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    A good reason to read real news sources, such as the New York Times (on line or on paper), is the time and thought that goes into the features. Time and thought by the writers and editors can stimulate thought over time. So much of what passes for "news" either on line or on-the-air sacrifices speed for accuracy, reaction for reason and sensation for analysis.
     This is especially true in emotionally charged topics of serious consequence, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Too often, in this and other conflict situations, such as political differences, the easy way out of thoughtful analysis is to declare equivalence and treat both sides as "the same." The simplistic notion that both sides of any controversy are morally and ethically equal, just competing for the same ends, leads to the "they're all the same" thinking error, making life easy for the cognitively lazy. It does not shed light on the nuances and subtleties of the real human condition.
     Such was the case, for me, reading a feature article in the TIMES
     The article discusses the case of Natan Blanc, an Israel conscientious objector. Mr. Blanc refused military induction into the Israeli army because he opposed the occupation of the West Bank. He admitted that he was not a pacifist, but an ideological objector. He informed the authorities that he did not oppose serving to defend his country, but in good conscience, would not serve to occupy Palestinian territories. In the end, rather than serving two or three years in jail, he was rejected by the army as unfit for service, and avoided an extended stay behind bars. He has demonstrated his patriotism by doing volunteer service in community work, and continues to do so.
     What strikes me is the way Israeli society has treated someone who, for a large number of Israelis, is a trouble maker at best and a traitor at worst. The question raised for me is the equivalence of treatment of a Palestinian youth in similar circumstances. Would he be found dead  in a field? Would he be thrown off a roof (see Hamas' handling of the opponents in Gaza)? Would he be the focus of intense argument and discussion in the public sphere? Or would he simply disappear?
     Whether either side is right or wrong on any (or all) facets of the conflict, difference is not equivalence, unless someone can produce evidence of that equivalence.
     That is not to say that either manner of dealing with dissent is universally right or wrong. I can think of pros and cons in both instances, from various points of view. If survival and cohesion are key, then tolerance of dissent may, in the short term, be dangerous. If quality of life is the concern, then tolerance, in the long term, is appropriate. From my own perspective, obviously, I vote for tolerance, but I have the luxury of distance.
     Before declaring "a pox on both your houses" in a conflict situation, some reason and logic, applied in deep thought, would be useful. The world already has too many cognitively lazy people in it.

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