Saturday, January 10, 2009

Duncan Black on Gaza? Cowardice as rational action?

Expanding on a comment on Stephen Walt's page at FP.
A large number of usually generally engaged writers/bloggers/organizations have become absolutely silent on Gaza. Where in the past they felt obliged to at least blather some attempt at being "even handed" -blaming Hamas for most things but Israel for overreacting- this time nothing.

This time they're as afraid of being branded the defenders of war crimes as they are of being called anti-Semites, and that silence is as big a change as the Bush Administration's silence this week at the UN. It doesn't say much for the illusions of the Reality Based Community but it's a point for the realists.

Atrios may be pulling his hair out in private or not. I have no way of knowing what Duncan Black thinks. But his primary interest is in holding his coalition together, so whatever else his silence is strategic. It's a tough call, or it should be in the politics of this country, though in absolute terms it's always been easy. Arguments could be made for the creation of a Jewish state in Antarctica or on the Rhine. The displacement of any population not directly associated with the Shoah could not be considered just by any definition of the word. But for various reasons, neither place was ever an option.

My old annoyance with DB comes from my sense that he avoids complex issues not only in public and out of strategy, but also in private, and for more personal reasons. He tries to avoid subjectivity, and the result is a kind of emotional and intellectual shallowness.

Politics is not a good place for moral absolutes, but that's not the same as saying they have no role to play. So now the Jews in the US are being left to argue with each other about the Arabs and that's rightfully called progress. And we have no choice but to appreciate that progress at the same time as we condemn it for being minuscule and pathetic.

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