An interesting position, December.
Unfortunately, terms do not exist in a moral vacuum, but in a real world.
“Tolerance” to me means allowing to live and let live, to accept each person’s right to his own opinions and to his/her right to live his or her life as he/she chooses. It verges on acceptance, which I consider a virtue in and of itself.
And the rather cute conundrum of “I can tolerate anything but intolerance” does resolve, like most paradoxes – as a person convinced that others have the same rights as myself, it becomes incumbent on me to combat any attempt to deprive them of such rights, and to be “tolerant” of the view of another that he has the right to be intolerant of a third party, is to abandon that basic standard.
To cite an example from another thread, Puddleglum has the right to consider Hamish to be acting immorally. Hamish has the right to act as he considers right for himself. If and when Puddleglum considers it appropriate, "for Hamish’s own spiritual good, to interfere with Hamish’s right to make those moral choices for himself, then it is my right and duty to combat Puddleglum’s interference, not because I am “intolerant” of Puddleglum’s viewpoint, but because he has gone beyond expressing his viewpoint to interfering with Hamish’s rights.
(Please note that the reverse is also true – if someone with whom I tend to agree tries to interfere with the right to free speech of someone with whom I do not, as has happened more than once in the past few years, I’m still honorbound to stand up for the rights of the person with whose views I disagree.)
Of your premises, we seem to agree that “tolerance cannot exist in a vacuum.”
**Supporting tolerance actually means supporting certain selected groups, whether one realizes it or not. **
No, supporting tolerance may but need not mean supporting selected groups. My example in the parenthetical paragraph above should clarify that. It is, however, in today’s world the groups that tend to classify themselves as conservative who usually (not always) attempt to interfere with the rights of others.
**For many Europeans today, “tolerance” means supporting Palestinians. **
I will not comment on this, not being cognizant of the state of affairs as regards the European intellectual climate regarding the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
Supporting Palestinians naturally implies disfavoring Israel.
I disagree. One can hold firmly to the premise that Israel has every right to exist as a nation, and further as a nation with defensible borders and free from terrorism, while simultaneously maintaining that the Palestinian people deserve equal treatment, including a portion of what is also their homeland in which they are not living at the sufferance of the Israeli government, but as a free and equal entity. To be sure, a great deal of bad blood must be resolved before these two rose-colored premises can exist side by side in the real world. But they make an excellent set of ideals to which to hold in this difficult situation.
May I note further that, just as “America: love it or leave it” was not a false dichotomy but became one by equating the country with the establishment as it existed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, support of “Israel” need not equate with support of the present Israeli government.
When a group like the Gush calls for virtual genocide of the Palestinians, their position become morally little better than the Nazi worldviews (invoking Godwin’s law on myself, but for a good reason – the comparison is between groups advocating genocide on ethnic grounds, not comparing apples and fuzzy navels).