Thursday, August 10, 2006

He Said It Best

The only intro I will give this article is the following:
a. How did it slip under my radar yesterday?
b. Thane Rosenbaum looks like Gene Wilder and for that, I'd share any article of his.
c. If I were to indulge myself in sharing just how much I agree with this article, I would never stop. So thank you, Mr. Rosenbaum, for doing such a great job on such a true subject.
d. Y'know how complex issues don't really hit you until your mind simplifies them to the one sentence point? While driving to work this morning my brain said, "oh, so I guess society's going to pot."
Anyway, enjoy the article and, while I never ask for comments, I'm actually curious to hear what you have to say about it...so don't be shy to speak up!

Red State Jews
By THANE ROSENBAUM
August 9, 2006; Page A10

This is a soul-searching moment for the Jewish left. Actually, for many Jewish liberals, navigating the gloomy politics of the Middle East is like walking with two left feet.
I would know. For six years I was the literary editor of Tikkun magazine, a leading voice for progressive Jewish politics that never avoided subjecting Israel to moral scrutiny. I also teach human rights at a Jesuit university, imparting the lessons of reciprocal grievances and the moral necessity to regard all people with dignity and mutual respect. And I am deeply sensitive to Palestinian pain, and mortified when innocent civilians are used as human shields and then cynically martyred as casualties of war.
Yet, since 9/11 and the second intifada, where suicide bombings and beheadings have become the calling cards of Arab diplomacy, and with Hamas and Hezbollah emerging as elected entities that, paradoxically, reject the first principles of liberal democracy, I feel a great deal of moral anguish. Perhaps I have been naïve all along.
And I am not alone. Many Jews are in my position -- the children and grandchildren of labor leaders, socialists, pacifists, humanitarians, antiwar protestors -- instinctively leaning left, rejecting war, unwilling to demonize, and insisting that violence only breeds more violence. Most of all we share the profound belief that killing, humiliation and the infliction of unnecessary pain are not Jewish attributes.
However, the world as we know it today -- post-Holocaust, post-9/11, post-sanity -- is not cooperating. Given the realities of the new Middle East, perhaps it is time for a reality check. For this reason, many Jewish liberals are surrendering to the mindset that there are no solutions other than to allow Israel to defend itself -- with whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, the inevitability of Israel coincides with the inevitability of anti-Semitism.
This is what more politically conservative Jews and hardcore Zionists maintained from the outset. And it was this nightmare that the Jewish left always refused to imagine. So we lay awake at night, afraid to sleep. Surely the Arabs were tired, too. Surely they would want to improve their societies and educate their children rather than strap bombs on to them.
If the Palestinians didn't want that for themselves, if building a nation was not their priority, then peace in exchange for territories was nothing but a pipe dream. It was all wish-fulfillment, morally and practically necessary, yet ultimately motivated by a weary Israeli society -- the harsh reality of Arab animus, the spiritual toll that the occupation had taken on a Jewish state battered by negative world opinion.
Despite the deep cynicism, however, Israel knew that it must try. It would have to set aside nearly 60 years of hard-won experience, starting from the very first days of its independence, and believe that the Arab world had softened, would become more welcoming neighbors, and would stop chanting: "Not in our backyard -- the Middle East is for Arabs only."
It is true that Israel has entered into peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan that have brought some measure of historic stability to the region. But with Israel having withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza, and with Israeli public opinion virtually united in favor of near-total withdrawal from the West Bank, why are rockets being launched at Israel now, why are their soldiers being kidnapped if the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and the intentions of Hamas and Hezbollah, stand for something other than the total destruction of Israel? And if Palestinians and the Lebanese are electing terrorists and giving them the portfolio of statesmen, then what message is being sent to moderate voices, what incentives are there to negotiate, and how can any of this sobering news be recast in a more favorable light?
The Jewish left is now in shambles. Peace Now advocates have lost their momentum, and, in some sense, their moral clarity. Opinion polls in Israel are showing near unanimous support for stronger incursions into Lebanon. And until kidnapped soldiers are returned and acts of terror curtailed, any further conversations about the future of the West Bank have been set aside.
Not unlike the deep divisions between the values of red- and blue-state America, world Jewry is being forced to reconsider all of its underlying assumptions about peace in the Middle East. The recent disastrous events in Lebanon and Gaza have inadvertently created a newly united Jewish consciousness -- bringing right and left together into one deeply cynical red state.
Mr. Rosenbaum, a novelist and professor at Fordham Law School, is author, most recently, of "The Myth of Moral Justice" (HarperCollins, 2004).
From the WSJ.

3 original thoughts out there

Blogger Exiled Yerushalmi said...

um good luck with that military campaign that was supposed to be completed two weeks ago. who cares im more worried about august 22nd.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 8:38:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

People have to be shot at to make the right decision, anymore. That's what I got from his arguement. I suppose that's true. As a kinda liberal guy myself (I don't care what you do, so long as you don't do it to me, I guess that makes me liberal) I am one of the people he talked about when he stated "For this reason, many Jewish liberals are surrendering to the mindset that there are no solutions other than to allow Israel to defend itself"

On one hand, I wish people would just stop frickin' shooting at each other for ten minutes and say "look, this is retarded, let's go have a cup of coffee" but on the other hand I want Israel to stand up and level Lebanon. If the world already believes that Israel is acting too harshly, why not act harshly?

Blah, frickin' politics.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Loganius said...

I both agree and vehemently disagree with Rosenbaum on a few points.

First, I should mention I think his usage of the Red State metaphor is stupid, and doesn't apply at ALL to how one views Middle East politics. Frankly, I have always found the Red State/Blue State imagery idiotic and unnecessary, it’s a political booby trap used by political operatives, whose JOB it was during the 2004 to divide us as much as possible so we wouldn’t focus on the issues. In any case, the two classifications are not exclusive by any means, if anything I'm proof of that. Also, let it be known I know my fair share of conservative Republicans who don’t support Israel. The ones that DO are generally of the born-again-christian persuasion, and only support Israel because of some absurd prophecy in the new testament of their bible, which says ertetz Israel must be in the control of the Jewish people for Jesus to come and condemn us all to hell for not accepting him.

I just want to make a few small comments. I agree with Rosenbaum that sometimes, left leaning Jews and non-Jews alike paradoxically embrace groups, which wholeheartedly reject the very principles of liberal democracy, often in lieu of Israel. This is wrong. If anyone thinks embracing Hamas or Hezbollah’s political and social ideologies will repair the Middle East, they are batshit insane and should be committed…immediately. We need not look any further than Iran to see Hezbollah’s ideal state, and there are a million examples of GROSS human rights violations, and blatant terrorist action from that state since 1979. I trust we can all use google to find specifics, I recommend starting with what Khomeini did with the Sha’s supporters in 1979, but by no means stop there. So clearly, no one should have any illusions about these groups, and what they stand for. Where I think a distinction is made, is that many of folks with my political persuasion don’t identify with the groups ideology, but rather are quite convinced that their struggle against what they view as Israeli oppression is just. Is this wrong, I think so yes.

That being said, I strongly disagree with anyone that says that 9/11, on its face, changed the world in a radical way. No, in my view it awoke us to a reality we were not previously exposed to in any deeply meaningful way beyond the hostage situations in Iran and Lebanon in 1979 and the 1980s respectively. Islamic fundamentalism existed and was a reality (as the CIA, they actively funded it in Pakistan and Afghanistan), terrorism existed and was a reality, as was anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. What changed the world was the in fact the response of the Bush Administration. If anything Bush’s reaction to 9/11 validated the “violence begets violence” theorists. Israel is an unfortunate and unwilling victim of this reality since it has no other option on the table to settle it’s drastic security concerns regarding its neighbors than to act violently. Unfortunately, as we have seen, the violence rarely if ever actually solves their problems, it only seems to neutralize them better than making concessions ever has.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 1:24:00 AM  

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