Show #54: Some thoughts on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict (2014-7-30)

Posted: 2014/08/19 by Punkonomics (@dearbalak) in Podcasts
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My son Felix joined Jesse and me in the studio to try to deal with this horrible conflict.

Our general outline was:


  • This is based on a speech I gave at a Solidarity for Gaza event in Orlando last Friday.
  • My mom was born under British rule and my dad immigrated after surviving the holocaust in Europe. While they were definitely Zionists and served in the military (my dad was in combat since ‘49), they were some of the first people to realize that Israel was headed in a wrong direction.
  • I grew up in the Israeli peace-movement that was in part created in our kitchen ;)
  • I’m not an expert on any of this.
    • Just a concerned human who happens to be Jewish and Israeli (grew up there, served in army, left in 87).
    • I have followed this pretty closely and read books and articles.
    • There’s lots of details I don’t know–correct me
    • I AM qualified on:
      • political-economic history
      • philosophy and particularly ethics
      • So what I’m generally good for is: the big picture


  • Context is missing and so many misconceptions prevail in the US.
    • First FACTS!!! occupation, blockade, hunger, sham peace-process, brutality, torture, assassinations, prison camps, political manipulations, etc
    • this is not about religion and not an age-old conflict: It’s part of European nationalism and colonialism of the 19th century.
    • Even Zionists debated this back in 1881 when a delegation visiting Palestine reported back to the 2nd Zionist International and said that the land is taken.
      • Those who thought that the Jewish homeland should not be created on stolen indigenous land lost with 20% of the vote .
      • The majority adopted the slogan “a land without a people for a people without a land” and so began the erasing of the Palestinians people.
  • What really breaks my heart is the rhetoric of the well-meaning reasonable people who proclaim a so-called balanced opinion and claim that this is a very complex issue and that blame is equally shared by both sides.
  • By now you realize that I am not being “balanced” on this
    • Damn balance! Things are never black or white but there are different shades of gray.
      • The truth about evolution is NOT midway between science and superstition
      • The truth about the environment is NOT midway between science and oil companies
      • The truth about war-crimes is NOT midway between facts and propaganda
    • The history and politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are complicated but the ethics aren’t that complicated at all:
      • One side does the vast majority of the killing; the other side mainly does the dying (ratio of well over 100 to 1)
      • Palestinians are blamed for refusing a ceasefire:
        • They have accepted and even proposed many ceasefires and Israel has either refused or violated them.
        • The real option they are given is to lay down and go back to dying silently in Gaza. Nobody could accept such an offer.
      • Particularly disgusting are the unsubstantiated claims that Palestinians use human shields and are thus themselves responsible for their own massacre.
        • Should they stand in an open field in front of the IDF?!  In fact the IDF uses human shields regularly and the warnings they send before bombing are little more than cruel jokes for PR.
      • Finally: lets not forget that Palestinians (especially in Gaza) are living in horrendous economic conditions under extreme oppression.
        • Do they sometimes have difficulties maintaining stable control over competing factions?
        • Do they sometimes act in ways that are not perfectly rational politically and strategically?
        • Is this surprising for a people living in the most miserable place on Earth, in what amounts to a giant open-air concentration camp, for multiple generations, with absolutely no hope?!?
  • Solution can only come internally and from the powerful side:
    • Consider:
      • Northern Ireland: truly age-old conflict 700+ years
      • South Africa: Apartheid correctly compared to Israel
    • The powerful side must not impose it’s power but offer more concession for conflict resolution to work. Israel does the opposite.
  • Calling for the US to stop or at least change it’s support for Israel’s actions.
    • This is a bit problematic considering US foreign policy…
    • The US is just as guilty as Israel but it is nevertheless a necessary critical part of the solution.
    • If we are to escape a new dark age, the people of the US and Israel would need to bring real change to the political-economic system since this one is NOT working for the vast majority of us.
  • The good news is that popular opinion is changing–slowly but surely.
    • especially among the younger, females, non-whites, even Jews
    • but public opinion does not determine policy. Money does
    • That is the core problem behind almost all our problems and must be changed for anything positive to happen anywhere.
  • The solution:
    • a broad solidarity across interest groups and nations for global justice
    • not an easy task, and times are very bad, but we have no other option except to continue the old struggle for human progress.

Some links:

Click to enlarge



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.