Saturday, December 05, 2009

Robert Fisk - The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East

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Have they all died for history, then, those thousands of dead - let me be frank with myself - whom I have seen with my own eyes across the Middle East? The dead soldier with the bright wedding ring on his finger, the slaughtered masses of Sabra and Chatila, the Iranians putrefying in the desert, the corpses of Palestinians and Israelis and Lebanese and Syrians and Afghans, the unspeakable suffering of the Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, Afghan, Israeli - and, yes, American - torture chambers; was this for history? Or for justice? Or for us? We know that the Balfour Declaration was made eighty-eight years ago. But for Palestinian refugees, in the slums of their camps, Balfour spoke yesterday, last night, only an hour ago. In the Middle East, the people live their past history, again and again, every day.

...Christina Rossetti's 'Remember':

Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

I think in the end we have to accept that our tragedy lies always in our past, that we have to live with our ancestor's folly and suffer for it, just as they, in their turn, suffered, and as we, through our vanity and arrogance, ensure the pain and suffering of our own children. How to correct history, that's the thing...

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