Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Alan Dershowitz Has Placed Himself Outside The Realm of Moral and Intellectual Respectability, not Jimmy Carter.

It's entirely understandable to me why Jimmy Carter wouldn't debate with Alan Dershowitz. I don't know exactly why Jimmy Carter wouldn't do it but I wouldn't because Alan Dershowitz is a proponent of torture. A proponent of torture removes themselves from the range of moral respectability. I consider proponents of torture in the same way Deborah Lipstadt considers David Irving and for similar reasons. Like Holocaust deniers they should not be given extra chances to promote themselves or their public careers pretending to be legitimate and respectable members of the intellectual spectrum. Alan Dershowitz used to be a supporter of human rights who was a rather too uncritical supporter of whatever unsupportable actions the Israeli government happened to engage in, now he is a supporter of torture who occasionally also supports selected human rights. I consider him the way Deborah Lipstadt considers David Irving and for similar reasons. It could also be pointed out that Dershowitz isn’t without issues of accuracy and honesty but it’s the support of torture that puts him definitively outside what should be acceptable.

The intellectual puzzle given by supporters of torture poses that the one to be tortured would be able to provide information essential to prevent the deaths of many other people and so needs to be made to talk. The situation is compelling and I believe that if such a situation existed and could be proven in a court that the illegal use of torture saved many lives, it is unlikely that either the torturer would be convicted or that any sentence would be imposed or upheld, at least here. Torture might be morally justifiable, I don't know. I do know that making it legal would open up too many trap doors on too many slippery slopes and would certainly be taken as permission to start "pushing the envelope". It is now. If it is adopted within the offical toolbox of the military and intelligence establisments - and if them why not local police - we will live to rue the day.

The invitation to Jimmy Carter has the feel of a set up job, Jimmy Carter’s new book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," has a provocative title and it has provoked a response. Of all the people who he could have been invited to debate, choosing Dershowitz, a poison pill if there ever was one, could be taken as evidence that the proposed debate wasn't the real motive of those making the offer.

As for the use of the word apartheid, today’s Boston Globe prints an interesting response by Norman Finklestein which shows that the practice of the Israeli government has been called “apartheid” or its equivalent by none other than Ariel Sharon, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, and Haaretz.

Indeed, the list apparently includes former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Pointing to his "fixation with Bantustans," Israeli researcher Gershom Gorenberg concluded in 2003 that it is "no accident" that Sharon's plan for the West Bank "bears a striking resemblance to the 'grand apartheid' promoted by the old South African regime." Sharon reportedly stated around that time that "the Bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict."

Why can the word be used in Israel but not by a former America President with more credibility than any other American in promoting the security of Israel?

Carter clearly explains that he is
referring to the developing intricately overlapping system of roads and
settlements in the West Bank in which Israelis and Palestinians would live
in different areas and travel on different roads. This, of course, will
minimize any contact between Israelis and Palestinians. Carter prefers, as
does the US government and most of the world, two contiguous states living
side by side.

While the word apartheid is loaded with its origin in segregationist
policies in South Africa, I struggle to find a better word to describe this
clear policy of Israel's government. Perhaps Carter should have titled his
book "Palestine Peace not Apartness". But "Apartness" could simply reflect
psychological distance. A word is needed to describe the facts on the
ground, and I think that apartheid does the job well. It's provocativeness
forces us to recognize what is actually happening.

The Israeli settlements, which violate Israeli committments to the US, the
Fourth Geneva Convention, and UN resolutions agreed to by Israel, generate a
violent Palestinian response, as do military occupations world wide. The
settlements make Palestinians rationally believe that there is no prospect
of an end of the occupation, thus aggravating the violent response.

Carter makes clear that a way toward peace is available and that a critical
element of this way is to remove the "apartness" on the West Bank.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?