Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Intense Argument on Israel

The following is a transcript from a debate that began over a Facebook status I posted. I refer to this exchange as an argument instead of a debate because, well, referring to the other person's involvement as "debating" would be far too generous.


Matthew Rozsa - Facebook Status:
The central committee of Israel's conservative Likud Party (which currently controls that nation's government) is meeting to draft a resolution supporting renewed construction of settlements in many predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods. The Israeli right-wing needs to realize that roughly 75% of American Jews (on whom Israel depends for support) are liberal and thus wearying of Israel's human rights violations.

Kirk Harlan
Until an organized movement with decent media coverage here in the US gets rolling, I doubt anyone will do much. I really hate to say it, but the mentality that "Israel can do no wrong" is still rather strong in this country; though not as strong at is once was.

Cliff Smith
Integration is a human rights violation?

Who knew? I always thought segregation was personally.

Matthew Rozsa
Integration is not a human rights violation, but pressuring people out of their homes - either through direct force or by creating an environment so hostile that fleeing is rendered necessary - is definitely a human rights violation.

I've noticed, Cliff, that your talent for limply tossing out wise-ass remarks is not matched by an ability to contribute anything valuable to these conversations.

Maximillian P. Miller
Point, Rozsa.

Cliff Smith
Yah? I've noticed you can dish it out but not take it. Emotional, demagogic talking points don't make for good debate.

Yes, most of my comments have been wise-ass comments. They are responding to deliberately inflammatory comments that don't even take into account the most obvious objections of the opposing side.

If you want to have a serious, nuanced conversation, make a serious, nuanced point.

Needless to say, I categorically reject that merely having Jews in a neighborhood "creates an environment so hostile that fleeing is rendered necessary," and I find such a notion repugnant and racist, frankly.

Even discounting the obvious legitimacy of Israel as a state (being recognized by the UN at it's creation, if that's what you look to) and it's ability to control what's going on in it's own borders, it is the Israelis who are ready, willing and able to have Muslims and Arabs in general live in their territory. It is the Palestinians, by and large, that are unwilling to reciprocate. Certainly every political movement of any strength relating to the Palestinians.

Ruben Wills
Actually I think you both have something to add even though theres a Jon Stewartesq quality the comments are still thought provoking. You may have birthed a million dollar radio hosting duo

Matthew Rozsa

Um... "dishing it out and not being able to take it" is used when someone who criticizes and/or insults others whines when he is himself criticized and/or insulted. Regardless of whether you think I'm right, wrong, or Hitler, I'm clearly not doing that here (and I doubt even those who disagree with my position would argue that that's the case in this situation). If you're going to use cliche put-downs, please do so properly.

The same problem is evident with your description of my comments as "emotional, demagogic talking points". I'll grant that you like adjectives, that much is clear; the correct application of said adjectives, though, does seem to elude you.

How exactly were any of my statements "emotional" and "demagogic"? For that matter, when have any of them been used as "talking points"? To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that words that are fashionable as political insults, but I do not think they mean what you think they mean."

I will concede that my comments are inflammatory, although in my defense, the stifling of national dialogue on this issue has made it so that any harsh criticism of Israel is often perceived that way.

As for "taking into account the most obvious objections of the opposing side", you will notice that I am more than willing to use my Facebook wall to debate any and all comers when they express disagreement with my opinions. I believe that that practice is more than fair. If, on the other hand, you're complaining that I don't incorporate my rebuttals to the other point of view in my initial status updates, I feel it necessary to point out that I am limited to 450 characters per status update (a fact that has frustrated me many times, lemme tell ya).

See my observations about the first paragraph.

You have conveniently chosen to interpret my comment about Palestinians feeling pressured to flee with an unsavory, Jew-hating connotation that could only have been seen by someone who wanted to believe it was there. In reality, Palestinians are forced to flee because either (a) they are forcibly evacuated from their homes, so that they can either be occupied by Jewish settlers or bulldozed so as to make way for new construction, or (b) so many Israelis move into their neighborhoods that, through direct and/or de facto discrimination, an environment is created where leaving becomes necessary (or at the very least desirable).

I must admit that I got a kick out of being accused of racism against Jews. When you take into account my own Hebraic heritage, the countless times in which I talk about being Jewish and other Jewish-related topics, and the horrifying experiences I have had to endure as a result of my ethnic background, the least I can say is that I'm eternally grateful to have had you accuse me of anti-Semitism - it will no doubt provide me with comedic fodder for many years to come.

Arguing (as you implicitly do) that my opposition to Israeli treatment of Palestinians is tantamount to a challenge against Israel's legitimacy is patently abusrd - it would be a bit like claiming that I want to dissolve the State of Arizona because of Governor Brewer's anti-Latino laws.

Claiming that one side has been more or less intransigent than the other is a gross oversimplification of this conflict. Certainly I wouldn't argue that the Arab side is blameless - their proliferation of terrorist groups, perpetuation of Jew-hating propaganda (from Holocaust denial to Henry Ford-era conspiracy theories) and unwillingness to recognize Israel's existence exacerbates tensions just as much as Israel's persecutory policies, encroachment onto Palestinian land, and disproportionate military retaliations. It is you, not I, for whom nuanced understanding is apparently an enemy.

Cliff may have the bellicose fatuity of Sean Hannity down pat, but I'd like to think I am a tad less meek than Alan Colmes.

This debate went on for quite a while after that comment, but I know that many of my readers are turned off by the lengths of these posts, so I'm going to end the blog article here (besides, the conversation was pretty cyclical after this point). If you are interested in reading the whole exchange, and you are lucky enough to be my Facebook friend, check out my wall:


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