The Ban That Helps Iran
If you’ve been following the news of Syria’s Civil War, and the on-again, off-again peace talks aimed at ending the bloodshed, then you probably know that in the last several days, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invited, and then unceremoniously UN-invited Iran from participating in those peace talk, which are scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland.
The irony is that the UN banned Iran from participating, because: 1) Iran is considered as the main backer of Syria’s current government, and 2) Tehran refuses to accept that the peace talks should be focused on agreeing on a plan for a transitional government to eventually replace the monstrosity which is the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Essentially, what the United Nations is apparently saying, is that the best way to end the war is by letting the principal investors in the Syrian government stay away from the discussions about ending that particularly deadly venture. On top of that, the UN does not mind if in the meantime, Iran is allowed to carry on funding the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, the injury of a larger number of people, and the forced displacement of millions more. Additionally, the UN apparently thinks it is OK that Syria’s war causes more tension in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel — all nations which have already been engaged one way or another in that ugly war, now in its third year.
When it comes to war, you don’t make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies. So of course Iran will have their stubborn soapbox to stand on at first. But if you set pre-conditions for the talks, then the talks are doomed before they begin. All sides of the conflict should be participating, and all sides should expect to compromise. That’s how negotiations work. Until that happens, there will just be more wanton death and destruction in Syria, and wherever else that conflict reaches.
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The Ban that created a new N-word
And then there was the recent ban on the word Nazi and on various Nazi symbols. Exclusions to this new rule include educational materials, so hopefully the authorities will not be banging down my door for writing it in this opinion article. The very notion that Israel now has its own N-word, and that it is in reference to the National Socialist Party of the Third Reich, frankly cheapens the horrors of the Holocaust, and insults the dead and the survivors who experienced the worst atrocities of the last century.
Do Israelis use that N-word too often, without cause? Yes. And they of all people should know better. Is it shameful when Israeli Knesset members shout that N-word at each other without proper cause? Absolutely. Is it disgraceful to those who have suffered consequences of that period in history, to use that N-word without proper cause or context? Definitely. And should all of that undesirable behavior be allowed in a supposedly free society with supposedly free speech? Yes. Otherwise, we may as well throw in the towel and admit that we are not a free society, and that we do not have free speech. Free speech is established precisely to protect the unpopular; the minority from the ravages of the majority.
If we believe that Nazi is a word that has a different status than other words, then we are artificially inflating its value, and if anything, causing more people to want to use it just to spite the prohibition.
The late American comedian George Carlin had it right when he said “There are no bad words.” There are plenty of bad people, and it is good that we see their true face, rather than try to mask it with ridiculous censorship. I would rather know that the unaccountable politicians ruining the country from inside the Knesset behave with such disgusting manners, than be “protected” from seeing their grossly inappropriate behavior publicly displayed. How else could we ever hope to improve ourselves, if not by examining our true selves and changing what is wrong with us? Making a word illegal is just plain silly and wrong, and enforcing that rule would only make matters worse for everyone.
Full disclosure: In addition to cartooning and writing about big ideas, Yasha Harari has worked for a number of start-ups in the U.S. and Israel.