Shooting Fish In a Barrel
December 30, 2008
When Israel started carpet-bombing Lebanon two summers ago, the Woman Warrior hung up a banner that read KILLING CHILDREN IS NOT SELF-DEFENSE. That Saturday afternoon, we spent a couple of hours arguing with and getting shouted at by people leaving the synagogue nearby, who came up our driveway to call us terrorist-lovers and baby killers. A couple of nights later, some vandals trespassed on our property and cut down the banner.
When we spoke with the rabbi a few days later, he was sincerely upset by the vandalism and the possibility that it might have been the work of some of his congregants. “We can’t look for justice in unjust ways,” he said, a philosophy I can endorse wholeheartedly. I hope it soaks into the heads of some of his congregants.
During those endless, pointless driveway debates in which outwardly intelligent people said the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon was acceptable because the Israelis gave the Lebanese time to clear out before the bombs started raining down, I received an object lesson in the fact that it is more possible to have a rational talk about Israel with Israelis than it is with American Jews. There are Israelis who are appalled by the generations-long misery of Gaza and the West Bank, by the farcical situation with the settlements, with the double-dealing and the bad faith, but their American counterparts are shouted down by political hysterics who see every situation involving Israel as a replay of Exodus, with Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint holding back the slobbering Arab hordes.
The atrocity being committed right now in Gaza has no basis in morality, practicality or even long-term Israeli self-interest. It is a naked exercise in force wielded by a nuclear-armed regional superpower in the name of fighting an enemy it created decades ago in order to undermine the power of other Palestinian groups. I would like to see the propaganda nonsense about targeting only Hamas operations, with any civilians casualties a matter of regret, get the contemptuous treatment it deserves, but that’s as pointless as hoping for a reduction, much less an end, to the American subsidies lavished on the biggest economy in the eastern Mediterranean. This is shooting fish in a barrel, and it ends whatever claim Israel may have to the moral high ground.
So, like the good people at 3 Quarks Daily, I’m running the flag of Palestine to offer some gesture of sympathy, however ineffectual, with the innocents being subjected to this terror. At least this is one banner those self-righteous creeps won’t be able to cut down.