Jun 11, 2010

Israel, a look at the other side

In the interest of looking at the other side of things, here's an article about the recent incident from the other side.

Go read it.  Really.

Charitably, it says: I trust the soldiers and Israel, though it made mistakes, would be crazy not to check on things.

And while, on the surface, there are things right with that sentiment, it does nothing to address what is horribly, horribly wrong with the incident, and the general conviction from which Israel acted.

No territorial or security claims Israel may have in Gaza give it the right to forcibly board ships in international waters.  In such a case, its actions are no better than piracy and the passengers aboard the ships have every right to self-defense.  That they exercised that right does not magically justify the killings.  That the ostensible aid convoy might have had ulterior motives doesn't, either.  The author conveniently loses sight of this, but reassures us that "I haven't lost sight of who provoked this, and why they did that."  Well, neither have we: oppose injustice so that the oppressor will have to resort to force and reveal the moral bankruptcy of his position.

And reveal it they did.

There's more here that we could talk about: the author's assertion that the Israelis would have happily passed along the aid once it had cleared their procedures* and the "no matter what" of his ultimate support of the soldiers' actions, for example.  But perhaps most troubling is this paragraph:
As for "being on the defensive," you "will be on the defensive" only because you totally don't get it. For if you did get it, you wouldn't feel that way. There's only one country anywhere on the planet about which there's a conversation about whether it has a right to exist.** Do you ever think about why that is? What, the fate of the Palestinians is worse than that of aborigines in Australia? Or people in the Congo, or Rwanda? Why all the attention on Israel? Do you really not get it? You think that New Zealand just coincidentally decided this week to make kosher slaughtering illegal? You think it's really about humanitarian commitments? Come on.
You'll notice that the author hand-waves away the plight of the Palestinians and whines excessively about Israeli victimhood.  He follows said complaint about how everyone is out to get Israel by expressing his sneering disdain for Jews who "so thoroughly intellectually assimilated that they're actually embarrassed that that Jews don't have to continue to be victims."  This is a truly astounding feat of mental gymnastics, surpassing even the accomplishment of a country which receives the unqualified support of the sole remaining superpower--up to and including billions of dollars of military aid and circumvention of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty--claiming perpetual victimhood in the first place.

But note the real problem here: the Palestinians don't matter, but we do.  The writer is "not apologetic", acknowledging that mistakes were made but thinking the actions ultimately justified, thinking, in fact, that anything is justified provided that Israel's security interests be served.  So long as the tribal impulse of 'me and my group over you and your group' prevails, until the Israelis and Palestinians are capable of regarding the other's claims to life and freedom as co-equal to their own, there will never be justice or peace.

"We know that it's too late to expect many Americans like you to assume we're right before you assume we're wrong," he sniffs, but he is incorrect.  It is not that I have decided in advance that Israel can do no right, but that my eyes have convinced me that it has in fact done wrong.  And yes, I do have a bit of a double-standard when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  You'll simply have to forgive my indulgence towards an uneducated populace suffering from decades of war, displacement, corruption and tyranny, and try to understand that I hold to a higher standard an ostensible democracy which receives some $7,000,000 of taxpayer money per day and thanks us by undermining our geopolitical and moral interests by its continued belligerence.  From him to whom much is given, much will be expected.
*I work in humanitarian aid, and I wouldn't trust them, either.  Handing over your goods to someone else opens the door wide open to the other person either stealing credit, or just stealing your stuff.  When our organization had to work with the Red Cross to import aid, in addition to being assholes about everything, the corrupt director stole a bunch of the stuff.  And this was the Red. Fucking. Cross. and not a hostile government in de facto war with the group that the author claims controls the area that the aid was meant for.

**It is worth noting, in passing, that his claim "There's only one country anywhere on the planet about which there's a conversation about whether it has a right to exist" is a filthy lie.  Off the top of my head, we have: Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia (and certain Bulgarians' weird claims thereunto), Tibet, Kuwait, the Basque region, Kurdistan, Taiwan, and ... oh, that's right--Palestine.  Certainly there are more, but those are all the ones that I could think of within thirty seconds, and it's really not worth thinking about any longer.

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