First let me say that I never thought I’d ever be the steward of a serious Politicus submission that included the name Kardashian. Not only Kardashian, but THE sex-tape Kardashian, the 32 year old zaftig tabloid phenom, Kim, who, believe it or not, figures into the current grave Israel, Palestinian, Gaza, Hamas conflict.
It all started with a couple of tweets. Like most young (well, relatively) people of a certain generation, Kardashian is addicted to the 140 character tweet messaging that defines socialization in the new millennium. For Ms. Kardashian I’m sure, her first Twitter entry on the subject of Israel couldn’t have seemed likely to stir up political passions not usually associated with the “model/actress.” The tweet was most likely driven by the latest Israeli, Palestinian/Hamas clashes.
The Kardashian tweet, “Praying for everyone in Israel” seemed harmless enough until you realized millions of people would like Israel to disappear from the face of the earth. Kim soon recognized the partial error of her ways assisted by hateful reactions, including death threats, from the twitter population of Israel’s natural enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere. She quickly fashioned a second tweet; “Praying for everyone in Palestine and across the world!” Upon hearing equally hateful reactions from ‘the other side’ Kardashian then hastily took down both tweets and proffered a sincere and surprisingly intelligent and measured apology that I suspect may have been written by her publicist. If it was written by her, my compliments.
Here’s how she worded her mea culpa. “I want to own up to and explain that earlier today I sent out two tweets about saying prayers for the people in Palestine and Israel, and after hearing from my followers, I decided to take down the tweets because I realized that some people were offended and hurt by what I said, and for that I apologize.”
“I should have pointed out my intentions behind these tweets when I posted them. The fact is that regardless of religion and political beliefs, there are countless innocent people involved who didn’t choose this, and I pray for all of them and also for a resolution. I also pray for all the other people around the world who are caught in similar crossfires.”
It’s possible Kardashian might be more sensitive to ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ than most, insofar as her great-grandparents on her late father Robert’s side were Armenian Molokan Jumpers from the area of Russia that is now Turkey. They came to the U.S. in 1913, just about the time of the Armenian Genocide that stretched through WW 1 and was carried out by the Ottoman Empire. Estimates put the death toll at upwards of a 1 million – 1.8 million killed with little regard to methodology, gender or age. To this day, successor state Turkey refuses to admit the full horror of this holocaust, creating a continuing division between the Armenians and Turks.
But would Kardashian really be that sensitive to her homeland in the context of the geographical identifier ‘Middle East’? There’s continuing scholarly debate on the subject; Afghanistan as Central Asia for example. Armenia is more likely to be considered the ‘Greater Middle East’ in the company of such countries as Afghanistan (by majority decision), Pakistan, Iran and, of course, Turkey. To add to the confusion, Iran is also considered part of the Middle East. It might surprise you that the greatest percentage of Muslims don’t even live in the Middle East. Almost two-thirds live elsewhere (thank you Indonesia).
As for the whole Hamas mess, it was initiated by an Israeli reaction to months of rocket fire from Gaza, a longtime geopolitical shuttlecock batted back and forth by the Brits, Arabs and UN for years, finally ending up as the largest city in Palestine. Israel assassinated a Hamas Military leader and Gaza was pounded for eight days by air and artillery strikes. A Hamas counter-offensive featured a like number of rockets and weaponry. Further escalation could have blown up the region.
As Ms. Kardashian tweets suggest, the contemporary wick of war is most often lit with Israel at the center of such contentious actions and reactions. Israel and Hamas have just signed a shaky cease-fire after the most recent dust-up in what was essentially a Palestinian border war. A cease-fire agreement is much like a marriage license. Great promise in the beginning that oft-times degenerates into a divorce, good intentions be damned.
In terms of casualties Israel got the better of this latest skirmish. There were 71 Palestinian civilians who perished with the total loss of life calculated to be 161. Five Israeli’s were killed.
While Egypt gets credit for brokering the tenuous agreement, the U.S., U.N. and local diplomatic participants played key roles as well. So the rockets, fear and inhumanity are in shaky remission. Not sure how much Kim Kardashian can accomplish without portfolio.
Though a big deal has been made Kardashian’s trip to the Middle East, its original intent had nothing to do with the most recent events. Its primary purpose had something to do with fashion, then launching the latest Kardashian brainstorm, “Millions of Milkshakes”, a fast food type enterprise described as a milk shake bar. She’ll be in Kuwait and Bahrain to hawk her wares while assuring her fan base that while there she’ll ‘educate’ herself on the Middle East crisis and take a couple of meetings with local leaders. I guess she learned nothing of the Middle East when she set up her first “Millions of Milkshakes” in Dubai last October.
Interestingly enough, Kardashian’s “Millions of Milkshakes” undertaking in the Middle East may indeed have been a personal homage to the historical underpinnings of her ancestry. Molokans were referred to derogatorily as “Milk Drinkers.” For, yes, drinking milk on fasting days, a practice forbidden by the Russian Orthodox Church at the time. Gathering knowledge of the Middle East on the journey will absolutely add an enlightening addendum to the trip.
Given the right circumstances, even a cultural cipher can have relevance.