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Money for the War

There are many various, non-commercial organizations in the world who proclaim, as a rule, humanitarian goals and aid for those who need help. In the US alone there are more than a million such organizations who harness nearly 500 billion dollars a year. Let's reemphasize, for humanitarian purposes. At the same time, judging by official statistics, more than 11% of them are either different ethnic or religious groups - Jewish and Moslem, Catholic and Protestant, Greek, German, Russian and many, many others.

It is interesting to examine their activities.

So as not to offend good people, of whom there are many, let's invent a virtual non-profit and call it "Feeding Canadian Children." It, we shall assume, is involved with the problems of the malnutrition of children in Canada. Right away we will notice: it is unjust, that all of the malnourished children in the world are divided into Canadian and the rest, that is, if a child is going hungry in Buffalo, literally 100 meters from the Canadian border with the US, then this is no longer our concern's problem, and if compassionate people from our virtual organization help the American children, then they will violate Canadian laws and may lose their operating license for an expenditure of funds for no purpose.

Of course, our example is fiction, but there are thousands of borders in the world where this situation, alas, exists in actual fact. Some of them are - the Mexican-American, Palestinian-Israeli, Albanian-Italian and the many others.

Matters are even worse with the international activity of our non-existent non-profit. Let's imagine a mythical scene - there is hunger in the US, but not in Canada. A small group of Canadian families live in Buffalo and "Feeding Canadian Children" from the best of motives is sending food to them and their children. Is it of interest how the neighbors of the Canadian families would like it, where children are still hungry only because they are not Canadians? After some time, the newspapers write about an outburst of anti-Canadian feelings in Buffalo. And how new waves of money, on the one hand, already are flying there into the eye of the political hurricane, and on the other - the hatred, creating the next hot spot on planet Earth. Someone may say: Hunger and circumstances are to blame. But if our non-profit were to be called "Feeding the Children" instead of "Feeding Canadian Children" and helped all the children in the famished region, then there wouldn't even be a problem.

Let's try to prove a rather drastic assertion - any money allocated on a national, ethnic or religious basis inflames ethnic or national discord and, ultimately, always feeds war.

Let's take an example from real life. A brutal example. In 2002, Canadian Jewish organizations collected $530,000 for financing the armed protection of kindergartens and schools in Israel. Undoubtedly a noble goal: Children need to be protected under the conditions of barbarous terrorism. But what, in essence, happened?

A military organization engage in defense received the money. People who risk their lives every day and, therefore, receive a comparatively high salary work here. Let's emphasize, under the conditions of a deep economic recession and inflation of the national currency. It is extremely difficult to find other work with such a salary.

This organization's budget fully depends on the level of tension in the region: the higher the tension - the greater the income and the more numerous the ranks of the security guards. There can be only one conclusion: The organization willingly or unwillingly is interested in maintaining the tension.

This is typical for any organization, for any system. Once created, any organization will strive for its preservation and even expansion. There are no people in the world who would rejoice in the fact that their labor, peaceful or warlike, suddenly became unnecessary.

It is absolutely that very same scene in Palestine. The money collected as Moslem donations under all sorts of pretexts and humanitarian slogans, in the final analysis accumulates in the extremist structures. The results are well known.

Circumstances are no better in the Christian world, too. The money, having received the names of the Catholics or the Protestants, feeds the military structures in Belfast. And what is interesting is the activity of the organizations who finance extremism indirectly is not prohibited, but even, to the contrary, encouraged and partly financed by governments. In North America this is called the financing of national and ethnic communities.

Charles Aznavour, the legendary French singer of Armenian origin, brought donations of rich Franco-Armenian society to Armenia. One may prove with mathematical precision how this money was turned into cannon and tanks for the Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Similar scenarios are operating in the Turkish-Kurdish, Greco-Turkish, Serb-Croat, Georgian-Abkhazian, Pakistani-Indian and other hot spots of the planet.

This bitter experience and sound logic suggest that international financial activity of any religiously or ethnically slanted organizations should be prohibited or strictly limited to local requirements. No fleeting apparent advantage from such organizations can be compared with the dissension and hatred of religious and national groups which arise as a result of just such an addressed makeup of "ours" as distinct from "theirs."

Undoubtedly, the ideas of "national customs," "precepts of the fathers," and "our faith" exist and in part are needed psychologically. But their value cannot even be compared with the value of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people - the victims of the conflicts that rage because of faith and ethnic affiliation. For the sake of those people, the life of whom can still be saved today, we should repudiate the protrusion of personal backgrounds or religious views.

Modern societies and laws are not perfect, and, while the worldwide community has not reached a single opinion regarding this global problem, we urge the following of several simple rules.

Don't donate money under any circumstances

to Protestant religious organizations, inasmuch as religious isolation is being emphasized.

to Catholic organizations - for the very same reasons. A combination with ethnic symbols, for example with Irish, is especially dangerous.

Buddhist organizations - for the very same reasons. A combination with caste symbols is especially dangerous.

Orthodox organizations.

Jewish organizations. Combining religion and nationality, these organizations directly or indirectly feed the most dangerous breeding ground of tension.

Moslem organizations - neither in any circumstances nor of any type. Islam, being in a stormy, aggressive stage of its development, feeds many of the planet's hot spots.

Societies which have a feature of a state in the name. "American Baptists" or the "Canadian Brotherhood" or the "German Friends." Emphasizing state membership, these organizations willingly or unwillingly impart to their activity a narrowly directed nature, which coincides with the direction of ethnic conflicts.

Ethnic societies. Any society which bears an ethnic feature engenders dissension. For example, the "Greek Drug Addicts Anonymous Association" clearly infringes on non-Greeks. Geographic attachment should not coincide with political and ethnic names. For example, the "Athens Society" does not coincide with any kind of ethnic name.

The name and activity of a social organization should be outside of or directed against the lines of force of religious and ethnic conflicts.

The habit of emphasizing one's nationality or religious affiliation separates us better than any walls. For example, even such an organization as the "Red Cross" is unable to help the sick confirmed Moslem: it can affect his faith. Cases are well known when the ill or injured have refused to accept the aid of doctors and coworkers of the "Red Cross" or "Magen David Adom" only because these were not representatives of the "Red Crescent." And they were dying. The thought was unbearable to them that the hands a non-Moslem touch them and that the blood of non-believers get into their veins.

One may say that the "Red Cross" operates mainly in Christian countries. But people also live in these countries who belong to other faiths. Is it possible special branches of the "Red Crescent" or "Magen David Adom" need to open for them? And how is it to be with the Buddhists if they suddenly want to conduct business only with their own religiously slanted institution that provides aid? An absurd situation. In practice it is resolved simply time and again: the Christian or any other religious coloration needs to be removed from this peaceful and philanthropic organization.

And even in Chechnya itself, judging by media reports, the activity of the "Red Cross" has caused a violent protest. How, it is said, is like this: a Christian organization is operating in a Moslem country! Will this help the establishment of peace in the Caucasus?

That very same "Red Cross" offered aid to 20,000 Palestinian families in August 2002. But to whom? Mainly in Hebron and mainly to Arab Christians, because for a Moslem family to accept such aid means to disgrace oneself . Such is the reality.

It is curious that none of the "Red Cross" management, and also of the "Red Crescent" and "Magen David Adom" have attempted ever and anywhere objectively and critically to assess the prevalent situation. On the other hand, judging by the names of these organizations, which are identical in the sort of their activity, everything is done in order to emphasize their religious slant. They let the religious fanatics push them around, lining up under their views and beliefs. So, they say, it is easier to help people while not arousing their religious feelings. And no one has had the thought that in that way interfaith dissension is ever more strengthened. No one has even had a timid desire to unify the worldwide structures created for rendering aid under a common flag, on which would be written that we first of all are people, and only afterwards all the rest.

Yes, we live in a world, divided into countries and religious faiths. But if we can make steps today toward unification, what is preventing us?

We have gotten used to living, emphasizing and proclaiming our own national backgrounds, and our own faith, and time and again imposing on those around us our own spiritual values. In the best case - remaining aloof from the spiritual values of other peoples and thereby arousing them willy-nilly. New times demand from us new standards of behavior - to keep ours to ourselves. Because, both beliefs and national biases are very personal things.

The question may arise: how then for all that can there be new traditions in an old tradition world? How, let's assume, is the "Red Cross" to be named correctly? There are no simple answers. And there cannot be. The forces of many people are needed, a "brain storm" is needed and philosophers, and historians, and politicians.

There already are the first sprouts of new traditions. It is no accident that they emerged just today. The worldwide economy inexorably is moving toward universal integration. Toward globalization. The European Union, a contemplated common North and South American trade zone, ASEAN in the East, and an economic association of African countries which is being created testify to the fact that economic laws are sweeping away national borders. And this leads to definitive shifts in people's perception, in their notions of world order.

Therefore, organizations also have appeared which are not ethnically slanted, which stand outside the lines of force of international and religious conflicts. They serve global purposes. For example, Green Peace, extremely active politically, but maintaining at the same time ethnic neutrality.

Unfortunately, there still are few such organizations. Still fewer are those groups who are not just neutral, but actively resist nationalism. One of them is "New Tradition." We invite everyone to participate in it. With financing, voluntary activity, even with ordinary empathy you will help make a step ahead, to break through the ancient burden of evil's traditions.

Everyone has his own unique route to it. Some arrive via politics, some via history, and some via music or mathematics. This route is the most precious that we have, and it is a new tradition, because others will come behind you.

Vlad Melamed, 2002