I have been reticent to remark much on the Israel/Palestine issue for a few reasons. First, it’s deeply complicated and is not a part of the world where I have any particular expertise. Second, people cannot talk about this issue rationally, as LGM comment sections have shown. Third, I haven’t been doing much blogging other than history stuff, both because of time and because the LGM comment section has been quite detrimental to my mental health, especially earlier this fall. One can only be scurrilously attacked so often without mental illness resulting and I have felt that.
But I think it is time to simply make a few statements that I think are fairly clear, or should be. They won’t be seen that way, but this is common sense time to me at least.
First, Israel not only has a right to exist, but is obviously not going anywhere, which is the more important point.
Second, Israel has become a white supremacist state and has only doubled down on this. The racism toward Palestinians is overwhelming, growing worse, and is either denied or just ignored by American supporters of Israel. David Shulman’s recent New York Review of Books piece on what settlers are doing in the West Bank is powerful and disturbing.
Third, there are two very different ways the Holocaust is considered and taught today. The first is that this is a specifically Jewish story. The second is that it is a universal story that is relates to human rights generally and the requirement to never let anything like that happen again, no matter what nation or who they are.
Fourth, this describes the fundamental divide. If you believe the Holocaust is a specifically Jewish story, then you probably think that any behavior to defend Israel is OK. If you believe the Holocaust is just one of many horrible stories of genocide in global history–no worse and no better than the American genocide toward the tribes, the Turkish toward the Armenians, the Khmer Rouge, Rwanda, etc., then you aren’t likely to accept that Israel can do what it is doing to Palestine.
Fifth, young people overwhelming see the Holocaust in the international human rights framework. This is why college students are responding in this way.
Sixth, if you put people in an open air prison, you basically deserve the attacks you get. Hamas is evil, but such a thing is inevitable when you treat an oppressed population this way. The individual people didn’t deserve it of course, one feels horrible for all of them. But then one also feels horrible for the many thousands more families who have suffered losses in Gaza. Or if you don’t, you are a racist.
Seventh, the only way that the Israeli treatment of Palestine is morally acceptable is if you are cool with putting Jews in the U.S. in an open air prison. Otherwise, you are a gigantic hypocrite of the grossest kind. As doing so would be morally disgusting, it makes the treatment of the Palestinians grossly unacceptable and the world sees this as such.
Eighth, there is at least some real anti-Semitism in leftist communities. It is pretty overstated by those who have an interest in doing so, but it exists and I don’t think it helps to deny this.
Ninth, there is far more Islamophobia across the nation and the western world than anti-Semitism.
Tenth, the media, political leaders, and many many people across the political spectrum are pretty happy to hand wave away Islamophobia and this adds to the general hypocrisy a lot of people are seeing.
Eleventh, what Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and a lot of other leading pro-Israel Democrats don’t get is that Netanyahu holds them in massive contempt. He is playing them like a violin. He is a Trump figure who is empowering the worst elements of Israeli society and has no intention of changing this.
Twelfth, any pro-Israel liberal who is siding with Elise Stefanik’s dishonest attacks on college presidents is a useful idiot at best and an idiot no matter what. You are being played as well. Try not to be so stupid.
Thirteenth, the only thing all of this war has accomplished is a huge victory for Hamas. They managed to stop the normalization of relations between Israel and much of the Islamic world, make Israel a pariah for the world, and reinforced their own power. The short-term losses of death and imprisonment is probably worth it to many of them for the long-term gains. So thanks to Netanyahu, Biden, Trump, etc, for just falling into this trap.
Fourteenth, how many lives are 1200 Israelis worth? You have to answer this question if you support the continuation of this conflict.
Fifteenth, there is a very good chance Joe Biden is going to lose to Donald Trump in 2024 over his unwavering support for the far-right government of Israel. At the very least, Michigan is very much on the brink given its large Islamic population. You can say people are idiots for not voting for Biden over this if you want to, but you have to meet people where they are at and where many of them are at is thinking Biden is a handmaiden to genocide.
Sixteenth, whether what Israel is doing to Palestine right now may in fact not be genocide, but it is way too close to comfort, especially given the history of that nation and the Jewish people.
Seventeenth, ethnonationalist states can have no place in a liberal world. If you can’t agree with this when it concerns Israel, just admit you are racist toward the Palestinians and we can move from there.
Eighteenth, everyone has proven when talking about side of this conflict that they are gigantic flaming assholes. I am sure the comments to this post will demonstrate that yet again, as they have on Paul’s posts.