Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Shallow thought processes"

One of the more frustrating sites in the JBlogosphere is the idealistically and wrongfully named Tikun Olam. I don't spend much time there because the blog author is far left wing and his talking points are pretty much identical to those of Saeb Erekat. The only difference is that Erekat knows he is a baldfaced liar, and Richard Silverstein is probably just excessively naive.

Unfortunately, people like Erekat get strengthened by fantasists like Silverstein. Equally unfortunately, people like Silverstein cannot seem to ever find anything good to say about Israel - plenty of attacks and nothing but silence and tacit support for terrorist supporters in the territories. (As I said, I don't read most of his stuff, but the representative sampling I've seen seems to bear this out.)

This morning he posted an article from Haaretz that mentioned that the Atamna family in Gaza, who lost 18 members in the accident last week, are not seeking revenge and do not wish such a tragedy on anyone, including Jews. This is certainly admirable and welcome.

Unfortunately, Silverstein's spin on this is so wrongheaded as to expose his complete inability to see reality. Once again we see partisanship trumping clear thinking. Although perhaps I am not the exact type of person he is referring to in his posting, I am going to respond as if I am:
The Arab haters who frequent this site are fond of throwing around cliches and racist prejudice about Arab religious and cultural attitudes. According to the haters, Arabs are bloodthirsty for revenge against Israel. They are certainly liars and totally untrustworthy. Even when Arabs say something conciliatory they are only saying it for the benefit of western media.

Well, this passage will throw a wrench in the works of those shallow thought processes of theirs. A Haaretz reporter visited the Atamnas family, which lost 18 members to errant IDF shells which killed them as they lay sleeping. The victims must be crying blood curdling calls for revenge, right? Hardly.

[Ha'aretz quote follows]

Does Israel deserve such empathy especially from victims who have suffered so much due to the unconscionable mistakes of an incompetent IDF? I only applaud the victims for being able to muster such humanity in the face of such horrid brutality.

Perhaps, one day the IDF will become the kind of fighting force that does not make such mistakes, or if it does it confronts the mistake directly and honestly. And perhaps someday when it makes one of these mistakes it will actually do everything in its power to ensure it is never made again. Can we really believe that the current IDF will not make this mistake again next week, next month or next year?

The first two paragraphs are one huge strawman. Generalize something about your opponents, make a sweeping statement that you attribute to them, and then find a single counterexample to win an argument that never occurred. On this blog at least I have been careful to distinguish between the Palestinian Arab people and their destructive "leaders."

Incidentally, so did Ariel Sharon even in his most hawkish days.

Not to say that the PalArabs have not been criticized by this blog as well - they have, often, when their collective actions or polls have shown support for terror - but I do not stereotype them beyond my usual oanalysis of their psyche as a whole. But unlike Silverstein, I do not use a single example to prove my point.

And isn't it a teensy bit intellectually dishonest to point to a single example of a Palestinian Arab family not calling for revenge when "tens of thousands" did call for revenge?

And does Silverstein think for a moment that even the quote from the Atamna family was ever printed in the Arabic press? In my travels through the auto-translated Palestinian Arab news sites, I have yet to see anything remotely resembling that quote or that sentiment. The hate for Israel is systemic, endemic and all-permeating.

But judging from his next paragraph, perhaps he shares that viewpoint.

He goes into his "Israel is evil" mode that is so heartbreaking to read from someone who should know better. To imply that Jews do not deserve any sympathy from Arabs is astonishingly sick from someone who claims to be trying to "repair the world."

To say that the IDF, which is arguably the most moral army in the history of the world, is "incompetent" for making a mistake is simply slanderous. Especially in the light of its immediate reaction and investigation, which he purposefully ignores in his next paragraph.

I would love for Silverstein to show me an example of any army or any nation that acts more responsibly or morally from his perspective. Because the fact is, when Israel's enemies compare Israel and only Israel to an impossible standard of perfection and ignore the crimes of every other nation on Earth, it is a form of anti-semitism. I don't consider Silverstein an anti-semite, but what's his excuse?

He accuses others of "shallow thought processes" but it is apparent that these words refer much more accurately to his own. I hope one day he wakes up and becomes interested in being part of a true Tikun Olam. And any solution, if one even exists, has to take reality into account, not just extreme wishful thinking.