For the past days I have been reading news stories about the Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-occupied portion of Palestine. This war is a result of the creation of an Israeli state on an Arab land. That’s an over-simplification, I know, but basically this sentence captured quite well the origin of the conflict. My basic understanding is that the Hamas government does not recognize the existence of Israel as a sovereign state and has been conducting ‘terroristic’ activities in Israel. The Israelis, in their act of self defense, actively bombed government offices and military bases in Palestine for almost a week now.
Egyptians protesters demonstrating against the Isreali occupation of the Gaza.
I have also read about the reactions of the Muslim people all around the world that condemn Israel’s action. This, I believe, will not end here because Arab nations who sympathize with the Palestinians will retaliate which will make the vulnerable situation in the region even more volatile.
The United States’ seeming silence on this matter is also glaring. It has not reacted in the same way as in the armed conflict between Russia Georgia over South Ossetia during the latter part of 2008. It has called for a diplomatic talk between two parties, but only up to that part.
As of press time, the collateral damage, as it is wont to be called, has soared to more than 500, mostly civilians.
This is a precarious result of nationalism and an outgrowth of colonialism. In the Philippines where the affairs in the US are given more attention than the Arab world whose people are our fellow Asians, understanding on the problems confronting Isreal and Palestine is limited on simplifications that are most often erroneous and very dangerous.
Before I thought that the U.S. war against Vietnam was a fight for democracy and world peace and against communism and the feared Domino effect, something of a paranoia in Washington during the Cold War I later learned. The United States was the bringer of freedom in Vietnam, we were made to think. But my stay in Vietnam allowed me to understand the other side of the story – the story of the Vietnamese people and how hard they fought for something that is more important than anything else – their identity, their freedom, their sovereignty as a nation.
In international affairs, the prevailing hegemony more often than not controls the perspective of how news are written of presented. It also identifies which party most media organizations in the world will have to side.
As in the case of Vietnam War and even in the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the interest of the United States is always the main point to consider in the writing of history. But with the decline of the U.S. and the emergence of other southern countries that depolarizes the balance, how will we perceive our world? How will the people in the periphery understand the events in their world? More importantly, what will be of the innocent civilians caught between crossfire?
I bet tomorrow will be a different world.