From kid croesus, a frequent commentor.
I agree with most of what he says…
When I was six (1976) I was lucky enough to visit the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The tour guide there explained (rather sensitively) how today it was a holy site for the Jews, Christians and Muslims. He mentioned that it was a subject of great controversy who should ultimately control it. I listened carefully, and set about solving the problem.
Since the Turks had held it the longest, I reasoned, perhaps it made sense for them to control it. The guide was fairly stymied by my childhood solomonic wisdom.
And I suppose if the Turks honestly believed that they had a legitimate claim to the place, we would now have to consider their point of view. And at least one clear thinking 6 year old would have imagined them justified in their actions.
But to your question, is there a “we don’t need to look at the other side of the coin” test?
When can we just say, “these people are basically evil- they are terrorist, Nazis, they want to drive Israel into the sea…lets be done with them.”?
Well for me, it comes down to “could reasonable people disagree on this issue?” And very clearly, reasonable people around the world do disagree on this one, depending on their world-view.
I think there are real risks in not recognizing that there are two sides to this conflict; it leads to the view that a) your enemy is basically irrational and/or evil b)and logically, when dealing with an irrational enemy, you really have to use any means necessary to win.
That kind of logic sells well in Peoria, but leads to bad decisions — which is my whole problem with the Axis of Evil approach.
I think it would be much more refreshing to hear someone say the truth: “you know, I am sure the enemy are basically good decent rational people (albeit with a different religion and value system) have a valid point to make, and are stuck with a tough situation; if I were in their shoes, I might feel exactly the same way they do. But since we both want this piece of land, we are going to have to wipe them out.”
We used to call it Manifest Destiny.
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