The debate between supporters and critics of Israel is typically couched in the same grammar: Either the Jewish state is acting defensibly, in its own self-interest, or it is not. Thus Tom Segev writes in Ha’aretz that while the latest assault on Hamas military and political infrastructure is morally justified, it represents a strategic blunder. A major fallacy ensues from this one-sided premise, which is that Israel is the sole stimulus for Hamas response, and therefore it alone bears the responsibility for the undeniable misery in Gaza.I admit to using this grammar, though I will not admit to laying responsibility entirely with Israel. I think I use that grammar because I identify with Israel, and I'm talking about the choices I would make were I more than merely identified with them. (But I hadn't noticed that.)
But even if this is the reason, not because we infantalize the Palestinians to render them incapable of moral action or because we internalize a myth of superordinate Jewish power (both mistakes, however, seem common), are we focusing on Jews in a strange way? Recently, Deborah Lipstadt wrote:
I must admit when people first began to try to recover their property, bank accounts, and artwork I was a bit discomforted. It was wrong of me to feel that way but I admit to it. As all the attention was focused on material goods it seemed that the tragic loss of life was being overshadowed by the loss of property.The idea of Zionism was to make Jews normal. Normal people make tragic mistakes, driven by circumstances sometimes partially in their control.
[On some level I had internalized antisemitic charges and was responding to that. But more of that on another occasion.]
One day -- I don't remember what brought about the change -- I recognized I was dead wrong.
Heck, this belonged to those families, why shouldn't they get it back? There's nothing wrong and everything right with their saying: this is mine. It was stolen from me and I want it.
But, also, an interesting nugget from the post that was news to me (despite being, apparently, much remarked-upon):
A much remarked-upon fact of the last 72 hours is that Israel’s ultra-left-wing party Meretz has endorsed Operation Cast Lead, a development that should concern partisans of both sides.