Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cool Rationalism vs. Atavistic Fanatics

Last week Uri Dromi published another column at the Guardian's CiF. Dromi is one of the Guardian's fig leaves, enabling them to say they can't be antisemites because look at the range of their authors.

The reason I'm linking is because there's an interesting dynamic there. Dromi is looking for facts, trying to sift evidence and evaluate it. The kind of thing an educated enlightened person should do. Many of the responders haven't the slightest interest in facts; for them, the story is crystal clear and shouldn't be muddied:
These days, I find it hard to find the will to comment on blogs that seeks to deny or minimise violence against the Palestinians in the hands of Israel state. I cry for our collective failure to defend the Palestinians. We know what needs to be done- boycott Israel until the state of Israel violence oppression against the Palestinians comes to an end. Thank you the Guardian and other media outlets and their brave journalists do informing us the truth of this not secret inhumanity.

Or this one:

This is all just nonsense anyway. The fact is that no matter what either side do. Palestinians have the moral authority because they have a moral right to resist occupation and being forced to live in the largest open air prison in the world.

One of the many reasons enlightened people the world over need to confront antisemitism is this: the antisemites are a throwback to the darker moments of history, and they dismantle the tools crafted over centuries by which society climbed up out of barbarity.


Gavin said...

Yaacov the one which has been irritating me is the ongoing claims about white phosphorus. The UK Times kicked that one off & they've been like a dog with a bone with it ever since. Here's my interest;

The WP was used in smoke shells, everyone has at least finally agreed that was the limit of its use. The fact sheet on them describes each shell as containing felt pads which had WP impregnated into them. The WP ignited, the pads contained the blaze and each pad ejected the white smoke. According to the fact sheet the residue of the spent smoke was charred pads littering the ground. They may still be burning when they hit the ground, but the blaze was (theoretically) contained within the pad.

For people to receive phosphorus burns from these either the phosphorus must be ejected from the pad and attach itself to whatever it lands on, or the pad itself was landing on people and burning them.

If people were receiving deep burns from phosphorus laden pads then the pads must have been present in the wound, yet no medical reports have mentioned this. It would of course be definitive proof of phosphorus burns, and the cynic in me says that we would have heard about it if that had happened. If phosporus was instead being ejected from the pads and creating a shower of phosphorus that hits exposed people, is that a known phenomenon of these shells or is it a failure of the manufacturer to properly contain the phosphorus within the pad for its burn duration?

To me these are very obvious questions, and yet no-one has asked or answered them. I cannot see the burning felt pads causing the burns described, and if it was an un-anticipated manufacturers fault that caused random phosphorus to disperse from their containers & cause burns then that is a tragedy but it would not be construed as a war crime. It may also be that none of the burn victims were burnt by WP at all.

Your thoughts...?

Regards, Gavin

Yaacov said...

Hi Gavin -

Were the munitions malfunctioning, one might add, that would be the responsibility of the manufacturer, and whoever that is, it isn't the Israelis; they've been importing these shells.

I brought Achikam's take on this a week or two ago, but haven't written further since I don't have the full facts. it's a highly technical matter, not an ideological one, and focuses on who shot what at which range and so on, none of which I'm in the position to comment on. The IDF initially denied, now they say they're investigating, from which I can surmise they feel there may be some sort of a case to respond to, so they wish to do so in a careful and factual matter. This is bad PR, but for those of us who try to base our positions on facts, it's ultimately more useful. So we wait until the IDF publishes its findings, which then can be scrutinized for plausibility.

Gavin said...

Thanks Yaacov. That was a bit long-winded of me there. I was really just trying to make the analagy of putting a match to a jar of petrol, and putting a match to a rag soaked with a jar of petrol. The two fires would have completely different properties, albeit both fueled by petrol. You can't spray someone with a burning rag. The reports were of the widely known WP type where they allegedly burnt down to the bone. Pure WP by itself does that, but not if it's soaked in a rag.

It will be interesting to see what develops, the WP claims have really been irritating me.

Cheers, Gavin