Sunday, February 04, 2024

Why Making Real Time Sense Of Israeli-Gaza War Is So Difficult -Part III

Preview:  GUERRILLA WARFARE - A brief discussion of guerrilla warfare, then you can watch the classic film on the Algerian war for independence from France:  The Battle Of Algiers.

Part I of this series is here.  It identifies and briefly discusses the following topics I think important to be aware of when confronting the Israeli-Gaza war.





Part II is here.  It looks at:





[Part III was going to include a section on Hamas.  But that has turned out to be lengthier than I first imagined.  The Hamas Charter is pretty explicitly an Islamic call to overthrow the State of Israel.  But in the spirt of topic 1 in Part I - Propaganda, Misinformation, and the Obliteration of Truth, I needed to be sure I was not being misled and then I wanted to present it in a way that showed different translations to assure readers as well.  So I'm going to make that Part IV. And I'll probably add a Part V to organize my thoughts after doing all this research and writing.]  


I don't have a lot to say about this, other than to say it is an important factor that has helped empower Netanyahu and the Israeli political right wing.  From a Brookings Institute report:

"The over one million people who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in a wave from the beginning of the 1990s have changed Israel to its core — socially, politically, economically, and culturally. Within the first six years, they formed what became a large secular nationalist political camp that secures right-wing rule to this day."

The immigration of Ultra Orthodox US Jews also plays an important role - especially in the policies of taking Arab land in the West Bank and turning it into Jewish settlements.   While their numbers are tiny compared to the Russian immigrants, their interest in settling in the West Bank exacerbates conflicts with Palestinian Arabs.  


Ignorance by itself is not bad.  We are all ignorant about many things.  Just go in any library and peruse the book titles.  Some topics you know well.  Others not at all.  The important things about ignorance are:

  1. You are aware of your ignorance
  2. You don't act as though you know what you're talking about on subjects you're ignorant on
  3. You recognize that expertise in one area doesn't give you expertise in other areas
  4. What we know, what science uncovers, is merely a model of reality.  That model is often incomplete and new discoveries require changes in our models.  So what you learned in the past may be out of date, or it may have been wrong in the first place.

My basic point here is that lack of knowledge, and the lack of awareness of one's ignorance, combines with Topic 1:  PROPAGANDA, MISINFORMATION, OBLITERATION OF TRUTH, to make thinking out the Israeli-Gaza situation even harder than it already is.  The rest is some background to own ignorance.

Ignorance doesn't mean stupidity.  It means that someone hasn't been exposed to certain knowledge, information.  Perhaps one has lived in one location forever and been around people who mostly look and think and behave like them. 

First radio, then television, and then the internet have made it easier to escape such isolation and to learn more about the world and the people in it.  [And I'm not saying that never having been more than 100 miles from your home is necessarily a bad thing either. Being grounded in a geographic location can give someone connections and insights that people without such permanence lack.]

Spending a year as a student in Germany made me see things I could never have seen had I stayed home.  I don't mean so much that I saw Germany and Europe, but more that I saw my life growing up in California from a whole different perspective.  Learning that I could exist reasonably well without using English also rearranged my brain.

When I first arrived to teach English in Thailand so many years ago, I was gaining ability in my Thai language skills, and rapidly learning about my community and Thailand.  It took me six months before I realized:

The more I knew, the volume of what I didn't know, grew ten times faster.  My ignorance wasn't growing, just my awareness of my ignorance was growing..   

As a blogger, I'm reminded daily about how much I do not know.  I'm constantly googling to learn more about the background of someone or something I know little or nothing about.  It's a constant fight to resist unconsciously filling in, from my prejudices, what isn't said about something I learn about in the news or online.  I write something and then realize I don't know if it is true or not and have to verify it.  

The internet makes such fact-checking much easier than it ever was before, but I come to this having spent years painfully tracking references in bound volumes that then led me to track down the books and journals that might hold the answer.  I've had to go through articles by people who make conflicting arguments, and then had to look for more evidence that would give one side more likelihood of being accurate than other positions.  

A friend pointed out that he's not so sure the internet makes it easier because there's so much disinformation.  Experience in critical thinking and sleuthing is important on the internet.

That's why Topic 9 - IGNORANCE is closely related to Topic 1 (in Part I) PROPAGANDA, MISINFORMATION, OBLITERATION OF TRUTH.   And why Propaganda is the very first topic.

Without a substantial foundational web of of knowledge, it's hard to figure out 

  • where to store in your world view every new bit of data
  • how to evaluate its accuracy
  • when and how to shift your own understanding of a particular subject

10.  GUERRILLA WARFARE - I covered this as much as I think I will  in a previous post that invites to you see the movie The Battle of Algiers.  Here's the link to that post, which was like a sneak preview to this series of posts.  


I've just finished reading Michael Nolan's Ike's Gamble.  It's 258 pages focused on President Eisenhower's policy toward Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser from 1954-1959.  Nolan uses a vast volume of State Department files that only have been recently made public, reviewing the memos sent by different State Department officials as well as other correspondents and notes taken by people then and there.  

I understand the people protesting Israeli killing of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians.  I  understand and share the frustration of US citizens who object to the US supplying weapons to Israel to carry out the attacks.  I get that people want President Biden to pressure Netanyahu to call a cease fire.  I think that is a legitimate request.  But the people who then condemn the Biden administration and say they won't vote for him because of Israel, well those folks I don't get at all.  

There is so much going on behind the scenes that we know nothing about, that we really have no idea of exactly what the Biden administration is doing to try to stop the attacks in Gaza.  The Nolan book makes that point very clear.  It also makes it clear that they may or may not be doing things that will help the situation improve.  

[Sorry, a bit of editorial here:  But for sane US citizens to argue that Israeli policy is a good enough reason to not vote for Biden, when the alternative is Trump, suggests to me incredible shortsightedness.  There is nothing that Trump will do to improve the situation of Palestinians.  Nothing.  He's cozied up to Netanyahu.  He helped to move the Israeli capital to Jerusalem, something Palestinians vigorously opposed.  In fact, it's clear he would do his best to end the US experiment in democracy.]

Here's a  Tweet that makes the same point on a different subject that also reminds us that much goes on behind the scenes that we will only learn about much later on if ever.


This was originally going to follow the section on Hamas.  Since I'm moving Hamas to the next post, it makes sense to move this one as well.  But if your curious - be my guest and think out, even write down what you would write on this question and see how similar your ideas are to what I'll write.  That's always a good way to move from a passive to an active reader.  


Hope to see you soon with Part IV.  I'll make this link live when it's ready.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.