I keep getting mail saying I should write about the crimes of Israel, so Mossad will assassinate me and I can be a footnote in history books. OK. Here goes.
Crimes, as best I can understand them: I’m not too good at understanding things, I know, but I’ll try.
Israel took the land of the Palestinians by force of arms and proceeded to occupy it. True enough. To do this they had to pry out the British, who also had taken Palestine by force of arms and occupied it, along with, at various times, the United States, Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Ireland. (Generic Christians took Palestine starting in 1099, and it worked about as well for them. If I were wiser I might see a lesson here. But I’m not.)
We have all seen pictures of Israel bombing cities full of Moslems, as for example Beirut. This is clearly a bad thing to do. The United States of course would never bomb cities full of Moslems. Or Vietnamese. Rumors to the contrary are preposterous and need not be considered. It just isn’t the American way, some years.
But if the US did bomb Moslems it would be a good thing to do, because it would be to bring democracy, peace, and love to the benighted ragheads. (Personally I’ve always wanted to be bombed into a higher moral state.) The Israelis have no ennobling excuse of bringing betterment. They are just defending themselves. Or think they are. It sure doesn’t seem to work very well.
Nor would the United States torture prisoners as the Israelis do. In the unlikely event that Americans did engage in torture, it would be the work of a few rogue soldiers, specifically the entire military intelligence apparatus using techniques taught to them by the CIA, the whole business being condoned up to the level of the Secretary of Defense.
So, you see, the Israelis belong to a small sordid group of torturers consisting only of themselves and every other country on earth. Except maybe Andorra. (Is Sark a country?)
Everybody gets mad when some Israeli helicopter blows up a Palestinian leader with a missile, like when the US bombed Ghadaffi’s palace but missed, because it’s murder and you aren’t supposed to do that. By contrast the American CIA doesn’t assassinate people, which is why an executive order was needed to make them stop it, if they did. Actually the CIA is a humanitarian group and for years carried stretchers around foreign cities to give aid to people shot by Mossad. Sometimes they were mistaken for Mormon missionaries.
But it’s just a few rogues. The United States would never, ever have a systematic campaign of assassination, as the Phoenix Program wasn’t. Never.
Now, if I were a Palestinian, I believe I’d do just what the Palestinians are doing. Thing is, if I were an Israeli, I believe I’d do just what they are doing. (You don’t suppose that’s the problem, do you?) It reminds me of Northern Ireland. I like Irish Catholics just fine. I like Irish Protestants just fine. I can’t tell’em apart. But they’re always blowing each other up. Or were.
Whenever I say the following, everybody gets riled and sends threatening email. Still, I’ll say it: Hideous barbarism is what we do. Just about all of us. The elegant Belgians, Inspector Poirot and all that? Read about the Congo. The gentle Dutch? Check Indonesia. After WWII, I don’t quite see how the British, Germans, or Americans can be too huffy because someone else bombs cities.
Anyway, I’m willing to grant that Israelis are uniquely terrible folk, u2018bout like everybody else, and no end monstrous, and eat babies. Being as I am a simple-minded country boy, though, I keep thinking of simple-minded questions. Like, what exactly do we expect the Israelis to do? I mean, I know they’re terrible and all, but they’re there. Maybe a better question is what would you do if you were where they are. It’s easy to solve problems you don’t have from Cleveland.
Now, any discussion of what the Israelis ought to do bogs down in about three seconds into arguments about whether Israel should ever have been allowed to exist. That’s easy. No. Things would have been lots easier for almost everybody. But then, maybe the Apaches don’t think the United States should exist. Maybe the Dravidians think the Aryans should high-tail it back to Iran. The Mexicans want California back, which they stole by force of arms from the Indians, who probably want it back too.
Thing is, Israel does exist. Should and ought to have don’t matter. It’s like saying Aunt Penelope shouldn’t have married a drunk and had seven feeble-minded kids. But she did. You gotta deal with it.
Best I can tell, the Israelis have these choices:
March into the sea and drown. It would be a solution of sorts, but the smart money doesn’t like it.
Emigrate to Brighton Beach. If they had wanted to, they would have already, so they probably won’t. Leaving isn’t really a choice. Who would take more than some of them?
Give the land back and retreat to the borders of 1967. This sounds like a nice idea, from Cleveland. You know, like Mikey grabbed Billy’s ball on the playground, and he should give it back and learn to share and be all friends with Billy.
Maybe it would have worked, once. This isn’t once. There is too much bad blood. It doesn’t follow that because the Israelis do bad things, the Palestinians don’t. They blow up shopping malls.
Leaving aside territorial ambitions, which exist, returning the land would be dangerous on military grounds. For example, look at where the West Bank fits into what is today Israel, note the shape of what remains when they are removed, and reflect on the range of a .105 howitzer. If returning the land would guarantee that the Palestinians would live peacefully with the Israelis, and grow olives, and invite them to drumming circles, OK. But it ain’t likely. Everybody hates everybody else too much. If I were an Israeli, I wouldn’t risk it.
Kill all the Palestinians or, in the less brutal school of ethnic cleansing of, say, 1493, shove them into Jordan. I’ll get email disagreeing, but I don’t think, despite Sharon and Kahane and such, that the Israelis would go for the former, even if they could get away with it, which they in all likelihood couldn’t. Expulsion would be a lesser but a huge gamble. I wouldn’t do it.
Build that fool wall. I guess that’s what I would do. It’s a bad idea and probably won’t work, which distinguishes it slightly from bad ideas that certainly won’t work.
Fred Reed [send him mail] is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well.