Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Discussion is Like a Reflection of the Conflict Itself

What I loathe, and why I enter conversations on the Israel/Palestine conflict with such trepidation, such fear & loathing, is how the conversation so perfectly mirrors the conflict itself. You have your very loud voices on the fringes, the one claiming that Israel was part and parcel stolen from Arabs and should be given back en masse, and you have the other claiming that Palestinians should suffer because they elected Hamas, or that they should somehow just accept their position as second-class citizens without question, or just choose to live in peace with Israel, and that all criticisms of Israel are bigoted or are examples of moral relativity etc. etc. etc.

Then you have all these quiet voices in the "center" though I'm not so sure that's the right word anymore. All these quite, reasonable voices trying to piece things together, trying to dig up the truth, constantly thwarted by those in the wings, shouting them down--equating them with the other fringe.

There are apologists for terror, for war, for whatever that are part of this debate but they are fewer and louder than the rest of us.

Can't I be pro-Israel and still decry this invasion into Gaza? Can't I see a picture of an 80 year old Gazan woman, with no home, no family, sitting forlornly and alone on a pile of rubble and believe that this is just wrong. No matter what, this is wrong--it's not helping anything! Nobody has shown, proved, demonstrated how this military action is anything beyond political posturing, or how it will achieve anything at all, or how the blockade of Gaza is actually pro-Israel somehow. Just because it's anti-Palestinian does not make it pro-Israel. And the opposite is true, isn't it? Just because it's anti-Israel doesn't mean it's helpful to the Palestinians. If Syria and Iran were to make peace with Israel and stop funding terror, they'd likely to a great deal more to help the plight of the Palestinians than their current "aid" does.

How to combat these extremists, on both sides, is an open question. I'm not a "moderate" in that lukewarm sense of the word. I'm extremely upset by all of this, and I think some very strong measures need to be taken--but not to benefit the fringes, but to benefit the maintstream, in all its diverse, normal, unremarkable ways...


Wellsy said...

I don't think the moderates should combat the extremists at all. Combat is the extremists' specialty. What the moderates should do is simply crowd the extremists out. But in order to do that, the moderates have to become relevant, and not just living scenery (in the debate as well as the real conflict).

Perhaps in the debate, it would be easier for moderates to gain a modicum of power because our lives aren't in any danger and we have many avenues of action open to us, whether it be writing to our representatives in Congress, to private institutions, becoming involved as an advocate for the cause within our community are all options.

In the conflict, it's unfortunate that the moderates are perhaps just the normal people that want to live a life without worrying about bombs. They can't gather their thoughts well enough to start a cohesive, non-violent movement and for good reason: they're living in fear for their lives. Furthermore, they have no focused passion. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure they're passionate people. But they aren't motivated in the same way the extremists are to rise to power and achieve their goals. Perhaps that's just the name of the game -- in order to rise to power in these places, you have to be cut throat? I don't know.

Ultimately, it's going to require a global paradigm shift. The name of the game throughout all of human history has been get what you can when you can and if that doesn't work, shoot to kill. Sometimes it's just been the shooting part. As long as military force is the means by which the world's superpowers achieve their goals, then it will be the way all the smaller countries want to do it as well.