Thursday, June 24, 2010

Taking Israel's Side

It remains the case that any fair-minded person must be an Israel sympathizer. A hundred years ago there were Jews and Arabs living in that part of the Ottoman Empire. After the Ottoman collapse both peoples had a right to set up their own ethnostates. It has been the furiously intransigent Arab denial of this fact, not anything Israelis have done, that has been the root cause of all subsequent troubles. It is also indisputably the case, as has often been said, that if Hamas, Hezbollah, and the rest were to lay down their arms, there would be peace in Palestine, while if Israel were to lay down her arms, the Israelis would be slaughtered.

At some level, I’ll agree, this is not our business. North of five million people have been slaughtered in the Congo this past twelve years, and nobody much (no, not me—how about you?) has lost a wink of sleep over it...

...Israel is something to me. It’s an outpost of my civilization, organized on principles I agree with, inhabited by people I could live at ease with. They defend themselves, their borders, their interests, with the kind of vigor and thick-skinned determination I’d like to see my nation display. (If only!) I admire them and wish them well.

There’s an affinity. In some tenuous sense, they are me, and I am them.