Saturday, February 10, 2007

And yet

Here is the problem with Israel. I sympathise with the Palestinians, think they should have a state, even think the Israelis have been bad boys. All of that and yet.

No one talks about the "and yet".

Many want an Islamic state.


Hands up everyone who wants to live in an Islamic state. No one volunteering?

That's the first part of the "and yet". I'd rather live in Israel than any Palestinian state. When, if, Israel gives up the West Bank, as it should, paradise won't spring into place. Many people there want women in niqab, hatred towards Christians and "materialists" (that's you and me, dude), handchopping, lash the boozers, conform or die. Well, that's their choice, but I'm not getting behind it. I'm not celebrating it, I mean. I'm for self determination but I do not cheer bad choices.

And I do celebrate the freedom and the progress that Israel represents. The left, all of us, could do with noticing that in an arena full of dictatorships, intolerance, disastrous regimes that do nothing but hurt their people, there is one place that is not like that. Yes, it's been backed by Western money. Yes, but the people there have worked hard to make the place work.

And they voted for Hamas.

Okay, I understand "resist Israel". I sympathise somewhat with that. I understand that feeling runs high because your grandpa owned land in the Mandate and the Jews ran him off it. But Hamas is not your neighbourhood social group. It wants Israel destroyed and all Jews killed. It has not given up its charter. It has not renounced its aim to destroy all Jews, no matter how long it takes.

Israel's reluctance to deal with Hamas is understandable, even though Hamas will accept peace. You're going to be feeling that no matter how long "temporary" is, a temporary peace with people who have avowed to kill you and everyone like you is not wholly desirable. Egypt, when it signed a peace deal with Israel, did not caveat it by saying "we're only signing this because we can't destroy Israel, and we will do so when we're able". It made peace in good faith. I can understand not feeling Hamas will.

Of course, the Israelis use and abuse that. They have long taken legitimate security concerns and twisted them into extreme positions, sometimes with a healthy dose of their own racism.

Yeah, but the original concerns are not ill founded. We forget that all too often. We sometimes hear that Israel's foundation was a "mistake". I think it was (although I think that now the mistake has been made, there's no going back). But it was a mistake partly, maybe even mostly, because Israel is surrounded by irredeemable shitheads. That's not an expression of Islamophobia. I don't have a problem with Islam. It's an expression of will you fucking look at those bastards? Look at Egypt, Syria, Jordan. Write a blog like this in any of those places and you won't be able to sleep at night, waiting for the knock at the door.

Nothing in this life is clear-cut. Nothing. There are always "and yet"s. Forgetting that is wrong; sometimes, it's even inhuman. The world will rarely actually be judgeable as black and white, even if we paint it that way. I'm aware (painfully so because I have a correspondent who sees the world in black and white and gives me the other side of it) that seeing the world that way can feed those whose interests are served by boiling out the nuance from an issue: extremists of all hues, charlatans, the people liberals like me oppose, have died opposing.

I am not forgetting the "and yet". I am supportive of the Palestinian cause. But I am supportive also of the aspirations of ordinary, day-to-day Israelis, the people who made the desert green, who built a functioning, democratic state in a place where no state functions without terror and heartbreak. They are people to be celebrated, not hated, and our desire to support those who are oppressed should not lead us to hate those who do not deserve it.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Don said...

Bravo, dude, all the way round. Well done.

I'm sure the Palestinians would not vote for Islamism if they had real choices. Their political environment is just so twisted by outside forces.

February 11, 2007 at 3:36 AM  
Anonymous Looney said...

Wow, well said, dude. Sometimes you hit the nail on the head so hard you go right through the board.

Uh, that's supposed to be a compliment, lol...

February 11, 2007 at 6:59 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

"I'm sure the Palestinians would not vote for Islamism if they had real choices."

Of course I hope you're right. Either that, or that the Islamists they voted for would be a little more benign, like Turkey's. But the desire for the Islamic state is in large part born out of poverty, and Palestine is not likely to become rich in a hurry. The other problems with Arabs on a whole would remain.

February 11, 2007 at 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

You do make some very good points that people like me who go around shouting that Palestine deserve their own state do not consider.
What will happen in Palestine when they do get their wish. I guess they will vote for an Islamic Government, hard to think they would vote for anything else considering the outside pressure they are sure to recieve from their neighbours, but as you say i hope it would be a benign one, if their is such a thing.
Good post.

February 11, 2007 at 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

"We sometimes hear that Israel's foundation was a "mistake". I think it was (although I think that now the mistake has been made, there's no going back). But it was a mistake partly, maybe even mostly, because Israel is surrounded by irredeemable shitheads."

Okay, I know my history sucks, force something down a kid's throat and he's not going to swallow willingly.

But wasn't Israel formed shortly after the Nazis tried very determinedly to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth? I can understand where the Jews would have had the strength of righteous indignation behind them, and I can understand why nobody was rude enough to stand in their way. They carved it out, it's there one way or another.

"I don't have a problem with Islam. It's an expression of will you fucking look at those bastards?"

Show me an Islam, because I don't see one. I see a bunch of splintered-off haters, and I see a bunch of Disneyland middle-sitters. The concept of a "nation of islam" seems ludicrous to me, they can't agree within themselves what it is and what it isn't.

I've not read the entire Koran, whatever today's politically correct spelling is. It could be a crock of hateful shit for all I know, or it could be a fount of wisdom.

It doesn't seem to have done much for its followers. As I understand it the only ones with the balls to practice what they preach are the nugbag splinter groups who want to kill everybody else.

I don't know much. I think dicking around with the middle east makes about as much sense as poking your hand into a snakepit.

If you have a strong opinion, I wish you luck. Shit happens, I do my best to stay far away from it. It comes to me, I deal with it best I can. Maybe someday a cloud of radioactive dust will roll over the mountains, maybe I'll see it, maybe I'll feel concussion waves, maybe not. I'm not going to get out of this life alive, and I'm not going to piss it away unnecessarily.

February 12, 2007 at 5:52 AM  

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