Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jerome Slater Returns With Old Arguments

Remember Jerome Slater? He's back again with an old argument dressed up anew. His latest work on the Huffington Post attempts to compare the recent Moscow subway bombings with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In fact he can't imagine why the people writing the news articles haven't made the comparison already. Yeah, I can't imagine why either. It's not like suicide bombers aren't also used in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Why people think "suicide bomber" means "terrorist," I can't imagine. They were only deliberately targeting civilians.

Anyway, Slater's argument boils down to simply thus:
"It is still common for mainstream U.S. and Israeli commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general, or on Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorism in particular, to downplay or even to simply ignore the ongoing Israeli occupation and repression of the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza. Rather, the implicit or explicit assumption is that it is anti-Semitism and religious fanaticism -- practically by definition, immutable and unrelated to Israeli behavior -- that drives Palestinian resistance, whether terrorist or not."

Good lord. Not this argument again. Every writer with an axe to grind and a willingness to engage in cognitive egocentrism does this when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Slater seems himself in the shoes of the Palestinians, and sees their actions, but he is the one who puts the two together. He thinks, "I'm a Palestinians, and I'm dealing with oppression. What would be my reaction?" Terrorism, of course. But that doesn't mean that the Palestinians are in fact "resisting occupation" just because from a Westerners' point of view that is the most logical explanation for their behavior.

The Palestinians proved that this conflict was not about the occupation when Arafat rejected the offer to end the occupation and the Palestinian nation followed him right into another war. When it comes to Hamas, this question is even more easily answered. After all, it's not like Hamas would just come right out and tell us what their motivations are:

Oh wait, they do. Sorry Mr. Slater, but I'll believe them over you any day of the week. You are in no position to speak for Hamas, the Palestinians, or anyone else besides yourself.

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