On War, This Website, and Concession

Many battles are fought on this website every day, many small wars among our small but dedicated blogging community, wars reflective of larger wars. The fallout from the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the possibility of new wars emerging from it. Wars involving wars between Muslims and secularists, the “left” and the “right,” etc. The Israel/Palestine war is another brutal conflict which is fought out on these threads.  So many wars.

And the very fact that we bother to fight them here, in conversations so long, with posts often so long and difficult to write, for absolutely no pay and often no gratitude even, indicates to me that no matter how much we may dislike, even loathe, someone’s ideology, we are all ultimatelypeople of character who do not INTENTIONALLY lie. Because if we weren’t, we’d be putting our energies into some much larger, more effective propaganda machine, perhaps for pay. And our continued presence here also says to me that as unbelievable as it may sometimes seem, we all fight these wars to end war.

I also maintain that these verbal wars fought here are not in reality small, because many “real” wars don’t come from “somewhere on high”, and even when they do, the only possible way for this to stop in the long run is through true global democracy, which is based on indiciduals. And as is often said, the war begins and ends with oneself. So why not fight it out here and achieve some peace? It’s as important as any Paris Peace Talks, in some ways more.

Now before the institution of moderation here, the wars fought on these threads were far bloodier. And this is because guidelines for “civil discussion” have now been set  But this does not end the wars by any means. ALL it means is that a forum for peace talks has been established. It doesn’t mean that the peace talks will be successful and in some cases that they have even really begun.

So I think we need to broaden our perspectives and instead of focusing only on the legitimate boundaries of “civilized dialogue” which can often be so hateful yet so polite, we need to also think about concession. Because peace talks only succeed when concessions are made on both sides. And I have lately been thinking that the first concession that must be made here in our little blogging family is that ultimately and essentially we are all people of character who DON’T intentionally lie.  We don’t have to like each other,just accept that we all have character. Once we make this concession (and I simply CANNOT foresee any progress until it is made), then it will be possible to really begin negotiations. And they too, will have to be made concession by concession.

For example, I have seen it conceded   that people who organized the Revolution have publicly admitted that  they inflated the figures of the Shah’s tortures on one “side,” and on the other that regardless of this the tortures existed and were wrong. This seems so basic to me. And I have to say that as far as I know far more concessions have been made over the past months in the Iranian wars than in the Israel/Palestine one, where I have seen practically none. I’ve seen people offer concessions and be refused, One time someone apologized to me for using “Nazi State of Israel” in the subtitle of his blog. That was a major concesion. But it couldn’t have happened if he hadn’t known that I consider him a person of character.

And as a non-Zionist Jew raised as a Zionist, I can tell you that this is the FIRST concession that MUST be made by anti-Zionists, You CANNOT call a Zionist a Nazi. You CANNOT say Nazi State of Israel. EVEN IF YOU THINK IT’S TRUE, for purely PRAGMATIC reasons. It won’t work. Because you will NEVER WIN A SINGLE ZIONIST HEART OR MIND, you will ONLY succeed in backfiring, in frightening them and polarizing them into the welcoming arms of totalitarianism in ways unimaginable. And then you are PART of the Palestinian problem, NOT the solution.

The first concession I believe the extreme Zionists have to make is that even if THEY believe the Palestinian attrocities have been worse tthan the Israeli, and that the Pallestinians started the whole thing, that from the individual Palestinian perspective, the Israels do commit attrocities that are inexcusable, and that they are not wrong for feeling this way.  This all seems to me so basic.

This week a war was fought on this issue in the ugliest possible way because it happened on a thread of mourning for the Holocaust, a photo essay about the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. And the word Nazi was bandied about and I won’t go into details, I’m sick of them anyway. You can find them on the thread of “Being There” now on page 2 (sorry Foaad this computer really DOES NOT paste links), So I’ll just say that the extreme Zionist left and I was left debating the anti-Zionists and I said I wouldn’t leave this thread until I got one single concession from one single person. And I didn’t, and I thought I’d failed and that what had happened was that everyone finally left because I’d simply taked them to death.

Anyway the next day since everyone’d at least shut up I posted the Kaddish, the Heberw prayer for the dead in Hebrew and English on that thread. And the concession came from the most surprsising place. It seems the extreme Zionist had been tracking the thread all along, and he re-emerged to say Amen and he pointed out to me that I’d made one tinyy typo in the Hebrew transliteration, and that after I corrected it, he’d edit this out of his post. And of course this happened.

What he did not say was that when I posted the Kaddish, I had changed the final words. The original says, Life to all of us and to all Israel,  And I changed it in English and Hebrew simply to Life to all of us and to all.

Now similar practices have been occurring in some Reform synagogues, but that’s not what’s really relevant here. It happens only in individual synagogues, it is not generally accepted by the Reform Jews,  it is unaccepted by the Conservatives and the Orthodox and certainly not loved by extreme Zionists. What is relevant, I think, even more relevant than that he did not say anything about it to me publicly, is that he did not say anything to me privatley either.

It is perhaps difficult for some of you to understand what an enormous, concession this was coming from an extreme Zionist regarding my changing the final words of the sacred ancient  Hebrw prayer for the dead on a thread of mourning for the Holocaust–a prayer so sacred to him that he wrote me publicly about one tiny typo in the Hebrew–just because I chose to change it .

You will just have have to trust me.  It wa an enormous, enormous concession.

Civilized dialogue. Concession.. Character.





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