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"Who you gonna believe — me or your own eyes?"
January 10, 2002 8:03 AM   Subscribe

"Who you gonna believe — me or your own eyes?" NYT's. Safire projects some troubling future.
posted by semmi (18 comments total)

 
The quote belongs to Groucho Marx not Safire, and Safire uses it in refuting Palestinian rhetoric contrasting facts. I should have made it clear. Sorry.
posted by semmi at 9:18 AM on January 10, 2002


Trolling? I'll bite.

I think Palestine has a right to arm and protect itself from the encroaching illegal settlements of Israel.

You'd never see a headline like "Canada siezes shipment of arms and clains they were destined for the United States."

Israel has made it's own mess, let them deal with it.
posted by Dillenger69 at 9:23 AM on January 10, 2002


Yes, Dillenger69, I also consider militants attacking civilians to be acting in self-defense. Sheesh.

You'd never see a headline like "Canada siezes shipment of arms and clains they were destined for the United States."

Perhaps that's because the U.S. does not sponsor terrorism against Canada?

Israel has made it's own mess, let them deal with it.

Now I wonder why I'm responding at all, since you just contradicted yourself.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:54 AM on January 10, 2002


Though I don't usually agree with Bill Safire, I must say that he's right on. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have figuratively been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They owned the ships. The crew is part of the Palestinian Navy. There is no way Arafat can deny he was involved.

Dillenger69, you are trolling with your comments about Israel. How many Israelis do you know that strap bombs to themselves and kill innocent civilians? Killing innocent Israelis is NOT the proper response to Israel's settlement controversy. If this shipment had reached its destination, many more innocent Israelis civilians would be dead or wounded.

Semmi, the quote is from Chico Marx, nor Gaucho.
posted by Rastafari at 10:19 AM on January 10, 2002


Both sides are at fault, and both have criminal leadership. It is wrong for Palestinian leadership to be complacent about or (as evidence now more clearly than ever suggests) to sponsor bombings and shootings. It is also wrong for Israeli soldiers to attack civilians--or "flatten" or "bulldoze houses" or any of the various civilian technical words chosen to avoid the correct vocabulary of war--as just happened in Gaza.

Pulling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into the war on terrorism is dangerous because it reduces attention to one side of the conflict: It could dry up violent Palestinian elements, but it wouldn't address criminal Israeli policies. Both are wrong and both must be dealt with.
posted by Joe Hutch at 10:23 AM on January 10, 2002


The PLO may have toned down its rhetoric, but I knew something was up when Rafsanjani made his ugly speech. These people will not settle for a "peace deal"; they want nothing less than the permanent destruction of Israel. I thought the PLO was insane when they turned down a deal offering them full sovereignty over 94% of the territories. The sticking point was made out to be East Jerusalem, but it's increasingly clear that what they wanted more than unmolested life in the West Bank was the Right of Return -- which, in effect, is a way of voting out the Jewish government of Israel and making it an Islamic state.

They rejected that deal, and the liberal, pro-peace Barak government fell, which was exactly what they wanted. The Israeli people, even its left-wing and peace-now constituencies, were dismayed; they'd been stabbed in the back. Many of them were convinced, as many liberals in America remain so, that positive movement toward a peace deal, "confidence building", increasing contact between Israelis and Palestinians, would result in a Palestinian government that would seek prosperity for itself and cooperate in creating security for Israel.

They were screwed. They were royally screwed.

It will be a long time before Israel puts its trust in negotiations again. They offered as much as they thought they could give, and in return they got the Second Intifada, the al Aqsa intifada, so named for the ugly, intolerable provocation of ... Ariel Sharon exercising long-accepted legal rights to visit the Temple Mount. "Oh, the horror! What new desecration will this man visit next! Well, perhaps he won't, so we'll force him into killing us so that he looks bad." And so this new, disgusting, cynical intifada began.

They don't want peace. They have not demonstrated that they want peace. They get more by throwing themselves in front of Israeli guns; they get more by delaying settlement. Eventually, they calculate, they will overwhelm the Jews by sheer numbers and drive them into the sea.

This is not idle speculation. This is not words put into their mouth. This is what they say to each other when we're not listening translating. This is what they teach their children in their official textbooks.

Up until this arms shipment I was still willing to give Arafat the benefit of the doubt, in a moral sense: I suspected he really did see that peace was the only way for his people, but that the knife edge of proxy terror was the only domestic political game he could play. I thought if he had fought a civil war a few years ago, when he had the plurality support, he might have quashed the nasty bad guys who were frustrating his peace efforts. Another lie. He's just another thug, he's been a fedayeen his whole life and diplomat and Nobel-winner were just roles he played with gusto. He's told us what he's going to do; and the people he's been working with have told us, too.

We've just been too soft and weak and wrapped up in our own self-delusions about moral equivalency to listen. (Paging Joe Hutch.)

The Israeli people know; they figured this out a year ago. That's why they elected Sharon. They know they're in a fight for the death. We're safe over here, by comparison still. But maybe our eyes have been opened.

Fool me twice ....
posted by dhartung at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2002


Israel has made it's own mess, let them deal with it.

I agree. Because if we did let them deal with it, they'd kick some ass around the entire Middle East, and we wouldn't have to be worrying about the likes of Sadaam and the like. They'd take care of it for us...
posted by eas98 at 11:57 AM on January 10, 2002


Dhartung: Your statement implies that any bilateral criticism of the conflict is "moral equivalency" and hence impedes a sensible solution. This is not so. I didn't criticize Israeli policies in order to justify or even temper PLO actions, or to claim that all wrongs are alike. I agree with you about the PLO; what they've done is obviously awful! No question. But I feel that law should not be selectively applied (based upon international support or media converage or whatever), because then any post-war or post-peace government that results is tainted and retains injustices. For example, there is no question that annexation by settlement-building is also illegal; destroying civilian homes in a suspect's neighborhood is (almost absurdly) unjust; etc.

And no one wants a government that makes such crimes regular practice. It's bad for everyone when rights are flouted and laws broken.

In brief: It is not only possible but necessary to be hard on both sides, if there is to be a just result.

What are your feelings?
posted by Joe Hutch at 11:59 AM on January 10, 2002


Wow, Dhartung, you manage to get all of the 3 major myths/distortions/Israeli PR currently floating around into your tirade:

1. Israel offered the Palestinians the moon and Arafat shot it down. Debunked time and time again, perhaps best by the American players who were there. In fact, Barak's offer was of state with 94% of control, but that 6% not on the table is a combination of foreign settlements, army, and restricted-access areas that make the state ungovernable. Prisoners have control of 95% of a prison as well, but would anyone want to live there? Has Israel ever offered the Palestinians a deal that they themselves would take, or even in the same ballpark? LINK

2. Palestinians force Israel into killing them. What an ugly way to spin what is clearly and intolerably unjustifiable brutality. This hits about the same tone used by defenders of Apartheid South Africa to brush off criticism of their heavy-handed and immoral policies "oh, they get more out of us killing them." What a racist and awful view, especially in light of the evidence: Rights group after rights group has deemed this to be an outrage, that Israel's Defence Force has run amok and is killing unarmed civilians with shocking regularity. The most recent damning report comes from the respected Israeli group Btselem, which investigated the recent raid of Bethlehem. From the report "the IDF continues to send its soldiers a clear message that they can violate Palestinian human rights with impunity and that soldiers will not be held accountable for harming innocent people " LINK

3. Palestinian text-books contain incitements to violence and advocate the destruction of Israel. Recently George Washington University's Nathan Brown, PhD, was given a Fulbright grant to study and live in Israel. His report on Palestinian textbooks revealed that virtually all of the claims of the one group that has informed opinions all over America and Israel (the group is based in a settlement, and written by a rabid-right wing Israeli) are misleading if not completely false, in that much of the report was based on a book that is not even in print. LINK

It is not 'moral equivalency' to demand that both sides adhere to international laws and standards of human rights.
posted by cell divide at 12:01 PM on January 10, 2002


Because if we did let them deal with it, they'd kick some ass around the entire Middle East

Does "letting them deal with it" include withdrawing the $2-$3 billion in financial aid the United States currently sends the government of Israel every year?

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:01 PM on January 10, 2002


Let me clarify a few postions.

I think both sides are wrong and hold no love for either.

I think palestine has a right to defend itself and should import weapons as they see fit. This does not include trying to wipe Israel off the map.

I think Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorist bombings, but this does not include buldozing communitites and occupying neighboring countries. If anything they should pull in their settlements and lock down their borders.

I also think that "letting them deal with it" includes withdrawl of monetary aid.
posted by Dillenger69 at 1:20 PM on January 10, 2002


How many Israelis do you know that strap bombs to themselves and kill innocent civilians?

None, because the Israelis let their military kill innocent Palestinians for them. No need for do-it-yourself action when you have a powerful army (thanks to the US). That doesn't make the Palestinian terrorists' actions right, but both sides are killing civilians who are not involved in terrorism and/or illegal settlements.

Both sides have gotten themselves into a difficult position, since they feel they need to react to any and all acts of violence, which ensures the situation will continue indefinitely. The Israelis could stop a little easier than the Palestinians, since the Israeli violence is largely committed by the military (apart from a few vigilante settlers), whereas the Palestinian militants are more decentralized. As long as anyone on both sides wants to fight, there doesn't seem to be a resolution the other will accept.
posted by wildcrdj at 8:32 PM on January 10, 2002


From the liks provided by cell divide:

Part of the Palestine Monitor's mission is to counteract Israel's and the Western media's misrepresentations of the current conflict and of Palestinians, and to supply activists with information they can use to respond to any detectable bias, racism, inaccuracies or outright lies printed or broadcast in the international media

Gee, cell divide, couldn't you pick a more objective source, one that isn't a PR website for the Palestinians? Oh, that's right. That would blow apart your argument and get in the way of the truth. How silly of me!
posted by Rastafari at 8:35 PM on January 10, 2002


None, because the Israelis let their military kill innocent Palestinians for them.

So are you saying that when Palestinians bomb the Israelis, those who die are not innocent?

What would you have Israel do, don't retaliate against people who want to wipe them off the face of the earth? Israel uses their military because they are efficient and that's their job. And Israel has every right, like the US, to defend itself for any attacks on it's soil. If you have a better suggestion on how Israel should deal with it, by all means, please, speak up.

If you don't think that what the Palestinians are doing is terrorism, then you are seriously delusional. There is no difference between what the Palestinians do and what bin Laden did. None. Terrorism is terrorism, no matter how you try to spin it.
posted by Rastafari at 9:01 PM on January 10, 2002


There are self-hating Jews. And self-hating Westerners. And fake disinterested parties, and all post here on Mefi.

If this latest development doesn't convince you of the moral and ethical superiority of the Israelis over the PA, nothing will (and fortunately, you are part of an impotent minority who should be, and is ignored).

Notice: Arafat didn't say: "yes, we ordered these weapons, and we are entitled to have them." Rather, he denied the undeniable. What a demon. But at least a stupid, incompetent demon, like most of the demons in the Mideast.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:17 PM on January 10, 2002


Wait, Paris, this is what confirms for you that Israel is morally and ethically superior? I mean by comparison, Israel denies it has nuclear weapons!

The whole not-stopping-suicide-bombers-who-kill-innocents thing is far more damning, no?!
posted by chaz at 9:29 PM on January 10, 2002


Allowing, encouraging and honoring suicide bombers is immoral. Nuclear weapons, responsibly kept as a deterent is perfectly cool. Why can't you just admit that Yasser should be assasinated. Soon.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:57 PM on January 10, 2002


The Israelis just destroyed part of the PA's runway. Unfortunately, only parts of it.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:33 PM on January 11, 2002


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