Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Israel still living in 1967

Jordan is run by a guy with a degree in Political Science from Georgetown University. Syria is run by a doctor who was called back from Britain, where he was practicing, to take the reins of power. Egypt is run by a rigid dictator who is too busy fighting Islamists who want to overthrow his government to threaten anybody. Lebanon has no army, and only a few armed guerrillas who fire occasional rockets is Israel's direction pose any threat at all. The only country in the area (Iran) that has both the means and the will to attack Israel is over 500 miles away and might as well be in the next galaxy insofar as their armed forces have no way to reach Israel.

Israel is safer today than it has ever been in its entire existence. Yet, talking to my Israeli coworkers, reading the news from Israel, it seems that the Israeli people themselves haven't got the message, and indeed if you point this out and point out that maybe it's time that the United States quit propping up a failed welfare state in the Middle East by shipping them billions of dollars in aid, and instead force them to reform both economically and politically to live in the modern world rather than as a walled-off garrison state, you're immediately accused of being an anti-Semite who wants to exterminate Jews because everybody in the area hates Jews and wants to destroy Israel.

Excuse me? Who is this "everybody"? The people of Lebanon, who are so sick to death of guns that they won't even create their own Army after the withdrawal of the Israeli and Syrian armies? Jordan, which has a whole 90,000 soldiers in its army, the vast majority of whom are used as police forces? An opthamologist in Syria who has no air force worthy of the name, no anti-aircraft defenses, and a big army but most of its tanks are sitting broken down by the side of the road for lack of spare parts and who, anyhow, is too busy consolidating his own power to worry about invading some country that, as far as he is concerned, is no big deal? A guy in Egypt who is being propped up by the United States to keep the Islamists from taking power and has neither incentive nor ability to take on Israel? The only Arab country that is not so dependent on U.S. aid that they could even *think* of attacking Israel is Syria, and they lack the capability to do more than send a few draftees out to be slaughtered by Israeli armor and air power -- and know it. Israeli military spending is four times that of all Arab nations combined. The only threat to Israel, apparently, is the imaginary one engrained in the Israeli psyche.

But pointing these facts out, and pointing out that our support of Israel is great for the Israelis but does nothing for America and Americans, is "anti-Israel". So be it. I guess that, even though I don't care either way about Israelis, that makes me the moral equivalent of Adolph Hitler. Or something like that.

-- Badtux the "Hmm, does that make me a Nazi?" Penguin

Posted by: BadTux / 8/23/2005 11:15:00 PM  


Understand that I agree with you in that we do not need to support Israel at the levels we now support it. Also, I have often taken pains to get people to realize that not every Jew is an Israeli or supporter of Israel. However, many, if not most Israelis are Jews, and that is significant to what I am going to explain. I have found a universal awareness among Jews (and I'm a Jew, so I feel pretty comfortable saying this) of our shared history of persecution. We aren't the only ones who have a history of persecution, but we sure do have a lot of it and attempts to exterminate the Jews completely are not unknown, which is very different from most other cultures or religions. Plus, unlike the Christians, we haven't been a very numerous people and rarely have been on top anywhere, so we can rarely feel safe. If you aren't familiar with the history of the Jews then you may not be able to understand what I am trying to explain. Persecution of Jews is no joke and is not confined to the six million slaughtered by the Nazis in WWII. We even have a popular holiday, named Purim, which celebrates a time when a Jewish woman prevented her husband, the king, from slaughtering all of his country's Jews, thereby averting a localized genocide. With that in mind, you have to also bear in mind all the pogroms, confinements to ghettos, expulsions from countries, etc., of the past several centuries. It all adds up to one big ball of misery. Since Jews are generally into education, and since Jews study the history of the Jews as part of that education, it creates a certain mindset which we view as necessary in order to be "street smart" with respect to the chance that someone else may try to kill all of us. In other words, to be a Jew is to feel that much of the world is a bad neighborhood and you need to keep your eyes open lest someone walk up and knock you off. We don't feel constantly persecuted (that's something the extremist Christians seem to feel, based on watching their Justice Sunday shows.) It's that we have to stay on our toes to avoid the next genocide.

With that mindset, you have to see why Israel is mistrustful of its neighbors regardless of what is happening in the neighborhood. The feeling is that, no matter how good things seem to be going, you can't relax your vigilence because if you do, you're gonna wake up dead. Besides, people keep blowing shit up and killing people in the streets. It's not like it's all milk and honey. But I think the mindset is a big part of it. Sure, it seems like all-out war isn't going to break out any time soon with the neighbors, but those neighbors have waged all-out war on you in the past and they really don't like you much now even if they haven't been lobbing missiles at you. So you stay on your toes and you need to maintain a constant, high state of readiness.
# posted by DBK : 24/8/05 7:51 AM  

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# posted by BadTux : 24/8/05 8:50 AM  

Badtux, no matter what we say or do, Americans cannot understand the mindset of the Middle Easterner. The blood feuds are thousands of years old. No matter who appears weak or who appears strong at the moment, it all shifts and changes and the war goes on. The war *will* go on.

I don't think you're anti-Semitic because of what you say. I think it because of your defensiveness, which leads me to conclude you think so too, deep down. Unfortunately, yours is the reasoning of this summer's Lefty Male Blogger: the closet Jew Hater.
# posted by Tata : 26/8/05 1:16 PM  

Badtux - You're right and you're wrong, and you're not a Nazi.

Unless you've got some brown shirts in the closet that I don't know about.

Wanting to exterminate an entire race of people "like vermin" is taking things to far. You're right.

The concept that "Palestinians" are forced to live in the equivalent of concentration camps that are constantly being invaded by Israeli soldiers, well... you're wrong. The fact is that the land those people live on is called Israel, and they most likely moved to that exact area on purpose. There are multitudes of non-Jews living in Israel, having perfectly normal lives.

The idea that most Palestinians juwt want to live their lives in peace, well, I'd like to say that you're right on that one, but I can't really know. I expect that most people who call themselves Palestinians instead of members of an actual, existing nation, well, those people who claim that title *do* actively want to exterminate all the Jews. It's a declaration of sorts.

I spent my Freshman year of college in Israel, and I can tell you, living with that kind of threat level all the time changes you. Many times I was held up in traffic going home on the bus because someone had left a package in the street and the bomb squad had to be called in. I expect that at least one of the packages really was a bomb. The night I avoided a grenade attack by getting in a taxi and going the other way still confuses me if I try to think about it.

You talk about nations and armies, but that's not the threat, not any more. The threat is individuals. The threat is groups like Hammas and Al Quaeda that have the money and run the schools. People are raised to believe that the Jews have stolen their homeland, and that the US is to be hated because we support Israel, and the Jews run the country. These people are encouraged by terrorist groups to walk into crowds with explosives on their bodies. There are funds set up specifically to pay the relatives of a successful suicide bomber. It's more messed up than I can express.

Maybe you just don't realize that this kind of thing happens in Israel every day. Every day. And the army is there to try and keep the killing and death to a minimum. And living like that can throw off your sense of perspective.
# posted by The One True Tami : 26/8/05 1:49 PM  

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# posted by BadTux : 26/8/05 3:47 PM  

You're not making points. You're just talking and talking, and terribly impressed with the sound of your voice. I have no 'ilk.' You don't know me, and you didn't read my comment carefully; you're arguing with no one and nothing.

You're practically wetting the carpet waiting for someone to validate your bullshit. It's real weenie behavior, and you might want to reconsider it as a strategy of persuasion. If you notice, GD and OTT have done you the adult kindness of talking really slowly and placating you so that you might listen to more educated opinions. You're not looking great.

One more thing: vitriol like yours is almost always the result of the arguer's rejection by a member of the group in question, and not a real examination of politlcs. Why don't you tell us about your failed affair instead of railing against the Jews? It would almost certainly be more interesting than your shouting every epithet you can think of at strangers.
# posted by Tata : 26/8/05 5:49 PM  

tata, I talk to BadTux like that all the time and I hope it wasn't as condescending as you made it sound. That wasn't my intent. I tend to agree with him. I also don't think he's a Nazi or anti-Semitic for not wanting to support Israel.

But there is a real threat to Israel. That is not an imagined threat from 1967. I think Tami addresses the siege mentality pretty well.

I'm just going to repeat this part that I wrote before: "Sure, it seems like all-out war isn't going to break out any time soon with the neighbors, but those neighbors have waged all-out war on you in the past and they really don't like you much now even if they haven't been lobbing missiles at you. So you stay on your toes and you need to maintain a constant, high state of readiness."

Anyways, no, you aren't anti-Semitic and you're not a Nazi, BadTux. And tata, cut the bird a break. He is, after all, the Internet's foremost penguin pornographer. That has to be worth something.
# posted by DBK : 29/8/05 10:46 AM  

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