Sunday, 27 May 2018

A Tale of Two Fences

As I was watching the American news reports marking the establishment of the U.S. embassy in Yerushalayim, it just seemed to me that the reporting on this momentous day in Israel's capital was  continually and, seemingly,  inherently always intertwined with what was happening at the Gaza border. On a certain level, I guess I had to accept that they were intertwined. But there was more; somehow the word 'fence' always seemed to fill the reporting on Gaza. I began to wonder: was this just a coincidence in that the American news reporting of the previous week was also dominated by the word 'fence' -- in that case, the one between the U.S. and Mexico?

Of course, these two events are clearly not connected. The only similarity is that the two events did actually include a fence. Yet, I seemed to see a subtlety in the reporting that reflected some intent on comparison. Somehow, there seemed to me to be some intent to connect the Palestinians with these people from Central America and Israel with the U.S. Border Patrol. The somewhat subtle message of some of these reports eventually became clear to me. Sympathy for the Palestinians was often the argument for they were portrayed just like these Central Americans seeking refuge in America.

Clearly, what the Hamas backed 'protestors' were doing was, in no way, similar to what the Central Americans were doing. Whether the U.S. Border Patrol, then, acted correctly or not is an issue in itself but, regardless of our view on that matter, there was still absolutely no connection in how the Palestinians and Central Americans acted and in how the Israeli forces had to act and how the U.S. authorities had to act. My further question was then: how and why would anyone even create such an obvious fallacy of comparison?

American politics seems to have gotten to the point where the actual merit of an issue may no longer be the focus. When issues are analyzed on their own, they maintain their independence. The actual merit of the specific issue is the clear topic. When such tenuous attempts at creating connections between variant events are developed, such as in this matter, this is lost. Some other agenda is taking precedence with an intent on ignoring the independence of the issues and the actual specific merits of each matter. Especially given how the actual issue becomes basically ignored, why would there be such a rush to join matters together?

It may be that the answer, in this situation, lies in a desire by some to attack all things connected with President Trump, regardless of the specific details and merits of each issue.. In that he was the one who, finally, moved the embassy to Yerushalayim -- a position originally advocated with overwhelming bi-partisan support -- there were those against it, not on a principle within the issue, but because he was the one who did it. We are now facing a new argument -- if Trump did it, it must be wrong (or, for others,- and this should be stated as it seems like this lack of thoughtful analysis of independent issues exists across the spectrum -- it must be good). Everything has become simply and solely defined as pro or against Trump.

This, of course, is potentially problematic for Israel. The real issues affecting Israel are no longer the major focus of any analysis or study. What is occurring is that, for some people, if Trump adopts a view, there is strong motivation to simply declare it as wrong and the search will be solely on to find arguments to support this position. And don't think that the Palestinians don't already see this. They can adopt the most foolish of positions but, if it is against Trump, they know that there are people who will support them. Portraying themselves as against Trump is becoming their new argument for support. And how lucky can you be; you don't even have to deal with the fact that their positions lack merit in their own rights.

Issues need to be analyzed independently with a full allowance for honest, thoughtful investigation. This seems not to be happening in our present world. It is very frustrating when people check their brains at the door.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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