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  • Dangerous Hypocrisy

    Posted by Jonathan on June 11th, 2003 (All posts by )

    “Bush condemns Jerusalem bombing ‘in strongest possible terms'” (MSNBC TV). Well of course he does. But he shouldn’t have facilitated the attack by criticizing Israel in a way that made clear he regards cutting a deal as the main goal of his efforts. He shouldn’t have criticized Israel for defending itself — doing on a small scale what the U.S. has done on a large one. He shouldn’t have put the screws on Israel while publicly overlooking continued Arab (except maybe Jordanian) hostility to Israel and sympathy for Palestinian terrorism. He shouldn’t have tolerated the Palestinian leadership’s good-cop/bad-cop game. His inconsistency signals weakness, and it’s no surprise under the circumstances that the Palestinians continue to make terror attacks. For them, it pays.

    Bush is repeating Clinton’s “peace process” blunder. He is more honest, reliable, and determined than Clinton was, but resolve alone can’t overcome faulty logic and perverse incentives. He has recreated a familiar situation: we pressure one side to make territorial concessions whenever the “peace process” bogs down; meanwhile the other side — assumed to be irresponsible-but-trying-hard — is held to a lower standard and bears little or no political cost for inciting and carrying out violent attacks. Predictably these attacks bog down the “process” and give the irresponsible side a negotiating advantage. It therefore shouldn’t surprise us that the violence continues. No deal will succeed until either Israel crushes the Palestinians militarily, which we won’t allow, or the Palestinians decide they have more to gain by peace than war. They aren’t even close to being there yet. Bush should do a U-turn on his “roadmap.”

    Some governments are hopeless and not worth making deals with. We understood this about Iraq but for some reason ignore the obvious with regard to the Palestinian Authority. We are wishing and hoping that Arafat is no longer in control. Unfortunately, it’s clear by now that even if Arafat is no longer driving events, whoever is in charge is equally bad. The U.S., instead of leaning on Israel, which has already made a substantial preemptive concession by agreeing to shut down “settlements,” should be working harder to establish a reasonable government in the Palestinian territories. Only after this task is accomplished does an Israeli-Palestinian deal begin to make sense (just as no U.S.-Iraq deal was conceivable while Saddam Hussein was still in power). Bush should show more of his famous patience in dealing with these matters, instead of behaving like the immature Clinton who was impelled to go for a deal — any deal.

    More:

    Val has some thoughts.

    David Warren sees things plain.

    UPDATE: Aaron comments (see the top comment).

     

    11 Responses to “Dangerous Hypocrisy”

    1. Brian Says:

      Right on! I’d also like to point out that attacking Israel’s defensive actions helpe feed the dangerous meme that Israel is somehow not legitimate by denying it to exercise the right to self-defense that all other states enjoy.

    2. Bobby Otter Says:

      Israel’s defensive actions?

      Peace isn’t going to reached in the Middle East until the US finally realizes that they can’t allow Israel to do what ever they’d like in whatever name they want to call it.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      Bobby,

      Some questions:

      – If all Palestinian terrorism stopped tomorrow, what do you think Israel would do?

      – If all Israeli reprisals in response to Palestinian terrorism stopped tomorrow, what do you think the Palestinians would do?

      – Can you suggest what Israel should do in response to terror attacks that is less destructive than killing terrorist leaders but still effective at deterring terrorism?

      – Is there any moral difference between Israel’s attempts to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism and our attempts to defend ourselves against Al Qaeda and Iraq?

    4. Bobby Otter Says:

      As for Israels defense against terrorism, yes there are huge differences. There was nothing to warrant an attack on the United States on 9/11. Yesterday, and I know this just adds to the pointing the finger argument, but it was the Israelis who shot first. I understand the long, painful, violent, and sad history, but it was the Israelis who entered the Gaza strip, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. And its been the Israelis who have settled in these areas.

      Does it make it right for some Palestinian and some Palestinian groups to commit the terrorism that they have? No. But does it warrant the right for Israel to attack or a reprisal Palestinians every time a Palestinian suicide bomber blows up a restaurant or bus? No.

      This is were it becomes difficult, what is the difference between an attacking Palestinian and an attacking Israeli government? Are they both terrorists? Are only one of them terrorists? Are neither terrorists? I think we need to be careful with our definitions, for this reason alone.

      I don’t see this as good vs evil or Israel vs terrorism. It is far too complex, and don’t get me wrong, both sides have had their faults.

      And this is the sad and depressing thing about the entire issue, both sides are wrong. I place the blame equally on both sides personally. It’s a situation that will not be resolved until both sides decided to sit down and stop blaming the other side. In many ways this is an issue of what came first, the chicken or the egg? Who shot first? And until both sides finally get over this mentality, and also decide to embrace each other, nothing will be accomplished.

      I don’t see this as good vs evil or Israel vs terrorism. It is far too complex, and don’t get me wrong, both sides have had their faults.

      The sad thing is that both sides are wrong. I place the blame equally on both sides personally. It’s a situation that will not be resloved until both sides decited to sit down and talk about it.

    5. Mike Van Winkle Says:

      Hamas seems to be the only real authority in Palestine so why not negotiate with them? Do terrorists negotiate?

    6. mrkmyr Says:

      terrorists do negotiate- they are called the P.L.O. (and don’t forget the I.R.A.)

      I think there is a moral difference between Palestinian and Israeli actions. Palestinian Arab bombers _try_ to kill civilians, Israel, while not trying to protect non-combatants (so it seems), does not actively seek to kill Palestinian Arabs civillians. And those _poor children_ who throw rocks shoulding be attacking people with deadly weapons if they don’t want to get shot.

      I also don’t see the big deal with trying to kill the leader of Hammas. He never agreed to stop attacks and promised more. He says more attacks are forthcoming as reprisals, but wasn’t he going to plan the attacks anyway? He’ll say they were for the assasination attempt, but they would have happened anyway. I think he has said numberous times that their position is the elimination of Iseal and the Jews.

      Some could also agrue that if Isreal simply left the “occupied” territories, they wouldn’t have to worry about these attacks. There would be a sovreign power in control that would be accountable. What Isreal would give voluntarily if the Palistinains stopped the attacks is irrelavent other than in calculating what is in their best interest. Some people don’t think the Palistinian Arab bombers are terrorists(in the pajoritive), but people rightly fighting for control of their own land.

    7. Jonathan Says:

      Bobby Otter wrote:
      I understand the long, painful, violent, and sad history, but it was the Israelis who entered the Gaza strip, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. And its been the Israelis who have settled in these areas.
      Israel took those areas in a defensive war provoked by enemies that wanted to destroy it (they said so). Israel has given back substantial territory already (more than once: in 1948, 1956, and 1977). Maybe it’s time for the other side to show some good faith, for a change.

      Does it make it right for some Palestinian and some Palestinian groups to commit the terrorism that they have? No. But does it warrant the right for Israel to attack or a reprisal Palestinians every time a Palestinian suicide bomber blows up a restaurant or bus? No
      It doesn’t? Why not?

      This is were it becomes difficult, what is the difference between an attacking Palestinian and an attacking Israeli government? Are they both terrorists? Are only one of them terrorists? Are neither terrorists? I think we need to be careful with our definitions, for this reason alone.
      One difference, as another commenter pointed out, is that the Israelis have been retaliating against members of terrorist groups that have long records of murdering any Israeli Jew they can.
      Israeli victims of Palestinian terror attacks have been widely distributed by age and sex. Palestinian casualties of Israeli reprisals have been almost entirely young men. That should tell you something.
      Here’s another thought experiment: Israel could kill everyone in the Palestinian areas but hasn’t done so; meanwhile the Palestinians lack the capability to kill more than a few Israelis but keep trying anyway. What would happen if the capabilities of the groups were reversed?

    8. Bobby Otter Says:

      Are we really dismissing the death of Palestinians and even legitimatizing them here?

      Im sorry, but I cant do that. Both sides are wrong, and maybe if one side would put down their guns, the other side might do the same.

      Instead both sides are so intent on, Im not to sure what they are so intent on, maybe its hating each other, and if so theyve both been extremely successful.

      And hey, maybe if the Palestinians were willing to work with the previous Israeli government, things would be different. But they didnt and the result is this. These two sides have proven more than once that they can sit down and work out agreements big or small. And both sides need to realize that killing one another does not solve anything. Theyve been close more than once, there is no reason they cant be successful.

      Of course there is always the Onion option:
      http://www.theonion.com/onion3723/west_bank.html

    9. Jonathan Says:

      Bobby Otter wrote:
      . . . maybe if one side would put down their guns, the other side might do the same.
      If you are willing to disarm yourself in the face of a deadly threat, that’s your business (though I would urge you to reconsider). But no Israeli government would be so crazy as to consider doing such a thing. It would be suicide. The Israelis have rather more immediate experience with this situation than you do. They have gone through phases of trying to appease their enemies. It hasn’t worked. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss their experience.

      And hey, maybe if the Palestinians were willing to work with the previous Israeli government, things would be different. But they didnt and the result is this. These two sides have proven more than once that they can sit down and work out agreements big or small. And both sides need to realize that killing one another does not solve anything. Theyve been close more than once, there is no reason they cant be successful.
      Anything is possible if you ignore reality.

    10. Bobby Otter Says:

      So let’s keep killing everyone? We’ve seen what that has accomplished. The reality is that both sides continue to keep killing and fighting each other, which accomplishes nothing. Its time for this to stop, and someone is going to have to take the high road in order for this to happen.

      I am not advocating for the Israelis to disarm, Im just saying that maybe there are better means to capture these terrorists than shooting them and other victims.

    11. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Bobby, although seductive and convenient, blaming both sides “equally” doesn’t resolve nor prove anything. And when you seem a lot more willing to blame one side over the other, your claims of equal-opportunity blaming sound as hollow as they are hypocritical. If only because the first shots fired after the recent peace talks came, once again, from the Palestinians.

      Now, could you please elaborate on those “better means to capture terrorists ?” I am sure you are quite comfortable in taking the “high road” by not suggesting any alternatives but such positions are entirely useless. What do you suggest ?

      And why exactly do you put quotes around the word ‘terrorist’ ? Terror and civilian deaths are the bombers’ goals. Resistance targets institutions and armed forces. Terrorists target civilians and measure success by the number of innocents they kill.

      May I point out that you will never see Israelis celebrate the killing of innocent Palestinians in the streets. The latter do, sometimes in their thousands, when their so-called martyrs succeed in blowing up busloads of people. Remember the dancing in the streets of Gaza on 9/11 ?

      Ever remember the Irish Catholics celebrating IRA bombings ? You don’t because they never did. Even when fighting with the wrong weapons, some people can maintain a minimum of public decency. For decades. Not the Palestinians, it seems.

      I will say that although I disagreed with their methods and tactics, I was sympathetic to the Palestinians’ plight for a great deal of time, but they have recently made it all too clear that statehood is not something they are ready to handle, nor deserve. Terrorism should not be a reward to anyone.

      The sad fact is that the people in charge on the Palestinian side are not the ones you see on TV wearing suits and carrying briefcases. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa, all these movements have no reason to exist and are nothing without war. They don’t want peace. They don’t want negotiations and they run the show. And as long as they do, Israel will defend itself. And the civilians in between will pay the price. Some day, they will understand who is responsible for their suffering. Or not. But if not, that’s too damn bad. If people want to die for the glory of Allah or Arafat’s good name, the IDF can grant them their wish, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re that stupid, you will die young anyway; sniper bullet or Darwin Awards, it doesn’t make any difference to me.

      Finally, you hope that “maybe if one side would put down their guns, the other side might do the same.” If this had not been tried on many occasions before, it would be so cute and well-meaning indeed. Interestingly, it’s always the same side that is expected to put down their guns, and eventually does. And it always fails. Someday, there is hope you’ll see a pattern emerging. Or not.