Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Clarification

I got an email from an old friend responding to my last post that made me think some more about what I'd written. I think my friend understood what I'd written, but I realized that maybe someone else, who doesn't know me as well, might not. So, I want to clarify.

When I say that reading People of the Book helped me better understand some of the actions of Israel, that is not the same as saying I agree with those actions. To be honest, I don't feel that I know enough about the situation in Israel and Palestine to have a solid opinion about what anyone should or shouldn't do (except stop targeting civilians- I'm pretty clear about that). But I think that the only way you get to a negotiated peace is if you try to really understand the reasons behind each side's positions. And I felt that by making me really understand the horror of how the Jewish people had been treated even before the Holocaust, People of the Book gave me a little more insight into the reasons behind some of the Israeli positions.

I'll give you an example from a different conflict- Northern Ireland. When I was in graduate school, I dated an Irish man (he was from the Republic, not the North). That, combined with a random decision to take a class on Modern Irish History in college, led me to read a lot of Irish history. From all that reading, I felt I could understand why the Irish Republican Army existed and even why the Protestant paramilitary organizations existed. But that didn't mean that I thought what they were doing was right- far from it. I remember meeting an idealistic, left-leaning Swedish man during that time, and upon hearing that I was dating an Irish man, he launched into a speech about how justified the IRA was. I told him I disagreed. They were terrorists, and terrorism is never justified. (At the same time, I thought that the only way to negotiate a lasting peace was to include the IRA in the negotiations- but that's a whole new can of worms that I'm not going to open right now.)

OK, back to our regular schedule of posts about babies who won't sleep and pictures of things that make me smile.


  1. Sonia5:04 AM

    I love your aside about the IRA. My family is, among other things, Irish Catholic, and I grew up listening to really fabulous Irish music (which I still love). Now, as a grad student studying Northern Ireland, I understand that the situation is more nuanced than that. If push came to shove, I'd admit that my sympathies are with the Republicans, but their methods are horrifying. And can't write Irish history without recognizing the role the IRB/IRA played in creating an independent, self-sufficient Irish state. Their role in the maintenance of that state in the 21st century is problematic, especially since nearly no one in the Republic or the North was born before Partition.

  2. You did a nice job, I thought, in articulating why you thought what you thought without expressing much opinion. It was very careful.


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.