Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bloody Brothers

The last few weeks has seen a seemingly exponential upsurge in violence not only across the Middle East but also in Ukraine and west Africa. Most have been going on outside the gaze of western media for some time and a wide range of very different interests and outlooks are involved - from the "Caliphate" of ISIS in the north of the Fertile Crescent, through the Syrian and Ukrainian civil wars to the pummelling of Gaza by far superior Israeli forces and the kidnapping of girls and others by Islamists in Nigeria as part of a wider cross-border conflict.

But one thing unites those taking part, whether the neo-fascists aligned to Kiev, or the religious fundamentalists of Boko Haram - a belief that spilling the blood of others is a legitimate way to impose their version of the world on others. It is an outlook that cuts across the religions involved - the extremist Jews who this week have called for the mothers of dead Palestinians to be killed as well and their houses destroyed; or the Koran testing of terrified Nigerian villagers by insurgents who separated those they deemed to be unbelievers before shooting them; or the "White Christians" supposedly championing European civilisation against Russian "Asiatics" as they ethnically cleanse eastern Ukraine.

Whether religion drives this behaviour or is incorporated to sanction it, isn't the issue. What is, is the willingness to deny the humanity of opponents - the Israeli Prime Minister breathtakingly complained about "telegenically dead" Palestinian corpses, while Boko Haram decreed the girls they seized from a school to be the "property" of their male captors.

This first video powerfully evokes the fundamental problem that drives the conflict - the belief in divine sanction being on your side consequently sanctions just about any form of behaviour, no matter how inhumane or extreme. I might disagree towards the end about the apparent equivalency portrayed between Israel and Gaza (Hamas do not have missiles like that, although they may well wish they did), but the video is about motive as much as method.

The second video isn't a cartoon. From Syria, it is real life for millions of people, including huge numbers of children - over half of Gazans are under 25- right now. It isn't as graphic as some of the recent footage from Gaza, but it is deeply upsetting and perhaps more powerfully than some of the more explicit images we have seen, it sums up the truly ceaseless tension and terror and the inhumane, dreadful and totally unjustifiable cost exacted on the innocent by the bloody brothers who would make this world their own.

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