Friday, October 19, 2001

Dangerous Sensibilities: An American Strength Loses Clarity (Oct. 19, 2001)

It used to be that American support of the oppressed, the underdog, the victim, the poor and the desperate was our most gracious quality, an eminently civilized refinement to millennia of persecution and prejudice.

It was a pillar of American freedom and what set us apart from the rest of the world who, almost without exception, were either participants in injustice, prejudice and violence, or who aside from paying lip service to politically correct postures, looked away passively, self righteously and selfishly.

The wheel turns full circle only now the underdog is not quite so innocent. The Islamic Jihad propagandizes its suicide bombers with violent hate against Americans and Israelis, with fantasies of the 72 virgins that await them, packs them with explosives lined with nails for effect and sends them off to discothèques and restaurants. Hammas celebrates in the streets of the West Bank at the 6000 plus deaths of the WTC tragedy, handing out sweets and proclaiming the supremacy of Allah.

Arafat's government and departments educate children about the salvation gained by destroying Israel, on the racist and genocidal nature of the Jewish people and on the fallacies of the Holocaust and the absence of any right Israel and its 5 million odd citizens may have to coexist peacefully amongst more than 20 Arab neighbors and their 500 million citizens.

Prior to September 11, and presumably again in the future once the consciousness of personal victimization dissipates into long term memory, American citizens will again see the Palestinians as the underdog being colonized by the heartless might of the Israeli army. They have been attuned by CNN to the children with rocks, brave freedom fighters, standing alone against the might of Israeli tanks. Little coverage
was given to the mothers willingly sending their kids to the front - and rocks do kill and the bullets and rockets of street terrorists and Arafat's soldiers have made their mark. Little coverage too for the intent of these actions - the leaders of the movements, mosques and government of the West Bank have been chillingly clear about their desire to rid the Middle East of Israel and its stubborn Jews, by any means at their disposal. And if they have to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of impressionable children and adolescents (rather than their own) then so be it.

Yet Americans continue to ally themselves with this cause whilst the media including CNN, NPR and others selectively present information, interviews and pictures to support this bias.

Suicide bombers are sensitively referred to as Palestinian militants, never terrorists or murderers.

It would seem that the facts on the ground are irrelevant - mindsets are pre-cast, judgment pre-made. Israel has already effectively withdrawn from 95% of the West Bank, which is now in Arafat's hands. Israel offered at Camp David more than most Palestinians could hope for - yet Arafat would not contemplate peace, he could not abide living with Jews in the Arab Middle East. Forgiveness was not part of his lexicon.

Israel would withdraw every last soldier, from every last square inch of the West Bank, if the resolution of violence and peace could be guaranteed. Had Israel wanted of the Palestinians, what they want in turn of the Israelis, it would take Israel's unrivalled army just a few days to level the West Bank and remove its population to the bordering lands. But the Israelis chose not what is clearly within their power - they choose a tolerant and just attempt to compromise, to try to live in peace, to accept their neighbors.

Israelis do not rejoice when Arabs lose their lives, they do not have school text books vilifying the Palestinians - they hate war, they abhor violence - they merely want to live without fear and their army is the only thing standing between them and wholesale slaughter.

It is clear the American sense of fairness would support these plain clothed terrorists, for clarity of vision has vanished. How can the underdog be driving a tank, enjoying a good standard of living in western style suburbs of Tel Aviv. How can the poor of Ramle and Jenin not be the underdog. Can things really be upside down in Lewis Carroll's Wonderland?

In reality it is the Israeli who chooses peace and has suicide bombings thrust on him. It is the Palestinian whose nation is highjacked by extremists and fundamentalists and who chooses provocation and war rather than working peacefully in multitudinous jobs Israel has been so willing to create.

Israel can provide the Middle East with its window to modernity, to medical advancement, to the Hi Tech revolution, to democracy and freedom for women as well as children. Yet this is exactly what those in charge do not want, these religious and governmental autocrats and demigods; its exactly what they fear for this influence is everything they rail against, everything that will weaken the grip of the dark ages still so prevalent in that region.

Clarity is about seeing humanity be it in soldiers garb or in westernized democracy, it is about recognizing terrorism and evil even in the underdog or in the wretched. And it is the nature of this confrontation that this underdog will end up biting the hand that feeds it. And it has.

Sympathy in blindness and false understanding where there is no common ground merely serves those self same extremists and fundamentalists. Clarity in truth however strange, however unusual, is the only redemption, the only path to peace. To those willing to talk we extend our hand. To those coming with bombs and chemical and biological weapons, we must extend our force, preemptively, unambiguously, so that our children can sleep peacefully, with images in their dreams far removed from those of planes being driven into the towers of the World Trade Center.

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