Saturday, May 02, 2009


David, one of my correspondents, recently sent me some pictures Palestinians wanted the world to see and and a group of pictures they did not want the non-Muslim world to see. What they wanted the world to see were pictures of small Palestinian children wounded by the Israelis.

What they didn't want the West to see were pictures of children training in military uniforms, some with assault rifles and one small child with a hand grenade.

When I forwarded the pictures to my other correspondents, Kay was the first to respond. She belongs to a writers group and happens to be a very nice lady, albeit a free spirit with some unconventional ideas. After an initial exchange of views between Kay and me, others joined in a debate of sorts. Here is what was said after I forwarded the pictures:

KAY: What passes for "patriotism" covers a lot of ugly sins no matter what country that patriotism is directed toward, doesn't it? Hooray for those mature enough to grow beyond it. I try to forget whether I'm a Sneetch with stars on my belly or one without them.

EDITOR: I think you missed the whole point. The militant training of Palestinian children has nothing to do with any patriotism. It's all about preparing these children to achieve the ultimate goal of destroying the hated "Zionist entity."

KAY: You often say I miss the point, which is a ploy of those attempting a put-down. I rarely, if ever, do so. Rather I try to skirt giving you my gut reaction while attempting to let you know I don't respect the opinion. And the zionist movement is one subject I suspect we should stay away from.

EDITOR: Sorry Kay, but you definitely missed the point and that's not meant to be a put-down.
KAY: Then teach me. This says to me, "Palestinians are media manipulative bad guys" with an implied "Israelis are out-in-the-open good guys." Tell me what I'm missing.

EDITOR: You're not missing much. For many years, innocent Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian suicide bombers and the pictures they want the world to see are nothing more than insidious anti-Israeli propaganda. When Israel has struck back after being attacked, Palestinian civilians, including children, have also been killed or wounded, but that is because their rocket launchers are deliberately placed among civilian population centers.

In your last message you mentioned Zionism. I think you misread my message. When I wrote "Zionist Entity" that did not have anything to do with Zionism. The Palestinians and other Arabs, who do not recognize the State of Israel and will not utter its name, refer to the Jewish state only as the Zionist Entity. That is why I put the term in quotation marks.

And maybe I misread your message, but it appeared to me that you have some kind of bone to pick with Zionism. Perhaps you are not aware of Zionism's history. The movement was started by some devout Eastern European Jews who were severely persecuted for practicing their faith. Its followers wanted to return to Palestine, the ancestral homeland of Jews, where they hoped to worship and practice their faith without being persecuted.

That's all there is to Zionism. It is not the evil movement that anti-Semites have painted as a cabal planning to take over the world and whose members kill little children of gentiles to drink their blood.

KAY: We have a gulf between how we perceive the human condition. Although I may speak of Russians, Chinese, Africans to make discussion easier, I am ever aware that I reject the concept that nations are anything in and of themselves, with personalities, universal goals, ethics. There are only people who are so busy trying to survive that they must allow spokesmen, who often don't represent a single thing they themselves believe in, to lead them.

We are basically animals bent on survival, our "ethics" based on justifying that survival but little changed from those of the caveman. We justify with religion, regionalism, tribalism, politics, all reprehensible and damaging because of their divisiveness. That's the burden we carry because of better developed brains than those of "lesser" animals who simply, honestly, take what they need and can take.

I feel it futile to assign good intentions and bad intentions and it's futile to think or hope that man will ever be anything other than a savage trying the best way he knows how to survive. We are what we are and change is illusion, as is much in life.

Palestinians and Israelis? Bone to pick? Both sides are simply trying to survive and there is neither a right side or a wrong one, an ethical side or a non-ethical one. Just humans trying to survive. The fittest will do so and we should stay out of it.

EDITOR: What's all that have to do with the pictures of the Palestinian children? What's that got to do with Zionism? Your unconventionalism does leave a wide gulf between us.

KAY: Perhaps concrete thinking vs abstract thinking better describes it, although conventional/unconventional works in some aspects. Here's what I should have said, even though I don't believe it:

"Thanks for forwarding these. Now we can be sure that the rotten militant Palestinians are teaching their children to kill the good Israelis, the chosen people of almighty god, who seek only a quiet place in which to worship and praise. Shouldn't we increase our aid to them?"
Better? More conventional for sure.

EDITOR: Since you don't really believe what you wrote, then you must feel that the Palestinians are the good guys and the Israelis are the ones that are rotten. Actually, your "conventional" statement pretty well tells it like it is.

DAVID: Training young boys in the art of warfare, particularly the kind of warfare they practice in the middle east, is not patriotism. Change that flag to the stars & stripes and put American army uniforms on those kids and I'll bet Kay would scream bloody murder.

GREG: What's really troubling with this is that the media only shows the injured Palestinian kids as a result of Israeli military response to attacks. They refuse to show the war-like children because it shapes the debate against the way they want people to think about who the victim and who the attackers are.

JERRY: Kay definitely missed the point!

AUDREY: I don't think Kay missed the point - I think she just pointed out a few facts we tend to overlook during our first reaction with righteous indignation. Those countries who train their children in warfare and use them as such do consider it "patriotism".
EDITOR: Sorry Audrey, but I can't agree with you.

The militant training of Palestinian children has absolutely nothing to do with patriotism. That training does not teach them any patriotism. It only teaches them to hate and kill Jews and prepares them for the day when, as young men, they will join in a war to destroy the hated Jewish state.

You may not be aware of the fact that the "moderate" Palestinian leadership has vowed that there will be only "one (Palestinian) state from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea."

TREY: I love it when Kay chimes in. The e-mail banter reaches a fever pitch.
AUDREY: So what do you call the required military training of all Israeli teens, male and female? And what do you call the hate for the Palestinian people they are taught? I am certainly not saying either country is right nor that either country is wrong, I am merely commenting on their beliefs and upbringing.

EDITOR: Audrey, you must have been listening to the sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former mentor and a strong Hamas supporter.

Israel has universal military service and whatever training 18-year old Israeli draftees receive is designed to defend their country against the sworn enemies that surround it. Younger teens do not get any military training.

Also, have you been smoking some funny tobacco? Where do you get that Israeli children are taught to hate Palestinians. Whatever hatred exists against Palestinians results from years of Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians. Israeli school children are not taught to hate anybody!

On the other hand, school children throughout the Arab world are taught to hate both Christians and Jews, and their textbooks are full of references to Jews as pigs and dogs.

AUDREY: Actually my info came from a very wealthy aristocratic man from a upper crust family. I also met his young son who was very verbal about his feelings towards the Palestinians. And you know me well enough to know that I am very capable of forming my own thoughts and opinions about many subjects - some I choose to be completely neutral. By the way, the ultimate insult from an Israeli is to call someone "Arab".
Kay's point was "it all depends on how you look at something and label it" and you keep making her point for her.

DAVID: Audrey, can you really not see the difference between training to defend one's homeland and training to attack another's?
Can you truly not see the difference between teaching it is honorable to blow ones self up in a market square, with the goal of taking out civilians, and teaching that it is necessary to fight to protect that market square, even if it means blowing up munitions caches hidden in mosques?
Can you not tell the difference in the "Jews are Dogs and it is honorable to kill them" rhetoric, the stated objective to "push Israel into the sea", and the "we must defend our nation from outside aggression stance taken by Israel?
Israelis being taught hate? I didn't see it in my travels there two years ago. The attitude was one of "we must protect ourselves from outside aggression." The Palestinians are not hated because they are Palestinians. They are hated because they lob rockets and send human bombs into Israeli communities.
AUDREY: No David, I did not say I could not see a difference between the two - what is truly scary is I can see how much they are alike. Although I have not had the good fortune to travel to Israel, I almost married a man from there. We did discuss politics and religion! I was truly amazed at the attitude of the people regarding the fight for the strip of land both countries so desire to have control over.
My main point is that people can label their actions to fit their needs. It is done every day, every minute, in every country!

DAVID: Similar actions are often required for dissimilar needs. One's need to arm to attack and destroy necessitates the need for another to arm to defend and protect. Those who don't get that are as dangerous as the former, for they would stand by spouting ill informed theoretical nonsense, wile allowing atrocities such as those that have occurred in Somalia, Rwanda, Germany, (to name just a few) are committed.

Equating defense with aggression only works for either the aggressor or an uninvolved party sitting safely at home.

CECIL: Just for my own information, who in the Middle East (besides Israel) have we supplied with M-16s as pictured in this batch of propaganda? (Editor's Note: Of the many pictures not reproduced in this blog, some showed Palestinian children being trained to shoot American M-16 assault rifles.)

EDITOR: We have supplied small arms, including M-16s to the Palestinian Authority for their internal security forces. We have also supplied Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates with a whole array of military hardware. Obviously some of these arms have been diverted to Hamas and Hezbollah.

The U.S. not only supplies the Palestinian Authority troops with weapons but we are also providing them with military training.

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