A Reply to Fattal's Response


(wikicommons, cc 2.0) Had I read only Josh's piece (“A Response to A Kidnapped Debate”), I wouldn't have agreed with my original essay either. To an extent, I think he missed several key points I made, namely when I state clearly that the events are political and "political framing isn't inherently the problem". My piece was not arguing, explicitly or implicitly, to neglect the importance of the kidnappings and their consequences in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, but rather to rightfully understand them as "an event", but not the event. I believe my only implicit assumptions and/or arguments were that my piece existed as a contrarian position, a rebuttal to the overwhelming tide of media coverage that ignored analysis in favor of blistering rhetoric and heading space for photos of the young teens.

If everyone in the Jewish community thought as Josh did, there would be no need for my article. His analysis and insight into the conflict illustrates keen awareness and sensitivity to both sides. I can understand how a piece generalizing the reactions of young Jewish teens might even be offensive to those with such a perspective. In this regard, I apologize to anywho may have felt I unfairly characterized them. As I write in my conclusion, individuals with very different attitudes and thoughts, not homogeneous blocks, compose all social groupings. Perhaps I should take my advice to heart.

Still, I challenge Josh to return to a question I pose in my piece: "exactly how important are these killings?" My aim is not to depoliticize these killings in order to divert blame away from the culprits and their political objectives. My goal is to spark, for those now spewing words of fire and brimstone, a flame of resistance. I want the coalescing mob to ask themselves for a moment exactly how many pitchforks does this tragedy require before it is set right. I do not advocate for a political/apolitical binary, but rather a spectrum of politicization in which the killings occupy a designated space. Of course, shoehorning a real, emotional event into such an abstract theoretical device is imperfect, but it's important to think about when so many radicalize the kidnappings to either extreme (Josh makes a good point mentioning how some Palestinians completely denied the original abductions).

In the end, Josh's response to my piece seems grounded more in misunderstanding than disagreement. His rebuttal bases its retorts on my "conclusion": “so long as one recognizes the inherent complexity of the issue, the separation between this specific event and the macro violence is logical and necessary". In fact, this sentence appears midway through a paragraph suspended a third of a page above my conclusion. Alone, this sentence substantiates many of his arguments. But like the kidnappings, this sentence does not exist without its surroundings. Were Josh to have fully appreciated the preceding and subsequent paragraphs, I doubt any counter would have emerged. Instead, the isolation and dissection of a particular sentence bred an entirely new article, one in which my piece served as an apologist text wishing to wipe away the importance of three murders. Enduring the tendency to harp on the specific to instead analyze the totality is vital here. Otherwise, misunderstanding has no limits in its implications.