Here is the main complaint that kicks off the story:
"Recently, in the major Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot, there appeared a picture of a beautiful little girl holding and aiming a machine gun almost her own size, being coached by a smiling soldier in fatigues in a West Bank settlement in the Occupied Territories. The caption mentioned how many foreigners come on tours and are given this kind of exposure."What kind of exposure is he referring to, exactly? I had to go and find the link myself and basically what it describes is an extreme self-defense course. It's not very different from many classes like it here in America. Clearly the only aspect that made this newsworthy was that it involved Israelis and the Occupied Territories (big O, big T of course).
But that isn't why Mr. Gopin is writing the article. He has two other reasons for doing so. One is to pass judgment on the Israeli people (we'll get to that in a minute) and here is the other:
"This is a very different kind of tourism and educational seminar experience than the kind I and my colleagues have been running for years in Israel and Palestine, Egypt and other countries."Ah, of course. Nothing like a little self-aggrandizement in the pages of the Huffington Post I see. So anyway here is that judgement I mentioned, contrasted with an "even handed call for peace."
"There is certainly a sickness in many settlements in the Occupied Territories, and there are Israelis who live with a bunker mentality, ready to live and die by their guns. But everywhere, even in the settlements, there are very different residents and neighbors, both Jewish and Arab, people who you may disagree with but who authentically want to meet their neighbors and stop living by the gun."Yeah, I can't imagine why the settlers might have a "bunker mentality." Oh wait. It's only because settlements are attacked almost on a weekly basis. Not that we can expect Mr. Gopin to mention this. He is very "even handed," except that the Israelis get the bulk of his wagging finger. Not even Hamas is criticized that badly:
"Did we not in the West used to be horrified at seeing child Hamas recruits with toy weapons? The sad psychoanalytic reality of war is how much people paint the worst image of their enemy through propaganda and so-called intelligent analysis, but then proceed to unconsciously, over time, become their own worst nightmare by copying that negative image of the enemy."This paragraph is informative on many levels. First of all, "used to be horrified," indicates that Mr. Gopin clearly is not. Even though most of us can tell the difference between a Hamas recruit and a child learning to use a firearm. But even so, Mr. Gopin thinks that the children Hamas recruits aren't real, they are just a "propaganda image" that the Israelis used to justify their own bad behavior. Talk about the racism of low expectations. Talk about a double standard.
He ends with another lame "call for peace and understanding," and then quickly signs off. I guess once the obligatory Israel bashing was finished, there wasn't much of a need to stick around.