Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tom Segev on Gaza

A great piece from respected historian Tom Segev in Ha'aretz.

. . .Israel is striking at the Palestinians to "teach them a lesson." That is a basic assumption that has accompanied the Zionist enterprise since its inception: We are the representatives of progress and enlightenment, sophisticated rationality and morality, while the Arabs are a primitive, violent rabble, ignorant children who must be educated and taught wisdom - via, of course, the carrot-and-stick method, just as the drover does with his donkey. The bombing of Gaza is also supposed to "liquidate the Hamas regime," in line with another assumption that has accompanied the Zionist movement since its inception: that it is possible to impose a "moderate" leadership on the Palestinians, one that will abandon their national aspirations. . .
One of the funny things I've been noticing about political commentary on Middle Eastern issues - particularly relating to the Levant - is that the further a given commentator is from the situation, the more hysterical he tends to be. I noticed this during the internal fighting in Lebanon last may. The reporters in Atlanta screamed bloody murder while Beirut's main English paper was pretty sanguine about the whole thing.

It's probably not new. The motivation for the first Crusade was similar propaganda that was spread by the Catholic Church - that the infidel Arabs who controlled the Holy Land were slaughtering the Christians and defiling the Churches. None of it was true, but it got people into the streets.

The same is true about the current bombing of Gaza. People on both sides are screaming "Nazi" at eachother, while the more complex realities are better captured by the people on the ground.

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