Friday, October 13, 2023

Choosing Sides

In any conflict, the best choice is usually the lesser of two evils.  In this case, it is not a hard choice.

A lot of young people get caught up in "causes" they don't know much about.  For example, the Dali Lama was (or is) a popular "cause" to believe in.  You used to see the bumper stickers everywhere, but lately, not so much.  Turns out, he was just an agent of the CIA, used to annoy China, much as Castro was used to annoy us.  He isn't vegetarian, he is homophobic, and he is misogynist.  He wants to be the Shah or Ayatollah of Tibet.  He is not a nice person.  And Dali Lamas are not elected to office, either!

Similarly, some young folks get caught up in the Palestinian "cause" and posit that mean old Israel isn't being nice to them!  The gloss over acts of terrorism caused by Palestinian extremists, with the whataboutism argument that "Well, yea, they blew up that disco and killed dozens, but the IDF shot that kid who was throwing rocks at them!  He was just throwing rocks!  Of course, a rock to your head can kill you - in fact, it was a favorite form of death sentence in the Bible.  And a rock and a grenade look the same from 50 feet away.

But it is true that Israel has done some bad things and some Israelis are not very nice people - particularly some orthodox Jews who are anti-Gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and apparently anti-everything.  Extremists of every religion are not very nice people.  But they don't represent the majority of the population of Israel, just as Hamas doesn't represent the majority of Palestinians.  But in terms of "lesser of two evils" I throw my weight behind Israel.

The Palestinian "cause" has been flawed from the get-go.  Yassir Arafat took the bulk of "aid money" and put it in a Swiss bank account - for himself.  This still goes on today.  The Palestinian Authority which governs the West Bank and Hamas who "governs" the Gaza strip, use dirt-smeared children as props to get aid money, while secretly (or not so secretly) using that money to buy weapons or just line their pockets.  Palestinian people are pawns in this game - kept in "refugee camps" for decades and kept in conditions of privation, so as to paint Israel as the boogeyman, when in fact, Palestinians are oppressed by their own leadership.  Worse yet, young men are brainwashed into thinking that dying for the cause is a good idea.  Young gay men (and women) are given two choices - strap on a suicide vest and your family gets $50,000 and you are honored as a martyr -or- be tortured and beaten to death and your family shunned.  Nice folks!

This latest attack fits the Hamas model of the past.   Commit an atrocity, goad the IDF into responding, then play the victim.  A well-oiled online troll farm then downplays the Hamas attack, while amplifying Israel's response.  Wash, rinse, repeat. 

When it comes to the entire middle-east, I know which side is more likely to kill me in the name of religion.  Quite frankly, I know this about the USA as well.  When a religion or a party or other organization tells me that I deserve to be executed, I tend not to support them. Funny that.  They act all Pikachu-faced and can't understand why.  "The GOP is losing support among the gays - maybe our stance that they should all be wiped out isn't popular?  Nah!  Must be something else!"

Jews have been hated and used as scapegoats since time began. It wasn't just Hitler. But they remember, all-too-well, what happens when you try to "appease" or negotiate with people whose bargaining position is "you die and everyone in your tribe dies as well!"  There is no "compromise" to be had with that position.  The paradox of tolerance raises its ugly head once again.

So Israel knows that they have to fight to survive - surrounded on all sides by enemies who have vowed their destruction - even if some of those enemies have made noises about softening their position as of late.  Continued acts of terrorism and outright war over the decades have erased what little sympathy Israel has for Palestinians.  The Palestinians created this problem by fleeing Israel - other Arabs stayed behind and indeed, are today Israeli citizens.  The entire "crises" is manufactured, to some extent, and again, nurtured and festered by their leadership to create a perpetual crises.  Ordinary citizens are caught in the middle.  You might feel sorry for them, but then again, the folks in Gaza elected Hamas.

Israel has a right to exist - and a right to defend itself.  Terrorism has no part in the discussion - acts of terror immediately discredit the side committing them.  What Hamas hopes to accomplish with this latest outright act of war and terrorism is unclear - retaliation and condemnation will surely occur and their "cause" such as it is will be set back decades, if not forever.  For this reason, some are arguing that Israel knew this was going to occur and let it happen to gain sympathy.  But I find that hard to believe.  Never attribute to a conspiracy that which can be readily attributed to incompetence. But of course, incompetence can be weaponized - ask the spouse of any "gamer" out there about that!

Whatever Israel or the IDF have done over the years, it pales to beheading babies, raping women, murdering them, and then defiling their corpses.  Hamas has made it all-too-easy for people to think of Palestinians (or Arabs in general) as dirty animals with no conscience. And the first step in any genocide is to make the victims appear to be less-than-human. Again, what Hamas was thinking, strategically, makes no sense.  Or maybe they are just bloodthirsty animals?  You decide.  All I know is, my life expectancy in Gaza would be measured in minutes, whereas in Israel, it would be measured in years.

And this same test works in other conflicts.  Republicans are mysteriously cozying up to Russia (no real mystery - it's all about cash-money!) which is very reactionary, anti-gay and anti-minority (anyone who isn't Russian, for example).  Hmmm... sort of the platform of the GOP these days!  And yes, it is true that Ukraine has its own issues of corruption and malfeasance.  But it is akin to comparing someone who got a speeding ticket to someone who is arrested for mass-murder.  But they are both criminals!  The both broke the law!  Sorry, no sale.

Go sell that shit somewhere else - we're not buying it.  And no, Joe Biden didn't make a nickel from his son's misadventures in Ukraine years ago - the partisan investigations by the GOP came to that conclusion already.  Just because you have 10 "Benghazi!" investigations, doesn't mean anything was wrong, particularly when all ten find no malfeasance.  But to the unwashed masses, if you repeat the word "laptop" enough, well, that makes it a crime.

But again, neither side is "perfect" but one is far, far less imperfect than the other.  The same is true in debates about the United States. We've done a lot of stupid things over the years - as any human-run enterprise is bound to do. And yea, there are a few bad actors in our country.  But compared to say, Russia, the Soviet Union, or Communist China, well, we are the good guys, even if we aren't perfect.

Oddly enough, the nationalists in the US (who are pro-Russia for some reason) shout down any criticism of the United States - failing to realize that one of our greatest strengths and greatest freedoms is our right to express ourselves, even if it is to criticize our own country.  To them, the United States is perfect and never makes any mistakes and is beyond reproach - and anyone who thinks otherwise can go live in Russia!

Well, that was the way they used to think.  Today, these same voices pine for living in Russia (please do!) and claim we are irrevocably flawed and that only a brutal dictatorship can save Democracy and preserve our "freedoms."  Irony is lost on these folks.

But this gets back to where we started.  It is easy to brainwash people by presenting only some of the facts selectively - and using whatabouism to compare beheading babies to shooting a kid who threw a rock.  Think about it in terms of how welcome you'd be in either country.  For me, it is a simple test.  Even if I wasn't gay, I would not want to visit a country that engages in hostage diplomacy.  Maybe it was fun to visit Russia a decade ago, today you'd be arrested as a spy, tortured, and then offered up for a "swap" in exchange for money.  Hamas is no different - and in fact, they swapped one Israeli soldier for hundreds of terrorists. Gee, I wonder what those terrorists are doing today?  And I wonder what will become of the latest hoard of hostages they have accumulated?

That is the odd thing, to me.  Everyone says "We don't negotiate with terrorists!" (as Reagan once said) and then they go and negotiate with them (as Reagan once did).  It seems this cycle of violence in the world will continue, so long as people are used as pawns in a larger game.

UPDATE:  Speaking of pawns, what is the point of going out into the street and protesting for Palestine?  Do people really think that will "make a difference" or change public opinion?  Ditto for protesting for Israel.  I have no doubt Israel will handle this on their own with or without our support