The situation in the Middle East, and the call for a ceaseﬁre, bring to me a personal conﬂict. I try to break down things into concepts I understand. And I understand marketing and law, the two areas I was trained in.
If I had an opponent in business, I would try to beat that opponent. In some cases I would do it in a gentlemanly fashion. Last year, I was in regular dialogue with my colleague and rival Lisa Phelan, publisher of New Zealand Style, a magazine that since folded. I saw no reason to treat Ms Phelan as my enemy—and when she was essentially destroyed via newspaper articles, I called with my support.
That was a lot more fulﬁlling than joining in the chorus and help spread rumour after rumour, when I had it on good authority from Lisa that there were falsehoods in the mainstream media.
But I would not set out to destroy an opponent.
In business, I imagine the equivalent of war would be using legal resources to get a company struck off the Register, using rumour and half-truths to rally people around my cause. I would use political power as well, and make life
And yet, that would not serve my business. It would cost heaps. My customers would be ill-served. Throughout these blogs, I preach the notion that we have to focus, stick to our knitting, stay ﬁrm to our vision, and, if we are competing, beat someone because we lived out the concepts that we set out at our founding.
When we lose sight of that vision, we rebrand, or we ﬁnd some way of motivating or reorganizing ourselves so that we restore our purpose and our strategy.
So how does that relate to nations?
I know I would not try to destroy another. But I also know that harbouring and protecting terrorists so offend me that I could not stand still.
Israel has obviously decided that talking doesn’t work when protecting its interests. So often there have been talks, but things have been derailed by the slightest actions of other states. And the same may be said of Israel’s actions, when viewed through the eyes of others. Contexts inform all.
But what are the visions of these nations?
They must include existence, survival, protection and peace.
I know this because each generation of Israeli has been told, ‘When you get to my age, there will be no more wars.’ And each generation becomes disillusioned when this parental promise fails to materialize, and look to familiar behaviours.
‘Familiar behaviours’ would be the Six-day War and the Arab–Israeli War, and following a playbook. I make no judgement on who was right and who was wrong in these wars, nor do I make any judgement about who ﬁred the ﬁrst shot. I am hardly in a position to do so, not being from their cultures. But I know that they did not solve any problems long-term, because here I am in 2006, writing this blog post.
At the end of the day, and even if people do not want to admit it, the purest vision, the fundamental raison d’être, of each of these warring nations, is identical.
It’s easy for a businessman sitting on his hind end in New Zealand to say that getting back to original visions and defusing a situation are the ways forward, for that would make me as guilty as those I have criticized: bringing in my own ideas on to nations I have neither lived in nor visited. But I am here to learn, which is more than I can say for some.
There is a gap between these concepts and what may be known in the region itself. I do not really know for sure, but I renew my earlier call to go to blogs from the area. This time, we need to go beyond creed and toward nationhood and learn what affects the people in Lebanon, Israel, Syria and the Palestinian territories. Even bloggers in Iran—the ones that haven’t been arrested or killed for having their views, that is.
However, I know Israelis, Lebanese and Syrians. I know that they share the same basic values as me. I know they don’t always agree with their governments because all they want to do is darn well get on with life.
They all do. Which makes me think that those raisons d’être for their nations are the same.
And, when you get back to these ﬁrst principles, terrorism is incompatible with them. I don’t care how much money Iran pumps into these places. But I do care that it created Hezbollah, and how this is creating instability in nations that do not want terrorism.
Which means there should be unity between them to rid themselves of terrorists, a decision that other nations have come to.
They all have a common enemy because they all agree that terrorism is not something they condone, just as rumour and the local media’s treatment of Lisa Phelan last year were something I could not join in.
These may be as different as chalk and cheese, but they have origins in the same place: the removal of one party because it is seen as a game of “survival of the ﬁttest”.
I argue the game is the survival of our values, and why our nations were formed in the ﬁrst place. Call me naïve, or call me a dreamer, but I cannot see why there has not been greater unity to serve individual nations’ purposes.
PS.: For other viewpoints: Bill Kristol has written an op-ed with some thought in the Murdoch Press. A contrary piece appears in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian today by former Knesset member Uri Avnery.
Del.icio.us tags: Israel Lebanon Syria Iran Middle East Middle East conﬂict war terrorism United Nations UN ceaseﬁre politics Posted by Jack Yan, 23:30
Thank you, Randy. I had been wanting to write about the conﬂict for some time and wanted to make it meaningful. Incidentally, thank you for the links most recently!
I don't think you understand how deep the hatred goes in that region Jack. It goes very deep and is instilled from birth among the Arab nations. I think the Israelis legitimately want peace but the actions of number of countries around them have helped prevent it. I suspect Syria sees terrorism as a useful way to hurt Israel without having to resort to military confrontation, a confrontation they'd lose. Iran also sees terrorism as an effective weapon against Israel and wants Israel's total destruction. The wacked out President of Iran has denied the Holocaust ever happened.
I think a cease-fire would be disastrous for Israel as that would give Hezbollah time to get MORE rockets to fire at Israel. Israel needs to take Hezbollah out once and for all, even if they have to go into Syria to do it (which is possible).
Ron, I know the situation is complex and one of the ﬁrst things my Syrian friend said to me was, ‘The Lebanese. We hate them.’ But by expressing it in simple terms, the conﬂict seems more surmountable. It takes a uniﬁed decision though.
Syria probably wants to have some independence but Iran’s money, its funding of Hezbollah, and its inﬂuence over its neighbours is hurting things seriously. We do need to rid ourselves of these terrorists—cleaning up something we should have tackled many years ago.
Who's right, who's wrong...
“At the end of any war, everyone sits around a table and comes to some agreement.
Why dont' they do that before the war instead?”
Alf Razzell, Royal Fusiliers, WWI
Robin, we ignore our own history at our peril. Thank you for that very apt quotation.
You would that politics and business ethics would jibe. However, from recent spat of events, I don't think politics is rational or logical enough to be compared to business.
Another reason why the terrorists are tough to deal with, is that they are ultimately self-destructive. They know that they will not last long, and seek to implement maximal damage. They are the worst kind of opponents because they have nothing to lose. They fight dirty. It's not possible to eliminate them unless we tackle them with tactics that they use.
What we need in politics is a little infusion of rationality and sense to preserve rather than destroy. All the parties should want to survive, but not try to destroy the other. People say that thought is naive but what has humanity come to? I am ashamed to be a part of a system that destroys without a second thought.
Joy, I totally agree. Egos and powers and institutions get caught up in it, too, when the only thing that is important here are human lives. Or in most cases involving politics.Post a Comment
The unfortunate thing is that terrorists do not think human lives are important and they are destructive. In their own minds, they are doing the noble thing—which again comes down to those who are driven by the wrong motives. The so-called cause becomes an excuse for seeking power.
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