It seems that there was a midnight hour vote to leave some synagogues standing after the pullout. I can understand the good faith reasons and bad faith reasons on both sides for this situation. Let’s look closer: If we assume Israel is operating in good faith, then I can understand a reluctance to dismantle the location of worship. It sends two messages: 1) the Jewish religion is not held to be sacred by Israel. This is due to the nature of the history of Judaism, and the ancient belief that the 1st & 2nd temples (both in the same site, as the 2nd was built to replace the 1st that was destroyed, which is now the site of the wailing wall & the al aqsa mosque) were actually the locus of the religion. Other temples were created as mimicry of the original temples, because during the existence of the 1st temple(s), that was the only site of communal worship. So to destroy one’s own temple has symbolic meaning that it does make sense to avoid. This brings us to the darker good faith point, namely that 2) it signals that Israel was admitting a mistake that began in 1967, and by doing so, perhaps earlier. This is, of course, the seizure of land in 1967 and also relates to the inception of Israel in 1947 or 1948 (The date escapes me right now. You do the research if you give such a shit). Now, while it may be under unethical terms, no state can will its own undoing in good faith. That runs counter to the principal under which states are set up, even if active seeds for revolution are sown within the very charter of the state. This is why this is a darker good faith result, because for it to be otherwise would be to put Israel at odds with its own existence. However, this is not actually the case, because as I will show here, Israel is in fact operating in bad faith for several reasons.
Now to the bad faith reasons for Israel, which sadly seem to be the most apparent ones, as it is hard to believe that Israel is operating in good faith based on what follows. Beginning with the premise in Good Faith Argument 1, it is undesirable to make Israel destroy its own temple. But a very basic awareness of the way the world works would make one realize that leaving the temple standing would make the temple subject to destruction, and in its most wanton form a la the Berlin Wall. However, unlike the Berlin Wall, this could be used for political opportunism. “See the way these savages destroy our holy relics! This is what they want to do to us. We give an inch and they take a mile. This is why we cannot make any further concessions. To do so would make us Chamberlin in 1939, and I think we of all people should understand the consequences of that.” Ironic that if WWII invective is going to be used (as it frequently is in Israel for obvious reason), you would think that Palestinian treatment would immediately strike a nerve as also being similar, but not every Israeli is as gifted with perspective. The move that undoes the Good Faith Argument 1, is that as noted in the cited article above, that the temples went though the proscribed de-sanctification ceremony that allows a temple to be demolished, as sometimes has to happen when one becomes damaged due to fire, or becomes unsafe for other reasons. Even though this happened, the Israelis changed their mind about razing the temples themselves.
I think the pros and cons of the Israeli situation are articulated as clearly as they need to be. Let’s examine the good and bad faith arguments on the Palestinian side.
Insofar as the Palestinians recognized the negative situation that is having the temples left undemolished by Israel, and commenting on it accordingly, they are operating in good faith. Where a potential bad faith argument sets in is when they refused to take part in a ceremony where the land was to be peaceably handed over. This was an opportunity to both show themselves to be able to work with the Israelis but also to be able to protest at the ceremony, thereby bringing greater coverage to their plight, rather than not taking part at all. When the UK handed over the 26 Southern Counties back over to Ireland, there was a ceremony where the British Ambassador was to lower the Union Jack and Michael Collins was to raise the Tricolor. Collins showed up a bit behind schedule, so the ambassador mentioned, "You're seven minutes late," to which Collins answered, "You've kept us waiting seven hundred years. You can have your seven minutes." Obviously, this anecdotal footnote does not measure up to the importance of the temples being allowed to remain in terms of it's immediate effect, but imagine for a moment if Collins had used that ceremony as a platform for a protest for the independence for the 6 counties in the North. Instead of committing himself to the treaty he was goaded into signing and only half believed, he could have made public the split between his realpolitik ambition to take what Ireland could get via the treaty, vs. the unwillingness to be satisfied with leaving the 6 counties behind. This theoretically could have turned some of the more militant away from the violence, thereby circumventing the Civil War or at least diminishing it. Perhaps Collins would have lived, rather than be murdered in a Civil War skirmish in Cork, and if Ireland was under Collins' sage guidance instead of De Valera's, Ireland might very well be unified today. In the fight for independence, every ceremony is an ideological battlefield, and to abstain is defeat.
Another item of note is that the US state department (as per the above quoted link, under the section from the Jerusalem Post) said that Israel, “put the Palestinian Authority into a situation where it may be criticised (sic) for whatever it does”. Beyond the typically American misspelling of a very common word, I’m inclined to partially agree with the sentiment. Only partially though, because while I agree the situation Israel placed Palestine in is untenable, I have a way out which allows the Israelis to leave the temples behind, but also allows the Palestinians the right to do what they want without appearing badly in media representation. What I would do would be to co-opt the Synagogues and by doing so, co-opt the Jewish religion. Here’s how I would do it. Since, from my layman’s perspective, the two religions share a common background, and recognize Abraham or Ibrim as the fountain of their monotheism, and share similar prescriptions of Kosher and Halal; what I would do is have Islamic leaders discuss a teleological approach to ecumenicalism in regard to Judaism. To put it quite simply: say that Islam is the natural progression from the “primitive” and therefore corrupted understanding of the true religion. So just as from the early Jew comes the modern Muslim, so from the primitive Israeli temple shall the elaborate Mosques be built. The buildings in that hypothetical situation would not be razed in spite or anger, but rather converted from one use into another, very much like the Gaza land itself would be. Now we all know that at very best I am an agnostic who operates in life as if an atheist, so I have no real stake in this argument one way or the other, as well as the fact that I don’t know how practical such an action would be from the perspective of either religion, but that seems to me to be the only way out that saves face for both sides. So insofar as the Palestinians didn’t organize a methodical bulldozing of the temples, but rather let them be subject to mob rule destruction (assuming for the moment that the Palestinian authorities even had the ability to do so, which I admit is a fairly large assumption), I feel that the way that the Palestinians played into the bad faith motivations of the Israelis caused them to operate in bad faith as well. Of course, there’s a considerable difference between hitting someone and hitting someone back, so obviously the onus in this case is on the Israelis.
Also, today, after much hand-wringing, blame-shifting and poll-dropping, Bush finally took responsibility for Federal error in the Katerina situation two weeks after it hit, which is two weeks too late to do anything of note about it. The next post will deal with some obvious Katrina racial issues, and media implications thanks to a timely e-mail by Imran, but I’ll just finish this one off quickly. This is a clear bad faith admission by Bush, and for several reasons. The first reason is that this is obviously an effort to do damage control. Kennedy’s rating’s spiked when he took responsibility for the Bay of Pigs, which he had very little to do with. Rather than admitting that things were happening on his watch that he wasn’t in control of, or that this was set up by a previous administration, he took the blame for it. Many times when doctors perform some error on a patient that is legally actionable, a simple apology would satiate the patient. Due to the need of the insurance companies to not have the doctor potentially implicate himself if a malpractice suit were to ensue, many times doctors refuse to do so, even when that is what the doctor most wants to do, and is sometimes all the patient wants to hear. Sometimes it is even the perceived audacity that the doctor is unwilling to apologize or take responsibility that inspires the patient to sue where they otherwise might not have. As a result, some insurance companies are suggesting doctors take a new approach when in comes to these situations and apologize. This is what Bush is doing now that is approval rating has dipped below 40%. It’s the last act of a desperate man.
If Federal response was inadequate, it would be apparent RIGHT AWAY, as many have noted. Aid was arriving from other sources while the Feds were reluctant, saying that the area was still impassible. That is criminally negligent behavior. Bush also said that the troops in Iraq were not detracting at all from the relief effort, which is just absurd. As long as all the work that needs to be done is not being done due to manpower, any extra available man would help. That is something so clear it does not need any further explanation. Bush is in the unfortunate situation of being coerced to stay the course in Iraq for the sake of logical consistency, which is something he never seemed to feel obligated to heed earlier. The reason for this consistency is that if he were to pull back at any point before the requisite stabilization, it would be to admit that the whole endeavor was a mistake, which of course it was. If Bush really wants to emulate JFK, let him take responsibility for the fact that the Iraq war was a mistake. As a comedian I saw the other day pointed out: If Iraq had WMD, don’t you think the proper time to use them would be when a foreign army came to invade them? Or are the like the fine china that you don’t want to bring out except for the most important dinner guests? Just a guess, but I’d assume the invading hordes of Americans and their minions are worthy of the fine china.