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Nov 29

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, November 29, 2007 9:28 AM 

At a closed-door session during the Munich Conference--I mean, the Annapolis Conference--Condoleezza Rice spoke of the empathy she feels for both Palestinian Arabs and Israelis due to her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama "at a time of separation and tension" in the segregated South.
    According to the Washington Post, Rice's remarks went like this:
    She noted that a local church was bombed by white separatists, killing four girls, including a classmate of hers.
    "Like the Israelis, I know what it is like to go to sleep at night, not knowing if you will be bombed, of being afraid to be in your own neighborhood, of being afraid to go to your church," she said.
    But, she added, as a black child in the South, being told she could not use certain water fountains or eat in certain restaurants, she also understood the feelings and emotions of the Palestinians.
    "I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian," she said. "I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."
   
Let's think about Rice's role-playing here. She understands the Israeli fear of Palestinian terrorism because of the bombing her black community suffered at the hands of violent racists, This is her Israeli=black argument. She understands the "humiliation" of Palestinians who undergo checkpoint searches and other Israeli security measures against such Palestinian terrorism because of the restrictions of Jim Crow race laws. This is her Palestinian=black argument. To her mind, the black experience applies equally to both sides.
    But it doesn't, it can't--not unless morality and reason are completely divorced from the tale. The Israelis who are the victims of Palestinian bombs and the Israelis who defend against such terrorism with checkpoints and other security measures are one and the same--the good guys, or, in Rice's framework, the black people. Rice, however, believes Israelis who set up checkpoints specifically to defend fellow Israelis from Palestinian bombs are the bad guys--the moral equivalent of racists who inflicted state-sanctioned inequality on blacks.  
    There's another Rice-ian tangle to unravel: Her projection of prejudice, Deep South-style, onto the Middle East. The Arab campaign against Israel is steeped in jihadist ideology driven by race-hatred for Jews, as former dhimmis, who have had the audacity to reclaim lands once conquered by  Islam. Her church was bombed out of such race hatred; the Jim Crow laws were based in racial prejudice (and obviously not to protect the black community). The Israelis are bombed out of race hatred; but they themselves set up self-defense mechanisms, such as Palestinian checkpoints, not out of race-hatred or prejudice, but in self defense.  Rice's analogy would only begin to work if, after the church bombing, her black commuity had set up checkpoints for white people wishing to enter her neighborhood.
    And maybe that notion reveals another flaw in her analogy. Most white Americans were horrified by the Birmingham chuch bombing, and certainly neither sought nor found religious (Christian, Jewish) justification for it. On the contrary, most Palestinians favor or rationalize terrorism against Jewish targets, and can easily find religious (Islamic) justification for it.
    But the Moral Equivalence fix is in, regardless of how ahistorial or amoral it may be. Maybe it reached its highest, most ludicrous, most insulting expression when President Bush read aloud the joint "understanding" agreed to by Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the end of the conference. Among other things, it expressed a determination (whatever that means) "to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis."
    Words fail.  

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