Max Sawicky writes the interesting MaxSpeak blog, which serves as a needed counterweight to the generally right-wing economics of blogdom. He spent last week challenging Glenn Reynolds, the law professor-blogger whose posts too often amount to little more than conservative/libertarian quips and barbs. Today, Max broadens his sights, declaring this "Moral Clarity Week" and challenging all the "jingoistic warbloggers" who regularly recount Palestinian atrocities to respond to three stories:
* An Israeli tank shelled a Palestinian marketplace, killing three children and a 60-year old man. (link)
* Following a funeral for an Israeli mother and three children murdered by a Palestinian infiltrator, a group of Jewish mourners went on a rampage in a Palestinian village, burning a house and cars, and murdering a Palestinian. (link)
* In Jenin, the IDF wrecked a hospital. (link)
I don't think of myself as a jingoistic warblogger—indeed, I've said very little so far about the middle east—but I think a response is worthwhile, because I fear that Max has left himself open to much the same kind of criticism that he directs at conservative warbloggers. Let's take the three incidents in turn.
First, the tank shelling in Jenin: This was, no question, a tragic and, one would think, easily avoided loss of life. But, as the article to which Max links notes, the IDF immediately admitted error and stated that an investigation was ongoing. The extent of the investigation and its consequences, if any, have yet to be seen, and it will be interesting to see if there is any follow-up reporting. In the meantime, though, it is worth noting that the IDF termed the killing of Palestinian civilians a mistake, while Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and the like see the killing of Israeli citizens as a goal in itself, the achievement of which is worth celebrating. This is not to say that the IDF lacks moral culpability for its action in Jenin, but its action was not the equivalent of a Palestinian suicide bombing. To suggest that it was, as Max seems to, does not indicate moral clarity.
Second, the murder near Nablus of a Palestinian by rampaging settlers following a funeral for an Israeli settler family killed by a Palestinian gunman: Tit-for-tat killings are not justified and ought to be condemned, regardless of which side commits them. Again, though, the difference in response is instructive. As Ha'aretz reports, one man has already been arrested by Israeli police on suspicion of murder, and the police are searching for other participants in the violence. The Palestinian Authority, by contrast, does not arrest people suspected of assisting suicide bombers; indeed, in some instances it pays their expenses.
Finally, the damage to the hospital in Jenin. An excerpt suggests that the destruction within the hospital was little more than retaliation to Palestinian suicide bombers:
"A soldier pounded the [laundry] machine and said, 'This is not more important than 20 persons killed in Jerusalem,' " referring to a suicide bus attack Tuesday, according to Ali Jabarin, vice chairman of the hospital.
"He was a terrorist, but you are not a terrorist," Jabarin said he replied, pleading with troops not to damage the building and its contents. "You are a soldier . . . and this is a hospital."
The soldiers' action was not directed against those who perpetrated or directly supported the suicide bombings; no rationale for targeting the hospital is offered. As such, the damage done is indefensible; the only mitigating factor, if there is one, is that the soldiers appear to have ordered the evacuation of the building before they commenced their destructive acts.
As I said at the outset, I respect Max's blog; I visit it daily. It's pretty clear, though, that we have some substantial disagreements on the Israeli-Palestinian situation (an issue that, I believe, does not break down simply along right-left lines). More than that, I fear that Max's current line leaves him open to easy counterattack from those he calls the JWs. Here's hoping that the rest of "Moral Clarity Week" has a bit more clarity.