Sunday, December 3, 2023

Flashback 2009: Logic on Israel's side

Metropolitan Museum
     While the scope of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack was unprecedented, the concept — let's kill our way out of this bind — is nothing new, as this column from 2009 testifies. Back then the column filled a page, complete with a joke. It isn't a particularly funny joke, granted, but it has the benefit of touching upon a grim truth. I've kept the original subheads, but cut a bit about a speech appearance, since some readers are easily confused, and might show up at the event, which occurred 14 years ago.

Opening shot ...

     Most people don't question their own beliefs. If you worship a pineapple as God, it isn't because your mom and dad worshiped a pineapple as God, but simply because divine authority rests in the spiky tropical fruit. Others may disagree, but dismissing conflicting beliefs as folly is part of the drill.
     It is useful, however, to try to recognize your own biases, difficult as that is, if only as a test. For instance: I support Israel. Why? Perhaps being Jewish has something to do with it, perhaps being spoon-fed the glory, the miracle of that nation's founding along with my Cream of Rice was a factor.
     But what would the impartial view of Israel, in its current struggle with Hamas, be? Let me see if I can state the Hamas view plainly, without bias. They would like the Jews in Israel to vanish, somehow, or at least to hand their country, which is a year older than modern China and a year younger than modern India, over to the Palestinians, most of whom have never lived there. A dwindling number resided there, once, and lost their homes under difficult circumstances, so now the entire group deserves the whole country.
     Is that it?
     What is the Israeli position? Basically, that their nation is here, now, a country like any other, despite the novelty of being run by Jews, and the Palestinians should go form their own nation on the land they have instead of always trying to take theirs.
     Do you really need to be Jewish to embrace the latter idea?
'What do we want?'

     "Free, free Palestine," the protesters chanted. "End the occupation now!"
     About 500 people had gathered Friday in Pioneer Court, the plaza just south of Tribune Tower, when I stopped by for a look.
     "What do we want?" someone with a megaphone cried. "Justice!" the crowd answered. "When do we want it?" he asked. "Now!" they replied.
     Justice is good. We're on the same page here, though I suppose our definitions of justice might differ. To me, embracing justice is accepting the consequences of your actions. For instance, electing a terror group like Hamas as your legitimate government and then standing idly by while it attacks a neighboring nation seems to call for some pretty stern justice, which is what is going on in Gaza now.
     The protesters, naturally, would disagree.
     "Free, free Palestine," they chanted. In their mind the crime — the "nakba," the "catastrophe" — was the founding of the State of Israel, and justice demands . . . what exactly? They don't come out and say it, but "Free Palestine" implies the following prepositional phrase, ". . . of Jews." That usually gets left off. Good manners, I suppose.
     This is nothing new, but is instead the standard, timeless racist fantasy — get rid of the people we don't like and then we'll be happy. "Juden raus" — "Jews out" -- the Germans said, despite the fact that Jews had lived in Germany for 500 years. That didn't matter, just as it doesn't matter that Jews have been in Israel for thousands of years. Flip open your Bible; they're there. "The children of Israel were fruitful," it says in Exodus, "and the land was filled with them." The land the Bible is talking about isn't Europe.
     The rally kept growing, women in scarves, men in beards. I couldn't help but view these sincere, impassioned people sympathetically, as victims of history who were tragically taught to pin their hopes for future happiness on the destruction of another country.

Today's Chuckle

     One little-known aspect of the current crisis in Gaza is that, just before starting their attack, Israel annexed the strip of land, officially designating Gaza as part of its own country and unilaterally converting its occupants to Judaism.
     "We figured" explained the minister responsible for the change, "if it were Israel we were shooting missiles at, and Jews who were dying, then nobody would care."
           —Originally published in the Sun-Times, Jan. 5, 2009


  1. Based on the statements from the crazier celebs in this country, like Cynthia Nixon, Gigi Hadid, Bradley Cooper [who is supposedly sleeping with Hadid] & Susan Sarandon, it looks like that joke isn't a joke but the truth!

  2. It almost seems like it could have been written very recently. As for the chuckle, sad but true.

  3. yes, the chuckle was definitely true. btw, google finally allowed me to post, i was previously paul w, roscoe vil)

  4. Neil is certainly right -- the joke is not funny. The day is long past when nobody would care about Jewish lives being lost. Given that Israel has a modern well equipped army and the Palestinians are a ragtag bunch of terrorist fanatics, whatever actions Israel took after the slaughter and kidnapping of hundreds of Israelis could be considered overkill. However, one can't ignore the fact that Palestinians are dying by the thousands as payback for the admittedly heinous actions of Hamas. Of course Justice does not demand that Jews should be forced to abandon their country. But good faith on both sides is sorely lacking. I can only forlornly wish that the UN could and would act as an effective and unbiased arbiter -- not happening. It's understandable that people will root for the side they can identify with and perhaps some of these people deserve our scorn, but I agree with those that insist that both sides have lost and the longer this conflict goes on, the more each loses.


  5. I read and read, about the history of this conflict, the creation of a State of Israel and it is overwhelming. How far back to go? I don’t understand why it seems so difficult to say that you support Israel AND the Palestinian people but vehemently oppose Hamas. I always say that people (and the media, too often) want to make life black and white when we live in a gray world. I am forever curious as to what percentage of the Palestinians actually support Hamas but I see nothing on that topic. And I get it, what do you do, have CNN do an on the street poll in Gaza City? Good luck with that. I’m sure there are Palestinians that do support Hamas but I have to believe, in moments of confidential honesty that a lot of Palestinian women and children would love to try something else. Support Israel and the Palestinian people, reject Hamas and root enthusiastically for its elimination. Then we have a chance - maybe.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.