Why does wood cause so much trouble?

Robert Fisk asked the question 8 days ago in The Independent: Can a tree start a Middle East War? Well, it certainly started the latest Lebanese-Israeli firefight which ended in the deaths of 3 Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and an Israeli lieutenant-colonel. Thankfully, at least for now, all out war seems to have been abated.

So why did a tree cause all the trouble? Well, the Israelis decided to use a crane to cut it down as it was blocking their CCTV cameras, crossing the UN Blue line border in the process and provoking warning fire from angry Lebanese border guards.

It's not all that different to what is happening in Poland at the moment, albeit the piece of wood causing controversy for the past 2 weeks has not yet caused any serious causalties.

In the 'red' corner you have: the Catholic Church, the government, the police and the majority of Polish society.

In the 'very blue' corner you have: a very small group of patriotic Catholic fundamentalists supported by the main opposition party.

Here's a summary of how wood has caused fierce tension in Poland over the past few weeks.

96 Polish people, including many politicians, the president and his wife died in April on their way to commemorate the Red Army's WWII massacre at Katyn where 20,000+ of the Polish elite were killed.

An outpouring of grief resulted and some senior political figures have suggested that the Russians brought down the plane in an act of terrorism against their arch critics in Poland.

Things to keep in mind:

* Scouts laid a makeshift wooden cross at the presidential palace when massive vigils were taking place after the plane crash.

* The wooden cross, that is being defended by a few loonies keeping vigil 24/7 is supposed to be moved to a famous cathedral nearby.

* The loonies and their supporters have successfuly prevented priests and cops from removing the cross.

* Poland is a secular country, not a theocracy.

* A plaque to commemorate the deceased has been unveiled at the palace.

* The cross and the loonies have now become a tourist site.

* Of all the issues in the world that are horseshite non-news, the Polish media have given 2 weeks of intense coverage about the controversy.

* A facebook game has been designed where you can poke fun at the ridiculous scenario.

The so-called 'defenders of the cross' say they will not abandon the cross until a permanent monumnent is erected in it's place. This probably means they will have to be removed by force. They have already won one battle with the cops. The ensuing fight and the issue as a whole is a defining moment in the secularisation process of Poland. As religious and patriotic nuts are forced further to the fringes, more and more Poles react with their heads down, ashamed not only of the loonies but also of the conditions that have created their attitudes, i.e. loyalty to Catholic fundamentalist values, the State's weakness in upholding basic secular boundaries, and the psychological obsession with victimhood.

I thought I could manage without mentioning this god-forsaken piece of wood on Krakowskie Przedmiescie that every fucker has been mumbling about for the past 2 weeks. But whether it is a tree on the Israeli-Lebanese border or a cross in Warsaw, it is apparent that very small things can easily become explosive issues if not down sensitively and with respect for fairness.

If you want to know more about what the hell I'm blabbering on about, you can read Scatts hilarious raging rant here

As brilliant Texan comedian Bill Hicks once said: "The last thing Jesus wants to see when he comes back is a cross. It's like going up to Jackie Kennedy and showing her your sniper rifle necklace".


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