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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Israel's Crimes Against Humanity

Israel's drive to rid the West Bank of as many Palestinians as possible while cowing the rest into submission has been especially hard on the children. Between 500 and 700 children are arrested every year and many suffer lasting psychological damage as a result. Children are also traumatized when their home is raided by the army. In a typical raid, masked Israeli soldiers in full combat gear break into a home after midnight with their guns pointed, often accompanied by dogs. As the terrified children look on, they ransack the house and, if they are bored, vandalize it. The army carried out 63 raids in the West Bank during the first 10 days of July alone.
Rachelle Marshall, "Romney Goes All Out for the Israel Lobby"


Louis T. Kellner said...

Dear Sheldon,

You write that "Between 500 and 700 children are arrested every year and many suffer lasting psychological damage as a result." The word "psychological" is defined as "that which pertains to the mind" or "that which pertains to the soul". But, as you've written a few days ago, "mind is a verb, not a noun". How can one cause damage to something that is not even a noun? Can verbs become damaged? Are you acknowledging that the mind may become damaged?

Please explain.

Sheldon Richman said...

First, I didn't write the sentence. Second, it can be interpreted metaphorically. Persons (not minds) can be changed (damaged) by traumatic experiences, no? That fact does not require us to think of the mind as an object.

Louis T. Kellner said...

"Persons (not minds) can be changed (damaged) by traumatic experiences, no?"

1. But what is it about these kids that has become damaged? The liver? Bone marrow? Fingernails? Surely it should be possible to point to the damaged part(s). Can a person become damaged if no part of him is damaged?

2. How can anyone tell these kids were damaged? Can a physician or scientist diagnose or classify the damage? Can a physician or scientist point to a damaged tissue, organ, or cell? Is there an objective test to measure that damage? Is it possible to tell whether the kids are really damaged, or whether they're faking it?

Sheldon Richman said...

I'm talking about persons not bodies.

Charles N. Steele said...

So explain the difference between this and PTSD.

Louis T. Kellner said...

"I'm talking about persons not bodies."

Let us assume that this answers my (1) above (it doesn't). What about (2)? How can you, the author of that quote, or anyone whatsoever tell that these kids have been damaged?
How would you refute the claim, "these kids are just pretending in order to receive pity and compassion"?

Sheldon Richman said...

And when someone wins the lottery and claims to be happy, how do we know she isn't pretending? And what part of the body is happy? The liver? The heart? The pancreas?

Louis T. Kellner said...

So, soldiers with PTSD are malingering because they don't want to fight, and John F. Nash was just looking for attention, and yet Palestinian children are psychologically damaged. Mental illness does not exist because there is no diagnosis of a bodily lesion or abnormality, but that principle does not hold for Palestinian children.

What is it about the Palestinian anatomy and physiology that makes it so special? Why have we created a separate science to describe them?

Louis T. Kellner said...

Let me also point out that the quote does not say that Palestinian children feel sad as a result of the events they've witnessed. The quote said they're psychologically damaged. I am interested in knowing who made the decision that they're psychologically damaged. Was it the children? A psychiatrist? A psychologist? Who detected the damage?

Sheldon Richman said...

I don't recall ever commenting about PTSD. What I wrote about Nash was based on his own words. It's common sense to think that young children witnessing what Marshall describes would take its toll, as would combat for adults. There's no special science.

The post, let's recall, is about Israeli crimes. Let's stay on the subject.

Louis T. Kellner said...

"It's common sense to think that young children witnessing what Marshall describes would take its toll, as would combat for adults."

But it's not common sense to think that if a man smears feces on himself and then slams his head against a wall, then there is probably something wrong with his brain?

This here is a very big deal, Sheldon. You've already acknowledged that psychological damage exists. From here to acknowledging the existence of mental illness seems a very short trip indeed. And that would be quite a paradigm shift, don't you think?

Think about it.

Sheldon Richman said...

You're off-topic. Plus, I already said "psychological damage" is to be interpreted metaphorically, like home sickness or a broken heart. No medicalization or mental illness or brain disorder need be implied.

That's all on this digression, thank you.

If you want to talk about Israel's conduct, I will be interested.

Charles N. Steele said...

You certainly did not answer my PTSD question, but I'm quite sure you cannot. Saying something is a metaphor is no answer. Just what is that something you're talking about?

Also, isn't it collectivist to ascribe crimes to a nation rather than to individuals? (Answer: Yes.)

Compounding this confusion, the statement "Israel's drive to rid the West Bank of as many Palestinians as possible etc." is not a statement of fact, but propaganda. Israeli courts ordering evictions of settlers, Israeli police enforcing the evictions, Israeli peace groups promoting more evictions, Israeli government & political parties all across the board on the issues, all inconvenient facts omitted by your "news" source.

And forgive me, but I'm always suspicious of those who become livid over Israeli behavior without ever acknowledging that Israel is surrounded by three political movements that actually seek to exterminate the Israelis — Hamas, Hezbollah, and Fatah.

Louis T. Kellner said...


All the highfalutin talk about individualism and anarchism and libertarianism goes out the window here when Israel is involved. Then, it's collectivism all the way. I challenge Richman to point to ONE free-market solution he has ever offered to the Arab-Israeli conflict, or any subset thereof.

Also note that this blog is titled "Free Association", a misleading and disingenuous title. "Israel Sucks" or "Anti-zionism" would have been more appropriate.

JOR said...

The libertarian anti-psychiatry position isn't that people who are traumatized by disaster, violence, ongoing oppression, or physical pain, or who are overwhelmed by powerful unwanted personality quirks or just the ordinary inescapable sadness of life should be assumed to be lying about their emotional distress, or that nobody should be interested in doing anything to help them through it. Indeed, if anything what the libertarian would say is that we should listen to people as if they are human beings, and not simply wave them off as talking diseases, degenerates, losers, or the special snowflakes of social marxist liberal victimology. And the libertarian point is certainly not that individuals so traumatized (or, for that matter, anyone else) shouldn't be able to use any drugs or other therapeutics they like to help cope. It's that 1) they're morally (and so, ought to be legally) responsible for their actions and 2) that their issues do not render them somehow subhuman, or inhuman, and thereby negate their rights in any way (i.e. you can't kidnap them and hold them captive and electrocute them/drug them/hammer ice picks through their eye sockets without their consent). This is all that follows from rejecting the medical model of habits and personality quirks (i.e. mental illness).

Furthermore, identifying a government as responsible for actions its agents took at its direction is not collectivism. Do try to not be complete tools.

Anonymous said...

To Louis & Charles:

Perhaps Sheldon feels that pro-Zionist sentiments have had (& continue to have) more than adequate representation & outlets, vs a critical look at Zionist policies? I, for one, think that the Palestinians & the various pro-Palestinan groups (or "leaders") have had plenty of critical coverage by the North American news media over the years (eg. the Intifada uprising).

The same goes for criticism of US domestic & foreign policy. Must critics of the US gov't always have to mention how bad other countries are?

There's nothing one-sided about trying to shed some light on lesser known (to the West) wrong doings.

Richard G.

shemsky said...

Louis, you must not have read very much of Sheldon's blog to make such a stupid statement regarding the name he chose for this blog. You're just making yourself look like a bumbling fool.

Louis T. Kellner said...


Hard numbers speak louder than your whining. Look at the "labels" menu on the blog. Which item on that list has the highest number of mentions associated with it? According to my cursory look, it is the only word that has a triple-digit number associated with it.

You can count, can you?

Sheldon Richman said...

I am simultaneously flattered and amused by statistician Kellner's attention to my modest blog.

shemsky said...


War on terror (151) has the highest number of mentions. Your "cursory look" missed this. Mine didn't

You can read, can't you?

Like Sheldon, I'm amused by your responses.

Louis T. Kellner said...

We both missed The State with 204. Still, for a site that pretends to be about free association, 101 mentions for Israel seems inordinate, does it not?

I Richman cares so much about suffering people, why does he not writ anything about the Karen of Myanmar, for example?

Sheldon Richman said...

Perhaps Mr. Kellner is right. What's a discussion of the Palestinians doing on a blog called "Free Association"?

Charles N. Steele said...

Mr. Richman, you still fail to answer my question regarding PTSD, and also about what it is that is being damaged when "psychological damage" is inflicted.

Since you've clearly taken a stance in favor of the dismantling of Israel, I'm also curious how this fits with your professed libertariansim and anarchism, since the real-world alternatives are rule by hamas, Hezbollah, or Fatah, all of which make Israeli governments look libertarian and inclusive in comparison to those of any Arab country you can name.

JOR, there is no libertarian position on psychiatry. Libertarianism is a political philosophy. Positions on psychiatry are positions on medicine, not political philosophy, and should be resolved by refernce to underlying physiology, not political philosophy.

Richard G., the viewpoints expressed in the US MSM are largely anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, certainly so in New York Times, WaPo, and NPR, and moreso in European media. But that's beside the point. Sheldon Richman apparently claims to be making statemnets about libertarianism and anti-statism, yet exhibits a bias that lets religious psychopaths like Hamas off the hook. That's anti-libertarian.

Sheldon Richman said...

I don't see how it is relevant for me to "explain the difference between this [trauma to Palestinian children] and PTSD." I've written nothing about PTSD and never claimed specific knowledge of its nature. You are quite determined to change the subject of the post, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

To Charles:

I disagreee that the US MSM is "largely anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian". My own viewings bring me to the opposite conclusion, excepting the examples you point out (and I would add PBS your examples).

However, I will admit that in recent years there's been a lot more critical coverage of Israeli policies, and more sympathetic coverage of Palestinians (as a whole). I wonder how much of this is due to the Internet? Prior to the 90s, I think a pro-Israeli bias was the norm, not the exception, in the MSM.

Now, as to whether or not this is "beside the point" of what Sheldon writes about, I do think it is "part" of the point. A blog normally writes about limited subjects, and if a particular viewpoint is emphasized over other (perhaps competing) viewpoints, well I don't think the blogger shoud be criticised for not mentioning the other viewpoints. Afterall, it's not like other viewppoints are hard to find.

Richard G.