Invoking Spinoza

Cornell West has a brave op-ed piece on the moral disaster that is the Middle East:

As we witness another sad chapter in the Middle East — the loss of
precious human beings, the presence of deep hatred and revenge, and the
absence of Socratic questioning and empathy for all — the spirit of
Spinoza haunts us.

Where are the courageous thinkers who ask the
hard questions that shatter our simplistic and sentimental frameworks
of pure Israeli heroes and impure Arab villains (or vice versa) in the
conflict? Is it possible for Jews to reject the ugly Israeli
subjugation of Palestinians, the plight of their prisoners in Israeli
jails (especially the women and children), or the anti-Arab bigotry in
Israeli society without being demonized a self-hating Jew?

Is it
possible for Arabs to reject the pernicious rhetoric of pushing Israel
into the sea, the barbaric practice of suicide bombers and the
anti-Jewish bigotry in Arab communities without being demeaned a
traitorous Arab? Have the wars of the blood-soaked region so coarsened
consciences, hardened hearts, and closed minds such that the spirit of
Spinoza is dead and buried?

This spirit of Spinoza is not hard to
define at the present moment. It requires security for Israelis,
justice for Palestinians, and dignity for Lebanese. The colossal
failure of Arab politicians to speak boldly and act courageously for
these three aims is pathetic. Oil interests and fear of democratic
reform at home cripple Arab political leadership — and now threaten
their legitimacy and stability.

Here in the United States, oil
dependency and moral hypocrisy drive our policy. We rightly support the
security of Israelis — the world must never ever permit
another Holocaust against Jews. Yet we wrongly talk and act as if the
life of an Arab — especially Palestinian or Lebanese — has less value
than that of an Israeli — especially Jewish. Hence the low priority on
the lives of those under the vicious Israeli occupation or on innocent
Lebanese victims of Israeli bombs.

Read it and weep and then take action.

3 thoughts on “Invoking Spinoza

  1. Nice peice by Cornell West. Thank you for the post. America’s democratic reform agenda for the Middle East lays in tatters and continues a long line of ideas that have been sacrificed. (The first casualty on the War on Terror was not the truth, but rather the documents that gave rise to it: The Bill of Right and the Constitution).
    America’s is in the position to call for a cease-fire, but will not do so. The elected government of Lebanon, a US ally, is hung out to dry. Lebanon, recovering from 15 years of civil war, is pushed to the brink once again. Al-Qaeda calls for a new theatre of engagement in Lebanon to go along with the current recruitment drives taking place in Afghanistan and Iraq. Syria and Iran continue to flex their muscle in the region. Israel has guaranteed a new generation of fighters against it. Are we safer? Do you feel safer? Condi Rice should have gone shoe shopping instead of sabotaging that farce of the meeting in Rome.
    More civilians will die in Israel, Lebanon, and Iraq. Gaza will burn. Hope will smolder in the embers and wreckage. And bombs, strapped to the backs of young men, will go off in markets like fireworks at a 4th of July parade. Nothing good can come of this.

  2. C L O S E R – Back from liminoid

    Well, hello there. Its been a while. I think besides during my stay in Morocco a few years ago, there was never a blog-less period that was so long. Holidays (indeed, that was my liminoid phase), writing research applications, writ…

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