In a NY Times piece about Gaza that has generated some possibly useful controversy — "Falling for Hamas's Split-Screen Fallacy" — Matti Friedman writes that "As is often the case where Israel is concerned, things quickly became hysterical and divorced from the events themselves" .
He writes: "Israeli soldiers facing Gaza have no good choices. They can warn people off with tear gas or rubber bullets, which are often inaccurate and ineffective, and if that doesn't work, they can use live fire."
Fair enough. Did Israeli soldiers use tear gas? They did, and it obviously failed to contain the protest. Did they then try rubber bullets and discover them to be "inaccurate and ineffective?" Not that I've read or heard. From what I can tell, the IDF went directly to live fire with predictably ghastly results.
But wait: Friedman tells us that, "a Hamas leader, Salah Bardawil, told a Hamas TV station that 50 of the dead were Hamas members. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed three others." And we, critical readers all, not at subject in the least to hysteria where Israel is concerned, don't stop to doubt the Hamas boast, do we? No, because if Hamas says it, it must be true: everyone cut down by the IDF must be a shahid, a true Islamicist martyr.
If you believe that, this bit of Hamas self-glorification, than maybe you’d like to invest in this bridge I happen to know about. You don't have to go to Gaza — who'd want to, right?— to get in on this offer; it's right there, at the lower tip of Manhattan. A nice bridge.
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My view is this:
1) recognize the perniciousness of Hamas
2) can still criticize Israel.
There are those on the Israel-bashing left (assuming it can be called a left) who deny that there can be liberal Zionists. There is no room for liberal Zionism in their anti-Zionist qua anti-Semitic worldview. For them, Israel is so bad from the ground up that liberalism doesn't apply to it; Israel can't be corrected or usefully critiqued, only, one way or another, torched and reconstituted according to better — internationalist? Leninist? — principles. You don't have to go far to find examples of this. Dig just below the surface of JVP/BDS and you'll come on a raging source.
But it just ain't so. Like I said, I am a Zionist insofar as I believe without reservation in the state of Israel. I am a liberal Zionist in that I simultaneously believe that the country has deep flaws and I have the right to point them out.
This liberalism of mine is portable. It's American liberalism, to start with, and as critical of Trump and his gang of thieves, warmongers and liars as it is of Netanyahu's brand of nationalists and theocrats.
But getting back to Gaza, it doesn't make me an Israel-basher to say, after due consideration, that the use of live fire against protesters in Gaza was brutal and unjustified, and gave Hamas all the deaths it could now claim for itself, all the shahids, real or mostly bogus.
I bet a lot of the people out here who rush to the defense of Israel are liberals/progressives in the American context. Trump disgusts them. But somehow Netanyahu doesn't.
Now that's hysterical.