Sunday, August 06, 2006

 

The Left and the Empathy Gap

Some people on the left wonder why so many Jews view the left as potentially anti-Semitic even as they miss the very real anti-Semitism of the right. How does left-wing skepticism about Zionist claims translate to anti-Semitism? Isn't such skepticism even a form of philo-Semitism as it is the hard un-bigotry of high expectations as opposed to the soft bigotry of low expectations (which, if this conservative talking point applies anywhere, it applies to the moral relativism some on the right have concerning Israel)?

This could be how such skepticism is meant, but it is now how it is perceived, and, (cf. South Park: "the reason why we hate Americans is that Americans don't even understand why we hate them"), that so many on the left don't even understand how such skepticism could be perceived as anti-Semitism is why such skepticism is perceived as anti-Semitism.

It used to be called "the Jewish problem": "where do Jews belong?" Some Jews feel more comfortable with the right than the left because the neo-conservative and fundamentalist dominated right wing of present day America, even if their answer is hateful, is willing to answer this question in a manner other than "no-where", i.e. by answering "Israel". What is the left's answer to this question? History has shown that, even in Germany, which was arguably the most tolerant country to Jews, Jews could easily become personae non gratae and become deemed worthy of extinction. Given this history of not being accepted anywhere in the world -- which, not to minimize the sufferings of the Palestinians and the Lebanese, no Arab group would have experienced but for the fact that Arabs did not accept Arab refugees at a time when Israel accepted Jewish refugees, Finland accepted Karelian refugees, etc., and where is the left wing on the problem of repatriation of Karelian refugees? -- is it any wonder that Jews react so viscerally (and Israel responds so disproportionately) when Israel is attacked? "If we cannot be safe in Israel, where can we be safe?"

I know what my fellow lefties are thinking here, because I'm thinking it too: "what about the Lebanese? What about the Palestinians? Don't they deserve a place to be safe?" Indeed, Jewish ethical teachings mandate that if we Jews really don't like feeling unsafe, we won't make other groups feel unsafe (and thus one might come to doubt the sincerity of those who claim they are only looking after Israel's safety and claim to adhere to Judaism). But this immediate "yeahbuttal" to Jewish concerns when Israel is attacked is indicative of a lack of empathy. Why must we lefties not even pause to consider the emotional impact any attack on Israel has on us Jews?

The reason why so many Jews cannot consider the left to be their friends is that one cannot be a true friend to another unless one has empathy for another. One even must have empathy for one's enemies (thus ironically the right fares better with many Jews because it views Jews as an enemy whereas the left doesn't even seem to grant us that), if only as a matter of strategy (at which strategy Israel often fails: many in Israel seem to think they understand the "Arab mindset", but Israel consistently fails to bend the hearts and minds of the Arab world except in a manner to make them more determined to destroy Israel -- and I should hope that's not the point, otherwise Israel does not deserve our support as Jews ... it's God's place to harden the heart of Pharaoh, not our own). But to have no empathy for someone or some group is to write them off as inhuman and worthy only of extermination: who can forget the possibly apocryphal response of the Nazi minister asked if he loved the Jews? "Jesus said love thy enemy and love thy neighbor: the Jews are not my neighbors nor are they my enemies". Many on the left may detect this mindset amongst some Zionists toward the Arab world (cf. my last parenthetical remark), but many Jews detect this mindset on the left. Is it no wonder that many Jews view the left as anti-Semitic?

Left wing criticisms of Israel are often fair enough, even the double standard toward Israel has its roots in Jewish teaching (e.g. the traditional Ashkenazic interpretation of Tritero-Isaiah, who seems to have been a left-wing humanistic materialist). But when a left-winger so clearly doesn't have the empathy to have stopped to seriously consider "the Jewish problem", we Jews respond accordingly and wonder why the lefty cannot even treat us as an enemy (as the right does) and begin to think of such leftists, and even that wing of the political spectrum as a whole, as potentially anti-Semitic.

FWIW and why I didn't title this post "on left wing anti-Semitism", us Jews are not the only group to which the left displays a lack of empathy. Many on the left are not empathetic toward religious conservatives. Certainly those politicians, ironically generally Democrats, who rail against "anti-religious, secular elements of the Democratic party" seem a bit confused (who are these anti-religious politicians?) or at least are using the GOP culture wars definition of anti-religious wherein support for the strong disestablishment of even any hint of religion is deemed anti-religious even when said support is voiced by religious people and such disestablishment is what makes religion so strong in this country, e.g., relative to places like Europe where religion was historically established. But that Sen. Obama likes to fight strawmen doesn't indicate the left is friendly toward religion. While we may vehemently disagree with the quest by the religious right for public religiosity, if we even want to frustrate that quest, we must understand why so many people support that cause: we must empathize with religious conservatives. When we fail to even empathize with them, we not only "mis-understimate" the draw of a program we can and must defeat, we also send a message to "heartland, church goin' 'murkins" we don't even respect them enough to view them as opponents, but rather we lack any consideration of them as fellow humans. Is it any wonder then that the very people who would be most helped by our programs think we hate them?

Comments:
The morning I heard Louise Arbour talking about the situation and pointedly refering to Israel and Lebanon as "the two belligerents" and avoiding using the names of the countries, something suddenly made sense to me. Israel isn't going anywhere, neither are the Palestinians. The old formula of whether one or the other had a right to exist or a right to a homeland ignores the reality that they are and have been there for the past sixty years.

Arbour's use of the term carries the implications of "whatever the past was we are alive today and we have to stop the killing,". One of the biggest obstacles to any kind of peace is that so many lives have been taken, so many lives destroyed that any cheap politician or would be "spiritual" leader can rally people on the most base of motives to continue the killing for their own ends.
Can it be done? I don't know but it has to be tried.

If anyone I know started talking about moving to either Israel or Lebanon I'd use any argument I could to talk them out of it. Who would want a friend or family memeber to move to a place caught up in a non-ending cycle of violence and the military despotism that must eventually bring?

I don't see any prospect of George W. Bush or Condoleeza Rice playing any kind of positive role in the Middle East or anywhere. They are about as discredited a regime as exists in the world. Who is going to believe a word they say about anything?
 
Alberich wrote:

Certainly those politicians, ironically generally Democrats, who rail against "anti-religious, secular elements of the Democratic party" seem a bit confused (who are these anti-religious politicians?) or at least are using the GOP culture wars definition of anti-religious wherein support for the strong disestablishment of even any hint of religion is deemed anti-religious even when said support is voiced by religious people and such disestablishment is what makes religion so strong in this country, e.g., relative to places like Europe where religion was historically established.

Perhaps this sentence is too short. I take it you are saying "...relative to places like Europe where religion was historically established" by political authoritarians.

Would you briefly explain to me the differentiating characteristics of; religion, state religion and ideology? Is the ultimate goal of a religion to flourish in a secular state?

Alberich says:

...we must empathize with religious conservatives.

Do religious conservatives empathize with non-religious conservatives? Would you expect such empathy from them towards non-religious conservatives? If the answers to these questions are no aren't you suggesting that the left engage in some sort of patronizing, clever manipulation?

Through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, I believe both running mates of both major parties in every presidential election have been self-professed Protestants with the exceptions of the Catholics Smith and Kennedy and the Jewish Lieberman. How much empathy for religious conservatives is it going to take?

I believe a lot of Christian conservatives do not want to be empathized with, they want, in their own minds, to be forever under siege.
 
Whoops, I come to think of it both Ferraro and Kerry are Catholics.
 
If the answers to these questions are no aren't you suggesting that the left engage in some sort of patronizing, clever manipulation?


[...]

I believe a lot of Christian conservatives do not want to be empathized with, they want, in their own minds, to be forever under siege.
- cmike

cmike ... do I know you in real life? ;)

Anyway, I'll hopefully respond to your questions when I have the time they deserve, but the short and very flip answer to the first one I've quoted above is "yes" (cf. the reason Jeremiah gives for "turning the other cheek") -- if Christian conservatives forever want to be under siege, then a show of empathy is fiendishly clever, eh?

Actually, the point about candidates kinda goes along with what some of us have been saying about Obama's now infamous strawmen: which Democratic politicians are anti-religious?

But there is a difference between sympathy and empathy ... what I am seriously asking is for politicians, not to pander to the religious right (which pandering by Democrats they would not respect anyway) but to understand where they are coming from ... even if where they are going is so wrong headed.
 
Olvlzl -- word!
 
in re cmike's excellent and thought provoking questions (sorry, but I'm punting a lot here):

Perhaps this sentence is too short. I take it you are saying "...relative to places like Europe where religion was historically established" by political authoritarians.

I guess this is fair enough, but I tend to take the position that any serious state establishment of religion is inherently authoritarian as it is the state telling you what it would prefer you believe. And, cf. the anti-gun control lobby, when something is inherently authoritarian, only authoritarians will execute it. Thus, I would say your addition is rather redundant, nu?

Would you briefly explain to me the differentiating characteristics of; religion, state religion and ideology?

Wow -- I guess I should consider this as a possible blog topic ... it's too involved for a comment (or that's how I'll punt it for now)

Is the ultimate goal of a religion to flourish in a secular state?

Depends on the religion, the definition of ultimate goal and your definition of flourish. I would argue that pretty much any religion will flourish (in terms of attracting a dedicated following) more in a secular state, but whether that's what it views as flourishing or as it's ultimate (as opposed to current) goal is another question.

Do religious conservatives empathize with non-religious conservatives? Would you expect such empathy from them towards non-religious conservatives?

Somewhat yes. My experience with religious conservatives is that they do tend to identify with secular, country-club type conservatives. I am not sure why: the residual Calvinism that many religious people (even ostensibly rather anti-Calvinist types like Catholics and Jews) of the politically conservative variety have leads them to view the rich as deserving winners and leads them to wish they were rich, think about being rich and thus empathesize with the rich?

Religious conservatives generally, in my experience, do not naturally empathesize with liberals, though: you can walk them through your mindset and then they can become empathetic, but usually they don't really get what makes us tick. But, from my experience, many religious conservatives are not dismissive of empathizing with liberals (unlike many liberals -- who normally understand the distinction between empathy and sympathy, but when it comes to religious conservatives or Zionists suddenly forget that distinction -- don't deem religious conservatives worthy of empathy: and will thus have the same luck winning the hearts and minds of middle 'murkins as 'murka has of winning the hearts and minds of those people whom we wonder "why they hate us" when the answer is, as South Park put it, "we hate you because you don't even know what we hate you" -- a line, which in my experience many 'murkins don't understand but about which foreigners say "so true") and would rather like to understand us better, but they simply cannot understand us until we explain ourselves to them: in which case they catch on quickly (but also forget quickly).

I had another answer regarding this question which I thought was quite an insight, but I managed to forget it ...

How much empathy for religious conservatives is it going to take?

As I said above, our problem isn't that we run anti-religious candidates ... that's the problem, IMHO, with the Sen. Obama approach: he's tilting at strawmen rather than addressing the real issue. What we need is empathy, not pandering: we need to understand at a very intuitive and personal level the attraction social conservativism has to people. If we seem understanding, we'll get far more votes than we would by pandering. Also, rather than pandering, we can learn what it is about liberalism that may attract people who, while not social conservatives themselves, are currently more attracted to that side than ours: perhaps if we play up certain aspects of our political ideology, we'll get a lot of voters we'd never have thought we'd get ... and without having to sacrifice any liberal principles (which would be rightly seen as pandering, and not appreciated anyway).
 
Why do I get the feeling that the liberal Jews are more concerned with the well being of the Palestinians than they are the well being of the 3 missing soldiers?

And as for the comments made by many and echoed by Queen No'or repeatedly during her current book tour that they were tossed out of their homeland in 1948.. that is a distortion of the truth. They left willingly because they were told that the gov't would be overthrown...and they wouldnt be safe during the invasion. Then once Israel defended itself, these people who werent allowed in any other Arab countries started complaining that they were barred from their homes.

Lets get our facts and priorities straight.
 
I'm sure some liberal Jews are indeed more concerned about the plight of the Palestinians than the plight of the 3 Israeli soldiers. And many non-Jewish liberals certainly are. And the flip-side is indeed my point: lefties need to be more empathetic about why some of us Jews have the priorities we do.

OTOH, if indeed Israel's priority ought to be the safety of those 3 soldiers, how is bombing the heck out of Lebanon going to ensure the safety of those soldiers: unless the idea is that Hezbollah would say "if you wanna see those soldiers alive, you better stop", Israel stops and gets the soldiers back? That somehow seems unlikely though. I suspect that the bombing would have the opposite effect, wouldn't you? If Israel's priority is the soldiers, then it's certainly acting loopy about getting them back ... and if Israel's priority is something other than those 3 soldiers, would you say Israel needs to get it's priorities straight?

They left willingly because they were told that the gov't would be overthrown

If Native Americans living oversees started returning to the US and you were told that the US government would be overthrown by the Native Americans and there would likely be some (FSU ref coming up) Tomahock chopping upon the change of power, wouldn't you leave? Would it be willingly? That's a rather nitpicky point to say either yes or no, isn't it?

Perhaps we Jews have no obligation to have any more concern for the plight of millions of Palestinians than for the three soldiers, but again, a little empathy, if only to really know what Israel's up against, would be at least useful if not morally obligatory (whatever happened to remembering the stranger?): how would you feel if you were placed in a situation where you had to make a fairly quick decision between fleeing your home or facing what could be a very bloody war? Remember the fate of those who did not or could not leave South Lebanon ...

That the Arab nations never did accept the population transfer, when similar transfers were the norm of the day, indicates the degree to which the plight of the Palestinians is, indeed, really the fault of the Arab world. But that doesn't make it any less real ... and surely you can see how the Palestinian people might blame Israel's very existance for what happened? I know of many who simply cannot or will not: and this lack of empathy is really problematic, even from a strategic point of view: how do we deal with the Palestinians if we do not fully grasp from where they are coming?
 
It seems that you are more concerned with the soldiers, so my comments are directed towards Jewish liberals who make a bigger deal about the Palestinians than the soldiers.

But, if there was a conspiracy against my country and I was told to leave... I would report it to the gov't immediately if I knew of such a plot! That is called terrorism, and not reporting it is called treason and terrorism is what we and the Israelis are trying to eradicate.

And a lot of these Palestinians know they have a better life in Israel than the Arab countries. I get a kick out of Queen No'or flashing those pretty eyes at Larry King talking about the plight of the Palestinians who were kicked out of their homeland, yet she seems to not say much about her father-in-law's role in their homelessness.
 
One more item.. and this doesn't pertain as much to you as your more left leaning friends...

I see a plot has been thwarted today that involved blowing up a number of planes departing from England. This is the work of terrorists, and further proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the killing of terrorists is extemely justified.

The terrorists whose lives your liberal chaverim want to spare are the ones who will blow up the next set of planes.
 
I see a plot has been thwarted today that involved blowing up a number of planes departing from England. This is the work of terrorists, and further proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the killing of terrorists is extemely justified. - Nate

Maybe your comment does apply to me as well.

How does this prove anything about the justifiability of killing terrorists, e.g. outside of the regular procedures for capital cases?

The plot was thwarted presumably by diligent law enforcement efforts (with maybe a dose of intelligence sharing). The presumed bad guys were caught and will stand trial. How is this any different, except in scale, than other people who want to kill people? Are you suggesting that we bomb Newark 'cause it has a high murder rate? Or is the difference that a "terrorist" wants to do this? Why? To terrorize people, in which case going berserk in one's response certainly is what they want, nu?

Indeed, the calculus of the matter is that by bombing places with high "civilian" populations to smithereens, you are inducing more people to hate Israel, the West, etc. and become terrorists. This doesn't excuse terrorism, but people don't become terrorists for kicks and giggles and if you are serious about stopping terrorism; ya gotta be serious about making sure that as soon as we capture, kill, or what have you a crop of terrorists, they are not replaced with yet more terrorists. Those rocket attacks on Israel are not to be minimized as some on the left do, but look at how Israel's responding to those attacks: they are striking back with full and disproportionate force. Now Israel's response is somewhat justifiable while the rocket attacks are not, but does that make the experience of Joe Lebanese Civilian any less damaging than it would be if those attacks could not be justified? Is Joe Lebanese Civilian gonna say "look, Israel has a right to defend itself ... and they did warn me to leave, who cares if they bombed the only road out of town just as I was leaving?" I think not -- I think that Joe Lebanese Civilian is more likely gonna make some anti-Semitic comment and vow to be a terrorist.

So if these are the same terrorists who are attacking Israel, doesn't it follow that Israel has an obligation not to help create new ones by bombing civilian areas to smithereens?
 
But, if there was a conspiracy against my country and I was told to leave... I would report it to the gov't immediately if I knew of such a plot! - Nate

And what if the government was in on the plot? After all, the British colonialists did grant the land to the Zionists to form a Jewish State (after breaking many promises to both non-Jewish Arabs and Zionists alike!) ... what would you do?

If I were Joe Palestinian, I would be too much of a wimp to fight (which would, in this context, have made me an anti-Israeli terrorist by your understanding anyway -- fair enough). I would also, of course, be too lazy about packing to leave, so I guess I would have been in luck. But the natural response is "fight or flight", eh? So can you really blame those Arabs who did either?

Of course, it was not Israel's fault what happened -- it was a problem of there not being resources committed to ensuring that the refugees were absorbed into other countries like all the other refugee groups at the time were. Which was a function of the Arab world wanting to keep an irritant around to ensure that they could unify, if only to attack Israel, as well as the indifference of the larger world.

But I should hope you can see why an Arab who fled might wish to return to Israel (especially considering how good it's turned out) and might blame Israel and respond accordingly. Forget about whether we should be sympathetic to such a person or have the attitude "you and your kinsmen made your bed, now sleep in it" -- we need to fully understand where such people are coming from if Israel is ever to be a normal country living at peace with its neighbors (which is the goal of Zionism -- Jews living as any other people in their own nation -- is it not?) ...
 
Dead terrorists don't bomb airplanes.

And Israel is not in a PR war.. its in a war against terror. In due time, the negative PR they get from the left bloggers will fade away once people realize how important it was to destroy the core of these terrorists which hides amongst women and children like cowards and is now consisting of Iranian soldiers whose dead bodies were found among the Hezbollah terrorists.
 
One more time I'll speak to the "GOP culture wars" issue in the post.

Political authoritarians and mass marketing, proselytizing clerics find common cause in exploiting the same emotion - fear. Political secularists, or more specifically empiricists, can not reach out to the fearful in the same way as cynical political authoritarians and clerics do. Empiricists can not demagogue the facts unless they abandon their essence which is the pursuit of truth through logic, observation and openness. Bill Clinton says in electoral politics it is better "to be strong and wrong, than to be weak and right." This is not a call to be wrong but rather a call to be strong.

Political secularists need to assert themselves. It is absurd to meet Creationists or advocates for a Unitary Executive or wavers of the Stars and Bars half-way. There's been too much, if not validation, understanding of and politeness towards right wing true believers the last twenty-five years. The fearful will not respond to accommodating speech and respect for their Lords; rather they need to be confronted. The fearful respond to confrontation not understanding.
 
And Israel is not in a PR war.. its in a war against terror. - Nate

Fair enough. But the terrorists are in a PR war: they want to terrorize people by definition, eh?

Dead terrorists don't bomb airplanes.

Are the terrorists fungible such that Israel killing Hezbollah militants will reduce the number of terrorists available to bomb airplanes? So Israel kills some people, among whom are terrorists ... does that really reduce the likelihood of a terrorist bombing an airplane? As opposed to diligently investigating terrorist activities and breaking up terrorist cells, which cannot be done using missiles and air power, but only through diligent intelligence and police work, which is what actually stopped the terrorist plots in question?

Are the terrorists even definite in their numbers such that killing terrorists reduces their numbers? for example, does the number of terrorists killed by Israeli actions exceed the number of people recruited to their cause of vengeance against Israel due to their families being killed in Israeli attacks?

once people realize how important it was to destroy the core of these terrorists

Would that a core of terrorists would be destroyed without generating so many civilian casualties as to create a new core of terrorists, I think more people even on the left might be a little bit more supportive of Israel's actions ... but is Israel really gonna be able to destroy the terrorists without causing so much collatoral damage as to drive people to the terrorists' cause?

And even a calculating utilitarian would ask: if the costs in terms of lives is so much greater than the number of lives being avenged or saved by such an activity -- even assuming it's fair to give more weight to the lives of your own than to the lives of others -- how is responding to the terrorists even "worth it"?
 
OK Das..lets say its WWII and instead of terrorists.. we call them Nazis. I say kill as many as we can.. and how exactly would you handle it while the six million tally adds up? The terrorists are modern day Nazis and all the Israeli military is doing is avoiding another Holocaust.
 
Nate,

The situation is somewhat different: by WWII, the Nazis had political control of Germany whereas Hezbollah does not yet control Lebanon (although, thanks to Israel's response, Hezbollah is emerging as the only group capable of being a political power in Lebanon). Perhaps the relevent comparison is, when Hitler was coming to power, should we have used the minimum force necessary to prevent him from violating treaty obligations and reoccupying the Rhineland (which would have jolted the large percentage of Germans who at the time were thinking "we'll let Hitler take back the Rhineland and get rid of the commies [*], then we'll control him" into not supporting Hitler any more) or should we have launched an all out war at that time against Germany, which would have solidified Hitler's support as people would have rallied around him (after all, look at how people rallied around Bush when we were attacked? don't you worry that Israel's actions are causing people to rally to Hezbollah in the same way?)? Of course, we did neither, which was perhaps even worse than going all out in attacking Hitler.

I guess the closest analogy to what Israel's doing in Lebanon if you want to make a WWII analogy is the allied firebombings, e.g., of Dresden. Did those bombings kill Nazis? Yes. But, contrary to initial thinking that these firebombings were also critical to demoralize the civilian population, I remember reading some new research suggesting that the firebombings temporarily strengthened the hands of the Nazis. Similarly, we all know how well the US/South Vietnamese strategy of "we must burn the village to save it" worked to prevent Viet Cong terrorists from striking targets in South Vietnam, eh?

I am not against fighting terrorists, and I realize civilian deaths are inevitable in a war against such cowardly terrorists, but taking the attitude of "we must destroy the terrorists at any cost to civilians, etc", even if those civilians are somewhat complicit in terrorism, is ultimately self-destructive (and what about the humanitarian costs? it is certainly moral for Israel to defend itself, but is it moral for Israel to lay siege on a civilian population even under the circumstances that exist currently in Northern Israel?): Israel seems to be repeating the "strategy" of the US/South Vietnam in the Vietnam war. And we all know how effective that strategy was. And Israel is also playing into Hezbollah's hands. So no matter how many terrorists are being killed by Israel (extra-judicially, which, in some cases, presents some serious Halachic problems, AFAIC), Israel is still ultimately strengthening the terrorists.

"Dead terrorists don't bomb airplanes" ... but dead civilians make excellent recruiting posters to create more terrorists who do bomb airplanes. That's the calculus of the situation: not every bomb lobbed by Israel means X fewer airplane bombers -- that calculus doesn't add up ...


[*] -- there were, of course, communist terrorists in Germany in the 1920s. Some of whom no doubt were Jewish. Some of whom no doubt "hid" among Jewish civilians. By the logic of "we can kill as many civilians as we want as long as cowardly terrorists are hiding among them", doesn't that excuse the Holocaust? After all, Germany had to rid itself of Communist terrorists ... and, given that for every civilian death, you can expect a good number of that civilian's relatives to avenge him/her (there was a reason the Torah mandates "cities of refuge" for manslayers: otherwise, given the culture of the ME, Israel, like the other ME nations, would have been awash in blood every time someone killed another due to the cycles of revenge killings), e.g. by becoming terrorists, unless Israel takes pains to minimize civilian deaths -- and dropping leaflets and then bombing the roads fleeing civilians are using to leave, as they were warned to do, can arguably be described as trying to maximize, not minimize civilian deaths! -- its attempts to kill terrorists among civilians will increase the number of terrorists not decrease that number unless Israel engages in genocide: and do you want Israel to conduct a genocide in your name as a Jew? I say not in my name!
 
Lebanon is controlled by Hezbollah! And the plots to exterminate Jews by Hezbollah is the same concept as the plot to kill Jews by the Nazi's. However during World War II we didn't have liberal blogs discouraging the attacks on those trying to kill our people. Nazis picked Jews off the street just like Hezbollah terrorists nabbed those soldiers.

Calculus shmalculus.. here is some Nate math... Plot to kill Jews by Hezbollah = Plot of kill Jews by Nazis.

And if the left wing "lets sit back and not fight back" concept was in play during WWII we might have been mourning the 12 million lost in the Holocaust AND speaking German too!
 
And if the left wing "lets sit back and not fight back" concept was in play during WWII we might have been mourning the 12 million lost in the Holocaust AND speaking German too! - Nate

Many on the right seem to be misapplying the law of the excluded middle so to speak.

There certainly are among members of the left wing those of the "lets sit back and not fight back" school. But that's not exactly what all of us are arguing. Indeed, many of us are arguing for a strategy in the general war on terror that was developed precisely in hindsight as what we should have done to deal with the Nazis: containment. Respond militarily to terrorists when such a response is necessary, but otherwise try to contain threats.

Look, any Zionist worth his salt will tell you that if Israel was in existance during the time of WWII, the Holocaust would never have happened. Why? Because Israel could have fought Germany? Nope. Because Israel would have taken in Jewish refugees and thus the Nazis couldn't find any Jews to kill. Now, of course, there were so many Jews in Europe there's no way they could have fit into Israel, but the point remains: the Holocaust could have been prevented (i.e. 0 million Jews being killed as opposed to 6 million Jews being killed) if a strategy of containing Hitler, coupled with nations agreeing to take in Jewish refugees (as well as carrots and sticks to keep Hitler in line) were employed. WWII is a case of too much being required because the action waited until too late.

Of course, the situation with Israel is slightly different: Israel is supposed to be the refuge for Jews. So it isn't as if Israel has the luxury of merely containing an immanent threat of anhiliation whilst sending its Jews somewhere else. Still, even in the face of grave threats, it makes no sense to further stoke the fires threatening you.

And anyway, again in response to your quoted statement, it depends on which left wing concept we're talking about: to put it in 1948 election terms, the Truman or Wallace kind of response. I'll agree with you on lefties advocating a Wallace-esque response, but there is a vast and strategic middle ground between Wallace and Curtis LeMay. To say that anyone who doesn't advocate bombing "them" back to the stone age just simply wants to sit back and do nothing is just plain wrong.

And, BTW my fellow Democrat, that is how Republicans win elections: because too few people are challenging that frame in which the choice is between Wallace and LeMay. And it isn't just the Wallaces of the left doing this: they are largely strawmen anyway. It's all those people in the media, etc., who pointedly refuse to grasp what the real take-home lesson of Truman's foreign policy was.

And remember, they thought of the archetects of containment as soft on communism in their time ... so, I reckon history will at least tell who really is pushing plans that really are tough on terrorism as opposed to merely doing things that help terrorist recruitment ...
 
And now here is my nomination for THE most absurd comment I have ever heard....

Look, any Zionist worth his salt will tell you that if Israel was in existance during the time of WWII, the Holocaust would never have happened. Why? Because Israel could have fought Germany? Nope. Because Israel would have taken in Jewish refugees and thus the Nazis couldn't find any Jews to kill.

DAS... Do you really believe this or are you pulling my leg? I see how the Jews have been able to get out of Russia.. yet your liberal beliefs have convinced you that Nazi Germany would have been less stringent about Jews moving out. I can just imagine the Fuhrer getting word that a busload of Jews want to leave Germany. That busload would have been gassed to death! Not to mention the missiles that Hitler would have sent in Israel's direction in his quest for world domination.
 
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