Disproportionate Cynicism: A Reply to Jonathan Messing

27 Jul

For several days now, I’ve seen this article by Jonathan Messing circulating on social media among the dwindling few who still associate with me and stridently support Israel, right-or-wrong. Messing argues that, given the lack of widespread protest over the grave suffering of Palestinian refugees trapped amidst Syria’s civil war, outrage over the most recent wave of violence Israel is inflicting on Gaza demonstrates that “only deaths connected to Jews seem to evoke the cries we have been hearing” and therefore “there are many of you who are participating in a global, collective media assault on Israel that is indeed suggestive of something much darker.”

While I too am occasionally bothered by the Israel-focused tunnel vision of some on the American Left, Messing is arguing in bad faith, and doing so pretty badly.

Let’s start with the obvious –

1. The US gives Israel some $3bn per annum in military aid and loan guarantees.
2. There is a vulnerable Palestinian refugee population in Syria in the first place because said recipient of American largesse forcibly expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 and 1967 wars and refuses to come into compliance with international law by allowing them to return to their homes.

Messing’s whole piece is written as though political morality is a matter of performative emoting rather than harm and responsibility. The US bankrolls and diplomatically shields Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinians and could end the violence in Gaza tomorrow if it threatened to withhold from Israel financial backing and proxy use of its UNSC veto. As US citizens we are responsible.

Whatever role US foreign policy has played in the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, there is no comparable degree of direct complicity and there exists no such leverage in the hands of US officials to end the violence.

The list of death tolls is where Messing holds up a sign that says “I am writing for a Fox News audience.” With the exception of Gaza, each of those death tolls encompasses at minimum several years of conflict and the linked articles explicitly state as much. I tutor middle school kids who remember the 2008-9 Gaza invasion which left roughly 1,400 dead, including some 300 children, not to mention the 2012 airstrikes and intermittent lethal violence. I can’t tell if this discrepancy is intellectual dishonesty or if this guy is an idiot. Either way, it’s not impressive.

The US-Nazi WWII comparison is puzzling, because the obvious parallel there is that of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Just as we cringe at descriptions of Hamas’s harsh civil administration, few in the West would hesitate to condemn the brutal and draconian policies of Stalin’s USSR. But who can fail to respect the Red Army’s immense and courageous sacrifice? Talk about disproportionate casualties–the USSR lost 26 million people during WWII. And who regrets that in the end it defeated and drove out the occupying Nazi forces?

These would all be relevant points here were Messing concerned with anything more than carping and sneering on behalf of a state committing mass murder.

And as for this comment, “the number of dead in Gaza…is largely due to Hamas’ grotesque tactics”, I simply invite you to look up what was said about the Comanche and Apache tribes who also killed settlers and civilians in resistance to their dispossession. I suppose the all-but-exterminated Amerindian populations had mostly themselves to blame too.

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2 Responses to “Disproportionate Cynicism: A Reply to Jonathan Messing”

  1. Isa July 27, 2014 at 5:21 am #

    Good points.

  2. Isa July 27, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    Reblogged this on Frank Answers to Questions You Ask and commented:
    Valid argument.

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