Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Nothing new here.  I just feel all the decent people of the world should do their bit.

Israel has just engaged in an extremely successful response to Hamas, which wants to annihilate them. They have encountered the usual condemnation based on crap data* and feelz, as has been true for decades. One reason for this is the sheer quantity of reporting against them.  A link to an article from seven years ago at Tablet was put up over at Maggie's and is still pertinent. The reporters are in Jerusalem, they don't dare or care to go into Palestine, it's less comfortable at other places in the Middle East, so they all write their critical articles and congratulate each other. It is simply a numbers game that all the NGO's, elite media, and non-profits from the West have this bubble culture that hires, befriends, and marries each other.

The other reason is the continual fantasy that there are these moderate Palestinian organisations struggling to get out, decent people who just want to be left alone and be free and have their old property back and raise their children in peace AND EAT THEIR LOVELY ETHNIC FOODS AND LISTEN TO THEIR LOVELY ETHNIC MUSIC, but the evil Israelis won't let them do that and keep bombing them and not respecting them. That Palestinian culture is deeply violent, racist, sexist, homophobic and cisnormative apparently escapes their attention. I mean, I just love falafel.

One is supposed to make the polite comment here that Israel isn't perfect and it is possible to criticise some of it's actions and it's all very complicated.  It actually isn't complicated.  One side wants to negotiate, the other wants to kill them all. There is no nuanced, diplomatic solution to such things. The pacifist Christian solution of being willing to be wiped out in order to express the love of Christ is fine. It may even be the best long-term solution.  But there is no indication in the New Testament that this is a strategy that works to bring peace. That is a recent Western addition to the Gospel, without basis.

Update: Israel has been sending humanitarian aid to Gaza but had to stop because Hamas was firing missiles at the trucks.

*Maybe I need to do a post on "crap data."  I think it will be "crap statistics" instead.


Uncle Bill said...

I would love to see a post with your thoughts on "crap data" or "crap statistics."

Interesting side point: your spell checker kept trying to change "crap" to "deal," of all things. Not even close.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I am still catching up from traveling about the country and listening to hours of podcasts on planes and on walks on unfamiliar trails but not having any time to write them down other than scattered notes. I now have to figure out what I meant by the cryptic results. But "craps statistics" is dear to my heart. Specifically, how people can apply them so precisely and intelligently in their line of work but then accept clear nonsense outside of it. Our minds divide in odd ways.

Korora said...

"Craps statistics" would involve the outcome of dice games. ;þ

Grim said...

I have been to Jerusalem, where I walked alone on the Mount of Olives and through East Jerusalem. I have certain considered thoughts about it, especially that while the Palestinians are somewhat oppressed, they are not more so (and maybe quite less so) than is common among other Arabs in Baghdad or Cairo, where I have also been. Somehow the ethnic/religious division creates this one into a titanic matter, but other Arabs have it worse under other Arabs. The Israelis are not always kind, but they are not especially monstrous. Indeed I would go so far as to say that the Palestinians are lucky in their oppressors; they ought to try being a Sunni in a Shi'ite neighborhood of Baghdad, when times get ugly.

Also, several of them have been my friends, invited me to their homes, had me as a guest at their feasts. I ought to take their part even if there were no other considerations. Honor is a sufficient consideration for me, though a personal one.

dmoelling said...

An underreported fact is that Gaza shares borders with both Israel and Egypt. The Egyptian border has been effectively closed with tight security on commercial traffic for years. No one wants Hamas anywhere near their country. I've always thought that repatriation of the Palestinian lands to both Jordan and Egypt would be a good choice with proper security commitments and updated to reflect reality Israeli borders. But after decades of terrorist indoctrination of the locals, no other Arab country wants them.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ dmoelling - exactly. Most people of any tribe are quite decent, but percentages matter when tribes interact with the rest of the world. For whatever reason, the percentage of Palestinians who are pathological is simply too high for other tribes to interact with them. That the others who might only vaguely support them are less so is irrelevant on a political level, however important it might be on a personal or spiritual level. If Palestinians think that unfair, they can socially consequate the others. They don't.

RichardJohnson said...

Indeed I would go so far as to say that the Palestinians are lucky in their oppressors; they ought to try being a Sunni in a Shi'ite neighborhood of Baghdad, when times get ugly.

And vice versa, I'm sure.

I used to have contact with a Palestinian Christian family. Bright, well-educated: a lot of graduate STEM degrees in the family. Interesting coincidence: a member of their family was born in Bethlehem on December 24. A number of them came to the US before the Six Day War in 1967. There was a reason for their coming to the US. The patriarch, who was a Jordanian civil service employee in the West Bank, told his children to leave, as Muslims would always be promoted in preference to Christians. As a civil service employee, the patriarch would have had direct experience of that.

I met the patriarch in the US in the 1970's. He definitely didn't like the Israeli's governing him. Can't blame him for that attitude, I'd say, though King Hussein had something to do with the Israeli's going into the West Bank. From what I'm told, the patriarch didn't have any personal animus towards Jews as persons. Just Israelis as rulers.

Later on, one of the grandsons of the patriarch, after getting a bachelor's degree in the Middle East, got a STEM doctorate in the US. He had trouble juggling his activism and his professional life in the US, and eventually returned to the West Bank. One irony about his anti-Israel activism in the US is that a cousin on the other side of his family in the West Bank has extensively documented anti-Christian activities by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority- and also personally suffered violence from Muslims.

A further tale about getting along is that in the 1980's the patriarch and his wife went to live in Kuwait with one of their children. I have since lost contact with the family, but it goes without saying that they were probably among the Palestinians booted out of Kuwait as a consequence of Yasir Arafat's support for Saddam Hussein's takeover of Kuwait.

Grim said...

Mr. Johnson,

That all sounds right to me. Christians live and flourish in Israel, unlike most of the Middle East; one of my strongest memories is watching the birds of Jerusalem fly from the ringing church bells, as I was sitting one Sunday in the garden of Gethsemane. Yet even they sometimes run up against the more strident wishers for a Jewish Israel; softly, perhaps in hostility to Christmas decorations. Tribalism is human.

I would prefer no masters, as anyone hopefully would. I would prefer to be no man’s master, as is less common but more wise. But the Israelis are far from the worst masters, even though masterhood warps the soul.

RichardJohnson said...

A memoir from a PLO sniper turned Christian: Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life by Tass Saada.

He points out that in 1948, his father's Jewish partner offered to protect him during the post-independence war, but his father followed the advice of the Arab governments to leave, Safer for him. The Arab governments believed that Arabs' leaving would enable Arab armies to have a clearer path to push the Zionists into the sea. Which, from what I have read, is the reason that most Arabs left during the post-independence war of 1948.

G. Poulin said...

Turning the other cheek, etc., was never intended as a strategy for achieving world peace (which was never a Christian goal in the first place). It was a strategy for achieving reconciliation within the Christian community. Showing love to one's opponents (not "enemies") was a kind of shaming technique, designed to make the opponent feel sorrowful for whatever petty offenses he had committed against you. It assumes shared values. It has no application to international relations. Christian pacifists are just dumb.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Unknown - I have written something similar about pacifism a few times, including here https://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/2009/01/churches-to-come.html (paragraph 8).

I also wrote about American Pacifism, that you might find interesting. https://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/2010/04/american-pacifism.html

And there is also CS Lewis's "Why I am not a Pacifist" from The Weight of Glory