Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Uncle Abner and the Palestinians

Warning: The following post is very political and not for everyone.

This post is a response to certain friends of mine who have taken it upon themselves to have very strong opinions on a topic that is very complicated, very controversial, and probably has no easy answers. And it happens to be a topic that I know a lot about. I may not know as much as some people do, because that would require a lifetime of study. But I know enough to have some opinions on the topic and to defend myself when various friends make their very strong opinions known to me, insist they are right, and insist that I am wrong and know nothing.

If you are not someone of this cult who thinks they know all about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and know exactly what has to happen, then you may not want to read this post. You are welcome to if you want, but I would dodge it if I were you.

I once had an uncle who had converted to a form of evangelical Christianity, I am not sure what the details are, but he lived with his wife in Idaho, and my mother, who loved her brothers, took us kids to visit them one year. As predicted, he and his wife took out their bibles and explained to us that we were sinners and we had better embrace Jesus Christ into our hearts as our personal savior or we were going to Hell.

My parents were very offended but I was just puzzled. What did they hope to achieve? Did they expect my mom and us kids to say “Hallelujah! I have come home to Jesus!” Why were they being so rude?  Didn't they know how they sounded to people outside of their little cult?

I now realize that from their point of view they were not being rude, from their point of view they were acting with the best of intentions and out of the highest motives.  They were trying to save our immortal souls. You see from the beginning of the world to now, no one else has ever had the true knowledge about life and death and heaven and hell. Nobody but them, of course.

Some people would see my relatives as members of an extreme and intolerant religious cult. Others might see them as believers in one of the many great traditions of the history of religion, and more specifically, in the history of religion in this country. But the biggest problem that I had with them is their intolerance of different points of view, their arrogant certainty that they knew the truth and no one else did, and their dismissive rudeness when dealing with people who had other beliefs.

Praise the Lord! 

Today, I have a few friends who I love dearly but who have become evangelical members of a different cult, and this cult believes that they know the truth about a very complicated set of issues which ironically also has its origins in what we might in the West call "the Holy Land". Although I have spent years studying the issues that exist in that area, I am told by these friends that in fact I know nothing, but they do. They know everything, and I had better open my eyes and see the truth. 

And yet, when I talk to my friends it is clear that they know very little about the history of the issues they so confidently and inaccurately represent. but they are blissfully ignorant of this. Or maybe they just don't care.

And these self-appointed keepers of the Truth of the Universe know that Israelis are bad and "Palestinians" are good.  It doesnt matter how we got here, or who did what, or why.  Israelis bad, Palestinians good. And if you do not agree with this, then you must be wrong.

Praise Jesus!

The arrogance of this left-wing cult has to be experienced to be believed. And they are perfectly OK with telling someone like me, someone who has spent years studying this topic, the various conflicts, and the history behind it, that I know nothing.

Really? Thats interesting. Actually no, because when you discuss it with them, it is clear that they know very little of the history and issues they discuss, and are even less capable or willing to discuss those issues. In other words, unless you are a member of their cult, it is not very interesting to discuss any of these topics with them.

Well, that is their right, and their choice. But I find their beliefs both ignorant and offensive, and I don't like being treated with contempt.

But since my friends are so intent on telling me their view of the situation, but are completely dismissive of what I believe, I thought I would return the favor and let them know what I think on some of the issues that they so cavalierly expound upon.

They are not going to like what I think, but then that never stopped them from telling me with total certainty what they believe, now did it?

I think that my friends in this left-wing cult are being cynically used by one side in a conflict and that they are what Lenin called "useful idiots". I believe that Israel has a right to exist. I believe that Israel has a right to defend itself and its people from attack. I believe that the so called occupied territories were occupied as a result of wars that Israel did not start, and that Israel needs to look at its own security first.  I believe that my friends in this cult have a double standard and accuse Israel of crimes that they themselves, or rather their countries, are guilty of. And that my friends in this cult support people and organizations that are guilty of far more offensive and "non-progressive" behavior and policies than Israel ever has.  I believe that my friends are trying to hold Israel to standards that no other country in the world would be capable of fulfilling, or even try to fulfill.  I think my friends are about as hypocritical as it is possible for a person to be.

But oddly enough, these beliefs are not the point of this post. The point goes something like this. I could write for a year describing and defending the points of view that I espouse above. At the end of that time, you might not agree with me, or argue a different approach, or any of a number of things. But only someone who is not of good faith or is part of an all-knowing cult could possibly believe that they have all the answers to this situation, and that is my point.

And that is what I think about my friends in this left-wing "Israelis bad, Palestinians good" cult. They are outside the bounds of reasonable and rational discussion.  Just like my relatives who believed that the blood of Jesus was going to save me from Eternal Hellfire. They may or may not be right, but since I do not subscribe to their religion there is not a lot of point in discussing it.

That said I am going to bore you with three more issues on this nasty topic, and I submit them to my friends in their cult even though I doubt they can hear me.

1. Many people believe that negotiating peace with the Palestinians is pointless until the Palestinians convince people that they sincerely want peace. They would have to convince the Israelis that this time peace is not just a tactic in preparation for the next war of annihilation.

2. If you would like a country to return the "occupied territories", start with your own country first before you lecture others. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone, so to speak.

3. If you want to make the world a better place, may I suggest that you start here, and work to end racism, poverty, and inequity in this country, before taking sides in a situation about which you know almost nothing.

That said, these are still my friends, and just like my uncle and his family, I sincerely wish my friends all the best in areas outside of these issues.

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