Thursday, March 24, 2011

DAY 325 COUNTDOWN TO EGYPTIAN DEMOCRACY

DEFINING CHUTZPA

I cannot remember which columnist it was, but just the other day I read a column which said the Arab League had surpassed the traditional definition of "chutzpa" as the man who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy before the judge as an orphan.  The columnist asserted that the non-fiction example of the Arab League requesting Western establishment of a Libyan no-fly zone and then promptly criticizing its implementaton surpassed the fictional orphan of the traditional definition.

Well, I think Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who up until now has seemed to me to have more common sense than your typical high political appointee, may have just moved past the Arab League as quickly as Barry Bonds passed Mark McGwire for the steroid-enabled annual home run record.  According to NPR, Secretary Gates had landed in Israel today and acknowledged that terrorists had blown up a bus in the middle of Jerusalem (a friend of ours was just down the block; our son's fiance heard the explosion from their apartment), killing one and injuring about 30, some critically. 

He reportedly further acknowledged that the good citizens of Gaza were shooting scores of rockets into Israel, some as close as 10 miles from Tel Aviv, targeting civilians and traumatizing children as well as adults.  I do not know if he bothered to mention last week's murder of the Fogel family in their house, where the folks Israel is supposed to reach out to didn't seem the least bit bothered at the slitting of the throats of toddlers.   Indeed, the nice people in Gaza celebrated with sweets.

The world has shown very little outrage and given scant attention to the Fogel family.  If one were charitable, one would attribute this to the attention understandably given the terrible tragedy in Japan and to the upheavals in the Arab world.  Less charitably, and probably more accurately, this lack of attention and empathy is  likely attributable to the fact that the lives of humans like the Fogels have been devalued by labeling them "settlers" who live in "settlements" rather than "people" who live and breathe and have hopes and dreams just like the Europeans, boycotters, and others who devote enormous time and resources to making them into less-than-human evil doers.

In any event, after dutifully expressing the obligatory sympathies, Secretary Gates, according to NPR,  had the chutzpa to then urge Israel to be more forthcoming in the search for peace and to be more willing to "take risks" for peace. 

It takes incredible nerve, to put it mildly, to lecture people about taking risks for peace when they or their loved ones and countrymen are being buried, lying critically wounded in hospital beds, comforting traumatized children who are wetting their beds and cannot go to school, and otherwise coping with the impacts of terrorism.  Did it not occur to the Secretary that perhaps this week wasn't quite the time to lecture Israelis on what they ought to be doing for peace when his Administration cannot even convince the Palestinians to sit at the negotiating table?

One wonders what Secretary Gates thinks Israelis have been doing in recent years.  Questions for the Secretary:

1.  Is not pulling out of Gaza so that Palestinians can establish their own country, and in return being bombarded with over 7,000 rockets meant to kill civilians, taking "risks for peace?" 

2.  Is not pulling out of Lebanon, then having soldiers killed and kidnapped from your side of the border, then having hundreds of rockets targeted at civilians, and then having Iran equip Hezbolleh with upwards of 60,000 more rockets in violation of the UN resolution ending the Lebanon War, taking "risks for peace?

3.  Is not removing checkpoints and lowering the profile of soldiers and cooperating with Palestinians as they try to provide their own security, and then having the throats of children slit and a bus blown up in the middle of Jerusalem, taking "risks for peace?"

4.  While not on the same life-and-death level, is not a Likud Prime Minister declaring, in one of his first speeches in office, that he supports a two-state solution, thereby risking his coalition and the support of many in his own party, taking a "risk for peace?"

5.  Is not halting the construction of communities in the disputed territories for 10 months when a good portion of your coalition and party oppose a moratorium, and then not even seeing the other side come to the negotiating table for nine months, taking a "risk for peace?"

I would suggest to Secretary Gates that he check an etiquette book on the appropriate timing of lecturing folks on taking risks for peace.  I would also suggest he take a tour of the West Bank where he will see large billboards in town squares extolling the virtues of child killers, and where he will see the squares and other public spaces named after such "martyrs." I would suggest he check out the Jew hatred and demonization of Israel in Palestinian media and the messages sent daily to Palestinian children about the virtues of killing Jews.

I would also suggest that Secretary Gates ask Palestinian Authority President Abbas why he has squandered over a year without even sitting down to negotiate.  Finally, I suggest the good Secretary think a few times before he next lectues people whose lives are at stake and who have repeatedly made concrete efforts for peace on taking "risks for peace."   I would suggest to Secretary Gates that perhaps he is lecturing the wrong party in the dispute, and at a very wrong time.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I am being obtuse. I am at a loss to understand why America, France and Britain are sending their bomber planes half way around the world to pummel a country they have nothing to do with ...

    I know that Libya does not (to put it mildly) have a decent leader. But what gives foreign countries from far away the right to use death and destruction as a way of solving the problem?

    I ask this because when we Israelis get blown up in our own streets, when our kids cower in shelters because of indiscriminate bombing from our Arab neighbours - we are not only urged to have restraint by the US, France and Britain (amongst others) - but are in fact roundly condemned if we in any way defend ourselves.

    Will the UN be condemning the bombing of Libya anytime soon? Oops - silly me. They approved it!

    But when we in Israel go after the terrorists who are murdering and maiming our citizens here at home, will the UN be approving our actions?

    Silly question! We all know the answer to that one!

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