Friday, January 16, 2009

Gaza, Wounded Children and the Tyranny of Liberal/Conservative Labels

[Jack's Gaza Update 18.5 is here.]

Am I a liberal or a conservative? Probably depends on the issue you are discussing.

Gun control? Liberal.
Religious freedom? Conservative.
Gay rights? Conservatively liberal.
And so on.

This is because I, like most sane people, don’t make up my mind based on the label people will attach to me, or the platforms established by parties. I go based on what I perceive, what I know, the options the Torah teaches me, and what I feel.

Nowhere is this more true than regarding Israel and Gaza.

Ordinarily, I am big on standing up for the underdog. I want society to help the indigent, and to create alternatives for people to divert them from crime (there are plenty of sources within Torah for this, but that’s a topic for another time). I have spoken out locally and on the Net regarding both China and Darfur, and believe that Torah stands firmly against the use of force for the sake of personal gain.

But that doesn’t mean I am going to adopt the narrative of the pronounced underdog in Gaza. I may be liberal, but I’m not stupid - I can tell when the underdog is an attack dog, I can identify victim and assailant. Just because you’re weaker doesn’t entitle you to hit the other guy.

This comes up in mind because just this morning, a commenter said that it seems I prefer a legless child to a frightened child.

This has the ring of a liberal’s pithy protest applause line, but it doesn’t portray the reality of the Middle East.

First, I don’t want either obscene scenario, and neither does the Israeli government. For years, as I’ve described here and here, Israel has warned that they would not tolerate rocket attacks, has tried to keep border crossings open, has worked through diplomatic channels and offered self-defeating, one-sided truces. Invasion was a last resort, after those frightened children suffered many thousands of rocket attacks.

Second, the difference is that the frightened child has done nothing wrong, while the legless child is on the side of the underdog aggressor.

The frightened child – who cannot read a book, take a bath, or eat a meal without wondering when the next rocket will hit his home – has done nothing wrong. His country gave Gazans land and greenhouses and opportunity.

The legless child, on the other hand, attended a terrorist training camp and was filmed in a Hamas video holding an AK-47 and shouting “Death to Israel.” He believes that as long as Jews control a single square centimeter of land in the Middle East, that is a criminal occupation. And now, he’s being held as a human shield by a man who launches rockets at the frightened child.

If you will force me to choose between the benign frightened child, and the legless child who wishes to grow up to bomb me into oblivion, then I will make the logical choice.

To tell me that Israel cannot respond with force is to say that an abused wife also may not stand up to her husband, that an abused child cannot stand up to his molester. And blaming the victim is also abuse.

Finally, I must wonder: Does the liberal who asked this question to me, ask it of Hamas and their supporters as well?


  1. This doesn't have to do with the point of the post, but just wondering — what is your "Conservative" perspective on Religious Freedom?

  2. That not every religious practice deserves automatic protection. (Of course, this may be viewed as Liberal, too; depends on your perspective.)

  3. once again i write something for which no reply is necessary or expected. i didn't participate the other night at beth el, i support the israeli viewpoint, and that's it! i just received another invite, this time for k i, another rally for israel, and it actually says the muslim community is invited? i may be a p.c. oddball, but i'm not delusional