JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE PROPORTIONALITY OF ISRAEL’S RESPONSES: AN ARGUMENT BY SCHOLASTICS DEVOID OF HUMANITY AND ETHICS – AND THE ONLY WAY TO END THE HIDEOUS VIOLENCE   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

This is like scholastics counting the angels on the head of a pin.

Only here, misery and death on a massive scale are involved, actually making it a rather dreadful discussion.

These relatively ineffective, home-made rockets – it is altogether wrong to call them “missiles” for they have no real guidance systems as do the deadly American-supplied, Israeli Hellfire missiles – are police matters, no war matters.

They could be treated as a police matter if Israel would simply establish normal relations with its neighbors, something it has never genuinely pursued in my view.

Here is a parallel situation, a very close one actually, that makes the point of how irrational and savage Israel’s responses are. In America’s ghettos, horrible crimes are common. In the Chicago where I grew up, for example, it became common for sewer covers – or large pieces of pavement – to be rolled to highway overpasses and dropped on the cars below.

A number of times, there were ghastly deaths and accidents. That is why today all overpasses are covered with chain-link fencing, something going back to the 1960s.

But imagine, instead, the authorities having responded by calling in the National Guard to bomb a section of the ghetto, killing many innocent people? That is precisely what Israel does, time and time again. That’s why Rabbi Lerner rightly called the policy stupid.

Israel alienates most of the world with this barbarism, especially the liberal-minded intellectuals of the world who should be its friends. It also creates new enemies by the score: it’s the principle of revenge at work.

And time is not on Israel’s side. The Palestinians, like most third-world people have a high birth rate. Israelis have the birth rates typical of all advanced countries – that is, not high enough to replace its own population in the long term.

The reason for the disparity is an economic concept called Demographic Transition. It has many long-term implications. Just one of these, we see today, is the youthful nature of the Palestinian population. When Israel bombs, it kills and maims kids, unavoidably, and it disgusts the world, as it should.

And it sows a new crop of enemies, young people being very headstrong and emotional.

All of Israel’s ugly policies have failed, from tearing down people’s homes to refusing permits for business and construction in occupied areas to blockades. This way of behaving is a one-way trip to nowhere.

I’ll turn the argument in your column of the other day around, Daniel. All Israel has to say is let Palestine exist and let them choose their government.

Then negotiate and deal legally as any neighboring governments do in the world. No savagery, just words and legal agreements. It doesn’t matter what Hamas thinks of Israel so long as it abides by the rules, which there is every reason on earth to believe they will. They have tried in the past to have an understanding with Israel, and they are rejected as not being worthy of talking to.

I have to say, Daniel, I was disappointed in published responses to your commentary the other day.

It was clear that you selected favorable ones and ignored others, at least at the point I looked. Hardly a dialogue, and what’s the point of having a comment facility if it is treated that way, as it is regularly by The Times regular columnists?

You are fair and generous in allowing responses to your blog, but that mode of thinking never extends to reportage or columnists in The Times.

Maybe it should. Toronto’s Globe and Mail, a fine and distinguished paper, allows virtually free comment on stories and columns – only filth and libel and prejudice are excluded.

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