Friday, August 01, 2014

1-Aug-14: For liberals, and everyone else, war demands hard choices

London, July 26, 2014 [Image Source]
An extract from Liel Leibovitz's short and very worthwhile essay: "Hey, Liberals Who Oppose Israel: You’re All Right-Wingers Now | Don’t call yourselves progressives if you put up with religiously zealous, violent maniacs like Hamas", Tablet Magazine, July 31, 2014
...Assume for one moment that Israel accepted all the liberal critiques of its behaviors and acted accordingly. The force it was using was disproportionate? It withdrew most of its soldiers, curbed its artillery, and pulled back the deeply unfair advantage of the Iron Dome missile defense system. Gaza is an open-air prison, the responsibility for which lies solely with Israel and not with Gaza’s other neighbor, Egypt? Israel removed its naval and aerial blockade and opened wide its borders. You don’t have to be a three-star General to realize the outcome of such moves. Which leads us back to a terrible observation: wars are so ghastly in part because they crush so much of the ambiguity and nuance that permeates everyday life in times of peace. They’re so awful because often they force us to make stark choices that are scary and absolute, and annihilate so much of the space that exists in between polar opposites. War requires us to choose...
So too these selected observations of Leibovitz, directed at liberal-minded folk who would normally espouse values probably similar to his own:
  • Before you say one more thing about this conflict, ask yourself which side is fighting for a society most like the one in which you’re likely to want to live, and then support that side passionately and vigorously. And understand, please, that we’re at war, and that philosophical inquiries, existential ponderings, and musings about identity are all welcomed and valued in free societies, but that to entertain such soulful pursuits said free societies must first survive the attacks of their enemies
  • All the homicidal zealot has to do is mumble something about justice and disproportionality and self-determination, and he’s transformed into a respectable, not to say sympathetic, figure.
  • To my former friends on the left who see themselves as champions of progressive values while criticizing Israel’s attempts at self-defense I have this to say: You have already chosen. You’re all right-wingers now... In making excuses for Hamas, you’re endorsing a force of religious intolerance and a purveyor of oppression far, far more demonic than those benign forces at home you characterize as the destroyers of civil liberties and human rights.
Most of us are deaf to challenging voices at the best of times, and especially so when war rages around us. Still, it would be a shame if Leibovitz's insights got lost in the rush.

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