Monday, December 3, 2012

Israel's Latest Bombing Is Not Defensible


12/4/2012: Yesterday the comment went through. The original article can be found here.

This is an unpublished comment from an article with minor spelling and grammar corrections.

The overwhelming fact remains the rockets were the same pretext for attacking Gaza that Israel used in 2008 (Reuters 05-01-2009 via Wikipedia). It becomes less believable and less credible in its repetition, not more.

So there is a gap between action and speech. It indeed fits the idea of a "release valve" -- every friend of a Zionist on Facebook is well aware of the constant updates by the IDF of rockets into Israel. Less well known is the nationwide exercise the Israeli government undertook in 2009 to make the threat of war "feel real." (Jun 2009 Al Jazeera). To get a sense of how strong this need is, created and encouraged by both sides, there is even outrage against Netanyahu for imposing a ceasefire.

The question remains how to judge Israel's actions once the pretext falls apart. One thing I agree with leftists on is terrorism is not defensible. The CRIF, a French Zionist organization of Jewish groups, and Fox News, pointed to several causes for the war. Benjamin Netanyhu is facing an election (CRIF noted many more). He can perhaps sacrifice the 4% of Israelis who question the war (Haaretz November 2012), while winning over the majority of Israelis who want to see the government do more to stop the violence (Brookings 2011). The picture of two people fighting each for a defensible cause starts to fall down with consideration of these facts.

The CRIF -- in my opinion -- had a good reason to involve their broken Western sensibilities in the conflict. French Jews  report being attacked increasingly as the Israel-Palestine conflict heats up. Further, it's hard to miss the parallel between French Jews and Israel on the one hand, and Gazans and Iran on the other.

The question remains as to what violence resolves when it's practiced under the right pretext. There are lessons that Jews can bring to the table. A Reform Rabbi denied America a biblical pretext for its most cruel and violent adventure, slavery. Man is created free, he noted, not in a state of violence or in an egotistical power trip. This seems to hold true even under the whip.
 When Frederick Douglass fought his master, he probably had a good reason. But even then, it wasn't necessary for his freedom, he noted. That came from his previous master who, after realizing he was learning to read, became furious. By reacting with outrage and violence, his master had proven to him he was taking the first step to his freedom. Jews then can argue to the Palestinians that it is their writers and artists, and extending the lesson to the Civil Rights movements, their successful petition to the UN, where they are making progress. It becomes harder to do this when their media apparatus is bombed. (LA Times Nov 18)

With Cole's perspective in mind, one fact should increase the critical attitude one takes to character reforming (the "adventurer" character in Max Weber's "Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism").The Weberian philosophy looked at in this fashion points to an economical, not a moral or ideological problem. In short, it's about having control over land. And it's confirmed in the founding records. Israel's first immigrants were encouraged to create a new "character" and as noted above, this is enforced with mass fear-inducing spectacles on both sides.

You want to educate and that's all I can applaud. Imposing character reformation is not.

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