People in glass houses… Part II

March 7th, 2008


My story about lobbing rocks evoked a comment from Wychwood which I felt merited formal response in a post, rather than in the comments.

My story did not refer to any specific region, although it was inspired by recent events in Gaza.

My “parable” is deliberately generic and it applies to any region where one people oppresses another and then acts surprised and outraged when the oppressed react violently. You only have to look at the history of Ireland, or the so-called “Indian” wars in America in the 19th century to see what I mean.

My story also points out the stupidity of attacking civilian populations, no matter which side you are on.

My basic point is that rock throwing causes more rock throwing, not less. My point was not about whether the state of Israel has a right to exist. For the record, I do not believe the state of Israel should be dismantled, even though I might question the right of a people to take over an area that their ancestors lived in more than 1,000 years ago. Does that mean I have the right to a house in Scandinavia? I’m pretty sure there’s some Viking blood in my family.

Wychwood offered two links, which I have published in the comments on the previous post, but here they are again.

The Islamic Conquest’s Plunder of Palestine

Islam justifies its existence through the failure of Judaism

I have to say, the fact that Jews were pushed out of Palestine over a thousand years ago, doesn’t give them the right to drop bombs on civilian populations today, which Israel seems rather fond of doing.

In the interests of balance, let me emphasise that the fact that Israel oppresses Palestinians does not give Hammas and Hezbollah the right to fire rockets at Israeli children. They are both wrong and they are both stupid. That was the point of my story, although my story was about people’s behaviour to people and not about Israelis and Palestinians.

It’s an odd quirk of international relations that had Britain in the late 20th century done what Israel does now, i.e., indiscriminately bomb civilian populations in response to terrorist attacks, there would have been an international outcry that would have lead to Britain’s being outcast and marginalised. Just imagine the world’s reaction had Britain shelled the Falls Road in Belfast (a strongly nationalist area) in response to any of the IRA’s attacks on civilians!

Yet in the case of Israel, the world basically says, “Tut, tut. You really shouldn’t do that.”

It’s as if the world thinks, “Well, that’s the Israelis for you. They’re just like that.”

Surely it must sadden Israelis that the world seems to excuse their indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilians as just part of who they are. Surely it must sadden Palestinians too, that the world thinks “suicide bomber” when it hears the word “Palestinian”.

I noticed that Wychwood’s links relate to past history. There doesn’t seem to be anything in there more recent than 1929. So let me say this:

When you cling to yesterday’s grievances to justify your behaviour today, people die today. In Northern Ireland, formerly implacable enemies finally realised that was unacceptable.

Here are some more links, to balance those of Wychwood:

Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Gaza conditions ‘at 40-year low’

Gunman kills eight at Jerusalem seminary

Gaza’s humanitarian crisis

4 Responses to “People in glass houses… Part II”

  1. wychwoodon 07 Mar 2008 at

    Hi, Nobby, I posted those links in response to the parts of your story where you said that the rock-lobbing was happening because the guy took the rock-lobber’s land away from them.

    That kind of statement generally indicates the Israeli-Arab conflict – as does the references to rocks- so I thought I’d post some extracts of a book dealing with the actual origins of the inhabitants in the area, to get some of the background right.

    Yes, it all started a long long time ago, but the issue of original ownership of the land is constantly brought up in current debates.

  2. Declan Chellaron 07 Mar 2008 at

    Happy to post those links for you.

    However, I do think there is an important difference between living memory and history.

    Some of the people in Northern Ireland, for example, are the descendants of Scottish settlers who were given land stolen from the Irish people who live there. However, I don’t think that means those descendants should be shipped back to Scotland and the land returned to the descendants of the original Irish. Why should someone born in Northern Ireland today pay the price for the fact that his ancestor stole the land from the original owner?

    What matters is how people treat each other now.

    It’s true that the Jewish people have been treated badly throughout history, but the fact is that the Israeli state is oppressing people now.

    I used to know an Irish fellow who became a Jew because he married a Jewish woman. Then they decided to move to Israel. He ended up in an Israeli uniform, pointing a gun at Palestinians and telling them what to do. A guy from Ireland.

    By the way, the “parable” was more inspired by Ireland than by Israel / Palestine. Over the centuries there was lots of land theft, lots of rock throwing and lots of idiots murdering each other’s children and calling the other side evil.

  3. wychwoodon 08 Mar 2008 at

    Can’t agree with your statement that the Israelis are oppressing people – if people come over with bombs, as they do every single day and have for years, before, during and after peace talks – then defence measures have to be there.

    There was rock-throwing in Ireland? I must read up on this! My previous reading on this has been more to do with the politics as opposed to the more physical nature of the conflict. Ireland is, however, very fortunate that this part of its history is, well, history.

  4. Declan Chellaron 08 Mar 2008 at

    I have responded to this in People in glass houses… Part III.

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