In my regular trawling of the blogosphere for anti-Israel arguments, I stumbled upon the blog Tikun Olam, belonging to Richard Silverstein. I could fill a post and a half with an account of the outrages I have read there; suffice it here to say that the proprietor is a Jewish kumbayista, a left-wing Jew who still believes, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that before us is a land dispute between two nations, solvable by negotiations and concessions (on the part of mainly one of the sides—you guess which), obstructed by “imperialistic aggression” (on the part of one of the sides—you guess which). I posted a few comments on one of the threads, following a link on LGF (Silverstein derives delight from hearing of FBI visits to Charles Johnson), but quickly withdrew, after an act of censorship (same story as on Daily Kos). I still read his blog as part of my monitoring, and the other day I found an entry worth commenting on, called “IDF: Killer of Women and Children—in Cold Blood”. You can see here quite clearly how the outrage begins with the title. But this post is a commentary rather than a fisking, and it is of general anti-Muslim interest and not just from the Jewish outlook. Also, it concerns one of the comments to the post, and Silverstein’s answer to it, rather than the post itself. Commenter “yosef” says:
Now lets look at the facts. Israel withdrew 100% from Gaza but rocket attacks have continued. This operation is an attempt to stop these attacks.
To which Silverstein replies:
Your comment is typical of the bankrupt thinking of many Israelis, I’m sorry to say. Israel “withdrew” from Gaza. How did it withdraw? Did it allow Gaza to maintain commerce, an independent economy, transportation, free government? Of course not. After withdrawal, Gaza was no more “free” of Israel or Israelis than before withdrawal.
Of course rocket attacks continue. As long as Israel does not negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians in which it agrees to return to 67 boundaries, resistance to Occupation will continue. (All emphases mine —ZY)
Besides a little taste of the outrage of having a fellow Jew—one whom the “Palestinians” would not spare from their sword in distinction to any other—spouting the enemy’s lines, there is here the general dhimmi flaw of unfalsifiability: he does not let the evidence, such as the side-by-side comparison of the greenhouses in the Gaza Strip before and after the Jewish evacuation, change his mind, and worse, he moves the possible point of falsification every time the evidence runs counter to his preconceived notions.
In August 2005, the government of Israel withdrew all Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip—all, with not a single man, woman or child excepted. The end-situation of it was an ironclad case for the “Palestinians” to stop their hostilities against the state of Israel. Yes, there was still the West Bank to evacuate, but that would have been a fait accompli by now if they had used the evacuated Gazan territories for the purposes of building their homeland (the narrative they have peddled to the Western TreasonMedia since the 1960’s). But instead, they destroyed the greenhouses, and they used the evacuated territories for rocket launching grounds and for terrorist training camps. And they’re arming themselves to the teeth with supplies from that successful peace partner of ours, Egypt. Peace for our time indeed.
The destruction of the greenhouses and the continuation of warfare against Israel, even onto Israel’s internationally recognized territories, are the facts. Now comes the question how to take those facts, how to interpret them. For me, those facts were the last (or nearly-last; make the recent Lebanon war the last) nail in the coffin of my reared Leftism: if in the past I had momentary doubts about the willingness of the other side to make permanent peace with the state of Israel, and over the years the doubts grew and grew, now the doubts had become the position which I hold with certainty. It’s very simple: you can’t go yammering for years about how you want a homeland of your own, only to use territories given to you for a homeland as terrorist camps rather than tilling fields, and still maintain your credibility. It’s a matter of walking the walk after you’ve talked the talk. I can’t believe how anyone can see it otherwise.
But they do. People like Richard Silverstein do see things otherwise. He takes the rocket attacks as justified because Israel didn’t “negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians in which it agrees to return to 67 boundaries”. He has shifted the falsification point to which most Israeli Jews have adhered: to hear tell most Israeli Jews throughout the 1990’s, and up until August 2005 at the latest, the “Palestinian resistance to occupation” was justified as long as we were holding all “their” lands. They (including me) said, let’s give them the beginnings of their homeland—enough to start realizing their state dream of “self-determination” (to use a popular PC-ism). Their self-governance would be verified or falsified. In the first years since the Oslo Accords, it was argued that the mainstream of the other side, represented by Arafat (shr"y), wanted peace but Hamas was trying to torpedo it; but now, with the old fish dead and Hamas in power, and the whole of the Gaza Strip given to the Hamas-led “Palestinian Authority” as concession, all former excuses have turned to wear thin. Except for the likes of Silverstein.
So what would it take, Richard? You say we withdraw completely from all the territories Israel took in 1967 and then we’ll have peace, right? But what if we do that and they still keep on attacking us? What will you say then? Knowing Silverstein’s type, I know there’ll always be another excuse, another moving of the falsifying criterion, until it is clear that their theories do not stem from the facts, but are doctrines that need to be maintained in the face of all odds. And that isn’t rational.
Bush said a few days ago, quoted by Mark Steyn, “If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons”. That’s Bush in his true strength. He could have been the Churchill of our generation if he had the nerve to resist paying thought-tax to the PC Police. Alas, the 1960’s hippies are now the powerful Establishment, and they need to be overthrown first. The PC sentiment, like Silverstein, is ever attentive to the “legitimate grievances” of the Muslims, up to the point where none of the common criteria for legitimate grievances are met. The example I quote most is Thailand: none of the Leftist arguments as to the causes of “Arab rage” apply to it. First of all, the jihadis blowing banks up and shooting at monks in Thailand aren’t Arabs, they’re South-East Asians just like their Buddhist victims. There’s no occupation, no “apartheid”, no support for the Iraq War or Israel—it’s a veritable desert for those Leftists accustomed to sustaining their support for “the other” by drinking of the fountain of “legitimate grievances”. What are we going to do with those facts?
What are we going to do with the British Muslims, polled as the most hostile to their country despite having received the best treatment among all Western host states? What are we going to do with the Intifada going on in Paris, the capital of a country that has been kissing Muslim derrière and consistently siding with them against the American and Zionist pig-dogs ever since the late 1960’s? What are we going to do with Rushdie, with Jyllands-Posten, with Pope Benedict XVI, with Neuenfels, with Redeker, with Straw, with Santanchè… and on and on with that list of people who have done nothing but say words, words, words against Islam? Where do we now insert the falsification criterion for the proposition of “reaction to imperialism-driven grievances” or “resistance to colonialist oppression”?
The principle of falsification is central to science, to the endeavor of seeking knowledge about the world. Without the ability to falsify, one’s propositions are statements of mere personal opinion. As a slight digression, skeptics of religion have often said that religions making historical truth claims (such as Judaism) are in a disadvantage compared to experiential religions (such as Gnosticism), because historical scholarship can falsify them; I say that, although it must be admitted to be a risk, it lends greater credibility to the religions in question, because they are ready to take the challenge to prove they are rooted in objective reality rather than subjective feeling. A religion confined to subjective experiences lays no claim to have anything to do with objective reality. Falsification, meaning the ability for anyone to inquire as to the truth of a claim, is the bedrock of gaining knowledge about the reality common to us all.
I know that I once believed as Leftists do, believed in the possibility of defusing all conflicts by listening to the complaints of the other side and addressing them; but I know also that, even in my most convinced days as a Leftist, I posited criteria for falsification, saying, “If the other side does X, then my theory is right; if not, then it’s wrong”. My criteria for falsification were reasonable: those who cry, “Homeland!”, should build a homeland as soon as they get their chance. They didn’t. So I had to rethink my position.
Between the shock of the October 2000 Intifada and the final certainty of the last Lebanon War, my turning-point was the Danish Cartoons. For the Danish Cartoons, very much like the plight of the Buddhist Thais, are a hammer that breaks the glass of the conventional thinking in terms of struggle for material resources. If you were one of those who called for addressing the other side’s grievances after 9/11, then you’re still within the bounds of reason; but those who have stayed untouched by the Danish Cartoon Jihad are—I can’t put it any other way—blind to all reason.
I hope Bush can muster the will to leave all the talk about a “religion of peace”, and turn to fight the “Islamic fascists” with determination. If it is too late for him to become our Churchill, let the way for that person be paved by his insightful, wakeful, rational quote:
“If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons.”
And let the other side listen to our grievances, our truly legitimate grievances, for a change. Let them know that we resent being oppressed by their imperialistic religion, and that we intend to resist it until they retreat from their plans.