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You Probably Think this War is About You

February 17th, 2009 by Sam

PETA Poster - Hebrew

“You keep bitching about people bitching about the war in Gaza. Why don’t you just blog about it?”, said the Mrs, motivational pain in the arse that she is. Well, as much as I’d hate to admit it, she’s got a point. Being an Israeli expat and a left-winger while a war’s going on in Gaza put me in a position to be angry at pretty much everybody: the anti-Zionist folk who believe every Israeli is a bloodthirsty genocidal maniac, the foaming at the mouth right wingers that believe every Palestinian casualty had it coming, the tweet-trolls who somehow think that screaming oversimplified 140-character statements at each other is helpful to anyone. Basically there’s plenty of anger and frustration to go around.

For the duration of this conflict, any time I formulated anything that had enough depth or balance to be considered blogworthy, Lisa Goldman (or, if you read Hebrew, Friends of George) have beaten me to it, doing a far better job than I could. So, while there’s a whole lot I can say about the conflict itself, I’m going to skip right past it and move to a relatively minor and yet somehow infuriating pet peeve that’s bugged me since this thing started – single-minded attention whoring.

PETA, for example, determined that this geopolitical quagmire could be aided with some good, old-fashioned, creamy yummy Humus:

A leading animal advocacy group said the road to Mideast peace begins in a pita. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has requested Israel’s permission to post pro-vegetarian signs on both sides of its barriers with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“Every time that we eat, we can choose not to participate in violence,” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk wrote Wednesday in a letter. “While choosing a falafel sandwich over a lamb kebab doesn’t create instant peace, it reduces the sum total of violence and suffering in the world.”

While I’m all for preventing the needless suffering of tasty, juicy and delicious animals, um, what the hell, people? You do realize not everything ties into your pet cause, right? Maybe, just maybe, standing next to nearest bloody war and exclaiming loudly “HAY GUYS U SHULD LIEK TOTALLY NOT EAT ANIMALS” isn’t the most tactful way to spread your message. I’m not saying this is anywhere near the Phelps level of wrongness, in terms of inappropriate message delivery, but beyond getting some press, I don’t see how this is going to change anyone’s mind about anything beyond whether or not your organization jumped the shark (I’m going with “yes”, by the way. As evidenced by Sea Kittens).

In a similar vein, I was annoyed to see the Liberal blogs here in the States immediately jump on the opportunity to blame Bush for the conflict. Take, for example, this post from Crooks and Liars, posted the day operation “cast lead” started:

Regardless, the Israeli-Palestinian impasse is just another in George W. Bush’s litany of failures – and yet another mess Barack Obama will have to clean up.

I agree that third-party mediation is an essential component of the peace process, and that Bush has been asleep at the wheel on this one, but is he really the first one to blame about this? I wouldn’t say he’s in the list of top 20 people to blame for the conflict. I get it, Bush sucks, and will leave a long and enduring legacy of suckage that we will see for years to come, but there’s a whole lot of other people who also suck. Please, let them have a turn.

As for the war itself, I honestly still don’t think I can write anything that’s eloquent or informative enough to be useful, but I’d like to at least veer folks away from all the wrong places. Anyone who focuses exclusively on Israeli or Palestinian atrocities probably isn’t worth listening to. Anyone saying both sides deserve this cyclical nightmare also aren’t what I’d call analytical geniuses. Still, there’s plenty of good writing out there. Any Jewish or Muslim blogger willing to acknowledge that both sides have done their share of damage is definitely worth a read (again, Lisa Goldman comes to mind, as does The Muslim Guy). Check out both Haaretz and Al Jazeera, and make sure to take both with a grain of salt. The bottom line here is “stay informed, fer God’s sake”. Having an opinion is easy, but forming a solid, well informed opinion isn’t. Seeing all sides of an issue, especially the sides you don’t agree with, is an essential component to making a good argument. There’s plenty of intertubes to go around, so go hog-wild. Get your learn-on. I’ll be trying my damnedest to do the same.


One Response to “You Probably Think this War is About You”

  1. Chris

    Why am I suddenly craving Sea Kittens and Humus?