stories about the Middle East mumble about stone throwing as a ”Rite of
Passage,” a “Coming of Age” to demonstrate their achievement into adulthood for
young folks struggling under Israeli rule.
relatively innocent, largely a young folks expression within a continuing
“low-key” asymmetrical war, where rockets, bombs, and suicide-mass murder are
usually the reports we hear of Palestinians in their war against Israelis.
In either event all such practices are parts of a war where humans are
maimed or slaughtered.
recalls the gang ritual requiring at least one personally demonstrated murder
to qualify as a full-fledged adult member. Some might even suggest the
old pattern of some native Americans and require “successful” stone throwers
wear one or more dried scalps. Or consider the practice of head-hunting
tribes to display a shrunken skull to prove their “adulthood.”
conceit of judging such conventionally viewed “childish play” of rock throwing
as a Rite of Passage into adulthood is a problem. Yes, rocks seldom hit
any target. And yes, they have maimed of killed when they do actually hit
their target, particularly when car windows have been smashed.
Yet bullets in
return may seem unfair, and in any event even criminal arrest and conviction
may not be possible. Perhaps a more capitalist/economic response would be
more practical and possibly, even, more generally effective. As a Quaker
who seeks non-violent response to injustice and violence, it would seem
conceivably useful that for each stone thrown one or more community members
would be publicly restrained, prevented from entry into Israel for jobs they
usually perform for day, or more. A substantial test would not be very
costly, and would not engender a great deal of human rights outrage locally or
internationally, as is the case when lethal force is the response
In any event
the ultimate prevention would be the resolution of various legitimate complaints
for any arbitrary confiscation of land or other governmental and personal
abuses that fuel such violence, including throwing stones. Of course,
Palestinian homes are not of glass, but the ancient caution, paraphrases in the
title of this article, only suggests that those in vulnerable circumstances
might well use some caution when reaching for stones or using other violence.
Surely we, with
most Israelis, believe there will soon be a new state for Palestinians.
However in recent years major differences between the eastern and western
territories occupied by Palestinians even suggest that the so-called Two-State
Solution for Palestinians and Israelis may itself be obsolete.
Several decades ago, when I served as a major United Nations official in Pakistan,
it was clear that the Two-State Solution to the many violent
conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, between India and Pakistan, was not
working, was insufficient. And so their developed a Three State
Solution with India between West Pakistan and the much smaller, East
Pakistan. Therefore they became Pakistan, on the west, and the much smaller,
Bangladesh, on the opposite side of India. Perhaps a similar Three-State
Solution is now necessary for Palestinians to resolve their intractable
conflicts including their basic approach to their nationhood.
Not far away,
in Egypt, the US is funding military supplies for more dramatic violence,
that is mass-murder of a thousand, or many more, unarmed civilian
protesters against the dramatic national coup by the military. All the
recent mumbling in Washington hints at miscellaneous justifications to continue
our huge support to the Egyptian military, such as Egyptian bribing US “rights
of passage” crossing the Suez Canal, through north-eastern Egypt to the Persian
Gulf, plus their holding hostage our possible influence for cooperation in
dealing with Syria, Iran and Israel, serious matters all, as well as our
interest in promoting democracy for Egypt, obviously not now, but possibly at
some much later date, decade, or century.
dramatically demonstrated in the Arab Spring, certainly including Egypt then
and now, that young people there, as well as in other largely Muslim nations,
are very widely very strongly interested in Democracy. Of course this was
all made possible by the technological revolution of nation-wide Social
Media. But the Egyptian military has quite a conflicting perspective.
This is not
merely the serious threat of General/President Eisenhower’s warning of a
“Military-Industrial Complex,” as in pre World War II Italy under Benito
Mussolini. Mussolini described Fascism as a Corporate State. The
Egyptians have gone a step further, beyond Fascism, simplifying the complex
arrangements between military and corporations that we see in our own complex
and pathetically hazardous politics. With great amounts of US dollars,
many thousands of millions, that is to say many billions over the years, we
have facilitated the military to incorporate many companies into military
outright ownership. Surely, with such a simple national system, any democratic
process is “not convenient.” Perhaps to avoid responsibility for such
military economic power, it would even be wise not to give major aid to any
military that has great direct economic power.
On top of all
those issues we are said to be threatened that other fabulously rich Arab oil
states, including Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf principalities, they will
provide as much cash for arms such as we have if we stop our current lethal
weapons gifts. Come on now, is that a threat or an opportunity to reduce
our deadly involvement?
Perhaps by the
date this text is published such understanding of these issues will have
brought President Obama and Washington to cut off all such misused military
aid. As a nation our history has been seriously blighted by direct
military misadventures. The world and history will not judge our guilt
kindly if we give 1.3 billion dollars more, now, in lethal aide to the Egyptian
military in the face of the recent intolerable huge and grotesque atrocities by
Antioch College; MCP University of Pennsylvania; served as Long-Range Planning
Director for the New
York Metropolitan Regional Planning Commission, which ended in the South Tower
of the World
Planning Director for the New England Regional Commission;
Comprehensive Planning Director or for the United Nations
Development Program in Pakistan; Board Chairman of the Communications Committee
for the United Nations; Principal Representative of Architects/ Designers/
Planners for Social Responsibility to the United Nations; and Chair of the
Quaker Regional Committee for Peace and Social Order for eight Friends
congregations in the New York Metropolitan Region.