On January 4th 2008, I happened to stumble across CNN’s Larry King, who was mediating a debate between a fairly moderate representative of the Arab American institute, James Zogby, and the relentless Israeli apologist, Alan Dershowitz.
Needless to say, the 1400 or so Palestinians who had suffered the fate rhetorically sanitized under the rubric, ‘collateral damage,’ were not the victims of the Israelis, according to the logic of Dershowitz; rather, they were victims of Hamas.
After all, Hamas members failed to extricate themselves from the densely populated territory, wherein Hamas provided social services, in order to line up in some type of military formation, so that they would become the unmistakable target for the Israelis. Therefore, the mounting civilian casualties were the fault of Hamas, because the organization neglected to cooperate with its adversaries.
Never mind the fact that it was the Israelis who dropped the bombs – destroying all sorts of Palestinian institutions, such as the university, various government edifices, including the Ministry of Culture; and numerous domestic dwellings that happened to be located next to the residencies of Hamas officials, whom the Israelis have been assassinating through the use of missiles.
When questioned about the year-long embargo, which has been waged by the Israelis, preventing humanitarian aid from entering the besieged territory, Dershowitz indicated that Israel was not to blame. In order to understand the logic behind the claim leveled by Dershowitz, one must ignore every ostensible aspect to this situation, because one’s plain perceptions and commonsensical reasoning are obfuscated and circumvented by the polemic that Dershowitz has constructed.
I would compare Dershowitz’s argument to something stereotypically spouted by the abusive male in a dysfunctional heterosexual relationship. Similarly to the wife-beater who screams at the object of his physical abuse, “Why do you make me hurt you?” the illegal embargo is not the fault of the party that implements and maintains it; it is the fault of the victim, the Palestinian population.
According to the law professor, Dershowitz, the people of the Gaza Strip should overthrow their democratically elected leaders – who are members of the political section of Hamas – in order for the Israelis to accomplish their military-politico objectives, so that the Israelis can cease with their ongoing strangulation of the Palestinian population.
Finally, we come to the crescendo of Dershowitz’s apologia for the Israelis. The Professor from Harvard generalized the war being waged by the Israelis against the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip as embodying a struggle that all democratic nations face. Therefore, in order to ascertain the essence of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, one must ignore the historical specificities that led to the current state of affairs.
Push aside and ignore the fact that the Israelis are colonists who have displaced millions of Palestinians from their traditional homeland. Forget about the hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese captives who are illegally held in extrajudicial limbo by the Israelis. Neglect to consider that the Israelis had suffered zero casualties, resulting from the missile attacks launched from Gaza, prior to the Israeli incursions, which have led to over 500 Palestinian deaths, including women and children.
According to Dershowitz, all of these facts are epiphenomena, and matter not at all when arriving at an understanding of the present situation. Dershowitz argues that this ongoing conflict is reducible to the following: A democracy defending itself against terrorism.
In response to Dershowitz, we can say, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.