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Worth reading: Lebanon edition

I am a Jew [1] (NYCEve, Daily Kos diarist); I am a Muslim [2] (Aziz Poonawalla, “City of Brass”) — Eve and Aziz write from the heart about the Israel/Lebanon crisis, being Americans, and the importance of homelands. Excerpts from NYCEve’s post:

That Israel is aligned with the people I most despise forces me to recognize that Jews are at best tolerated, mostly unwanted by pretty much everyone–except that is, Christian evangelicals who voice support for their own misguided and nefarious reasons.

This sad reality is still true many years after eight million were murdered. Anti-semitism is flourishing throughout the world. We escape the sting of it in the United States. But to deny its existence and that American Jews are blessed to live in a country that still treats us with relative decency, is to ignore the obvious

I live in New York, a city where I don’t feel as if I need to conceal my identity. But when I leave New York–an hour in any direction, even in the United States of America–I often recognize that though I am an American, being openly Jewish might engender an unwelcome encounter […]

I’d like to deny it, but I know my destiny is linked to the survival of Israel. When an El El 747 touches down at Ben Gurion Airport, the tradition is for the cabin to be filled with the plaintive, mournful sound of the Israeli national anthem. Even, nyceve, a very assimilated American Jew, sheds a tear or two when I hear that music and I am reminded of our terrible history.

… from Aziz’s responding post:

So what is it to be an American muslim? NYCeve speaks of rising anti-semitism in the world, and of how “being openly Jewish might engender an unwelcome encounter.” I am not a victim – but I think that muslims in America have more to fear than Jews do. Do you think that the attitudes at LGF are fringe? I surf the red-sphere every day; I contribute at RedState; I live in Texas and listen to the callers on talk radio. Muslims are the new Jews in the US. How much longer can I say that the religious freedom which permits my faith to flourish here as no where else, will persist? […]

But Jews do have Israel, a strong (nuclear-armed) state supported by a superpower. They are well and truly safe there, a safety that no Katyusha or suicide bomber can really threaten – those are the tools of fear alone and the Jews have long ago learned that fear can be overcome. I wish the American public faced the fear of terrorism with half the composure that Israelis do – we might be sacrificing fewer of our own society’s basic principles of liberty were it so.

Muslims in the middle east have nothing like Israel. Ordinary muslims are always caught between terrorists, tyrants, mullahs, and madmen, and now – the wrath of Israel as well. Lebanese people, who have no control over Hizbollah, who have just escaped decades of civil war, and only recently in the Cedar Revolution thrown off the yoke of Syrian dominance and seized their destinies for themselves – are being killed. Why?

… and from the comments [3] to Aziz’ identical post at Daily Kos:

azizhp, really excellent diary . . . (94+ / 0-)
I hope it gets the attention it deserves.
You raise some extremely important issues.
Thank you.
— by nyceve on Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 07:14:38 AM PDT

* I almost didnt post this (104+ / 0-)
I really dont want you to feel I am attacking you at all. I cant express how hesitant I am nowadays. It seems like every sentence – no matter how carefully crafted, only delivers pain. You really eased my mind a bit with your comment – thank you.
— by azizhp on Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 07:16:28 AM PDT

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting [4]Bloodthirsty Children or Media Missiles [4] (Michael Shaw, “Bag News Notes”); Emily Litella Speaks Out on the Situation in the Middle East [5] (Jonathan Schwarz, “A tiny revolution”) — The photo on the right is among a series by several news agencies taken near an artillery position in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shamona. (A Guardian reporter writes about the circumstances here [6].*) The two posts address its implications in different ways.

In keeping with his blog’s focus, Shaw is fascinated with the propaganda and visual implications of this and other photos of these children signing artillery shells. He also investigates the photojournalism involved, culminating with the discovery of this less well known photo, more clearly showing the staged, exploited nature of what happened — for whatever that’s worth. In the process, he cites Schwarz’s post — but rather misses its point, I think, claiming Schwarz “analogizes” Arab and Israeli kids as “sick killers.” Schwarz had written:

…Sadly, until the Arabs let go of their culture of incitement and rage, I’m afraid there’s no concession Israel can ever make that will bring peace with these people.

What’s that?
Those aren’t Lebanese girls writing on Hezbollah rockets, but Israeli girls writing on Israeli shells?
Never mind.

As I wrote [7] at Bag News Notes, there is (or was, it’s been a while since I’ve looked) a frequent feature on the right wing Little Green Footballs (LGF) blog site called “Palestinian child abuse [8].” It involves showing photos [9] — and, sadly, authentic ones — of West Bank, Gaza, etc. kids dressed in suicide bomber mockups, or in military garb, etc. I think Schwarz was simply pointing out that the impulse to indoctrinate kids with hatred and/or use them for propaganda purposes is not as one-sided as sites like LGF imply.

Syria, the Model [10] (Jim Henley, “Unqualified Offerings”) — Henley observes that the two most dangerous places to be in the Arab world right now are democracies the Bush administration was once pleased to take credit for. While Iraq is clearly failing to secure its borders and maintain order,

…[t]he Lebanese lesson is even more dire: American speech and action since Israel began retaliating for Hezbollah’s prisoner grab announces that democracy gains an Arab state exactly no leverage when Arab and Israeli interests collide. […]

People would, literally, rather be in Syria. It’s where everyone from Lebanon that can afford to leave is trying to get [11]. […]

The bomb them free crowd has made the work of liberalizing the Middle East much harder than it needed to be.

* Pointed out by Nell Lancaster in a comment [12] at Bag News Notes.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Worth reading: Lebanon edition"

#1 Comment By Sven On July 22, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

something about that picture:

#2 Comment By Thomas Nephew On July 22, 2006 @ 5:29 pm

From the account you link to: The noise was terrifying, people were dying outside, the kids were scared out of their minds and they had been told over and over that some man named Nasrallah was responsible for their having to cower underground for days on end.
On the day that photo was taken, the girls had emerged from the underground bomb shelters for the first time in five days. A new army unit had just arrived in the town and was preparing to shell the area across the border. The unit attracted the attention of twelve photojournalists – Israeli and foreign. The girls and their families gathered around to check out the big attraction in the small town – foreigners. They were relieved and probably a little giddy at being outside in the fresh air for the first time in days. They were probably happy to talk to people. And they enjoyed the attention of the photographers.

Sure. I don’t think I ever implied otherwise. But I’m also just not sure what difference it makes. At the end of the day, there these kids were, encouraged to scribble messages on artillery shells, and oblivious to or at least profoundly detached from what the shells actually do. I think it’s an instructive counterpoint to a long series of similar pictures of Palestinian kids If some Arabic bloggers are upset about this picture, they should also look at those — in both cases, it’s not the parents’ or the country’s finest moment.
But that’s easy for me to say, sitting safe and sound thousands of miles away. Thanks for the link.

#3 Comment By Sven On July 23, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

No, a cause is no excuse. Of course. But a cause can help to prevent to take one specific situation for a general position.
And of course, i postet the link not because i thoght you implied something else. It was just thought as pure additional information 🙂

#4 Comment By Thomas Nephew On July 24, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

I wrote some of that poorly, but was maybe a little more oversensitive than warranted, too. I mainly wanted to respond to what I’d read. Thanks again for sharing the link, please always feel free to do so.

#5 Comment By Gary Farber On August 3, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

Aziz writes: “I am not a victim – but I think that muslims in America have more to fear than Jews do.”
My only comment: it’s not a competition.
I would, however, agree with him that Muslims in America today have it generally worse off than Jews, in a variety of ways, including having more immediate reasons to fear.
But there’s enough to go round, if one pays attention. Especially given that the causes — say, someone walking into a Jewish gathering place, and killing eight people — often strike people randomly. On the other hand, if you look “like an Arab” and have One Of Them Names, problems will strike more systematically when, say, going through customs, or in many other situations.
It’s all dreadful.