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
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?