Sunday, August 11, 2002

It is a Left-Right Issue

Atrios says the Israel-Palestine conflict is not a left-right issue.

But the largest camp in support of Israel gives either religious reasons (and they belong mostly to conservative-leaning religions), or neoconservative/libertarian moralistic arguments. And the largest camp opposed to Israel whines endlessly about colonialism, oppression, racism, and treats terror the same way they treated Lenin's Red
Terror so many years ago.

It's a conflict between one side upholding Western values and the other side a lot of barbarian third-world fanatics. Who fetishizes third-world barbarians? Not the right. Who loudly proclaims the importance of Western values? Not the left.

Both the right and the left contain schools of thought favoring individual rights and communal rights. But they are still very, very different.

The individual-rights rightists demand the right of people to live in peace and security. The individual-rights ACLU leftists are more concerned with the individual rights of terrorists and terror supporters. They complain more louldy about suspected terrorists being imprisoned by the Israelis and about the targeted killings of terror leaders than about the Israelis killed while shopping in the supermarket.

The communal rights leftists constantly bang on about group oppression, racism, and colonialism. The communal rights conservatives are generally more religious (as opposed to the libertarian individual-rights conservatives). They tend to believe in order and acting properly: the idea of the Palestinian people in neverending rebellion against the non-tyrannical Israelis does not appeal to them.

Of course, this is simplifying things, because for a long time it was the left that supported Israel, while the right shied away from it, making "national interest" arguments. Just because the people who come out to man the protest lines tend to right-for-Israel and left-for-Palestine does not tell us anything about the mainstream left and right.

How can one debate the legitimacy of Israeli checkpoints without looking at it from a human rights (individual and communal) perspective? The left/right ideas of human rights make up the framework for all moralistic debate of Israel and Palestine. Only when it is looked through from another view (historical, national interest, etc.) can the left-right debate be sidestepped. Moral arguments are by nature philosophical, and they are an integral part of political philosophy.

Of course, most Americans lean conservative morally. Most Democrats hold up the "right-wing" views of individual and communal rights, and not so much the "left" views. America is a "conservative" nation in that sense (of course, the founding fathers would have called those values "liberal"). Most Democrats are not considered to be leftists in places like Europe. Only extreme leftists here fit in with the Guardian and al-Independent types.

The moral dimension of the Israel/Palestine debate is not a Democrat/Republican debate, but it is a contest between differing worldviews, most of which happen to fall into right- and left-wing categories.

Now this Makes me Angry

What the hell is Osama bin-Fairrington (the artist) trying to say? That it's okay to kill atheists, and the September 11th attacks would have been justified if there were no Christians in the twin towers? That it's better to be a radical Muslim terrorist than an atheist? That the 9th Circuit is worse than al-Qaida?

Let me get this straight, if we acknowledge the separation of church and state, then Osama bin Laden is right about us being godless infidels? Fairrington must be one of those right-idiotarians like Falwell or Robertson.

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