Sunday, August 13, 2006

Anti-Semitism & Anti-Zionism; Perspectives and Observations

The following is a response to a comment left today by "Kelly" -- rather than relegating the discussion to a variety of posts, I decided it's easier to follow same by keeping it all in the same space. -Ed.

Kelly,

When I referenced anonymous postings on the web, I wasn't (merely) equating your position with the hate-groups and the white supremacists and the closet racists that are increasingly abusing the anonymity of the Internet. Even before reading your response, it was clear that you're not in the same realm as are those twisted, hateful people.

However, it's very easy to see things from only one perspective, especially when you hear first-hand accounts of Israeli brutality and perceived injustices. The problem is when you see things only from one perspective, you perhaps fail to grasp other perspectives. For example, it's easy to characterize Israeli soldiers as being abusive and sporting "hair-trigger, jittery nerves." However, consider that every day, Israeli soldiers face the possibility of being killed by a random suicide bombing, or losing family members to a random mortar or rocket being fired into Israel – indiscriminately – by Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah – you name it. They have “hair-trigger” jitters because every Arab with whom they come in contact – whether at a checkpoint, on a bus or on a regular patrol – could be wearing a belt with the intention of killing as many Israelis – especially soldiers – as possible. There are pictures of children being trained to perform suicide operations at ages as young as five, and women have increasingly been tapped to perform these martyrdom operations as well. So their nerves are on edge because there's no simple way to distinguish civilians from enemies. Retaining their mental "edge" is the only thing on which they can rely to stay alive.

Without asking the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg – meaning, has Israel actively attacked its neighbors or is it merely defending itself in any way possible – I think that most people of that region, including some Arabs, are in favor of peace. Recent Palestinian elections in which Hamas seized control of the Palestinian state suggests that peace might not, however, be tops on the list. The problem, however, is the notion – misunderstanding, actually – that Israel somehow wants bloodshed and conflict and seeks it out rather than avoids it. Speaking of pacifism, I know several former soldiers in the Israeli army and they detest conflict; for them, however, conflict – when necessary – is a matter of Israel's survival. When you are fighting a faceless enemy that hides among civilians, hides rockets, munitions, explosives, etc., in civilian settings, and who blow up cafes, buses, theaters and hotels – civilian casualties are the regrettable result. They also provide very effective PR for the same groups that hide behind these human shields; that rarely is communicated, but that is the inevitable, and unenviable, truth.

I am not sure where, specifically, your friends live or where they work, but while they decry Israel's controlling of borders, do they also acknowledge that Israel has a need to protect its borders from people wearing bomb-belts and who would sooner kill Jews (and themselves) than live peacefully alongside them? Does that sound anything like pacifism? It doesn't to me.

Incidentally, two of the most outspoken Arab voices for peace of whom I know are Anwar Sadat and Mahmoud Abbas. It’s interesting that the former was assassinated – by fellow Muslims – and the latter was replaced by the Palestinian referendum which clearly, and soundly, replaced him with Hamas, essentially rejecting the concept of peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Further, it is ironic, at best, that the three words you used to sign your response – peace, shalom, salaam – are all used to indicate the same thing: peace; yet, I know of only one word that is invoked each time a suicide bomber fulfills his or her mission. The term "salaam alechem" (forgive the misspelling) – “God is great” – is typically part of a suicide bomber's lexicon. It's not a message of peace, however; if it were, I suspect that the bomb being detonated – filled with shrapnel and machine parts to maim or kill as many as possible – would not be part of the equation.

If we were to examine the three major world religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – and determine which of these had designs on remapping the entire world in its own image – I think Islam would be the first on the list. What I mean by that, and why I’m bringing it up, is that, as I indicated above, the term “God Is Great” is not a statement indicating “My god is great and I’m really jazzed about that;” it’s more along the lines of “My god is great and he’s better than your god, and here’s my final statement about that.”

Boom.

Since the Crusades, I don’t recall Christianity in its various permutations attempting to convert en masse people of other religions through violence. Missionaries might attempt to convert peoples of the world, but they do so with books and discussions, not bombs and beheadings. When was the last time Judaism attempted mass conversion? Even if I spent the next decade scouring history books and the Internet for verified proof, I doubt I’d find it.

Islam, however, seeks to absorb and dominate all facets of life and all countries and governments. You might disagree; however, between statements from al-Qaeda to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speeches to the Koran itself, the existence of any religion or beliefs contrary to the worship of Mohammad are pretty much the domain of the infidel. On this regard, of any of the aforementioned three religions, Judaism – and Israel – is the only one which has always and will always practice the notion of “Live and Let Live.” Put another way, if we are going to discuss injustice, we should at some point consider what it might be like being Jewish and walking on a Jewish holy day to a synagogue in Iran, Libya or Syria.

Your reference to a peace group and your friend and her associates being beaten is obviously regrettable; however, groups like Hamas and Hezbollah – groups that admittedly and proudly bomb schoolbuses and other places where civilians, including children, congregate – also claim to have peaceful (non-military) components, like hospitals, schools and housing. So which components are peaceful and want to meet face-to-face with Israel at a negotiating table and which want to meet on the streets, exchanging gunfire and munitions?

I've read numerous stories of Israeli refugee camps; I've heard how these camps "breed" terrorists, and how Israel is creating its own enemies. What I never understood was how or why other Arab nations – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, et al – would not absorb their fellow Muslims knowing doing so would alleviate the pain and suffering at the hands of Israel. What I've concluded is that it's better for some among these nations to allow this situation to continue to be able to develop and maintain an anti-Israeli mentality among Arabs. The term Zionism, as you used originally, is a term which suggests that Israel is an aggressive, blood-thirsty enemy and will destroy anything in its path. And again, I suggest that term and its uses are generally restricted to anti-Israeli Arabs and white supremacists. Even for pacifists, that's not the company I'd ever want to keep. The point is, if terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah and al-Qaeda were to disband and disarm, do you honestly believe Israel would suddenly begin to swallow up chunks of real estate and detain, imprison and/or abuse Arabs? Do you honestly believe that anyone in the world would believe these groups would remain disbanded and disarmed, even if Israel returned lands and granted additional freedoms to Arab Israelis? The answer to the second question, I hope, is no, as there have been numerous examples on which to base an answer. As for the former, is Israeli "aggression" – perhaps like that which is occurring in Beirut and in Southern Lebanon – them attacking a neighbor, or them attacking an enemy that hides among civilians, knowing Israel warns civilians of an impending attack? How many armies in the world warn its enemies prior to imminent attack? Do suicide bombers give these warnings, or are their actions praised with the chant of "Salaam Alechem," after the body count – and pictures of bloodied or murdered women and children – are published?

I think the chasm is notable here; many, if not all, Arabs distrust and/or despise Israel. Arab children are taught that Israel is and always will be the enemy. It has always been that way, and unless things change, they always will be that way. Israelis do not hate or distrust Arabs; they, however, like the rest of the world, see Muslim suicide bombers as barbaric thugs. The phrase "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" has been cliched and repeated more times than I can even count, but it applies here. These are two perspectives that are diametrically opposed. The key is understanding the other side.

Briefly put, I know there are injustices occurring in Israel; Mohammad Atta, one of the lead hijackers on 9/11, was in an Israeli prison and would have languished therein except Bill Clinton implored Israel to release many of their prisoners in exchange for "peace." I'm not sure what Atta's background is or was, but his example is not atypical; the line Israel must walk, and face on a daily basis, is which of their Arab neighbors are truly for peace and for mutual acceptance, and which of their Arab neighbors, harboring notions of anti-Zionism, would rather die in a self-detonated explosion – along with some of those so-called "Zionists" – than live another day in a world in which Israel exists?

That's why I find the term "salaam" so ironic, and that's why my response to "Anti-Zionism" is jaded, cynical and distrusting.

However, I stand corrected: the term "Anti-Zionism" should not be equated with anti-semitism. Anti-semitism is, technically, a dislike of all semitic people, including Arabs; anti-Zionism, if we're being accurate, is just a polite way of expressing disdain for Israel.

15 comments:

Roberta said...

Eloquent, as always, Boog.

Clearly, the Israeli side of this war doesn't have a face for Kelly. We see all the propaganda pictures put out there by Hamas and Hezbollah of women and children, with captions decrying Israeli barbarism. Why? Because Hezbollah's goal is to portray Israel as "civilian killers."

Even though there are no pictures of injured Israeli soldiers--and make no mistake, there are plenty of them--this war has an Israeli face for many of us. Maybe Kelly ought to head to this link:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/749924.html

and try to picture the faces of the families and friends of the 24 soldiers mentioned in this article. Maybe then she'll realize why there are so many people with "hair-trigger, jittery nerves."

I hope with everything I have that Kelly NEVER has anyone she even remotely cares about involved in any kind of war like this. Why? Because I know the hell that I'm going through knowing that 2 of my very good Israeli friends have been called up and could very well be part of a listing such as the one I linked above. I spend every minute of every day since I heard that they were called up thinking about them and hoping that the next link I get doesn't include their names.

All we can do is hope and pray.

'Berta

glo said...

Boogalah, you missed your calling my dear. Every legitimate media (and maybe not so legitimate) outlet on the planet would be humbled by your eloquent writing. xo

Boogie said...

Well, first of all, thanks for the well-wishes to you both; Berta, I think that Kelly has some of it right but some that isn’t even on the table. As you indicated, the only thing Kelly knows about this conflict – and I don’t mean the recent fighting between Israel and Hezbollah/Lebanon, I mean the Arab-Israeli conflict – is from the perspective of Arabs caught in between terrorists and Israel’s response thereto. I don’t doubt the difficulties Arabs in the region face like the ones Kelly referenced; however, understanding the causes behind those difficulties and understanding the motivations rather than simply assuming Israel has Zionist, aggressive, carnivorous interests isn’t enough of a reason or a valid explanation of what is happening or why.

As far as the individuals on the Israeli side caught up by this conflict, I hope none of your friends or family members are directly involved, let alone appear on an obituary listing. However, while it is constructive to explain that this is a conflict involving humans, men and women with wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, and sons and daughters, it’s actually too far a stretch to even attempt to depict it in these terms. For Kelly – and I am going out on a limb here – the conflict is something that is perpetrated on a right and wrong basis, and based on Kelly’s original response, it’s pretty clear that the friends Kelly mentioned are “right” and the abusive, Zionist Israeli policies and soldiers and tanks and refugee camps are “wrong.” The problem is, the conflict is much, much simpler to understand when one considers only one perspective. But complete knowledge of only 50% of something is still well below a passing grade, and until one understands the whole mechanism driving each side, and can see beyond his/her side of the fence and the struggle, it’s all just a matter of finger-pointing, dogma, mantras and morality vs. immorality.

Glori, I appreciate your sentiments, and I’ve been writing for a number of years regarding a number of things. One day I expect to be published – and no, I don’t mean my mug shot on the front of the New York Times – but until then, I’m just enjoying filling this space with mindless, opinionated drivel and phraseologies of inappropriate sentiments until I can no longer do it. The fact that anyone actually derives anything from it – joy, sadness, nausea, whatever – is all the reward I need (although I haven’t yet received nude pics from my groupies; but I’m still holding out hope :-).

Finally, Kelly, judging by your (thus-far) non-response, I can only assume that you either disagreed with much of my sentiments herein or – hopefully – might be ruminating on my response. Personally, I think a big part of the problem when people discuss Mid-East politics is the failure to adhere to fact rather than emotion or dogma or heritage or religion. If you ask yourself, while examining the events that have unfold and continue to unfold in the region, why groups, nations or leaders do what they do, and search for honest answers to same, my guess is you might not necessarily like what you find, but you will open your eyes to a whole new perspective and, at the very least, be able to see the big picture and gain a better understanding; whether or not your position changes, you will be in a better place to understand and to predict, and, perhaps, to solve the problems this region and these two peoples face, both individually and as neighbors.
_____

Finally, on a side-note, there were 10 rockets fired at Israel today (post cease fire). Israel’s official position is they won’t respond to these firings, although there were limited skirmishes between Hezbollah guerillas and Israeli soldiers. The link, if anyone is interested, is http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/08/14/mideast.main/index.html.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Trouble said...

Boogie Man, you never cease to amaze. This posting is a wonder and I salute the naive "Kelly" for inspiring its creation.

Doubt you'll engage in any kind of intellectual debate with your new friend, however--"her" short-sighted opinion cannot withstand critical thinking.

Keep up the outstanding work--your voice is desperately needed.

Boogie said...

Madame Trouble:

Thank you yet again for the thumbs up...

And I have a feeling you're right regarding debate and critical opinion; it's not a question of courage of conviction so much as it is an adherence to a style of thinking -- ie analysis -- versus an adherence to dogma.

As I write this, the UN is sending its first wave of troops -- a total of 3,000 to 3,500 is expected -- to buffer the Lebanese south and to prevent fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

And despite this "positive" step towards peace, I genuinely and openly wonder what Hezbollah will eventually do once it has had a chance to re-arm, re-tool and recruit new suicide bombers. I wonder if this cease fire is temporary, or if, eventually, the peace-keeping force will (eventually) return sovereignty to the Lebanese government instead of Israeli or Hezbollah forces.

And I realize it's just a matter of time before Hezbollah -- a group that exists solely to help bring about the destruction of Israel -- finds a way to attack Israel yet again.

I wish naivete among those who decry Israel and Zionism were the only problem we as observers -- the world, really -- face. If one or more parties cannot debate, discuss or reason, what's usually left is the exchange of gunfire and violence, not ideas.

I think, rather than my voice, what is really desperately needed is some willingness to reason and discuss.

Maybe I am naive; but we can hope ;)

Thank you again ;)

Kaia said...

I honestly wish i was able to contribute more to this thread, but Boogie, you covered almost every base i was intending on addressing. Incredibly well written and spot on.

My prayers are with those we know and love - and those we don't -within this conflict.

Kelly said...

Thank you very much for posting my thoughts on your website. Not everyone would use their own space for a differing and somewhat radical (to you, anyway) opinion to be written about. I haven't been able to post because I don't have access to a computer that often (well, at work, but I don't get to use it that often for typing thought-out comments on websites. I'm sorry it took so long, and I'm even more sorry that people accussed me in a public forum of being naive and running from the discussion. I'm sorry I don't have as much time or money for a computer to discuss this 24/7.

I have been exposed to the Israeli side of this argument my entire life. I grew up in the United States, after all. There are few places in this county where Palestine is even considered a *place*, or, in my case, growing up in conservative southwestern Ohio, there wasn't all that much of an awareness of the whole existence of the Middle East. Until, of course, September 11th. I'm speaking generally here, but please believe this: where I grew up, if someone knew about the Israel-Palestine conflict, they were most certainly on the side of Israel. That includes my family and friends. And now, having lived in New York for awhile, the most liberal place on the planet, well....There's an Israeli flag hanging on the balcony of the apartment next door to mine. Trust me, I've heard from Israel and Israeli supporters. I would hope that one could understand that I have chosen to side with Palestine and Arabs on this issue after careful consideration and a lot of indirect experience.

As an American, I have to object to America's support of the Israeli state. America supplies Israel with guns, munitions, tanks, helicopters--basically if you name any weapon used on the scale of warfare, America supplies it to Israel. Then there is, of course, the public support that borders on fanatacism, even in the midst of the current political climate in Arab countries. Is it not so hard to make the connection between our government's support of Israel (polictically, ideologically, and militarily) and a general feeling among Arabs that Israel is an occupier of an Arab land? My country cannot afford to provoke any more hostility in Arabs; a tide of radicalism is just below the surface there, and we've seen it before and we'll most certainly see it again. I know that we can agree on the fact that we don't want terrorists flying planes into any more buildings, or blowing up flights from London.

And yet, there we are, during the Group of 8 Summit when this started going desperately wrong, aligning ourselves with Israel, to say nothing of our own shameful occupation of Iraq.

Yes, you can certainly find people on both sides of this conflict who have had direct experience with in the region who want peace, from Israeli soldiers to reformed would-be suicide bombers. I cannot actually believe that Israel as an entity wants peace, for the simple reason that to want peace and to actively move towards achieving peace would mean that they would have to completely withdraw from the Palestinian territories. The current situation involving Lebanon is complicated, but in some part is retribution for their past occupation of that country. The Lebanese have spent the last ten-odd years building their county up. They have worked hard, and in the case of Beirut, built a safe, beautiful, cosmopolitan city. Yes, they failed in that there is a terrorist, paramilitary organization controlling the southern half of their country. Hezbollah, I think is different from Hamas in this way (and I know you'll disagree). Hamas is now becoming more of a political party; gaining legitimate political representation has moderated them somewhat. Yet Israel will not negotiate with them. A legitimately elected government in the region, and its neighbor refuses to acknowlegde them. It can't help anything, it won't solve the desperation of people who cannot move about in their own country, who can't visit friends and relatives or go to work without standing in hours and hours of lines and heat, it won't create fewer suicide bombers. It just won't work.

My goal is not to count bodies--but if that were my goal....This latest war of Israeli agression has killed, what, 800 civilians, and Hezbollah rockets have killed maybe 200 Israeli civilians? [These are estimates--the latest figures I heard were at the end of last week so please feel free to direct me to more current and accurate information if you have it, I'd be happy to look.]

As for the use of the word "salaam" by suicide bombers: I see the irony in it (and thusly your point), believe me. I guess all I have to say is that people do some horrible horrible things in the name of peace and especially in the name of god. Language, and single words, have a way of working in some wildly different, yet iterable ways. In using salaam I meant it, of course, in peace. I am sorry if I misinterpreted your first response when I thought you were equating me with more hateful emissaries than I seek to represent. Any way I parsed that part of your post I thought you were saying that, and I was sickened. Just because I distrust Israel does not mean I am on the side of the suicide bombers, or Iran, or of any entity that wants to violently wipe Israel from the face of the planet. I want nothing more than for Israel, for Palestine, for Lebanon to co-exist peacefully in the region. When Sharon started that process in 2004 before his death, I thought I saw a new way, a new peaceful region being formed. Now I see a country carpet-bombing Lebanon on a crusade to kill hundreds or thousands in retribution for two soldiers being kidnapped. TWO.

Thank you again for using your space for a differing opinion.

Boogie said...

Kelly:

First and foremost, the main focus of this site is opinion; if one needs facts, one can surf to an infinite selection of choices, from The New York Times, The Financial Times, the BBC, Reuters – there’s literally an infinite array of fact-based news. Part of the reason why this site, at least for me, exists, is not the recitation of facts but the sum-total of what’s occupying my mind. Having said that, I’ll respond to your comments above.

First of all, I think your initial use of the term Zionism painted a very broad, stereotypical stroke. Your initial comment regarding the situation in Lebanon was, perhaps, two sentences, and yet I immediately knew most everything I needed to know regarding your opinion thereon and from where you are coming regarding this situation. The term naïve is not necessarily accurate with regard to your knowledge of the situation; it’s that your opinion, seemingly, is from one perspective rather than seeing both sides of the sum of the conflict.

For example: you suggested that Israel as an entity likely does not want peace. To me, this sounds heavily biased and thoroughly uninformed. You point to the recent invasion of Southern Lebanon (Hezbollah land) as an example of this. And as you indicated, Israel’s recent incursion into Lebanon was in response for – in theory – two kidnapped soldiers. On the surface, if one doesn’t take the time and effort to dig deeper, this would be true. It would very easily demonstrate your assertion that Israel is a “Zionist” entity that wants nothing to do with peace. Unfortunately, what you missed – and exemplified in these comments – was that it’s not merely two kidnapped soldiers, but the fact that the Lebanese government has no control over Hezbollah and – willingly or otherwise – allows same to operate in their territory at their discretion. What I mean by that is thus: Lebanon’s permitting of Hezbollah to conduct operations – suicide operations that kill civilians, firing random rockets into civilian areas, and the violation of the border between Lebanon and Israel (ie Hezbollah operatives entering Israel) – is paramount to a threat to Israel’s security.

Since you live in this country, I’ll give you a similar example. Let’s suppose Canada’s government was inept and had no control over its territories. And let’s suppose that there was a roving band of white supremacists that took up arms and dedicated themselves to the destruction of the United States and its civilian population. And let’s further suppose this group was permitted by Canada to fire missiles into the continental United States at will. And let’s further suppose repeated demands by the United States to Canada to put a stop to this activity was ignored or unresolved. How much firepower would be appropriate to dismantle the threat to the United States? Would the US – or any nation facing a similar predicament – simply ignore the threat and allow operatives a mile from its border to fire missiles into civilian-populated areas? Would any nation, let alone the US, forgive with impunity the ineptitude of the government which – through commission or omission – allowed this military group to operate? I would hope you would be willing to use common sense to answer this question rather than allow your specific perspective of the current unrest in the Mid East to color your response.

Using the Israeli response to Hezbollah’s latest actions as proof that it is Israel that lusts for blood, not peace, seems sort of foolish – especially when, if you compare the struggle between the United Kingdom and the IRA, the solution was implemented in the UK once the IRA agreed to disarm and kept their word. Israel returned lands, returned prisoners and accelerated its assistance to the creation of a Palestinian state. Hamas, in response, amped up its suicide campaign to insure its relevancy in the coming decade (we’re talking about the period of time, say, ten years ago, when Arafat was still alive and al-Qaeda was not quite the buzzword it is today).

I also am shocked at your use of the word “fanaticism” to describe US support – civilians or institutions or both – of Israel, especially, as you indicated, considering the political climate of the Middle East. When was the last time you saw video of a throng of Israelis – 10,000, 20,000, etc. – burning a flag of an Arab state in protest? When was the last time you saw video of a mob of Israelis taking a captured member of a foreign army and parading him through the streets to be abused, derided and/or mocked? When was the last time an Israeli ran into a crowded civilian area – say, an Arab market or a mosque – and detonated 50 pounds of explosive filled with machine parts and shrapnel to insure those who were not killed by the blast were injured to their maximum potential?

The word fanaticism as defined by wikipedia: “Fanaticism, from French fanatique or Latin fanaticus 'inspired by a god, frenzied' fanum 'temple' is an emotion of being filled with excessive, uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby.” Considering this definition, does that accurately describe Jews in Brooklyn or people modeling bomb-belts in Demascus and Tehran?

Frankly, it’s a bit tedious cautioning your recitation of words and phrases; US devotion to Israel is not merely choosing one side over another. Military and monetary support for Israel by the US and other Western nations isn’t a preference for Judaism over Islam, nor is it a result of these governments being controlled by Jews. It is, however, a sign of support in the only modern democracy in the entire region. The bulk of Arab states, with Iran being at the top of the list, are totalitarian in nature (for the most part). And while that fact, at best, should be sufficient in warranting or engendering support of Israel by other like-minded democracies, the fact that many of these states are not merely totalitarian in nature by unstable and predicated on zealous devotion – fanaticism – are what concern and frighten many Western nations. Put another way, especially within the context of the nuclear question posed by the conflict with Iran – do you believe Iran, whether under control by its current President or anyone who succeeds him – is rational and would resist the temptation to destroy Israel? Considering he questioned the Holocaust, firstly, and, secondly, considering he suggested Israel should be wiped off the map, does that sound like an amenable ruler willing to compromise, or does that sounds remarkably like Adolph Hitler’s speeches in the streets of Germany circa the 1930’s-era Beer Hall Putsch?

And while we’re discussing the support given to Israel by the US and other Western entities, and your mention of US unwillingness to negotiate and acknowledge Hamas, let’s keep in mind that the reason why no one other than other like-minded Arab states acknowledges Hamas is because they refuse to rescind their goal of destroying Israel. Your disappointment that Israel will not acknowledge or negotiate with Hamas is – to me – inexplicable. I can only assume you would expect a nation to willingly cede land and support to a country led by a group who has pledged to destroy it. To me, that’s not reality. That is, again, an opinion clouded by something other than facts and common sense. Why do so few governments acknowledge Hamas? Is it because said governments are afraid of the US’s response to said acknowledgement? Or is it because Hamas’s position on Israel’s existence is such that at their earliest opportunity they would sooner destroy Israel than live peacefully next to it? This, incidentally, is not my opinion: Hamas ran a campaign which dropped its call for the destruction of Israel, yet wouldn’t publicly even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. How do you negotiate with a party who doesn’t acknowledge your right to existence? I am hoping you can explain that; apparently, however, the majority of the world’s governments, like me, fail to understand – or fail to believe – that Hamas is a legitimate, sincere representative of peace in the region.

In debate, the object is either to convince the other party his/her position is incorrect or, at the very least, to agree to disagree. I certainly don’t expect to enlighten you in any particular regard, and I certainly understand the Arab mentality that Israel is an unlawful and illegitimate occupier of lands to which they do not rightfully own. The problem is this mentality is demonstrated in ways which are the antithesis of peace; instead of peace, it seems that the Arab mentality exemplifies the notion that it will not accept anything but total Israeli withdrawal from “Palestine.” Unfortunately, the reality is that this problem will persevere; Israel will not be removed from the map, despite Iran’s efforts at making this so. Some day, when this mentality changes – if it ever does (or could) – it would be interesting to watch Arab states work towards living with – rather than destroying – its neighbor. If half the effort Hamas and Hezbollah expended destroying Israel were contributed to bettering their states, and said efforts decried violence and new ways of attacking an old enemy, said states would have received far more aid and sympathy from this nation.

Finally, I appreciate your position, and I certainly don’t anticipate your opinion will change, but I do respectfully recommend your use of terms like fanaticism and Zionism be tempered more by common sense and less by an attempt to prove a point. These labels have meaning and efficiency in their use; when they are misused, however, especially in such glaring ways, it highlights and demonstrates your proclivity to proving examples by stating your point. It should, and must, be the other way around.

The best example of this sensibility is your description of Israel’s offensive against Lebanon. In your view, you see Israel’s offensive being retribution for two kidnapped soldiers as an excuse for them to kill thousands of cilivians.

Yet – somehow – you didn’t respond to the fact that Israel drops leaflets warning civilians to evacuate an area prior to an attack. Yet – somehow – you didn’t mention that Lebanese civilians are used by Hezbollah as human shields. Yet – somehow – you didn’t bother citing the fact that Hezbollah stores weapons – missiles, firearms, bombs, explosives – in civilian houses and structures rather than protected bunkers. And finally, you somehow didn’t mention that Israel demanded the return of its two soldiers and a pullback by Hezbollah and a seizure by the Lebanese army of Hezbollah’s territory prior to the commencement of fighting.

You somehow see things from one perspective. That is why other comments have described you as naïve. These comments are giving you the benefit of the doubt. Naïve suggests you are unaware of all the facts. Biased, however, is the term for someone who forms and maintains an opinion despite the existence of facts which would suggest an alternative conclusion. I hope, somewhat pessimistically, that your position is a result of naïvete rather than something more, or worse.

Roberta said...

Kelly,

I'm not nearly as patient as Boogie. I'm also not nearly as diplomatic as Boogie. Be glad that I adore Boogie enough to not clutter up his blog with what I REALLY think of you. Unlike Boog, I don't hold out hope that you're naive.

As an American, I have to object to America's support of the Israeli state.

I have full awareness that this next statement goes both ways, so spare me that should you choose to respond: If you don't like it, there are hundreds of other places you can live.

Kelly said...

If you so desire, I will not post any more on your website. I am sorry that I inspired so much animosity. Roberta, I have been told many times I could live somewhere else. I am, after all, about as liberal as you can get coming from a small town in Ohio. I'll add your recommendation to the many I received while working on the Kerry campaign in my former hometown. I hope you realize that the two of us can have different ideas and still live in the same country. It's really that simple.

But before I leave this website for good (but stay in my country), I would like to apologize again. I'm sorry I started the debate. I, too, realize that I am not going to change anyone's mind. I guess I just wanted a discussion, and I was also mourning the loss of Palestinian friends over the years. I was mourning the recent fighting. I was scared for my friends in the area who are trying to do simple things like accompany Palestinians through military blockades and are getting beaten up pretty badly for it. There are two sides, but you only see one of them, too.

I don't think Israel goes about things in the right way. You can't root out terrorists by sending in tanks to civilian areas. America is doing the same thing in Iraq. And no, before you demand it of me (along with my head, Roberta), I don't know the correct way of going about it. I wish I did, I wish ANYBODY did. I don't condone the actions of suicide bombers, or of terrorists. I also don't condone the actions of militaries or armies, either.

What upsets me the most is the fact that I can't say that I believe that Palestinians have a right to the land they are living in in my own country. That is what it comes down to to me. I'm not trying to sound persecuted for my opinion here, I'm just expressing sadness for not being able to suggest that idea. I thought that there was a somewhat civilized discussion going on, but looking through the comments, I'm referred to as "Kelly" (which is, incidentally, my actual name), and asked to leave my country. This is just a smattering of what has been said to me and like-minded friends over the years.

Please, if nothing else, look into the non-violent solutions people are attempting to use to alleviate the suffering of all peoples in the region. Look at the peaceful teachings of Americans, of Israelis, of Palestinians who are working among desperation and fear.

Peace (really),
Kelly

Boogie said...

Kelly,

First and foremost, without speaking for Roberta – who is more than capable of explaining her comments if she so chooses – she wasn’t advising you to leave this country because she doesn’t agree with your opinion(s). Her response, I believe, was to your suggestion that Israeli support by this country is fanatical and/or that if you disagree with this nation’s support of Israel then there are other nations whose policy toward Israel might be more akin to yours.

Your response didn’t address the questions I posed to you regarding Israel’s recent offensive in Lebanon. You wrote that Israel used the kidnapping of two soldiers as an excuse to attack Lebanon and kill Arab civilians. I’ll quote: “Now I see a country carpet-bombing Lebanon on a crusade to kill hundreds or thousands in retribution for two soldiers being kidnapped. TWO.” I responded that Israel’s distribution of leaflets warning civilians to evacuate areas about to be attacked seems to contradict your belief that they want to kill civilians. And to further clarify why Israel’s offensive was pervasive and significant, I asked you if you agreed that Hezbollah hides its munitions and its fighters among civilians. You ignored that statement. My guess is you did so because it contradicts your bias rather than supports it. If Israel was anti-peace and wanted to kill civilians, the so-called “carpet-bombing,’ as you put it, would have leveled Lebanon from above without sending in ground troops to root out terrorists hiding behind human shields.

As I’ve continually stated throughout this interchange, I sympathize with Arabs caught in the middle of this conflict (not merely between Israel and Lebanon but the entire Arab-Israeli conflict). I also think many of them have been taught to believe, as you do, that Israel is not to be trusted and does not want peace. The facts suggest otherwise; but as I’ve presented factual responses to your opinions, you either haven’t addressed them or simply restate your position. And frankly, I think most Arab people – Palestinian or otherwise – believe Israel should be wiped from the map. No amount of posturing or grand gestures from either side will convince the other, but the fact is, the root of the problem, I believe, started in the early 1920’s.

In the late 1920’s and early ‘30’s, Britain and France controlled much of what Arabs called “Palestine.” There was no actual nation of Palestine, and this area was populated by both Arabs and Jews. Led by a group called the Young Men’s Muslim Association, the Arab community in Palestine began to rebel against the British/French presence, as well as the Jewish presence, in Palestine, which led to a radical anti-British, anti-Zionist, party, the Independence Party, to emerge. Apparently, Egypt was increasingly part of this process, which later resulted in the Suez Canal War in ‘56. As the conflict grew, England killed Shaykh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, one of the spiritual heads of this anti-British and anti-Jew movement. As a result, throughout much of 1936, an Arab general boycott was enacted, in tandem with indiscriminate, strategic attacks on Jewish farms, villages and people. Many Jewish villages, like those in Beisan and Acre, simply were overrun and entire Jewish populations in same were forced to flee.

As a result of this conflict, England worked with the Jewish community in the area to form “Haganah,” an assortment of soldiers organized to defend Jewish interests in Palestine. Many of these later formed components of Israel, including Mossad, Israel’s Intelligence Service, as well as a variety of anti-terror and paramilitary groups. These early precursors of the modern state of Israel participated in World War II against Germany in alignment with England. Since most Arab states, as well as most Arabs in Palestine, at the direction of Amin al-Husayni, the head of the Arab Committee in Jerusalem, aligned with Nazi Germany, the battle-lines that were drawn after World War II ended resulted in England creating a Jewish state of Israel alongside Jordan.

This resulted in the British leaving Palestine, and on 11/29/47, the UN implemented Resolution 181, which divided Palestine into distinct Arab and Jewish partitions. All Arab/Muslim nations rejected this compromise soundly, while most Jewish entities in the region grudgingly accepted it. Almost immediately, as a result, the Arab Higher Committee called for a general strike which commenced, on 12/2/47, a three-day period of unrest which included Arab rioting in the center of Jerusalem and beyond. Once it was clear Arab mobs were attacking Jews and Jewish neighborhoods, the aforementioned “Haganah,” which is the Hebrew word for defense, was officially formed.

Fast forward to May 15th, the day after Israel officially attained statehood. Israel was attacked by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Thereafter, the region has seen a variety of conflict: including the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (or Israeli Independence War); the 1956 Suez War, 1967 Six Day War, 1970 War of Attrition, 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1982 Lebanon War, as well as a number of lesser conflicts. With the exception of the Six Day War, in each of the above-listed conflicts, Israel was attacked by one or more Arab nations and defeated these attacks and seized lands involved in the combat.

With regard to the Six Day War, Israel responded to Egyptian forces massing at its border; additionally, Egypt expelled its UN presence in what Israel anticipated was a precursor to an attack. Additionally, Egyptian forces locked the Strait of Tiran so Israel had no access to the Red Sea. So Israel launched what they called a preemptive attack on the Egyptian air force. In response, Jordan attacked Jerusalem and Natanya. At the end of the fighting, Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Some of these lands have been returned to Arab control in exchange for “peace” – however, even when “land for peace” exchanges have resulted in a cessation of state-run violence (i.e. war), the actions of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups have maintained the acrimony between Israel and the rest of the region.

Essentially, what is clear – not merely as a result of this particular discussion – is that the Arab people will not accept the state of Israel in any way, shape or form, unless it is in Argentina, where it was originally proposed to be located, or in Europe or the United States or somewhere other where it is currently located. The problem is, as far as I can tell, that the land of Israel is not going to be eliminated from its current location. So the concept of Israel and its neighbors peacefully coexisting among one another must be on the menu. The problem this presents, of course, is that even those Arabs who dislike and distrust Israel must at some point acknowledge its right to existence. Referring to Israel as an illegal occupier of land – especially when there was no previously-established nation, merely a region, where it is currently located – only serves to lengthen the conflict and the distrust between nations rather than minimize same. And if you happen to disagree that most Arabs regard Israel as an illegal occupier of land, all you need to do is review the most recent Palestinian elections empowering Hamas to destroy and expel Israel. The people spoke, and the world very clearly heard the results.

As for the solution, until it’s a genuine commitment to peace, it’s merely pissing in the wind. You wrote:

“I don't think Israel goes about things in the right way. You can't root out terrorists by sending in tanks to civilian areas. America is doing the same thing in Iraq. And no, before you demand it of me (along with my head, Roberta), I don't know the correct way of going about it. I wish I did, I wish ANYBODY did. I don't condone the actions of suicide bombers, or of terrorists. I also don't condone the actions of militaries or armies, either.”

The problem as I see it this: there are two sides that distrust one another. Once each side acknowledges the other’s right to exist, that will be the first hurdle. That first step hasn’t happened, as evidenced by your most recent response: “I believe that Palestinians have a right to the land they are living in.” By that, I’m assuming that you believe Israel should not be occupying the land in which it is located. My main difficulty with this aspect of the discussion is that like many Arabs, you are comfortable suggesting Israel should not be in Palestine. However, prior to Israeli statehood in 1948, what country or nation or entity – one recognized by the United Nations – was occupying the land of Palestine? What governmental body or people occupied this space?

Some other questions I’d be interested in reading your answers to: if the concern for the people of Palestine was so great, why didn’t any Arab nations – say, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon – absorb these people rather than decry the existence of Israel? Considering the Arab world sided with Nazi Germany to rid the region of a Jewish presence, and further considering Nazi Germany was soundly defeated in World War II, and the British creation of a joint state – rather than simply evicting any Arab presence whatsoever in Palestine – was a vehicle for peace, why didn’t the Arab nations who had supported Fascism, Totalitarianism, Nazism and Nationalism absorb the people of Palestine and accept a lasting peace?

Finally, if Israel's sole "occupation" of Jerusalem is so repugnant to Islam, when is it that Mohammad first visited Jerusalem?

I think it, again, comes down to bias and distrust. I also think it comes down to fact. The notion of peace in that region is foreign to many, mostly because even the Palestinian people would choose the path of Hamas, a known terrorist group, than follow the path Abbas set forth prior to Arafat and Sharon disappearing from the radar. My point is: peace is not simply something one can attain; if true peace is the goal, than Arab nations have to prevent and/or eliminate terrorist groups from acting against Israel. If, as an example, there should be sympathy for Lebanon in the public arena as a result of Israeli attacks, shouldn’t there also be punishment for Lebanon permitting Hezbollah to occupy its land and attack Israel without restriction? The Arab world can maintain it wants peace but those who study the region without bias see nation-states like Lebanon, Syria and Iran proposing and promoting peace, yet quietly providing arms and money to groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Those groups, in turn, act on their pledges to destroy Israel. To me, that sounds like anything but a recipe for peace. It’s a form of hypocrisy, and I believe this hypocrisy is central to why the West regards Arab calls for peace with skepticism. Aside from the beheadings, the bombing of civilian neighborhoods and markets and discos and vehicles, the distrust that was inherent between these two sides in the late 1920’s continues to this day, and until a true call for peace – one that is not only genuine but unanimous – comes from the Arab world, this multi-headed demon will continue to roam the region until technological warfare, combined with true fanaticism, comes to bear.

I’ve said all I need to say here, but if Kelly or anyone else wants to further comment, feel free. I’ll close this comment thread in the next few days, so if you would like to add anything to the discussion, please feel free to do so in the next few days so we can put this to bed. Thanks.

-B-

Roberta said...

Kelly,

Roberta, I have been told many times I could live somewhere else.

I'm sure you have. Fortunately, Boogie understood what I was getting at and spelled it out. You clearly have issues with Israel and the support the US provides to her. That's all fine and good as long as you realize that I will forever take issue with people and countries whose goal is to eliminate Israel.

I hope you realize that the two of us can have different ideas and still live in the same country. It's really that simple.

I do realize that, thank you. My parents didn't raise stupid children. I disagree with you; that doesn't make me naive or unaware of the freedoms I enjoy as a citizen of this country. It's the same as when my boss--a dyed-in-the-wool Republican--refers to our Democratic Governor as "Governor Hypocrite" and I--a somewhat-less-fervent-than-he Democrat--refer to our Republican President as "President Hypocrite." We can agree to disagree and I don't get fired! ;)

I was mourning the recent fighting.

Do you get that we're ALL doing that? Do you get that there are 'organizations' (and I use the term loosely) whose SOLE and STATED purpose is to effect the total and utter destruction of not just Israel, but the Jewish people as a whole? Do you get that I don't want to be spending my time wondering whether my 2 friends who got called to the front lines will make it home to their families? Do you get that the suffering is on both sides of this war? Do you REALLY get that?

I don't think Israel goes about things in the right way.

And I don't think that Hezbollah & Lebanon go about things in the right way. You can't hide your fighters in civilian areas ON PURPOSE and then yell about how barbaric Israel is because civilians get killed. Every Lebanese civilian casualty, to Israel, is a regret. Every Israeli casualty, civilian or military, to Hezbollah, is a victory. Do you really not see how warped that is?

And no, before you demand it of me (along with my head, Roberta)

Frankly, Kelly, I don't want your head. I'm not vengeful...just passionate about the things I care about. As are you, I suspect. This happens to be an issue where our passions lie in direct opposition.

From here, I'll wish you the best and leave it at that.

Kelly said...

Roberta (and all involved in the discussion):

#1 I do not support Hezbollah.

#2 I do not wish for the elimination of the Israeli state.

#3 Nowhere in my portion of the discussion thread did I say either of those things.

#4 To Roberta, specifically: I would like to know what exactly is meant by the statement: "I don't hold out hope that you're naive."

#5 When I wrote that I was in mourning for friends in Palestine, both the departed and the brave people for whom I care deeply working there now, I was not in any way, shape, or form trying to discount your own fear for loved ones in the region. Yes, Roberta, I really get that there is suffering on both sides of this war.

To Boogie:
I would like to know what is meant by this statement: "I hope, somewhat pessimistically, that your position is a result of naïvete rather than something more, or worse."

As to your repeated assertion that Israel drops leaflets to warn civilians of imminent bombings, my response was that I do not think that forcibly entering neighborhoods and homes where civilians reside, even with prior warning, is the way to go about this. I realize that Hezbollah is thoroughly embedded in civilian areas. I realize that Lebanon's government has let Hezbollah take over the southern portion of the country. Going into civilian areas, with or without prior warning, with or without all the leaflets in the world, cannot be condoned. Again, I do not know the way to go about uprooting terrorists well-hidden in civilian populations. Again, I wish someone did. Again, the United States is doing the same thing in Iraq. It is not working. It is not working because displaced, desperate people trying to flee bombs on roads that have been bombed-out, or people caught in the crossfire unable to uproot their lives to get out of the way of Israeli bombs that they have been warned about, incites hatred. In otherwise moderate civilian populations of Lebanese cities under attack, having an Israeli bomb destroy their homes, even after being warned, will, understandably, incite rage. It is a very good way to make a moderate person a fanatical person. And leaflets or no, there are still bombs. The leaflet doesn't make the bomb okay. Hezbollah can (and I hope will) be charged with war crimes under the Geneva convention for endangering the civilians they are hiding amongst. Israel can (and I hope will) be charged with war crimes for their complicity in the deaths of Lebanese civilians.

The other issue (which I will treat as a different [though related] issue) is Israel's relationship with Palestine (or as you refer to it, "Palestine").

"[I]f the concern for the people of Palestine was so great, why didn’t any Arab nations – say, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon – absorb these people rather than decry the existence of Israel? Considering the Arab world sided with Nazi Germany to rid the region of a Jewish presence, and further considering Nazi Germany was soundly defeated in World War II, and the British creation of a joint state – rather than simply evicting any Arab presence whatsoever in Palestine – was a vehicle for peace, why didn’t the Arab nations who had supported Fascism, Totalitarianism, Nazism and Nationalism absorb the people of Palestine and accept a lasting peace?"

As to why these Arab nations didn't absorb the Palestinian population after World War II seems rather easy to me. I'm not sure that any population wants to be uprooted. It really does come down to individual people conducting their lives in a place they consider home. All people of all races on this planet in the year 2006 want and deserve a home that is safe and free of violence and the constant fear of violence. Certainly Jewish people in Israel can understand this: after all, Jewish people have been uprooted before (most strikingly and horribly during World War II). Jewish people, and Israeli Jews, understandably want a safe home, a state that they can maintain freely and safely after the diaspora of the 1930's and 1940's. Is it really so much of a stretch to think of Palestinians wanting that very same thing and to extend that respect and regard to their fellow citizens? Not every Palestinian, or every Arab--or every American who wishes for a free Palestine for that matter--is a suicide bomber bent on destroying individual's lives and the safety of the state. Not every one of the aforementioned types of people are Nazis or Fascists.

Your interpretation of my beliefs and remarks and arguments keeps bringing up Hitler and Nazis and Ahmedinejad's Iran. Even my use of the word "salaam" in closing my second post was discussed with suspicion because of its use by suicide bombers. Please do not go so far as to even make the suggestion that my thoughts even barely resemble the thoughts, actions, and beliefs of the aforementioned monsters. Suggesting that Palestinians have a right to their land does not put me in their company. It is a problem that you, and others with your beliefs suggest those things when I and people who share my beliefs discuss the rights of Palestinians. There is not a way to rational debate if you are even hinting at those things. And by writing them, you are hinting at them. I did not say you were accusing me of them, but the mere printing of them is a powerful hint and I caution you against your use of terms like "Nazism" and "Fascism" just as you cautioned me against the use of terms like "fanaticism" and "Zionism". I do not align myself with monsters like these simply because I believe that Palestinians have a right to live safely and freely in the West Bank and Gaza. That means without the military might of Israel (and therefore, the United States) as a frightening presence in their everyday lives. That means without standing in lines at arbitrary checkpoints in excruciating heat and demoralizing conditions. I want co-existence. I do not want destruction.

Hamas is not Hezbollah. Hamas as a political party, I believe, is becoming more moderate. Hamas was elected to the positions in the Palestinian government that they were because they, as an organization aside from their paramilitary ambitions, were the face of relief for many Palestinians. They provided humanitarian aid, such comforts as food and medicine. That is why they were elected. If the United States or, better yet, an NGO of some sort, perform these services for Palestinians more broadly and willingly, Hamas would just be a paramilitary entity and would not be popular and be elected to government. As it stands now, I believe Hamas has another side and are tempered by it. I sincerely hope that gaining the representation that they did will continue to moderate them and continue to make for positive strides in their government's relationship to Israel. I hope that more than anything, and I know that I am being optimistic.

No, I do not think that Israel is a peaceful entity. Again, I think that for Israel to become a peaceful entity they would have to pull out of Palestine. They aren't going to do that. Therefore, I do not think they are working towards peace. I think the first step towards peace is withdrawal. You think it is Palestine's and Lebanon's government thwarting suicide bombers. I think ending the occupation would thwart suicide bombers. We have different ideas of what has to happen. It's the chicken and the egg problem. May we please leave it at that?

And I have a question for you: Is it really that hard to see the connection between our country's support of Israel and the hatred brewing in Arabs, to say nothing of our own occupation of Iraq breeding the same hatred in that part of the world?

Once again, thank you for hosting this discussion. In the beginning, I felt it was a respectful and compelling one. It has since devolved into an emotional one. I hope we can separate emotions from reason; I hope I have done that in this post, but if I have not, I am sorry. I know it is difficult; it sounds like in one way or another we know people deeply involved in this mess. Please know that I respect each of you and your opinions, and I hope you extend that same respect to me and mine.

Roberta said...

#4 To Roberta, specifically: I would like to know what exactly is meant by the statement: "I don't hold out hope that you're naive."

No, Kelly, you really don't want me to state exactly what I meant by this.

But this: "Hamas as a political party, I believe, is becoming more moderate. Hamas was elected to the positions in the Palestinian government that they were because they, as an organization aside from their paramilitary ambitions, were the face of relief for many Palestinians. They provided humanitarian aid, such comforts as food and medicine. That is why they were elected." just confirms the unsaid sentiment behind the above statement.

And for the record, the reason it's referred to as "Palestine" is because there is no such country on any map of the world. The Arab world may not want to acknowledge Israel, but Israel actually exists. Palestine doesn't.

This will be the last I say about this.

Boogie said...

Kelly,

I’ll answer as briefly as possible so we can hopefully wind up this discussion.

First, the statement you quoted, "I hope, somewhat pessimistically, that your position is a result of naïvete rather than something more, or worse," meant that I hope it’s simply your viewing the entire situation from one perspective and not merely anti-Israel bias.

Second, with regard to your statement, “Going into civilian areas, with or without prior warning, with or without all the leaflets in the world, cannot be condoned,” are you decrying Israel’s pursuit of Hezbollah into these areas, or Hezbollah hiding their weaponry and soldiers therein? Or is it both? If you’re genuinely in favor of peace, wouldn’t the goal to remove terrorists from these settings be considered preferable to simply allowing them to hide amongst a civilian population to live and kill yet more people? For anyone truly in favor of peace, excising the pernicious element in a society would logically be preferable to simply hoping it faded away, and while I would also prefer to see Israel not have to perform this task – in favor of Lebanon or another nation doing its own housecleaning – the rationale for Israel’s doing this is because no one in the region – aside from Israel itself – is interested in seeing these groups gone. No one really minds that Hezbollah fires rockets into Israel, except Israel. And no one really minds that these groups – as long as they are allowed to exist – suggest peace in Israel is an impossibility.

As for those displaced people trying to flee conflict, inasmuch as I do sympathize with them, doesn’t it seem odd that they happily host Hezbollah – Hezbollah fighters, Hezbollah rockets, Hezbollah infantry – and support Hezbollah’s strikes against Israel, yet when Israel responds to attacks, these supporters of Hezbollah’s initiative to attack Israel are suddenly the cause of the displacement of people trying to flee bombs caught in the crossfire? Again, a question of perspective: how do you think Israelis feel and cope on a daily basis, not just in a 30-day period, facing groups like Hezbollah and others? If you decry the military presence and the heat and the constant fear of suffering and pain, where is that concern for the daily lives of Israelis facing suicide bombings and rocket attacks? Yours seems to be a one-sided perspective. This isn’t a temporary way of life for Israelis; this is daily life. Again – this is a question of perspective. I feel for those people in Lebanon; but I also happen to know what is happening on a regular basis in Israel. I also know that Israel defending itself from attack somehow results in the misguided logic that Israel is doing something wrong to people of other nations when it takes measures to protect those of its own.

Hence why I repeatedly bring up the question of naïvete.

I refer to “Palestine” as I do because it was, before May, 1948, considered a region internationally. There was no nation of Palestine since its destruction around the time of the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The region was inhabited by a two-thirds population of Arabs participating on the side of Nazi Germany during World War II and a third population of Jews participating on behalf of the UK and the US. In May, part of the region was the site of the state of Israel. That is why I refer to it as “Palestine.”

I’m not comparing your beliefs to those of Hiter or Ahmedinejad. And I’m not suggesting your use of the word salaam equates with that of suicide bombers. But I have not failed to note that the goal – no matter the method – is the same: Israeli withdrawal and/or destruction. As for peaceful coexistence, if suddenly suicide bombers were removed from this equation and Israel only faced an enemy that fired rockets randomly into its territory, would that, do you believe, alleviate the problem of internal checkpoints and distrust? In other words, if Israel didn’t have to fear it was being attacked from within by people masquerading as day-to-day Arab civilians, would that alleviate part of the problem? I think it would. And if there weren’t groups amassed at its borders with rockets supplied by Iran, Syria and other nations in the region, wouldn’t that military might – and the mentality – dissipate? I think it would. The problem is you clearly want the removal of “the military might of Israel (and therefore, the United States) as a frightening presence in their everyday lives” – but again, you skip the part about why that military presence is there in the first place.

Let’s briefly address your statement “Hamas as a political party, I believe, is becoming more moderate.” Without beating this into the ground, my response is this: Hamas, in its campaign to achieve leadership of the Palestinian community, was unwilling to rescind its intent to destroy Israel. Hamas ran a campaign which dropped its call for the destruction of Israel, yet wouldn’t publicly even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. In our little back and forth here, you made a statement that I can factually refute. It’s hard to change one’s opinion when another cites fact that is overlooked or casually ignored.

A group which willingly trains and employs (and proudly proclaims its use of) suicide bombers that doesn’t even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist (and quietly but fervently supports its destruction) is not a moderate, peaceful entity. Not in the eyes of the world, anyway. I understand that for many Palestinians, Hamas represents relief. However, the relief in question, I believe, does not have to do with schools and hospitals, but the destruction of Israel, and the means and willingness to achieve it.

As for your assertion that Israel is against peace, I’ve seen Israel return lands they won in ’67 and ’70. The Arab response to withdrawal has been suicide campaigns and violence. The correlation, then, is that Israel, short of a total withdrawal, is, in your eyes, anti-peace. There is the crux of the difference in perspective. The problem is, without suggesting that you support violence or suicide bombings, is that people who share your views are in favor of anti-Israeli violence and suicide bombings. To me, people who strap on bomb belts and call for the destruction of another state are anti-peace. To you, it’s the entity to which all this hatred is directed is anti-peace. Hence, we must agree to disagree.

As for US support of Israel and involvement in Iraq breeding the hatred in Arabs, what I see is this: I see a consistent pattern of Arab distrust of the US solely because the US supports Israel, an ally it has had since before Israel achieved statehood. The supposition that the US role in Iraq is fanning the flames of Arab distrust of the West is partially true, but that fire has been burning since the 1920’s, when Arab entities joined the Germans in their attempt to rid the Middle East, and the world, of Jews. Each time I hear or encounter the argument that Arab hatred of the West is a direct result of the US and Israel actions in the region, I wonder why a similar Western hatred of Arabs, dating back to the 1920’s, when these same Arab entities picked the “wrong horse,” so to speak, hasn’t inspired the same hatred and hostility from the West. You can go down the list, starting with the Shah in Iran in the ‘70’s, of why the Arab world detests the West, but I think it basically starts and ends with the existence, and the support, of Israel. Since we do agree that, for the time being, Israel isn’t going anywhere, the Arab disdain for the West will either continue, or Arabs in the region will work, through peaceful means, rather than hostility, to improve the region as a whole rather than continually blanket it with violence.

I respect your opinions and support your ability to share them, and I’ve done my best o respond to your opinions with facts and opinion as well. However, I believe the mechanisms and the opinions will not change, even if facts and figures and history should suggest otherwise. We each have a right to our beliefs, and although I believe I’ve demonstrated, through facts and historical data and common sense, mine, I will not begrudge anyone his or her beliefs, however they may differ from those of my own.

I thank you both for making this discussion interesting and memorable.