LAS CRUCES, NM — After three weeks in Europe I returned to my patch of high desert and basked in the hundred-degree afternoon knowing there is no place like home and with some new perspectives on the tragic human strife we see in the world. Nothing like visiting Europe to see the tracks of senseless violence in human history glorified in art, and architecture.
From the gleaming marble statuary in Florence to the dark halls of old palaces built on blood in Spain, history demonstrates that military might and time eventually conquer just about everything.
In Florence’s Medici palace, one football field full of statues and paintings after another speak of immense wealth, war, religion, politics. In Spain’s Prado museum, one painting in particular attracted my attention. It showed the Inquisition in session in all its splendor, chaired by the Spanish monarchs of the time.
And who were the accused? The Jews of course, and on the same tide that floated Columbus from Algeciras on his way to the Americas, the Jews were swept out of Spain into diaspora.
In Gaza, the Palestinians and the Israelis are fighting another battle in the endless war that began before the ink was dry on the United Nations document that created the nation of Israel in 1948 from the human ashes of the Holocaust. The world was anguished by the shame of wholesale Nazi murder of millions of Jews.
The Jewish state is a country unlike any other in the region, an island of prosperity in a sea of hostility. However, it is like the other nations of Middle East in one way — all the national borders of the region were arbitrarily set by colonial powers early in the previous century without taking millennia of ethnic and religious differences into account.
It appears that a cease-fire has been worked out through the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and some are saying that it could be the beginning of a process that could lead to peace. This battle, however, won’t be over until Israel is totally satisfied that any threat to its security has been destroyed. An in the process, if it must, Israel will destroy everything in Gaza.
It has been said that there are two battles going on, one with arms and the other in the world of public opinion. Swastikas have been seen flying in various parts of the world, but the Israelis don’t give a damn about public relations. Jews have been victims of the established order in Europe and the Middle East for thousands of years and Israelis know that only their armed forces can guarantee their safety.
Traveling in Israel some years ago, I realized that the country has been built on constant conflict — nationhood through war. I don’t think that Israelis ever expect to see a permanent peace in the region and they are ok with that. They have built an iron dome around themselves that blasts rockets out of the sky, but it also keeps them isolated the way Jews have been since before Samson smote the Philistines in Gaza.