Sunday, February 26, 2006


My friend Charlie responds to my FrontPage article:

I realized that my reaction to most of your stuff is: "well, that could be true" or "maybe that is right." Which I think is good, because most of the time you are stating the merits of a position that is the opposite of what, say, the NY Times would advocate. So it forces me in most cases to realize that I don't know enough facts to really take a position, since there are reasonable arguments on both sides. Most of the time I don't have enough interest in the specific issue to actually do the research to come to an informed decision, so I remain agnostic.

I guess what I am curious is: do you see yourself serving this function that I am talking about, or do you really strongly believe in the correctness of your specific position?

Take the Palestinians and the Israelis. Your position seems to be "well, it's in the Palestinians' hands"--they can renounce terror and stop advocating the destruction of Israel, and then there can be peace. Which is a reasonable position. Of course, it seems to me the Israelis could usefully stop doing things like building more settlements in the West Bank, which seems like needless provocation and will only prolong the lack of peace.

But maybe it goes back to your view that people are killers or not killers, good or evil, something like that. So if the Palestinians use suicide bombers, then they are evil and no amount of negotiation will ever change that: they are killers for life and should only be killed or captured.

But is this because they are using violence? What about the colonists in the American Revolution? They used violence to get their own country. Or the French Revolution? Many people have used violence in the name of getting themselves a better life. This has often included killing civilians. What about the Native Americans in the United States? Some of these people we view as terrorists and some we view as freedom fighters. What were the Viet Cong, for example? You could argue that General Sherman was a "terrorist" when he burned down the homes of Southerners in an attempt to make them give up and end the Civil War. Was he?

I guess what I am driving at is why you seem to feel pretty clear about who is in the "right" in the Pal.-Israel situation. It seems to me like both sides have stuff they need to do before there is peace, which is usually the case. Israel is sympathetic because they are in the midst of hostile countries. But they also have the strongest army by far in the region, the most advanced (I think) economy and are a democracy. They are organized in a way that the Palestinians are not. If I were them, I would be thinking: how can we get peace? Unless your plan is just to kill every Palestinian, which is not really a workable plan, then obviously you need to work something out. Maybe the Palestinians are being totally unreasonable (to the extent that they even have a government to negotiate with) but wouldn't you then have an interest in helping them to form a government? Maybe Israel is already doing this kind of stuff, I don't really know. But the stuff like the settlements has alwasy rubbed me the wrong way. It sort of seems like kicking the Pals while they are down, reminding them who is strong and who is weak, and I guess I feel that type of behavior usually comes back to bite you in the end.


Blogger Aaron Hanscom said...

Charlie, I think the last paragraph of your response really revealed a lot. You write about Israel being so much stronger than the Palestinians as if to justify Palestinian "resistance." In a way, it is similar to your understanding of the 17 year-old inner city gang member shooting a store clerk because he comes from poverty and a bad home.

Is Israel completely blameless? Of course not. But if you can't see the moral differences between the two cultures, I don't what I can do to help you. As I said in the article, someone who thinks a culture that teaches its children that Jews are pigs and monkeys is equivalent to Israel-- where Arabs enjoy freedoms and opportunites unheard of in other Middle Eastern countires-- doesn't know what is going on over there. And you hinted that you really weren't overly interested in these subjects in your response. Could that be the problem?

10:03 PM  
Blogger Aaron Hanscom said...

And no I am not always 100 percent certain about my views. Oftentimes there is doubt. But here there is none.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Aaron Hanscom said...

an important piece on this:

10:21 AM  

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