Choosing sides

November 9, 2009 1:09:04 PM PST
I remember the discussion as clear as if it were yesterday. If the United States went to war against Israel, what side would you be on?

I was about 10 at the time, and the question was posed by my Sunday school teacher, a beautiful young Israeli woman (I remember that clearly) whose boyfriend was one of the Israeli intelligence officers assigned to find Adolph Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust. She would make veiled references to his task - nothing too specific; after all, this is the famed Mossad she was talking about, and their business was top secret. Discussing it was strictly forbidden.

Anyway - back to the question. I wasn't particularly religious - and I couldn't for the life of me, at the age of 10, understand why such a choice ? the U.S. vs. Israel - would be a dilemma. I was an American. Jewish, yes, but an American. I wasn't Israeli.

My young teacher didn't see it so clearly - and the ensuing discussions were meant not so much to arrive at an answer, but to spark our thinking.

I was thinking about those long-ago times this weekend, as the backstory unfolded about Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the suspected Ft. Hood shooter.

That the military messed up is hardly debatable. It seems clear that Dr. Hasan, the son of Palestinian parents and educated with U.S. taxpayers' money, grew incredibly conflicted about the military he was serving and the wars it was fighting. Wars against extremist Muslims. Wars against fundamentalist Islam. And as Hasan became more extreme and more fundamentalist, he hardly kept it a secret.

What in the world were people thinking when they heard Hasan talk about infidels and Allah and basic tenets of Islamic fundie thinking?

Not much, apparently. Or worried, perhaps, that people would somehow view them as "anti-Muslim." Was this an example of mass political correctness gone amuck?

What would you do if the U.S. were fighting a war against extremist Muslims and you were an extremist Muslim in the U.S. Army? Not fight for the U.S. would likely be the answer to a slight revision of my Sunday school teacher.

Doesn't really seem to be much of a dilemma here if you're in charge of things in the Army. And there should have been no dilemma. How did they not kick this guy out? How did they let him participate - along with hundreds of others - in a Homeland Security transition team conference? How did they not take action?

These questions linger and nag, as the memorial service is set for tomorrow for the 13 people killed at Ft. Hood. Pres. Obama is set to speak at the service. As for Dr. Hasan, he's still in critical condition; investigators have not yet interrogated him.

And as for the thousands of Muslims serving in the U.S. military, the conflict I suspect isn't really much of a conflict. To those who believe that extremists are trying to hijack their religion, the fight isn't a dilemma. To those who think otherwise, it's time for action - on their part and on the part of the military. We'll have the latest on the shooting and Hasan, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, tomorrow could be a seminal moment in the same-sex marriage debate in New York, as the State Senate is set to consider the issue in a special session. We'll have a preview.

And Tappy Phillips tonight with a sobering shot of reality for parents who hire nannies through an agency. An agency that wasn't licensed by the state sent one local family a nanny who was working out quite well. But when she was hesitant to get on an airplane for a family vacation with her employer, the Dad and Mom started investigating. Turns out, the nanny was wanted by the law. And the agency hadn't conducted a criminal background check.

The nanny was arrested, and the family wanted their $3,000 fee back. But before they could get the money, they had to call Tappy and get 7 On Your Side.

And we're at what figures to be a wonderfully emotional memorial service for Mary Travers, one-third of Peter, Paul and Mary, who died of cancer in September. The service, at Riverside Church, will feature Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins and Tom Paxton.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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