Friday, January 16, 2009

Continuing from the previous post, I was thinking about debates I overhear regularly over law, proportionality etc. and the Israel-Palestinian situation. They're all predicted on the assumption that law by being law is somehow a Platonic form. I usually ignore these arguments, but this time I'll make the effort.
I've posted this elsewhere as well, since it's a simple illustration of the absurdity of that argument:
Imagine a beach and a small group of people sitting on and around a blanket having lunch. Another group comes onto the beach a few feet away and sets up a volleyball net between themselves and the first group. Then they start lobbing volleyballs over the net that all go unreturned. When the count of unreturned balls reaches 25 the second group declares the game over and themselves the winners. Another group arrives, friends of the second and wanting "their turn." They tell the first group to move so that they can play. A rule book is consulted and it is decided that the first group lost their game and have no right to occupy the "volleyball court". The police are called and they are removed by force.
Demands are made that the Palestinians abide by all the restrictions of law but they're offered none of the benefits. It's as if a woman were accused of biting her rapist.

The deaths of Palestinians are called "heartbreaking." The deaths of Israelis are called a crime.

3 comments:

abb1 said...

Once you call it 'crime' you open the door for all the insane legalistics and interpretations you hear all over he US mainstraem opinion: who did what/ when, who has this or that phrase in thier manifests and whatnot. The law is manipulated all the time, it's a given and it's accepted. It's easy for a rich man to get away with murder; they do it all the time; it doesn't usually surprise or even upset anyone.

IMO, you should call 'injustice'.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

The language of law is used law as a weapon against the Palestinians. There can be no law without representation.
The "insane legalistics and interpretations" are the justificatory theater of law. I have no argument with that. But the Palestinians are allowed to play only a limited role in the legal theater of which they are a part.
The original act -crime- against them has been ruled irrelevant.

abb1 said...

I dunno, I don't get the impression that it's the language of law that is used against them. It's the language of emotion: they want to destroy the Jewish state, the state of the Jews who suffered for centuries, haven't they suffered enough? Palestinians are unreasonable, wild people who teach their children to become suicide bombers. They danced on the streets on 9/11.

I think this is the main theme that shapes the public opinion.

If you're talking about the line "the right to defend itself", that, I think, is the second level. First you need to establish (emotionally) that Israel is good; it's precisely its righteousness that gives it the right to defend itself, not some legal argument. Saddam's Iraq, for example, didn't have the right to defend itself.