Friday, July 04, 2014

A Middle Eastern July 4th riddle

Here is a July 4th riddle: How many of the grievances articulated by the founding fathers in the Decleration of Independance might be expressed, honestly and legitimately, by the Palestenians toward Israel?

The answer is "not many", but there are some:
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
Now, of course I know the sensible and reasonable Israeli reply, and I (mostly) agree with it. The sensible and reasonable Israeli reply ges like this:

If Israel were to stand down and back off, and remove its boot from the Palestenian neck, the result would be a garrison state, like Gaza, committed to endless attacks on Israeli population centers.

Unlike some of my fellow travlers, I get that. I understand the fear. I understand that imperatives of Security. I agree that, at least in the short term, a withdrawl will give bad Palestenian room and opportunity to do bad things. (Though I remind everyone that we make compromises with death for the sake of convenience all the time. For instance, we allow 30,000 people to die on the roads every year, for the sake of cars and commerce. Might it be ok to allow some similar number of people to die in other ways for the sake of Justice? I don't know, but its worth considering.)

Now, here's what my attackers on the right don't comprehend. That along with understanding that fear, and along with respecting the purest Israeli motives, and the legitimate and serious demands of Security, I also understand the Palestenian greivances. I understand how they have been mishandled and mistreated and I understand how that mistreatment can poisen a mind and make ordinary people can say and do terrible things.

I say this not to brag, but to explain myself: I can hold two contradictory ideas in my head at the same time, without feeling forced to reconcile them or needing to discredit either one.

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