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Saturday, April 17, 2004

A History of Violence

At UT's Yom Ha Shoah (sp?) things, there was a discussion in which two points were made (non-congruously). First, it was mentioned, not as part of any argument, that the Jewish people have been harrassed, persecuted, and killed throughout history, no matter where they are or who their neighbors. Later, the common argument was dropped into the conversation that Islam has "bloody borders," that there are conflicts around nearly all the edges of the Islamic world and have been for centuries.

Now, Jewish people have tended (and quite justly) to feel themselves set-upon, but those attacking them have also tended to argue that they were asking for it or deserved it for any number of reasons. Somewhat similarly, Islamic people have tended to claim that they were attacked unjustly (by the same evil kind of people attacking their Jewish neighbors) and retaliated in self-defense.

I haven't thought this through heavily, but the only difference in the two arguments seems to be that there hasn't been much violent Jewish retaliation in modern times (although the Canaanites et al would probably have a different perspective). We get, in each case, a religious/cultural group of people that has been involved in conflict forever. Is there any reason to see the two differently? To see Jews as unjustly persecuted (even in ancient times) and Muslims as either bloodthirsty sui generis or just with a coincidental string of violent neighbors (even in historical Jihads, being held back at the gates of Europe and all that)?

I would really love others' opinions on this.


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