Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Argument is not that Dumb, Sarah....

Chayyei Sarah considers the argument that Gaza is the same as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to be both disingenuous and just plain bogus. She makes some very cogent points but, IMHO, misses the main point. Here it is:

Whether we like it or not, our conflict with the Muslim World is a zero-sum game. It's all or nothing. Yes, it's true that the Israeli consensus disagrees. However, that is totally irrelevant (except when we negotiate with ourselves, as we usually do). The Muslim World defines it as a zero-sum game, and that's what makes it so. Why do they define it so? Because Islamic religion and culture relates to the world that way. You're either part of the Dar al Islam or the Dar al Harb, the House of Islam or the House of War. A respectful attitude toward the 'Other' demands that we stop with the Cognitive Egocentrism and see what our interlocutors actually believe. [Despite the criticism, Bernard Lewis is correct.]

It is also true that we do base our claim here on Jewish History and Tradition. On that level, it really is true that it's all of a piece. Here, however, semantics play an important role. The Left would have us believe that Gaza and Judea/Samaria are Arab Lands to which Jews have no right. That is Post-Zionist claptrap. It is, however, the line harped on and advanced in the Israeli media and in broad swaths of academia. That does not make it less claptrap (maybe more). One could, however, maintain that we are willing to give what is ours to someone to whom it does not belong (not that I am arguing on behalf of that point). That would put a very different face on things. Neither is this quibbling. How you define yourself, even in theory, is critical for national function and continuity. Consider, when Germany was divided the Western half's constitution included a plank callung for reunification while the Eastern half did not. I have no doubt that the dream of unification played a very serious role in defining West German identity and in the process (albeit rough) of Geman reunification.

On both grounds, I think it would be a serious mistake to blithely dismiss your letter-writer's point.


Anonymous said...

ah, zero-sum.
once again, the influence of richard landes. actually, as he mentioned to me when i raised this point to him, islamic society is NEGATIVE-sum.
that is, (for example's sake)moslem society would ruin 60% of their infrastructure to destroy, say, 20% of israel's.

as opposed to zero-sum, where, in the classic example, i would choose to be blind in one eye, as long as my neighbor/enemy is blind in both.
negative sum would be along the lines of, me getting blinded in both eyes as long as you are blind in one.

great guy, richard is.

Soccer Dad said...

You wrote:It is, however, the line harped on and advanced in the Israeli media and in broad swaths of academia. That does not make it less claptrap (maybe more).

Let's not forget the diplomatic and political worlds. (And it's not just the Israeli media.)

Elder of Ziyon had an excellent post a few months ago: http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2005/08/this-is-fourth-explusion-of-jews-from.html

Somehow the capture of land by force is not acceptable when done by Jews. But when done by Arabs it must be respected. How else is it possible that Jews in Hevron are obstacles to peace? Were not Jews driven from their homes (for good) in 1935? Why should we validate that?

Finally the whole discussiong reminds me of something my brother heard over Jordan radio in 1980 or so, "In occupied Be'er Sheva today ..." In most Arab eyes, Tel Aviv is every bit the "illegal settlement" that Maalei Adumim is. Sacrificing one doesn't mean that the Arabs will say, "they're being reasonable," no it means they'll say "we chased them from one place, let's chase them from another." (The gist of Yisrael Medad's response to Sarah.)