Following international news gives a person an interesting perspective on their own daily life. I make it a point to check the news every morning before I go about my day, most generally as a safeguard against stress and the thousand natural bullshit worries that minds are err to. Whenever I’m stuck in traffic or put on hold with Comcast (just Comcast) or dealing with a worse than usual hangover or any other petty life inconvenience, I remember that I could be living in other regions of the world where the primary concern is less whether you will make it to work on time and more whether your work (or you) are turned into debris and bloody shitsauce by a suicide bomber/targeted missile strike/sub-20th Century building codes/state sponsored “police action”/whoopsie-daisies my bad missile strike/
Godzilla and His Friends.
In the last two months of what historians will call “The Cruel Summer of 2014” because all historians are secretly huge Bananarama fans, we’ve seen a dancing buffet of disasters and tragedies. In the last two months alone we’ve seen another Malaysian plane go down from an ill-placed missile that left hundreds dead and provoked the harshest round of wrist slapping on Russia to date, the emergence of the Ebola virus in Africa’s less survival oriented countries that is on its way to killing 1000 people, the emergence of the very unfortunately named ISIS in Iraq as a new super terrorist group/militant Archer fanclub that has brought back beheadings and religious purging to a region that has already seen more ignorant carnage and destruction in the last decade than 50 Insane Clown Posse concerts put together.
But ultimately this summer will be defined by the utter humanitarian and diplomatic fuckbasket that is taking place in the Gaza Strip. I am aware that many of you are busy adults with a lot of important things to do and may not have had the time to educate yourself about this properly. That is perfectly fine. Therefore, as a way of stimulating interest, I will describe the situation as best I can while also including adorable pictures of small mammals. My focus groups have told me that animals are a big deal on the Internet.
As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of international affairs knows, Israeli and Palestinian relations have been the international equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys. In the mid-Aughts, Palestine came under the legislative control of Hamas, a terrorist organization turned political party whose political platform revolves around turning Israel into a glass desert and reclaiming the Holy Land in the name of Allah. To put this in a more domestic context substitute the cars smuggling illegal immigrants across the Texas/Mexico border with cars smuggling suicide bombers and you might begin to understand the tension. This is not helped by the fact that Israel treats the Gaza Strip, a tiny territory of Palestine that exists Alaska-style on the other side of Israel, as its personal piss bucket. It enforces arbitrary trade embargoes, air strikes, blockades, and other economic dickery that creates a vicious cycle of resentment in the population that turns an already extremist region into a terrorist factory.
Coincidentally, Terrorist Factory is also the name of my new electronic industrial music project. Check Bandcamp, bitches.
All of this tension was exacerbated in June when three Israeli teenagers went missing. The very first conclusion drawn by the Israeli government was that the Palestinian government had coordinated their abduction and murder. However, very much like every episode of Scooby-Doo, the first assumption turned out to be false. However, history has always proven that government and military have never let anything like facts get in the way of a good ol’ fashioned crackdown. As such, Israel imprisoned over 500 high ranking Hamas in an effort to, in laymen’s terms, cut Hamas’ dick off. Hamas responded by launching rockets at Israeli positions from the border of the Gaza Strip.
This begins a chain reaction of awfulness in which Israel begins matching Hamas’ rockets tit for tat. However, there are a few things to consider.
1. Israel is by and large protected by a highly advanced Iron Dome missile defense system that is the military equivalent of the mithril armor that saved Frodo’s shit when he was shish-kabobed by a cave troll in Fellowship of the Ring.
2. Israel’s number one weapons supplier is the United States, the number one manufacturer of military equipment and Skynet tech.
3. Hamas has been firing and storing their munitions in decidedly non-military buildings like schools, businesses, and hospitals. Because they’re terrorists.
4. Israel has no reservation about firing on decidedly non-military buildings like schools, businesses, and hospitals. Because they’re dicks.
It doesn’t take a master of Socratic logic to figure out what happens next. From July 8 to July 18, Israel enacted Project Swiss Cheese on the Gaza Strip that succeeded in the sense that it took out its’ terrorist targets as long as you ignore the fact that it may have also taken out several families and their dogs. After over a week of bombing, there were over 200 dead Palestinians (most of them civilians) and the Gaza landscape was beginning to resemble my skin complexion in 9th grade.
On the 17th, Israel got tired of playing Tank Commander and changed to Call of Duty by sending in ground troops in an effort to clear out the underground tunnel systems in the Strip that Hamas uses to supply themselves. Meanwhile the artillery and airstrikes continue on Gaza unhindered, as I imagine a conga line of Israeli officers standing by a giant Howitzer playing Pin-The-Shell-On-The-Target in shifts.
Fast forward to today, in which this violence has continued with the exception of brief “ceasefires” that were honored by both sides for sometimes up to an hour at a time. The world, meanwhile, has observed this entire affair in the same way that the guys in Fight Club did when Edward Norton beat the face off of Jared Leto. Despite the fact that lately Israeli shells have this really annoying habit of hitting U.N. run humanitarian shelters and killing large amounts of terrorists cleverly disguised as aid workers, sick people, and children. Meanwhile the Palestinian death toll is nearing 2000. Still mostly citizens.
Israel, to date, has lost 64 soldiers.
What makes this situation truly godawful is the fact that neither side has yet to back down. Israel won’t stop shooting until Hamas stops shooting. Hamas won’t stop shooting until Israel stops shooting and lifts their trade embargoes. Israel won’t do that because fuck you. Repeat ad nauseam. Meanwhile, Hamas knows that every dead innocent man, woman, and child fragged counts in what is essentially a sick international smear campaign that has turned Israel into that really dickish friend that you can’t invite to anyone’s parties or else it gets really awkward.
There’s absolutely no doubt that what is taking place right now is a legitimate humanitarian crisis. The Gaza Strip is a wasteland, devoid of power or resources. Refugees are being cared for at facilities that aren’t just randomly obliterated by a stray shell. The entire situation is a diplomatic riddle. Israel is essentially bullet-proof due to their association with the United States and military strength. Hamas, in that lovely spirit of martyrdom that has brought us so many other atrocities in the past, have no issue sacrificing themselves or their fellow Palestinians to accomplish their goals. The mission is to make Israel look like a bunch of war criminals and child murderers. And when you position your gunmen at elementary schools, you can (literally) kill two birds with one stone.
There’s something disturbing about the fact that the world has, by and large, sat by and simply watched all of this take place. Seeing pictures of the death and devastation in Gaza right now thanks to a very poorly thought out GIS will probably be providing nightmare fuel for a few days. Sometimes we forget that the world is still a senseless place where things that we inherently know shouldn’t happen take place every day. The problem is that when situations like these arise like they did in admittedly larger scale atrocities such as Rwanda or Darfur they are systematically ignored by society and the media and the roots of the conflict are so oversimplified that no clear resolution will ever be explored. I would like to think that I’ll live to see a day when we, as a race, will be able to move beyond basic struggles like these and just maybe form a planet based on compassion and cooperation rather than divisiveness and mistrust. I’m not overly optimistic.
Till then, I have cat pictures.