Sunday, December 14, 2014

No, I'm Not Going to Call This "Something Rotten in the State of Denmark"

So the Danish Ambassador defended Europe's holding Israel to a higher standard than it does the Arabs (I'll post the link from The Blaze because the Post tends to charge for viewing its articles).  Jeff Goldberg has made a similar defense in The Atlantic.

This position tends to generate a fair amount of outrage in the quarters one would expect, but it really shouldn't -- at least not for the obvious reason.  If we restate "holding to a higher standard" as "expecting better of", then of course we expect better of Israel.  We'd have to ignore a century of Jewish and Arab behavior to expect otherwise.

It's true that the Europeans' finger-wagging and threats, their holding Israel to a higher standard than not-only the Arabs but themselves, is simply contemptible, and Caroline Glick quite properly lambasted the Ambassador for it.  (Of course the past century also teaches us to expect more of the Jews than of the Europeans, but if the Europeans raise that point it should be with an attitude of shame, not superiority.)  Still, bottom line:  We have to admit that we're way better than our neighbors.

No, the problem isn't the double-standard; it's the failure to follow the double-standard's implications.  It's only rational to expect the Palestinians to maintain their desire for Israel's destruction; to have no qualms about lying to us, to themselves and to the world about, well, anything; to encourage violence against our civilian population; to seek to militarize regardless of any negotiated undertakings.  But to give them a pass on their peccancies while insisting that Israel treat with them as moral equals, negotiate on the assumption of their good faith and their desire, and ability, to live peacefully with us, well, that just makes no sense at all.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

A letter I just sent to Representative Steve Israel

[Steve Israel is the congressman of my pied a terre in NY.]

Dear Representative Israel,

I agree with your stance on supporting Israel against Hamas.  I have the strong impression, though, that the Obama Administration is pursuing a policy unlikely to advance American interests.  The turn towards Qatar and Turkey (and away from Egypt now that the Muslim Brotherhood has been ousted); the unnecessary and frankly immoral insistence that Israel "do more" to minimize civilian casualties, when it should be obvious to any unbiased observer that it's already doing more than any other nation, including our own, and would happily call the operation off entirely were its own civilians' safety ensured; the FAA ban that, while it may have been a purely professional decision, still warrants full disclosure rather than what seems to be stonewalling.  All these and more make me very leery of the Administration's grasp of foreign affairs and of the proper way to prosecute American interests.

I don't expect us to police the world; our resources aren't limitless, and there are righteous fights that we must regretfully decline to get drawn into.  But we should at least speak the moral truth, show friendship to those who share our values and at best indifference to those who do not.  I don't agree with Henry Kissinger that "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests," but with Thomas Jefferson that "The interests of a nation, when well understood, will be found to coincide with their moral duties."

I can't prove that my way will serve us better, but I shouldn't have to.  The burden of proof should devolve on those who want us to behave venally.

I therefore ask of you that, beyond your own personal duties as a representative, you work within your party (which has distanced itself from your stance on Israel) to promote this attitude and its particular application to the Middle East.

Thank you.

Michael Berkowitz

Monday, March 03, 2014

My first Wikipedia edit

To the "popular culture" section of the entry on Road to Mandalay I added a reference to Animal Crackers.

A proud moment.