The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Whether it’s individuals, cultures, or countries, we all play by a set of explicit and implicit rules that allow us to interact effectively. It’s only when these rules break down or when one party decides that a different set of rules applies to it, that difficulties arise.

Over the past few weeks a number of events have occurred in the now-independent Gaza strip that have a lot to do with rules, and as a consequence, a lot to do with our problems in dealing with cultures and countries in the Middle East.

The Palestinians (now controlling their own destiny in the Gaza after the Israeli’s unilateral withdrawal) have allowed this new “independent entity” to devolve into gang warfare and chaos. As 2005 came to a close and 2006 began, armed gangs of Palestinians have kidnapped peace activists and human right observers from the UK and Italy. The tragic-comic element to these kidnappings is that the kidnapped individuals (subsequently released after “negotiations”) were virulently pro-Palestinian.

In addition, Reuters reports this morning that “Masked gunmen stormed into a club for UN workers in Gaza City on Sunday and blew up the drinking hall in a new sign of spiraling unrest ahead of a Palestinian election.”

What makes these events interesting isn’t that they happened. The Palestinians seem incapable of conducting their affairs without violence, kidnappings, bombing, and the like. They play by that set of rules. Rather, what’s interesting is the Left’s response to those rules and the actions that they precipitate.

For example, most people live by a set of rules that define kidnapping as a heinous crime, in some countries punishable by death or life in prison. Yet some people in the US, the EU, and the media appear to give the Palestinians a pass. It’s as if they say, “Oh, those Pallys, they play by their silly rules but after all, they’ve been ‘oppressed’ for so long, it’s really not their fault. And besides, they released their kidnapping victims, didn’t they?”

What the Left doesn’t seem to realize is just how racist that reaction really is. It implies that the Palestinians are incapable of civilized human interaction, that because of oppression (either imagined or real) they can change the rules, and kidnap, murder, and bomb without censure. It suggests that the Palestinians have no responsibility for controlling and policing themselves. Yet these folks deserve their own nation … right now?

It’s one thing for two parties to play by different sets of rules. After all, that’s the human condition. But it’s quite another for one party to look the other way when the other party’s rules are way out of bounds.

I’ll bet that both Left-leaning kidnapping victims won’t criticize the Palestinians for the crime … in fact, it’s unlikely that they even see it as a crime. I haven’t seen an editorial criticizing the kidnappings (or the UN bombing) in the New York Times, The LA Times, ABC, or CNN. They choose to look the other way, yet these media outlets are the first to criticize Israel for continuing a “cycle of violence” when it responds to the Palestinian rule set.

And that’s the problem. The Palestinian leadership (including the leaders of Hamas, Hizbollah, and Fatah) is sensitive to world opinion. As long they are allowed to play by their rules without universal censure or criticism; as long as the main stream media views kidnapping, bombings and the like as just another day in the Gaza; as long as the Left creates a moral equivalency between barbarity and a legitimate response to the barbarity, the rules will remain unchanged. And sadly, so will the fate of the people who call themselves Palestinians.