Sunday, November 29, 2009

Daoud Kuttab Exemplifies Palestinian Arguments

In his most recent article on the Huffington Post, Daoud Kuttab, a prominent Palestinian journalist, envisions how the next Palestinian election might go and mentions Marwan Barghouti, another Palestinian politician that recently appeared on The Daily Show. He describes Barghouti as someone who "was arrested and sentenced to a long prison term on charges that he led the Second Intifada, which had begun two years earlier, and ordered some of its military attacks."

Did you get that? "military attacks". One poster, "adamsquared" asked Kuttab about this odd description of suicide bombings, arguing that it was disingenuous to characterize Barghouti as a military leader when he had in fact chosen sites for terror attacks. Kuttab himself responded with the following quote:

Daoud Kuttab
"If we are talking about those planning and executing attacks in which civilians were killed, we can look at the last war on Gaza for which a UN appointed Crime of war judge has reported that israel (and also Hamas) committed crimes of war and possibly crimes against humanity. In wars everyone is involved in violence, let us look at all sides of the conflict if you wish"

Here we have the first rule of Palestinian defense: point the blame somewhere else, anywhere else, but especially at Israel. Kuttab's quote had nothing to do with Barghouti or his article, he instead decided it would be best to remind everyone how evil Israel is because of Cast Lead. This argument is of course completely insubstantial and wouldn't fool a middle school debate student, but anti-Israel posters try it all the time. Luckily, "adamsquared" wasn't fooled, and asked Kuttab again how he could "whitewash" Barghouti's record and pointed out that Israeli crimes does not excuse Palestinian (Barghouti's) crimes. Kuttab came back with this:

Daoud Kuttab
"You may be surprised that I do agree with you, that Israeli crimes don't justify crimes by Palestinians. That is why that I mentioned Hamas when I made the remark. My point is that all sides have plenty of blood on their hands and no one side can claim to be innocent."

Rule number 2: Try to seem re-conciliatory and point out that both sides have done wrong (have "blood on their hands"). No one will disagree with you because you seem so balanced and objective, even though you have made a moral equivalence between fighting terror with unintended side effects and intentionally murdering innocent civilians. Kuttab cannot disagree with "adam" that Barghouti is a terror leader, but rather than admit he is wrong and should have included that information in his article, Kuttab prefers to bob and weave and talk about extraneous issues. When arguing with an anti-Israel personality, it is very important to keep them on the specific topic you are talking about. Otherwise, you get a conversation like this one, where the original point is lost under mounds of extraneous rhetoric and side issues.

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