Thursday, January 08, 2009

The fallacy of moral equivalence

Much is made of Hamas supposed intentions to destroy Israel. Even if true (and whether this intention exists is controversial), it's completely irrelevant.

What is relevant is that the residents of Gaza, human beings every one, are being denied ordinary civil rights by Israel and Egypt, agents of US imperialism. They are neither citizens of their own sovereign state, protected by international law, nor citizens of Israel, afforded rights and privileges under Israeli law. The right to be a citizen of a sovereign state is a basic civil right, protected (IIRC) by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Moreover, Gaza is surrounded by hostile states and their access to the sea has been blockaded. They are utterly dependent on Israel for the basic means of subsistence: food, water, electricity and trade, and Israel has been using their control of these basic necessities as an instrument of war.

When a people are being objectively oppressed, they have a right — even a duty — to violently resist. And, so long as they are in fact being oppressed and are indeed resisting, it is not meaningful to criticize any element of their ideology.

People are responsible for their acts, not their beliefs. So long as they are objectively being oppressed, any violent acts must be treated as legitimate resistance. Even if Hamas shouted from the rooftops that all left-handed redheads must die, they are not morally culpable for their acts so long as they kill only left-handed redheads who are actually oppressing them.

Blaming the victims, even a little bit, for their own oppression is as morally contemptible as blaming the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto for resisting the Nazi oppression, even thought there are in fact abhorrent elements of Jewish ideology.


  1. Right. That was my point over in my discussion. Even if we are to believe (which I do not) that the Israeli actions in Gaza (and towards the Palestinians in general) are the correct, necessary, or even the only options to exercise, none of that would make them moral choices. There's an unfortunate tendency in this country to conflate "necessary" or "only" with "good."

  2. Your logic escapes me...the Jews were lobbing rockets into Berlin, so the Germans had a right to exterminate them?

  3. It is true Hamas launched the first rocket since the ceasefire ended, however, for Isreal to do what it's doing now, it has become a potentially genocidal situation. If we must go back to who started this first for Isreal to react the way they have, you would have to go back 60 years or so when the occupation of this area began. Very sad state for the people in Gaza who are living like animals. That's what this is, anyway you slice it, an occupation and Isreal must be so careful in how they handle this, it could very well bite them back.
    J Allen

  4. Dr Atomix, it is not necessary to hold one group over the other in this discussion; that one's foe engages in deplorable acts is not sufficient to mitigate the responsibility one's own cause carries for its actions.

  5. Arundati Roy ponders "resistance" on a similar level in this video... scroll down.

    Dr. Atomix, Yes. And the Germans invaded and occupied the Jew's land, so one can empathize with the Jew's response. *head shakes in question*

  6. SexArise!

    What isn't reported much is that in early November, Israel conducted targeted assassinations, in addition to killing Palestinians trying to to use the tunnels to bypass the Israeli siege. THEN, the Palestinians started shooting rockets in late November after one of their leaders was assassinated.

    The real question is, dis Israel provoke in order to justify the current cleansing of Hamas? History would suggest this is highly likely, given that it has been documented that Israe and the US tried to provoke a civil war between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas saw it coming, and ran Fatah out of Gaza.

    *shrug ?*

  7. Dr. Atomix: Your point escapes me. Are you asserting that the Jews were objectively and effectively oppressing the German people, and denying them civil rights using state power? Such an assertion would seem... er... somewhat ahistorical.

  8. Sexarise: I think you are wrong. The people who shot first and broke the peace treaty between Israel and Hamas was Israel Forces, not Hamas. I watched in Democracy Now a specialist stating that the Israelis were the ones who actually broke the truce between Israel and Hamas.


  9. Neo-Nazi British National Party Supports Israeli Attack on Gaza

    No don’t adjust your eyesight. You don’t have double vision. That’s right. Yup, that's right. The fascist British National, whose leader believes that the Nazi holocaust is a hoax, is overjoyed at the genocide in Gaza. And why not? They're killing Muslims so it can't be bad.

    For all the nonsense about it being ‘anti-Semitic’ to support the Palestinians, it is the Holocaust denying British National Party, founded by devoted Hitler lover, John Tyndall, that has come out most fulsomely in support of the genocidal Israeli attack on Gaza.

    Under the title Europes Jews Face Marxist Wrath Over Gaza with a sub-heading ‘Rise In Attacks On Europe's Jews’ we read that:

    Attacks on Jews in Britain and Europe are rising as the violence in Gaza continues.’ It quotes the Zionist Community Security Trust, a group of mainly ex-Israeli military dedicated to protecting Jews from the influence of anti-Zionism that ‘there have been 24 incidents in Britain since December 29.

    We are told, in horrified tones, that ‘This includes an arson attack on a synagogue in London.’ something the BNP would never have dreamed of doing! The Thurrock Patriot goes on to quote the CST’s Mark Gardner:

    There has been a significant rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, especially when compared with what is usually a very quiet time of year for racist, anti-Jewish attacks," spokesman Mark Gardner said.... In the attack on the synagogue in Brondesbury north west London, arsonists tried to smash a window.

    Fortunately ‘They failed because of the toughened protective glass.’ And it goes on to describe a series of similar attacks, all with suitable disapproval.

    We are told of a number of similar incidents across Europe and they quote Lib Dem spokesperson, Chris Hune MP thus:

    I am deeply concerned by the evidence in the Community Security Trust's report that the Israeli invasion of Gaza is being used as a pretext for threats against the Jewish community in Britain.

    But this is nothing new. On April 10th 2008, the Guardian carried a story ‘BNP seeks to bury antisemitism and gain Jewish votes in Islamophobic campaign’.· Ruth Smeed of the Board of Deputies of British Jews explained that

    The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web - it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel.

    For those who are still mystified the BNP’s fuhrer, Nick Griffin is more than willing to explain:

    When the overwhelming majority of the instinctively patriotic people of our nations feel threatened by an alien force which is self-evidently evil by Christian and democratic secular values alike, to place oneself in the position whereby our political opponents can portray you as an enemy sympathiser, a collaborator, a traitor, is political suicide.

    However there are some fools and clowns who haven’t got the message. One is Israel Shamir, a virulent anti-Semite and according to Gilad Atzmon a ‘unique and advanced thinker’. He was most upset with the BNP’s support for Zionism.

    I do not feel at ease accusing you and your comrades of betraying the Britons and joining with the Jews, but if I'd keep mum, stones won't. I'd publish your response, and I hope you'll spread mine among your readers and members.

    But although the Thurrock Patriot and the grass-roots of the fascists are all in favour of Israel murdering as many Palestinians and Muslims as possible, the BNP’s Chairman Nick Griffin has been slightly more circumspect. In an article Israel and Gaza on 5th January 2009 he purports to take a neutral stance, which in fact is anything but neutral:

    We have said nothing, quite simply, because it’s nothing to do with Britain, and therefore nothing to do with the British National Party…. The fighting in Gaza is not a proper concern for a British political party… unless there are clear issues of our own national interest to give us the right, and our government the duty, to interfere....

    endless television coverage of dead or injured Palestinian children (the anti-Israeli bias of the leftist BBC is particularly marked) will inflame Islamist extremists against not only Israel but also against other Western states, including the UK and our soldiers currently stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Most of us were under the impression that the BBC had been wholly supportive of the arguments in favour of Israel's attack on Gaza, endlessly repeating the spurious arguments about an Israeli 'reaction' to Hamas's rockets. Griffin continues:

    Indeed, the destruction of Israel (which is the generally stated aim of all the far-left and Muslim demonstrators screaming and on occasion rioting outside the Israeli Embassy in London, and the generally unstated aim of the far smaller number of neo-Nazi cranks siding with them on the Internet) would most definitely not placate a single hardline Muslim.

    The destruction of Israel would not send Islam back into a peaceful slumber, but would merely inspire and radicalise a whole new generation of Jihadist fanatics with the idea that the hour of their final triumph against the ‘Crusaders’ had been signalled by the collapse of the latter’s ‘Zionist outpost’ on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean.

    And Griffin proceeds to outline the horrific scenarios that might result, including a Muslim India and the colonisation of the United States!

    While Israel’s no-holds barred self-defence undoubtedly gives Islamist recruiters good material with which to radicalise some of their less motivated brethren, Israel’s extinction would provide them with even stronger arguments in favour of Jihad. The most elementary study of their rhetoric shows that they do not regard Israel as the great enemy, merely as the catspaw of Christendom….

    Thus while we would oppose any move to entangle Britain in war on behalf of Israel, it is in our clear national interest that it should survive. Whether that survival is made any more or less likely by responding on such a scale to the cynical provocations by Hamas is another matter, but that judgement is for Israelis to make at the ballot box, and not for us….. Our people must understand that Islam is not a mutated version of Christianity with a pacifist core in which the Meek will inherit the earth; it’s a creed of War and the Sword.... Nor is it about guerrilla warfare successes of the kind seen in Afghanistan and Lebanon, which may yet emerge in Gaza.

    But in June 2006 Lee Barnes, the BNP's head of legal affairs wrote on the party's website:
    As a Nationalist I can say that I support Israel 100% in their dispute with Hizbullah. In fact, I hope they wipe Hizbullah off the Lebanese map and bomb them until they leave large greasy craters in the cities where their Islamic extremist cantons of terror once stood. [the link was but the article has been removed].

    So despite all the nonsense from the Zionists and their echo chambers in the press it is quite clear. The main fascist and neo-Nazi party in Britain supports Israel's attack on Gaza! So much for anti-Semitism.

    Tony Greenstein
    Posted by azvsas at 23:04


    A picture of one of the childrens burried by the evil Israel killer terrorist state.


  11. Hey i just found out in one of Nietzsche's books i have here that Marx's prediction wasn't a crazy prediction, that Marx was like Nostradamus because Marx predicted that workers will be in power.

    Fredrich Nietzsche the german philosopher said in sect. 758 of his book The Will to Power, that some day in the future workers will be the ruling classes, and they will hold power, and be rich like the bourgeoise-classes are today


  12. Fredrich Nietzsche the german philosopher said in sect. 758 of his book The Will to Power, that some day in the future workers will be the ruling classes, and they will hold power, and be rich like the bourgeoise-classes are today

    Nietzsche was discussing a classic cycle from his point of view wherein the "slave" classes undermined and eventually tore down the "masters," assumed their places, and started the cycle all over again. And while I consider myself something of a Nietzschean, let's not forget that he was far from perfect and was not possessed of prognostication.

  13. James F. Elliot: I agree with you about that history is based on cycles and the cycle of slaves becoming the masters. That's why the workers-state won't be a real democracy. In the workers-state (Proletarian-dictatorship), it is true that it will be a more democratic-stage than the state we live now where the bourgeoise are the ones who control the dictatorship (Borugeois-dictatorship), however in the proletarian-dictatorship, the non-workers will be victims of that dictatorship. Only when the state will wither away in an anarchist-stage, that will be the stage of the ubermensch, but i think that it will be around the year 2500.

    Remember that Marx said that each political-stage lasts like 500 years. So if we are still in a world-capitalist stage not even in the socialist-state stage, it will mean that the proletarian-dictatorship (Socialist-state stage) might begin in the year 2050 or 2100 and end in 2500-2600, and that's where anarchism will take place.


  14. The residents of Gaza elected a known terrorist organization. This is the price they pay for their actions.

  15. Anonymous said...

    But Hamas kills a lot less than state-terrorists organizations. Like Mark Twain said that the differences between a state-terrorist and a revolutionary-terrorist is that state-terrorists kill millions and revolutionary-terrorists, dozens of people or hundreds.

    And you are right Hamas kills people, but remember this quote from the Count of Montecristo

    "I am a count, not a saint." -The Count of Montecristo

    Hamas are revolutionary-counts, not saints :-)



  16. Anonymous: The Jews of Germany had the temerity to resist their oppression. The Holocaust was the price they had to pay for their actions.


  17. I still think it is legitimate to critize deliberate targeting of civillians.

    But regardless of the moral equivalence (or lack thereof), it is stupid for the Palestinians to advocate, for instance, murdering all of the citizens of Israel and tossing them into the sea, or even just to say they'd never grant a state to Israel. This is just fuel for the right-wingnut Israelis (and right-wingnuts here) to "justify" the stupid military action Israel is taking right now (and other actions like it).

    Why throw gasoline on the fire? It doesn't cost the Palestinians anything to say that they want peace and don't want to murder every Israeli (not just the guilty ones) and it doesn't hurt to say they'd happily support an Israeli state, so long as they get one too.

    If you kidnap me and torture me and I ask the world to help free me from you, it probably doesn't help my cause if I also mention that I'm going to murder you, your family, your neighbors, and everyone else who lives in your city, too, once I get the chance. Sure, it may be understandable that I'd be pissed off, and probably justified in killing at least you and maybe your neighbors if they knew I was here and helped keep me your prisoner, but my saying that would also allow you to "justify" holding me by saying you were keeping a crazed murderer off of the street.

    I'm not concerned so much with "moral equivalence" as I am with practicality - what will help and what won't.

  18. DBB: but your praticality is very wrong indeed, because this genocide against Palestine was pre-planned from 6 months ago. And anyways, you demand that Hamas cease fire and give up arms. But your theory is wrong, because you are saying that Israel needs fire in order for Israel to kill palestinians. Israel would kill gazans even if Hamas doesn't shoot any rockets, because of the fact that the side who broke the truce were the Israelis not Hamas.

    Besides what Israel is doing is a systematic genocide, they don't need pretexts, or even Hamas shooting rockets at them for Israel to continue with their mass genocide.

    So if Hamas kills an Israeli civilian, so what. Why do you demand that Hamas behaves like Jesus of Nazareth and turn the other cheek. Remember that Hamas are humans, and the law of humans is "An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth"

    So Hamas are in their moral right to kill Israeli citizens.

    Remember again that Hamas are not Jesus, they are humans.


  19. DBB: When you're ready to turn in your US Passport, dye your skin and fly to Gaza to fight alongside the people there for their rights and liberties with no easy way to escape, I'll no longer consider your position condescending and paternalistic.

    Until then our client state is paying pilots with our money to drop our bombs out of our airplanes on civilians, and it's our responsibility to speak out against it.

  20. If you kidnap me and torture me and I ask the world to help free me from you, it probably doesn't help my cause if I also mention that I'm going to murder you, your family, your neighbors, and everyone else who lives in your city, too, once I get the chance.

    For a lawyer, you seem unclear on the whole "equal protection" thing. Yes, doofus: The world has precisely the same obligation to extend legal protection to assholes and idiots as it does to nice people.

    Unless you think that people with opinions you don't like are not deserving of legal and ethical protections.

  21. BB: I think you missed my point. I'm not saying that Palestinians don't need protection and I'm not saying that Israel isn't in the wrong. They do and Israel is. Israel needs to stop this immediately. I'm not saying the Palestinians deserve to be attacked for what they say.

    I just think it fails to help the Palestinian cause to have the official government of Gaza declaring they will kill all Israelis and erase Israel from the map. It wins no one to their cause and it reduces the level of sympathy people feel for them, which is rather counter productive.

    And I'm sorry, it is just stupid. It is morally justified for Palestinians to want justice against those who are killing them right now. It is NOT justified for them to want to kill lots of additional, innocent people on top of that.

    Personally, I wish we would butt out of Israel - it is disgusting that we send so much military aid to them and on top of that, despite large numbers of people who object to this latest offensive and to Israel policy in general, there are no politicians in this country who will speak out against Israel - it is instead unconditional support no matter what atrocities they commit. Glenn Greenwald has a post on this where he wonders if there is any other issue on which there is unanimous agreement in the ruling class that is totally unrepresentative of the population at large.

    While we share responsibility for the mess there because of the military aid and support we give, and so this explains some of our interest, I also find it rather disgusting that Israel and Palestine get so much attention while other areas of the world where there are even greater atrocities being committed (some with aid from us) are totally ignored in the media.

    Finally, just to make sure I'm totally clear as apparently I wasn't the first time around - I never said that the Palestinians need to disarm or not defend themselves, I never said that we should not speak out against what Israel is doing. All I said was that it was not helpful for the Palestinians to have their government in Gaza have an official policy of wanting to kill all Israelis and wipe the nation off of the map. I don't think the fact that they do have this policy means we don't try to stop this stupid Israeli war or that we don't try to protect them, give them their own state, and everything else that needs to be done.

    To get to my silly example, I wasn't saying that I should not be rescued from being kidnapped and tortured or that the torture was justfiied. I was saying that I'm probably going to find a lot fewer people willing to rescue me if I talk about murdering innocent people once free to do so. And while maybe a PR Factor like that is irrelevant in an individual kidnapping, it is very relevant when the issue is on the world stage and requires other nations to take action than your own (refering to the Palestinians).

    PR matters. Which is why their position, while somewhat understandable, is still stupid. Especially when they are pretty much powerless, so all they have as ammunition in this fight are their words.

    You mention the fact that I'm a lawyer - well, with real cases, often the most relevant factor is how sympathetic your client is. If the facts and law are on your side but the jury sees your client as a totally unsympathetic asshole, you can lose just based on that. Which is why any good lawyer does his or her best to make the client look as sympathetic as possible. Think of this as my attempt at legal advice. You don't get any sympathy points for calling for the deaths of innocents - you lose them.

    I think the facts and the law are on the side of the Palestinians in this - I see Israel's attack as basically evil. It can only help the Palestinians in this to also seem as sympathetic as possible.

    In any discussion on this, the side that is unconditionally supporting Israel just pulls out all of the death to innocents rhetoric from Hamas to justify it. Why not take that away from them? It gets a lot harder to justify it- not that I have any illusions that the rabid right would change their mind, but maybe without such statements we could find some politicians who would go the other way.

  22. You're completely missing my point, DBB.

    Issues of public relations shouldn't matter. Serious, intelligent people — such as you and I — should look at actions, not ideology in deciding questions of justice, civil rights and war.

    The only relations public relations has to truth is that public relations usually contains active falsity. Money drives public relations, and even considering issues of public relations just gets you sucked into letting the people with money drive your opinions — to their own interests, not the interests of truth or justice.

    Even talking about Hamas' ideology is as unjustified as even observing that some woman was dressed "too sexily" when deciding how vigorously to prosecute her rapist. It's not relevant, and talking about it poisons the idea of talking and thinking about actual justice.

    As long as they are actively resisting oppression, Hamas and the residents of Gaza should have any ideology they please.

  23. Furthermore, the Israeli people are no more "innocent" — living on land illegally and immorally taken by conquest from the Palestinians — than you or I would be considered "innocents" if the American Indians decided to resist their own oppression.

  24. You are right, in terms of doing the right thing, PR shouldn't matter. But in terms of actually accomplishing things, it usually does matter. That was really my only point. Probalby I just shouldn't have said anything, but I have a big mouth.

    I won't touch the whole "whose land it is" issue with a ten-foot cattle prod. I'd rather eat a live bee.

  25. DBB: Who said that Lebanon wants to erase Israel from the map? That is a big lie.

    What Lebanon and even Iran wants is to erase *zionist-fascism* from the Middle-East map, and not the nation of Israel itself from the map.

    So learn philology and learn how to compherend texts and written statements.

    Don't deconstruct what Iran and Palestinian leaders state.

    Another thing is that you are saying that you want Hamas and Palestine to stop killing Israeli citizens.

    But last time i checked Hamas and Palestines haven't killed Israeli citizens at all. The numbers of Israelis killed in this attack were 11.

    While the *number* of Palestine citizens killed in this battle is almost 800.

    And anyways, i repeat to you that Hamas and Hezbollah are not Jesus of Nazareth, they are rebels, revolutionaries, fighters, fighting a war of resistance against a fascist evil army.

    So don't demand the turning of the other cheeks to Hamas, because what you are demanding is for Israel to *keep killing Palestines* and for Palestines to welcome the Israeli forces with petals and flowers (are you crazy or something).

    that is analogy like if 10 rapists came into my house raped my sisters killed them, and you would demand from me to welcome them with a cake, coffee and roses and flowers.

    Thanx but no thanx !!

    I would welcome anybody raping and killing my sisters, with a Winchester.

    Like Clint Eastwood in his movie "Dirty Harry" who said to a karate fighther "I know Winchester."



    You need the Windows-media movie player for this. Another thing is that this live-cam is too dark, so you will need to increase the brightness levels in the Windows Media Player settings:



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