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« What About That 1953 CIA Iranian Coup? | Main | Osama bin Laden is a Bruce Lee-worshipping scaredy-cat »

July 28, 2006

Comments

Nicholas

I'd like to ask Frank and the other commenters here a question which is mildly on topic for this post. I'd like to ask here because I don't want to post off-topic on another blog and I want to ask this of people who aren't going to go crazy on me.

On a lot of other blogs, commenters on posts between the war currently ongoing between Hizb'allah and Israel seem to be blaming Israel for all the violence sustained in the region. They go on and on about the horrible things Israel does, like flying supersonic jets over enemies in order to scare people with the sonic boom, and keep talking about the "unprovoked" attacks on the peace-loving people in Lebanon, Gaza, etc. They also say that "war isn't the answer", "it just perpetuates the violence", and that the solution is to give land back to Lebanon (never mind that there's no land to give back), and if Israel just stopped fighting it would all be peace, love & happiness.

Now, I happen to think that's a load of bunk. The evidence suggests to me that the fighting happens because Hizb'allah, Hamas, Syria and Iran simply hate Israel's guts and want to kill every last inhabitant. Their actions say this to me - for example, each time Israel makes some kind of a peace deal, violence is visited upon them in return. Also, they themselves admit that the destruction of Israel is their goal.

Now, what I have missed that's so obvious that makes everything Israel's fault? Seriously? I just can't see how they've done anything wrong, other than wanting to live in this country which happens to be surrounded by a bunch of warmongers. "Israel is Arab land" people say. Sure, because the Arabs took it from someone else. Israel as a state has existed for more than 60 years. Isn't that long enough to say that they have a right to exist in peace yet?

Please help me understand, I just can't see where these people get the impression that the fighting is Israel's fault. Israel seems willing to compromise more than any of its antagonists (e.g. land for peace deal with Egypt, peace accords with Arafat, which he subsequently violated, etc.) and they also seem to (a) try to avoid civilian casualties (b) try to avoid wars unless they are being attacked (c) be willing to negotiate and actually make concessions. This is the opposite of what so many people represent. What is causing such a sharp divide? How can I look at them and see a country I can relate to, that seems perfectly reasonable, and they look at it and see the source of all evil?

I just don't get it. Any ideas, Frank?

jj mollo

Some of it goes back to first principles. Israel, representing European culture, stole something from the Middle East. Well. That argument can go a number of ways if you want to talk about what Muslim culture has done, but it doesn't really matter. Chicken, meet egg.

The fact is, Israel has been brutal and has, for a certain percentage of its population, some serious hard-asses. They know the score and they fight to win. Personally, I think this is good, but it can be ugly.

Now, a lot of people in the West, particularly Europe, have never seen war or been alive when their nation was desperate. The violence and cruelty of war is mind-shattering, so we have to get people to stop it! Doesn't matter how! Make them stop! So we go and argue with some Islamic hard-asses and discover quickly that they are insane with multi-generational rage. Then we go and argue with some Israeli hard-asses and discover that they nod in agreement and listen to whatever we say. At the end of the conversation, they go off to do what they must, but only after listening.

So if you want people to stop dying and you want loose arms and legs to stop flying around the ME, who ya gonna talk to? The Israelis are the only ones you can talk to. The way you do it is to make them feel all the guilt you can dish out. Why? Because they are capable of feeling guilt. It has swayed them in the past. It may sway them again. If you blame things on the Islamic hard-asses, they will just tune you out and revoke your passport.

If you have an irrational passionate desire to end the violence, not necessarily a bad thing, you are going to lean on Israel, not withstanding the fact that Israel is a tenuous bastion of civilization in the ME, and all the Islamists are antithetical to civilization. It's just the way the system works.

Nicholas

I see. But, the way I see it, if you convince Israel to pull their punches (and I suspect the world community has done that), don't you just prolong the conflict and the violence and death and suffering?

I can't see any end to this unless one party smashes the other, and given the choices, I think it's best for most of us if it's Israel that does the smashing. I don't savour the thought of Hizb'allah running the show any more than they already do. So if that's the case, doesn't weakening Israel's will to fight merely prolong the conflict? If so, why is it constructive to make them feel guilt, in the long run?

Perhaps these people don't think that far ahead. Most people are pretty short-sighted, so that could explain it. *sigh*

Yes, Israel can be a bit rough, but what's brutal for them is still pretty mild compared to what their enemies would do if they had the same power. So I think we should count our blessings.

I view the Israeli/Palestinian conflict like I do the China/Taiwan conflict. They've both been going on long enough without any firm resolution that the aggressors really should just give up and find something better to obsess over. But in neither case do I believe that will happen any time soon.

You're right that if anyone can be convinced to stop fighting, it's Israel, but I'd contend that the halt would only be temporary and the resulting "peace" would be an illusion.

Nicholas

Of course the China/Taiwan is only a war of words at this point and I hope it stays that way. I think it might. The water dividing them is a handy barrier to aggression which Israel doesn't have. Plus the Chinese know how to make themselves useful. While they hold a grudge, they're too busy developing their country to be bothered doing anything about it, thankfully.

It's a good thing to have something to lose. Gives one pause when considering going to war.

Nicholas

Sorry about spilling my guts out here, but I had another thought.

It isn't that these people criticize Israel that gets my goat. But I find it's a similar situation with the USA. I don't love the USA. I don't hate it either. I could quite happily spend a long time criticizing but the USA and Israel for the things they've done. Why don't I?

Because I'd be feeling the anti-Israel, anti-USA sentiment I just can't stand. It's so hypocritical and so *extreme*. It's totally disproportionate. These people aren't just complaining that Israel could be going about this slightly better. They are actively excusing terrorist acts and other really nasty things as a way of getting at Israel and the USA. They are blowing things all out of proportion ("torture", "war crimes", etc.) They've gone totally off the rails, and I just can't agree with them in good conscience, because it makes me part of that attack machine.

So I reserve my judgement. I'd like to be honest about what I feel Israel and the US could do better, but I can't bring myself to sound like I'm on these people's side. They're totally disconnected from reality and are fighting a media war against our very own society.

I believe in this society so I'm going to stand behind it and do what's necessary to defend it. I wish I didn't feel it's all-or-nothing. But that's the way people who act like this make it for me. If you're going to make it an "us-or-them" situation... then I say send "them" to hell!

I find it very dehumanizing and that bothers me a lot. I don't like the idea of the Lebanese being bombed. But every time someone apologises for Hizb'allah it pushes me one step closer to saying "to hell with the lot of them". I hope I can keep from becoming a 100% raging cynic and losing all empathy for the people caught in the middle of this. But with the lunacy I read every day, it's hard.

Frank Warner

Nicholas, the Arab-Israeli (and Persian-Israeli) conflict has gone on a long time, and some people are too tired and weak to continue defending the principles of democracy.

Some in the West have turned masochistic. They're willing to surrender Israel, end it all, just to avoid seeing another "Middle East in crisis" headline in their newspapers.

The other problem right now is that Israel looks militarily stronger than Lebanon, and in some ways it is. But ask your Hezbollah sympathizers this: If you take away Hezbollah's arms, what happens? Lebanon becomes a free democracy. If you take away Israel's arms, what happens? Israel is destroyed.

That's a hint of the problem.

Other questions to ask are, has Hezbollah ceased fire? Has Hezbollah proposed a cease-fire? If Israel ceased fire, would Hezbollah take any steps toward a permanent peace? Or would Hezbollah simply exploit the calm to import more and more powerful weapons to continue Hezbollah's twin-pronged jihad to end Lebanon's democracy and to end Israel altogether?

Nicholas

Frank: Yeah, I agree with you. But I have had people tell me "If Israel would only stop attacking Lebanon, there would be no violence." Can you argue with somebody who says something like that? By their logic, the situation is reversed. Disarm Israel, and everything would be just fine.

jj mollo

The ones who want peace, but don't really know the cultural difference between the two parties assume that it's just Hatfields and McCoys. All the fighting, in their minds, is just escalating revenge attacks. If one party would stop, everything would settle down. Since Israel is the only candidate for being first to stop, then that's where the pressure goes. HB will only stop when they are completely defeated or when they run out of ammo. Israel is trying to arrange both. I wish them luck and perseverence.

Nicholas

I guess it just goes to show what a lousy job the media does. They report without context and then a lot of people get the impression this IS a Montagues vs. Capulets type deal. Then they go off about how Israel is by perpetuating the violence. It really annoys me. :(

Christopher Taylor

IF you want to read more on the concepts you're discussing in a more general sense (the modern progressive movement and what it means) Fjordman has a great essay - a long one - in the Brussels Journal

He warns that this movement is a new kind of fascism that wants to place the stupid ordinary folk under the boot of the wise, enlightened ones who understand better.

jj mollo

Yes I read that. I thought about blogging on it. It was pretty good. I especially like it when people reference Eric Hoffer, and I sadly agree with the immigration assessment. I'm not completely comfortable with the characterization, though. Tranzis are not Nazis. Believe me, we in the West have all learned the lesson of Hitler. We see his shadows everywhere, we just can't see him in the mirror.

These people mean well. It's just that they only talk to one another. They have no contact with the grass roots. Fear of the commoner. Kind of different than American politics. Noblesse oblige with no balls to squeeze.

Christopher Taylor

Actually he'd agree - they aren't Nazis. But they do share a lot of the goals, ideals, and principles of Fascism, which is the philosophy that Hitler held to and built Nazism out of by blending it to Socialism.

It's important to keep the two ideologies separate. Nazism was largely economic, and Fascism was the philosophy behind it.

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