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Victory for Violence

The story is told in the Old Testament. Of a brother who chose violence in jealousy of his brother. Human history is replete with lessons learned, of the dangers inherent in using violence to settle differences instead of reason. And yet we see leaders who should know better bent on dragging humanity back to the law of the jungle, the law of violence.

Renowned South African cartoonist Zaphiro agonized over his failure to document the latest conflict in Israel and Gaza. Many agree. 

While some commentators do not bother justifying their knee-jerk positions, some on both sides do. 

There are two sides to this conflict. Also to the other conflicts that threaten to engulf the world as we know it. And the two sides are not who you think. These conflicts are between the forces bent on violence, on destruction on the one hand, and the forces for peaceful resolution of conflict, of law and co-existence on the other. 

Ché Guevara, a beloved example of revolutionary activists and enemy incarnate by those supporting vested interests, believed that for a revolutionary movement, all that was needed to succeed was a 'foco' of guerillas. Violent suppression by the authorities, he thought, would alienate the population and eventually discredit the government in this case. 

In an article in The Atlantic on October 13, the possibility is mentioned that Hamas set a trap for Israel by provoking a violent reaction, triggering a prolonged conflict. Memories of the Intifada still linger in the Middle East. What Hamas and their backers feared, so the article opines, was the diplomatic campaign to defuse the tensions, the economic forces that began to erode the hold of extremists on people involved in the region. The creation of a regional order that could bring peace.

Seen from a distance this conflict, now over 100 years old, is a looking glass into war: both sides do the same thing, both perform similar acts, both blame the other for similar atrocities. 

Consider the following, edited quote:

"The deaths of some 250 ... men, women and children, which occurred during this attack, took place in circumstances of great savagery. ... Woman and children were stripped, lined up, photographed, and then slaughtered by automatic firing and survivors have told of even more incredible bestialities. ... Those who were taken prisoner were treated with degrading brutality."

This could have been a description of the Hamas actions, but it comes from a report to the United Nations regarding the attack on the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin in 1948 by Israeli terrorists, as they are called in this report. And the subsequent fate of this village exemplifies, for many, the treatment Palestinians and their property have received since.

Such action does not justify, in any way or form, similar reprisals. Not from one side, not from the other. The killing of Israeli civilians in no way justifies the killing of civilians in Gaza. 

It seems that, in this flare-up of a conflict that has dragged on far too long, evils thought long buried are resurrected. While the West could and should have acted much sooner to prevent the brutalities of Nazi Germany, the dehumanizing of Jews, Gypsies and others and the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto amongst others, the same should be said for the dehumanizing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and the destruction of Gaza. 

The post-plague wave of violence in the 1400s caused untold suffering and death. While it triggered the Reformation and its concomitant democratization and economic growth, it caused untold suffering and destruction. 

Violence is not a useful method of conflict resolution. The modern world knows better, more mature ways to handle matters than to empower those who choose violence.

Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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