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  • Four Letter Words

       August 15, 2005

    I was thinking today about two four letter words that have been in the news lately: "Gaza" and "Kelo".

    The Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v New London was roundly panned. People on the left and the right were appalled that a person's home could be taken from them for a potential economic benefit.

    Today Israeli settlers in Gaza are being forcibly removed from their homes with little such outcry. Rather than dwell on the losses being inflicted on those individuals, we're sold a different story:

    While the withdrawal from Gaza has long been demanded by Palestinians, it is in Israel's interest as well. It will free up Israeli soldiers who have been devoted to the defense of far-flung clusters of Jewish housing surrounded by hostile Palestinians. It is a rational response to the demographic challenges that threaten to leave Jews a minority unless Israel loosens its hold on the West Bank.

    I wonder why the individual homeowners in New London are treated like tragic heroes, while Gaza settlers are labeled "extremists" and "hard-liners". To me, there are a hell of a lot of similarities going on here (ignoring for a moment that Gaza settlers don't have the US constitution to appeal to). In both cases, government is taking something from the individual for some nebulous greater good.

    Of course, it shouldn't be surprising. The same people that wanted to make public policy out of what Terri Schiavo's family said are the same people attacking Cindy Sheehan now. And vice versa. Too many of us are focused on the outcomes we want at the expense of what good government is, so we'll hold up a representative individual to acclaim or scorn, depending on whether we agree with their politics.

    Posted by at August 15, 2005 10:40 PM

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    #  August 15th, 2005 10:56 PM      james
    the "settlers" in gaza were told not to go there. they went anyway. they have a mentality that goes like "oh, the government is just saying that, if we go, we're helping the cause, b/c they can't kick us all out!"

    it's like a group of people knowing full well train fare is $10, but all getting on with only $5 thinking "what, theyre not gonna stop the train and kick us all of!"

    i'm reminded of an acquaintence who bought a house right next to the highway - the house was, of course, cheaper than comparable houses b/c of the noise and location. as soon as he and his neighbors had their cut-rate mortgages locked in, they started petitioning the city to move the highway or build a wall. disgusting.
    #  August 15th, 2005 11:17 PM      kris
    that's not really what i was talking about. it was more about how we personalize something if we agree with the cause and use emotion in place of logic. And then, we'll turn around and bitch about people using emotion in place of logic when we disagree with the cause.

    #  August 15th, 2005 11:26 PM      james
    i dont use emotion in place of logic. i think they're all nuts  
    #  August 15th, 2005 11:31 PM      kris
    i didn't mean "we" as in you. i meant we as in people in general.  
    #  August 16th, 2005 9:30 AM      thegameiam
    Actually, James, for the most part the settlers were encouraged by official Israeli government policies to move and settle there. There were housing subsidies, and a variety of other incentives to do so.

    The change from "the government wants you to move to Gaza" to "the government wants you out of Gaza" took only a few years, and many of the people living there have been there for more than a decade.

    No matter one's feelings on whether this is right, it's hard not to feel sorry for someone who is losing their home.  
    #  August 16th, 2005 10:09 AM      james
    i just don't think that's true, thegameiam. i've followed this problem closely, and have not seen one government policy encouraging settlers to move into these areas since at least 1998. (1998 is when i started following it, not when i say it started.) if you have some evidence to the contrary, i'd love to see it.

    israel has a parlimentary government and there are factions that support these "settlers," sure. so what? if nancy pelosi thinks that cows should vote, that doesn't make it "official govt policy." ehud barak's govt came to power in 1999, and it was certainly never encouraged by him, or since then.  
    #  August 16th, 2005 12:33 PM      thegameiam
    The settlers I've been reading about have been living in their houses for > 14 years. That places them well before Ehud Barak.

    Also, take a look at this and this and this.

    The thing to notice is that no house can be constructed without explicit approval from the governemnt, and part of what that approval means is tax benefits, etc (don't forget that Israel is still a moderately socialist country, so the government is involved down to the particulars of many things).




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