Monday, June 06, 2005

A Retraction, of sorts

In Comments regarding this post, Max points out a few things I hadn't taken in during my brief skimming of the article. It wasn't my intention to be a knee-jerk Israel-basher, nor am I particularly interested in attacking the soldiers who actually do these things - they're trained to follow orders, and modern militaries are very good at making them do exactly that. So if I caused offense, my apologies.

However, Max seems to have taken issue with my comparison of Israel-Palestine and US-Iraq. While there's obvious differences, there's also obvious similarities. The most depressing similarity to me is the acceptance of an "eye for an eye" attitude in both Israeli and US military actions. It was quite explicitly put that way in the article I cited:
"'We are going to liquidate Palestinian policemen at a checkpoint in revenge for our six soldiers that they killed'," one ex-commando, quoted his commander as saying. He added that "the feeling was that this would be 'an eye for an eye."
Not only does this make me uncomfortable in a moral sense, but it's entirely ineffective as a military policy. Seriously. No military occupation has ever succeeded simply by ratcheting up the body count. Not Israel, not the US, nobody.

This is why arguments over whether or not Israel has a "right" to retaliate against Palestinians are so pointless. From the point of view of simple (or simplistic, depending on your view) moral calculus, you could say that these Palestinians in the article cited above very well deserved what they got. The larger point, however, remains true as well - you don't win wars, or win peace, by retaliation, no matter how justified. It simply has never happened.

One thing I will say is that all of the most optimistic signs from Israel have come since Sharon accepted the inevitability of leaving some of the settlements, and I've been personally surprised at how far Sharon had been pushing to leave Gaza. I'd prefer to see the west bank abandoned as well, but baby steps, right? This is part of my larger point - eventually, you are going to have to accept "their" demands in order to stop the killing, even if it means "giving in". You can't kill your way out of situations like this.

Like I said above, Max was right to bring certain points to my attention, and I apologize if anyone took my rather short post to mean something I didn't intend it to.

2 comments:

Battlepanda said...

On this point, John, don't you dare back down. I read your original post, Max's reply as well as the Reuter's article. Your response was right on the nose. Max speaks of looking past the bias, but if there is bias in the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is going to be towards the Israeli side. What was presented in bloodless, neutral terms by the Reuters article is a random retaliation killing -- the 'liquidation' (even the language is chillingly euphemistic) of Palestinian policemen just for beling Palestinian. There was no attempt at finding the men who were responsible, or a trial to make sure that the men they murdered were guilty of something. It's a despicable act of lynching.

What is revealed by this kind of reprisal killing is, on both sides, an unwillingness to see each other as human beings instead of "the other". Instead of working to punish individuals (which indeed would be very hard, I admit) or working through official channels, both Israelis and Palestinians seek instead to settle the balance by more killing. This is a pattern that can only result in mutual destruction, and should be roundly condemned by anyone who consider themselves the friends of Israel and Palestine.

Battlepanda said...

On this point, John, don't you dare back down. I read your original post, Max's reply as well as the Reuter's article. Your response was right on the nose. Max speaks of looking past the bias, but if there is bias in the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is going to be towards the Israeli side. What was presented in bloodless, neutral terms by the Reuters article is a random retaliation killing -- the 'liquidation' (even the language is chillingly euphemistic) of Palestinian policemen just for beling Palestinian. There was no attempt at finding the men who were responsible, or a trial to make sure that the men they murdered were guilty of something. It's a despicable act of lynching.

What is revealed by this kind of reprisal killing is, on both sides, an unwillingness to see each other as human beings instead of "the other". Instead of working to punish individuals (which indeed would be very hard, I admit) or working through official channels, both Israelis and Palestinians seek instead to settle the balance by more killing. This is a pattern that can only result in mutual destruction, and should be roundly condemned by anyone who consider themselves the friends of Israel and Palestine.