I envy people who can see the world and its myriad crises in black and white. No shades of gray for them; just a rigid manichæism that banishes all doubt.

They exist on both ends of the political spectrum and nothing illuminates their poltical philosophy better than the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The hardcore Left villifies Israel and the extreme neo-right get out their pom-poms and lead the cheers whenever Israel “gets tough” with terrorists. (Or Arab civilians and critical infrastructure, for that matter.) The latter position is, of course, the one held by the Bush administration.

As Boston University Anthropology and International Relations professor, Augustus Norton, offers:

I’ve been studying American foreign policy in the Middle East for 34 years and I can’t recall any U.S. president who has subordinated American interests to Israeli interests like this one. The administration is being naïve about how this is going to reverberate elsewhere, in places like Iraq. Israel is primarily targeting Shiite Muslims and that’s going to fuel the sectarianism that is feeding the civil war in Iraq. We have other concerns we should be looking out for—but George Bush apparently feels that American interests and Israeli interests coincide, so we have a no-show foreign policy.

I’m sickened by the devastation in Lebanon (I have a soft-spot for the Lebanese. Probably the most generous and hospitable people I have ever encountered.) But at the same time, how can one not be moved by the sight of Israeli women and children running for their lives as (unguided) rockets slam into their homes? Certainly, any nation would — and has the absolute right — to defend its citizens in such circumstances.

Putting aside for the moment that Hezbollah was formed in reaction to an earlier Israeli invasion of Lebanon and that the Arab world can’t seem to get out of its own way, any thoughtful, critical analysis would find angels and devils on both sides of the blue line.

I know that the “Good & Evil” pundits dismiss any such analysis as “moral equivalence” but, well, to hell with them. The world is a complicated place and human actions and motivations are infinitely more complex that Sean Hannity would have you believe.

This bothers me:

As much as this does:

Both people have been brutalized (as in the sense of , ‘to be made brutal’) by a multi-generational conflict that shows no signs of stopping. By their current actions, the Israelis will create more terrorists than they destroy. And the Arabs will never “push Israel into the sea.”

Until the Palestinian question is solved, Arabs will continue live in crushing, humiliating, misery and the Israelis will live under the constant threat of terrorism.

It’s at times like these that I wish we had a president…

A few ways to help:

  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Catholic Relief Services has committed to helping people in Lebanon, Gaza, and Israelis in Northern Israel displaced by Hezbollah attacks.

  • International Orthodox Christian Charities
  • Ditto the above

  • American Friends of Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross affiliate) Providing services to Israeli Jews, Arabs, and Druze. Also see British friends and Australian friends
  • The Lebanese Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society
  • Provide humaitarian assistance to all people irrespective of creed or nationality.