22 Nov 2012

A Modest Proposal For Gaza

By Ben Pobjie
Why do Israel and Palestine hate each other so much? Is there a way we could potentially make money from that hatred? Unrepentant problem-solver Ben Pobjie proposes a simple solution to the violence
The Middle East has always been a bit of a trouble spot, ever since religion was invented sometime in the early 1900s. Sometimes it seems like there is simply no way to resolve the tensions that arise when you put a lot of people out in the desert with no talkback radio hosts to direct their hatred towards.

The current hoo-haa, of course, all began in 1948, when the world decided that to heal the world, the Jewish people would be granted the right to a permanent homeland in Palestine, and the Palestinians would be granted the right to huddle in tents. This seemed a fair and even-handed solution to the problem which had plagued the world for centuries: how to improve the dangerously low levels of religious hatred prevalent in the human race.

Unfortunately, the plan backfired, and instead of the happy, laughing, harmonious society that was envisioned when a bunch of people kicked a bunch of other people off their land, it's turned into a little bit of a quagmire. Frankly, things have gotten out of hand of late, and it is time something is done.

Not, of course, that the interested parties have been completely idle. Hamas, the democratically elected terrorist cell of Gaza, has made positive steps towards peace by firing rockets into Israel, as if to say, "Hey! Let's be friends! Have some rockets!" It's possible, however, that this gesture of goodwill has been misunderstood by some in the Israeli establishment, and isn't that always the way? You fire a few hundred rockets at someone, and suddenly they think you're somehow "aggressive".

Yet it has to be admitted that, despite Hamas's best intentions, the rocket path to peace has not been a raging success, and they may soon have to reconfigure their approach to reconciliation to a less ballistically intensive style.

Likewise, one can't fault Israel's energy and good-heartedness in dealing with the situation. Their strategy of sweetening the Palestinians by providing free bulldozing services having failed to take off, they've now opted for slightly more robust persuasion. "Does this persuade you?" they ask, from their bombers. Yet bizarrely enough, being bombed has not, as yet, placated the hard-to-please Palestinians.

In fact, in some ways, having fire and death rain down upon them has only made them angrier, which must really be a bummer for the peace-loving Israelis, who were hoping that this time, the powerful yearning for peace inherent in their tactical missile strikes would really come through loud and clear. Still, as an old Middle Eastern saying goes, "If bombs don't bring peace, it's just because you're not using enough bombs", and everyone seems to agree that this is an important principle to keep in mind.

But let's be honest: after so many years of intractable hatred and violence, the Israelis and the Palestinians aren't going to be able to resolve their own problems. Once again, it's up to the natural superheroes of the world: us. Yes, it is you and I in the affluent West who are going to have to roll our sleeves up and fix this whole sorry mess. In the matter of resolving difficult international stand-offs, we have several advantages: 1) we are white, which means we have a lot of solutions to things; 2) we are tech-savvy, which means we can utilise the latest in digital technology to achieve a 21st-century outcome; and 3) we are loud, which means we can shout until nobody else can be heard.

Of course, we have already made a good start, in that we care deeply about the issue. You only have to search the various Gaza-related hashtags on Twitter to see just how passionate we are about it. Believe me, tweeting about an issue is hard work — we do not do it lightly. We do it because the issue is extremely close to our hearts, and we genuinely wish to make a difference via vigorous and clear-eyed micro-blogging. And we don't stop with tweets — the western peace movement has also been making use of Facebook, Tumblr, and in extreme cases even Google+ to take real, tangible action on the Gaza issue, and help bring about a speedy resolution.

But there is even more that YOU, as a rich, comfortable, overweight Australian, can do to effect lasting change in geopolitical hotspots. You can write to your MP, or, if this seems a step too far, find out who your MP is. You can listen to music by bands with a notably progressive stance on Israel. You can make colourful placards and walk around in the street with them until the combatants crack under the pressure and agree to a workable road map towards an amenable two-state solution. It's true, YOU can make a difference.

But at some point we should perhaps step back and ask, just what kind of difference do we want to make? It's so true what they say: occasionally, what people do matters; and in the case of Palestine, many experts agree that doing the right thing will be more effective than doing the wrong thing. This is why Hillary Clinton's "release the bees" plan was such a non-starter.

So we can't just keep making the same old mistakes. It's said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result, and nobody wants to be insane here: we can't just think, "One more article by Gerard Henderson and we can wrap this puppy up" like we have in the past. We need a fresh, new, bold, new, fresh, modern, original, creative, fresh, modern, new approach. We need to break through with a new paradigm. Remember the new paradigm we had in Australian politics a couple of years ago? And that's worked beautifully: Labor and the Liberals hardly ever fire rockets at each other anymore. That's the sort of outside-the-box manoeuvring we need in the Gaza strip.

So here's the situation as I see it. What is the problem? Israelis and Palestinians killing each other. Who can solve the problem? The international community. And who is in the international community? That's right: China. And as everyone knows, in China, they have the same word for "crisis" as they do for "opportunity". And what do we have in Gaza? A CRISIS. So let's turn that CRISIS into an OPPORTUNITY. An opportunity for economic growth, for regional stability, and most of all, for entertainment.

First, stability: we build a big wall around the entire region, enclosing Israel, Palestine, and if we can manage it, France. But we don't just leave them in there and ignore them: this isn't Africa, after all. No, then, at the top of the wall, we build stadium seating, and sell tickets to people wishing to watch the Israel-Palestine war. Entertainment! And you know those tickets will sell like hotcakes: we can charge whatever we want, because if there is one thing we've learnt from newspapers, television, and the internet, it is that we are all absolutely mad for a bit of good old-fashioned war. We lap this stuff up like a cat laps up milk. The bleachers will be packed on Day One of the First Test in the Israel-Palestine Missile-Chucking Series, I can assure you.

But surely, you say, this will be a woefully one-sided contest, thus reducing its saleability in the crowded sports/entertainment marketplace. Au contraire! Because the sales of tickets will allow us to stimulate economic growth in the Gaza Strip, by using the proceeds to buy state-of-the-art weaponry for Hamas. Thus we get a fair fight, increasing crowds and sponsorship dollars, thus allowing us to buy even better weapons and keep a nice balance. It's basically like the AFL's salary cap.

You see, for so long the world has been trying to end armed conflict by disarming combatants. This was all the wrong way around: when battles flare, the thing to do is increase the total amount of deadly force available, thereby making everything a lot more telegenic and helping achieve a level playing field for all. See? Outside the box.

So there you go. Once again, the completely uninvolved white man comes up with the answer to a problem that eluded all others. It's a win-win: we isolate the problem from all the respectable folk in the rest of the world; we satisfy our own love of watching a good old dust-up between passionate opponents; and we are able to help both the people of Israel and the people of Palestine achieve what would appear to be their dearest wish: blowing the living crap out of each other for the rest of time.

I think that's a future we can all believe in.

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Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 15:29

Glad that I now know when religion was invented.
I must have missed that lesson in history class.

Isn't it time another theory was invented to replace that one?
It has proved to be a tad unworkable.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 17:32

The main problem here is cultural, the misunderstood culture of the Arabs by the Israelis, because more than most peoples in the world, they have a very strong gun culture, a bit like the USA, but different.
Because rather than going hunting defenceless creatures, they shoot up into the air, just because they're happy!
Is it any wonder a lot of their aid goes into rockets, missiles and munitions for guns, firing them off gives them a big thrill, something only violent video games could come close to providing most people.
They don't really want to kill Israelis, just remove them for their own good, since the southern borders can now be opened with the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt, hence all this shooting and firing off is mainly an expression of joy by Hamas.
And who needs bomb shelters for their people, when Israel misreads their 'happy fire' and fires back in all seriousness to destroy Hamas' infrastructure.
The very place where many innocent families are, no doubt to ensure the maximum number of people are martyred and the Israelis will look as bad as possible.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 17:52

Cacophony of pins dropping. That's because it's not funny, but practical. This proposal might even get the thumbs-up.

Posted Friday, November 23, 2012 - 08:17

Ben you missed a vital consideration, it's entertainment like this that helps to keep the poor souls over at Lockheed Martin and BAE off the streets. It's not just an opportunity here, rather we have an obligation to the economy to get this thing off the ground and onto the world stage where it can really flourish...