Saturday, January 20, 2007

In 2003, I lost a friend over the issue of Israel. Two, I guess. It was an email discussion. The second guy, who we'll call 'Noam,' wanted only to blame Israel for all the pain there, and extoll the Palestinian heroes, justifying any tactics they might use. I said that Israel had done many evil and stupid things, but had a right to exist. It was a fiat accompli, even if theft underlay the formation of the state. I said that since history cannot be reversed, the goal now ought to be establishing peace and security.

Noam was abusive and insulting, accusing me of stupidity and sadism. The next guy, my good friend of many years, who we'll call 'Pancho,' was cc'd on all of this. He was the type of guy who wanted everyone to get along, and would do almost anything to diffuse conflict. But in this case he agreed with Noam, so rather than correct Noam on his abuse, he kept largely silent, occasionally posing questions to me.

I was concerned about finding the factual basis for some of the outrageous claims Noam made. Pancho wrote "and i have concerns for the people about to be slaughtered by the empire u are so eager to defend."

I hadn't defended 'the empire' (the U.S.), or the planned invasion of Iraq, but I guess Pancho and Noam wanted me to shut up and agree with anything Noam said politically -- hence the abuse from Noam and the silence from Pancho.

Noam said some nasty, anti-Semitic stuff. In all caps, red font.

I stayed fact-based, and calm.

This thread went on for months, and the personal abuse from Noam mounted. It was as if he thought that asking for sources and using the power of reason made me George Bush, and Noam could prevent the impending war if he just insulted me enough. Ideologues and bullies like Noam and Bush hate reason and facts.

Finally I asked Pancho to comment on Noam's abuse towards me. He replied that it was sad to see us both engaging in so many ad hominem attacks.

What else could he do? He wanted to support Noam, yet he knew that I had remained civil, and seemed to have the upper hand in terms of argumentation, so he decided to claim we'd both been childish. It was a classic passive-aggressive move.

People will humiliate themselves for their ideology.

I emailed Pancho once or twice about it. He failed. We're not in contact any more. Good riddance.
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