For some time now, I’ve been bothered by the similarities between the issue of guns and violence in America, and the issue of settlements and violence in Israel. And while, at least on the outset, it seems as if there is no connection between these two issues and countries, in terms of the proliferation of both guns and settlements, and the inability of sane people – in both countries, the majority – to bring them under control, and the misery and bloodbath they continue to bring, the similarities are striking. So let’s set the stage for this argument by describing two (fictional) scenarios. You’ll be the judge as to how closely they might resemble reality and truth.
First, imagine a gathering in the luxurious headquarter of the NRA – President, Vice President, all the other honchos – following a mass-shooting. The latest one, you know, which took place last month, or the one that will take place next month. They sit around the most beautiful, expensive mahogany boardroom desk, sipping champagne while watching three HD screens. On the one, a mixture of television live coverage and studio reporting going on at FOX from the latest shooting incident. On the other screen there’s a live CNN feed from the White House, awaiting the President reaction speech. On the third one, a large computer monitor screen, there are a number of graphs in various colors, indicating a minute-by-minute gun sales throughout America.
Now, when the president speaks, gravely and even teary-eyed about the latest incident, our “expensive suits” in the room raise another glass of champagne, and laugh loudly. Because right then, the graph of gun sales in Texas begins a steady rise. When an enraged father of one of the victims speaks on the other TV screen, vowing to do all in his power to bring about sane gun control measures in order to prevent such tragedies from happening to other parents, the most expensive Cuban cigar box is opened, and cigars are fired up by all men in the – soon to be smoke-filled – room. And when the PR secretary enters the room, the only woman there, and asks for instructions regarding the barrage of requests from the media for interview and reaction from the NRA President, he puffed a long funnel of heavy smoke to the ceiling, smiles and asks her to join the fun. No interviews; no need for them. Even in liberal, democratic California gun sales are hitting the roof. New members are joining the NRA all over the land. The dollars are pouring in. Later, she is told, she can issue the regular press release statement: The NRA is terribly sorry for all innocent lives lost in this tragedy, but it has nothing to do with the availability of guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens in the country. It’s just a mental illness issue, and criminals getting their hands on guns. Come honey, sit on my lap, and raise a glass of champagne with us, why don’t you. Cheers.
Second, imagine a gathering in the modestly furnished (by compression to the NRA), mid-sized office of Israel’s Prime Minister. He’s sitting behind his desk, and opposite him are a couple of close advisers. Last week – or the following week, it doesn’t matter – Israel announced a new settlement, or new buildings to be built in an existing settlement. When the expected phone call from Secretary Kerry comes, voicing the American administration displeasure and deep concern over this new development, the Israeli PM answers that, for all intents and purposes: It is what it is, Mr. Secretary. We will take your complaint under advisement, but let me remind you that Israel is a sovereign country. And anyway, what are you going to do about it, ha? But please, before you hang up, don’t forget to send us the scheduled quarterly installment of aid, nine hundred million dollars, is it not? Thanks a million. See you in D.C. next time.
Cheers and laughter all around, from the Prime Minister to his aides. Ice cream is now served, the PM favorite flavor, and pistachios and orange juice are being brought into the room by a pretty secretary. A backgammon board is being opened. But just before a game is about to begin, Angela Merkel is on the phone line from Germany, voicing her displeasure with the new settlement, and/or the new land-grab by Israel in the Jordan Valley. Angela my dear, says the PM while spooning his ice cream, you have so many other problems to worry about right now with all those Arab immigrants. We got to do what we got to do, see, and you do the same. You know, if the Holocaust had taught us anything… Sure, dear Angela, nothing else is planned for the near future, I promise you. And of course, don’t forget the delivery date of our latest submarine. Make sure it is capable of launching a nuclear second attack. With this disastrous Iran Nuclear deal, you know, we need to be ready. Sure, Angela, no worries about the money. I know we got a very good deal from you. Auf Wiedersehen.
And so it goes, my friends. No stopping the proliferation of guns in America; no stopping the proliferation of settlements in Israel. Both situations bring only disaster with them – yet the beast of big-money and fundamentalist-evil needs to be constantly fed. Guns and violence go hand in hand – believe me, I speak from experience. And so are settlements. No matter how many scholars and law enforcement people will tell you that America cannot continue to be the only civilized, western country to have such an epidemic of gun violence, the patriotic ignorance masses who sleep with the second amendment under their pillow will tell you otherwise. Or will kill you; watch out. And likewise, no matter how many historians and diplomats, good people who actually love Israel and want to see its future secured, will tell you that indefinite continuation of the settlement endeavor leads to an apartheid state, and ultimately to the destruction of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state, the fundamentalist patriots who sleep wrapped in the flag, the bible on their nightstand, will prevent them from putting a stop to that madness. What unite the two camps is god, guns and money. Bringing only blood, tears and violence.
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