Bullshit Philosophy

Half-assed political and religious commentary from a cynical left-winger

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Time to Retire the “Pro/Anti-Israel” Frame

Posted by Kevin on December 20, 2008

[originally posted 8/30/06]

Believe it or not, I’m still alive. So, where have I been all summer? Mostly, sitting around the house doing nothing when I’m not trying to find work. So why haven’t I updated? I’m probably saying nothing here I haven’t said before, but it’s a combination of getting tired of this blog as news aggregator (i.e. how it would be much easier to just point people toward sites like AlterNet than it would be for me to post links to all the cool articles I find there) and the fact that it takes forever to do anything on my dialup connection; I probably spend more time waiting for stuff to load than I do on actual work.

In any case, I am planning on doing some posting in the near future. I’m hoping that if I announce it here then I’ll feel obliged to actually do it.

While I’m here, one link that I happen to have on hand:

UN denounces Israel cluster bombs, something you probably won’t see featured too prominently in American media.

The UN’s humanitarian chief has accused Israel of “completely immoral” use of cluster bombs in Lebanon.

UN clearance experts had so far found 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets at 359 separate sites, Jan Egeland said.
[…]
“What’s shocking and completely immoral is: 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution,” he said.


I’m sure some moron out there is going to read that and think, “Kevin’s so biased against Israel; why doesn’t he condemn Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israel?” I don’t usually mention stuff like that because it should go without saying that I’m against it. Why am I more vocal about wrongdoing by Israel? Because it’s a position you don’t hear very often in American media and that therefore needs to be said. Not to mention that, while I certainly don’t approve of suicide bombers and Islamic fundamentalists, Israel is the occupying power in the case of Palestine, and Hezbollah was a product of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The events there need to be looked at in that context. However abhorrent some of the methods of resistance may be, Palestinians and Lebanese aren’t mad at Israel for no reason.

The fact that I’m against suicide bombings doesn’t go without saying shows how two-dimensional the minds of some people are. They really can’t conceive of a person being against needless civilian deaths and suffering no matter which side does it. You’re either on “Israel’s” side (despite the fact that there’s much more debate on this issue in Israel than there is here, which would seem to imply that a significant chunk of Israel isn’t on Israel’s side) or you’re on Hezbollah’s side, they say. When they kill civilians it’s a tragedy; when we kill civilians it’s regrettable but necessary (or the bastards had it coming, depending on who you talk to).

On a related note, I get really annoyed when people frame the debate in terms of being “pro-Israel” or “anti-Israel/pro-Palestine” (and even more annoyed when people I agree with give in to the framing).

First, the framing implies that “Israel” is some monolithic entity in which everyone agrees on everything, which of course ignores the comparatively large Israeli peace movement. As such, it’s not Israel that I’m against, but rather certain actions and policies taken by the Israeli government over the years and advocated by groups like AIPAC here in the US.

In addition, it’s not like I’m concerned with Palestinian (or in the current case, Lebanese) rights and well-being at the expense of Israeli security, although I am of course concerned with that. On the contrary, I believe that the colonial domination of Palestine and the war on Lebanon are making Israel less secure and are strengthening the hand of Hamas/Hezbollah, not to mention Islamic fundamentalists across the Mideast, often at the expense of more moderate and/or nonviolent groups. How is that “anti-Israel”?

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2 Responses to “BLAST FROM THE PAST: Time to Retire the “Pro/Anti-Israel” Frame”

  1. adonis49 said

    hi Kevin, you added the following:

    In addition, it’s not like I’m concerned with Palestinian (or in the current case, Lebanese) rights and well-being at the expense of Israeli security, although I am of course concerned with that.

    Is human rights a luxury anointed to specific States? Do you think that the right to self defense and independence and self-autonomy should be denied to the Palestinians and the Lebanese? Somehow, you fell into the frame though your intentions were commendable and show knowledge of the political reality in this region and in the US. It was wonderful to remind readers of the UN pronouncement on the cluster bombs that israel received from the US just at the end of the war.

    • Kevin said

      Yeah, I realized some time after I wrote that post that I didn’t do a good job of explaining myself in the spot you mentioned, but never got around to doing anything about it. So, thanks for pointing it out.

      I do think that, as a general rule, human rights concerns should outweigh security concerns; you’re absolutely right that it’s not “a luxury anointed to specific states.” What I meant to say originally was that a concern for Palestinian/Lebanese/etc. human rights doesn’t imply a lack of concern for Israeli security.

      I’m leaving aside for the moment the fact that Israel’s security problems are to a large degree self-inflicted, which severely limits my sympathy. But in any case, those two concerns are not mutually exclusive, and can even be complimentary. In fact, I think the best way to protect Israeli security would be to end the occupation, and that the biggest threat to Israel is actually from the Israeli far right.

      I definitely think Palestinian human rights should be at the center of any discussion on the conflict. I just reject the notion that being for one “side” (whatever that means) automatically means being against the other, which is why I’m uncomfortable with the use of the label “anti-Israel” to describe my views (or “pro-Israel” to describe the other side).

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