Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One More Time, with Feeling

Israel is now attacking Gaza and the Occupied Territories as vengeance for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers from an illegal settlement, blaming the deed on Hamas even though another group has claimed credit for it.  But who did it isn't all that important.  If I condemn the killing of those three kids, and I do, then I must condemn even more the long history of atrocities by a country that has killed far more than three teenagers along with babies, young children, old people, and adults; that has violated most of its agreements, including ceasefires; that has used torture on an administrative basis; that uses civilians as human shields; that has refused negotiated settlements for decades, secure in the knowledge that it can get away with its obstructionism; and that refuses to recognize the right of its opponent to exist.

When Israel attacked Gaza a couple of years ago, I encountered a move by apologists for Israel that I hadn't seen before.  Apparently, they'd finally decided they needed to engage with the fact that Palestinian and other casualties of Israeli violence greatly outnumber the Israeli casualties of Palestinian violence, by a factor of ten or more to one.  The apologists retorted that this was because Israel is better at defending its people than the dirty Arabs are.  It's not a very good move, since an obvious response would be that in that case, the Palestinians need to find ways to get past Israeli defenses and kill a lot more Jews.  I don't think the hasbaristas really want anyone to draw the conclusion from what is, after all, their logic.  But they were certainly granting that as far as they're concerned it is okay, in a conflict, to kill as many civilians on the other side as you can, which means that Israel has no moral case to object when its people are attacked: Israel can't honestly complain that killing civilians is a sign of intractable evil.  But it appears that Israel has largely abandoned the pretense of a moral high ground in its conflicts.

At around that same time a Jewish friend on Facebook objected to some criticism I'd made of Israel, responding with the prepackaged claim that Israel is a "vibrant democracy."  (He also deployed the equally prepackaged pinkwashing move.)  That's dubious in any case, but even if an overwhelming majority of Israelis favor the slaughter of Arabs (and I gather they do), it doesn't legitimize it.