Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Taking sides on the Middle East

A commenter on my previous post suggests that I've only looked at one side of the coin when discussing the current Middle East crisis. Kevvyd says that both Israel and I have failed to make a distinction between Lebanon and Hizbollah. On his own page, kevvyd links to my 'Compare Israel' post and says:
The idea is that I might not have the right to comment on Israeli actions because I have never been in the shoes of an Israeli citizen, living under the threat of an attack at all times. It is obvious that this is both a dodge and true at the same time. It's a dodge because the same people that write this will in the same paragraph write that they want Israel to totally destroy Hamas and Hezbollah, which if my reading comprehension is correct, is also commenting on the situation.
I really, really hate my words being misrepresented. Disagree with me all you want, but don't assign your own meaning to things I've said.

To clarify, I never said that I want Israel to 'destroy' anyone or anything. I simply said that when comparing how Israel responded to the assault on its territory by an armed militia, the comparison shouldn't be made with the armed militia, but with other nation-states more similar to Israel. Making a distinction between Hizbollah and Lebanon is to some degree like differentiating between WWII era Germans and the Nazis. It works on a cerebral level, but not on a practical one. It's a sad reality that makes me glad to be over here and not one of the Israeli decision-makers.

I also never said that anyone who doesn't live in the area shouldn't be criticizing or commenting on the crisis. I simply suggested that when we pontificate (as bloggers are apt to do) we should remember that we do so from the luxury of a safe distance (both in terms of geography and experience). Never did I suggest that only those who take Israel's side should be allowed to comment.

kevvyd admits he would be scared etc. if he were an Israeli, then flips the coin:

Naturally, those that pose these questions of us Israel-critics (for want of a better term) seem unlikely to flip the question around and ask how they would feel if they were Palestinian. It's a useful exercise - try it. Since I'm good at following my own lead, I'll take that one on, too.

If I was Palestinian, I might be the second or third generation living in a refugee settlement without power and little or no water. I would likely have no job and come from a family in which no one has ever had a job. I very probably would know or be related to someone killed by Israeli shelling or rockets. (Body counts vary, but a rough estimate for the number dead during the recent Intifadah are about 3500 Palestinian and 1000 Israeli.) What's more, in all likelihood, I would have little or no hope of ever seeing any change in the situation for me or my kids. I'd be angry, scared, and hopeless. I might be angry at my government enough to do something aside from tossing protest votes at Hamas, but when the only alternative offers more of the same (with a smiling American stamp of approval), that is unlikely. It's more likely that if this world offers no solace I might make plans instead for the next one. And when those proffering the next world speak in the language of 72 virgins (or white grapes), I might just listen. (For what it's worth, I'd be a pretty churlish dead guy if it turned out to be grapes. I would haunt mosques. Unless they were really, really good grapes.)

Kevvyd implies that those who identify with Israel, do so because we have not tried to identify with its adversaries. Because his post is in response to mine, I can only suppose kevvyd means me.

Neither of my posts on Israel are meant to be unsympathetic to the plight of the average Lebanese, but my guess is that most people in the West, except for the most hardened souls, already do sympathize with them. But in my opinion, it's Israel's actions that require special understanding precisely because in comparison with its neighbours, Israel seems so much more powerful, more affluent, more organized, more civilized, more capable and therefore more open for criticism for its re-actions, than its neighbours are when they incite those reactions.

Critics tend to look on Israel as having an advantage because it is a modern state and they assign blame to Israel because its unfortunate neighbours are victim/underdogs -- as though somehow Israel's success is a result of, or to blame for, the failures of its Arab neighbours. I don't see any of the Arab states or territories as victims of Israel, I see them as victims of themselves and of each other. And while my post was primarily about the current crisis, I'll respond and say that I do pity the Palestinians, but not because they are 'victims' of Israel -- but because they are victims of their parents' and grandparents' hatred.

Rather than build up their own society, Palestinian leaders have tried for 60 years to destroy Israel. Blame checkpoints and humiliation, but remember -- those things wouldn't exist if terror weren't an everyday, ongoing, relentless threat to Israeli citizens.

Blame lack of electricity, and housing -- but don't blame Israel alone for those conditions. Remember that the territories where modern-day Palestinians have lived in squalor in refugee camps for 50 odd years, were not independent nations robbed of infrastructure by Israel --they belonged to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, and are the remnants of the war their own Arab nations started and which Israel had the audacity to win. Millions of dollars in aid haven't helped their situation -- not because Israel hasn't allowed it -- but because the leadership has been too busy lining its pockets and stirring up resentment to be bothered trying to establish a better life for its people.

The Palestinian failure to create a viable society, is its own failure and that of its fellow Arabs/Muslims who put their hatred of Israel and Jews ahead of their people. The Arabs of the Middle East chose to let Palestine fester for 60 years. It was allowed to do so by the three nations that lost those lands to Israel, because doing so lent itself to creating more animosity toward Israel, and yet another excuse for its destruction. Those nations are the ones you should look to for WHY the Palestinians live in such deplorable conditions -- those three are responsible --- first for launching wars of annihilation, and later and still, for their failure to accommodate and assist their own civilian populations left behind in lands held by Israel when their quests for its annihilation failed.

Ask yourself if Israel would be a threat to the region if there were no threat to Israel. Israel's goal has been to exist in peace. That's why it has succeeded in building infrastructure, democracy and a viable social order while its neighbours have failed. And it is why if I were Palestinian, I believe that by now I'd be starting to look to my own society's leaders and aim my vitriol at them.



Mike in Manotick said...

Canadianna... that is one of the best posts I have read in quite some time. Very informative and to the point. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

We live in a similar society here in Canada. For some reason, it is always "someone elses" fault. It is high time "these" societies starting taking stock of what they have and have not had for generations. But they must look from within.


valiantmauz said...

The whole Middle East resembles nothing so much as an alcoholic sliding ever closer to rock bottom. I hope they rebound into some semblance of sanity, but I am not terribly hopeful.

Anne (happier in Ontario) said...

Someone asked me yesterday: How is it possible that Israel is prosperous, organized, has trade and other infrastructure, a full democracy and thrives while those around them wither? My answer was "damned if I know!"

When you say that you believe their goal is peace and to be left alone while those around them only live to hate and destroy, well, that makes sense.

Funny how the haters and destroyers can't seem to figure this out. Can I add that likely some jealousy about prosperity and freedom enjoyed by Israelies plays into that too? Secondary emotions experienced due to their primary approach to life which, of course, only fuels that hatred and destroy mechanism, nice cycle going there.

Another great post, man are you good at this!

simoncat said...

Excellent and thoughtful post, once again.

It is the cherished belief of the useful idiots in the west, and of course, Palestinians themselves, that Israel is all to blame for the poverty and misery in Palestine. And the Lebanese cannot understand why Israel has attacked...even though the entrenched Hezbollah attacked first, and has made its intent to eradicate Israel very clear.

Of course, it is always much easier to blame someone else for one's own failures and errors.

It is unfortunate that terrorist groups openly committed to hatred and genocide, seem to garner such sympathy and support in the west. For the life of me, I fail to understand the logic or agenda. Unless the basis is anti Semitism..that nasty, quiet envious kind that has always existed, and appears to be be flowering under the tender ministrations of the liberal MSM.

Leap Frog said...

It's simple to me, Hezb'allah has called for Israelis death, while Israel has not called for whole countires to be wipped off the map...

They want revenge and they are sworn to it with the blood of their unborn.

kevvyd said...

I just read this and I have to apologize to you for mucking up here. I actually linked, or tried I should say, to one of the comments to the article, not to the article itself. I actually found your article a clear but fairly-worded statement of a position that I happen to disagree with.

I will change the article presently to reflect this.

Canadi-anna said...

Thanks kevvy.

Anonymous said...

It's not about freedom, democracy or electricity. It's fundamentally Darwinian. It's about ethnic genetic interests.

Extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe,
and race with race. Various checks are always in action, serving to
keep down the numbers of each savage tribe,- such as periodical
famines, nomadic habits and the consequent deaths of infants,
prolonged suckling, wars, accidents, sickness, licentiousness, the
stealing of women, infanticide, and especially lessened fertility.
If any one of these checks increases in power, even slightly, the
tribe thus affected tends to decrease; and when of two adjoining
tribes one becomes less numerous and less powerful than the other, the
contest is soon settled by war, slaughter, cannibalism, slavery, and
absorption. Even when a weaker tribe is not thus abruptly swept
away, if it once begins to decrease, it generally goes on decreasing
until it becomes extinct.

Israel poses a de facto threat by its mere existence. However, why is a concern to Canadians?

Washington wrote in his farewell address:

...a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity, gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation....

Desmond Jones

Anonymous said...

Nice colors. Keep up the good work. thnx!