The Gaza Strip, Staged (Real) Photo Ops, And My Ignorance
So I haven’t said much about the Israel/Gaza situation for two reasons:
1) It’s a complex situation with a long history, and I am largely ignorant of much of it.
2) People have super-intense emotions on either side, and venturing an opinion puts you in the middle of a withering crossfire.
3) I’m in the least popular opinion (at least among op-eds) that both sides are being dicks.
Which is to say that if I had to tug both Israel and Palestine aside at a party, I’d probably say this:
“Hey, Israel, I know that as a Jewish nation you’re internationally hated and constantly under threat of being nuked. And yes, you’re living next to some people who create terrorists who walk into your nightclubs and bomb you – I know that’s happened. But you’re a nation that exists largely because America sees you as morally superior and more worth protecting than the other nations we ignore – and you’re eroding that right now by bombing kids on beaches. Even accounting for the danger you’re under, from my standpoint you look lot like a bully, taking their space and shoving them back into the sea and giving civilians such a small space that even if Hamas didn’t use civilians as shields they’d still be crammed in like sardines at a shooting range, and that is not cool. The fact that you’ve been persecuted throughout history doesn’t give you a magic pass to do whatever the heck you want, and what you’re doing right now looks a lot like what you’re afraid people will do to you, given the chance.
“If you keep this up, eventually America is going to stop supporting you – and then where will you be? So yes, they’re going to shoot missiles at you periodically. But as long as you keep overreacting like we did when we got hit in 9/11, you’re going to look like an even bigger jerk and exacerbate the existing hatred. And also murder a lot of kids.”
“Hey, Palestine, I know you’ve been dicked over. A lot. By everyone. But at this point you’ve internalized so many lessons of hatred that you’re reacting to everything with the assumption that ‘fuck it, might as well go to violence’ – and if a genuine peace ever did get offered, I’m pretty sure you’d blitz right past it. I think way too many of your politics revolve around distrust – and though it’s not like Israel has been particularly trustworthy, eventually all peaceful solutions involve some measure of good faith. You’ve got zero. And yes, you can say that you’re justified in that, but it’s like my friends who kept picking fights with the cops – yes, he got beaten up a lot, but he also got into scuffles he could have avoided. At some point you gotta get out of this bunker mode, or you’re never getting out of the bunker.
“Also, you have this unfortunate issue that when people support you, they start airing their open hatred of the Jews, and that is really not cool.”
But again, that’s just my impression. I’m not educated on this topic, really. I present that to you not as part of a cogent argument, but rather in the interests of being open about where I’m coming from.
What I do find fascinating, however, is this essay here on Hamas, which suggests strongly that many of the civilian injury photo ops are staged. Which is bizarre, when the deaths are real.
The fascinating thing is that he’s not arguing that people weren’t killed or hurt, but rather that Hamas took them aside and did some makeup tricks before taking the photos given to reporters. And there’s some evidence: side-by-side comparisons of a guy with his face washed, his hair blow-dried, and his hands neatly cleaned.
I’m not sure how I feel about that. Would it be wrong to stage the photos to make them more media-friendly, assuming that there was an actual horrific death behind it? What goals would be achieved? (David Frum, that conservative thinker, believes it’s because unstaged photos would show too much truth about why those civilian killings occurred, but I can’t see how that would happen.) Or is this some sort of bizarre, self-selecting stupidity like the Republicans picking faked victims of Obamacare to parade around when they have actual victims they could find?
Or are these faked at all? Certainly, the writer of this essay is dickish (“Look, the guy’s got no tears! He can’t be really in anguish!” I didn’t cry at Rebecca’s bedside when she died, man.)
If it’s true, what’s the point?
The answer is that I don’t know, and I’m curious. Maybe you know. As mentioned, I’m not super-educated on the topic, and I expressed my opinions on Israel and Palestine above not to try to sway you, but rather to be completely open about how I view the issue, as a full disclosure of “Here’s my biases, refute or unpack them as you see fit.” I’m open to education from either side.
In any case, I’m going to trust to my usual smart and courteous commentors and see if y’all have any opinions on the faked photos – opinions based not on the ZOMG MY SIDE IS SAINTLY THE OTHER SIDE IS BEASTLY LOOK AT THE HORRIBLE CANNIBALS. And, if you can debate politely about the issue without a) getting personal or b) flouncing off angrily when someone makes a point about your side, then please comment with each other.
But if you can’t do that, I’ll swing the banhammer. Or maybe take this entry down.
I’m taking a chance here. Validate me.