Thursday, August 14, 2008

'War And Peace' And Indignation

Yesterday, I passed along an email I received from Chris Lydon, whose reading of Tolstoy leaves him riled at the thought of an Israeli attack on Iran, and even at the thought that the thought should be seriously entertained. Another brother-friend, Sheldon Schreter, living in Ra'anana, sends me this in response:

The fatuousness, arrogance, condescension and sheer stupidity of this piece are hard to take. I'm at a loss to understand why you circulated it.

So sorry for belonging to the primitive Neanderthals who actually live near the center of the bullseye drawn by those sweethearts who proclaim their intention to wipe me and my ilk off the face of the earth, while steadily acquiring the means to do it, and mocking the pathetic diplomatic attempts to delay them. So sorry for failing to recognize that we shouldn't take all the rhetoric seriously, that the Iranian regime is hardly suicidal, that Tolstoy has already said everything worth knowing on the subject, that anyone who considers war as an option is a monstrous criminal. So sorry for having to express contempt for the superior wisdom of my intellectual betters, whose personal risk in this discussion is nil, and whose reaction in the unlikely event that they are wrong, and some maniac actually nukes central Israel before we can deter or second-strike, will be: "Whoops!" or "Oh-oh!" What happened to patience and time, those venerable heroes? That's a pose.

I wish Mr. Lydon long life and good health in his superior irrelevance and cavalier dismissal of what is at stake here. At least you and Reza Aslan attempt to assess the actual situation and real options. I pray you are right. I doubt Israel will hit Iran preemptively, and the saber-rattling verbiage strengthens that hunch. It doesn't look as though the U.S. will sanction and cooperate, nor the Iraqis, which makes the idea impossible to implement in any case. So Iran will sooner or later acquire nuclear weapons capacity. Anyone who denies how serious a problem that will be (already is) for this region and way beyond it, is just burying their head - or ours - in the sand.

Like the majority of Israelis, I don't need Tolstoy or his interpreters to convince me that war is bad, and moreover, that we need to terminate the occupation of the West Bank. I do need to know how we can avoid war and separate from the Palestinians when Iran and its proxies aren't interested, to put it mildly, in anything less than reversing the Nakba, i.e. destroying Israel. You don't have to be a Darwinian to appreciate that anyone who can't or won't defend themselves is dead meat, at least in this general neighborhood. (Georgia, on my mind....)

Of course I'd rather co-operate harmoniously with our neighbors in optimizing the common good via active, joint participation in the global economy, but for that you need to be alive.

Curious how, when you come down to it, both Chris and Shelly are arguing for the same course of action by Israel, which is to refrain from attacking Iran, pursue a peace with Palestine and Syria, and learn to live with an Iranian bomb, should one materialize--while working with the Western powers to contain and seduce the Iranian regime over time (what Reza Aslan and I stated or implied in our Washington Post article).

The argument, which can be fierce, seems to be over the efficacy, or (let us call it the) moral status, of military power itself. I'll have more to say about this, but for now I think Shelly's attitude, which many Israelis share, should be slept on.

7 comments:

Jeffrey Dvorkin said...

Bernie and Shelly - I've got to weigh in on this. Bernie - You've
encapsulated the argument(s) vis a vis Israel and Iran wonderfully. Shelly -
I think your arguments are understandably passionate but completely wrong.

The Iranians have their idiots, (who does not?) but their real leadership is
neither stupid nor primitive. Well informed people know this. But political
types and community leaders ignore this for their own reasons. Israelis have
their thoughtful analysts too. But emotionality leaves no room for subtlety.

It is in the interest of the official Jewish community and the Israeli
leaders who are beholden to them, to portray the Iranians as latter day
Nazis, when in fact, Iran seems to be more interested in creating a regional
power presence that would stabilize the region, not create more unrest. And
it is unfair, Shelly for you to to berate Chris and others for having the
temerity to criticize Israel while not living in the region. By that odd
leap of logic, none of us should think or talk or act about anything that is
outside our neighborhoods. If we were to follow that logic, we would be
intellectually impoverished.

Unfortunately American rightists seem to have no hesitation about living in
New York and making their opinions about Israel felt. The rest of us can
just shut up, I suppose. I'm sure Shelly that you criticize them but I
haven't heard you do so.

Israeli policy is perceived as quite dangerous. It makes the rest of the
world that much more insecure. Israel's American enablers seem not to care
about that and Israel's leaders seem content to allow themselves to be
manipulated. I don't believe that Israelis or their leadership can so
willfully ignorant. so their motivation for allowing this hysteria to spread
must have other origins.

As a Jew and a North American, I am tired of Israel as the boy who cried
wolf. Israeli and Diaspora Jewish opinion has been manipulated into thinking
we are still in the Warsaw Ghetto. And if you don't accept that version,
then you must be a crypto-Nazi self-hating Jew and rootless cosmopolite
yourself.

But this is an abuse of History and disrespectful to those who died in the
Holocaust. And Shelly, for all of your progressive well intentioned lip
service about the occupation and the Palestinians, you must take a stand and
choose which side you are is on. But I think I know where that is.

Best,

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Y. Ben-David said...

Jeffrey said:

----------------------------------
Iran seems to be more interested in creating a regional
power presence that would stabilize the region, not create more unrest.
---------------------------------

What are you talking about? Why are the Iranians pouring money and arms into Lebanon (HIZBULLAH) and Gaza (HAMAS)? Why are they encouraging Shi'ite missionary activity in majority Sunni areas (which I understand is against the law in many Arab countries)? Why are they meddling in places like Sudan? Why are they making alliances with pariah regimes like that of Chavez in Venezuela?
They are not "working for stability" any more than did the USSR in the Cold War period. The Iranians despise the Arabs (who were allied against them in the Iran-Iraq War) and want to dominate them.
The regime is a repressive, totalitarian regime. Their President is a Holocaust denier and is constantly threatening Israel with eradication. They carried out two murderous terrorist attacks in Argentina, a country which is far away from them. I can't understand why so many "progressives" defend them

Y, Ben-David said...

Jeffrey also said:
---------------------------------
As a Jew and a North American, I am tired of Israel as the boy who cried
wolf
----------------------------------
Over a thousand Israelis (both Jews AND Arabs) were killed in Arafat's suicide bomber campaign, with thousands more wounded. The communities around Gaza have suffered a huge number of rocket attacks for SEVEN years which has disrupted the lives of thousands more people. You can sit in New York and judge us all you want, but you obviously have NO understanding of the situation so I suggest you keep your nonsensicle opinions (like the one I quote in my previous comment) to yourself to spare yourself more embarrassment.

Margaret said...

Israeli-Palestinian Fatalities Since 2000 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, August 2007 Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 until the end of July 2007, at least 5,848 people have been killed either directly or as an indirect consequence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.(1) ... Of those killed in the conflict, 4,228 have been Palestinians, 1,024 Israelis, and 63 foreign citizens. For every person killed, approximately seven were also injured.(3)http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/0a2a053971ccb56885256cef0073c6d4/be07c80cda4579468525734800500272!OpenDocument B'tselm: From the beginning of the intifada on 29 September 2000, until 31 December 2007, 4,332 Palestinians were killed in the Occupied Territories. Among them were 865 minors (under the age of 18). At least 2,050 of those killed were not participating in the fighting at the time of death, and 225 were objects of targeted killing. Thousands more were wounded. (Note that that is an increase of 104 Palestinian deaths between Aug and December, in a year in which 11 Israelis were killed.)During 2007, Israeli security forces killed 377 Palestinians, 53 of them minors.

Margaret said...

y ben-david: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that? What was it you are saying?

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