I just fisked a girl named Maria…

In my piece the other day about the Palestinian woman who attempted to blow up an Israeli hospital, commenter Maria brought up a lot of interesting points. Now, I respect and appreciate her contributions, but I feel the only way to properly answer her is to use the classic “Fisking” technique, of doing a bit-by-bit rebuttal. However, I will attempt to be considerably less brutal than that style is customarily known for. And Maria, please accept that I am simply seizing on your comments to repeat some things I believe in most strongly, and bear you no malice.

That being said, let the Fisking begin!

I appreciate everyone’s responses. I think it’s wonderful that we care enough about what is going on in the world to take the time to discuss these issues with complete strangers. Far better for you to disagree with me than to resort to apathy. We can all learn from each other.

I agree wholeheartedly, Maria. I sincerely hope you are as willing to learn as you are willing to teach.

It doesn’t irk me that not one of you agree with anything I have to say – I believe it was Thomas Watson who once said, “Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of crackpot than the stigma of conformity.” What is frustrating, however, is that not one of you were able to craft your well-thought out responses in an effort to further intellectual curiosity without insulting me one way or another, primarily with your clever use of sarcasm, especially about my age.

That was probably a poor choice, but I can understand it. As a former 20-year-old college student, I have to admit that I “knew” a hell of a lot more than others would admit. It took YEARS for me to unlearn that arrogance.

I truly resent that you would assert that I just regurgitate what I’m taught in class, primarily because of how ridiculous that sounds to me. For one thing, I believe my thoughts and ideas deserve more credit than that, and even if you don’t agree with me, at least let me claim what is mine. Also, it’s strange that you would say this because what is taught in class is exactly what all of you have to say here. The opinions I have formed have not been spoon-fed to me by teachers who largely believe the same things you do. Much of my analysis on the situation comes from a simple combination of reading the paper every morning and having an open mind. I’m willing to consider your thoughts, are you willing to consider mine? You don’t have to agree with what I think, but you should be able to suspend your horizons long enough to entertain the other side. Otherwise this isn’t a discussion – it’s just ranting.

But Maria, views are shaped by experiences, and as someone who hasn’t been a legal adult too long, you don’t have that many. You can supplement them only so much with readings, and in college those readings tend to be filtered by your teachers. They steer you towards volumes of material, all of which tend to reinforce each other. From there, it’s incredibly easy to start mistaking quantity for quality, and the notion that “if so many people say it, it must be so.”

In academia, little boys to say that the emperor is naked are in extremely short supply.

The Western world has a tendency to judge a lot of things that happen in the Middle East largely because of its severe misunderstanding of the culture there. What the Palestinians do with suicide bombing is not condoned…at least not by me. I would never tell my children that bombing a hospital for a cause of any kind is acceptable or that it is appropriate. It is not. No one is saying that killing innocent civilians is alright, at least I’m not. I hope that you can spend more time looking at what I’m trying to say and less time developing a rebuttal – the mark of a good listener. And capitalizing your words doesn’t make me read them any more, any better or any easier.

I’m glad you don’t condone suicide bombing. But the Palestinians do — by thought, word, and deed, on a regular basis. And they are incredibly indiscriminate about who they kill.

No, that’s not fair. They do discriminate about who they kill. They choose the most vulnerable, most innocent. They blow up buses. They blow up pizza places. They blow up parties. They blow up religious celebrations. They blow up night clubs. And now they tried to blow up a hospital. They have an addiction to atrocities, and find themselves struggling to find the next fix, each time craving something even more horrific.

I plunged deep into the darkest recesses of my mind, going face-to-face with the ugliest, cruelest, most inhumane part of my own soul after the Beslan school massacre to try to anticipate the next atrocity, and came up with “hospitals.” Now I find that prediction has come true, and I simply don’t have the courage to do it again and try to foretell what will happen next. Let someone else do it; I’ve taken my turn.

You are right, killing innocent children and medics who are there to help is wrong. It is a mature insight to make, but I believe it requires even more maturity not to settle for scratching the surface on a topic like this. Don’t just say it’s wrong – but take it to the next level. Why is this happening?

Maria, here’s a little hint: any time you say something is wrong, then follow it up with a “but,” you’re helping to rationalize and justify the wrongdoing.

If you’re looking into exploring the root causes to prevent future occurrences, that’s fine. Just be very careful you do not ever take your eyes off the fact that something is wrong and must be condemned and stopped.

Why are Palestinians acting this way?

Because, to them, it works.

And is Israel not retaliating?

Because of international pressure “not to perpetuate the cycle of violence.” Palestinians killing Israelis is to be condemned; Israelis killing Palestinians is an atrocity.

Have Israelis not also killed Palestinians?

You’re oversimplifying things here. The Israelis, for the vast majority of cases, target those Palestinians who pose a threat to Israelis — either those who pose an imminent threat, or those who organize, orchestrate, and order those threats. The Palestinians, on the other hand, focus on killing Israelis who pose no threat whatsoever. To equate both as “killings” is beyond moral relativism, it is an obscenity.

Yes, it is wrong to kill children – but instead of whining and complaining about how immoral Palestine is, why don’t we take some steps to think about the root of the problems between Israel and Palestine – why not ask the kinds of questions that result in better communication. Palestine feels as though Israel not only poses a threat to their survival, but to the advancement of any Arab nation in the region. This is not rocket science, this is not new news, this is nothing that isn’t obvious. If Israel didn’t exist, the Arab world would be quite different. I’m not suggesting we delete Israel from the map, but simply trying to put things in prospective.

But Maria, “delete Israel from the map” is EXACTLY what the Palestinians want. Go look at their web site — every single map of the area shows Palestine covering the entire region from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, with no Israel whatsoever. The charter of the PLO specifically calls for the extermination of Israel. Most Arab nations are still officially at war with Israel. Their long-standing and long-stated goal is the extermination of Israel.

With that in mind, what is there to negotiate? To come to an understanding about? Just how they plan to kill all the Jews? When your opening position is “we want to exterminate you all,” negotiations are a bit problematic. “OK, Achmed, you say you want to burn all the Jews. How about we settle for just shooting them?”

And Israel is an obstacle to Arab progress. Go look at a map, Maria — here’s a good one. Then look at an almanac. There are about six million people in Israel, and over 1.1 billion Muslims. That’s about a 183-to-one ratio. If you took out the non-Jews in Israel, it’d probably push it closer to 200 to one. Are the Jews that much superior to the Arabs that they can hold THAT much sway?

The only way you’re going to understand your enemy is by walking in their shoes. Since you probably don’t want to do that, why not simply broaden your intellectual horizon and ask yourself why these kinds of things are happening, and think of ways to right those wrongs. This is a challenge Israel refuses tackle. As well the United States.

I don’t need to put on a metaphysical suicide bomb to understand what is going on. There are numerous reasons:
1) The Muslim mindset says that once a land is Muslim, it is forever Muslim. They once held sway over Israel, and the continuing existence of a Jewish state is an ongoing affront and insult to Islam.
2) The Arabs have spent centuries killing each other. (Jordan killed far more Palestinians in the Black September uprising than Israel has in 60 years, for example) Israel is the best thing that could have happened to them — it gives them someone else to kill besides each other.
3) Islamic culture is an “honor” culture. They have repeatedly attempted to destroy Israel, and failed each time. By refusing to let themselves be slaughtered, Israel has given them an unforgivable insult.
4) The Palestinians have, in their attempt to salve their pride, have bought into the “Palestinian history” myth. There never WAS a nation called “Palestine.” Those people who call themselves “Palestinians” are, historically, from what is now Egypt and Jordan, among other places. Look it up — there is NO historical evidence of there ever being a nation/state/people called “Palestine.” There is no history, no listing of rulers, no commercial ties, no wars, no currency — nothing. And if you do find reference to “Palestinians” (such as in the New York Times from the 1920’s), dig a little deeper and you will most likely find out that those “Palestinians” are Jews.

When I said Islam is mispracticed, that does not mean it is mispracticed by every Muslim. If this is something you believe, then you have a severe misunderstanding of the religion and should probably take a few introductory courses on Islam before you argue such.

Much of the Muslim world DOES NOT condone what Palestine does – but they also don’t exactly love Israel either.

The rest of the Muslim world hates the Israelis, and hates the Palestinians as much. That’s why after 60 years, they’re still kept in “refugee camps” and denied the chance to become citizens. If they’re allowed to assimilate, then the Arabs lose their moral club to beat Israel over the head with.

When Israel was created, about 1.6 million refugees were created. They were forced to pack up whatever they could carry on their backs and flee from war, leaving their ancestral homes and belongings.

Sixty years later, fully half of those people (and their descendants) are still refugees, forced to live in settlements, camps, and other “temporary” shelters, awaiting to return to their “homes.” But the other half CHOSE to stop being victims, settled in to their new homes, and started over, rebuilding their lives and rarely looking back.

The first group are Palestinians. The second group are former Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Lebanese, Saudis, Iranians, Libyans, and other nationalities — but they’re now Israelis.

Poverty does breed terrorism. Look at Afghanistan. That country is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it was home to the Taliban. Just because the people who hijacked the planes on Sept. 11 were rich, doesn’t mean this principle does not apply to them – in fact it does. When I say poverty breeds terrorism, I don’t just mean individual poor people become terrorists.

Poverty does not breed terrorism. It breeds foot soldiers, spear-carriers, cannon fodder for whatever cause that’s recruiting. Extremism breeds terrorism, and it takes middle-class and upper-class extremists to organize, recruit, and lead the poor into terrorism. Osama Bin Laden came from a very wealthy family. The 9/11 hijackers were almost uniformly middle-class or higher.

The concept should be applied much more macrocosmically. The region is very poor, is not well-educated and is consistently targeted by the Western world. This doesn’t make terrorism okay, and it certainly doesn’t mean every Muslim is a terrorist. But it does help paint a clearer picture.

No, the region is very wealthy, in terms of natural resources. In those terms, the poorest nation is probably Israel. But they have such a high standard of living because they have embraced capitalism and democracy. The other nations are tyranny and dictatorships, and therefore concentrate the wealth in the hands of a very, very few while the rest live in squalor.

Yes, Muslims have also been invaders of other countries. A million years ago. This argument is so moot, I’m not sure it’s worth even mentioning. Who wasn’t invading anyone at that time?

“A million years ago?” Try TODAY. Look at Europe — the Netherlands and France, for example. Muslims are still “invading” and “conquering” other nations. Now they’re just doing it quietly. There are whole regions of France where non-Muslims dare not set foot — especially women. In the Netherlands, a film-maker who dared make a movie about Muslim oppression of women was murdered in the streets.

The resource I am talking about Westerners ransacking is oil. Surprise, surprise.

Yes, it’s all about OIL. That’s why oil prices are at record lows now, and we tossed off our historical ties to Israel — not only do they not have any oil, but they are hated by those with oil.

What the Palestinians are doing is not okay. But instead of yelling about it so judgmentally, why don’t we take some steps to correct the root of the problems, however far back they reach historically? If your child misbehaves, are you going to give them a 5-day time-out and then send them off? Isn’t it important to spend less time punishing and more time correcting?

Maria, you’re confusing your points here. You talk about looking back at the “historical” roots of the problem, but a minute ago you were saying that those events happened a “million” years ago and are moot today. Try to remain consistent.

And as far as dealing with the “root causes:” there’s a medical model that fits rather well here: stabilize the patient first. If you have a man suffering a heart attack, you don’t talk to him about exercise and diet until AFTER you get his heart beating normally and keep him from dying. Otherwise, all you’re left with is a moderately interesting autopsy report for the official record.

This whole bit about the woman and the hospital….it’s really such an oversimplification. Taking an isolated case such as this and then applying standards to both sides is really unfair to the situation. The average relationship between a Palestinian and an Israeli is not like this. Far from it, even.

The hospital story isn’t an isolated case, it’s emblematic. It’s symbolic. It is the pinnacle of a long chain of events. When one is discussing the straw that breaks the camel’s back, one doesn’t focus on that last straw, and speculate about what innate trait of that straw caused the breaking.

And honestly, can you really say Israel is this loving, giving, caring country who has no faults in the situation and seeks only to provide health care to Palestinians? I don’t see how that’s even remotely arguable, but I invite you to prove me wrong.

Here you’re succumbing to the perfect being the enemy of the good. Is Israel completely blameless? No. Have they done wrong in the past? Yes. I could give you numerous examples, but I’m sure your professors have given you all I could cite and numerous more. (Some might even be true — check out the “Jenin Massacre” for an example of the fake ones.) But the wrongdoings of Israel are vastly overwhelmed with the wrongs they have suffered. Further, the mere facts that there is a (semi) legitimate Palestinian government that lives side-by-side with Israel, and the population of the Occupied Territories has steadily increased, and the standard of living in the Occupied Territories has steadily improved, speaks volumes about Israel. Most other nations, given the provocations they have borne, would have simply wiped those lands clean, driven off or killed the residents, annexed it outright, and settled it completely.

I am open to your ideas.

I sincerely hope so.

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