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The Daily Banter Mail Bag: Malaysia Airlines Tragedy, the Gaza Crisis and WTF?!

In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the Malaysia Airlines crash, the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum and WTF?
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In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the Malaysia Airlines crash, the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum and WTF?

The questions:

1. I want to believe something can be done about Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 getting shot down but Putin is Putin. He's too powerful and too unwilling to bend to the outside world. What do you think the countries of the world can and will do?
-- Kate

Ben:  I think it's way too early to speculate. This is going to get a lot more complicated, and nasty. I will say this - there's no way on earth Putin would have sanctioned something like that - he's an asshole, but not insane. That's not to say it wasn't tangentially linked to him, but he'll be incredibly worried about the fallout should it be proven that the people who shot the plane down were pro Russian rebels (and that is a distinct possibility). Putin is pretty powerful, but he's not immune to outside pressure. We live in a global economy after all, and much could be done to harm Russia from a trade point of view. And that will certainly happen if he's linked to it and doesn't do some serious groveling. 

Chez: You're right about Putin. He doesn't like being told what to do and doesn't really care about economic pressure. That said, there were people from about a half-dozen countries on that flight -- including 23 Americans -- which means that a lot of governments are going to be angry. As of this writing it hasn't been confirmed that it was the pro-Russia rebels who were behind the attack, but you have to assume that it's at least very possible. Either way, this fight has gotten so far beyond Putin's control -- and he HAS had a major role in it -- that he bears some blame regardless. I think so much international pressure may finally have some kind of impact and help to hold him accountable. At least I hope so.

Bob: The response is almost organic. If the West plays its cards correctly, the world will line up against Putin. Meanwhile, the separatists have shot themselves in the collective feet. The rest of the world only needs to isolate Russia, while encouraging anti-Putin voices inside Russia, and everything else falls into place.

2. This is mostly for Ben but I want to hear from Bob and Chez too. Ben you've written a lot this week in defense of Palestine and against Israel. What does it feel like to be a Jew who feels that way? Do you ever feel like you're turning on your own people? Bob and Chez, what do you think about what's going on in Gaza?
-- Hector

Chez: Man, the Israel/Palestinian thing is one of those debates I'm loathe to get into simply because it's so complicated and both sides have been wrong so often. It's difficult to look at the images and details coming out of Gaza right now and think Israel isn't violently overreacting, despite being the target of terrorism. For what it's worth, I give Ben a lot of credit for speaking his mind and for taking a stand on something he's obviously given a lot of intelligent thought to and feels very strongly about.

Bob: I have to be honest: the Israel/Palestine question is impossible to answer. Both sides have a claim to that region, but there's no immediate way to reach an equitable accord because of entrenched ideology and, let's face it, mutually unprecedented stubbornness. It's seriously one of very few topics that render me speechless, even though it'd be really cathartic to grab some people by the lapels and scream, "FORGET ABOUT THE PAST AND MOVE ON!"

Ben: I don't pay it too much attention to be honest, because I don't buy into the notion that I have to ardently support Israel because I'm Jewish. I take pride in my ancestry, particularly the fact that we survived brutal racism and oppression throughout history. Having gone through persecution and genocide, we should be the last people on earth to be doing the same thing to another group.  I actually tend to keep quiet on the issue these days, but sometimes the violence and injustice committed against the Palestinians is just too much. I know I'm going to take a lot of crap for it, but I kind of feel an obligation to speak out about it given it's not so easy to label me a racist anti semite. The American media is more censored on the issue than the Israeli media is, and that is insane. Watching 'debate' in the US  is like being in some weird Orwellian nightmare where everyone kind of knows the truth, but won't say anything. 

Also, anyone who knows me personally knows I certainly don't hate myself :) 

3. What the fuck?
-- Steve

Bob: The answer would unravel the very fabric of the universe.

Chez: You're asking me?

Ben: Yeah, I was thinking the same thing...