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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hatfields, McCoys

(Above, Jewish-American comedian Danny Kaye; right, Palestinian-American professor Edward Said)

Yesterday a Palestinian gunman opened fire on four Israelis in a car in the West Bank. All four Israelis, including a pregnant woman, were killed. Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, later claimed responsibility for the attack on the four innocent civilians.

The attack occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was en route to Washington for peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Hamas has stated its opposition to peace talks many times in the past.)

President Obama has said he hopes to have a peace agreement within one year. (At last, peace in the Middle East!)

It will be interesting to see how Obama spins this one when the talks are concluded. Exactly what will he claim he has accomplished?

It will also be interesting to see how many Palestinians will be killed in retaliation for the four Israeli deaths. As soon as Netanyahu returns to Israel, or perhaps before, Israel will lob a missile into a Hamas stronghold, killing some terrorists and some civilians. How many Palestinians will die in that attack? My prediction is roughly twenty. About the usual ratio.

Every time this happens -- and it's happened many times -- I wonder what an analogous situation in this country would be. What if a black gunman killed four white people in a robbery, and the NYPD, instead of going after the gunman, just decided to lob a bomb into a Bedford Stuyvesant housing project instead, killing twenty blacks?

What would the reaction to that be?

This is of course an imperfect analogy. Black leaders over here have not declared that the United States should not exist. The situation in Israel is halfway to a war, where troops just battle each other regardless of which individual soldier is responsible for which deaths on the other side.

Still, the basic principle is the same: you kill some of ours, we'll kill some of yours.

Maybe a better analogy would be with the racial gangs inside a U.S. prison. Life in prison is life at its rawest and most elemental, with loyalties based on ties of blood -- and with lots of blood spilled.

That is essentially what's going on in Israel: a race war. Of course, "race" is the wrong term there, since it's more an ethnic war. Look at any pictures of Israelis and Palestinians and you'll see a strong resemblance. Palestinians tend to run slightly swarthier, but the close relationship is still obvious. They are both, after all, Semitic peoples.

Whereas over here no one would ever mistake Dolph Lundgren for Wesley Snipes.

So the question is, will Israel move in our direction, with more interethnic amity, or are we destined to move in their direction?

It's hard to see Israel moving in our direction -- despite their closer kinship with their enemies.

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