Monday, April 28, 2008

A Dismal Science

The fighting in Gaza this morning produced another round of charges and counter charges between Hamas and Israel. Six unarmed Palestinians were killed this morning, including a mother and her four children. According to Hamas, they died when an Israeli tank shell crashed through the roof of their house as they were eating breakfast. According to an Israeli army spokesperson the tank shell hit two Palestinian gunmen who were carrying a large amount of ammunition. The ammunition exploded and killed the civilians. Almost any observer realizes that whatever the truth, both sides are liars or, to use Harry Frankfurt's useful distinction, bullshitters. Neither cares what the truth is, but will say whatever suits its purpose. The Israel army and government care no more about the deaths of Palestinians than Hamas cares about those of Israelis when its militants fire rockets at Israeli settlements.

Perhaps in this context, it is petty to be annoyed by the screeds of right wing Israelis who want Israelis to emulate Palestinian terrorists and suicide bomb Palestinian buses and restaurants. Don't these lunatics realize that Israeli has much more surgical and effective means, which result in a balance of deaths greatly in its favor.

Unfortunately, this lack of interest in the other's welfare -- the self regarding that is supposedly normative for groups on the realist view of international relations -- will continue to put a mutually acceptable accord beyond reach. Only a minimum of such interest can stop the perpetual whining of each side about the concessions it would have to make to get peace.

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