Things you should be looking at.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Middle East Crisis

This blog is usually about what I've been looking at online. This'll be a rare exception because there are some things on my mind that I need to get out.

I know I'll regret this later, because I've already upset a couple of friends by talking about this stuff. Look- please do disagree with me in the comments, but please support any arguments that you make? I *want* to be disagreed with, but I get pretty upset with intellectual laziness or dishonesty. Prove that I'm guilty of either, and I'll apologize and retract.

I don't like how Israel was created. I think the Jews should have been given Bavaria after WWII, not a chunk of the middle east. But Israel DOES exist and has a right to defend itself. These are the points I find myself repeating over and over again at the talking heads on the television:

1. 70% of what was once called "Palestine" became first "Transjordan", then "Jordan." Don't tell me that the Palestinians don't have a homeland.

2. I'm very tired of the equivocation I keep hearing from Americans and Europeans regarding the "Israeli-Arab conflict", suggesting that there is plenty of blame for both sides. While I agree that there is plenty of blame to go around, it is politically correct nonsense to suggest the blame can be evenly divided between Israel and the Arab nations.

Here are some of the reasons many Arabs are angry at Israelis:
  • Because publc and private schools and state-sponsored media in Arab nations continue to teach children that Jews are descended from apes and pigs, and teach their citizens to hate Jews, Israel, the United States, and "the West". See for yourself same examples from Arab television. Remember the violent protests about the cartoons of Mohammed? Ask yourself: Would Americans allow this sort of racist crap in their newspapers if it were about Arabs? What sort of violent riots would we see in the Arab world if the west routinely created media this hateful and racist about Arabs? (By the way, Muslims overwhelmingly believe the hubbub was the fault of of Western disrespect, but note Americans, Jews, and Israelis don't riot over the racist crap printed in muslim newspapers daily.)
  • Because corrupt, oligarchical governments in Arab nations deflect and redirect the legitimate frsutrations of most of their citizens by blaming the United States, Israel, and "The West" generally for the difficulties experienced by their citizens.
  • Because Israelis have the audacity to continue to exist despite being surrounded by aggressive hostiles of much greater number on all sides
Here is why many Israelies are angry at Arabs:
  • Because Arabs keep trying to DRIVE THEM INTO THE @#$%ING SEA.
Is this hatred and irrational bigotry on the part of Israelis? I don't think so.

3. I am tired of hearing from well-intentioned European and American pundits that most of the world's muslims are reasonable and moderate, and don't support jihadist violence. The evidence I've seen doesn't seem to support this assertion.
  • First, the Palestinian people, in a democratic election, elected Hamas. This seems forever to destroy the argument that the majority of Palestinians want peace. The majority elected to power an organziation that is publically and unapologetically committed to murdering as many Israelis as possible. There is no confusion on the part of Palestinians- they know what Hamas stands for, so I don't want hear from anyone that the majority of Palestinians want peace. Their electoral decisions show that they, like Hamas, don't want a Palestinian state living peacefully next to Israel- they want Israel to be obliterated.

  • Second, recent polls show that a great number of the world's muslims live in an alternate reality from the rest of us, in which suicide bombings in defense of islam are sometimes or often justified. In Jordan in the Spring of 2005, 57% of Jordanians polled said suicide bombing and violence against civilian targets was often or sometimes justified. A whopping 88% of Jordanians polled said it was often, sometimes, or rarely justified. Only 11% said it was never justified. I'd like to believe that this 11% is running the show in the muslim world, but I don't see the evidence that helps me think it is.
4. I keep trying to figure out why Europe and many American liberals hold Israel to one set of standards regarding human rights, and holds the muslim world to entirely another. Every time a European or American pundit or government figure criticizes Israel's record on human rights, I think about the utter absence of them in most of the Arab states where women still can't vote.

So Europe (rightly, in my view) kept telling Israel it needed to pull out of the settlements, and Israel couldn't even get the P.A. to cooperate with THAT- so Israel started doing it unilaterally. Okay, Europe, things have surely gotten better now, right? Why is it that Israel continually offers compromises and concessions while all that the P.A. EVER offers is the temporary halt of violent attacks on civilians, and Israel is STILL accused by Europeans of not doing enough. This brings two points to mind:
  • First, how much has been gained by Israel offering concessions and compromises? How do we calculate what the benefits of accommodation have been to Israel and the cause of peace? (There's a mathematical formula for this: Diddly/Squat = Bubkis)
  • Second, can you BLAME Israelis for crying "anti-semitism" every time they catch this kind of nonsense from europeans? What ELSE explains the double standard? I can't think of anything else, and I'm really, really trying.
5. In this latest fun, I've seen CNN talking heads repeatedly talk about Israel's "attack on Lebanon." This is inaccurate. Call it "Israel's counter-attack", or "Israel's response to Lebanese terrorists (openly tolerated by the Lebanese government) crossing the border into Israel and kidnapping 2 Israeli citizens, murdering 3 others, and launching about 100 rocket attacks on Israeli civilians."

6. This will NOT turn into WWIII. The worst that can happen is that Syria and/or Iran will be directly brought into the fight (as opposed to their indirect sponsorship of Hezbollah in money and weapons). If that happens, Israel's air force will sweep through Syria and/or Iran and wipe out their military capacity for years to come. War over. The last time(s) Arab armies ganged up on Israel, they had their posteriors handed to them. They're not dumb enough to try it again. Not right now.

Argument? Disagreement? Did I get some facts wrong? Any specious arguments? Let me have it. If I've said anything factually wrong or used faulty logic, I'll mark up and ammend this post.

Further reading:
Palestinian Media Watch
Pew Global Attitudes Project, The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other
Larry Miller's "Whosoever Blesses Them: The Intifada and its Defenders"


Jake said...

1. Yes, you should regret this post. Typing errors abound. I expect better from you. I mean OF COURSE this won't turn into WWII. But I don't hold myself or others to the same standard. I guess that makes me an anti-semitic blog terrorist.

2. It's 'hip' for the educated to look down upon the simple minded's opinions. While perusing Usenet for vintage porn, I found a long thread (100+) of 1950's shots that contained in the subject line, "Go Israelis! Kick towel-head Ass!" Hating Arabs is popular right now. So much so that rednecks are starting to think the Jews aren't half bad. But hating the Arab haters is hip. One good trend deserves another.

3. Centuries ago, the Arabs had it right. In the conflict between the Templars and the Assasins, the Arabs would covertly take out 'leaders' to minimize overall casualties. Car bomb derby is bloody ugly. How the mighty have fallen.

4. Back in the day when the Israelis were kicking ass and taking names, they should have been left unchecked. Through fear of letting the situation escalate, the west helped to create a permanent SNAFU zone. The only winners are arms dealers.

5. Technically, I have only one point to argue with you over; Israelis calling the west's double standard "anti-semitism". I would argue that it is not 'against Jews' or even against Israel. This seems to stem from a fear of escalating the conflict both in the mid-east and abroad. Tension with Israel is far easier to live with than the very real threat of Jihad. Kingdom of fear. Can you imagine this kind of diplomatic move in a bar fight. If a guy took a stab at me with a knife because the bartender offered me his buddy's bar stool I would expect you to at least support me. If you tried to protect yourself by claiming I should apologize to the man and buy him a beer while the two of us are wrestling on the bar floor, I'd be pissed. You don't hate me, you're just not much of a friend (and a pansy).

kk, that's all.

David Rothman said...

Jake, you shouldn't concern yourself with "hip." You're cool, remember? No haters here.

Note that I didn't say the double standard WAS due to anti-semitism, but that I couldn't see any other reason that made sense to me. You're suggesting that the double-standard is a result of a fear of escalation. I guess that could be true. If so, you're right that it makes europe "not much of a friend (and a pansy)."

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jake.