There are a number of wars ongoing in the Middle East but one of them is taking place on Facebook. I know because I have friends on both sides. The busier group posts pictures of dead Palestinian children while the other says they are being used as human shields.
Thoughtful observers probably want to draw the right conclusions but to do so, they have to try to eliminate the spin and get to reality. For all but the best informed (many of whom are themselves spinners for one side or the other) the task is at best not easy and at worst hopeless.
=Ninety-five years ago this month, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour declared, in a letter to Walter Second Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland,
“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
One Facebooker in my circle seems to be blaming Balfour himself for creating today’s problems but perhaps the blame is properly laid upon those who omit an important part of the declaration: “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”
The battle is being fought in Gaza and in those parts of Israel in which poorly guided rockets are landing but the policy battle is also happening in Washington where the Israeli right, looked after by AIPAC, battles the Israeli left (and some say the State Department itself) looked after by J Street. If words could kill, the casualty count would be higher in Washington.
One place where the battle is not happening is Europe, where such Israeli PR as exists has been overwhelmed by the Palestinian efforts.
In the recently concluded campaign both US presidential candidates fell all over themselves expressing support for Israel. It would not be hard to conclude this was in response to financial support because the number of Jewish voters is both too small and too committed to the Democrats to have made a difference.
What does supporting Israel mean? Is it supporting the country or is it supporting Likud, the far right political party headed by Benjamin Netanyahu?
If the former, it could lead thoughtful observers in one direction; if the latter in the other.
The upcoming Israeli election does not make the question easier to answer.