Wednesday, August 12, 2009


This is a few days old, but this is a part of George Gilder (via Sullivan):
During this 20-year period under Israeli rule [starting in 1967], some 250,000 Israelis settled in the Territories. These were the supposedly predatory settlers. They supplied the infrastructure of power, water, education, and medical care that attracted nearly ten Arab settlers for every one Israeli. During this period, the economy in the territories grew some 25 percent per year, nearly the fastest in the world, and far faster than that of Israel itself, which was still bogged down in socialism. Arab life expectancy rose from 40 to around 70. Their incomes tripled while their population soared. Seven universities and 2,500 factories were established. It was the golden age for Palestinian Arabs.

There are an awful lot of problems with this argument, but I think that this is flawed on a conceptual level in a uniquely American way. It is true that Israel provides water and electricity to West Bankers. This is often trumped up by Likud-oriented hawks as evidence of how generous Israel is, and correspondingly how evil Palestine must be. But it doesn't illustrate this at all. By denying Palestine the ability to run these things themselves, Israel holds tremendous power over Palestinians, who are definitionally not self-sufficient. Knowing that you are being occupied by a foriegn power that can literally close the spigot or kill the lights at any time might make the Palestinians a little less than grateful at the benificence of their Israeli neighbors. Israel could truly show their generosity by turning over Palestinian operations to the elected authorities of the region.

The reason why this is a uniquely American mistake is because Americans, by and large, don't care about motives. At least, a lot of the pundits don't. This is why Americans refuse to give any credibility that oil was a big part of the push toward the Iraq War, even though a preliminary perusal of the data (the US using about 60% of the world's oil, for example) lends this credence, and it is in fact a popular notion everywhere else in the world. It is the American way to assume innocence with respect to our own actions. Of course, I don't know the extent to which Iraq's oil was a part of the war deliberations, but it's not an unreasonable question to ask, even though there's no evidence that oil was the key mover in this discussion. But we can't even ask the question here. And it is evidently similar when talking about Israel.

And, of course, there is a name for one country dominating another country and denying it autonomy: colonialism. Empire is another. Of course, most on the right would dispute the use of this term, but that is merely the evidence of a lack of imagination on the right. Rome wasn't the only type of empire. I'd say that living in a country where another country controls the infrastructure, has the authority to dispatch its military into my country at will, and continues to encroach on my territory with illegal and unwise settlements is pretty much a colony. Luckily, I'm not living in a country where that is happening. But it is happening in Palestine.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.