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Michael Lazar: My Country-Right or Wrong

by Michael Lazar, Octboer 18, 2023

“My country, right or wrong” is a common jingoistic expression that often passes for patriotism. The application of its philosophy has spread not only to unqualified support for one’s country, but to other events, policies, and parties where an “us versus them” condition exists. Its most egregious usage is when people persist in supporting their party line or cause in situations where they are clearly in the wrong even when they know, deep down, that they are wrong (the resilience of Trump supporters in perpetuating the lie of a stolen election comes to mind). The loyalty to the party line supersedes the acceptance of an undesired fact, even when the truth of that fact is evident.

The horrific events in Israel and Gaza of this past week have given new life to this maxim as groups supportive of Palestinian rights have rushed to defend or excuse the indefensible and inexcusable. They have sought to mitigate the disgust of the civilized world with the massacre of men, women, children, and the elderly, by suggesting that it arose through the frustration of the Palestinians’ living under an occupation by Israel that has left them in destitute circumstances. Even if true, it is Impossible to credit that as an excuse for the wholesale slaughter of civilians, the kidnapping, raping and murder of hostages, the parading of their bodies through the streets, and the celebration of these events, not just in the Palestinian territories, but by ‘allies’ of the cause in the western world.

While responsible politicians of all stripes have condemned the violence, voices in pro-Palestinian organizations, on campuses, in certain unions and others on the “progressive” political left, have not just refused to condemn the attacks, but have praised it as an “act of resistance”. I’m not clear how the massacre of young concertgoers in a field in any way advances the aspirations of Palestinian statehood. If anything, it lays bare the hypocrisy and incredibility of those groups. You can be sure that they will, however, find their voices of outrage when the inevitable Israeli counterattack on Gaza hits its stride. Already hundreds, if not thousands, of Gazans have paid the price, with many more to come. Many of those who are lucky enough to escape death or injury, will find their homes and what other possessions they might have, destroyed. This rally around “My Cause Right or Wrong” is so devoid of moral integrity in it’s disregard for the sanctity of all human life, that it robs its proponents of any moral standing or credibility.

While the current right-wing government of Israel has not been inclined to pursue peace or accommodation with the Palestinians, the greater enemy of Palestinian aspirations is Hamas itself. Hamas is by no means a liberation group; it is a far-right, dictatorial, theocratic terrorist organization, whose model of government comes from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who murder women brazen enough to uncover their faces. It has called for a global jihadist attacks on Jews worldwide. It’s astounding how so-called “progressives” could support an entity that confines women to second class status, imposes the death penalty on gay people, and whose intolerance for other religions (and other Muslims who practice differently from themselves) is extreme. Of course, there is also the ruthlessness with which Hamas disposes of any Gazans who dare to disagree with them.

The intransigence of Hamas in refusing to engage in peace negotiations or accept the possibility of a two state solution of coexistence between Israeli and Palestinian states, has not only denied the Palestinians the possibility of having their own state, but has also moved the needle of Israeli politics to the right and away from pursuing a peaceful solution. Early Israeli Labour governments sought accommodation with their Arab neighbours but were met with uncompromising rejection. In the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization agreed on principles (rejected by Hamas) that would recognize Israel’s right to exist and would lead to Palestinian self-government and eventual statehood. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership of the day lacked either the political strength or courage to follow through, and backed away from those agreements. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, there was an opportunity for the people of Gaza to develop their own state either together with the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank or on their own. Western countries offered financial assistance for the development of infrastructure necessary to allow Palestinians to develop their country and economy; money which Hamas turned to the buying of weapons and the construction of tunnels for use in attacking Israel. This all contributed to Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power and his manipulation of the threat from Hamas to move the Israeli electorate to the right, and away from dealing with the possibility of Palestinian statehood.

Since taking power in Gaza in 2007, Hamas has brought nothing but war, destruction, poverty, and fear to the people of Gaza. Sadly, it has now brought another round of war upon them, likely even more deadly and destructive then it’s previous wars. The efforts of those who excuse or celebrate the murderous rampage of last week are only contributing to further hardships for the unfortunate people of Gaza, and to not only the destruction that war is bringing there, but also to the destruction of the credibility of those apologists who claim to advocate for the welfare of the Palestinian people.

The quote that I started this piece with originated in an 1872 speech by U.S. Senator Carl Schurz. The full quote reads: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” The second part of the quote is usually lost to the people quoting the better known first part. Hamas’ actions were plainly wrong (to put it mildly) under any paradigm. There are no acceptable excuses for them. Only the acceptance by both sides of two states, one Israeli and one Palestinian coexisting side by side, can bring to Palestinians (and to Israelis) the chance to live in the peace and prosperity that we in the west take for granted and to which both people aspire. True friends of the Palestinian people need to set things right by condemning the massacre of innocents rather than encouraging continuation down the path of unceasing war which will only lead to further misery, death, and destruction

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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