Thursday, May 02, 2002

I try and stay out of the whole Israel vs. Palestine debate as much as possible, but much like a certain member of the Corleone family - every time I try to get out they keep sucking me back in...I'm certainly not an expert on the history of the Middle East, which seems to be written as a series of charges and countercharges, with the truth unknowable and unkown, and any discussion devolving into who did what to whom first. But, in any case, I see people who are otherwise quite intelligent throwing around some of the most ridiculous horseshit, literally right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, so occasionally I feel inclined to correct a few misonceptions, at least to the extent that I can. As I said, I'm no expert, and occasionally my facts are wrong as well.

For some reason, I regularly find that even trying to jump into the debate in the gentlest fashion - that is, not even attempting to defend Sharon's current actions but simply trying to correct factual errors, provide a slightly broader context, or correct obvious errors in reasoning - so often I'm confronted with people screaming back "just because I'm criticizing Israel doesn't mean I'm anti-Semitic!".

True, of course, but the thing is I haven't accused them of being anti-Semitic. I usually haven't even really argued with them too much. Just added a fact, or perspective to shift the balance of debate without really even debating. I wonder if the lady doth protest too much.

Vaara links to an atricle in the Seattle Weekly which tries to get at the question of why the Left is obsessed with Israel, and why the Palestinian plight is the cause du jour. The author fails to come up with much of an answer, or at least a satisfying one, but she does raise the important questions.

Sadly, the only answer she does come up with is the one we like to pretend isn't the reason - that anti-Semitism is alive and well on the Left. I'd like to think that there is another reason - but the obsession and focus on the misdeeds, real or imagined, of Israel while completely ignoring the misdeeds of its neighbors both to the Palestinians within their own borders as well as other human rights abuses defies explanation.

One argument people make is that our involvement in the region - our financial and other aid to Israel - makes it our problem, and therefore worthy of the obsessive attention paid to it. However, we currently give quite a lot of aid to Russia which has massacared Chechnyans in numbers orders of magnitudes higher than any Palestinian (or Israeli) death toll. The money paid to Saudi Arabia for our military aid and presence presumably rivals our contributions to Israel (though I haven't run the numbers), and their human rights record speaks for itself. One could rattle off list after list of unpleasantries in that region, so why is Israel the focus?

Maybe someone can explain it to me.

and don't even get me started on Europe...