Middle-East wars and the Edinburgh Festival

I am hot and busy, working on the AV elements for Black Watch, an Edinbrugh Fringe production by the NTS. It is based on interviews with former soldiers who served in their 2004 tour of Iraq. We’ve been called in because the show takes in ideas of modern warfare, and how public perception of conflicts are influenced by the media. We see the results of an attack on the TV news, usually before those who actually carried it out. Instant analysis, spin, moralising, judgement. No more heros, just jarheads who create the cross-fire for children to get caught in.

The current conflict between Israel and Lebanon feels very much like a play, running to a predictable, banal script. The headlines from Condoleeza Rice’s latest trip to the Middle-East:

” … we have great concerns about the suffering of innocent peoples throughout the region.”

Is there any possible universe in which she would not have said that? Is there any possible universe in which Israel would not have retaliated against the Lebanese after the Hezbollah rocket attacks? These events are a tragedy in the strict sense of the word, where the traits of the main characters make certain events inevitable. Sure, Israel didn’t start it. Watch any one of the countless Greek Tragedies that will plague this year’s Edinburgh Festival, and you will see that it is never the protagonist’s fault. Hercules didn’t start it. Electra didn’t start it. Clytemnestra didn’t start it. But at the end of the play, when everyone’s dead, one still thinks “if only you had been different.” Nasrallah is the malevolent deity, nowhere to be found yet omnipresent at the same time. He laughs at how easy it is to provoke this tragedy.

And just like the Greek stories, now the children are being dragged into it. Some Israeli kids have been signing the missiles being shot into Lebanon. After drawing their pictures (I rather doubt they are writing messages of death to other kids as Sabbah suggests), the Israel children probably don’t see the effects of their missiles. We do, however, because we are the TV audience. And we watch as the cycle repeats itself. Another blood feud is created, ready to be concluded in some Tel Aviv pizza parlour in 2012.

6 thoughts on “Middle-East wars and the Edinburgh Festival

  1. Thanks for the link Robert. The script could have been different in so many ways, but once again the precipitate act of escalation, as so many times in the past, appears to have been the result of the Israeli military pressuring the civilian government into mobilising for a ‘knock-out blow’ – the blow that is never, and can never be delivered. There have been times when the military has been put in its place by the politicians, but this time – again – they chose to acquiesce.

  2. Nice post Robert.

    You can almost smell and taste the insincerity in Condoleezza Rice’s words, even off a web page.

    Thanks to a blogger on CiF I ‘ve been checking out this guy Alan Watts’ writing, first thing I picked up was his writing on Tao – “What is Tao ?”. Something I read in there today inseems pertinent to Miss Rice … “the inferior kind of virtue is so anxious to be virtuous that it loses its virtue altogether”

  3. Do you have a link to this piece qwan? It is not so much the anxiety to BE virtuous that makes it inferior, but the anxiety to APPEAR or to FEEL virtuous, while otherwise not giving two hoots for virtue.

  4. Clarice if you mean a link to “what is Tao?” .. sorry it’s old skool paper book. Yes, I think you’re correct. He does go on to describe those who are self consciously virtuous … “this kind of person stinks of virtue, and doesn’t really have any virtue at all”, which is probably more accurate of Rice.

    It’s tricky stuff .. I did wonder later, if, by drawing attention to Rice’s lack of virtue, I was trying to make myself appear more virtuous in comparison, and thereby, falling into the self same trap !

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