A Country in a Hostile Region
(updated version of post)
Say there’s a country sitting in a hostile area. A big part of the hostility has to do with religion – the greater part of the country’s population has a faith different than that of the neighboring countries, and which is somewhat despised by the neighbors. But there’s also something else – the folks in neighboring countries consider the folks in that country to be newcomers to the region, and usurpers of their land. In fact, the country owes its existence to an Outside Power that had conquered the region, and later to various international agreements delineating borders. Part of the country’s population (and here I speak of those of the despised faith in particular) are descendant of folks that were long indigenous to the region – in fact, many were at one point refugees from some of the neighboring countries where being a member of that faith meant being treated horribly. But truth be told, many of them descend from people who emigrated when the Outside Power ruled the area. Anyhow, the country has been in quite a few wars, some of which were launched by neighboring countries to annihilate the country and its population, and some of these launched by the country itself keeping the intent of its neighbors in mind. In a number of cases, these wars were even proxy battles between Outside Powers. Along the way, the country’s borders changed a number of times.
Fast forward to a relatively recent date. There’s a power struggle going on between two of other groups that lay claim to this country’s land, and a ceasefire between one of those groups and the country gets violated. Accusations fly over who did the violating, etc., and a full-scale war breaks out.
At this point, no doubt, you’re assuming I’m discussing Israel and the recent events in Gaza. I’m not. I’m discussing Bosnia in March 1992. Now, there are some differences; Bosnia was on the losing end of that particular war, and the world stepped in to help. There are other differences; I don’t remember anyone marching on the streets of London or New York insisting that Bosnia should not exist, and that Muslims don’t belong in the region. In fact, that would have been considered quite the gauche position to take.
So I was wondering what the difference is in people’s minds between Israel today and Bosnia in the early 90s. And the fact that Israel is winning this particular war is not the difference; its still surrounded by neighbors who swear they will one day destroy it, and you can bet that if they ever pull it off, the protesters on the streets of London and New York will rejoice. And frankly, I don’t think its the extra time that Bosnia has been existence. In two hundred or five hundred years, assuming Israel is around, there will still be protesters on the streets of London and New York saying Israel should not exist and that Jews do not belong there; the equivalent of the gauche position when it comes to Bosnia has always been and will apparently always remain quite acceptable when it comes to Israel.
And by the way, just to drive the point… it occurs to me that I could change one sentence and the story could be about Singapore, Taiwan, and Jordan, and that’s just off the top of my head. (Granted, its a difference sentence in each case, but its still a very, very similar story – in the case of Singapore and Jordan, even some of the main players are there to play essentially the same roles.) I have never heard anyone protesting the existence of Singapore and Jordan, and I doubt I ever will. Taiwan, well, China does “want it back” but again, nobody is protesting their existence on the streets of London and New York either.
Every possible reason I can think of for this difference in the way Bosnia (or Singapore or Taiwan or Jordan) and Israel are perceived falls apart when I think about it. Every possible reason but one: the elephant in the living room. ____________________________________