As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Demonization Principle

I don't want to paint too broad a brush, but talking to a defender of Israel's "right to self-defense" by creating more terrorists inevitably comes down to the proposition that Arabs are animals.

Whether the Gaza Palestinians can ever have a truly civil society is another question, the answer to which — given the Arab societies that surround them — is probably ‘no.’

Again, this isn't a blanket statement. The narrowness of opinion in the United States on the topic of Israel certainly accounts for a lot of misconceptions. Thankfully this is starting to thaw, and people are much more open to a variety of opinion on the subject, even if their political leaders aren't. The conservative, AIPAC-led lock on Israel policy has been diminshed by the emergence of J Street.

Eventually, however, the hardcore rightists (like "liberal" magazine editor Marty Peretz, responsible for the above quote) have to come up with a framework to justify their behavior. And when marginalization through calling the other side "terrorists" isn't enough - a a common tactic designed by those in power to determine what is legal and illegal for those out of power - they have to widen and deepen the marginalization. And so you get the depiction of the other as animals.

Not only is this execrable, it has a real negative impact on the security of the Israeli people. By considering Palestinians subhuman and incapable of civilization, Israel's defenders inflame the Arab world and give Hamas and the Palestinian people no reason to do anything but continue to lob rockets.

I guess there's a "truce" that may be offered, to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza (not the boat the Israelis attacked yesterday, I guess) and give Hamas a "chance" to stop the rocket attacks. Given this rhetoric, if you were a Palestinian, why would you believe the Israelis?

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