About Syria?

If Israel is even vaguely serious about promoting peace and prosperity in the Middle East it now has a golden opportunity.

With the Syrian civil war dragging on at the cost of thousands upon thousands of civilian lives (many of them children), and the apparent use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces any excuse for International inaction has evaporated. Although the US is talking tough it is hamstrung by geopolitical considerations in a way that Israel is not.

If Israel were to militarily remove the Assad regime from power in Syria (and then immediately and unconditionally withdraw) it would certainly be seen as a sign of good will. From such a positive high, negotiations about a Palestinian state might finally get somewhere. Israel has always been quick to act in its own perceived self interest. If it would act on the behalf of others it could be a game changer in the Middle East!

On Racism

Racism is not about colour, ethnicity or anything like that. I don’t think racists are concerned about colour schemes. Small children are never racist as they simply don’t understand such a concept. Racism is really about the clash of cultures and values specific to those cultures. and only occurs as children grow up and take on board the cultural values of their own society. Some societies are much more liberal than others and their citizens tend to be more open minded. In the West if a person denigrates Islam he or she can be subject to various sanctions on the grounds that he or she is racist. Yet if that same person arrived in a fundamentalist Islamic country and said the same things that person would be lucky to escape with his or her life. It is easy to see that some cultures and societies are much less tolerant than others. So it all boils down to the “Us and Them” mentality. Groups often define themselves by excluding and attacking others who are different. In fact, racism is never about race per se. It is about perceived differences that may or may not involve an actual threat. The perceived threats can be real or imagined. Nobody cares if a person is black or Jewish or anything else. The concern arises when there is a perceived threat to another person’s or group’s well being or way of life. In short, Racism is about many things but not race or ethnicity.

North Korea a worry because of the question of Face

Although I don’t think for a minute that Pyonyang will launch any nukes the tense situation is still a worry. Since South Korea, and gradually the rest of the world, is treating North Korea’s threats as a bellicose joke and basically ignoring them the leadership in the North risk being regarded as a joke if they don’t back up their threats with some fairly serious action. It would seem that the old game of threats, back down and rewards to the North is not going to be played any more. Therefore, if the North does nothing its leadership will lose face in a big way. Loss of face is a big deal to Koreans as it is to other Asians and to many people generally. This very fact ensures that the situation will remain dangerous.

Human knowledge centered entirely on the material world

It is a sad thing that our species focuses entirely on material things. Apart from the claims of various religions all actual knowledge (especially scientific) looks at only the things we can see, touch, feel and hear. While there may be no way of knowing if such a material world is all there is it would seem more than possible that there may be other worlds that we simply cannot connect with using our human senses. While there have been, thus far, no absolutely provable examples of spiritual life it would seem likely that many things exist, in one form or another, quite apart from our scientifically established world.