Saturday, January 30, 2010

What Can We Say

Issue is far from one-sided
Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 11:04 AM CST

I’ve been reading with interest the recent exchange of letters regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

As someone who has spent the majority of his 35-year business career living in the Middle East and traveling extensively throughout the Arab World and Israel, I also have several insights and thoughts to share.

It’s interesting that those who find fault with Betsy Mayfield’s knowledgeable and well-researched criticism of many of Israel’s policies have, in the main, taken her to task with the conspicuously feeble argument that other countries do even worse things. It’s the old “bait and switch” trick: confuse the issue.

Also, when anyone has the audacity to question anything Israel does, they are quickly condemned as “anti-Semitic.” This doesn’t address the facts, but it can throw people off the real issue.

There’s a big difference between people of the Jewish faith and culture and the actions and policies of the state of Israel. Those who blindly support the latter, when confronted with criticism, are the first to switch the subject to the former.

Another response to criticisms of Israel’s often brutal policies is the “self-defense” argument. But, then, unacknowledged is the continued Palestinian humiliation of check points, demise of economic and educational opportunity, home destruction, land confiscation, etc. These are at the root causes of the conflict. While no nation would tolerate the tossing of homemade rockets into their territory, neither would any colonized people agree to unchecked subjugation and daily degradation.

So, have the oppressed become the oppressors? Even millions of Israelis believe that is what their government has become. It seems the U.S. is one of the only countries that isn’t seriously asking the same question.

Let’s not let any of us be misled into believing that this is mainly an issue of Israel just defending itself. It’s far from one-sided.

Don Lambert