Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Israel I: Terrorball

I am an Israeli-American, holding dual citizenship in both countries. This has been nothing but grief for me, both in the narrower sense of my life not being made easier when I tell security people that I was born in Jerusalem, and in the larger sense of the stress and anxiety I have for my extended family which remains in Israel. And I am not Muslim -- I am an American Jewish citizen who has lived here since I was three months old. I cannot imagine how incredibly worse it is for Palestinians, who have to turn on the radio and hear bullshit like "All Young Muslims Should Be Strip Searched."

At any rate, one of the evidences of my heritage is that my mother and I now almost daily get into strongly worded debates over Israel and its future. My mother is a pacifist -- actually more of a pacifist than I am, since she favored immediate withdrawal from both Afghanistan and Iraq, and although I was against the war in Iraq, I believed that it was our responsibility to attempt to guarantee some functional stability before we left -- but she doesn't understand how I am against the Israeli incursion into Gaza.

This debate has been going on and on and in the end, the difference in our beliefs, both in Gaza and in Iraq/Afghanistan, boils down to Terrorball.

My mother is not happy about 1300 people killed in Gaza by Israelis. But from her perspective, how can Israel not respond to rockets falling on her country? Even the Israeli Government admits that in the year leading up to the Gaza War, only a handful of people have been been hurt or killed. The issue my mother is skirting, and which the logical problem at the heart of Terrorball rests on, is the issue of proportionality. More specifically, it deals with the One Percent Doctrine. If there's a 1% chance of terrorism, Cheney says, we have to use force. Irregardless of what the bait is, when it comes to terrorism, we have to respond with force.

Anyways, that's one aspect of the dispiriting personal conversations I've had around Israel. Most of it boils down to the fact that Avigdor Lieberman is the face and power-broker of my country.

1 comment:

Ian Thal said...

I had to do a little background research on what constitutes a war crime for my play, and "proportionality" is a very key concept, so I just want to point out the principle of proportionality in international law isn't "A killed X number of B's guys, so B is only allowed to kill X number of A's guys in response."

It's more like "If C is trying to kill D for no legally justified reason, then D is entitled to use any legal tactic to get C to stop." It becomes "disproportionate" only when the means become illegal (i.e. deliberate violence towards non-combatants.)

Now, this is completely separate from any ethical, moral, or political debate on the ideal solution and the best way of reaching that goal.

My condolences re: Lieberman, though.