Thursday, July 27, 2006

Changes in latitude, no change in attitude.

For some time now I have had a Mike Keefe (Denver Post, 2002) cartoon magneted to my refrigerator. The center of the drawing is dominated by a bare earth mound, around which all the action takes place. The lower right corner depicts an Israeli tank commander firing at a fleeing Arab boy. Running around the mound's left side is an Israeli woman carrying a child. She is fleeing an explosives-belted, checkered-kaffiyeh'd Palestinian terrorist in hot pursuit. Assorted bodies, unidentifiable as to ethnicity, are scattered around. The only object anywhere on the mound is a sign at the top, reading "Moral High Ground." The cartoon itself is titled Unoccupied Territory.

I was not greatly surprised, therefore, when the Levant finally went up in flames last week; as I had other things to do and had nothing new to say about the situation, I had pretty much decided to leave the matter alone. That is not to say that I have no opinions. The cartoon I described above, I think, outlines them rather well.

Visiting the blog Rantings of a Sandmonkey yesterday, I read with no little sense of irony the following composition by an Israeli blogger:

Hezballah: poke-poke-poke

Israel: Cut it out!

Hezballah: poke-poke-poke

Israel: I'm serious, cut it out!

Hezballah: poke-poke-poke

[Israel slaps Hezballah]

Hezballah to Lebanon: Mom! He hit me!

Lebanon: Stop whining. I have other things to deal with.

Hezballah: poke-poke-poke

[Israel slaps Hezballah again]

Hezballah: You wanna piece of me? Come and get it.

Stop that fighting back there! Hezballah, try to stop poking, OK?
You're bothering your mum. And you, Israel, keep your hands to yourself.

Israel: Yes, dad.

Hezballah: poke-poke-poke

[Israel slaps Hezballah again]

Hezballah: Mom! He hit me again!

Lebanon [distracted]: mm hmm

Hezballah: poke-poke-poke

[Israel punches Hezballah in the face, drawing blood]

Hezballah, touching his nose and then staring at the blood: Oh Sh*t! What did you do that for?

Funny? well, in a grim, outsider-standing-on-the-sidelines-headshaking-at-the-sheer-idiocy, EMT-at-the-wreck-site, survivor-of-the-disaster sort of way, it is. Or, as Jimmy Buffett sang it on my car radio this morning, "If we didn't laugh, we would all go insane."

Not that every reader saw it thus. One commenter (presumably Middle Eastern) responded:

i guess this story, to better describe the reality , should include raping the mother and mutilation of some brothers of this nasty child as a just retaliation to his acts.

and then with the aid of two or three others proceeded to flay the author, Sandmonkey, and anyone else who wasn't outraged by the piece. I refrained from commenting as the box was getting crowded and I had little expectation of persuading anyone to think. I did reflect that, as Hezbollah's modus operandi has included occasional small-team raids to randomly murder Israeli civilians, following the commenter's logical line of reasoning would require changing some of Hezbollah's annoying poking to lunges with a switchblade. (Picture that in the back seat of your car, Moms and Dads!)

Personally, I have no interest in arguments about whose land is whose; even if you assume everything surrounding the Med from Cracow to Madrid belongs to you, killing an unarmed squatter on your property is still murder. As far as I am concerned--and I think history will back me up on this--Jews and Arabs all came from the same general area, and if they can't stand living with each other then they had darn well better come up with a plan for fair and amicable division of the property. Bloodying each other for generations over a stupid strip of desert and then demanding that the rest of us take your side--or else--is beneath loathsome.



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