About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Equal opportunity offender

I pride myself in being an equal-opportunity offender (well, almost, since Bush really is a special case), and I bet this entry is going to be an example of it. It's about the eternal conflict between Palestinians and Israeli, and since both sides are notoriously easy to offend...

First, the Palestinians. I'm sorry, but the US, Israel and the European Union are right in cutting funds to the Palestinian authority now that it is guided by Hamas. Yes, I know that I have complained about George W. wanting to pick and chose how to react to the outcomes of democratic elections in the Middle East (or elsewhere, for that matter). But it's also true that Hamas simply can't have its cake and eat it too. I don't think of Hamas as any more of a terrorist organization than the Israeli or US governments (at least not when the latter engage in the killing of civilians, be that in Gaza or Iraq). On the other hand, you can't be playing the democracy game while at the same time still claiming that your aim is the destruction of a sovereign nation by violent means. Ask Sinn Féin: they tried to balance their role as a supporter of the Irish Republican Army (a terrorist organization, according to the British government), and a player in the political process in Ireland. Eventually, they had to agree that their credibility in a democracy depended on the IRA deposing their weapons, which they did. It would be a real turning point in the Middle East if Hamas followed that enlightened example, but don't hold your breath.

Now back to Israel and the US. There is a simple way for the Americans to really play a decisive role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: cut funding to both, not just to Hamas. Without the artificial propping by the US, Israel would have to come to an agreement with its neighbors because of insufficient military and economic power of its own. But of course, that also isn't gonna happen, under this or most other conceivable US administrations, because of the huge political influence of a minority of Jews in the US (no, this isn't antisemitism, is simple reality, much like the over-bearing and disproportionate political influence of Cuban Americans in this country – which has similarly led to an insane history of policies concerning that Caribbean island).

So, there you have it, I'm pretty sure neither (most) Palestinians nor (most) Israeli will be happy with the above considerations. Yet, they really indicate a fairly rational “road map” out of one of the most irrational and bloody conflicts in the history of humanity. Who ever said that there are no simple solutions to complex problems?


  1. Of course, it's not about solutions to problems, be they simple or complex; it's just politics. Israel is a useful ally, Hamas is not. The fact that Hamas, Israel, and the US all engage in what are arguably terrorist activities is beside the point; the US will look always look after her interests (as is only natural). It is a shame that those interests are not congruent with peace, but not unusual--consider the history of any other empire (e.g., the UK), and you'll see the same pattern.

  2. Stop being so rational.

    The next thing you'll tell us is that Israelis and Palestinians are both human beings, just people, like you and me, not monstors and demons as seen by each other.

  3. MP wrote: "cut funding to both,"

    Amen brother! I've been advocating this for years. One of the USA's primary problems in the world is our monetary intervention.

  4. Is Israel really that much of a useful ally to the US? They keep spying on us, for one thing.

    I'd like to see us cut funding to Israel and Hamas too, personally.

  5. Who ever said that there are no simple solutions to complex problems?
    Whit and Without money: the problem is more complex that
    US economical support and the causes of conflict pending for many years finds out "throw stones at someone".

    However, cut funding to both solve one of the most serious attack to "Real Freedom": "The Sovereign Nations"

  6. "It is a shame that those interests are not congruent with peace..."

    'the guilt of war'
    ..Peace is a noble idea; but since mankind has had a written history, we have never known true peace. The scattered, bleached bones of human history testify to this brutal truth – millions upon millions of times over.

    So is Mankind incapable of achieving ultimate peace on Earth? In a nutshell, yes. But accepting this reality doesn’t imply that we are to automatically embrace conflict and strife. If anything, it gives us a window into who we are and how we operate. Unfortunately, the view from this window isn’t very pretty.

    How do we collectively respond to this sad state of affairs? By perpetuating a lie....
    - Carl Teichrib

    The rest of the response: http://www.crossroad.to/articles


  7. Well,perhaps theres another perspective one that nobody has considered yet ,perhaps the problem doesn't lie with either the Palestinians or the Israelis ,perhaps the problem is an ideology ?

    Think about it we have killed many terrorists but more keeps comming back ,ask yourself why ?Now think what motivates these guys ?What do they all have in common?Terrorism is a tool used by these thugs but they're inspired by a bloodcurling ideology and they call it Islam.

    Perhaps the problem lies with us mistakingly thinking islam is a religion ,I have more than sufficient proof to show that islam is no more a religion than nazism was,perhaps our victory will lie in knowing our enemy in order to defeat them ,in other words think like them.

    If its this ideology that motivates them maybe we should be spending all that money on war to irradicate Islam .

    Maybe if Islam was irradicated palestinians will have no cause to blow themselves up,terrorists will cease to exist .

    Islam can be compared to a virus one that needs to be eleminated ASAP.


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