Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Darkening the Waters

The Guardian published a troubling letter today under the title "End This Punishment of Palestinians" that was signed by London Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone, anti-war journalist and filmmaker John Pilger and a host of British MPs and other luminaries whom I'm sure I would recognize if I were better read.

Oh, this is just water I'm carrying for Hamas

The letter accuses Israel of "crimes against humanity" and blames the U.S. and the EU of complicity in "seeking to trample upon the democratic rights of the Palestinian people." The signatories to this missive argue that recent Israeli incursions into Gaza, and, indeed, Israeli policy as a whole since the election of the Hamas-led government, have been "a coordinated attempt to collectively punish the Palestinian people for electing a government of which they disapprove."

I'm not a huge fan of Israeli policy when it comes to the Palestinians, and I generally believe that when they do respond to provocations, they do so in a disproportionate manner. What sets me apart from the Guardian's correspondents is that my criticism of Israeli policy does not translate into an uncritical embrace of the other side. One moment's thought should suffice to see how preposterous that position is.

Livingstone and company evidently did not see fit to devote that moment to reflection before putting pen to paper. Their letter contains a laundry list of abuses visited on the (always) innocent Palestinians by the Israelis, but omits any mention of the kidnapped Israeli soldier or of the fact that the aforementioned government is in fact Hamas, a well-known terrorist group that steadfastly refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist.

This is not to say that actions by Hamas or other Palestinian groups necessarily mitigate the severity of the Israeli response. It is rather to point out that to put forth such a patently one-sided summation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the basis of their complaint is to engage not in argument, but in propaganda.

If the truth is bad enough, then, by all means, give us the truth. Absurd absolutism, as readers of Michael Moore and Ann Coulter will know, does not beget conversation which in turn leads to resolution. It merely deepens rifts and fills the air with acrid invective.
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