Friday, April 11, 2008

Murdering People You Know

Two Palestinians have been arrested for conspiring to poison people at the restaurant where they worked, in Ramat Gan.

Misguided observers often plead for programs that will bring together Palestinians and Israelis, in the hope that if people know one another they'll recognize their common humanity and desist from warring.

As if. Shall we parse this story? The two suspects had no work permits, which means they were employed by a Jew in Ramat Gan who was willing to look the other way - undoubtedly because he was paying them less, but in any case, it was an arrangement that everyone understood and accepted. They were going to put this poison into the food they were preparing, and the people who would have been hurt (killed?) would have been of three groups: anonymous patrons of the restaurant; regulars, with whom the suspects might have had a relationship; and fellow colleagues at the restaurant, with whom they most certainly had some sort of human relationship and familiarity.


Lydia McGrew said...

I hate to say it, but sometimes groups of people like each other better when they have _less_ contact with each other rather than more. The idea that we'll all be one happy family if we just get to know each other is naive for more reasons than one. It contradicts what we see of human nature, both on the micro and on the macro scale, and of course it recks without the inculcation of hatred in whole societies, as in the case of the Palestinians.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I see two problems with this post.

First, the generalization from a single case. When people claim that getting to know each other could lead to peace, they don't mean that this works in every single case. There are exceptions. The would-be Palestinian poisoners are one. The Kapos who savagely beat and killed other inmates they knew personally are another one. The Jewish patients who were treated by Arab nurse Adel Kaadan but refused to admit him into their town of Katzir when he tried to move there are a third example.

The other problem is the implication that only the Palestinians are capable of acting treacherously toward their patrons and co-workers. Given the proper circumstances, however, all people are capable of a similarly horrendous behavior. In Argentina, for instance, we remember the case of a leftist girl who, back in the times of the military dictatorship, befriended an admiral's daughter, only to plant a bomb in their house that failed to kill the admiral but did kill his daughter. Should we conclude that leftists are especially evil, or that, contrary to the general claim, making friends is not good for world peace?

Yaacov said...

So we all agree that familiarity doesn't necessarily breed brotherhood, and can even breed contempt and worse.

When it comes to Palestinians and Jews, the likelihood that the former will be willing to murder the latter is higher than usual. This has been the case for generations, arguably since the first World War.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Congratulations; you've discovered that oppressed people usually turn to violence against their oppressors. It happens in China with the Tibetans; it happens in Sri Lanka with the Tamil; and it also happens in the Occupied Territories with the Palestinians. Nothing new there.

What seems to be peculiar to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the oppressors' attitude. You don't hear reports of Chinese Han shooting Tibetan civilians for pleasure, like the Israelis do with the Palestinians. You don't hear reports of Han settlers stoning young Tibetan girls on their way to school. You don't hear reports of Han soldiers and settlers shooting holes into the Tibetans' water tanks.

In this upside down world, when Tibetans burn alive Han people the media focuses on the Chinese oppression, but when Israeli soldiers stomp on a 4-yr-old boy's stomach and break his elbow, the media focuses on Palestinian terrorism.

Yaacov said...

Ibrahim Ibrahim: You don't read carefully enough. I was quite purposeful in noting that the Palestinians patterns began - at the latest - at the end of World War ONE. Hardly any Zionist oppression of the Palestinians going on then, how could there have been?

I'm not an expert in Tibet. Some years ago, however, a number of Tibetans came to visit me at Yad Vashem, as part of a study tour they were taking in Israel, in an attempt to understand how Jews managed to survive 2,000 years of exile intact. The stories they told were far worse than anything Israel has ever done to the Palestinians, and then some. But maybe they were lying, what do I know.

As for this story you've repeatedly mentioned of the 4-year-old etc: I can't say it never happened, but I must admit that I don't know what you're talking about. However, if you knew anything about genocide (that's what the Tibetans were accusing the Chinese of) you'd know that there are generally thousands of cases of murder, or perhaps hundreds of thousands, or millions, and a story of one mutilated little boy generally gets lost in the noise. So your repeated harping on a number of (so far unidentified) specific cases seems actually to tell the opposite story than you intended, namely that there aren't that many Israeli crimes to scream about, huh?

Anyway, you owe me a response to the mail I sent you last week.


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Yaacov, why do you cherry-pick from my cherry-picking?

In any event, here's the source you're asking for: