Recent escalation of violence in the Middle East initiated by frustrated weak militarists against angry more powerful ones might have caused some ambivalence where to stand! The simple answer for many of us, as pacifists who enjoy peace at home and are currently not affected directly by war, is to reject both sides for their violent behavior. For those who are suffering or have suffered because of war, the answer might be different.
Apparently Israelis, whose ancestors‚ right to live freely was taken away by the most brutal fanatic of the 20th century, take any threat to their existence seriously and are afraid of the rise of a 21st century fanatic who opposes their people. Some of them as fanatic Jews might compete with their fanatic Muslim cousins and become so revengeful that they take an eye for an eye in the name of their religious pride. It is time that these cousins compete for forgiveness and independent peaceful co-existence to show that their faith is worth being proud of! If they freely choose violence instead, they should be aware that a natural outcome of such a choice might be death or self destruction.
It might be very difficult for fanatics to truly accept the existence of others and denounce any form of violence; however, they have no other choice but to behave like the Kurds in Southern Kurdistan, if they plan to be part of a democratic process and help Palestinians to become independent. Since creation of various artificial nation-states in the Middle East by major powers, the Kurdish movement has tried to create a real nation state for its people.
The idea of uniting separated parts of Kurdistan has been pejoratively described as separatism and brutally suppressed, while violence of separating governments of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria has been considered as stabilizing and unifying measures to preserve the territorial integrity of a few members of the United Nations. Reactive aggression, revolts, or guerrilla fights have been among the methods used by a faction of the Kurdish movement to achieve its long term objective.
Such a method has been the most inappropriate and inefficient method and not only legitimized the bombing of Kurdish cities and villages in the mind of the masses of their opponents, but also has caused loss of many valuable lives on both sides. Even many naïve Kurds have been manipulated to turn against their own people and support the central governments in the name of unity and protecting the territorial integrity of the nation state they have been assigned to.
Regardless of which side of the conflict they might have been, until recently the Kurds had been the main losers of all national and international treaties related to their destiny. To name a few examples, they had stayed second class citizens without an identity of their own, their land had remained underdeveloped, and their children had been denied access to public schools in their own language. Only within the past decade some Kurds have been treated as equal partners in world politics, although not in the name of their own nation but as the unifying servants of their assigned country, Iraq.
Despite sabotage and corruption of some untrustworthy elements, Kurds there have been making progress. Iraq even now has a Kurdish president, Kurdish children are learning their mother tongue freely, Kurdish culture is being revitalized, and there is a construction site in every corner of Southern Kurdistan. These achievements would not have been possible without trust, mutual respect, belief in peaceful co-existence, denouncing violence, and participation in a democratic process by the Southern Kurdistani people. It seems that this method has brought them much closer to their dream of an independent Kurdistan.
For those who see violence as the answer to challenges in life, I can only wish a change of mind so they can join the peaceful majority of their society. This wish might still take hundreds of years to fully come through, since natural selection is a lengthy process and not every aggressive individual becomes the victim of his or her choices before mating and reproduction!
For those who make non-aggressive choices in life and still become the victims of war and violence I have the same wish that I have had for the people of my origin, the Kurds, whom I believe have suffered for decades because of the violence of their opponents. I wish them success, patience, endurance, peace of mind, and the ability to forgive, once their mighty violent opponents become weak and ask for forgiveness!
About Dr. Kamal H Artin is a member of Kurdish American Education Society (www.kaes.us), and the Kurdish National Congress; however, his views do not necessarily reflect the views of all members.Dr. Artin maintains the website: www.art-in-mind.net