Editorial – ‘God is Great!’
This was the vitriolic slogan enthusiastically chanted around a truck loaded with bodies. Those killed for being on the wrong side of the fence when it was unexpectedly breached. All too easy to view the unfolding horror of strike and counter strike as an escalating falling out of the faithful: Muslims versus Jews.
Actually it’s people killing people, state or quasi-state promoted murder. What divides them is nationalism. Palestinian nationality emerged from the collapsed Ottoman Empire, while Zionism was formed from long-standing hostility to Jews in Europe. Both products of world wars.
The immediate upsurge of violence is but the most recent manifestation of resentments and hatreds ignited by the formation of Israel on land formally occupied by Palestinians. Strip away the religious camouflage to reveal the fundamental cause of this and most, if not all, armed conflicts.
There is no significant difference with the ongoing mutual slaughter in the Ukraine, with soldiers/victims of both sides infused with nationalism. The flags of both sides flying over land that is the source, actual or potential, of wealth.
Land is the most basic element of wealth creation: for the production of food, the source of raw materials required by every manufacturing process. The labour involved in farming, raw material extraction, and turning those materials into usable commodities, creates the value from which profit is generated.
Therefore, who owns/controls a particular piece of real estate is a matter of financial importance. While it continues to be private concerns, or states on their behalf, workers will be employed to defend one particular plot, or even try to seize the plot of another group.
Such plots are dressed up as nations with defined borders which in reality are no more than lines on maps. Lines that are readily moved or erased and redrawn. So it was that on 14 May 1948 the state of Israel could be declared where, on the 13 May, there was no such state.
Cue 75 years of armed conflict, of full-scale battles and terrorist outrages, with constantly simmering violence just beneath the surface of seemingly quieter periods. There is occasional political talk of one-state or two-state solutions alongside militant groups on either side of the fence whose rhetoric comes close to genocidal.
Atrocity is stacked upon atrocity. Strategic gambles in which the chips are men, women and children wrapped in body bags. Both sides raise the stakes trying to force each other to throw in their hand and withdraw. Meanwhile everyone around them loses.
Except, of course, arms manufacturers. There’s never a famine of weapons, it seems.
There are self-proclaimed leftists who celebrate the latest killing spree on behalf of Palestinians. Just as those who cheered on the young men as they marched to their deaths in 1914. Nationalism then, nationalism now is the business, and it is big business, of sacrificing young lives en masse on bloody altars of profit.
God may not be great, but financial returns are, at least for a few.