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The basics

This post by Ezra Klein is about as good a statement about the Israel/Palestine issue and this current flare up as I’ve seen.

There’s a reason this conflict brings out so much vitriol on both sides. One side identifies with a legitimately threatened nation. The other side identifies with a legitimately oppressed people. It’s not really that neatly divided, but you almost always seen one of two response to flare ups:

  • Palestinian terrorist group x is killing/attacking Israelis and they must respond with enough force to stop it
  • Yes, Palestinian terrorist group x is killing/attacking Israelis, but the response is unjustly wreaking havoc on Palestinian society and making the problem worse.

There seems to be little variation from those two views. That’s not to criticize anyone, given that my last post fits into the second view. It’s hard to determine which view is actually “correct.” The history of this conflict is so tied up in arcane minutia of who did what first, who broke what agreement, was there a definite article in agreement x, etc. Most of it is arguable, even if I’ve made up my mind on a lot of it, and both sides have cause for moral indignation.

I don’t mean to equivocate. What Steve T terms “selective empathy” is a phenomenon that partisans on both sides suffer from, but it is more common on the Right. Regardless, we’re still talking past each other.

It comes down to this for me. Israel is attempting to control (or occupy) a region that is, ethnically and religiously, completely different. Suicide terrorism is the standard response to this situation and it works. Increasing control or increasing the harshness of the occupation does not make people give up. That’s not how human nature works. The fact remains that Palestinian terrorism is largely a response to Israel, which means Israel is holding the cards. They can’t end this by doubling down and Palestinians can’t simply roll over. We can talk about the moral abomination of suicide bombings all we want, but it doesn’t change the fundamental shape of the conflict.

Categories: Israel/Palestine
  1. January 1, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Hence the need for a third party (maybe a country like the United States, for instance) to create legitimate interests for both sides to end the conflict. It’s a role we haven’t played enough over the past eight years and something that I strongly hope will change over the next 4.

    Glad to know I’m not the only lame-ass blogging on New Year’s Eve!

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