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"This is What Peace Looks Like ... It's Not Doves All Over the Place."—Lesley Hazleton

By Josh Feit October 27, 2009


Yesterday, Heidi (PubliCola's smarty pants BookNerd), published—quite frankly—a brilliant interview with local author Lesley Hazleton.

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I don't know if Heidi is brilliant or if Hazleton is brilliant, but their Q&A (about Hazleton's new book on the split between Sunni and Shia in the Muslim world) is one of the best things we've ever published here at PubliCola.

It's long. So, here's a quote from Hazleton from late in the interview to tease you into reading the whole, amazing thing.


We seem to imagine—again, it's a very Western idea, specifically a very American idea—that peace means brotherhood and sisterhood and everybody fawning over each other. The peace I always think of is the peace between Israel and Eqypt, which has lasted now for 30 years, and Israel and Egypt do not like each other. They are not hanging over each other's necks and calling each other brothers and sisters and so on. It's an entirely pragmatic arrangement. We will not fight each other. We will maintain the minimum amount necessary of diplomatic and trade relations. Coexistence.

But let's not imagine that coexistence means any kind of love or anything like that. This is called Peace. This is what peace looks like. It's not doves all over the place or balloons in the air (laughs). Peace is when you're not killing each other, it's a good thing. Peace is when those guns are not aimed at you. It's even better when the guns are not there at all but that's another level of peace. And for long periods of history, Sunnis and Shia have lived together in that kind of peace. Relative tolerance of difference. But anybody can come along at any time and manipulate this. They can call upon this wonderful 7th century saga. They can call up images from it, scenes from it, slogans from it, and so on, as Khomeini did and others did before him. As Muqtada did in Iraq.

P.S. And you'll find Hazleton on the comments thread to Heidi's post.
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