Bombed Israeli bus displayed in Norway
The remains of an Israeli bus destroyed in a terrorist attack has been on display in Norway. First in Oslo last Saturday, and then in Bergen, to bring attention to the first of several meetings about terrorism and anti-semitism which was held on Monday. The rest will be held in Hamar tomorrow, but without the bus. The Hamar meetings have chosen a much less confrontational line than the Bergen meeting, and will be as neutral as you can be and still condemn terrorism.
It's funny how powerful a symbol like this can be, the remains of a terrorist attack that killed 19 people in Jerusalem in 2001. In both Oslo and Bergen, pro-Palestinians showed up to argue or protest .. against what? An object, not a work of art or propaganda. Can a bombed bus and the pictures of its victims lie to you? Does it tell you something that isn't true? Everyone agrees that Israeli buses are being bombed fairly often, and that this was one of them. So why object to the display?
Because the pro-Palestinian cause depends on competition for sympathy. The Palestinians suffer more (which is true), therefore they are morally superior (which isn't true). To display a destroyed Israeli bus like this, to force attention on Israeli suffering and fear, is to aim an attack at the core of that argument. It forces pro-Palestinians to defend the superior amount of suffering on their side, as blogger Lars Ruben Hirsch discovered when he went to see the bus in Oslo:
To Norwegian Palestine supporters in their late 20's came over to me, and the most outspoken said that if one had filled Youngstorget with Palestinians killed by the Israelies, then there'd be something for me to take pictues of. When I pointed out how absurd and pointless it is to compete over the number of people killed, and explained that the point of the bus was to direct attention to the fact that also Israelis suffer under this conflict, he told me that they ought to have brought a Palestinian refugee camp (!) to display next to the bus, "so we could stand here side by side". I told him that this was an attempt to aim focus at victims who don't get much attention by the media in Norway. "And now we do stand here side by side, with you protesting with Palestinian flags". But no, he wouldn't listen. He told me that this was an unfair attempt to focus on one party at the expense of the other.
Without superior suffering, the pro-Palestinian case falls apart, which leads to the conclusion that anything that points to Israeli suffering is a defense of Israeli actions. Condemnation of terrorism does not depend on any such thing. Terrorism is wrong and inexcusable, even if you're the weaker party, even if you suffer more, and even if the other side is brutal. It's wrong because of the suffering it creates, but not because it creates more suffering than the methods of the other side.
You can see more pictures at Lars Ruben's site (scroll down a bit) - but note the banner up in the background. That's the headquarters of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions (LO), who in response to the bus put up a banner that says "occupation creates terror - not peace". Even up there, in a building, the mere presence of a bombed Israeli bus on Youngstorget demands a reply. It's that powerful.
There were larger protests in Bergen, where blog reader Kevin McDonnell took a valiant stand and faced down the leader of the far-left party RV, Torstein Dahle. After a long debate where he tried to bring attention to things Norwegians rarely know about the Middle East conflict, people came up to him and asked, "Why don't the media tell us these things?" Good question, and to make people ask that question is a victory in itself. Again, there's a power here in merely telling the truth, whether by placing an object in the city center that you can't ignore, which screams out to you by its very existence something that is both undeniably true and feels like a punch in the face, or by pointing out facts the pro-Palestinians who dominate the media find it best to ignore.
Kevin also held a wonderful speech at the meeting afterwards. It's a bit long, so I've posted it on a separate page - but here are few excerpts:
It’s become virtually a matter of faith that Americans have a simplistic view of the world. We are said to lack nuance… which is apparently a very important principle… though I have yet to see a definition of it that holds for more than a fleeting and usually convenient moment. I am often struck by the irony that those who make these statements as though they are truisms, are also almost always those who loudly profess to be advocates of diversity, and tolerance. It seems odd does it not that such blatant stereotypes… the kind that make it so easy to disregard those so labeled, would be employed by those who speak so glowingly of diversity and tolerance. ..
The main meeting will be in Hamar tomorrow. I doubt it will punch anyone in the face - and that's deliberate. This is not an attempt to masquerade the real motives behind the event, as the local newspaper in Hamar has charged, but a reflection of the much larger number of people involved - politicians from most major parties, for instance. The "real" message is exactly as stated - to condemn the use of terrorism - no matter what additional beliefs some people involved may hold. We'll see how it goes.
Franko | 2004-06-04 18:49 | Link
I enjoyed reading Kevin McDonnell’s speech thank you for posting it. The links to the Lars Ruben Hirsch seem to be broken though.
I have read many articles that attempt to explain why the majority of European press and academia seem to have a bias against Israel and America and why this simplistic view is accepted to willingly by the populace. Some pundits suggest that the anti-Semitism that enabled the holocaust of the 30’s and 40’s actually never went away and that time has healed European shame to the point that these thoughts can be expressed more openly now. This renewed racism is made more palatable by the fig leaf known as anti-Zionism. How many times have we heard someone say they don’t hate Jews, they just hate Israel. Other people have suggested that the influx of Arabs into Europe has contributed to the myopic presentation of the Israeli Arab conflict. European elites are afraid of their new immigrant populations and have castigated Israel as a means of mollifying Middle Eastern colonists. Lastly, I have read articles suggesting that the European population is culturally predisposed to believe, with out question, what they are told by academics and the media. Apparently this condition is caused by a kind of societal hang over. The argument is that Europeans have been led by the nose by kings, clerics and dictators for so long that the populace is more easily led by so called elites today.
Personally, while I believe there are elements of truth within the theories I have listed above, I think the European politicos and press are so cohesive in their dislike of Israel and America for a different reason. The reason is, that by disparaging America and Israel, people are able to feel better about themselves and in fact superior to others. I think you have touched on this theory in past posts Bjorn.
Fidel Castro said that in order to build a cohesive population it is imperative to identify and enemy that is threatening. For Fidel this enemy is America. If the economy stinks it is because America has an embargo. Cuba needs to have a big army to defend itself from an America that wants to invade. The bay of Pigs fiasco gave Castro all the proof he needed of the Americans intent.
Today we have a similar phenomenon playing out in parts of Europe. People like to identify who they are as a group, by identifying who they aren’t. The French press and government identify their country as multilaterals unlike the Americans who are unilateralists. The French appreciate nuance the Americans are simplistic. The French are secular the Americans are dangerous Christian men of darkness. Americans support Israel so the French must support the Arabs because America and the Jews are working together and must be stopped because they are evil and stupid. This message is popular in France because it makes the French feel better about themselves and who they are.
What you are seeing in Norway is the same thing.
kia ,france | 2004-06-04 20:01 | Link
Right on,Franko and that's a french speaking!
Gaute, London | 2004-06-04 22:46 | Link
Franko: I think one should be very careful with equating anti-Israeli positions to anti-semitism, as this contributes little to the debate besides unfairly discrediting legitimate objections to state actions. Israel is a sovereign state, and as such, its policies are subject to scrutiny and criticism. I will concede that the situation in Israel is far more complex than commonly perceived, and that popular opinion in Europe generally seems to be very biased against Israel, but I can see several possible reasons why this is the cause.
Firstly, most people seem to instinctively root for the underdog. The media, in order to communicate complex ideas through simple, visual media like television and tabloid newspapers, simplify issues and reduce complicated conflicts to simple, polarized struggles with little background information or context provided. If you knew nothing about the history of the conflict, would you side with the stone-throwers or the organized armed forces? Of course, media bias contributes to this being the popular view of the conflict.
Secondly, I think one should just accept the fact that Europe (hardly a homogenous entity politically) and the US have fundamentally different political traditions, despite their similarities as societies. My subjective impression is that western European political tradition is more secular than is the case with the US (despite the latter's constitutional principle of separation between church and state), and that many Europeans feel somewhat uneasy about mixing politics and religion. Israel, then, represents something slightly suspect, as it refuses distinction between state, religion and ethnicity. (Incidentally, president Bush, with his expressed personal faith and ties to the Christian Coalition, is also very unpopular in Europe.)
And finally, Israel can be held responsible for acts of violence, as they are committed by representatives of a democratically elected government, and therefore, by extension, by the people. The terrorists and suicide bombers, on the other hand, elect themselves to represent their people through violent action. The palestinian people are, as a result, not directly accountable for any acts of violence committed towards Israelis.
These are just observations. I myself try to keep as nuanced a view of the conflict as possible, and I welcome any attempt to bring more balance to the Israel-Palestine discourse.
John Ø. Welle, Norway | 2004-06-05 13:43 | Link
Gaute: "The terrorists and suicide bombers, on the other hand, elect themselves to represent their people through violent action. The palestinian people are, as a result, not directly accountable for any acts of violence committed towards Israelis."
There are several problems with this statement.
First, you are implicitly saying that the Israeli people as a whole are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government. That would be fine if 100% of the Israeli people had voted Likud. As it is though, I think Likud holds some thirty seats in the Knesset of a total of 120 seats. The right-wing bloc which forms the foundation for Sharon's government holds about 60 seats.
Furthermore, you seem to be saying that the Israeli people are _directly_ responsible for Israel's actions. That's just not how a parliamentary democracy works. One can be held responsible for installing a government, but not necessarily for the subsequent actions of said government. That is why we have elections, so we can replace a government if it breaks our trust.
Finally, accountability for the actions of a group within a populace (such as Hamas), should not be dependent on a democratic structure. When polls are showing that Hamas would win a landslide-victory if the Palestinians were allowed to hold democratic elections, that a majority of the Palestinians support suicide bombings, why shouldn't the Palestinian people be held _more_ responsible for the actions of Hamas, than the Israeli people for the actions of Likud?
Franko | 2004-06-05 16:22 | Link
Gaute: You have made some interesting points.
“I think one should be very careful with equating anti-Israeli positions to anti-Semitism”
Yes, of course. My intention is not to recklessly throw about accusations of intolerance and I believe that there are no angels in the Israeli - Arab conflict. However, it is my personal belief that anti-Zionism is sometimes used as a crutch on which people lean when they want to cover their true anti-Semitic feelings. Having studied Jewish history carefully for a long time, I feel very comfortable saying that what I am seeing in Europe and the Middle East today, I have seen happen many times before. Jews are first tolerated, then they are resented, then they are dehumanized and then they are either killed, tortured, kicked out or forced to convert. Jews in Europe today are being targeted with personal violence, synagogues are being burnt down, cemeteries desecrated and many are leaving for America and Israel because they are fearful for their safety. What makes this situation all the more terrible is that European academics and media types appear to be indifferent to the situation at best and to be actually fanning the flames at worst. Of course, I don’t yet believe that the native populations of Europe are ready to slaughter the Jews among them.…again. However I do think that Europeans would do precious little to protect their Jewish populations if some other ethnic group decided to go after them.
“Firstly, most people seem to instinctively root for the underdog.”
Such an interesting statement because I feel exactly the same way, except for the Israelis not the Arabs. I am willing to consider that you and I have come to the exact same conclusions, except for the opposite sides of the conflict, because of a biased presentation of the facts. In my view the Israelis are just hanging on by their finger nails. They are surrounded by a huge and murderously hostile Arab population, abandoned by a Europe that killed millions of them some 60 years ago and finally only a four year election cycle away from being cut loose by America! In my opinion they are the ultimate underdogs. How fascinating that you view the opposite side as the underdogs. I will concede that if one were considering only the Palestinians as threatening Israel, then the struggle would look one sided. However it is my view that if you see only Palestinians in the conflict you are seeing only the trees and not the forest of forces the Jews are lined up against.
“Western European political tradition is more secular than is the case with the US”
True today, but not historically accurate. The populace of America is no more religious today then we were, say 50 years ago, the same is not true for Europe. In the last 50 years, generally speaking of course, Europe has nearly abandoned its Christian heritage. It is my subjective opinion, that the European unease with GWB’s expressed personal faith, is something newish and that it is Europe that has changed in this case, not America.
“Israel can be held responsible for acts of violence, as they are committed by representatives of a democratically elected government”
‘I think John O’s response was spot on. I don’t think one can hold the civilian population of Israel responsible for the actions of their government and not hold the civilian population of Palestine responsible for the actions of those that act on their behalf. I understand where you are going with this argument, I just can’t go there with you.
Excellent comments Gaute.
Gaute, London | 2004-06-05 20:17 | Link
Thanks for interesting objections, you both raise very good points.
I should stress, however, that what I was attempting to do was offer up possible explanations for anti-Israelian sentiment in Europe, not advocate my own views on the conflict. My statements about democracy and accountability was also not intended as a moral argument, merely a pragmatic observation on how things might be perceived.
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2004-06-05 21:37 | Link
"Personally, while I believe there are elements of truth within the theories I have listed above, I think the European politicos and press are so cohesive in their dislike of Israel and America for a different reason. The reason is, that by disparaging America and Israel, people are able to feel better about themselves and in fact superior to others."
While I agree with your points, I would like to direct your thinking to a more fundamental reason for the great antipathy towards the US exhibited by the elites of Europe: their realization that the collapse of the Soviet Union has validated the free-market model of the US, and brought into question the basic assumptions of the European social welfare state model.
It is the European welfare state that is, ultimately, in trouble, as it is dependent on an export surplus to a set of consumers (Americans) who do not have welfare state protections. There is no economic growth within Europe; it can only follow the economic growth of the United States. The heavy taxation and regulatory practices of welfare states eliminate European consumers as a significant global economic force, as compared to US consumers. European economic power is thus eclipsed by America, and there is no hope for countering the US (except in terms of "morality", "international law", "civilized standards", "cultural sophistication", and other questionable yardsticks) unless the EU consumer is taxed less, - a solution that is anathema for a welfare state.
European economists, financiers and politicos are very well aware of this fact, as are the more educated. And it is a hard fact to swallow, as it easily demolishes all that they have become accustomed to in terms of socio-economic thinking.
So attacks on America at all levels are actually a way to repudiate America as a model to be followed on just this one, fundamental level. But, as we all know, that will not change the economic equation one bit: the free market has a way of exerting its own immutable laws, despite the best efforts of various social engineers.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-06-06 02:24 | Link
I often wonder if this disdain for so-called religious America is just so much phony garbage. I read somewhere that Greece was debating whether or not to allow Muslims to build a mosque. (!)
Do other Europeans despise the Greeks because they have a state religion? Just asking and wondering.
I'm still wondering about the cause of increased anti-Semitism (and yes, I believe that "anti-Zionism" is anti-Semitism for various reasons which I won't list here. There does seem to be a need among various groups to have an "enemy." During the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War, the enemy one saw in movies were generally aliens from outer space. Maybe Jews just serve that simple function.
I also believe that anti-Semitism is kind of like AIDS. It just spreads around from one person to another.
For anyone who actually studies events in Israel and between Israelis and Palestinians, there's no way to justify the extraordinary support for the Palestinians against the Israelis--it just doesn't compute. One could say "that's just my opinion," but no, it's not. There are facts to be accounted for, not just feelings and opinions and a kind heart. I'm "for" the Palestinians too, but that doesn't mean I have to support pushing Jews into the sea in order to prove that I'm a nice person.
IXLNXS | 2004-06-06 04:58 | Link
A semi cleaned up bus, displayed in a nice park like setting conveys little.
Send this and maybe it'll start hitting home
I think it's time the world starts to accept that no one is left on Earth who can pronounce Gods real name let alone tell us what God wants.
Trevor Stanley, Melbourne | 2004-06-06 09:21 | Link
Keep in mind that France has brought in regulations on the expression of _all_ religions. In a sense, France's state religion is secularism, or that is to say, active anti-religion. This is a sort of negative definition of religious conviction. One doesn't actually have to have a religion in order to declare all 'other' religions wrong or dangerous.
This relates to some other comments on this post about negatively defined nationalisms. Many Europeans (and other non-Americans) define their own worth by their difference from America. America may be stronger, more successful, more powerful, more assertive and potent - but "we" are smarter, more sophisticated, rational. Paint Bush as a moronic rich boy whose judgement is addled by a superstitious and ignorant adherence to religion, and being "not America" doesn't seem so bad. This is a prejudice based on feelings of inferiority, just like many other prejudices.
Similarly, the argument about anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Zionism is an ideology that proposes the establishment of a Jewish state run on socialist principles. It is of course theoretically possible to be opposed to that ideology without being opposed to jews (the meaning of "anti-semite" in common usage).
These days, the term Zionist is generally associated not with the old Zionist socialist ideal but with the idea that Israel should exist. Anti-Zionism, like anti-Americanism, can be a straightforward prejudice against a state, or an opposition to the current policies of that state, or a conviction that the state should cease to exist. The label 'anti-Zionist' can easily be used to cloak conscious or subconscious anti-semitic prejudice. In many cases, the distinction between anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish is academic unless we believe that Jews are special in some way. Insofar as anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist means hating the state of Israel or its residents, it is morally equivalent to hating people because they are Jewish or belong to any other religious or ethnic category, is it not?
To dislike Israelis because of the actions of their government, or to dislike Palestinians (or Arabs, or Muslims) on the basis of actions taken by a subset in their name is basic prejudice. In the same way, we should not hate Germans because the Nazis killed in their name, or the French because Jacques Chirac covers for dictators.
Branding people as wrong because they belong to a set which contains a subset that is 'wrong' is irrational.
On the other hand, individuals who deliberately support or participate in groups that advocate killing and terrorising people of particular groups can be branded 'wrong'. Ideas can be evil. For example, people who knowingly participate in or support al-Qaeda, Hamas, neo-Nazism or anti-Muslim hate groups should be acted against.
This is the basis on which the assassination of Hamas leaders by the Israeli government and the bombing of schoolbuses by Hamas are clearly and obviously different in moral terms.
This seems to be so straightforward and commonsense that it is a source of endless astonishment that hundreds of years of history have not made it obvious to so many in Europe and elsewhere.
This is one of the true quandaries of moral philosophy in our age - how have so many of our most highly educated people been able to suspend basic moral precepts? How have they missed the most important lessons of the twentieth century?
[ The Palestinians suffer more (which is true), therefore they are morally superior (which isn't true). ]
I think you have identified one of the most common paths people take to arbitrarily advocating for the "wrong" side in a conflict. As Gaute said, "most people seem to instinctively root for the underdog". But there is no necessary correlation between failing and being morally right.
Take Germany for example. The majority of those from the former East Germany "suffer more" (or enjoy less) than those from the areas of old West Germany. This is the consequence of specific policies taken in the East and in the West, just as North Koreans suffer more than South Koreans, and so on. It is not necessary to champion East Germans against the rapacious West Germans, unless one is ignorant of their history.
There is a clear utilitarian differential in geographical "Palestine" across the Israeli border. Does this mean that Israelis are evil and Palestinians are their victims? Similarly, does American wealth "cause" the relative poverty of other countries, as many anti-Americans appear to think?
The relative living conditions in Israel and the rest of Palestine are to a great extent caused by historical policies in Israel being generally more constructive than those in Palestine. It is inane to back the loser, as if every loser is a victim and every winner a crook.
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2004-06-06 23:26 | Link
Totoro: not only do most western European nations have state religions (with the notable exception of France), but there is also state-sponsored religious education in public schools. In Finland, as in most of the Nordic countries, that religion happens to be Lutheran.
As a child, in second grade in Finland in public school, I always wondered why, whenever the teacher announced that now it's time for our religion class, she always followed that up by instructing one single boy in the class to leave the classroom: "Eero, you may leave the room".
Poor Eero would rise from his desk, in the mortified silence of all of us other kids, who were left wondering why Eero was singled out in this manner. It was only years later when, reminiscing with my old Finnish friends (my family and I had moved to the US in the interim), that I finally found out the truth: Eero had to leave because he was - gasp! - a Methodist.
I believe that this complete grip that the Lutheran church has on the Nordic states (though Nordics are quick to laugh it off) has had an indelible effect in closing the minds of the people there. In the end, when we examine the historical development of the Scandinavian welfare state, we will find at rock bottom an ideology founded on Lutheran piety.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-07 07:04 | Link
Markku: "not only do most western European nations have state religions (with the notable exception of France), but there is also state-sponsored religious education in public schools."
And state religion paid for that - by dying on the inside, leaving mostly the shell and perhaps an attitude. Lutherans have no real hold today over Scandinavian society. The reason Eero had to leave your class was the hold Methodism had over his parents. If he was singled out, it was because they for some reason were unhappy with the religious education in school.
In Norway, it was mostly the kids of atheist parents who left religious class, but perhaps it was Eero's Christian parents who understood this best - religious education in school is part of what keeps religion down. It gives kids a reason to associate religion with other dull things they hate, like gym class or mathemathics.
I believe religious education has changed since I went to school, though. If I remember correctly, it has been made less Christian but also obligatory. (?)
Michael Farris | 2004-06-07 07:55 | Link
"Poor Eero would rise from his desk, in the mortified silence of all of us other kids, who were left wondering why Eero was singled out in this manner."
I know the cliche that Finns don't talk when they can brood in silence instead, but really, if it was such a mystery, then why couldn't you _ask_ Eero.
"Hey, Eero, why does the teacher send you out of the room for religion class?"
maor | 2004-06-07 12:53 | Link
It might be fun to ask the trade unionists if they can name which Palestinian cities are occupied by Israel at the present moment.
Herbie NY | 2004-06-07 14:40 | Link
I have some confidence that evetually there will appear an article in the Norweigan pressI expect that eventually there will appear an article in the Norwegian press with a headline something like “Israel and World Reaction to Norwegian Whale Hunting”. The story that will follow will be a convoluted one about how Israeli “ill-treatment” of the PLO has fostered negative world opinion about Norwegian whaling practices. It will end for a call for Freedom for “Palestine” and how that will result in acceptance of Norwegian whaling practices. the call will be taken up by the EU which will note the relationship and expand it to EU subsidies for farming and the decline in US tourism. In a show of solidarity the Arab press will republish the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and the EU will discover this long lost document and have an expose. Together the PLO and representatives of the EU, the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Commission will join hands and dance around a large fire singing a mournful rendition of that song from the Civil Rights movement in the US “We shall Overcome”. After much clapping and self-congratulation all will retire to drink beer or wine except the Muslims who will drink tea and discuss the virtues of Honor killing. :-)
Magnus, Bergen, Norway | 2004-06-07 17:26 | Link
If it is the politicians at Knesset, not the Israeli voters, who are responsible for violating international law in the occupied territories, why is the bus that became a coffin for Israeli dead on display in Bergen, Norway? I live in this city and do not find bringing the problem of lack of mutual respect here "funny" (sic!).
Likewise, I would object if PLO or Hammas brought rubble from destroyed houses or mutilated Palestinian corpses to my home town, expecting sympathy by this "gesture". Instead of always playing the blame game, why not persue finding a sollution to this shameful conflict? There are vast areas, both within and outside Israel, where jews, christians and muslims live side-by-side, proving the mutual prejudisms about each group concisting of murderers only concerned with death and destruction of other believers wrong.
Finally, I must say I'm impressed by the many interesting comments above.
Raging Bee, Washington, DC, USA | 2004-06-08 16:03 | Link
No one in Europe or the US seems to spend a lot of time asking what, exactly, is causing the suffering of the Palestinians. It is simply assumed that Isreali occupation is the cause of all the evil that comes from that area.
What about the refusal of Israel's Arab neighbors to provide decent permanent housing for those displaced by Israeli actions?
What about the refusal by those Arab states to choose honestly between war (i.e., raise an army and retake Palestine) and peace (i.e., have normal diplomatic relations with Israel)?
What about the chronic violence by Palestinian and other anti-Israeli extremists, which both hinders economic growth in the occupied territories and provokes mistrust and draconian retaliation by Israel?
Did it ever occur to anyone in the West that the Palestinians might be safer, freer, and more prosperous if they gave up the endless violence and found a more peaceful way to protest Israeli policies?
Did it ever occur to anyone in the West that Israeli policies might be less evil if they didn't have a chronic terrorism problem to contend with year after year?
| 2004-06-08 16:37 | Link
Before running reflexively to that comfortable and comforting position (that the two can be simply compared, and thus "intellectually" discarded without assigning any distinction), you should consider that the reason the bus was brought to Norway was to challenge that very position. It was not about impinging on your space Magnus, and throwing some disturbing images your way to make you run to "our" side. It was not to merely say that it was a terrible thing, and to thus make one "favor" the victims of that terrible act... as opposed to some other act... simply becasue of the "emotional" rwaction of seeing this up close.
It was to make you think.
You used the expression "I live in this city and do not find bringing the problem of lack of mutual respect here "funny" (sic!)" ... and therein lies a good example of a phenomenon that if it continues past some yet to be defined tipping point, will be a tragedy in history of far greater tragedy in its consequences than that bus... "coffin for Israeli dead" though it is.
Let me paint a picture of what you are "in essence" (if I may be so bold) doing here. It is a picture that is all too common in the public discussion, and is why I call it a mass phenomenon with historical implications. You are eseentially sighing in a very disdainful way at the whole affair, and then you are wondering "distantly" why they can's all just "a solution to this shameful conflict?" How wonderfully convenient it is to not need to look too hard, and to even get to feel superior as you dismiss the whole affair. One wonders what is your point of reference for the use of the word "shameful" Magnus?
Unfortunately for your pat postition though, there are certainly distinctions. And you'll forgive me if I fail to feel sympathy for your position that it was not appreciated by you that we rattled your sunny day with our "gesture". You see, it is your illusory equanimity in the face of ruthless hatred that is not only permitting, but enabling this kind of mayhem to become "acceptable" to "world opinion"... and your tax money that funds these kinds of acts. The mind numbing equivalence that enables the PA to be held unaccountable for its own actions, is what justifies yur acquiescence to the fact that there are no strings attached to money that supports the Palestinian "Regime". "Aid" money thus becomes financing for thugs and tyrants-in-waiting who will lord over the "injustices" that their "beloved" people endure (knowing full well that a coddled Europe full of sighing people whose backs are deliberately turned on the "whole mess" will accept virtually ANYTHING they say... as long as they phrase it properly) while they support tyranny over their own people, and terror against Israel.
Is it possible Magnus that your own position is based on caricature and ignorance... and that both are the result of the desire that your own personal reverie not be interrupted? Because THAT historical parallel... is best found in the "Free" world of the 1930s... where there was much fiddling while the world prepared to explode, and the loudest outcries of "moral" indignation were by the intellectual elite... against anyone who spoke out against the rising tide of tyranny. Those who did, were duly labeled "simplistic", "primitive" and "warmongers". Sound familiar?
The blown up bus Magnus... was blown up with the purposeful intent to kill and maim innocents... merely at the hands of a young boy who had been inculcated in naked hatred... but more accurately by those who seek to impose their will over others... and whose interest in democracy, much less freedom, is limited to the rhetoric that many Europeans(and Americans too) love so that they can sigh in a superior way... and turn away. There is a difference between the bus... and the images that Palestinian propagandists hawk (Tragic though they may be, but not murderous) so profound... that the fact that you... and so MANY others can so blithely equivocate around them, fills me with growing horror.
You ended speaking about places where Jews and Christians and Muslims live side by side.
Exactly. Why is it that they don't here? What is it that prevents that?
There are answers.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-06-08 17:11 | Link
Sorry... forgot to fill in the blanks again. Above is from me.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-06-08 18:54 | Link
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen . . .
Your reply to Magnus is terrific. Moral equivalence is not a substitute for thought and factual knowledge.
Raging Bee, Washington, D.C. lists some excellent things for Magnus to think about if he cares to think. To his list of things to think about I would add:
"What about the massive support by the EU and the UN of the terrorists against the Israelis?
Magnus | 2004-06-08 22:59 | Link
Back at the blame game once again. Let's point fingers. There's nothing we Palestinians can do because we are occupied by evil people who wants to kill us. There's nothing we Israeli can do because the people we occupy are evil and will kill us if the occupation ends. Black - white. White - black.
The supporters of the Israeli side bring up the European funds to the PA intended to establish a self-stustainable economy as funding terror, killing innocent Israeli civilians. The supporters of the Palestinian side bring up the US funds for the IA intended to protect its civilians as funding terror, killing innocent Palestinian civilians.
Just as supporters of the Palestinian side focus on the fact that when they rallied in a peaceful demonstration, they were met by Hellfire-missiles. Just as supporters of the Israeli side focus on the fact that when they let an ambulance through one of the checkpoints, it turned out to be a vehicle filled with explosives and a suicidebomber behind the wheels.
And then the rest of the discussion is either the blame game, or counting civilian corpses, disclosing fundings, rediscovering history, name-calling, extremism etc. Even the refference to the 1930s are used on "both sides". Either as a reminder of what extreme antisemitism has led to - or as a reminder of what extreme antimuslimism can lead to.
As Raging Bee advocates: Violence breed more violence. Communication breeds understanding. Cooperation breeds peace. Let's take a deep breath, then start talking. Not throw arguments or play the blame game, but talk. Discuss. Seek solutions.
The naked fact that this probably will label me naïve, makes me ashamed. The fact that many prefere continuing the killings instead of talking, makes me ashamed. The fact this has been going on for more than fifty years, makes me ashamed. Since respect for human life is in the center of my codes of morals and ethics, I cannot use other wordings that the conflict itself is shameful. In my book, we are all human. First of all. Not Palestinian. Not Israeli.
And if next time it's Palestinians bringing their coffins, it too would make me feel shameful. There are better ways to make people think. There are better ways to make people engage in talk.
"There are answers.", kevin said.
ps: To play the blame game myself (to make sure I continue to receive interesting comments to nuance my view of this conflict. Thank you!): I live in Norway. 35 years passed from we became a suverene state in 1905, untill we were occupied by Germany. Norwegian nationalism was, and is, strong. In two referendums we've declined to join the European Union, mainly because we do not want to give away our precious suverenity. Living in an ex-occupied country undoubtfully influence my views..
One last thing, probably also naïve: Why not ask for international presence, ie UN peacekeepers? The UN created the state, and thereby morally accepted responsibility to aid it in times of need.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-06-09 02:11 | Link
Yes it does seem tedious doesn't it? This whole white black white thing. But in spite of yourself, you've actually managed to stake out a few positions here, so lets go through them. and see if it reveals anything about the "equanimity" you seem so secure in.
You say: "The supporters of the Israeli side bring up the European funds to the PA intended to establish a self-stustainable economy as funding terror, killing innocent Israeli civilians."
Regarding the funding to the Palestinians. I found it interesting that you use the term "intended" to describe what they are supposed to do. Do they actually though? Does it matter? If funds are going somewhere... and they are "intended" for something, does the moral responsibility of the providor of those funds end there? Lets be clear here. I am not a supporter of the "Israeli" side merely because it is Israel. This has no bearing on me whatsoever. The FACT is that the funds that go to the PA, support very bad things. It is superficial in the extreme to imagine that the endless stream of naked hatred that flows from every instrument of information dissemination in the PA's control, doesn't impact its society. The situation is quite a bit worse than merely the direct support of terrorists (which in any case, is part of the fact as well) but in fact involves financial support of a regime whose only real historical paralell IS Germany of the 1930s. I would note though, that these issues were covered quite specifically in the Oslo agreements. The PA was to allow for a free press, it was to stop and refrain from educating its children in murderous hatred, it was to cease using the airwaves to inculcate the population in hatred and rage of the most grotesque kind. Yet it has continued to do all of these things with great efficiency. In fact the only real ways in which this "regime" has managed to function as a State, is in its absolute control of the instruments of totalitarian states whereby the Rulers control the people... and mold them. The nature of Palestinian society from its schools to its newspapers to its radio and its TV is available for the public record. Yet it does not get discussed, even as it violates the very accords upon which so many decent people pinned so much hope. WHY IS THAT?
Then you say "The supporters of the Palestinian side bring up the US funds for the IA intended to protect its civilians as funding terror, killing innocent Palestinian civilians."
So you see no distinction there? Tell me Magnus... where exactly is this effort being made to kill all these innocent Paestinians? Can you show me where? Will you point to operations to get the perpetrators of acts of OBVIOUS terror... and equate them with the terror itself. When 20 "militants" are killed... and they get added to this running total that shows how there were more Palestinians killed in this "mess", is it the "same".. as those truly innocent people who were MURDERED on the bus that inspired the operation? Have we gone so mad?
And I would really like to see your example of a peaceful demonstration being met by Hellfire missiles. You tip your hand and reveal too much Magnus... equivalence has made you sloppy. You must have an expectation that there will be a natural sameness to it all... and that's sad. Tell me, what do you know of the "Massacre" at Jenin?
You say the references to the 30s are on both sides, and in this you are all too right. But only one is actually grounded in history, and it's mirror image is in plain site. If you need to engage in an intellectually convoluted deconstruction to demonstrate the fact (as is the playground of our happy "intellectual" punditry) then ironically... the comparison to the 30s is made more poignant... though not in its "intended" way. Because that was one of its most disgusting characeristics among the "freethinkers" of that time!
You say then that you want everyone to start talking Magnus. This is not naive... but its impossible in the face of ruthlessness. If its true that your moral codes are bound in respect for human life, I salute you, for there is no better place to anchor ones moral foundation. So... what does this require of you in the face of nihilistic hatred. Is it possible that you may be required to STAND... against an oppression that is squelching the humanity of the Palestinians even more than it is terrorizing the Israelis. I support FREEDOM for the Palestinians.. and that more than anything else will affirmn their lives both individually and collectively... by affirming the dignity of life itself. That is in NO WAY either the intention of, or in the interest of... that which rules their lives now; and YOU, must LOOK at that that, before you sigh smarmily.
Imagine if there had been more who spoke for freedom, among those who actually lived beneath it in the 30s. Who, instead of equivocating and engaging in satisfyng moral posturing which was grounded in NOTHING, actually opened their eyes to what was really there... and saw the beast for what it obviously was. Some did... and were sneered at. And so this nihilitic abyss got to feed itself for a decade before it, quite predictably, unleashed itself on the world. By then... its body was made up of members of the "Master Race"... who just a few years before... had just been Germans... and human.
In the end Magnus, there is no equivalence between good and evil, and when we pretend there are no such things as shadows ... they lengthen.
As they are doing now. And not just "over there".
Margaret Deutsch | 2004-06-09 13:43 | Link
I have read the postings carefully and found them very perceptive. There is one question that for me has never been answered. Why don't other Arab countries send relief, doctors, engineers, and money for schools and hospitals to the Palestinians to help provide a better life for the children. Where is the Arab Peace Corps to help the people? For that matter where is the French, Spanish or Danish humanitarian aid?
John Ø. Welle, Norway | 2004-06-09 15:08 | Link
Margaret: "Why is the money and aid sent to the Palestinians only directed to the violence."
To be fair, a large amount of money is used to buy basic commodities and maintain refugee camps through the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency. Most European nations contribute to this agency, but it's interesting to note that the US is the single biggest donor to UNRWA. (What? But, but.. I thought the US only supported Israeli 'state terrorism'!) It's also interesting to note that Arab nations only contribute a tiny fraction of the agency’s budget. As you imply, the outrage over the condition of the Palestinian people from Arab nations, doesn't extend very much beyond, well, outrage. It is even concievable that it is in the interest of the neighbouring autocracies to keep the Palestinian people in a permant condition of squalor.
More worrying is the large amount of money the Palestinian Authorities has recieved from the US, Europe, and pretty much the rest of the world, over the years. It was believed that the money was needed to keep the fragile economy of the Palestinian territories from collapsing, and giving the PA the necessary means to crack down on terrorism. Now, we know that neither of these aims were pursued. Instead, Arafat has accumulated billion(s) of dollars on his private bank-accounts, and terrorism is as rampant as ever. (Well, not quite, but that has more to do with a certain security fence, than the PA cracking down on terrorism..)
Magnus, Bergen, Norway | 2004-06-09 16:32 | Link
Back in the trenches, again. It is said there are two main cathegories of debate. 1) Where the debattants enter to "win" the argument, most often by bashing the other participants with rethorics, "facts" and by discrediting their oponents views. 2) Where the point is exchanging perspectives - and "facts" - in order to search for sollutions, where it's not a defeat to walk the floor once in a while.
Having examined what arguments are accepted, and what is left untouched, I find this debate firmly located within the first cathegory. To me, this conflict is too serious for too many to be a cheap game of scoring points. But having been labeled a liar (above: "And I would really like to see your example of a peaceful demonstration being met by Hellfire missiles. You tip your hand and reveal too much Magnus... equivalence has made you sloppy."), I feel obliged to answer. I was refering to the Rafah massacre, May 19th 2004, where ten humans were killed on the second day of "Operation Rainbow". I agree there's been so many massacres, it's hard to keep count, but please refrain from naming me a liar even when facts you're not familiar with are brought to your attention. I will do the same. Amnesty has demanded an independent investigation, a demand that's not been met. But after having read their annual report on this conflict (http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/isr-summary-eng), I realise that most debatants here probably has a quite different perspective on this conflict. Please enlighten me!
I earlier put forward a suggestion of international peacekeepers. Please do comment.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-09 17:05 | Link
Magnus: "Back in the trenches, again. It is said there are two main cathegories of debate. 1) Where the debattants enter to "win" the argument, most often by bashing the other participants with rethorics, "facts" and by discrediting their oponents views. 2) Where the point is exchanging perspectives - and "facts" - in order to search for sollutions, where it's not a defeat to walk the floor once in a while."
I won't interrupt your debate with Kevin, I'd just like to point out that I'm a firm believer in the kind of debate where you attack your opponents views with everything you have - provided you stay within the bounds of fact and reason, and never go for the person behind the views. On the battlefield of ideas, good ideas survive, bad ideas die, and that's for the good for everyone. At the very least, both sides walk away having been forced to think through their opinions more closely, and have perhaps dropped one or two beliefs that proved embarassing when put under the light of an opponent's argument.
There's also room for the polite exchange of views, as you believe in, but I believe this is most appropriate when you have two people who respect each other and do not have very strong opinions, who perhaps believes one thing, but not so strongly that they aren't curious about the alternative.
That's usually not the case with the Middle East conflict, and so it's best to just fight it out. But in _the right way_. We want to avoid both the lack of genuine debate in the Norwegian media, and the flame wars of Usenet. The battlefield of ideas is somewhere between that. It's where you give people the benefit of the doubt, but attack ideas with every fair weapon in your arsensal.
Oh, and you can't have a battle without combattants. Which is why I'm always glad when people drop by here who disagree with the majority view in this blog. Hope you stay on, even if it means you'll be outnumbered.
Raging Bee, Washington, DC, USA | 2004-06-09 19:43 | Link
Magnus: the whole purpose of debate is to try to "win," by advancing one's own views, defending them against attack, and pointing out fallacies in one's "opponents'" arguments. That's how people ascertain truth in the fog of conflicting ideas, opinions, perceptions, experiences, and, yes, outright lies.
Also, sooner or later, we all have to judge objective right from wrong, justice from injustice, simply in order to obtain what is objectively right and just. Refusing to judge, or to accept judgement, only leads to paralysis in the face of injustice. Just because someone else disagrees with our judgement does not mean it is wrong, or that we are wrong to judge.
Raging Bee, same location as before | 2004-06-09 19:49 | Link
RE: the international pecekeepers, I strongly suspect that they won't do much to solve the problem, as long as certain people are determined to subvert whatever peace they're sent to keep. They might provide additional muscle, but how strong that muscle might be is in doubt, given the experience of the UN in Baghdad.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-06-09 20:32 | Link
Before I answer you, I want to note for the record that I never called you a liar. When I said that equivalence had made you sloppy, I meant intellectually sloppy and thought that was clear. My point is that you seem to simply accept the empty and often unfounded moralisations of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty or the UN... without much compunction... or even healthy scepticism that they may have another agenda. There are all too many people today who do the same thing, and without even a moments consideration. That doesn't make them smart, or freethinkers. It makes them tools... or in the worst cases, useful idiots.
You answered my query on how Israel is no better than the Palestinians with the report from Amnesty International, and I'm going to respond by discussing both Amnesty and the report itself. The interesting thing about that report, as that it brings us to the crux of what our debate is 'really' about.
Amnesty (an organisation of which I was once a member incidentally) has been eroding as a credible institution for over a decade (and for the same philosophical reasons having to do with the ideological relativism we are ultimately debating here... see my segue above), as the vast majority of the media. Indeed, they lost to my mind, what little currency they had left in matters having to do with the US or Israel, when they recently released a statement on America by Irene Khan, AIs secretary general saying that "Not since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 has there been such a sustained attack on its values and principles."
Please. When an organisation that is ostensibly above the fray in the interest of "human rights"... loses all moral anchorage that would provide a meaningful position on what defines those rights, then it is even worse then useless. It appears that the Gulags, the Khmer Rouge, China's "great leap forward", North Korea in general, The French in Algeria, Mugabes Zimbabwe, Bosnia, Idi Amin (shall I go on?) are all merely blips in the road to a better world... one where there is no America to make a stain on humanity. THIS, Magnus, is the noodle mindedness that relativism hath wrought. For it does not strip away the prejuduces to reveal some "unbiased" center at all (and indeed, in my opinion that has never been its true point... but thats another discussion), but rather uncouples us from any meaningful common anchorage and thus makes us able to justify... anything. In the end, it is always anti-American and anti-"Zionist", because thats what it wishes to be, and the image of the world will have to suit itself to that very real prejudice... world itself be damned.
Its a crying shame. Because in many areas, just like certain humanitarian organisational elements of the UN, Amnesty still does much GOOD ... but where they do it is within the rotting carcass of the organisation as a whole.
Case in point from the report you cite:
"The Israeli army killed around 600 Palestinians, including more than 100 children. Most were killed unlawfully – in reckless shooting, shelling and bombing in civilian residential areas, in extrajudicial executions and through excessive use of force."
Wow... how authoritative. The enitire sentence amounts to an opinion that is based on the fact that Amnesty... has reached the point, where one of the few firm positions it will take is that the use of force by Israel to hunt down those who do it direct harm is by definition "illegal".
I beg to differ, and particularly since the taking of that position means that Israel has no right to defrend itself and is thus de facto, not really a state at all. A neat solution... for lack of a better word.
Its particularly telling that one of the few cited specific incidents in the piece is the "killing" of Rachel Corrie. I am not about to engage in direct discussion on that absurdity, except to say.. that it doesn't do much to support the rest of their breathless thesis.
"Israeli soldiers continued to use Palestinians as "human shields" during military operations, forcing them to carry out tasks that endangered their lives."
Really? How come there is no citation here. There certainly are mountains of evidence of the Palestinians using their own as shields... to the point that it even gets occasional mention in our "mainstream" media... though off-handedly obviously. Is it not a clear element of the Geneva convention that combatants are in violation when they conduct operations and then retreat to a civilian population center? Such actions allow for the repsonding forces to use lethal force as long as it is judicious and takes reasonable measures to minimize civilian casualties.
Magnus, in any reasonable discussion Israel has done this in spades. (I suppose though, that you have to be considered a "legitimate" responding force in order for the Geneva Convention to apply.. and we all know Israel doesn't really qualify... after all... over two thirds of all the condemnations issued covering the whole world by the UN Commission on Human Rights last year applied to Israel... so they MUST be really really "bad"). There is no doubt that Civilians have been killed, but this is a tragedy where responsibility falls on those who initiate violence... and in this case... SEEK IT. Do you think for even a moment, that if the terror stopped tomorrow, and it was clear that it would be not tolerated in the Palestinian Territories... that the IDF would conduct even a single operation there? If you answer that they would... for the sake of oppressing the Palestinians or for some plan of ethnic cleansing or whatever, I will be able to conclude readily where you are arguing from and that will be that.
But then let's invert the argument (and in this we have actual history to cite... but it shouldn't be necessary to reasonable men): If the IDF unilaterally withdrew and made clear that its intention was now to only try to "defend" itself in Israel proper... do you think the bombings would end... or would they accellerate?
As to your conclusion that I am engaging in some rhetorical game because you felt pressed... I'm afraid my lack of sympathy for that position is similar to the one I had for your not appreciating the bus "gesture"... and for similar reasons having to do with thinking. In any case, this is all done in the spirit of holding out my hand in the hope that you will indeed think about it.
As to the suggestion of UN Peacekeepers. Can you elaborate on what you envision here? I don't place a great deal of currency in the UN either at this junture in time ... (Did you read my speech?) and issues leaking into the public view bear this out. Maybe at some point, if this tectonic crisis in history is resolved, the "UN" will be an institution with a meaningful connection to its own mandates. At the moment however, it ventures far indeed from its foundation.
Raging Bee, going nowhere | 2004-06-09 20:47 | Link
Kevin: I wish to protest your characterization of Amnesty's thinking as "noodle mindedness." I have been eating noodles for all of my 44 years, and I have never ingested any noodle as distasteful as the rhetoric you cited in your last post. In future, please be more accurate in your choice of words. :-)
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-06-09 21:19 | Link
1. Israel exists
2. Israel was attacked and expanded its borders by defeating those that attacked it.
3. Thereafter on a country by country basis Israel slowly has made peace with Jordan and Egypt.
4. Hamas has stated that the only acceptable peace is the destruction of Israel as a state and the imposition of Islamic law. In accordance with Hamas’ stated goals terrorist acts are actively engaged in which kill large numbers of Israeli civilians.
5. The overwhelming number of Palestinians support Hamas.
6. Israel has offered peace and land that is equal to about 94% of the West Bank and the Gaza strip in exchange for peace.
7. That offer has been rejected.
8. Exactly what would YOU propose the Israelis have the right to do to protect themselves besides move? Anything? It would appear not. A wall is out that takes territory and creates separation. Targeted responses are out since that is “murder”. Mass slaughter, like the liberals beloved Jenin “massacre”, are out -- too many innocent dead. Roadblocks are out since they impede economies. Spout all the usual moral equivalency arguments you wish, but at bottom you do seem comfortable with Israel just to disappear. However asking someone from a society with Western values to commit suicide is a no brainier and all it will engender as a response is to make sure that the enemy dies first and more of them die. That is where your argument leads. It is your argument and its motivational quality that has led to the present impasse. Worse, it is your argument that gives the Palestinians no hope or false hope which is even worse.
Unless you can come up with a logical, let alone cogent suggestion, and continue to mouth generalizations about the poor and oppressed and the use of peace keepers you are taking up space and contribute nothing except more death and harm to all of the parties.
Raging Bee, buzzing around DC | 2004-06-09 21:54 | Link
"5. The overwhelming number of Palestinians support Hamas."
Do they? Where do you get that? And is it "hard" support, as in they all agree with Hamas' objective and are willing to tolerate continued chronic violence to achieve it; or "soft" support, as in it's hard to say "no" to hardened criminals who know where your mother lives?
What would happen to a Palestinian who stood up and said "This violence is wrong and I don't want my children to be a mere delivery system for your bombs."?
| 2004-06-09 21:59 | Link
Actually I don't think we're pretty much coming at it from the same place. You state the obvious legal issues first, anbd refreshingly clearly... but of course these are subject to the weekly vagaries of the now oft cited(Ahem)"International Law", and thus easily made mushy by talking heads and pontificating blowhards.
You end though where the issue really lives... one might even say that this is a metaphysical perspective. In any case, the fact that all the words ascribed to a desire for "Peace", and "respect for human life"... seem to be more about making the speakers of these words "feel" good about themselves. The shame of course, that in so doing, and making that feeling more important than the real requirements in honoring those words... they actually end up hollow and meaningless.
Oh... and the words do too.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-09 22:04 | Link
Herbie: "Exactly what would YOU propose the Israelis have the right to do to protect themselves besides move? Anything? It would appear not. A wall is out that takes territory and creates separation."
Actually, the barrier could have been built in locations that showed more consideration for Palestinian settlements. This isn't about respecting borders, for there aren't any, but to take more into account the effect of this barrier on the people it separates. That aspect is at least worth discussing.
Of course, if the critics would drop their simplistic "no to the wall!" routine, and start coming with constructive criticism based on an understanding of the Israeli situation, perhaps we'd be having that discussion now. I'm not saying that placing the barrier somewhere else would please many Europeans. But it could be the right thing to do.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-06-09 22:08 | Link
You're absolutely right on that point. And THAT is a question that anyone who thinks that they are defending Palestinians, by defending the present status quo... ought to be thinking hard about.
But that would require genuine thought and reflection, with the possibility of self-absorbed-reverie interrupting distress. Sadly, and sarcasm aside... there is much working against that happening in any significant way... at least here.
PS Above reply to Herbie was me... always forget to ID myself. Maybe its subconscious.
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-06-09 22:15 | Link
Raging Bee: I get it from surveys reported on very conservative newswires like Reuters and CNN. "Is it hard support" How the hell should I know. As for "What would happen to a Palestinian who stood up and said "This violence is wrong and I don't want my children to be a mere delivery system for your bombs."?" Ask THEM. The Q is not What if. I agree with the unidentified post of 21:59 and he/she has really responded to your Qs
Herbie NY | 2004-06-09 23:18 | Link
Bjorn, you say "Actually, the barrier could have been built in locations that showed more consideration for Palestinian settlements" Perhaps, but when survival at stake, ir seems to me that "consideration" begs the Q. The Q is what is the most efficient way to protect oneself with the least harm to the otherside.
Herbie NY | 2004-06-09 23:25 | Link
Margaret Deutsch, "Why don't other Arab countries send relief, doctors, engineers, and money for schools and hospitals to the Palestinians to help provide a better life for the children." A Sagacious Q. An even better Q is why the EU and the US gives money to the PLO but does not, at a minimum, demand matching contributions from Arab states and by matching contributions I do not mean paying bonuses to families of homicide bombers
John Ø. Welle, Norway | 2004-06-10 00:50 | Link
As to the popularity of Hamas.. A recent AFP poll showed that if elections were held today, Hamas would come out as the single largest entity (31% I think), and that 3/4 of the Palestinian support suicide bombings.
As to whether this poll shows "hard" or "soft" support, I would think the participants would be polled individually on an anonymous basis, though I can't know for sure.
John Ø. Welle | 2004-06-10 01:04 | Link
Corollary to my last post: Raging Bee wondered whether the large degree of support for Hamas might be motivated out of fear. If the poll was conducted anonymously there would be no reason to believe that factor would influence the outcome. Of course, they could still just be showing support for the social programs of Hamas though, but the large number of people supporting suicide bombings seem to speak against that.
Kevin McDonnell | 2004-06-10 02:10 | Link
Doesn't this imply that we can simply write off the Palestinians as lost to barbarism then? I think such a conclusion is folly. And not for any pragmatic reasons, but because it can quickly become merely another way of turning away from what is in the end, a question of first causes... of freedom versus tyranny.
Interestingly, this can bring us back to the dreaded "NAZI" reference... but from the other side. Would we not have gotten similar poll results, had it been possible, in say... 1938 in Germany? Does that mean that the Germans were simply barbarians then? Or was it something in Nazism itself... something that was being contrived upon Germans, and imposed upon Germany, that was (and always has) appealed to the most base and vulgar elements of human nature... and only that. Surely, had there been a way to meet Nazism with a clear eye, and from the high ground... it could have been undermined then. Before the self perpetuation of such nihilistic hubris that comes when total war was unleashed.
In the end, the ultimate "carrot" that Islamic fascism in Palestine holds out to the Palestinian Arabs there, is the "righteous" annihilation of the Jews and Israel... coupled with the hateful mythos that all of their problems and suffering would be expunged... were it not for the hated "Zionist Entity".. which is of course responsible for their sorry state... and should suffer for it.
It is a madness we should all know well... in fact we do know it, being humans ourselves. But instead we sniff (all too loudly), and blame Israel or America... or globalisation or whatever else tickles the masturbatory fantasy of the meaninglessness mongers that make up so much of our esteemed intellectual class. Perniciously then, we internalize that sense of meaninglessness ourselves, and finally the nihilistic meme that follows stealthily behind it. In the process we put our own freedom at risk, as we lose our own moral center.
As we speak, the "smartest" commentators on European public opinion (are they reflecting it... or engineering it?) enable, and even pander to, what may very well be the most destructive regime possible for the Palestinians. We are weaved webs of contrived reality and events are filtered and vetted accordingly, to suit a vision that allows us to comfort ourselves. To comfort ourselves that we are not faced with a terrible truth: Naked Hatred is loose in the Arab world.
Furthermore, and more specifically, the entity formerly known as the PLO, is the perfect crucible for it to become enmeshed, and we are financing it.
I feel much more antipathy for the young "activists" in Europe and the US, who march like tim soldiers, full of passionate intensity... for the "rights" of the oppressed Palestinians, than I do for the Palestinans themselves, even those who commit acts of barbarity. Can we not spare a moments sympathy for the young men who were the abominable results of being herded through the ranks of the Hitler Youth?
But for the pampered imps who march in their righteous garb, wearing their kaffiyeh with their Che Guevara T shirts comforting them beneath... I have little other than outright disdain.
Its funny that during the D-day remembrances the other day, Chirac, when told that the Americans had made comparisons between the War on Terror (including the overthrow of Saddam Hussein) with the struggle to defeat Nazism in World War II, responded blithely that "History does not repeat itself, and it is very difficult to compare historical situations, because history is not repetitive."
My goodness... the more we change (even if its to a higher level of "nuance") the more we surely stay the same. I'm sorry... but I'm with Santayana on this one.
What characters in history does Chirac remind me of in this instance. For that matter, all those who have failed to stand for anything at all and yet still manage to trumpet their own self righteousness with grating indignation. What part do they play in the clear light of day in this very sad and still unfolding tragedy.. that surely has not even begun to run its course yet.
I don't know. But through it all, I will surely not be writing off the Palestinians to barbarism. Any more than I will be writing off the Iraqis (unlike our wonderfully nuanced defenders of social justice who dominate the discourse) simply because there are ruthless and evil men there, who will commit any act... for power.
John Ø. Welle, Fjord #35 | 2004-06-10 13:45 | Link
Kevin: [Majority of Palestinians supporting suicide bombing] "Doesn't this imply that we can simply write off the Palestinians as lost to barbarism then?"
You answer the question yourself more eloquently than I could do. I absolutely agree that even though the Palestinian people show a dismaying tendency to support killing and maiming of innocent people, it has of course got to be seen in a context (there is far leap from that, to outright excusing these attitudes and behaviours as the mainstream left has taken a habit to do, though.) It would be folly to give up on the hope to try and change the attitude of the region. _That_ would indeed be nihilism and defeatism and what other stark 'isms you might think of.
Revolting the left may be though, the real bad guys in this narrative are the hate-mongerers among the Arabs themselves. The likes of Yassin, Rantisi, and the people who craft school books telling the Palestinian children that jews are animals and that they will go to heaven for blowing themselves up as long as they carry some jews with them. That the left cries for their demise is a sign of a pathological understanding of the world, but not damaging in a direct way.
[Chirac] "History does not repeat itself, and it is very difficult to compare historical situations, because history is not repetitive."
I think I'm going to fall of my chair, but I gotta say I kinda agree with Chirac. A little bit at least. Most often, trying to draw historical parallels leads to a simplified understanding of the situation. One can look for similarities, sure, but I don't think it's fruitful to try to juxtapose two different situations in two different times like the defeat of Nazi-Germany and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Especially when one of the situations concerns Nazi-Germany (Godwin and all'a that.)
Even though the rationale for toppling Saddam Hussein still remains sound, the reasons for attacking Germany weighed heavier, and was different in character. Was Saddam involved in an expansionistic war at the time we attacked? Was he currently pursuing a minority for imagined sins? The Kurds don't count. Was he an immediate threat to any western nation? On the other hand, Saddam Hussein had a much worse track record at the time he was attacked, than Hitler did. So nyah..
If you would like to paint a broader picture, and say that Islamic extremism is somewhat in kin to Nazism, I would tend to agree though, but it's still a simplification of the situation and doesn't bear any relevance to a solution of the problem, as the measures that had to be taken against Nazi-Germany isn't necessarily compatible with how we have to fight terrorism.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-06-10 15:09 | Link
I think we agree at so many levels, that it will not serve either of us much to go into great detail as to how or why we do. I just want to add a bit to what you said while clarifying a point I intended to make.
Regarding Chirac's comment, I would of course agree that using history to micro-manage present affairs would be absurd. That wasn't my point though, and I don't think it was the point the Americans made when they drew comparisons between defeating the Nazis and the WoT. For that matter I don't think it was Santayana's point either. The parallels being drawn are more of, as I think you implied, a metaphysical nature having to do with that "essence of Nazism" that was around long before Hitler came to power, and remains with us still.
Thus when you say that even from that perspective it has little relevance, I would argue strongly that not only does this "simplification" have relevance... its pretty much the core issue and the whole ball of wax. Consider what it requires of us to judge what is variously called Islamism, Militant Islam, Islamic radicalism etc... for what it us, and what it means both to Muslims and the rest of us. It requires us to carry a standard that says this: It is an evil/bad thing. Period and full stop.
I have little doubt that if more of the "Free West" took that obvious and broad, but simple position as their foundation, even from the wide variety of different perspectives that is the bounty of freedom ... the Islamofascists would have a MUCH harder time garnering the support they do... even in the Muslim world. Do you doubt it? Do you not think that the morally vacuous posturing of the west, whether it be judged as a tacit endorsement of Jihadism that enables it to gain credibility... or merely as weakness that allows the prime movers of Jihad to tout that the West will ultimately fall to them... nevertheless aids them in their quest for power.
As it did when Hitler was on the move and consolidating his base.
(Sidebar: We are all connected by our humanity after all... and the real time nature of that collective consciousness thanks to modern technology has never been so complete in history as it is now. This means something profound and I think potentially frightening in this present saga... but thats another thread.)
Finally, I wouldn't say, and didn't imply that ay parallels with history can or should be drawn regarding "how we have to fight terrorism" ... merely that those paralells mean, that fight it we must... if we care about anything at all beyond the ends of our noses.
Herbie NY | 2004-06-10 16:12 | Link
Kevin and John: It is quite boring to read two very intelligent people that always agree. Please find something to disagree about so I may learn something. :-)
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-06-10 19:59 | Link
For the record,
The Santayana quote I'm referring to is of course the one saying that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.
...didn't want to seem like I was being snooty there.
Back to work now.
lucklucky | 2004-06-11 18:22 | Link
Right now for Euro 2004 here in Portugal like in any Football game, people accused to be hooligans are forbiden to travel in a "free" Europe, preemptively without having making any crime, to enter a football stadium people are checked. Currently a football(soccer) match resembles a military security operation but no one cries about police blocks and rights violation. But strangely for some when the risk is dozens of deaths because a terrorist act it's all ok.
frankline | 2005-04-19 22:27 | Link
iwan't to joing you
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