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A both-and blog

By auguste
Sunday, January 4, 2009 2:06 EDT
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“The Palestine issue” is in most Americans’ hands the epitome of either-or thinking. As Thersites notes, in the case of our politicians, it’s not even “either-or” thinking – it’s “is” thinking.

On Israel, there’s no particular difference in substance between the statements of Nancy Pelosi and, say, Pamela Oshry. As Glennzilla goes on to glumly observe, wingnuts — the very people who have been so colossally and disastrously wrong about Iraq — are completely in charge of the way Israel/Palestine is discussed in America. They have a monopoly on the definition of “legitimate” opinions about the conflict, the ones you can express officially. Hence they are able to get away with the most preposterous and insulting declarations — that disagreeing with Israeli actions makes one an “anti-Semite”; that Israeli and American interests are identical; that criticizing Israel equals support for terrorists.

In the comments, the Gaza rocket attacks on Ashkelon and Ashdod is compared to the Confederacy’s firing on Fort Sumter, which might hold up if the Union had immediately closed off the Mason-Dixon line (but eventually allowing foreigners to leave, which is certainly magnanimous) or if early battles resulted in death rates of 1:100.

But this is, after all, a both-and blog (see? it says so, right there in the post title) and so I find myself modeling my position on the issue on the same folks I always do: The Egyptians.

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…and then, while I was still struggling to finish this post, Israel invaded.

Thousands of Israeli troops, backed by columns of tanks, gunboats and warplanes, poured into Gaza after nightfall Saturday to do battle with Palestinian militants after eight days of punishing airstrikes failed to halt increasingly menacing rocket attacks on Israel.

“…eight days of punishing airstrikes failed to halt increasingly menacing rocket attacks on Israel.” There are several things that bother me about that phrase, starting with the idea that eight days of punishing airstrikes could have been expected to halt the attacks. I mean, I know Israel said that was their purpose, but anyone who’s surprised that this didn’t work should consider therapy.

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Anyway, my point about the Egyptians was only that, contrary to nearly all mainstream American discourse on the issue, it’s perfectly possible to blame Hamas while simultaneously deploring Israel’s actions in response. And – in my mind more importantly, at least in the short run – to recognize that no matter what the driving forces, the problem now is the incredible level of devastation being wrought on an already oppressed group. Here is a list of several people doing just that, courtesy of Fathima Cader.

From Laila El-Haddad:

When the bombs are dropped around them, they send me a quick note to inform me of what happened before running to safety. I am still not sure where “safety” is; and neither, I think, do they. It is perhaps more a mental state and place than a physical one. In any other situations, people flee to where they perceive are safer locations. In Gaza, there is no “safe”. And there is no where to flee to, with the borders closed, the sky and sea under siege.

Maybe the ground invasion will actually improve the lot of the Palestinians in Gaza, again [obviously] in the short term. If the Israelis are actually able to find the location of the rocket launchers, and then if they withdraw to previous occupation levels*, if…well, those are some big ifs.
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* I can’t believe I’m actually hoping that. “I sure hope that Gaza is only as occupied as it was before!”

 
 
 
 
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