Have We Learned Anything From History?

Dear Editor,

Re: “Every action demands an equal and opposite response” by D. Ruth Jewel

History has shown us that unjust regimes pave the way for violence and wars.

What we are seeing in the “Holy Land” today are the continuing conflicts with Israel and its neighbours. We see Jewish settlers, with the approval of the gov’t’s hard-liners, forcing Palestinians to vacate their properties in the West Bank in violation of international laws.

We’re seeing the Israeli gov’t using the IDF to seek revenge against the Hamas by attacking civilian targets in Gaza (Gaza’s civilians can’t control the violent actions of religious extremists within their midst no more than Lebanese citizens can control Hezbollah in Lebanon, or civilians control the drug cartels in Mexico.

Do we punish a whole group of people for the actions of a few? Look at Ecuador today. Rival gangs are destroying a once peaceful country just like the drug cartels have done in several other Latin American countries (Columbia, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico). Do we massacre/kill thousands of innocent bystanders in retaliation for the violent actions committed by gangs or by extreme religious and political groups?

Do we remember what the German army did to the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII? Or the wholesale massacre of civilians in two villages in Czechoslovakia (Ledice Massacre in June of 1942) by the Nazis for the assassination of a high-ranking German officer (“Operation Anthropoid”)?

Do we punish a whole group of people for the actions of a few “bad” apples? Do “Two wrongs make a right”?

We are now seeing the “unintended consequences” of the war in Gaza. US and allied forces are now attacking Houthi rebels in Yemen over their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. In response, Iran has used its allies to attack US forces and allies in Iraq and Syria, and now we’re seeing Pakistan and Iran attacking each other.

And “The Beat Goes On” as we have seen for the past two thousand of years in the Holy Land. What has violence ever achieved for Jews, Christians and Muslims in the birthplace of those three great religions but more violence?

Why do religious and political extremists exist in the Holy Land in the first place?

Have we learned anything from history? (The Persian Gulf War of the 1990s? Or the 20-year war against the Taliban in Afghanistan? Or the 10-year war in Vietnam by US and allied forces? The defeat of French forces in southeast Asia in 1954? The forced withdrawal of British forces from the Holy Land in the late 1940s. Great Britain was forced out of India in the late 1940s. The French were forced out of their colonial possession in Africa.)?

And as long as countries allow for the horrible mistreatment of their own citizens (via poverty, crimes, drug cartels, warlords, religious and political zealots/fanatics, etc) we will see the continuing growth of violent extremism in the world. There are no easy solutions to the many problems affecting the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America, but violence alone only begets more violence.

Should we support a country that is actively forcing the removal of non-Jewish settlers from its own borders? Do we remember the forced removal of Indians/indigenous peoples from the southern states in the 1830s (known as the “Trail of Tears”)? Remember all the broken treaties (368) the US governments (local, state and federal) made with its native peoples?

What were the “unintended consequences” of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WW1? Are those consequences still plaguing the Middle East and Africa today?

George Thatcher

Olds, AB