Clearly, there's no need to take a side, but one is welcome to do so. Done well, taking sides can further dialog by giving you a motivation to speak up. Done poorly, taking sides can undercut your objectivity.
Here's why I take a side in the Israel-Palestinian war. For years my assessment was that the Israelis and Palestinians deserved each other. They killed each others' children. There was no point in taking sides because they were both wrong.
After years of seeing the violence committed by both sides, however, I felt I should take another look at it. It was easy to lump the Palestinians and the Israelis together, but maybe it was too easy. The other liberals I knew were on the Palestinians' side. Maybe they were right. I couldn't be sure it was fair to lump them in with the Israelis. Maybe I had turned my back on the Palestinians because they were Muslims. Not that I have anything against Muslims (at least, not any more than I have against Christians). But maybe I had turned my back on an oppressed minority because the US media were pro-Israel.
So, deciding to get off the fence, I looked into it. The Israelis include a bunch of hateful religious bigots, people who think that God gave them the Palestinians' land. And the Palestinians include a bunch of hateful religious bigots who thinks that God will reward them for killing Israeli civilians. I read about Israeli torture of Palestinians and about Arafat trying to buy bombs from Iran. Certainly there's less difference between the two sides than one might hope for.
But eventually I came to my understanding of a key difference, which is that the Israelis kill civilians indirectly and Palestinians do it directly. I know that's not a distinction that everyone thinks is as important as I do. I know that there are other ways to distinguish the sides (Western vs. Muslim, rich vs. poor, Jew vs. Muslim, state vs. oppressed people, democracy vs. anarchy, etc.). But the direct/indirect-civilian-killing distinction is the distinction that I like.
Taking a side, however, is merely an exercise. The real question is what action should one take.
pro-Israel: Or "dominated by secret Zionist overlords who masterminded 9/11," as some would have it.
other responses to "Israel"