Aesop tells the story of the North Wind and the Sun: who is the stronger? They chose a traveler to test their strength; which of the two could force him to remove his cloak. The North Wind went first, whirling furiously down on the traveler, whipping his cloak to wrest it from him; but the more furiously he whirled, the more securely the man wrapped himself in his cloak. The Sun abided his time and smiled gently at the traveler, gradually warming the air and surrounding the traveler with warmth and gentleness. Before he had gone many steps, he was glad to throw off his cloak and walk lightly clad among his brethren. The moral: Persuasion is better than force.
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said the United States had forfeited its moral right to stop Israel taking action against Iran’s nuclear program because it had refused to be firm with Tehran itself.” (Newsmax.com, Tuesday, September 11, 2012).
Curiously and perhaps ironically, Netanyahu claimed, “The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?'” And the world might well respond, “When Israel decides to join the world community in a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement, and places itself in the same position as all mid-eastern states, bereft of weapons of mass destruction, standing with all other nations as free states, free of its military totalitarianism, free to join its neighbors beyond the walls of isolation it has erected to maintain its tribal nature living in constant fear of its true mid-eastern lineage. It might find that the communities of the world would find Israel’s willingness to abide by international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights justification to join that state as a friend worthy of world-wide acceptance into the United Nations, not a rogue state sustained by the impunity provided by the unequivocal backing of the US.
What moral right does Netanyahu refer to when his state has been operating without morals for 63 years? How strange, yet frighteningly real it is that a person’s life can be tracked by madness inflicted by one on utter strangers or on innocents made enemies to further the madness. When I was four Mahatma Ghandi penned this note: “It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to the savage stage. Must you pay the price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to the appeal of one who has seliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?” (“Letter to Herr Hitler,” 1939).
Today there is no Ghandi to pen such a note to Mister Netanyahu as he thrashes about to launch an invasion against his perceived enemy, the state of Iran. His madness is manifest in his deafness to his own contradictions: his moral right to destroy the industrial development of a sister state; his moral right to impose his judgment and his will on the citizens of that state who have done nothing to the citizens of Israel; his moral right to impose his sickness on his fellow Jews despite their pleadings that he does not speak for them; his moral determination that his state has moral rights to the very weapons he’d deny to his neighbors; his moral contempt for the perspectives of Russia and China and Brazil and 117 other nations that declared their objection to his idiocy at the NAM conference held just two weeks ago in Tehran; and, perhaps most glaringly to a citizen of the U.S., his moral condemnation of the President of the United States who has groveled with the best of our Congressional hoard before the altar of AIPAC to declare unequivocal allegiance to this state that has no loyalty to its Golem, just scorn for its weakness, lack of self-esteem and its acceptance of the disgraceful humiliation showered on it by that very state. That is the madness of one who has crowned himself with glory, lifted himself to the pinnacle of self-righteous power, bathed in the adulations of the fanatical hoards that chant his praises in our House of Representatives, and praised the evangelical Zionists that bow before him as they urge him to fulfill the Armageddon promised their sick minds in the book of Revelation.
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How sad. Centuries ago, over 2500 to be precise, Aesop penned fables, brief but telling tales of the human condition told in simple narratives, easily understood—even by the least of our intellectual brethren, even by an idiot—that conveyed a moral. The tale of the North Wind and the Sun, the one that began this piece, conveys a simple reality of human history: the future of humankind depends on its kindness to all, its sensitiveness to the plight of others, its desire to aid those in distress, its awareness of the thinking that binds people together and a corresponding awareness to tolerate divergent thought, its hope and dreams for all who live and all who will inherit this earth, its absolute commitment to compassion, to caring, to sharing that all may live and love and know they too are equal to all others, bound in loving kindness that all may dream and live in peace.
That is a moral Netanyahu might consider as he thumps his way from podium to podium damning the Iranians, damning those who will not follow his madness, proclaiming his G-d given right to blast the Iranians from the face of the earth, to slaughter their soldiers, destroy their villages and towns, turn their rivers into streams of flowing blood, slaughtering their people because they dare to oppose his rule as though he ruled the earth even though he is PM of six million in a state the size of Rhode Island, but of such importance it must be the voice of all, or so he believes. If it were not that the Congressmen of this nation, the United States, might listen to his madness, this might be laughable. But that’s not the case.
So instead, what if the Israeli State were to take the high moral road built on true morals–to love one another, to love even your enemy, to love as you would be loved–to sit down with the Iranian people, to meet them as equals, to attempt to comprehend how two divergent peoples held at bay these many decades could understand each other, to negotiate an end to verbal hostilities and through dialogue and warmth and gentleness embrace each other that all might live to enjoy today and tomorrow, and forever, together.
Thus might the creative and constructive power of persuasion from both sides overcome the derisive anger and destructive power of force. May we let our ancient ancestors speak for us in lieu of Ghandi.
* William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book is Decade of Deceit: 2002-2012 Reflections on Palestine. His other works include Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy, The Rape Of Palestine: Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, and The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction all dealing with the crisis in Israel/Palestine. His fiction works include The Chronicles Of Nefaria, a morality tale, The Agony of Colin Powell, a one act play, and a co-authored tragedy written with his wife Darcy, The Unreasoning Mask. He also has a Book of Psalms published by Mellon Poetry Press, Psalms for the 21st Century. He can be reached at [email protected] or through his web site: www.drwilliamacook.com.