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The conflict between Zionism and liberalism

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Peter Beinart has a long and interesting essay in the New York Review of Books arguing that Israel -- and in particular its young -- is moving very far to the right in a way that's going to cause terrific tensions with the next generation of American Jews.

[America's last generation of] secular Zionists aren’t reproducing themselves. Their children have no memory of Arab armies massed on Israel’s border and of Israel surviving in part thanks to urgent military assistance from the United States. Instead, they have grown up viewing Israel as a regional hegemon and an occupying power. As a result, they are more conscious than their parents of the degree to which Israeli behavior violates liberal ideals, and less willing to grant Israel an exemption because its survival seems in peril. Because they have inherited their parents’ liberalism, they cannot embrace their uncritical Zionism. Because their liberalism is real, they can see that the liberalism of the American Jewish establishment is fake.

I used to write a lot more about the Israel/Palestine issue than I do today. My main conclusion from those arguments was that the real dividing line was not sympathy for the Palestinians or support for Israel, but whether you fundamentally understood Israel to be the most powerful country in the Middle East and the stronger party in the struggle with the Palestinians or whether you understood Israel to be a small and threatened nation that was locked in a war for its survival with a powerful enemy.

This disagreement often falls across generational lines. As Beinart says, young Jews do not remember Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria massing forces in the run-up to the Six-Day War. They do not remember a coalition of Arab forces streaming across the Sinai on Yom Kippur in order to catch the Jewish state by surprise. Their understanding of Israel was not forged watching the weak and threatened state improbably repel the attacks of potent adversaries.

The absence of such definitional memories has contributed to a new analysis of the Israeli situation. Today, Israel is far, far, far more militarily powerful than any of its assailants. None of the region's armies would dare face the Jewish state on the battlefield, and in the event that they tried, they would be slaughtered. Further stacking the deck is America's steadfast support of Israel. Any serious threat would trigger an immediate defense by the most powerful army the world has ever known. In effect, Israel's not only the strongest power in the region, but it has the Justice League on speed dial.

That is not to say that the Jewish state is not under threat. Conventional attacks pose no danger, but one terrorist group with one nuclear weapon and one good plan could do horrible damage to the small, dense country. That threat, however, is fundamentally a danger born of the Arab world's hatred of Israel. It follows, then, that hastening the peace that will begin to ease that hatred makes Israel safer. Exacerbating the tensions that feed it, conversely, only makes the threat more severe.

And to many of us, it looks like Israel is making the threat more severe. Its decision to pummel the city of Gaza from the air in a misguided attempt to punish Hamas. The ascension of Avigdor Lieberman and the return of Benjamin Netanyahu. Neither an overwhelming assault certain to kill many Arab civilians or a political movement that seeks to disenfranchise Israeli Arabs -- whose respected position in Israeli politics has long been a point of pride for Jews -- seems likely to begin the long process required to get back to the place where peace is conceivable.

Moreover, as Beinart says, most American Jews are liberals. And the fundamental project of American liberalism is bringing compassion to economic power and restraint to military power and equality to political power. Now that Israel is as empowered as it is embattled, its reckless application of military power (as in Gaza), counterproductive use of economic power (subsidies and support for the settlements), and embrace of a racially unequal politics (Lieberman suggested excluding Israeli Arabs from serving in the Knesset altogether) brings it into direct conflict with the American liberals who provide it with such substantial support. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has decided to support the further expansion of the settlements even at the cost of his relationship with the United States.

I don't know where this ends. As Beinart says, one possibility is that the ranks of American Zionists cease to be dominated by mainstream Jews and instead become the province of Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christian Zionists and takes a sharp turn toward the right even as its influence ebbs. Another possibility is that this will prove the darkness before the dawn of a more reasonable turn in Israeli politics. A scarier possibility is that some sort of catastrophic event -- either a terrible attack on Israel, or a terrible attack by Israel -- reshapes the situation.

But Israel has to walk with care. Previous generations might have believed in "Israel, right or wrong." Their replacements may not be as willing to sacrifice moral perspective in service of tribal allegiance. And much more importantly than that, every day that relations with the Arab world don't improve -- or, more to the point, continue to worsen -- is another day that Israel remains under threat. For those of us who worry about the state's safety and believe the primary threat is terrorism combined with more potent weaponry, the continuation of current trends is a terrifying thought.

Photo credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters.

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Israel/Palestine  
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Comments

"Further stacking the deck is America's steadfast support of Israel. Any serious threat would trigger an immediate defense by the most powerful army the world has ever known."

Says you...

Our troops are kinda busy right now, in case you haven't noticed. I suspect Israel is acting with the same assumption, and if there guess wrong and the risks they're taking turn out badly and don't pay off, can we at least not pretend it's anti-Semitism resulting from some great hatred instead of misreading the Big Picture situation?

You risk, you lose, don't expect the voluntary army of the guys in the White Hats to pull your chestnuts out of the fire... Again. I think you misread how willing Americans are to offer up their own sons for Israel, should the time come.

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Your own background is Argentinian Jewish American -- is that correct? Is there much American military support in your own circles, or do you think many would sign up to defend Israel (in the American branches of the service)?

Would you?

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Religious or ethnic government can not survive without barbarism. If Israel is to survive as a non-apartheid democracy, it will have to surrender its jewish identity.

Posted by: inkadu | May 17, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

For all the military superiority of Israel, the last war initiated by Olmert was not successful. Hezbollah effectively neutered Israeli advantages. So I am not sure how much one should believe in the traditional superiority when the battles are of 'asymmetry' with Palestinian supporters. Or let us put it this way - traditional military strength is the necessary condition, but not sufficient.

Turn of Israel towards Right - my cynical reaction is anytime a country starts having successful IPOs; the country starts feeling quite strong. In other words, as money starts flowing (which is today for sure in Israel since they are among the select band of rare countries today who effectively avoided the Great Recession and global contamination); Israeli get's this sense of strength and natural predilection towards Right. True, it is in contrast to what Krugman refers in his latest column like how societies actually go to Right when those are economically distressed. I think in case of Israel it is other way round.

How all this ends? Either Obama becoming victim of Israeli Right Fantasy world and eventually comes along that way at which point we go back to Bush era of violence; or Obama's strict discipline forces Israeli Right to do foolish things to ignite violence. Either way violence, unless any game changers start coming into the picture. One thing you can be sure about is - no matter how much arrogantly Israeli Right feels that they can solve the Middle East Conflict on their own (i.e. through brute force / military attack); all such unilateral aggressions will do is inflame the whole situation and it will never be doused unless outside powers are involved.

Game changers - read Joe Klein's commentary on Swampland why he supports Obama's decision to fund short term missile defense for Israel. Such triangulating initiatives can be game changer or at least some start of that.

Posted by: umesh409 | May 17, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"They do not remember a coalition of Arab forces streaming across the Sinai on Yom Kippur in order to catch the Jewish state by surprise. Their understanding of Israel was not forged watching the weak and threatened state improbably repel the attacks of potent adversaries."

i remember those events.
what is happening now, is not a generational thing.
it is a human rights "thing."
this has nothing to do with a short memory.
the longer memory should teach us that "never again," is meant for everyone.

the violation of the human rights of others is not defensible.

the taking away of homes and possessions of human beings, is not acceptable, whether it is done on crystal night to jewish people, or to the palestinian people, through illegal settlements and the recent massacre in gaza.
you cannot hurt the lives of other people, and continue to declare you are on high ground.


www.jstreet.org
the youtubes of anna baltzer/witness in palestine



i remember these events, as an american jew.
i also remember the great german/american rabbi, joachim prinz, whose activism and courage rang out for all people... who believed in social justice....was a leader in the civil rights movement for all people. he lived through crystal night, and would recount it often. he believed in equal rights for all people, not just jewish people.
what the younger generation sees, is the oppression and loss of human dignity of the palestinian people.

to watch netanyahu defend the taking of more land, is unjust.

it is not good as a jewish person, not to speak out.
and yet, a jew who speaks out now, is often looked upon as a "traitor."
thank goodness, for jstreet. they are a voice and refuge for social conscience....they are the new keepers of the flame.

Posted by: jkaren | May 17, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"My main conclusion from those arguments was that the real dividing line was not sympathy for the Palestinians or support for Israel, but whether you fundamentally understood Israel to be the most powerful country in the Middle East and the stronger party in the struggle with the Palestinians or whether you understood Israel to be a small and threatened nation that was locked in a war for its survival with a powerful enemy."

I'm quite old enough to remember Israel as a small and threatened nation in a fight for survival - the 1967 and 1973 wars both happened during my teenage years.

But I'd be really stupid if I let that view of Israel continue to dominate my view of it in the new millennium - I'd be the equivalent of a pundit whose view of the left was formed by the Sixties, and still sees everything and everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman through that lens.

One of the most dramatic moments of the 1970s was when Sadat came to Jerusalem in 1977 to seek peace between Israelis and Arabs. That was a moment that turned out to be as significant in practical terms as it was dramatic in symbolic terms: a year later, Sadat and Begin signed the Camp David accords, and in the years that followed, Jordan recognized Israel, and Syria accepted that it wasn't going to war with Israel alone.

So we've had a full generation without any existential threat to Israel. And until such time as Iran becomes a nuclear power, or Pakistan gets taken over by elements hostile to Israel, there will remain no substantial threat to Israel's territorial integrity or general safety.

Meanwhile, in its dealings with the people of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel holds all the cards, and the Palestinians have essentially none. Yet Israel uses its power only to bully those people. In Gaza, Israel's conduct is particularly egregious: sure, the Israeli settlers have pulled out of Gaza, but Gaza is not free: it is blockaded by land and sea, unable to engage in normal relations with the rest of the world. It's as if Gaza was a prison that Israel managed but abandoned, yet still maintains and controls the walls and gates, while leaving the inmates to survive as best as they can within those walls.

I may be north of 50, but I can see that the world has changed since my 'formative' years. And in particular, the basic story about Israel has changed completely.

What's difficult for me to understand is: how do people let clearly outdated stories about how things were, continue to dominate their thinking about how things are now?

Posted by: rt42 | May 17, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

In response to Mary42

Our Air Force and Navy are not busy and our under some pressure to show their relevance, when the President starts musing about whether we really need 13 Carrier Task Forces, and people in Congress are wondering if we really need all those hundreds of next generation fighters, you can bet the admirals and air force generals are getting antsy and would more than welcome the opportunity to show what they can do. While they might not welcome an attack by Iran on Israel, they certainly would have no qualms about destroying the Iranian Navy and as much of their Air Defense and Strike capability as possible. If only to show why they are still relevant.

Israel has no need of Army ground forces or even of Marine Amphib capabilities in the event of an attack, but would find 60 or so attack bombers plus some naval interdiction pretty handy.

As to whether Ezra and his circle would sign up, well that is kind of a moot point, as noted we wouldn't need ground troops, and In the Navy and the Air Force your more ambitious young officers gravitate towards combat arms anyway, plenty of bomber and cargo pilots would jump at the chance to retrain in fighter-bombers, and a few Ivy League grads one way or the other isn't going to make any difference at the point of the spear..

So to repeat the Navy and the Air Force are not overstrethed, instead they are bloated, we may not have the forces to occupy even one more medium size country, but we could sink every foreign navy at their docks if we wanted to, and destroy most of their air power as well (Russia and maybe China excepted, mostly because of reasons of geography). That is what that $600 billion or so is buying us each year., plenty of shiny deadly toys.

Posted by: BruceWebb | May 17, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

On the bigger point. It is important to remember that Israel did not have even an implicit call on US military support in 1967. In fact during the Suez Crisis in 1956 the U.S. intervened on behalf of Egypt. Nor did we actively work to block the formation of the United Arab Republic in 1958, (initially a merger of Egypt and Syria, but with ultimate aspirations of uniting the entire Arab world into one regime), even though it was somewhat anti-Colonialist in intent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Arab_Republic And at the outset of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 much of the U.S. military argued against intervention, it wasn't until October that Nixon basically went all in on the Israeli side and effectively formed the partnership we see today.

So the whole 'Plucky Israel against the world' meme was valid through Oct 1973. But the clear victory of Israel (though denied by the Arab states) combined with the explicit weapons guarantee by the U.S. made the whole notion obsolete, it was clear the U.S. would not tolerate a real existential threat to Israel. So I am not surprised that American Jews under the age of 35 or so are not buying into Victimology, particularly as U.S. support opened the door for groups like Likud to come to the front with their bully-boy tactics. It is impossible to seriously take Israel in the Sharon era as a victim.

Posted by: BruceWebb | May 17, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I remember the Arab attacks and the American response. Israel's behavior in the last decade, the rise of the extreme right religious parties make a mockery of everything America supported. Religous extremism will destroy any modern country.

Posted by: thebobbob | May 17, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"That threat, however, is fundamentally a danger born of the Arab world's hatred of Israel. It follows, then, that hastening the peace that will begin to ease that hatred makes Israel safer. "

You haven't proved your assumption that "peace" (presumably through territorial concessions by Israel) will "ease that hatred".

What has seemed to work from a statistical perspective is the security wall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_West_Bank_barrier

Posted by: jnc4p | May 17, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Hi Bruce,
Thanks for the schooling. I disagree. We've got better things to do as taxpayers than to fund soldiers and their expenses to defend Israel. I can think of one hundred tasks to set our "not busy" Air Force and Navy doing, other than further involving us in a conflict that is surely going to end sadly, even if our best and brightest young minds are so uber-confident that they don't see it.

"Our Air Force and Navy are not busy and our under some pressure to show their relevance, when the President starts musing about whether we really need 13 Carrier Task Forces..."

The point about Ezra's lack of service, and the need for no ground troops, misses the point. If his demographic isn't willing to sacrifice ultimately for the cause, do you think regular Americans will sign on to support Israel's defense? If it costs us further than the billions we're already paying?

Personally, I think Israel is living on borrowed time living off of American's dimes. I'm glad their economy is booming -- hopefully they are squirreling a little something away for the days ahead when America is no longer in a position to offer unconditional support (nevermind love).

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

By the way, and I mean this very respectfully Bruce, you seem to forget that the U.S. military is funded by taxpayers.

It's not up to some military judgment to say if we are currently "overstretched". If the last election didn't do the trick, Americans are trying to say, "Enough. This is a money suck, and spending money there is doing absolutely nothing to secure the peace."

The Military forgets they are funded by the Taxpayers. We're the ones financing your missions, and from what I hear, the bang for the buck just doesn't seem to be worth it. Best be saving your dollars too, in case the mission work dries up, and you're competing with other unemployed ex-soldiers for those precious SWAT positions to put your experience to practical use here at home.

Or maybe the Israeli Army will soon be hiring freelancers? ;-)

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

And please, don't tell me about all this "protection" I'm getting as a taxpayer from the military.

I think I'd be just as secure if Palestine secures statehood, as I would if Israel decides to premptively nuke Iran. Not all of us live in fear, like the New Yorkers and DC denizens apparently do.

If the Middle East burns, the Midwest will still get along co-operatively, and not because Evil Mens with Guns are Standing By to Fire Rubber Bullets and Bulldoze Homes and Drop White Phosphorus Powder on my Behalf...

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but you are mistaken.

When you claim that Israel's decision to "pummel" Gaza makes the "threat" more severe, you fail to acknowledge that Israel endured 8,000 rocket attacks over years, before finally responding.

In truth, Israel behaved with far more restraint than most countries ever would. They held their fire for years as S'derot and Ashkelon were under attack.

As for Lieberman and Netanyahu, it should be obvious that those rockets and suicide bombings, as well as progressive-left hatred towards Israel, pushed the Jewish Israeli public rightward, politically.

All you are doing is putting Israel into an impossible position. It either accepts its place as whipping boy or it goes to the right.

Which would you expect?

Posted by: mikelumish | May 17, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad this author wrote this article as it clearly demonstrates the lapse in logical thinking. This lapse is identified in the following quote:
“(the threat to Israel) is fundamentally a danger born of the Arab world's hatred of Israel. It follows, then, that hastening the peace that will begin to ease that hatred makes Israel safer.”

The author believes that the hatred of Israel is a result of the lack of peace. This is fundamentally incorrect.

I would like to suggest to the author that the hatred by Arabs toward Israel is the fundamental cause of the conflict. Where that hatred comes from are varied and numerous including early indoctrination in schools and Mosques, disinformation by state sponsored media, conspiracy theories , living in destitute conditions, poverty in the midst of extreme wealth, appeasement of Islamic fundamentalism by the ruling class…

The authors line of reasoning is unfortunately too common among American liberals who do not understand the conflict.

Posted by: wwestarc | May 17, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"Love your neighbors as you love yourself."

Funny how the peoples and countries who practice such, have not been plagued by centuries and centuries of violence from various groups who could not tolerate their presence. I wonder if the "be a good neighbor" mindset is not an effective vaccine, or antidote even, against the hatred from those root causes you cite, wwestarc.

Btw, please tell us, before the UN transferred land with a shady title from the Brits to create the new state, were their many Palestinians agitating against Jews as a people? I don't remember hearing of them being aggressors in WWII, that would have necessitated confiscating land and awarding it to the Jewish victims of the War.

Perhaps, the shepherds and farmers then were more peaceable. Before their lands were taken, they were scattered, and their children forced to endure in poverty, cut off from the outside world even as the oppressing powers wise up and finally leave their lands.

Oh Israel. Do you love the lamenting so much that you will never learn to love the people who surround you? Must your differences -- those things you believe G-d specially promised you -- continually cripple you from sharing an olive branch with your equal human neighbors?

So much for that shining Beacon on the Hillside, eh? Better to have a pure Jewish state, and preserve the ethnic stock of the more chosen race of peoples to keep to themselves....

Now where did we hear that again?

"And you become a monster... so the monster will not break you." U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind.

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"Sacrifice moral perspective..." "Israel right or wrong..."

It would appear that the author has bought into the anti-Israel propaganda so common online and among the "smarties" of left-leaning journalists both in Israel and abroad.

If he would bother to actually investigate the challenges presented to the only democracy in the Middle East and its response to those challenges he would understand that Israel is far more humanistic than the US has ever been in its entire history.

Does the author appreciate that the US killed more Arab civilians in its war "of choice" against Iraq than Israel has killed in the entire 60 years of its existence fighting for its survival?

No surprise here. The author is in "good company" in his ignorance about the Middle East and his willingness to hold Israel up to standards that no other country in the world has ever been held up to.

As unfair and as bigoted as this position is, as an Israeli I am happy to be held up to the highest standards the world has ever seen. Why? Because we are capable of showing the world what a nation is capable of accomplishing against all odds.

We have done so ever since we were created and are proud to hold up our record against any other country that ever existed throughout history.

The conflict between Zionism and liberalism that so worries the author is a false conflict born out of ignorance manipulated by propaganda. I, for one, am not worried about it at all.

Posted by: josephwouk | May 17, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Mary,
Israel wishes to live in peace… but first and foremost Israel wishes to live.

The Arab neighbors of Israel have never extended an olive branch.
Where was the olive branch when:
• Israel was attacked in 1948?.
• Israel was threatened with annihilation by its neighbors in 1967 and 1973?
• Intifada’s when Israeli civilians were blown up by suicidal murderers sent by Imams and clerics?
• Israel pulled out of Lebanon?
• Israel pulled out of Gaza?
• Israel offered to hand over 95% of the West bank and eastern Jerusalem?

The world looks simple when viewed through the prism of a rock band.

Posted by: wwestarc | May 17, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I enjoy the situation , On one side you have the rabid leftist secular Jewish Marxists who think support for Israel means Trees for Israel. On the other hand you have this tiny nation of 6 million surrounded by 300 million Arabs who want them dead. Sometimes when you are that small you need some advantages. Ever read David and Golaith? Todays leftists radical Jews would root for Goliath.

Posted by: dencal26 | May 17, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Coupla things...Mary 42 wrote this:

"Btw, please tell us, before the UN transferred land with a shady title from the Brits to create the new state, were their many Palestinians agitating against Jews as a people? I don't remember hearing of them being aggressors in WWII, that would have necessitated confiscating land and awarding it to the Jewish victims of the War."

You obviously never head of the pogroms and massacres in places like Hebron in 1929 instigated by he top Palestinian leader of the era, Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

During WWII, Husseini, like most other Arab leaders aligned with the Nazi cause, and Husseini spent much of the war translating 'Mein Kampf' into Arabic (where Hitler's book, whose title translates into Arabic as 'My Jihad' remains a best seller), making radio broadcasts in Arabic for the Nazi cause, recruiting Muslim SS troops for the Nazis in places like Bosnia and Albania and planning strategy with the Muslim Brotherhood for a Nazi-Arab alliance with Hitler and Himmler to coincide with a Nazi breathrough in Egypt. The pro-Nazi regime which took over in Iraq was part of this strategy, which also included detailed plans worked out by Husseini and Adolph Eichmann for a death camp for the Jews of Palestine and the Middle East located in Shechem (AKA Nablus).

Jew hatred is a part of the Qu'ran and the Hadiths, which leads me to the central issue of Middle East peace - the inability of the Arabs to tolerate Jew living with them in peace and equality in any area they control. Solve that one,and the other issues become insignificant.

I'm hardly surprised that some Jews on the Left would be conflicted about supporting Israel. Many of them are victims of a sort of Jewish Stockholm Syndrome, something noted in Jewish history since the time when many Jews decided to stay in Egypt rather than leave with Moses because it was comfortable.

Unfortunately, these Jews simply don't realize how important a strong Israel is to their own security and well-being, but I have a feeling that may change, at least for some of them.

Posted by: JoshuaPundit | May 17, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Klein is by far the most anti-Israel writer for a major paper today. In this country. One could find his equal in Egypt, no doubt. He is way beyond the "progressive" mainstream, in his grotesque lies by omission and tacit justification of the worst tactics of hamas, by failing to mention them or put them into the "moral" equation.

Posted by: truck1 | May 17, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Israel wishes to live in peace…

Not the extremists.
And a chain is only as strong as it's weakest links. You're in real do-do too when you mistake your weaknesses as strengths, as I suspect the settler movement does.

My beef is not with Israel. My beef is with those who wrongly assume the fate of America is tied to the fate of Israel. It's not, and the sooner Israel wises up to that fact...

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Ever read David and Golaith? Todays leftists radical Jews would root for Goliath.

No. Because today, Israel is Goliath, and Palestine is the rock-throwing youth.

"And you become a monster. So the monster will not break you..." There's a better way -- reach out for that branch while there's still time to save lives?

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"You obviously never head of the pogroms and massacres..."

Yes. And I know all about the King David Hotel bombing too.*

(Always with the superior knowledge base, trying to "educate" others...)

* "Terrorism for me, but not for thee."

I think the longflowing tears for the Jew as society's ultimate victim; the unconditional immunity due to the Holocaust suffering; and the organized charges of anti-Semitism are starting to wear thin.

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

" as an Israeli I am happy to be held up to the highest standards the world has ever seen. Why?"

Highest standards? White phosphorus powder anyone? Nukes in the closet?

Why, if Israel pretend to be independent, don't they reject my American taxpayer help? I pay for your protection and security. Doesn't that embarrass you just a bit, with all your alleged pride and "highest standards"? Are you one of those whose religion forbids work, just deep thinking on taxpayer subsidy?

Finally, about that "democracy" thing? During the South African aparteid era, did they pretend to be a democracy too, for all the proper people who counted?

(Don't you hear us out here laughing at you? Again, aren't you a bit embarrassed at your dependency? I would be -- always with my hand out, always crying wolf, and then pretending to hold those "highest standards". Who's kidding who, boy?)

Posted by: Mary42 | May 17, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Sad to read the same old impassioned arguments, going nowhere. What saddens me most is when terms like "bigoted" start getting thrown around at the first sign of a disagreement. Can we at least agree that challenging the military, political and economic policies of a government does not make one bigoted? Thanks.

And in case I need to spell it out a bit more, let me respond to some of the following challenges to American "liberals" who deign to question some of Israel's practices:

"Does the author appreciate that the US killed more Arab civilians in its war "of choice" against Iraq than Israel has killed in the entire 60 years of its existence fighting for its survival?"

I haven't seen this statistic before, but either way, you're not going to get much of an argument from those on the left here. We have always been strongly against the Iraq invasion. We tend to be highly critical of the U.S.'s foreign policy, often much more so than we are of other countries' foreign policies.

"The author is in "good company" in his ignorance about the Middle East and his willingness to hold Israel up to standards that no other country in the world has ever been held up to."

No, he's holding it up to standards that he would hold any country to, including his own. The fact that said countries often don't meet those standards is beside the point.

"As unfair and as bigoted as this position is, as an Israeli I am happy to be held up to the highest standards the world has ever seen."

You sure don't sound happy to be held up to those standards, as evidenced by your hasty accusations of bigotry.

Posted by: billy_burdett | May 18, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I think the real difference isn't quite between who believes Israel is the underdog or not, but between those who believe the conflict needs to be understood in human rights terms and those in geo-political terms.
People who see it in human rights terms believe that the argument should be ended by the fact that Israeli occupation is "illegal."
Those who see it in geopolitical terms believe that if Israel withdraws, it will have nothing to bargain a peacetreaty with, "land for peace."
And this conflict isn't unique to the Israeli-Palestanian conflict. The same people protesting NATOs bombing in Afghanistan complain about American foreign policy in Israel.

Posted by: earlsofsandwich | May 24, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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