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A Reluctant Vote for Israel, Right or Wrong

Push Comes to Shove

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 17, 2002.

When push comes to shove – and it’s getting close - I’m with the Israelis. This is sometimes an ethical nightmare to defend, so bear with me.

I divide the civilized world from the not as follows, and it shows me to be a sentimental/patriotic/chauvinistic Westerner to the marrow, because I use prissy George Washington as the mold.

Washington was four times given complete and utter military power by his countrymen: once in the Revolution, twice as President, once during Shay’s Rebellion. Each and every time he obeyed his Congress and returned without rancor or show of disfavor complete and utter power and puttered back to civilian life. He was the most popular man in the country and almost without question could have been a monarch or dictator for life. That he did not, and you know it had to have been considered, is his gift. Under what circumstances do you see Arafat giving up military power, such as it is, among the Palestinians? For that matter, any leader in the Islamic world? When has it ever occurred?

In Israel, where insults and threats and grotesque manipulations run rampant in the Knesset, party leaders ethically and physically despise each other. Yet, when the election is done, they hand over control to those they hate because that’s the bargain and there is a higher good. In Palestine – the people and state that can’t do anything well except grovel - the governmental authority cannot, even if you grant good intentions nowhere evident, do anything right, ethically, or competently. Have you noted any improvement whatever in the accomplishment level of the Palestinian state since 1967? Eh? Do you realize after all the bluster, all the talk about how the Palestinians will fight to the death, the only people who took that blather seriously have been horny young men and teenage girls? Do the adult men fight to the death?

Look at the current Palestinian embarrassment. Those that couldn’t successfully desert have surrendered in droves. Do the people rise up and take to the streets when Israel attacks their leaders? No, but some children do out of sense of boredom and deranged, stoned teenage rebellion. In Israel, the party leaders of every persuasion are almost all military combat veterans. Do the would-be patriarchs of Palestine lead in battle? We hear the stories, but are these folks ever captured anywhere near it? Aside from firing AK47’s in the air at the funerals of children whose strapped-on bomb blew up due to the incompetence of their makers, do we ever see the supposed Palestinian heroes in combat? They say they are, but Arafat was audibly terrified in the first days in his bunker. And in the thirty years since UN recognition, have the Palestinians set up anything to be called a government? I think we can be honest: Arafat would destroy any Palestine he couldn’t lead or found. Even the most vicious anti-Semite could not say that about the Israeli leadership. The record is too clear.

Are the Israelis increasingly brutal and unnecessarily vicious? Yes, of course they are, just like Americans, Brits, Russians, anybody who has been under fire and thinks they can get away with something for emotional satisfaction and removal of future enemy manpower. When there are years of peace, Israel becomes – because of their religious right – an empire-building entity, rubbing Palestinian noses in the muck. They justify this with the Torah, although their own archeologists have given the lie to all of that. Given peace, polls showed at one time, the Israelis would vote OUT the goober right element and leave the settlers to deal with the Palestinians on their own. But because Sharon and Arafat have no ideas about what to do in a world with no enemy to fan the goober element, they play to each other’s strengths: war. There are two basic problems in what is now called the Middle East, although I thought it used to be the Near East (Japan and China being the Far East). The first is that Israel succumbed to their worst angels when granted creation: they allowed their bovine far right Orthodox clergy to have, in essence, a veto over much legislation and programs, not excluding settlements and the military – although they themselves were exempt from service, being special to God. This is constitutional over there, and it has to change. That is why barely civil thugs like Sharon get into power, because they can sway the goober and very small Orthodox/far right groups into supporting their particular government. Israel, given five years of peace, would soften immeasurably to the Palestinian cause, because ironically it resonates with them. And the current Palestinian leadership knows it, and realizes they would be voted out when that happens, and so they keep the war going.

The second problem is Islam, which needs a Reformation big time. It is a patriarchal, feudal, and stagnant social construct – the proof is in the pudding. Name one impressive work of beneficence to emerge from Islam in the last thousand years. One. I mean from Islamic nations, not Muslims in the west, where their talents bloom. For that matter, name one invention of note in Asia in the last thousand years. It is not race or geography; it is the hereditary and instituted lack of belief in their citizenry – each other - to do, eventually, the right thing. The Palestinian leadership had money, world opinion, momentum, and a population starved for peace and prosperity. They blew it. That is why the West is different, and Israel is still – for the moment – a western nation.