In the plethora of responses, on-blog and off, concerning Israel and Gaza, I keep coming across instances of visceral, rather than cerebral, thinking. To some people, anything having to do with that troubled area of the world is so tied up with who they are that anything "their side" does must necessarily be defended and anything the "other side" does must be attacked.
Bystanders who are neither Arab nor Jewish are regarded as either neo-Nazis or neo-colonialists if they dare question the moral and political infallibility of either the government of Israel or the various movements and governments of the Arab world. Yet -- in actual fact -- the Israeli government, as well as Hamas and the many others on the other side, are both composed of quite fallible human beings.
As a Gentile in the West, I am most exposed to Jews who take personal offense at any criticism of Israel. (I am sure, and in different occasions I have experienced it, pro-Palestinian Arabs can be just as obdurate.)
Yet I am an American who criticizes the U.S. government often and hard, a former Catholic who has put the Catholic philosophical system through the shredder and excoriated the leadership of the Catholic Church, a Democrat who thinks Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are ineffectual wimps, a man who believes in the rights of women and the wrongs of many men, including myself, and so forth.
We will never make progress as human beings until we can all step back and look at our own pet ideas, nations, cultures or groups with detachment. At least when we engage in discourse.