Much has been said and written about the current fighting between Israel and Iran-backed terrorist organization of Hezbollah based in southern Lebanon. I’ve heard many liberals at work and on the radio say that Israel should not be attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon. After all, why is Israel waging war in another sovereign nation? It’s funny that none of them seem to notice that Hezbollah was waging war in another sovereign nation, namely Israel, and that Hezbollah and other Arab terrorists organizations and nations have the goal of a Middle East without an Israel. But they are not the only people to envision a world without the nation of Israel.

Here is how CNN sums up the current struggle in one paragraph:

Israel launched an extensive bombing campaign against the militant Islamist group after it abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed three others in a raid into northern Israel last Wednesday. Since Thursday, Hezbollah has fired 750 rockets into Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israel is doing its best to avoid civilian deaths in their bombing runs, but even with accurate guided munitions, civilians will die, and part of the blame lies not with the Israelis dropping the bombs on military and strategic targets, but on Hezbollah which is blocking civilians from fleeing the combat zone. And notice that while Israel is targeting the Hezbollah fighters while Hezbollah is indiscriminately tossing rockets into Israel. They obviously don’t care whether their rockets kill soldiers or civilians.

There is a world of difference between these two. It’s a shame that more people can’t recognize that Israel is fighting for their lives. Cox and Forkum points out the disproportion response going on.

disproportionate response

The criticism that Israel is using a “disproportionate response” to the kidnappings of its soldiers is an attempt to morally disarm Israel and make Israel out to be a bully. This notion is ludicrous when considered in the full context: Hezbollah and Hamas initiated the current crisis in an ongoing war against Israel’s right to exist. Notice that no one cried “disproportionate response” when Hamas demanded 1,200 prisoners in exchange for one Israeli hostage. Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t playing a game of proportions, why should Israel?

I’m all for Israel to be victorious over the terrorist thugs who wish to see Israel gone.

Just as Islam is proclaimed to be the Religion of Peace, but isn’t, so the Democratic Party is proclaimed to be the Party of Tolerance, but isn’t. Today’s evidence comes from a post by user qrswave at the Daily Kos.

Imagine a world without Israel

Or is that not allowed?

Muslims, Jews, and Christians could live in peace without fear of mutual destruction.

There would be no more need for US AID or justification for Dimona.

We could bring down the Wall, send prisoners home, and families could be reunited.

We could dismantle checkpoints, open crossings, and pull down barbed wire fences.

There would be no more settlements or armed settlers because the people would be united.

We could replant trees and olive groves and rebuild battered cities.

No more suicide bombers or sniper fire, and no more dead civilians.

No more targeted killings and hell-fire missiles, or systematic demolitions.

Palestinians and Jews could live together and the world could address other issues.

What a simpler place this world would be

if there was no need for a Jewish majority – where there would otherwise be none.

Is it so hard to imagine?

Israel killed at least 23 Palestinians in Gaza on Wednesday,including nine members of one family . . .

The air strike killed a local Hamas leader, Nabil Abu Selmeya, his wife and seven sons and daughters aged 7 to 19, medics said. His eldest son, who was not at home, survived.

A later Israeli air strike using two missiles killed at least five other Palestinians, aged 15 to 20, in central Gaza.

Evidently, yes. And I’ll be branded a terrorist for trying.

Are you a terrorist just because you are trying to imagine a world with no Israel? No, that won’t make you a terrorist. But if you are actively working to bring this about by indiscriminately lobbing rockets into Israel or becoming a “splodydope” in a packed Israeli shopping area just so you can go out with a bang, then you are a terrorist.

What is the point of imagining no Israel? Could it be that qrswave, along with millions of Muslims in the world, cannot live a happy life if there happens to be a Jewish state called Israel in existence? In case you’ve forgotten, here is a bit of perspective for anyone who believes Israel is the problem: the map below shows Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, in blue — surrounded by a sea of green Muslim states. So, who again is the problem?

A speck of blue in a sea of green

(Hat tip to Little Green Footballs.)

Since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pressing full steam ahead to get his *cough* peaceful *cough* nuclear power, and he has stated that Israel “is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm,” I have a question for Palestinians living around Israel and working to “remove the Jewish presence in Palestine”:

Once Iran nukes Israel off the map, and assuming you are not dead from being too close to the initial blasts, just how soon will you head into the radioactive wasteland to reclaim “Palestine?”

If I were a Palestinian, I’d be rather cheesed if Iran were posed to blow my contested homeland to bits. I’d even have a few choice words to say about it. So why the silence from Hamastan?

Charles of Little Green Footballs posted a link to an article explaining that many Arabs favor Iran getting nuclear weapons.

Most in the Arab world see the U.S. and European campaign against Iran as hypocritical, while Israel refuses to allow international nuclear inspections and is thought to have some 200 nuclear warheads.

“I want the whole region free of all nuclear weapons but if the West continues its double-standard approach on this issue then Iran has the right (to have them),” said Abdel-Rahman Za’za’, a 29-year-old Lebanese engineer.

“This could provide some balance against Israel and help the Palestinians in their negotiations. We have to take our rights because they are not going to be given to us,” he added.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group, said this week it saw no harm in Iran developing nuclear arms.

“That would create a kind of equilibrium between the two sides — the Arab and Islamic side on one side and Israel on the other,” said deputy Brotherhood leader Mohamed Habib.

I bolded two bits in the article above, but the both basically restate the same theme: Iran, and by extension all of Islam, needs to have nuclear weapons to balance Israel and its nuclear weapons. And if the two sides were equal, I could understand their desire. But they are not equal in population or in land. Here is a map I used in my post about “Losing Zion” that shows how very unbalanced Israel is when compared to the Arabic states.

A speck of blue in a sea of green

There is one other way that Israel is unbalanced in respect to the Arabic states surrounding it:

Israel has the lion’s share of freedom. And no amount of Arabic nukes will give the Arab people freedom.

Since I’m sure not everyone is familiar with the history behind the events I’m about to cite, let me set the stage with a little background information.

It all began when the settlers moved in. They arrived from many different places, gathering together in the land that had become the center of their faith. The concept of Zion was of utmost importance to them. This land, they said, had been given to them by God, and no one had the right to take it from them. But whenever you have a small group surrounded by a larger, hostile populace that does not share their religious beliefs, you have a formula for trouble. It wasn’t long before there were armed conflicts between the settlers and their neighbors.

But religion alone wasn’t the only reason for friction between the settlers and the others. The fact is, the settlers were a devout, hard-working, industrious people who supported each other in their endeavors. They worked the land they had taken, made it productive, made it bloom. In the process, they also became very prosperous–often far more prosperous than their neighbors. And with the blossoming of the settlers’ land, there was likewise a poisonous flowering of the neighbors’ jealousy and resentment.

Over time, this jealousy caused the others to spread rumors about the settlers–about their habits, their beliefs, the things they did in their religious rituals. Much as with the blood libels of the Middle Ages, there were terrible falsehoods spread under the label of “the truth.” Honorable people who had no stake in the conflict were influenced by these rumors. In some cases they grew to distrust, even hate, the settlers–although in truth, the outsiders knew very little about them or their faith. Many came to believe that the settlers were the aggressors, in open defiance of the laws, and the instigators of a war upon their guiltless neighbors. In the end, officials decided that the settlers would have to abandon the land which they claimed God had given them. If not, they would be exterminated.

I’m sure you all know what happened next. The settlers had been driven out of their land, their Zion, their homes, so they fled to a new location. In a short three years, they had turned an unwanted swamp into one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the region. But again, fear of religious differences and envy of their prosperity stirred up the neighboring people to drive them out. After all, other people had been successful in driving these settlers out of their homes before; why not again? So the settlers gathered up their remaining belongings and left their land again in search of a new home. This time they chose to leave the nation that had failed to support and protect them, striking out for a territory that no one else wanted — a barren desert beside a vast, inland salt sea.

But enough about the experiences of the Mormons in America in the 1830s and 1840s. Let’s talk about Gaza.

It is remarkable to note the many parallels between the current Israeli settlers in Gaza, and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in places like Missouri and Illinois in the 19th century. Both groups believe their land was given them by God. Both were hated by the people who surrounded them because of their faith. Both were removed from their lands by government fiat. Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs actually issued an executive order that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace.” This Extermination Order wasn’t rescinded until almost 140 years later. Now the Jewish settlers in Gaza are being pulled from their homes by their own government. There is no official order to exterminate the Jews, as was made against the Mormons in Missouri, but the surrounding Arab people have made it clear that they consider it their duty to drive out or kill the Jewish people.

Rabbi Marc Gellman posed a very interesting question in Newsweek: “Why can 1 million Arabs live in peace within Israel but 9,000 Jews can’t live in peace in Palestine?” This is a key question that must be answered to understand what is happening in Israel. Rabbi Gellman answered his own question when he made the observation that “Arabs cannot live with Jews but Jews can live with Arabs.” Why should this be so?

To give a little perspective, here is a map showing the state of Israel in blue and surrounded by Arab League states in green. Notice that the tiny sliver of blue is the thorn in the larger Arabic side. The Arabs won’t be happy as long as tiny Israel continues to exist. There are many Arabic states in the world, but there is only one Jewish state on Earth, and the Arabs say that it must be destroyed.

A speck of blue in a sea of green

Jealousy of Jewish prosperity is one reason why Arabs hate the Jews; another reason stems from the age-old issues of religious differences between the Jewish and Arabic people. Both these people have a common ancestor, Abraham, but there has been bad blood between these cousins since the beginning. In the years since the creation of Israel as a Jewish state, Jews and Arabs have clashed multiple times, and there is no indication that this conflict will cease in the future.

If the pullout of the Israelis from Gaza follows the Mormon example, withdrawal will not solve the problem. Once the Mormons were forced out of Missouri, it didn’t take long for hostile people to force them out of Illinois as well. The Mormons solved the problem by choosing to leave the United States entirely, heading for the barren and unwanted valley next to the Great Salt Lake, and founding what is now Utah. But if the Israelis are forced completely out of the one Jewish nation on earth, where could they go? Antarctica? Mars?

Here I will prove that I cannot foretell the future, but I’ll try anyway. Unfortunately, the pullout from Gaza and a few settlements in the West Bank will not stop the hatred and attacks. It will only add fuel to the Arabs’ burning desire to remove all the Jews from Israel. The pullout will be decried as not being enough, and Israel will be asked to do more. Next, the Palestinians will demand full control of the West Bank and the removal of all Jewish settlements in the area. There will be no end to the amount of space and land the Palestinians will demand from the Israelis. When the Israelis finally put their foot down and refuse to give up more land, the Palestinians will complain that they can’t possibly live in peace and happiness unless Israel funds the construction of new buildings and other development in Palestine. Whether they would use these funds to improve their land, or to purchase weaponry with which to further attack the Israelis, remains to be seen.

The Mormons had to wait almost 140 years before the Missouri Extermination Order was rescinded. When will the desire to exterminate the Jews be rescinded by the Arabs?

Even though George Washington decried political parties, envisioning the United States running just fine without any of them, parties had already begun to form as Washington left office. As political parties often form around charismatic leaders or a common idea or cause, it isn’t surprising that two parties quickly formed around the ideals of Thomas Jefferson on the one hand, and the beliefs of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams on the other. Once a party begins, it needs some recognizable name and/or symbol to make identification easier. This has led to such symbols as donkeys, elephants and eagles, and such names as Democrats, Whigs, GOP, Greens, PRI, PAN, and ungainly mouthfuls like “Workers World Party” and “We The People, American People’s Party.” (You can see a longer listing of presidential hopefuls at Politics1. My favorite longshot candidates are running on the Socialist Workers Party ticket; even if they somehow got the necessary votes to become President and Vice-President, they could not legally hold office. Roger Calero is not an American citizen, and Arrin Hawkins is younger than the Constitutionally mandated age of 35 years. Talk about a double duh for them.)

Since political parties are inevitable (and sometimes hysterically funny), just how many do we really need? Let’s look at several examples of party systems as they currently exist. In a parliamentary system, as found in most of Europe, it is easy for a small political party to gain a few seats. It is therefore extremely difficult for a single party to gather enough seats in parliament to have a majority and thus gain control of government. To attain this majority, a larger party will sometimes extend offers to smaller parties and form a coalition. You can see this in Israel as the Likud and Avoda parties form alliances with smaller religious and radical parties. Another example is nicely summarized here:

The classic historical example of this sort of multiparty system is France’s Fourth Republic (1946 – 58). In the various elections no party ever came close to obtaining a majority in the National Assembly. Therefore, governments were always the result of coalitions of many parties. These governments would last only so long as they avoided important and contentious issues. When such issues arose (as eventually they must), they would tear the coalition apart and force the resignation of the government. The net result was a government that was incapable of addressing itself to the most pressing problems facing the society. In 1958 the French, under Charles de Gaulle, ratified the Fifth Republic, which provided for a cross between a presidential and a parliamentary system and gave the president a specified term of office and extensive powers.

So if you are of the opinion “that government is best which governs least,” the parliamentary system is for you. As long as no single party gains enough control and coalitions are necessary, the government will be paralyzed, unable to make sweeping changes. Of course, such a country is also paralyzed when it comes to important problems that demand immediate action, such as war. Parliamentary coalitions, in addition to being slow to affect change, also award more influence to the smaller parties than their numbers would ordinarily allow. Since these small parties are necessary to form a coalition majority, they often engage in coalition blackmail, effectively threatening to pick up the political ball and go home; this tactic reduces the coalition below the majority numbers needed. And there seems to be no end of these parties. Check out Italy’s kajillion political parties, for example.

It is possible to go to the other extreme and have only one controlling political party. This is normally the case in repressive governments like China, the Soviet Union, North Korea and Iraq under Saddam Hussein. In these countries, the act of voting is meaningless. Do you suppose Brezhnev or Saddam would have stepped down if the vote had ever gone against them? Fat chance of that!

But it is possible for a real democracy to have one controlling party. Our southern neighbor, Mexico, was led by just such a political party for almost 70 years. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI) controlled federal and local offices in its centralized, authoritarian party. While other political parties existed, they did not have anywhere near the numbers that PRI had. In an attempt to deter some of the re-election concerns which plague and distract American presidents at the end of their first terms, Mexico has decreed that its president may only be elected to a single six-year term. Unfortunately, this law has had unintended consequences; namely, since there is no way they can be re-elected, Mexican presidents have rarely concerned themselves with public accountability during their term of office. The PRI party bosses would select the next PRI president, who would inevitably be elected. (This political tradition only changed in 1999, when PRI held its first-ever presidential primary.) Since Mexico was controlled by a single party, corruption ran rampant. My Mexican friends complained that each president, at the end of his term, would loot the national treasury and flee to another country. Since he knew he would be followed by another PRI president and protected by PRI people in every level of government, he never feared being brought to justice for his actions.

The PRI stranglehold on political control started to fail in the 1980s, as the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party, or PAN) won its first state governorship. This was considered about as meaningful to Mexican politics as the Minnesota governorship of Jesse Ventura was to the USA, but it did indicate changes to come. In 1988, PRI managed to retain control of the presidency thanks to widely-claimed “voting irregularities” (read: voter fraud), but a year later it lost six state governorships. In 1997, PRI lost majority control of the lower house of the legislature, and the mayorship of Mexico City also slipped out of PRI control. Finally, in July 2000, the Alianza por Cambio (Alliance for Change) was successful in electing PAN candidate Vicente Fox Quesada to the presidency. This broke a cycle of PRI presidents unchallenged since 1929.

Thus far I have examined foreign governments, both those run by multiple parties and those controlled by a single party. In my next article I will discuss the American two-party system, its history and its benefits to society.