Maxed Out 

The new Promised Land


In 1948, the British gave up trying to "control" their little corner of the Middle East, capitulated to both reality and the United Nations’ proposal, and the state of Israel was born. For those of you who have forgotten or never knew, the date was May 14.

To celebrate, on May 15, five of Israel’s Arab neighbours – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq – threw a housewarming party. They invaded the new country.

Also in 1948, U.S. physicist George Gamow postulated the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel and its neighbours’ inability to get along. It’s just one of those ironic coincidences, one might almost say cosmic coincidences if one wanted to torture an obvious pun.

New discoveries in cosmology, astronomy and physics have changed our understanding and modified frontiers of the Big Bang theory every couple of years since 1948.

New skirmishes – okay, new wars – between Israel and various neighbouring states, among them the Sinai campaign, Six-Day War, War of Attrition, Yom Kippur War, have changed the frontiers of Israel every couple of years since 1948.

Those two coincidences have nothing to do with each other either except that our understanding of the universe, primitive though it is, far outweighs our understanding of how to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Our neighbours to the south were pretty certain they had the inside track on that whole peace in the Middle East conundrum. They invaded Iraq to bring peace and democracy to the Middle East. I think the theory was that all the Arab nations, labouring under monarchs, dictators, Islamic whackos and second sons ready and able to lead the region gloriously back to the 13 th century, would see the shining beacon of democracy thrive in Iraq and rise up and smite their very undemocratic leaders. Sort of a democratic domino effect.

Peace still seems as elusive as ever in the Middle East but democracy has spread like wildfire. Hamas was democratically elected to lead the Palestinians and Hezbollah was voted seats to help govern Lebanon. And now one of the architects of the current Iraq war, Secretary of Offence Donny Rumsfeld, has dusted off the domino theory as a last-ditch excuse to stay the course in Iraq, invoking the spectre of Islamofascist states from France to the Philippines. Having exhausted weapons of mass destruction, regime change and fighting on to honour those killed in the fighting(?) as reasons for this misadventure, why not the domino effect? Mission accomplished, dude!


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