Israel, Gaza, Insanity and Sanity (Part 1)

This is not a post about who is right and wrong in Israel-Palestine.

This is a post about how the rest of us talk about who is right and wrong in Israel-Palestine.

Conventional discourse on the subject goes like this:

X is right, good, values life, wants peace, is a victim, and is sane. Y is wrong, bad, doesn’t value life, doesn’t want peace, is a villain, and is insane.

Then, data is selected and presented (and other data ignored or discredited) to prove the proposition. I suppose the goal is to prove that whichever is deemed the right, good, life-valuing, peace-loving, victimized and sane party has the right to continue killing the other.

Which seems ridiculous and tragic, when you think about it.

Another approach to the issue would say:

Both X and Y are a mix of right and wrong, good and bad, valuing some life more than others, acting sometimes as victims and sometimes as villains, and a mixture of sanity and insanity. They aren’t necessarily morally equivalent, but neither is to exempted from moral assessment.

What would be the advantages of starting from this alternative perspective rather than the conventional one?

A further possibility would be to say:

X and Y are acting more or less sanely if one understands their respective goals.

That third possibility would raise this question:

In the pursuit of what goals would the actions of both Israel and Palestine make sense?

I’d like to offer a few thoughts on that question in a day or two. But for now, I hope people will at least consider defecting from the prevailing good-guys/bad-guys mode of discourse. It gets us nowhere we want to be.

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  • Robert Crisp

    Well said, sir. I look forward to reading more of this. I worry when people attach absolutely pure or absolutely evil motives to a group or individuals. We don’t live in a fairy tale.

  • Dave Segal

    “Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong” (Buffalo Springfield).

  • Y. A. Warren

    When will we stop accepting the “sins of the fathers” as our pre-ordained global destiny? We have been avenging our “fathers” since Cain and Abel. It seems time for a new life paradigm.