March 20, 2003 Halifax Herald

A world where terror is first choice

WE LIVE in a world where terror has long been used by the powerful, or fanatical zealots, to try to force people, or nations, to toe the line as they dictate. In fact, such was used extensively in colonial Nova Scotia, at a cost of thousands of lives. This can easily be verified by researching the old British records, where the term "terrorize them into submission" is amply used in discussions about maintaining control. The "them" was all-inclusive, whether Mi'kmaq, Acadien or British subject, it didn't matter.

That it doesn't work, and that the opposite does, has been proven many times over. Four hundred years ago, the French came to Mi'kmaq territory and treated the Mi'kmaq humanely. The result was a friendship that lasted 150 years. The English came later and used brutality; the result was war and carnage and dislocation that have lasted to a certain extent to this day. The French relationship came at no monetary cost, whereas the English relationship inflicted immeasurable human misery and cost the taxpayer billions.

In more recent times, the Allies defeated the Germans in the First World War and then treated them badly, denying their human dignity. The result was a Second World War that took millions of lives and produced barbarities that were hellish. However, after the Second World War, the Allies treated the Germans humanely and helped them rebuild their nation. The result was a vibrant German democracy. The same procedure and the same results applied to Japan and other members of the Axis.

When reviewing the historic human failing of hating until it hurts oneself, the Northern Ireland antagonistic experience between two "Christian" factions needs to be mentioned. While killing and maiming one another, the country existed on the verge of ruin. Since more sane people have begun to prevail, the hatred level has been lowered substantially and the country now is beginning to enjoy a measure of peace and prosperity. Perhaps the time is near when these "Christians" will act like Christians and respect one another and use the ballot box to effect change.

Of course, one cannot discuss the human failing of not having compassion for others without mentioning the Middle East. The killing continues unabated, with no apparent end in sight. The grisly details, innocent civilians killed or maimed, large chunks of communities destroyed, buses blown up and so on, are spelled out daily on TV and in the written media.

The lack of vision and desire for equitable settlement by the leadership on both sides are abysmal. On one side, Yasser Arafat is holding out for it all and depicting Ariel Sharon as the demon. On the other side, Sharon is striving to annex the West Bank and Gaza by slow settlement, depicting Arafat as the demon and himself as a man of peace. Ego-pleasing self-images.

One might be excused for asking: Where is President George W. Bush? I suspect one might find him dreaming of being the saviour who established democracy in Iraq. But wait a minute: Wasn't his daddy going to do much the same thing in Kuwait after "liberating" its people from the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein? A decade later, it hasn't happened. Then one might again be excused if he asked: Why is such attention not being given to Saudi Arabia, where hands are chopped off for committing minor crimes, where women still can be stoned to death when alleged to have committed adultery, and where women can't even drive cars, etc.?

In trying to keep abreast of developments in the area, I often read Arab English-language papers, the English version of the Jerusalem Post, and papers produced by Arab and Israeli human rights organizations. From doing so, I get the feeling that both Israelis and Palestinians are weary of the terror and want to find a way out of the mess, and would be glad to be rid of both Arafat and Sharon.

In fact, a recent poll I saw stated that 72 per cent of Israelis would be most happy to close down settlements in the West Bank and Gaza for peace. But as long as both Arafat and Sharon hold office, it can't be done. One of the oddities of history: Although they profess to hate one another absolutely, the presence of one keeps the other in office.

On Nov. 9, 2001, I wrote a column entitled "Justice demands a Palestinian homeland." It included this proposal: "The UN must forthwith create a demilitarized Palestinian state, encompassing the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, which would be its capital. In order to maximize its ability to accommodate refugees and enhance viability chances on such a tiny land base, approximately one-third the size of Israel, all Israeli settlements would be removed. To assure the security of both nations, the borders of each would be guaranteed by the West. The new state's constitution would be democratic and its politics secular. To repair a glaring injustice, the West must fund equitable reparations to Palestinians, or descendants, for property lost when Israel was created. Such would extinguish their right to return to Israel."

I stand by what I said then and challenge any who disagree to come forward with something better. The alternative, without the unlikely complete capitulation of one of the parties, is the continuation into infinity of more maiming and killing. Wake up, Mr. Bush and the rest of the West; it's far past time to end the nightmare.

Daniel N. Paul


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