israel more harm than good.  He has hurt its reputation.  What is occurring in the Gaza is madness.  It is humanity at its worst.

- Joanne