Monday, September 23, 2002

Philosoblog hopes you'll enjoy "Some Recent Nonsense and Being Conservative" below. Now for something completely different: the facts. Making the right moral decision requires the facts. Here are the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute presented with different characters, in order to make the facts fresher and easier to see. Weirdly, Bigwig at Silflay Hraka also has a metaphorical version of the conflict today! Anyway, you can see the moral judgment that follows from the facts. The big lesson today: often all you need is to know the facts well, in order to make the right moral judgment. Just get the facts, and common sense will take it from there. The big question today: how many of Israel's detractors know the facts?

A Metaphorical and Very Short History of the Oppression of Israelis

We’ll call them Puritans and put them in eastern Massachusetts. Suppose that the Puritans had lived in eastern Massachusetts for millennia. Suppose that in the 7th Century, the Indians (you know, Arabs), occupants of the huge North American landmass, had kicked almost all of the Puritans out of the continent, whereupon they fled to Europe. (A tiny number remained, such that there has always been Puritans in eastern Massachusetts.) A few centuries later, the Vikings (these are the Turks, eh?) come and take over North America. By 1900, the Viking Empire is on its last legs. The British (these are just the British) liberate the Indians from the Vikings, who go home to Vikingland.

Then, the British tell the Puritans of Europe, “Tell you what, we’ll restore you to eastern Massachusetts since everyone hates you and has for no good reason kicked your ass all over the globe for thousands of years.” At this time eastern Massachusetts is a desolate wasteland: a few nomadic Indians, a handful of Puritans (still there), no infrastructure, no architecture. Even hardy plants do not grow on the ground, which is mostly rocks. You could walk around outside naked in eastern Massachusetts with little fear that anyone would see you. If you walked ten miles, you’d see fewer than ten people. So, there is plenty of room for the Puritans’ homecoming. And nobody owned the land; no Indians had mixed their labor with it. So, the British say, “Look, you Indians have an entire continent back, thanks to us. Hardly any of you live in this desolate, tiny, part. We’re going to give it to the Puritans, whom you kicked out 1300 years ago. The Indians there are welcome to stay. But notice that they can also go to any of the vast, open areas of your land, too, so....” The British let thousands of Puritans come from Europe to eastern Massachusetts. From the time they arrive, the Puritans face constant attack from the Indians.

Weirdly, the British decide to double-cross the Puritans and side with the Indians. The British think they need Indians as a geo-strategic ally for the British Empire. They stop bringing the Puritans from Europe, as promised. The European Puritans say, “But the Germans are killing us in ovens. You promised.” The British say, “Shut up.” Furthermore, the British allow the Indians to rape, beat, and murder the Puritans with impunity for two decades. They arrest Puritans who defend themselves. They tell the United Nations, “These Puritans don’t get along well with others.” Finally, the Puritans violently kick the British out and take power, in order to save their lives. The United Nations recognizes Eastern Massachusetts as a Puritan state, out of sympathy for the fact that everyone wants to kill them, and for the fact that the 10% of Puritans in Europe who weren’t exterminated in ovens and who are now homeless refugees, need a place to go. In just a few years, the Puritans build a prosperous country in the desolate wasteland: irrigation, agriculture, infrastructure, industry. Indians have been unable to do this for themselves anywhere in North America; they have always been destitute. Their hatred for the Puritans increases, because of envy and shame. Hundreds of thousands of Indians immigrate to Eastern Mass. Puritans build them four universities, and give them millions in other aid. The Indians get good jobs and have nice lives, unlike the impoverished and bellicose Indians elsewhere in North America, who are constantly at war with each other, as well as with the Puritans.

The entire Indian Nation of North America tries for the entire second half of the 20th Century to kill all the Puritans, and they send invading armies, money, armaments. In the late ’40’s, the Indian Nation of North America tells many of the Eastern Massachusetts Indians to leave their homes and become refugees in order to make room for the invading Indian armies. The Puritans defend themselves successfully against the invasion. The world calls this racist oppression of poor Indians and says, “And look at the refugee camps full of homeless Indians you created! Dirty Puritans!” The Puritans maintain defensive armies on the western part of their country. The world calls this an “occupation”. They build towns there. The world calls this “illegal settlements”. Unfortunately, there are mountains in western Massachussetts. They would enable the Indians to stage a devastating attack on the Puritans and, as the Indians themselves promise, "push the Puritans into the sea". So, the Puritans must keep that land or suffer a holocaust of six million again.

In 1964 the Indians invent an ethnicity called “the Eastern Massachusettans”, an ancient Indian tribe with a distinctive culture and a right to self-determination, although they have no genetic or cultural differences from any Indians and have never heard of the concept of “Eastern Massachusettans”. (And had this concept been explained to them, say, in 1880, they would have said, “That’s a weird concept without any resemblance to reality. We’re Indian nomads living at the desolate edge of our country.”)

The leader of the Eastern Mass Indians, Fat Ass, who has been killing Puritans for decades, gets the Nobel Peace Prize for defending the rights of his poor, “oppressed” people. He pow-wows with the Puritans many times, while sending his people to kill as many Puritans as he can in between pow-wows and praising the killers. Any Puritan soldier who responds too violently is court marshaled by the Puritans (500+ court marshaled so far). The Puritans offer Fat Ass a part of Eastern Mass, as his own state, for his people. He responds by killing more Puritans than ever. The Puritans send tanks into the western part of their own country to round up the terrorists. Every country in the world denounces this hostile “invasion” and demands that the Puritans not defend themselves and “give peace a chance”. Even the Puritans’ faithful friend, Greenland (that’s the U.S.), says, “Come on, violence never solves anything.” Meanwhile Greenland has, in just the months before, violently and successfully eliminated the Indians who were invading it and thousands of Greenlanders. The six million Puritans living in Eastern Mass say, “I think we’re all going to be killed.” The rest of the world laughs and says, “That’s the craziest thing we ever heard. Six million Puritans get massacred? Who ever heard of such a thing! Dirty, lying Puritans! Now, stop oppressing Indians!!”