The Said Symphony: move 12

[ by Charles Cameron – extended analytic game on Israeli-Palestinian conflict — continuing ]


I am titling my next move “Moral Equivalence?” with the question mark as the crux of the title, and I am posting it separately since it (a) raises a central question with regards to the entire project and (b) plunges us directly into the twin narratives of Palestinian and Israeli… in parallel, in counterpoint… perhaps in…

Move 12: Moral Equivalence?


Move Content:

In President Obama‘s address at Cairo University on June 4, 2009, the President presents the two narratives, Israeli and Palestinian, side by side:

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed — more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

Insult #3 in Nile Gardiner‘s piece, “Barack Obama’s top ten insults against Israel,” from the Telegraph blog of April, 2010, consists of the comment:

In his Cairo speech to the Muslim world, President Obama condemned Holocaust denial in the Middle East, but compared the murder of six million Jews during World War Two to the “occupation” of the Palestinian territories, in a disturbing example of moral equivalence:

followed directly by the third paragraph above from Obama’s speech.

The question raised by this move is that of “moral equivalence”. Specifically, I am raising the question of whether Obama’s four paragraphs do indeed contain “a disturbing example of moral equivalence”. More generally, I am asking whether juxtaposition — which is one of the central features of analogical thought, and thus of this game – implies equivalence.

Link claimed:

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