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the biggest loser

one of the reasons i love being in a larger city is because of the diversity of cultures around me. being the offspring of virtually every celtic tribe imaginable doesn't give me the widest variety in my own family. but there are times when i am decidedly so far across the cultural divide that i can't see the other side.

for instance, the united jewish appeal has recently launched a media campaign featuring images of dog tags belonging to three israeli soldiers who were kidnapped, one into gaza, two into lebanon, last year. the line they are using as a catch phrase for this campaign is "we don't leave our sons behind". yeah, we noticed that.

suddenly, toronto is polluted with images of dog tags, exhorting people to support the campaign to free the soldiers. this might have been a laudable goal in itself, if it had been voiced when the soldiers were first kidnapped. hell, it's a laudable goal now to remind people that those young men are still missing. but it completely ignores the intervening actions of the israeli government in the wake of those kidnappings- specifically their choice to level much of a country still emerging from the ravages of a lengthy civil war. in the "know the facts" sidebar to the uja site, they conveniently leave out the fact that israel did bomb lebanon, repeatedly. they also leave out the fact that, despite the damage inflicted by bombing on both sides, no progress was made in freeing the soldiers.

the problem is, it's very difficult to say those kinds of things without being called an anti-semite or being told that you support terrorists. everything that happens in political discourse on the middle east is predicated on the belief that one has chosen a side and that one's opinions are shaped by a need to adhere to that side. the fact is, i generally try to avoid picking sides, because i don't see a lot of good in the conflict. it's difficult to choose sides when every group involved seems more concerned about advancing their own political interests than in doing good for the people they purport to govern.

what is truly offensive about campaigns that pit the heroes of one side of the conflict against the monsters of the other is that they only serve to strengthen the polarities already in place. those who suffer are those who would seek to find a common ground. the biggest casualty is the hope for some kind of lasting detente.

the uja can wrap inflammatory rhetoric in seemingly noble causes all they want, but the fact is, they aren't helping anybody in the long run and they are contributing to a situation that will result in a lot of sons being left behind.

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