The problem with Israel-Palestine blogging

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Everyone engaged in it is interested in proving that one side is righter than the other.  Since no action in the region has occurred without plausible provocation for 4,000 years or so, this requires constantly shifting the metrics by which you measure whichever side you happen to favor.  Point out that Israel is killing a lot of civilians and you are told that they had to do something in response to the Hamas rockets.  Point out that practically, the response they chose has absolutely no strategic or tactical benefit, and a huge potential downside, and you are castigated for your lack of moral outrage about Hamas's attacks on civilians.  Either Israel is doing this because it hopes to gain something, in which case the whole thing is hopelessly ass-backwards--they are strengthening Hamas and worsening their international political position--or it thinks that it's okay to kill boatloads of civilians purely for revenge against Hamas; revenge for attacks that have so far killed and injured almost no one.  This rather undercuts the argument of moral superiority, because guess what?  That's what Hamas thinks it's doing.

On the other side, there's a tendency to forget, or forget to mention, that whatever the provocation, a plurality-to-majority of Palestinians constantly and actively wish to kill large numbers of Israelis purely for revenge.  Gaza wants to be at war with Israel, and then hide behind the protections of not-quite-war, because they haven't the foggiest hope of winning anything like a real war.

I'm of Northern Irish descent, and I grew up in New York City in a mostly Jewish high school, and so as you can imagine, I've heard all the arguments about who's really to blame about a zillion times.  And all I get out of it in the end is that the whole thing makes me sick and sad.  I don't see any untainted victims.  I see a bunch of people who have been stomped on by history beating up each other in revenge for past wrongs that can't be righted, lashing out whenever they think they can get away with it without losing the foreign funding that allows them to continue the fun.  And I don't ever blog about it because one is not allowed to have an opinion on the matter--no matter what I say, I'll be excusing terrorism or, irrelevantly, the holocaust, or shilling for western imperialism. 

The saddest, truest thing that I've ever heard about the conflict is a friend who said that it seems to him like a stable equilibrium.  In that spirit, I'm turning comments off on this post.  Happy New Year.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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