Friday night topic: What to do in the Middle East?

— 7:47 PM on March 29, 2002

Update: OK, we owe it to you all to frame this question better. Let's try again.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has grown in intensity in the past few weeks, and no one knows quite where it's leading. Most of the Arab world is lined up behind the Palestinians, with rumors that Iran has supplied weapons and support for the renewed wave of terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, many in the U.S. who were unsure what to make of this conflict are now looking at it with new eyes in light of the events of September 11.

We know with conviction the terror attacks are wrong. The Palenstinian suicide bombers are not freedom fighters; they are terrorists. But we also see that the Israeli military responses—which necessarily involve civilian casualties as "collateral damage"—are not straightforwardly justifiable in every case.

The question is raised: What should Israel do? What is an appropriate response to ongoing, deadly attacks on a nation's civilian populace?

For the typical Euros and lefties out there more concerned for Palestinians, the question is equally vexing: What is an appropriate means of advocating for the Palenstinian cause? Certainly there are alternatives to strapping explosives to one's body and entering a crowded area, despite the imbalance of military power.

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