Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Excusing" the Inexcusable

For those who don't understand what this thread is about, Red Tulips and I have been engaging in a dialogue that has touched on a few different subjects. I am very, very grateful to be able to have this discussion with someone like her. Most of the time, I tend to shy away from on-line conversations about Judaism, Islam, and Christianity because so often they end up in shouting matches.

On the other hand, I've spent several years studying Middle Eastern and Maghribi culture so it's obviously something I'm interested in. I have my first mentor professor to thank for that. Dr. Mackie Blanton is one of the most amazing people I have ever encountered and whatever I become, I know I do that it is at least partially because of the way he challenged me to aspire to become a life-long academician. He was the first person to ask me to serve on a Muslim/Christian/Jewish dialogue panel. I've never met someone more dedicated to increasing the level of unity between people of all faiths. On top of all of that, he was a great father figure. I remember when my daughter's pre-school was having open house and he came too. My daughter really used to think that he was just her really tall buddy. Even now, I'm always slipping up and calling him "Brother Blanton", which is an appellation that I only used with ministers from my childhood church. It just seems to fit him and he said he didn't mind me calling him that but he's earned that "Dr." label more than a lot of other people who walk around feeling self-important because of their PhD.

My second mentor professor was a physics professor. Dr. Ashok Puri is Hindu. Even though his focus is on the sciences, the biggest lessons that he taught me was that we need to care about others even if we don't seem to share much in common with them. I don't think I could even do justice by trying to describe how much time that he spends to helping people of color and women overcome academic deficiencies and go on to obtain graduate degrees. He could easily have chosen to devote his time and efforts to helping students of Indian descent. Heck, he could have just focused on his own two sons and he'd still be worthy of a lot of respect. One of the things that I really appreciate about him is how he made himself available to us no matter what he was doing. God only knows how Mrs. Puri was able to put up with us students calling his house all the time and all of the trips out of town that we all took.

I know I've gone off on a tangent but I just wanted to mention these two professors who took me under their wing and changed my view about how much mankind can actually accomplish in the way of brotherhood. Anyway, this is a message that I wrote in response to Red Tulips post "Redefining Terrorism". I've posted it here so that anyone who visits here can chime in if they want to.
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I don't think that when people use the "one man's terrorist..." cliche it's necessarily an attempt to justify a particular action as morally acceptable. I think it is simply a way of saying that who gets labeled a terrorist depends on what the labeler's interests are in the particular issue. I mean, if my favorite cousin goes out and kills a bus full of Japanese people, am I likely to view it as terrorism or just a case of road rage gone too far? The more we feel like we have in common with a group of people, the less likely we are to condemn their actions. That's human nature. It's because when we see ourselves in someone, it becomes to easier to be lenient with them as we'd want someone to be with us. If we can't relate to someone at all, then it's not such a problem to enact the harshest of punishments against them because we don't see ourselves as ever being anything like them.

First of all, this term "Islamofascists" makes absolutely no sense. It is specifically because America does not consider these people to be lawful combatants that it is claimed that the Geneva Convention standards do not apply to them. If this were some Islamofascist war then it would have to be against a particular government's army. I really wish that these labels would stop being thrown around so haphazardly. It only muddles the issues.

I do not believe that terrorism is ever justified. The problem with saying that the cause must be "THAT GREAT" is that those who engage in terrorist acts almost always feel that their cause is "THAT GREAT" even though the people who are their victims usually disagree. I can't think of a single group that has engaged in terrorist acts that did not think their actions were justifiable. I do not see how terrorism saves lives. It simply exchanges one type of atrocity for another. I see nothing ethical about that, especially since the majority of people who are victims of terrorism aren't necessarily guilty of anything. Yes, Jews were being systematically slaughtered. To me, the answer to that is for the slaughterers to stop killing NOT for other people to also become killers. Jews becoming killers did/does not prove that Jewish life is not cheap. It only proves that some Jews do not value life any more than the people who were willing to kill them. It's basically the equivalent of me as a parent spitting on my kid in order to teach my child that spitting on people is not acceptable. It just isn't logical despite whatever temporary satisfaction some may get from killing those they consider their enemies.

I'm sure that if you asked the "Rebels" if their cause was great enough to justify terrorizing those who disagreed with them, they'd have said it was. Why? Because people generally don't want to believe that they are unethical no matter what they do. I do not see genocide as an excuse for engaging in terrorism as we discussed before because if I were to believe this, then it would completely ethical for me to go out and kill anyone who isn't a Native American. With the number of Native Americans that have been slaughtered being much higher than the number of Jews that were killed, then the case for killing non-Native Americans would be even greater, would it not?

All terrorism is a means to an end. If the terrorizers didn't hope to accomplish something, then there would be no point in engaging in terrorist actions. It's rather scary to hear that some think that we should judge who lives or dies based on what we think of their religious tenets and traditions.

Weren't these the same sort of arguments that the Nazis made about what might happen if Jews were allowed to take over the world? The consequences that they claimed would result was used as a justification for engaging in atrocious killings but it was all conjecture, mere speculation. We don't know what a world run by Jews would be like any more than we know what a world run by Muslims would be like. I think that both hypothetical situations would probably depend on what specific individuals from these faiths were put in charge. But even if there was the possibility that an evil Jewish or Muslim world-government might come to power and make the world the sort of place that's uncomfortable for people like me, I still don't think that it would be acceptable for me to kill Jews or Muslims. I don't think that entire groups should suffer because they don't promote the sort of lifestyle that I prefer.

If killing others is not the only option available to Muslims, then it's only logical that this is not the only option available for any other individual or group. We can all decide not to be killers and the sooner that people stop believing that death can be a path to peace, the better off we all will be. I don't feel any safer when a Muslim is killed than I do when a Jew is killed or when a Hindu or Buddhist or a Christian is killed. It all increases the likelihood that eventually it will be me that's killed...or worse yet, my child.

Your argument about where Muslims are "indiscriminately killed" is also illogical. The Nazis claimed to have good reasons for killing Jews. I don't buy that any more than I buy into the arguments that people have legitimate reasons for killing Muslims.

As long as people accept the argument that some killing is justified all killing will be found justifiable by someone.

21 comments:

Red Tulips said...

I wrote a reply on my post, but I do have one more thing to add here...

It is not a system of violence begating violence when one side (such as the Nazis) are genociding and violence is the ONLY method to stop the genocide.

There is no moral equivalence between killing to save a life and killing to exterminate an entire religion. That said, however, any killing at all - whatever the reason - does change and haunt a person. I know I would be haunted if I were forced to kill, as an example, an attacker who barges in to kill my sister. I would be haunted, seeing the life leave the eyes of the attacker.

I am fully in agreement that killing dehumanizes anyone who does it for any reason at all. However, that does not mean that killing is also never justified, such as in the example I just gave you - to prevent the death of another.

Bint Alshamsa said...

As I wrote on you blog, the fact that people were able to save thousands of Jewish lives without slaughtering even one person proves that violence was not the ONLY method to stop the genocide

I care nothing about the morals of others. Morals depend on all sort of subjective ideas. I'll leave it to religious fundamentalists to fuss throughout the ages regarding whose morals are superior to those of others.

All I am concerned about is the killing of people who have not been proven to have killed anyone. I could say that you might go out and kill someone in the future. Would it then be okay for me to go out and kill you and your family?

If all it takes in order to justify killing someone is to say that the innocent person was in close proximity with or biologically related or possibly harboring some sympathy for someone you feel threatened by, then you're essentially justifying the Shoah because that is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews.

Red Tulips said...

bint alshamsa:

You are wrong in your facts. As a matter of fact, it would have been impossible to peacefully save the Jews in the Bielski Brothers situation. You should read the book, it is fascinating. But basically, the brothers lived in the forrest during the war, and had no ability to travel beyond the forrest. They killed those who ratted out their location to the Germans as both revenge and protection against future death to the Jewish people. I do not see how they could have survived unless they killed the Polish collaborators. That said, I also do not believe that killing the FAMILIES of Polish collaborators was necessary.

According to your logic, if some people are out killing you or arranging for others to kill you, should you lay down dead?

Bint Alshamsa said...

Red Tulips, how can you know whether it would have been impossible for the Bielski Brothers to have found another way? The fact that they were able to kill these people and their families doesn't mean that no other way existed. Furthermore, the fact that they killed innocent people shows that they were not acting in self-defense. Their actions could not serve as a protection against the future death of the Jewish people because their killings didn't do a thing to stop those who were determined to kill Jews. If you can see how these brothers were wrong to kill the innocent people they slaughtered, then what is so heroic about it?

According to my logic, if people are killing me then I'm about to lay down dead whether I want to or not. If I'm living in a place where I know that my neighbors are the sort of people who'd arrange anyone's death, I'd get the heck out of dodge before they got around to arranging my death.

Red Tulips said...

bint alshamsa:

Not everyone had the same opportunity for nonviolence that Schindler had. Let us examine how Schindler was able to avoid violence: he paid for concentration camp workers to work at his factories - at profit - during WWII. Okay, that option was OUT for the Bielskis. How were the Wallenbergs able to save Jews? They snuck Jews into Sweden from Denmark. That option was ALSO out for the Bielskis. They Bielskis started their mission in the middle of a genocide against their people, and they had nowhere to go. They were in the middle of Belarus, and had very few horses to transport over a thousand people. It was over a thousand miles away to the nearest place where the Jews could be safe from the Nazis and they had no way to get there. So they had to live in the forrest. Living in the forrest meant constant fear of being exposed by local peasants, and they would have been exposed had they not killed collaborators and the families of collaborators as a sort of lesson that Jewish blood does not come cheap. There is no way around this. They were extremely vulnerable to discovery and would have been slaughtered if discovered as death warrants were out for them. They could not just up and leave without basically ensuring the deaths of over a thousand people they were protecting.

So we now have to assume that violence was actually the only option. Die or kill. And in that instance, I can see how 'kill' is justified. You don't. But I will put this to you viscerally.

Someone breaks into your home and aims a gun at your daughter. Do you...

a) Shoot the intruder
b) Let your daught die

I am assuming you choose (a). Now let's change the scenario a bit.

There is a systematic slaughter of not just you but your entire family. The US government has armed cops, scouring the neighborhood for your location. You hide out in nearby forrest for safety. Then, a former neighbor of your's points the police to the location you are hiding in, and you end up in an armed skirmish with the police, nearly leading to the slaughter of your entire family, but thankfully prevented. You know that if you do nothing, the informer will eventually inform on your family again. Do you...

(a) Let the informer go about his business;
(b) Kill the informer.

I am guessing you kill the informer.

Now let's up the ante some more.

Not only are you hiding in the woods and have to fear informers who will tell the police where you are, BUT, the US government also puts out a bulletin that says anyone who aids the bint alshamsa fammily in any way will be shot, and the families of that person giving aid sent to concentration camps. Moreover, very wonderful rewards are given to collaborators who lead to the death and annhiliation of your family, AND, The US military will sometimes actually torture and kill those who don't help them.

Do you...

(a) Just kill the collaborators;
(b) Kill the collaborators AND the families of collaborators as a statement that the blood of the bint alshamsa family does not come easy.

I think the last part is morally ambiguous, but understandable under the circumstances. And the fact that the Bielskis were able to save 1200 Jews despite great obstacles IS heroic. It is morally ambiguous heroism, but heroism nonetheless.

Ibrahamav said...

Given the conditions stated and the resources available, it is stated with certainty that there was no other way for the Bielski Brothers to save the lives of the Jews.

With that being a certainty, in a perfect world, none of it would have been necessary.

But we do not live in a perfect world.

There will not be a time in the next 1000 years, just as there has never been a time in the last 10,000 years where people will not accept the argument that some killing is justified.

With that in mind, revamp your thought process. This will never be a perfect world.

brownfemipower said...

bint this is an amazing conversation, and I thank you for letting the rest of us peek in on it!!!

in regards to the issue of the morality of killing, i would like to add this food for thought. many radical women of color like angela davis and andrea smith argue that the violence that the native community and the black community used to retaliate against the violence of the nation/state was inherently patriarchal and sexist. in other words, the rioting and killing was an extended form of the patriachal violence that the nation/state was inflicting upon the communities to begin with. So, as in the case of the riots, violent destruction of poc neighborhoods occured (that still hasn't been recovered from in many cases), or in the case of native peoples, native women were killed by native men for having big mouths rather than the nation/state.

So both women argue that it is important to look for alternative solutions to the violence of the nation state, solutions that embrace the value of life, creation, creativity, and rebith. They advocate doing things like creating alternative living structures that by pass the need for the nation state to begin with--for example, womens groups that answer community members call for help so that calling the police is no longer necessary. or creating community counselling groups so that couples can go to counselling (and so that the community is very aware of the problems in the relationshiop and can help out where they can) rather than jail.
So bint's words about finding alternative ways to protest/live are not being dreamy or idealist--they are based in a hard painful reality that women of color have worked long and hard to figure out.

Also, the indigenous group, the zapatistas from chiapas mexico, have modeled their resistance in a similar strain of the women of color here in the u.s. (i'm not sure who started what or who read who first), but they have taken the past few years away from the political front to spend time stregnthening their communities through the creation of alternative living structures. if they can't find a way to do what they want (like create a school) on their own without any government interventions, then they simply won't do it. they also have accomplished almost the impossible with their movement, but they have, as bint and women of color have all suggested, value and prioritize life over all. they withdrew from the national stage to confront problems within their community like horrible sexism and lack of viable resources. they took time to do things like teach people spanish and read theories of political scholars and teach small children why life is valuable. in stregnthening their communities they have stregnthened their ability to stand by their beliefs without resorting to violence--and even before they took the time to stregnthen their communities, when they entered into arm resistance with the mexican government, they managed to escape the entire conflict without any loss of life.

but they argue the same thing--if you yourself don't value life, why is any alternative to the structure you are attempting to displace any better?

anyway, i just took a really long route to agree with bint when she says "their killings didn't do a thing to stop those who were determined to kill jews". they only that has been proven to work against long term structural violence is lots and lots of community building and grassroots organizing. but both of those things have often been gendered as "female"--i.e. pussy. are we going to be pussies and sit and talk with saddamn over tea? or are we going to be MEN and blow the hell out of him like we should have all those years ago?

Bint Alshamsa said...

Red Tulips,

Nonviolence is always an option. It may be one that people are willing to abide by but it is always there nonetheless. There is simply no reason to assume that violence is the only option available to anyone.

There is no way that killing shows that Jewish blood doesn't come cheap. Killing, especially the killing of innocent people, only serves to cheapen human life in general.

In regards to your hypothetical scenarios, you keep creating false dichotomies. For example:

Scenario One:
I do not choose either. I do not keep guns around the house so (a) would not be an option. If I did happen to wrestle the gun from the hands of the intruder, I would not purposely kill him/her.

Scenario Two:
I wouldn't do (a) or (b). If there was a systematic slaughter going on, adding the murder of innocent people would not improve the situation. I simply can not find it ethical to kill innocent people because it might seem expedient (to some) for me to do so.

Scenario Three:
I wouldn't do either one. Those who kill and aid killers will receive their just deserts so there is no reason for me to turn into one of them. If I were to kill innocent people, then I would be no different from those who would kill my innocent family.

Now here is a scenario for you:

Someone feels that Israel is unjustly and systematically slaughtering Palestinians. That person goes out and finds the nearest Jewish family in support of Israel and slaughters them--the men, women, and children alike. Is that person

(a)a hero because their reasoning is that such actions will show that Arab life does not come cheap?

or

(b)a person that has engaged in the same actions as they claim to be against?

Bint Alshamsa said...

Ibrahamav:

Even in an imperfect world, the majority of people on this planet make the choice not to become killers.

Those who do become killers can not blame anyone but themselves for what they decided to do. We do not need a perfect world in order to refrain from killing people, especially those who have not been proven to be guilty of any crime.

Bint Alshamsa said...

I agree with Davis' and Smith's assessment completely. I remember the Reginald Denny case back in 1992. I certainly do not see what was done to him as being any more justifiable than the Rodney King beating that preceded it.

Sure, someone could claim that almost killing this innocent man made people pay attention to the plight of Angelinos of color but I just don't buy that. It certainly brought attention to the situation but it wasn't the sort of attention that improved the situation at all. All it did was add fuel to the idea that perhaps the police did need to treat people of color as they did Rodney King.

Similarly, all of the killing of innocent people today that Israelis and Palestinians engage in does not show that their lives are not cheap. If anything, it shows that some people do not value innocent life nearly as much as millions of other people around the world do.

Red Tulips said...

Palestinians are not being genocided. I am sure some think they are, but they are wrong.

In contrast, Jews during the Holocaust absolutely were being genocided. Those who didn't think so were wrong.

I see you are fine with your daughter being killed. You would never kill anyone under any circumstances, even to save your daughter. I find that absolutely chilling.

Sometimes nonviolence is not possible. You are wrong to the core in every single way if you believe that.

And I will not be killed or have my family killed while I go softly to the gallows. No, sorry.

Bint Alshamsa said...

You'll have to do more than assert that Palestinians are not experiencing genocide at work if you want it to be established as fact, Red Tulips.

This idea that I'm fine with my daughter being killed is just silliness. So is your assumption that I would not kill anyone under any circumstances. I have not expressed either of these ideas, even once.

Claiming that nonviolence is not possible sometimes doesn't prove this.

Have I ever said that you should go "softly to the gallows"? These false dichotomies are simply illogical and irrational. I do not assume that you will change your mind but I do think it's a bit sad that there are so many people who take the same stance as you do regarding the slaughter of innocent life which is what I see as one of the reasons why so many Israelis and Palestinians will continue to die needlessly. I live in the same world as everyone else. If I can refrain from killing innocent people, then so can everyone else.

Anonymous said...

On the issue of violence. (sorry, I don't mean to crash the debate)

"Those who do become killers can not blame anyone but themselves for what they decided to do."--I find this true to some extent but the fact that it reminds me of something a prosecutor would say troubles me. I live in a largely Latino neighborhood and there is some heavy gang warfair going on. Do I look to place all blame on these teenage Latino kids? Of course not. There is a system of oppression that works to exploit and disenfranchise them (and also pits them against each other). Like culture, violence doesn't happen in a vacuum.

If I were to only blame the 'killers' I would fall into a way of thinking that masks the larger framework and is ahistorical. Furthmore, many use this uncontextualized view ("a killer is a killer") to fuel racist agendas--since whites aren't running around shooting each other in my neighborhood--the people who kill look more like me.

On another note: Muslims who kill and site their religious values for doing so are no more Muslim than Christians that kill and cite the bible. If the Klan doesn't represent Christianity why do 'Islamicfacists' get to represent all of the Muslim world? Because our country was founded on Christianity and we would never make Christians look that bad? The Klan is made to look like an anomaly within the Christian faith yet the Taliban is made out to be the mainstream Muslim?--thats media for you.

Althouth, I do think that Christianity and Islam have something very important in common: they are both converting religions. Regardless, if you can be born Muslim or not, the worldview of many Muslims has to do with converting others. This fact means that both Islam and Christian religions grow and 'ethnic' religions (that don't really care if you are 'one of them'--in that getting you to convert won't do anything for them in the 'afterlife') risk dieing off (yes there are other reasons but this is one of them).

Many Native American religions are ethnic, as are many African religions, as is Judism. In fact, this worldview contributed to the Muslim rational for colonizing Africa and the Christian colonization of America. It is the essence of 'saving' what they view as 'heathens'--to convert them to some superior 'truth' (that and economics, genocide, racism). I think that there is something built into a converting religion that says "we know the truth and it should be your truth as well." Were as ethnic religions might claim a monopoly of truth too they don't care what your religious truth is and thus don't try to convert you.

ASH said...

anonymous:

I can't really agree with you here. There is a well documented history of even "ethnic" religions as you call them having intolerant views and fighting wars to destroy other religious views.

The polytheistic Romans waged war against Judaism, early Christians and others calling them atheists because they didn't recognize all their gods.

Hinduism might be called an "ethnic" religion yet there are fundamentalists in its midst that call for converting minorities by force in India. Not to mention the destruction of Sikh Gurudwaras, mosques, and churches.

The Iroqois in the early American midwest and northeast fought a running series of wars (documented by the Puritans as well as Roger Smith in the 17th century) against other tribes to bring them in line with their specific religious beliefs.

The Aztecs made war on other native peoples in what is today Mexico, and even sacrificed their prisoners in their religious rites.....rites those prisoners did not adhere to.

Every religion regardless of its being "ethnic" or not has a propensity for fundamentalism and violence. Where there are people there will be death and destruction.....as well as avarice and all the other foibles of humanity.

ASH said...

bint:

Excellent posting and commentary. I considered jumping in a few times.....but decided you had it handled quite well. I hope you are doing well, I took a month-long hiatus from blogging because I tired of all these types of discussions and arguments.

I hope your health is well.

Red Tulips said...

I just want to say this.

I did not comment on here for a while because I was offended at the total ignorance on bint alshamsa's part.

I am sorry, but there is zero evidence that 'nonviolence' would ever work against the Nazis. ZERO.

The two choices were to walk softly to the gallows or to fight back. PERIOD.

Any notion that nonviolence is ALWAYS a possibility has absolutely NO CLUE ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST AT ALL!

I refuse to simply lay down and die. When there are attemps at genocide, it is NOT appropriate to just let the genocide happen.

The fact that Schindler was able to use nonviolent tactics does not mean they were available for the Bielskis.

Pacifism in that instance was equal to suicide.

And any thought of the Palestinians in a similar situation (being 'genocided') is just so wrong, it defies description. Shlemazl wrote an excellent post explaining why the Palestinians are not being genocided.

http://shlemazl.blogspot.com/2006/10/genocide.html

In contrast, of course, the Palestinians are advocating an active genocide of the Jews the world over.

There is zero comparison between the options available to the Palestinians in 2006 and the Jews of Europe from 1939-1945.

Bint Alshamsa said...

Red Tulips:

Can you at least try to be logical? You have repeatedly made claims that have been refuted. It's rather apparent to everyone else who has read this thread that I'm quite familiar with the subject we've been discussing. You may have thought that pausing this discussion would make it easier for you to address the logical fallacies in your arguments but that just won't work here.

You still haven't shown how it is EVER ethical to slaughter innocent people. Can you do that now? If not, then why should we view one group of child-killers (like the Bielski brothers) as heroes while acknowledging that doing so is unethical? If it is acceptable to kill innocent people whenever you want to prove a point, then what would be wrong with Palestinians killing Jews? The problem with your attitude is that it is the same one that was used to justify the killing of Jews in Nazi Germany.

I am sorry, but there is zero evidence that 'nonviolence' would ever work against the Nazis. ZERO. The two choices were to walk softly to the gallows or to fight back. PERIOD.

Instead of just making assertions, why don't you at least try to come up with something that shows you're right? For instance, if you could show that every single person who chose not to kill innocent people walked "softly to the gallows", then you might get somewhere. That would be hard, of course, because there are many examples of people who successfully used non-violent methods of resisting and fighting against the Nazis. In fact, many of these accounts have been verified by the Jewish survivors who were saved by such means.

Any notion that nonviolence is ALWAYS a possibility has absolutely NO CLUE ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST AT ALL!

Even if you write every sentence in capital letters, it won't make your statement any less erroneous. You may not be willing to face the consequences and risks that go along with being a person who refuses to slaughter innocent people but I see nothing honorable about this stance. So what's the point of this unreasoned statement? Do you think that saying this could make all of the conversation above this somehow disappear?

I refuse to simply lay down and die. When there are attemps at genocide, it is NOT appropriate to just let the genocide happen.

I agree that we should not just allow genocides to take place. That is why I deplore the killing of all innocent people regardless of their ethnicity or religion. However, we don't need to become murderers in order to put an end to genocides.

The fact that Schindler was able to use nonviolent tactics does not mean they were available for the Bielskis.

The fact that no one forced the Bielskis to kill innocent people is what proves that non-violence was a stance they could have taken.

Pacifism in that instance was equal to suicide.

Fortunately, there is a lot of wiggle room between pacifism and being a child-killer. If you again say that these were the only two choices available to people, then what about all those who chose neither stance?

And any thought of the Palestinians in a similar situation (being 'genocided') is just so wrong, it defies description.

Why shouldn't we compare the killing of one group to the killing of other groups? Is there any reason why some innocent people deserve to die while others do not? If so, then who should get to make this decision? Should those who dislike Jews be allowed to decide whether innocent Jewish individuals should be slaughtered, bombed, shot, imprisoned, etc.?

Shlemazl wrote an excellent post explaining why the Palestinians are not being genocided.

Attempting to change the definitions of words to make them more convient only works if the rest of the world is willing to go along with it. Unfortunately for those who would like to justify the killing of innocent people, the world has not saw fit to make the definition of genocide one that only describes what happened to some Jews.

As Lexcen pointed out, genocide is defined as
any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Therefore, (despite Schlemazl's infantile name-calling) those who refer to what many Palestinians are going to as "genocide" are as absolutely correct as those who use the term to refer to what some Jews went through.

In contrast, of course, the Palestinians are advocating an active genocide of the Jews the world over.

What is the point of these irrational generalizations, Red Tulips? Sure, there are some Palestinians who would be thrilled if there were no Jews left on earth. Likewise, there are some Jews who would be ecstatic if there were no more Muslims on earth. The fact that these individuals exist does not mean that they represent the views of every single person who shares their religion.

There is zero comparison between the options available to the Palestinians in 2006 and the Jews of Europe from 1939-1945.

Au contraire, there are many comparisons that can be made even if you can't think of any right now. I certainly can.

Red Tulips said...

I have already shown the following...

a) The Polish residents were not 'innocent.' They were aiding and abetting a massacre.

b) The Bielski Brothers themselves could have maybe fled to Palestine, but then they would not have been able to save the Jews they were able to save. And it was simply not possible for a group of over 1,000 Jews to slip unnoticed through the countryside and flee thousands of miles to Palestine. They would have been spotted. It was wartime. A group of thousands would have been spotted. The only option was hence to find an isolated spot in the forrest and wait it out until the end of the war. This is what they did.

c) The population of the Palestinians has gone from less than a million to nine million in about fifty years. This is a remarkable population growth. Any sane person would not call this a genocide.

d) A genocide is not just killing of another ethnic group. It is killing with the intent to wipe them out. Israel has been very targeted in who it attacks and only acts in defense. In contrast, the Palestinians teach their children a genocidal death cult. They teach their children to kill every Jew on earth. The fact that they have not achieved this objective is not from lack of trying.

The Jews do not teach this. The Kahanist movement is banned in Israel. In contrast, turn on any television in the Territories and you will see a constant stream of calls for genocide. It is in the Hamas Charter. It was in the PLO Charter. It is even in the Koran - a call to convert, kill, or dhimmify the world. It is most certainly NOT in the Israeli constitution. It is most certainly NOT in the bible.

Finally, I have to say this. Nonviolence - when it is an option - is always the option that should be taken. But it is a fallacy of reasoning to assume it is always an option. You have not given me a shred of evidence that shows the Jews of Belarus had nonviolence as an option. Not one shred of evidence.

As far as whether they should have killed the families of Polish civilians...

To this I say the following. It is morally something to wrestle with, given they were innocents (in contrast to the Polish informers who were guilty of leading to the death of Jews). At the same time, I do believe that if they did not do it, then they would not have sent the message that Jewish blood did not come cheap, and the Polish population would not have been terrified into not ratting out the Jews.

You have to understand the extreme antisemitism that existed in Poland/Belarus during WWII. (it still largely exists today) The Polish population for the most part was quite happy to see Jews being killed. Prior to Poland and Belarus's annexation into the USSR, there were pogroms, rapes, and brutalization on a very large scale by the locals towards the Jews. Things were actually better for the Jews once the Soviets took over, and hence most of the Jews supported the Soviets. This led to the Polish/Belarussian population hating the Jews even more. In many ways the hatred that the locals had towards the Jews was as strong as the Nazi hatred. There are many accounts of small Polish children, taught to hate by their parents, smiling as trains of Jews were carted off to the death camps, and making a sign as if they are going to chop off their heads. Small children.

There were exceptions to this, and not all the Polish/Belarussians were this bad. However, the majority actually were. The Bielski Brothers knew the only way they would not get these people to rat on them was through fear. I believe they were correct.

So then the question is whether killing the family of a Polish informer is worth saving over a thousand Jews. This involves placing the value of some lives above the value of other lives. Normally, this would be basically an impossibility to do. However, in this instance, the children of the informer, based on the book that I read, fell right into the same camp as the children who wished the Jews dead. They were the sort of children who themselves would inform on Jews to the Nazis if they knew where Jews were. In short, they were heavily brainwashed and hate-filled children. Did they deserve to die for this? No. But would they have led to the death of other Jews if they lived (by informing on where they found Jews hiding)? Very likely. And so in this limited instance, I absolutely do place the lives of innocent Jews who are hiding from Nazis who wish to torture and kill them above the lives of children who are supporting this.

Given this limited situation, where the Bielskis absolutely did have to send the message that Jewish blood didn't come cheap...I can understand why they did what they did. This does not mean that it is a good thing that they did what they did. It is certainly sad that this is what happened and this is what they hadd to do.

But the real tragedy lies in the fact that they had no other options and were forced to become killers in order to save over 1200 Jews. War is hell. But sometimes you have to kill to prevent the further taking of life.

Anonymous said...

Ash:

Thanks for responding, your post made me think. I can agree with you that there is religious intolerance all over and every human/religion/group is capable to such horrific actions. (not that the puritians and Roger Smith are reliable sources in my eyes, as they were trying to make their actions--action that were much worse appear better in that 'documentation' and also attempting to legitimize their control over people they considered savages and portrayed them as savages in that writting).

But I would never compare the violence of indigenous tribes to violence of colonialism. Colonists saw indigenous peoples and Africans as less than human and that effected the way they treated them--they were capable of much worse when race became a question. There was a genocide. As Bint wrote: a genocide can be "Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." Yes, indigenouse people and Africans had wars but the huge genocide was commited during the slave trade and colonization.

Bint Alshamsa said...

You have not proven that the Polish residents were guilty of anything. You claim that they were "aiding and abetting a massacre". However, because they were killed, there is no way to determine whether anything they did made them guilty of that.

From what you've said here, the Bielski brothers were not even acting in self-defense. Just as it is claimed by you that these killings were necessary because they accomplished a goal that you see as honorable, so do those who bomb others make the same claim. Are there actions acceptable because they believe their goal has merit? If not, then it isn't logical to claim that this goal excuses the killing of innocent people.

Population growth does not determine whether or not a genocide is taking place. All it determines is whether or not a genocide has managed to sucessfully wipe the targeted group off the planet. Please do not revert to appeals to ridicule. This is simply illogical and, therefore, proves nothing. If you want to claim that a particular genocide it not taking place, then simply show how the conditions listed in the definition of the word have not been met.

A genocide is not just killing of another ethnic group. It is killing with the intent to wipe them out.

No, that is not what a genocide is. This is what a genocide is:
any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

There doesn't have to be any intentions of wiping out the entire group of people within a particular ethnicity. Notice the italicized part of that quote.

Israel has been very targeted in who it attacks and only acts in defense.

Bombs are not designed to kill specific individuals. Bombs destroy areas. Anytime one drops a bomb, then the target is not just an individual who may be guilty of something. The idea that dropping a bomb can be in defense only works if all those within the area that is being bombed are actually guilty of attempting to end the lives of those who are dropping the bombs. As even Israel acknowledges, many of those who are killed are not even thought to have been guilty of anything at all.

In contrast, the Palestinians teach their children a genocidal death cult. They teach their children to kill every Jew on earth.

I know plenty of Palestinians and I have yet to meet any one who teaches their children any "genocidal death cult". Contrary to what you state here, Palestinians are not some borg where everyone thinks the same way. Just as it would be ludicrous to claim that all Jews think a particular way and teach their children the same thing, so is it when you make these comments about other groups. From the number of Palestinians who are happily married to and raising kids with Jewish spouses who are happily married to them, it is quite easy to see that your claim is simply a crass over-generalization.

The Jews do not teach this. The Kahanist movement is banned in Israel.

Comparing one group to an entire population is illogical. Please do not make overgeneralizations about any group. It isn't rational to say that "all Jews do this" or "all Palestinians do that". Do you realize that this is exactly the same sort of claims made by the Nazis?

It is even in the Koran - a call to convert, kill, or dhimmify the world.

You know, as an atheist, I'd hoped you'd be able to be a bit more realistic about what's in the holy books of different religions. There isn't a single holy book that can't be used as a justification for conversions or killings or the dehumanization of other groups.

It is most certainly NOT in the Israeli constitution. It is most certainly NOT in the bible.

The Israeli laws do create a condition of "dhimmitude". We've discussed how Israel doesn't even claim to aim to provide equality for all. It has laws that mandate separation based on ethnicity and religion and its lawmakers have shown and stated that they do not believe that non-Jews (or even Jews from particular areas) should be treated as equals.

Nonviolence - when it is an option - is always the option that should be taken. But it is a fallacy of reasoning to assume it is always an option.

Really? What fallacy would that be? No one can force another individual to purposely kill another human being.

You have not given me a shred of evidence that shows the Jews of Belarus had nonviolence as an option. Not one shred of evidence.

Unless you can show that someone put a gun in their hands and forcibly wrapped their fingers around the trigger and then squeezed their hands, unless you can show that someone put a knife into their hands and squeezed while they pushed the knife into someone, unless you can show some similar action, there is simply no proof that non-violence was not an option available to them. If they acted willingly--for whatever reason--then there is no way of proving that they had no other choices available to them.

To this I say the following. It is morally something to wrestle with, given they were innocents (in contrast to the Polish informers who were guilty of leading to the death of Jews).

It isn't anything for me to wrestle with morally. Either it is ethical to kill innocent people or it isn't. It's that simple. I do not see the killing of innocent people as an ethical action no matter who they are.

At the same time, I do believe that if they did not do it, then they would not have sent the message that Jewish blood did not come cheap, and the Polish population would not have been terrified into not ratting out the Jews.

Do you realize that you are attempting to justify terrorism with this statement? Is that really what you believe in?

You have to understand the extreme antisemitism that existed in Poland/Belarus during WWII. (it still largely exists today) The Polish population for the most part was quite happy to see Jews being killed.

I am a Native American/Black/Irish woman. I am quite familiar with bigotry and the extent to which it can cause people to believe that killing and incarcerating innocent people is acceptable. Nothing that the Jews experienced has not also been experienced by other groups. Yet, I do not see any bigotry as a valid excuse for killing innocent people.

Even if you believe that the Bielski brothers were correct, it hasn't been shown to be a fact. The fact they were able to kill innocent people in order to accomplish their goals does not mean that their actions were justified. What if by killing you, I could make more housing available for homeless people? Would that make killing you justified? What if killing you would mean that there would be organs available for a sick Jewish ten year-old physics prodigy that is on the verge of proving the Grand Unification Theory>? What if someone offered to provide permanent refuge to all of the threatened people of the Sudan but only in exchange for me killing you? Would that be a decision that you think someone should wrestle with or do you think that you are worthy of life no matter how your death might benefit others?

This involves placing the value of some lives above the value of other lives. Normally, this would be basically an impossibility to do.

No, this is not ever an impossibility. Anyone can value some lives more than others, anytime they feel inclined to do so. The question is whether or not it is ethical to do so. If you claim that it is okay to value the lives of some innocent children over the lives of other innocent children, then how are you engaging in anything different from what you referred to as "dhimmitude"?

Given this limited situation, where the Bielskis absolutely did have to send the message that Jewish blood didn't come cheap

You have not proven that they had to send this message at all. Furthermore, you can't show how the killing of innocent children increased the value of other innocent children's lives. I cannot claim that killing innocent children is acceptable when one wants to prove a point, because this would mean excusing those who kill innocent Jewish children using the same excuse that you use for the Bielski brothers.

But the real tragedy lies in the fact that they had no other options and were forced to become killers in order to save over 1200 Jews.

No, the real tragedy lies in the fact that some people--both Jewish and non-Jewish--think that the killing of innocent children is acceptable and even honorable.

But sometimes you have to kill to prevent the further taking of life.

If you kill, then you are taking away life and not adding it to anyone. This is true for everyone, even those who belong to groups that have been victimized.

Red Tulips said...

In fact, if you read the book 'The Bielski Brothers' you would see that there was direct evidence that the informers who were killed were aiding and abetting the Nazis to kill Jews. The direct evidence was in the form of a letter, written by the Nazis, found on the informer's person, thanking the person for telling him where Jews were hiding.

As far as your contention that nonviolence was an option...

You did not explain how a single one of the Jews that the Bielskis saved would have lived through the Holocaust, had the Bielskis not fought back. Were they 'forced' to fight back? No, in the sense that they could have chosen to die instead of fighting back. In the world you live in, it is better to die than fight back. In the world I live in, that is a total abomination.

The Palestinians are not being genocided according to any definition of the word. There has not been any effort by the Israelis to wipe them ANY of them out, save the ones who are actively trying to kill Israelis.

According to you, it is a 'genocide' to attempt to kill those who are actively trying to kill you. That is the most nonsensical twisting of the term 'genocide' that I have ever read.

Are there different laws for Jews and for Muslims within Israel? Yes - but this is because Arab Israelis request different laws.

You have not provided one shread of proof that Arab Israelis want to be in Jewish schools and are banned from Jewish schools.

The mere fact that there are seperate schools does not 'prove' apartheid.

The mere fact that Muslim Councils rule on family law concerns for Arab Israelis does not prove apartheid - as Arab Israelis want Muslim councils to rule on family law matters.

Finally, you are equating what the Bielskis did to 'killing someone in order to provide housing for others.' In addition to that being the most disgusting form of moral equivalence, it is also untrue. The Bielskis killed in order to keep a group of 1200 Jews alive, who otherwise would have been massacred during the Holocaust. They did not kill 'to provide housing.' They did not indiscriminately kill, either. You also left out the part about Polish civilians saluting Hitler and how the Polish children also were cooperating with the Nazis and leading to the death of Jews. (documented in the Bielski Brothers book, but also generally widely known and documented)

Sometimes, when faced with a total genocide, one has to ask oneself the question of how far one is willing to go to protect the lives of those you love. I already know that you are willing to walk softly into the gallows, and allow a total massacre of your entire family. I know you are unwilling to fight to defend the lives of those you love.

I am.

And to pretend 'well, this is a justification for Palestinian terrorism' is the most nonsensical and completely non-fact based assertion on the planet. The Palestinians are NOT being systematically slaughtered - the Jews in the Holocaust were. They are suffering because of the actions of Jordan and Egypt (as well as other Arab nations), and not Israel. To even compare the actions of Israel to those of the Nazis is to engage in the most shocking form of propoganda, doublethink, and ignorance of reality that is imagineable.