December 30, 2008

MORAL AGENCY:

Those quick to point out how Olmert’s miscalculations have hurt the people he governs will typically suggest that military incursions “radicalize” Arab sentiment, leading to more suicide bombers and more dead Israelis.

Assuming this is true, why is it that the corollary is never asked: namely, how does Hamas radicalize Israeli sentiment? A much remarked-upon fact of the last 72 hours is that Israel’s ultra-left-wing party Meretz has endorsed Operation Cast Lead, a development that should concern partisans of both sides. If there is merit to the “root causes” argument, then surely it applies to the decisions undertaken by a Jewish polity as much as it does to those undertaken by a Muslim one. Or does a belligerent Israeli consensus form in a vacuum? Honest sympathizers of the Palestinian cause should inquire as to what culpability Ismail Haniyeh and Khalid Mashaal bear for the all-but-certain election of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is sure to continue – to coin another witless cliché of this ageless debate – the “cycle of violence.” If, as Hannah Arendt once phrased it, Theodore Herzl and Bernard Lazare were “turned into Jews by anti-Semitism,” why would their empowered disciples be any less susceptible to external threats?

From India to Northern Ireland, no colonized population has ever been deemed immune from having the pursuit of its own political interests held up to scrutiny. Indeed, complaints in the Western media about the staggering corruption and incompetence of Fatah have given way to an almost total absence of any serious evaluation of Hamas’s many blunders and failures of foreign policy. Either this indicates an unpardonable bias, which many supporters of Israel allege, or the implicit acceptance of a disturbing reality — that Hamas is still too recalcitrant a political entity to effectively barter with.

Read the whole thing. “Cycles of violence” continue until one side wins decisively. Personally, I’d rather that were the Israelis, since they’re civilized people and not barbarians.

UPDATE: Greenwald vs. Goldfarb. Hilarious that Greenwald is offended by calling Hamas “barbarians.” If only I could be as temperate in my approach as he is!