Much that happens in the Middle East comes as the result of attrition, slow deliberate attempts that often are accomplished only in small increments. The Western world generally thinks in quite different terms that expects results overnight. The war in Afghanistan has taken over 10 years and nearly collapsed the American economy. Unthinkable! Not so in the Middle East.
Columbus Day has come and gone, reminding Americans of the landing in 1492. (Of course, Columbus only came ashore and found the Indians that had been here forever) But the distance from 1776 to 2014, is a drop in the bucket. Egypt stretches back to pre-historic times. Israel calls this year 5774 on their calendar. The Middle East still ruminates over the Crusades that began in the first millennium and ended in the 1200’s. They operate with the awareness that their children’s children may have to finish a task they are working on.
Currently, a struggle over the control of the Temple Mount is increasing. Increasing numbers of Jews are visiting this ancient area in Jerusalem’s old city. Palestinian leaders are saying that the developing activity has created the worst tension in years around the Al Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. They are now calling on Muslims to resist these incursions. This results in periodic stone throwing by the Muslims. Israeli police show up and arrest the trouble makes. Recently, an Israeli police officer was wounded while thousands of Arabs rallied in the north because of a warning that Al Aksa was in danger. Of course, the ramifications of these uprisings only perpetuates suspicion and ill-will.
The 37-acre site is probably the most contested religious ground on earth. Jews know it is the site of the first and second Temple. Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven from that spot. Thousands of tourists come every year. The battle for who has rights to the site continues.
Recently, The New York Times reported a similar tension in the Syrian civil war. With thousands of immigrants living over the border in Jordan, the rebel fighters steal across the border to fight and then return to their families living in the immigrant camps.
A Syrian rebel soldier comes home to the children in places like Ramtha, Jordan. Modern electronics allows them to keep in touch and even see their families while the battles go on. Often, they will be gone for weeks before they return home. Of course, the possibility of being killed remains high and the families wait with anxiety.
The Syria war wears on year after year. Currently, the agreement between Russia and America has set in motion the removal of chemical weapons, but this will not halt the continual journeys of rebels who journey in and out of Jordan.
If the war can only be won by taking it an inch at a time, their response is, “so be it.” The Western world rushes off to its next appointment while computers impatiently glance at their watches, thinking I’ve got to find a way to get their more quickly.
Sorry. the middle east thinks more slowly … but also more deliberately!