Saturday, July 22, 2006

Response to Patches

Thanks for your comment on my 7/16 post. I did goof--I said the article was from the New York Times instead of the Washington Post. However, the link is correct--it's just that the headline got changed. Maybe someone at the Post was actually embarrassed by it.

Your comment about civilian deaths is an interesting one. The whole point of a guerrilla war is in fact to make it hard to find the fighters in an unequal conflict. If they met on the battlefield, the stronger power would win instantly. The success of the American revolution was partly due to the fact that Americans were able to shoot at redcoats from behind trees and then melt away to their homes.

I don't condone Hezbollah's capturing of Israeli soldiers or bombing Haifa. But it's important to recognize that Israel regularly rounds up young Palestinian men and detains them without charge for six months--allowed under Israeli law--before either charging them or letting them go. At any given time, thousands of Palestinians (including Hezbollah members) are in Israeli prisons, often without charge. So Israel has a far worse record of kidnapping the people they don't like.

Hezbollah has captured Israeli soldiers before in their effort to get these prisoners freed. Sharon himself negotiated with Hezbollah to exchange prisoners for captured Israelis, thus avoiding a bloodbath like the current one.

No matter how evil you think Hezbollah is, how can it be okay to kill hundreds of civilians to get rid of the bad guys? That's like blowing up a house where a murderer is holed up with his family or hostages. We just don't do that. (Well, okay, we did do it in Waco, but a lot of people felt we went too far.)

The problem is that Israel was founded on an injustice. Now, don't get me wrong--I do support the right of Israel to exist, even given the initial injustice. After centuries of persecution, the Jews deserve a nation of their own.

But when you don't address an injustice, it festers. The victims, unless they are Gandhi, retaliate in anger, usually furthering the injustice. Injustice by one side breeds injustice by the other. And since Israel is far more powerful than the stateless Palestinians, the injustice on the Israeli side is far greater. Throughout Israeli history, far more Palestinian civilians--including women and children--have died than Israelis. Remember, the latest trouble in Gaza started when an Israeli bomb killed a family that was picknicking on the beach.

Extracting a just solution from all this mess will be difficult. More bombing and killing will not work in the long run. For an interesting proposed peace plan from Rabbi Michael Lerner, check out this site. I think he has some good ideas. What do you think?


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