What's All This Then?

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005
 
PERILS OF ARMCHAIR PUNDITRY

An ominous date. I had almost forgotten until I typed it in. Sixty four years ago when Japan launched an attack against Pearl Harbor and catapulted the USA into World War11. Though I’m old enough to remember the war and though I lived in a war zone - England - I’m not going to try to comment on the event or the anniversary. I was a child when it happened and have no personal memories to recount.

But today I have some comments about what has been a virtually permanent war zone going back almost as far as the time of the Pearl Harbor attack - and that is the state of Israel. Of course it wasn’t considered a state until the UN vote of 1947, even though the historic state of Israel had been founded thousands of years earlier and has continued to exist as a focal point of the Jewish faith. For centuries, "Next Year in Jerusalem" was a phrase uttered by Jews around the world as they ended their Passover services. For them, Israel had always existed as a state - the homeland of Jewish people.

I guess it’s partially because of that strong bond between Jewish people and the land of Israel - even if they’ve never been there - that makes them believe they have some special understanding of the place. I know I’ve made many a comment in this blog, ranging from appraising the problems caused by Palestinians supporting Yasser Arafat to a semi-serious offered solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. All from the comfort of my armchair. Or at least the comfortable chair I sit in when I’m working on my computer.

I’m not alone of course. There are armchair pundits commenting on Israel and the Middle East everywhere - many obscure like myself - and some prominent, like the conservative columnist who, a s far as I know has never had a critical word to say about Israel - Charles Krauthammer.

One of the problems with being an armchair pundit commenting on things and events far removed from one’s armchair - in Doctor Krauthammer’s case, his wheelchair - is that the conclusions one reaches are highly influenced by the logic of what should be, based on all of the information one has available from various far distant sources Thus, on a day when a Palestinian terrorist blew himself to bits in Netanya, killing five Israelis, Krauthammer’s syndicated column spoke of new signs of hope for a peaceful Middle East and an ultimate resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

I’m not saying that Krauthammer’s thesis loses credibility because it happened to be published on a day when the news out of Israel represented the antithesis of "hope" - but it does tend to remind one that punditry and reality are often mutually exclusive entities.

A better balance to the Krauthammer column than the news of a suicide bomber, is an article from one of the editors of Mideast on Target - an Israeli newsletter to which I subscribe and which I would recommend armchair pundits read before penning their next long distance analysis of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

It doesn’t necessarily refute Krauthammer’s thesis of "hope" - but it gives you a better idea of why there are fewer terrorist attacks, giving the feeling that the Palestinians are "maturing" and moving more in the direction of seeking peaceful solutions. It’s because the Israeli Defense Force is on constant alert and is preventing them.

And thank heaven for the IDF - doing the job that provides glimmers of hope for all of us armchair pundits who support Israel - Krauthammer included - to write about.

December 9,2005 3 p.m. CST

And here’s a further article from the Mideast On Target people that gives a different view of the current state of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict than the sanguine analysis of Charles Krauthammer.