Friday, July 21, 2006

World Politics from a Pre-K Perspective

Successful people learn to share at a very early age. As toddlers grow it’s necessary for them to learn the difference between necessity and desire. If Cassie wants something we do our best to accommodate. We as new parents are learning to create boundaries that she must abide by. For instance, she must pet our cat nicely. We taught her how to pet Molly softly and encourage Cassie to pet the cat in this manner. There are numerous other rules that she needs to abide by. She has also learned to back away from doors that are closing, and to be careful when stepping down. Unfortunately, it appears that nations do not know how to abide by the rules they needed to learn as toddlers.

The Middle East is embroiled in a series of wars right now. Whether you look at Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza there are military operations going on daily. It is very easy to say this side is right and that side is wrong. The problem I see from here is that people are acting without thinking. Why is this going on? What are the goals of Israel, Hezbollah, and Hamas? Is there a difference between one Muslim fundamentalist and another?

These are questions I’ve wondered about for days. Here is the little I do know about the Middle East and its history. First of all, countries are worse at sharing than my only child. Cassie will give up toys on occasion when other children want them. She does not necessarily need to get something in return. I am not saying that countries should give up assets especially real estate without getting something of consequence back. However, if a country is willing to unilaterally give up land, so that you would get what you want, then let them.

In 1947, the Palestinians were offered a state alongside a state designated for the Jews. The Palestinian leadership at the time, said that this was not enough. Anything other than all of Palestine was unacceptable to the leadership. Now 60 years later, some Palestinians claim that this two state solution is what they want. Forgive me if I don't believe them. As a parent, I am expected to teach Cassie the quality of honesty. Honesty as defined by is truthfulness; sincerity. I expect that this will not be a hard value to explain and at an individual level it is not hard to follow, but Nation states appear to have a trouble living up this value. Hamas claims that it wants to be left alone, and that the occupation by Israel should end. Not a bad idea, until you examine it. What does Hamas claim as occupied area?

According to the U.N., no friend of Israel, the occupied areas are commonly referred to as the West Bank and Gaza. However, in the eyes of Hamas , any area in what is now Israel is occupied by Zionists. Hamas' covenant claims that all non Muslims need to be removed from the area. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. This is not a situation where you can be a 2 year old. Hamas can take their ball and go home. That is fine with me, but they can't claim they own someone's home because they don't want them next door. The international community was created by the U.N. so that people could live side by side and settle their disputes peacefully. It does not appear to me that this group, or the other liberation groups do believe in conflict resolution. They get stuck on the 2nd to last word.

Finally this is a hard one. This is a rule we try to teach at schools, and it gets in the way of the most accomplished individuals in every field. Think before you speak. It wasn't until 2002 that the Arab League considered recognizing Israel's right to exist. The Prime Minister of Lebanon is basically begging Israel to stop bombing. I can appreciate that. However, at the end of the interview, the PM said he would be the last country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. If you are not going to recognize the right of the Israelis to exist, why should they stop bombing you under any circumstances. By the way, Bill Bennett, who made his mark on the national stage as an icon for family values, went on CNN yesterday, and said "Just Give War a Chance"...Not exactly what I would teach my daughter, but then again a fundamentalist by any other name is still a fundamentalist.


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