From the Israeli Side of the Border

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Israel occupied Southern Lebanon for 18 years, it was Israel’s Vietnam… It is commonly regarded as a huge mistake, and it’s still a very raw scar. Nobody wants our soldiers back in Lebanon.

Lisa Goldman
Photographing a rocket landing in Haifa

Capturing where a rocket landed in Stella Maris in Haifa [Uri Sabach / Flickr]

After talking about the Lebanese, Iranian, and U.S. pieces of an increasingly bloody puzzle last night, and with if no let-up in the fighting but perhaps a first glimmer of a possible cease-fire, we’re turning our attention southward, to Israel, tonight.

We’re asking: What are Israel’s goals at this point? Have they changed in the last week — and if so, have they widened… or narrowed? Is the continued bombing of Lebanon increasing or decreasing Israel’s options? How is Israel’s relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the midst of this new (old) conflict? And what about Israeli citizens? Are they feeling more hawkish, more dove-ish, or just fatalistic?

Daniel Levy

Policy and International Director, The Geneva Initiative, Member of the official Israel negotiating team at the Oslo B and Taba talks, Contributor, Ha’aretz

Ze’ev Schiff

Israel-based associate of The Washington Institute and the defense editor of Ha’aretz

Lisa Goldman

Journalist and blogger

Extra Credit Reading

Lisa Goldman, This Week in Israel: War?!, Global Voices, July 18, 2006

Lisa Goldman, We watch them and they watch us, On the Face, July 16, 2006

Allison Kaplan Sommer, I’m a Bad Daughter, An Unsealed Room, July 18, 2006

Faysal, Stay or Leave…?, The Thinking Lebanese, July 18, 2006

Etgar Keret, The Way We War, The New York Times, July 18, 2006

Yuval Azoulay, Amos Harel and Yoav Stern, One killed in Katyusha strike on house in Nahariya, Haaretz, July 18, 2006

Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, Olmert: Too soon to speak of int’l force in Lebanon, Haaretz, July 18, 2006


Comments

76 thoughts on “From the Israeli Side of the Border

  1. “We’re asking: What are Israel’s goals at this point? Have they changed in the last week — and if so, have they widened… or narrowed?”

    Who makes up these leading questions?

    Why not address the issue of the indiscriminate firing of rockets on Israel from Lebanon? How should they have responded to this terroristic tactic? How would a Chris Laydon have responded?

    Do you think that if Hezbollah succeeds in intimidating Israel that the story will end there? Do you really think that if a modern State can be cowed thorugh missile terror that any State on globe will be safe from such terror?

    Why do I sense that Israel again is judged to be in the wrong?

  2. “Why do I sense that Israel again is judged to be in the wrong?”

    Maybe because they launched a completely disproportionate response and have killed 10x the number of Lebanese civilians as Israeli civilians in the past 6 days, even with their “targeted” as opposed to “indiscriminate” attacks.

  3. “Maybe because they launched a completely disproportionate response…”

    Wrong Sara, it’s because too many intellectuals and reporters have a romanticized view of any person or group that hates the West.

    Moreover, if you bring Jews into the mix nine times out of ten they will be seen as being somehow culpable.

    The only exception was the Holocaust and even here Jews are seen as somehow benefiting from this disaster too.

    There are other reason too complex to go into here, but this article by Finkielkraut may help. (Not that people of the antisemitic kind will read it, but I am reposting it anyway. Originally posted by Dyan on another thread here.)

    http://www.azure.org.il/magazine/magazine.asp?id=19&search_text=

    In the Name of the Other:

    Reflections on the Coming Anti-Semitism

    by ALAIN FINKIELKRAUT

  4. I have email from dear friends in the north of Israel ( just south of Haifa on the coast). They are on alert. A’s mother in her 90′s is in a home in Haifa, has been taking the elevator down to the central bomb shelter. A and M have a central shelter on their kibbutz. They have not used it yet. A says that they have known about the weapons in S Lebanon, that the threat pointed their way and that they were vulnerable. I think they are relieved that this has come to attention and will be dealt with. These are people, by the way, who have lived and worked with Arabs all their lives, who see no difference, who vote for the peacemakers, usually the Labor left. They have known all the wars.

    Younger family in the north ( the Golan) email that they are preparing their bomb shelter in the basement, cleaning it out. They had used it for storage. There is a central shelter on the moshav ( an agricultural community of 90 families) .The kids are afraid but coping and it is helping to be busy with preparing a place to go.

    I would say that the feeling is that this is not about anything little, that it is, once again, about survival.

  5. Sara Says:

    “Maybe because they launched a completely disproportionate response and have killed 10x the number of Lebanese civilians as Israeli civilians in the past 6 days, even with their “targetedâ€? as opposed to “indiscriminateâ€? attacks.”

    What must people think of Jews if they really believe that Ehud Olmert would launch air assaults on Lebanon just because a couple of soldiers were kidnapped?

    As was pointed out these attacks started right after Israel withdrew from Lebanon just as the rocket attacks from Gaza started after Israel withdrew from Gaza.

    Hamas and Hesbollah don’t wish to make peace their reason for existing is to annihilate the Jewish State just as Nazi party’s reason for being was to annihilate the Jewish people.

    Sara should read the Hamas and Hesbollah charters and speeches they make about Jews and the West.

  6. One of the problems I am having with news and commentary on the fighting is that for every ounce of facts we seem to get a pound of commentary. Every reporter think that he or she is competent to judge what is in the mind of the adversaries.

  7. For me, this whole issue is simply awash in religious insanity, with two Semitic peoples of differing-yet-related monotheistic faiths slaughtering and hating one another and pumping their own sides full of righteous fervor. I think Israelis and Muslims have all behaved abominably over this disputed chunk of “holy” dirt and that the sooner they throw over their ridiculous religious beliefs and recognize the uselessness of their endeavors, the better it will be for everyone. But then, as I well understand, if that were to happen, none of us would be living on planet Earth any longer, but in a godless paradise.

    Atheists aren’t perfect, and we have our own reasons for our own despicable behaviors, but by God, God isn’t one of them. For the believer, God is ALL of the reason, and that is just insane. Maybe if the world was populated entirely by secular humanists, our society(ies) would be just as screwed up, just as violent and cruel. But how will we ever know?

  8. jdyer wrote:

    “Why do I sense that Israel again is judged to be in the wrong?”

    Because we as Jews in this day and age are conditioned to believe we are always being judged in the wrong. So now that you’ve poisoned the well once again with a discussion about bias before the show has even started… it’s just why these debates about Israel online tend to annoy me.

    I’m going to the Israel rally on my way home through Brookline tonight (well, it started 5 minutes ago). I’m not sure what to expect. I’m not even sure whether to participate. I don’t like rallies. I went to synagogue last Saturday, and Rabbi Hamilton (while promoting the upcoming rally) was very clear that we don’t like celebrating war, no matter what the Bible tells us about destroying Amalek. Not that I expected anything different (but this is a synagogue where we’ve had Marty Peretz and Ruth Wisse– whose chair at Harvard is endowed by Peretz, incidentally– give very right-wing speeches in years past).

    Yes, I’d like to see Hezbollah vanquished– just like I wanted to see the Saddam Hussein regime destroyed. But the question is about the methods, and the tactics. Michael Oren had this suggestion in TNR today: if Syria is to blame, than Israel should bomb Syria– particularly, Syrian Army positions on the Lebanese border. That’s a rhetorical avenue worth discussing.

    Heck, it’s a lot easier to connect Syria to Hezballah than Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda.

  9. Is there a possibility that Hezbollah is using Israeli-made military equipment against Israel? Ask Ze’ev Schiff to clarify the attached Jerusalem Post article.

    The Jerusalem Post, August 29, 2002, Thursday

    Germany stops Israeli arms en route to Iran

    A shipment including military equipment belonging to an Israeli company and

    destined for Iran was impounded in Hamburg, according to a German customs

    authority report confirmed by the Defense Ministry last night.

    A ministry statement stressed that Israel “prohibits the sale of military

    equipment, spare parts, and weapons of any kind to Iran,” and will turn the

    matter over to the police for investigation. The statement noted that the

    Israeli firm had received permission to export the items after it declared their

    final destination was Thailand.

    [Maotalk, I deleted the rest of the body of the article from this comment; posting the full text of someone else's copyrighted material slows down the thread and exposes us to copyright violation. Check the rules. - Brendan]

  10. Guys, please, there are two “a”s in Dayan. Jdyer, I’m glad you liked the Finkelkraut essay. I thought it was truly insightful. I’d recommend it to all. (Potter, I’d be especially interested in hearing your thoughts on it.)

  11. Here is an article about civilians in South Lebanon:

    “IDF: Hizbullah preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon

    The IDF has found that Hizbullah is preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon. Roadblocks have been set up outside some of the villages to prevent residents from leaving, while in other villages Hizbullah is preventing UN representatives from entering, who are trying to help residents leave. In two villages, exchanges of fire between residents and Hizbullah have broken out. (Hanan Greenberg)”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3278026,00.html

    So who is responsible for civilian casualties, the Israelis who are taking care to ask noncombatants to get out of the way and thus alerting their enemies that they will be targeted in such and such a region, or the Hezbollah which is using these same civilians as human shields?

  12. “I think Israelis and Muslims have all behaved abominably over this disputed chunk of “holyâ€? dirt and that the sooner they throw over their ridiculous religious beliefs and recognize the uselessness of their endeavors, the better it will be for everyone.”

    joshua hendrickson, given that Israel was founded as a secular State what you wrote isn’t much help.

    I suggest you read a history of the Zionist movement and the founding of the Jewish State. I would suggest Martin Gilbert’s history of Israel.

    No-religious country’s humanitarian record isn’t much better than that of the religious countries. In fact Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany between them nearly killed off half of Europe.

    It’s not a religion vs. secular issue, Josh, it’s a struggle over sovereignty and there ought to be a way out through compromise if only Palestinians could get their act together and start acting like a unified people who are serious about a negotiated solution to the conflict, which is to say a two State solution.

  13. “jdyer wrote:

    “Why do I sense that Israel again is judged to be in the wrong?�

    Jon Garfunkel Says:

    “Because we as Jews in this day and age are conditioned to believe we are always being judged in the wrong.”

    Speak for yourself, Jon.

    All you need to do is read the posts on these forums and listen to boradcasts, BBC, CNN, NPR, etc. to see that Israel is being held to a higher moral standard.

    The higher moral standard is then used as an excuse to imply that Israel is in the wrong, that it’s very existence puts it in the wrong.

  14. Scheduled guests:

    “Daniel Levy

    Policy and International Director, The Geneva Initiative, Member of the official Israel negotiating team at the Oslo B and Taba talks, Contributor, Ha’aretz

    Ze’ev Schiff

    Israel-based associate of The Washington Institute and the defense editor of Ha’aretz

    Lisa Goldman”

    Couldn’t they have foound even one guest from say The Jerusalem Post?

    Michael Oren, mentioned by Jon above, would have made an interesting guest.

  15. “Jdyer, I’m glad you liked the Finkielkraut essay. I thought it was truly insightful. I’d recommend it to all.”

    Sorry I misspelled your name Dayan.

    I have been reading Finkielkraut for over a decade now and he strikes me as a profound thinker.

    His views about contemporary antisemitism are very nuanced.

  16. Jdyer, I will check out Gilbert’s history, and others as well. Thank you. But even if Israel was founded as a secular state, it doesn’t seem reasonable to me to refer to Zionists (or Jews in general) as a secular people. If a nation is organized around an ethnic group, and that group is defined by religion, then even if the nation in question defines itself through secular laws, it is not in and of itself secular.

    As for non-religious nations, I admit myself in my first post that such a world (not individual countries, but the whole world) might not be any better. In the case of Stalinist Russia, you’re certainly right; but I don’t buy that Nazi Germany was anything other than a case of Christian racism writ large; if the Nazis had truly been secular, they would have had no reason or cause to vilify the Jews. I really think that Hitler believed God was on his side, whether or not that was his openly stated motive. In any case, racial or cultural divides are just as awful as religious ones, and the former usually derive from the latter.

    I agree about the Palestinians; they are no closer to getting their act together now than they have ever been. I just think that blame for the situation ought to be spread around a bit more evenly than most political sides would like. I still think both sides are behaving abominably, and I still think that nonsense about God is at the heart of the matter. After all, if the Jews weren’t irrationally attracted to their “holy” land, and if so many Muslims weren’t irrationally convinced that Judaism was an “incorrect” faith, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    Anyway, I do tend to see the world’s problems as at least somewhat reducible to a religion vs. secular issue, and while I admit that that is an oversimplification, I think, given human history’s long record of religious wars, movements, and diversifications, and also given that our own progress in science and politics over the last three hundred years have been overwhelmingly secular, I think it is less of an oversimplification than many others.

  17. “Jdyer, I will check out Gilbert’s history, and others as well. Thank you. But even if Israel was founded as a secular state, it doesn’t seem reasonable to me to refer to Zionists (or Jews in general) as a secular people.”

    This is because you don’t know much about Jewish culture.

    You can start informing yourself by looking into the Encyclopedia Judaica. You will find there many thousands of years of culture that cannot be reduced to its religion.

  18. “I agree about the Palestinians; they are no closer to getting their act together now than they have ever been. I just think that blame for the situation ought to be spread around a bit more evenly than most political sides would like.”

    Come on Josh, Israelis have been blaming themselves for the Palestinian inability to function as a people for years.

    The cruel fact is that the Palestinian people have never had a unified center. They have been governed by local chieftains usually patriarchs and even the resistant movements have developed around these same clan like divisions.

    If anything Israel has played a greater role in unifying the Palestinians, in making them a people than they ever were before.

    Other nations like the Irish the Greeks, the Jews etc. have been dealt with harshly under occupation yet they still survived as unified people.

    I don’t know what it will take to create a coherent socio-political entity but it is crucial that they do if there ever will be a chance for peace.

  19. One side of the story can be compelling, but do your guests have the capacity to see the other point of view and articulate it?

  20. What a great show (it just finished airing out west). Daniel Levy rocks. I for one thought he displayed plenty of empathy for Israel’s neighbors (and subjects).

    Why can’t he be PM?

  21. For a provocataive and suggestive argument from the “Israeli side” of the border, I would suggest the following:

    Gideon Levy’s remarkable essay, “A Black Flag” in Ha’aretz.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/733427.html

    Indeed, Gideon Levy would be an excellent guest on Open Source and would offer unique critical analysis and insights on the present Mideast crisis and its historical context. It’s a great guest.

  22. Sorry, that should have been,:

    “It’s a great read.” And he — Gideon Levy — would be a great guest!

    As the Blackadder said, “It must have been the wine….”

    ~~~~~~~~~~

  23. Sarah B., Gideon Levy rocks in this piece too: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/736009.html

    It’s a disabusement for any who think Israelis can’t see the other side of the tragedy. A bubble-buster for any who think Israelis incapable of empathy.

    It’s titled “Who Started?” — and here’s an excerpt:

    ‘Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like “partition” and “an end to the occupation,” did result in the dismantling of settlements and the Israel Defense Forces’ departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip. Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be transported, sometimes not. Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year after the disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.’

    Again, that’s: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/736009.html

  24. “Maybe because they launched a completely disproportionate response and have killed 10x the number of Lebanese civilians as Israeli civilians in the past 6 days, even with their “targetedâ€? as opposed to “indiscriminateâ€? attacks.”

    :P how dare israelis have bomb shelters and good VERY WELL PRACTICED medical emergency services to keep their kill numbers down. the point is the intent. hamas and hezbollah intend to kill as many as they possibly can. the fact that their rockets are poorly aimed indiscriminate and don’t end up killing as many as they want thanks to israelis defenses doesn’t make them morally superior. its not a numbers game. if israel used the same mind set to bomb lebanon the death count would be enormous. the terrorists just love civilian deaths and they hide and fire their weapons in civilian areas to make sure any response will cause civilian deaths that they can happily blame on the jews. its manipulative devious nonsense and anyone that buys into their tactics is lost to reason.

  25. and don’t play the game of trying to make numbers of dead as evidence of moral superiority, germans lost far more civilians and soldiers than america. are they morally superior? should there have been a call for cease fire back then? call it a cycle of violence ….

    [Comment edited by Open Source moderators.]

  26. “Sara should read the Hamas and Hesbollah charters and speeches they make about Jews and the West. ”

    I have. For the record, I’ve not once said I was pro-Hamas or pro-Hezbollah, merely that I’m pro-peace and think that civilians being killed anywhere is a bad thing. How that turned me into a terrorist sympathizer is beyond me.

  27. Sara, you did however say that you judge Israel to be in the wrong, which is a different statement than merely deploring civilian deaths, and that is the main thrust of darwhin’s posts.

  28. “I don’t know what it will take to create a coherent socio-political entity but it is crucial that they do if there ever will be a chance for peace. ”

    This is an interesting proposition, and something to think about critically in today’s world of failed states, warlords, and anarchy-abetting-terrorism.

    Most people seem to assume that the modern nation state is the epitome of social and political development – the thing everyone should, and can,aspire to.

    But the modern nation state is a very recent development in our history. Up until a few centuries ago most of Europe was comprised of much smaller, and usually warring, fiefdoms, petty kingdoms, clans, etc. Africa, South Asia, North America, and even most of South and Central America, with brief exception, was likewise comprised of small, loose, entities, tribes, clans, small kingdoms, etc. Every so often, e.g., in China, India, or Rome, some king or other ruler became powerful enough to gather together lots of territory and peoples and declare himself an emperor or supreme leader, but with a few exceptions these were very unstable.

    The idea of millions of people – strangers who have no ties of tribal or clan allegiance – living together under a stable central government is very much the exception in human historical terms. We have no systematic or scientific understanding of what makes such a thing possible, or whether there are cultural antecedents necessary for success. Yet we continue to apply a sort of faith-based reasoning that it’s possible in every instance.

    Just like we’re doing in Iraq right now, we have this irrational desire to just draw a line on a map and say, “OK, you’re a country now, Set up a foreign ministry so we have someone to negotiate with!”. What if they don’t want to, or their cultural or historical circumstances make it impossible? Then what?

  29. “For the record, I’ve not once said I was pro-Hamas or pro-Hezbollah, merely that I’m pro-peace and think that civilians being killed anywhere is a bad thing”

    No one here likes to see civilians killed. But Hezbollah and Hamas deliberately site their facilities in populated areas in order to take advantage of the propaganda benefits they enjoy from collateral damage to civilians.

    So, as others have asked, what is Israel supposed to do when they are being attacked with missiles from crowded civilian neighborhoods? Also, the larger Hezbollah missiles used to hit Haifa need to be transported by truck, so roads and bridges are legitimate military targets. This is, after all, a war.

    What responsibility do the civilians themelves have? Do you think the civilians are unaware they are located near Hezbollah facilities? Hezbollah is the largest political party in Lebanon – elected by many of those same civilians. The moral calculus of these things is a lot more complex than you seem to think.

  30. “BBC, CNN, NPR, etc. to see that Israel is being held to a higher moral standard.”

    I don’t have any problem with holding Israel to a higher moral standard. I think we have an irrational aversion to double standards.

    Look, if your kid was arrested for shoplifting a videogame, and when you confronted him at the police station he said, “But Daaad – Johnny, down the street, stole a whole CAR!”, would you accept that? I wouldn’t. I don’t care if Johhny murdered a family of five. Why? Because I would expect better from my kid.

    Israel is a civilized country, heir to the entirety of western civilization (and progenitor of much of it according to Thomas Cahill). They are surrounded by violent, primitive societies mindlessly bent of their destruction, when they’re not busy destroying each other.

    And for the most part I’m not disappointed. Israel has been heavily leafletting target areas of Lebanon before attacking. Do you think Syria or Iran would do that? Does Israel site military targets in heavily populated areas to maximize civilian casualties? No.

    I DEFINITELY expect higher standards from Israel than from, say, Syria or the Palestinians. And for the most part they meet them. Israel is the only reasonably civilized country in the region. Double standard? You bet!

  31. plnelson:

    Interesting points. Along the lines of a double standard – I am always left wondering if the same folks who expect more of Israel and Israelis accept that this position is racist towards Arabs and Muslims. Expecting more of Israel is the same as believing that Israel’s neighbors are less human, less dignified, and less capable of rational thought. How many times have we heard someone say, “If I lived in Palestine I would be a suicide bomber tooâ€?? Such thinking is akin to stating that Palestinians are incapable of dealing with issues in ways other than killing themselves. No one would ever suggest that the best way for a Jew to deal with a problem is by blowing him or herself up. I am troubled that so many folks are willing to say this about Arabs and Muslims.

  32. “Expecting more of Israel is the same as believing that Israel’s neighbors are less human, less dignified, and less capable of rational thought”

    No it’s not; it’s saying that they are less civilized; less culturally and politically advanced.

    If Israel and Syria both imprisoned, and executed someone for his political beliefs I would be far more critical of Israel, because civilized countries don’t do that. But I EXPECT Syria to do stuff like that – they do it all the time. Is that racist or just a recognition of the empirical facts?

    By your reasoning it’s racist of us to accept the fact that the Iraqi government and constitution has provisions for making sure that all the ethnic/religious groups have some kind of representation. After all, WE don’t need that, and the Catholics and Protestatnts in the US aren’t at war with each other. Doesn’t the fact that Iraq needs to have features like that show that they are not capable of controlling their sectarian impulses, and isn’t that a racist and condescending assumption on our part?

    As I said above, we have no science of culture. We have no sytematic understanding of how people are shaped or constrained by culture and history. We do not know in any intellectually rigorous way what is necessary for a group of people to form a civilized nation. So we are simply NOT ABLE to say what a group of people might be capable of in terms of dealing with sociopolitical issues in the future. The ONLY thing we have is empiricism – what has happened and is happening. That’s all we have to go on. So on that bais I have very different expectations about Israel than places like Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria,

  33. (still warming to my subject . . . )

    Two 20-year-olds. Kid A is a straight-A junior from a good family studying in a prestigious university. Kid B is a high-school drop-out, addicted to heroin, and in jail for car theft.

    Even given that they are both human beings and both theoretically capable of anything, if you were a betting man, which one would you bet is more likely to bcome a professor or corporate executive?

    Double standard? Condescending?

    Fast forward two years. Kid A has graduatd with honors and is entering grad school. He’s happy. Kid B is of off of drugs, gotten his GED, he’s holding down a job and he’s training to be a computer repair technician in night school. He’s happier than he’s ever been.

    Which is the bigger accomplishment? I say Kid B’s – he’s totally changed the trajectory of his life. Double standard? Condescending?

  34. plnelson:

    You write, “No it’s not; it’s saying that they [Arabs and Muslims] are less civilized; less culturally and politically advanced.” This is my point. The same people who stand up and say that Palestinians have no other choice but to blow themselves up would never admit to your comments. So my point, as a Zionist, is to remind the supports of “resistance” (ie terror) that they are expecting Arabs and Muslims to act in self destructive ways while at the same time they expect Israel to act like a wise old sage. My general feeling is that Europe and many American supporters of “resistance” feel that Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims are capable of nothing better than blowing themselves up. Regardless of how advanced your culture is or is not, that is a racist sentiment.

    When I went to a bar last week in New York and the bartender (who is Irish American) was angrily telling the bar that if he were a Palestinian he would be a suicide bomber, that is more than just hating Jews or misunderstanding the history of Israel. That is harboring nothing but contempt for Palestinians.

  35. fire perhaps, mostly syria and iran play a game using lebonese/israeli/palestinian lives. and the arab world just can’t stop ranting about israel long enough to notice the real problem.

  36. Right now the real problem is excess. It is a time to stop the descruction and begin talking. Why does one nation feel it has a right to destroy another when there are alternatives? Historically speaking, should we not call this total warfare against Lebanon anti-semitic, since it seems intent on destroying a people?

  37. Potter, thank you for your illuminating link at 7:55 AM, July 19th.

    However, my excerpt from Gideon Levy’s piece at 12:25 AM, July 19th wasn’t pointed at any policy. I didn’t choose it as a critique of Israel but a stereotype-buster aimed at hatred-breeders like this:

    “14. It is easy for them (the Jews) to slay people and kill innocents. Nothing in the world is dear to their hearts than shedding blood and murdering human beings. They never give up this trait even with the Messengers and the Prophets. Allah says: “…and slew the prophets wrongfully.� (Al-Baqarah: 61)

    “15. The (Jews) are merciless and heartless. In this meaning, the Qur’anic verse explains: “Then, even after that, your hearts were hardened and became as rocks, or worse than rocks, for hardness.� (Al-Baqarah: 74)�

    Source: http://www.zionismontheweb.org/history_of_Muslim_antisemitism_and_anti-Zionism.htm

    And expounded on here.

    For the record, I do not feel qualified to critique the major agents in the Middle East. I’m a relatively ignorant American, like most other contributors to this site, trying simply to learn.

    I want to comprehend how the peoples directly involved in the mayhem and carnage view themselves, their neighbors, and the military giant in North America that has so much influence over their region.

    I want to comprehend why my tax dollars are channeled, filter by filter, into policies and weaponry that kills innocents in distant lands my nation simply doesn’t understand. Weaponry that additionally rains ruin onto the infrastructure of already threadbare, fragile economies.

    And as I my comprehension grows, I want to hold to account the policy makers who dismiss the deaths of innocents as ‘collateral damage’, as if these fully extant and viable lives are of less value than those non-viable frozen zygotes and embryos the irrational Right so fervently champion.

    How many potential Middle Eastern Mandelas, Ghandis, or Rosa Parks might right now be dying instead growing up? Dying from American tax-financed weapons?

    I want the rest of my nation to learn with me too, so we can muster the collective will to say ‘never again’ to self-serving purveyors of rationally insupportable ideologies like ‘American Exceptionalism’, and all the rashness and conceit it enables.

    Now, I know full well that holding my government to account is more or less impossible in this 18th century constitutional system. Any government so consistently wrong in any other mature democratic system, wherein the people are well-informed instead of manipulated by fear-mongers, wherein the national parliament offers proportional representation instead of representation of, for, and by the moneyed, would have fallen months ago if not years.

    We’re spending billions in a useless and murderous struggle to make a fast-tearing patchwork of ethnicities in Mesopotamia into a European style nation-state. That topic might seem a tangent in this thread, but it’s in truth closely related to this thread’s topic. It’s all of a piece—and we Americans, who supply so much money, weaponry, support, and fuel for animosity (via our policies) to the antagonists are ACCOUNTABLE.

    And yet we’re much too ignorant to judiciously handle the responsibility.

    We’re as collectively ignorant as those Muslims who unthinkingly believe ancient religious prejudices about the Jews.

    Why on earth do we countenance the rise of national leaders as woefully ignorant as the worst of us?

    And why on earth does the rest of the world continue to tolerate us and our ignorant conceits?

    So thank you for your link. In places like this we need more information and less prefabricated opinion, it seems to me. (And, knowing you, I’m pretty darn sure you agree. :-) )

  38. “Why does one nation feel it has a right to destroy another when there are alternatives? ”

    WHAT alternatives? What else can Israel do?

    Israel has been warning everyone who would listen for YEARS about this huge military buildup in Lebanon by Hezbollah, with thousands of militia and thousands of missiles, often sited in civilian locations. And about how Syria and Iran have been busily supplying and training Hezbolla. And NOBODY took them seriously.

    Please tell us specifically and in detail what their alternatives are.

  39. So, just to clarify, plnelson, you are suggesting that to get the two soldiers back and teach Hezbollah a lesson (let me be clear that I don’t agree for a minute with what they did), the Israeli army has to bomb many parts of Lebanon, even where there are no Hezbollah members, they have to kill hundreds of innocent people ruin an economy and further weaken a fragile polity that might have in the future found a way to contain Hezbollah. This was the only option? This will create stability in the region? This will help secure Israel’s borders? Lebonese people will lessen their support for a force such as Hezbollah? Help me out, please. I just can’t understand this thinking.

  40. The thing is sidewalker, that you have failed to answer the question. If you can not think of an alternative to Israel’s military response, and I don’t think there is one, then Israel is right to do all it can to defend its citizens, even if their actions will only weaken Hezbollah rather than destroy it. I found it interesting the other day when I was watching the news, and the PM of Lebanon (or is it the president?, I can’t remember which title they use) got on TV and implored the international community to help them against Israel’s terrible aggression. What struck me was that as the leader of Lebanon he took no responsibility for dealing with Hezbollah. He seemed like an infant who, having picked a fight with its elder sibling runs crying to Mommy when his sibling finally responds. As I see it Lebanon is a sovereign country. As such they are responsible for what happens within their borders. Since they allowed a militia to exist within those borders, allowed it to build up arms, and allowed it to attack another sovereign country, Lebanon is responsible for Hezbollah’s actions. For years the West has infantalized the Arab world, or allowed the Arabs to infanalize themselves. All of the Arabs woes were because of colonialism, or America, or Israel. Never were the Arabs held to be responsible adults. And this speaks to why Israel is held to a higher standard. Israel is treated as an adult, but the Arabs aren’t. But I don’t think the Arabs will ever be responsible unless the world makes clear to them that it will no longer tolerate their passivity. If Lebanon can not or will not take control of their own country then they should simply disband their polity. Otherwise they should take responsibility into their own hands and deal with Hezbullah. In this they would recieve aid from the international community. But it is time for the world to stop solving all the Arabs problems for them.

  41. Dayan wrote:

    “What struck me was that as the leader of Lebanon he took no responsibility for dealing with Hezbollah. He seemed like an infant who, having picked a fight with its elder sibling runs crying to Mommy when his sibling finally responds.�

    Did he? Or did Iran, through their proxy Hezbollah? (Never mind the condescending ‘infant and Mommy’ metaphor. What would Israel do if US aid dried up?)

    “As I see it Lebanon is a sovereign country.�

    Like a Western democracy? After Syria’s interference for all these years? Really?

    “As such they are responsible for what happens within their borders.�

    We’d all sure like this to be true. But it isn’t. Hezbollah, ever since the end of the exhaustive Lebanese civil war, has been stronger, in resolve if not in arms, than the puny, patchwork Lebanese military.

    “Since they allowed a militia to exist within those borders, allowed it to build up arms, and allowed it to attack another sovereign country, Lebanon is responsible for Hezbollah’s actions.�

    Allowed? Are you sure ‘allowed’ is the right word? While Syria manipulated the Lebanese government and Iran covertly armed the “Party of God’s� militia?

    Dayan, I’ve learned a lot from your contributions in other ROS threads. This time I’m not.

    Look, if your premise is correct, then everything in you post following ‘Lebanon is responsible for Hezbollah’s actions’ is valid.

    But I question that premise. It feels a bit unrealistic.

    Yet I don’t blame you for feeling indignant: ‘The Party of God’ is badly misnamed (if God isn’t more devilish than peaceable, that is), and their actions amount to atrocities, not ‘defense’. But I hardly think the historically hamstrung government of Lebanon stronger than Syria, Iran, and all those fevered jihadis.

    I’d like to hear more of the story from non-Hezbollah Lebanese.

  42. I do not deny that Lebanon has been manipulated and dominated by Syria and Iran for years. Nor am I denying that uprooting Hezbollah would not be a difficult task. (by the by, Iran’s arming of the group has not been covert. The weapons come in through Lebanon’s sea and air ports in plain view.) What I am arguing is that Lebanon must take control of its own destiny. In this they could recieve help from other more powerful countries. My criticism is that they seem to have no willingness to do so. They are stuck in a victim mentality that robs them of the will to act on their own behalf, as any sovereign nation should. I am not saying that Lebanon would be succsessful (though with the assistance of the West which I am sure they could secure they would be), but to not even try to act as a sovereign state is unacceptable. Israel, since you brought up the analogy, has not always had the US as a patron. The relationship between the two is fairly recent, having only begun in ernest after the ’73 war. If US aid were ended I can assure you that Israel would carry on without it. The fact is that I am not only saying this because it would benifit Israel. It is in Lebanon’s interest, even more so than in Israels, to take back its destiny.

  43. dayan, during work, it seems my mate Old Nick raised several of the points I was going to. He may be old, but he is still quick as Tokyo commuter rushing for a train.

    Old Nick says at the end, “I’d like to hear more of the story from non-Hezbollah Lebanese.”

    In the past couple of days, listening to BBC radio many regular Lebanese have been interviewed and they’ve expressed disgust with what Hezbollah has done and with their ineffective government. They said they would have accepted some retaliation against Hezbollah, but they just feel the Israeli response is far too excessive and feel they are being punished for something that neither they or their government could have controled. They just can’t understand how a week ago life was going well and now everything they have worked for post-civil war is ruined. They said they feel Hezbollah miscalculated the Israeli response and they think Israel has taken advantage of the situation to badly weaken an old foe.

    Dayan, you ask what could have been done. What about the kind of deals that were regularly made in the 1980s between Israel and Hezbollah? Why go with the Cheney 1% doctrine that has left the terrible mess in Iraq? Is it the intention of Liberal nations to destroy any chance for moderate Islam? The US in many ways fostered the Iran of today that is now suddenly enemy number 1.

    “But it is time for the world to stop solving all the Arabs problems for them.”

    If we consider all the West’s tinkering with the Arab world in the pursuit of wealth and empire in this and the last century, hadn’t we better ask if it is not time for the West to stop creating many of the problems in the Arab world? This is not to say that some in the Arab world have not taken advantage of their own peoples, but the West has allowed this to happen for access to oil, for cold-war alliances and for other reasons and now many are complaining about why Arab nations don’t act in more democratic fashion (not that this has ever halted US attacks on sovereign nations). It seems to me the West has to deal with its own dirt before it keeps trying to “solve” the problems of other nations, at least in the way it has gone about it through the manipulation of governments, the sale of arms and retribution for not doing the master’s bidding.

  44. “So, just to clarify, plnelson, you are suggesting that to get the two soldiers back and teach Hezbollah a lesson (let me be clear that I don’t agree for a minute with what they did), the Israeli army has to bomb many parts of Lebanon,”

    No.

    They are not trying to “teach hezbollah a lesson”. This isn’t a junior high classroom; it’s a war.

    They are trying to DEFEAT Hezbollah. They are trying to eliminate Hezbollah as a military threat to their country. They are trying to do what LEBANON AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD HAVE DONE YEARS AGO.

    Hezbollah’s larger Iranian-supplied missiles that can hit Haifa must be transported by vehicle, so road and bridge infrastructure all over Lebanon are legitimate military targets.

    Anyway, please answer my question – what, precisely, should Israel do?

  45. “They said they would have accepted some retaliation against Hezbollah, but they just feel the Israeli response is far too excessive and feel they are being punished for something that neither they or their government could have controled.”

    But if they were too weak to evict hezbollah on their own, when did they ever ask the international community for help? I don’t see the evidence that lebanon, as a country, ever regarded Hezbollah’s huge buildup on their territory to be a major problem.

    Anyway PLEASE answer the question! You said there were “alternatives”. Keeping in mind that the Israeli goal to to disarm Hezbollah, not just to get the soldiers back, tell us exactly what the ‘alternatives’ are.

    I wish more people in the peace community would study some military history so they know what they’re dealing with. They keep complaining here that Israel’s response is “excessive” or “disproportionate”. War is not tit-for-tat. There is no doctrine of proportionality. The amount of force you use is that which is necessary to achieve your objective. Israel’s objective is to disarm Hezbollah – a huge army with thousands of missiles and logistics connecting Syria and Iran. It’s a big job; it takes big force.

    I can think of precisely ONE alternative : an international force, preferably from the EU since historically Lebanon is a European project – to go in and disarm Hezbollah. And such a force is not likley to happen.

  46. Plnelson, I thought the objective was to get the soldiers back, which I gave an answer to above. By alternatives, that is what I was addressing. Now that just becomes a pretext for attacking a foe, so there will be less opposition to Israeli and US hegemony in the region. If you are looking for other alternatives, why does Isreal not make a broader effort at disengagement from the West Bank? They pulled the guards out of the Gaza prison, since the early 90s, the number of settlers in the West Bank has almost doubled. Isn’t this expansionism?

  47. “Plnelson, I thought the objective was to get the soldiers back, which I gave an answer to above. By alternatives, that is what I was addressing.”

    Well, then you were wrong, weren’t you?

    “If you are looking for other alternatives, why does Isreal not make a broader effort at disengagement from the West Bank?”

    What does that have to do with the current situation in Lebanon? Israel pulled out of Gaza and a few months later they were being attacked from Gaza. They pulled out of southern Lebanon two years ago and now they’re being attacked from there. Not a very good advertisement for withdrawal, is it?

  48. Sidewalker, thank you for the summary from the BBC.

    I’m intrigued by the oft repeated proposition in this thread that Lebanon should have enlisted the aid of the international community to rid itself of Hezbollah. I’d like to believe it: it would clear the moral air, neatly making the Lebanese polity responsible for Hezbollah and therefore for the death and destruction raining on them.

    But I can’t quite buy it.

    Regarding the notion that the Lebanese could have called in foreigners – Europeans no less – see my comment here: http://www.radioopensource.org/israel-and-lebanon-three-views-of-a-regional-war/#comment-13583 for why that idea, sensible to Westerners like us, might have no realistic currency in Southwest Asia.

    Then what about the Arab League? Why not ask the Arab League to send in a few divisions help the Lebanese disarm Hezbollah?

    Would any secular Arab government, no matter how they might despise and fear Islamic fundamentalists, dare to act against them? Syria did so in the 80’s, but that was an internal affair, not an act that could be construed as ‘siding with the Zionists’.

    No Arab government, so long as the Palestinian question festers, can act against Islamists. It’s much too dangerous for any Arab government to fan the flames of religion.

    The Arab League can’t help.

    I don’t see how Lebanon had any real options before this—although Dayan’s information that Iran was arming Hezbollah ‘in broad daylight’ via seaports is something to chew on. It’s startling: I’d like to know how and why that was tolerated.

    Israel has more than a ‘right’ to defend itself by counterattacking its attackers: it has a DUTY to do so. And pl is right in that ever since the rise of the Assyrians, human warfare isn’t tit-for-tat. In warfare, you attempt to destroy your enemy’s ability to make war on you. And it doesn’t hurt to have allies. Anyone who can help you dismantle your enemy’s ability to attack you is an asset worth cultivating.

    The question of proportionality isn’t (necessarily) about ‘destruction’, but of strategy, which includes not alienating potential allies.

    I can’t figure out how attacking the Lebanese army – which I presume (perhaps wrongly) hasn’t been a beneficiary of Iranian arms – is anything but counterproductive.

    In the first couple of days of the operation, non-Hezbollah Lebanese were saying (on my radio) that Hezbollah had brought this onto themselves. Lebanese weren’t blaming Israel.

    Now they are.

    How does attacking the only indigenous force in Lebanon capable of counter-weighting the remnants of Hezbollah (once this war winds down) help Israel?

    For me, this is the question meant in the word ‘disproportionate’. I don’t have an answer – but I’d like one.

  49. Sidewalker:

    The West Bank is inhabited by approximately 2.8 million people, 2.4 million Palestinians, over 400,000 Israeli settlers (including those in East Jerusalem), and small ethnic groups such as the Samaritans, living in and around Nablus, numbering in the hundreds or low thousands.

    6,352,117 – Population of Israel includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2006 est.) About 1,300,000- 1,400,000 are Arab Israeli’s

  50. The reason I posted those figures was to note that you have roughly 20% Arabs in Israel and 20% Israeli’s in the West Bank. In what would be a future state of Palestine ( which would include Gaza where there are now no Israeli’s to speak of) the percentage would be far less and dramatically less if there were no Israeli’s allowed to live in Palestine

    Sidewalker says: Plnelson, I thought the objective was to get the soldiers back, which I gave an answer to above. By alternatives, that is what I was addressing. Now that just becomes a pretext for attacking a foe, so there will be less opposition to Israeli and US hegemony in the region. If you are looking for other alternatives, why does Isreal not make a broader effort at disengagement from the West Bank? They pulled the guards out of the Gaza prison, since the early 90s, the number of settlers in the West Bank has almost doubled. Isn’t this expansionism?

    Sidewalker The objective was to push Hezbollah away from the border, degrade their weapons and rocket supply ( and maybe see what the extent and nature of the buildup was) and leave room for the Lebanese Army to take charge. This last is maybe unrealistic, I do not know. But the first two are still imperatives and some solution will have to be found for the third as well: guarding the border. The kidnapping was a legitimate opening for Israel to get this taken care of; Hez attacked across the international border. This problem had been growing for a few years and the military had a plan to deal with it. This was not about kidnapped soldiers though they are important as the prisoners are to Hezbollah. This is the war that Hezbollah was preparing for and that Israel was ready to meet. Israel did not need this. Hez wanted this.

    Why would Israel not want to take care of this growing threat at it’s own border being supplied of weapons and support from Iran through Syria ESPECIALLY since Iran’s leader, (increasingly popular) had been threatening Israel, denying the Holocaust, whipping up hatred, holding rallies with despicable tirades to cheering crowds as Iran aims as well to nuclear capability?

    The Lebanese government (and people) turned a blind eye to all of this buildup, building the new thriving postwar Lebanon on a weak shaky foundation. The government even sanctioned Hezbollah’s arms buildup ( thus the threat) as a legitimate resistance movement against Israel knowing that Hezbollah’s cause which was not peaceful co-existence, not negotiation. It cared not a whit about it’s responsibility to the safety of it’s people is allowing this.

    Leaving the West Bank is easier said than done. If you have rockets coming at you from Gaza and the threat looming from Lebanon what would be the incentive for people to support such a move? Yet Olmert was planning to start just such a move on a unilateral basis before this business. The down payment was made already; parts of the WB had been vacated along with Gaza. If indeed Israel left the WB and needed to protect itself at the WB borders from further attack as with Gaza, would the cry then be “the West Bank prison�?.

    There is no substitute for a genuine peace agreement. I don’t see where extremists in power are ready to accept a two state solution with Israel.. Abbas is very weak. Israeli support of Abass may have made him even weaker, not stronger. I don’t see who is in control. I see various entities using their suffering people to gain power and influence.

    I don’t believe for one moment that given a chance for a real peace with the Arab world, one in which Arabs would actually help Palestinians instead of use them, that Israel would not give up land. This was the original formula- and I believe it still applies. But there is so little trust- there will have to be many cautious little steps, like leaving Gaza which many are now saying ( on both sides) was not the right thing to do. ( It was- as was leaving Lebanon).

    I’ll join those above in asking- especially regarding Gaza- what should Israel have done given there was no one in charge that could deliver?

  51. Before I fell into that I came here to post this by Ze’ev Schiff in today’s Ha’aretz A Strategic Mistake. Although I agree with the goal, and the need, I have never been happy about the means. It seems to be excessive and increasingly so. Perhaps soldiers should have gone in on the ground to begin with and israel should have taken the casualties, to avoid so many civilian deaths. I cannot second guess, but if Ze’ev Schiff is concerned take note. Regardless of what the IDF says about this not being a war on the people of Lebanon, it appears to be. Though they are culpable to a point, especially in the south, I don’t think they deserve this or that it is good for Israel or Israeli’s.

  52. ” Regarding the notion that the Lebanese could have called in foreigners – Europeans no less – see my comment here: http://www.radioopensource.org/israel-and-lebanon-three-views-of-a-regional-war/#comment-13583 for why that idea, sensible to Westerners like us, might have no realistic currency in Southwest Asia.”

    If I read your analysis correctly then you seem to be saying that their unique cultural and historical psychology prevented them from asking for help, from anyone – the UN, the EU, the Arab League. (though I would note that just ASKING for help would at least represent an acknowledgement that they were being held hostage by the machinations of foreign powers – Iran and Syria – and their agents, Hezbollah.) In a sense you are consigning them to being moral or ethical no-ops – incapable of acting as moral or political free agents, predestined by their history or culture to being nothing more than the ground that the Israeli’s and Hezbollah fight over and trample in the process. That’s kind of a depressing picture of the Lebanese.

    I admit I have no idea why the Israeli’s bombed the Lebanese army barracks. A tragic mistake? Intelligence infomation showing it wasn’t really a Lebanese army barracks? Maybe we’ll find out some day.

    But the question I’ve been asking this whole thread still stands – if you are Israel what else can you do when you are being attacked from Lebanon by a powerful force bent on your destruction?

  53. Potter, thank you for the population figures. They are informative, but I do not see the relevance. Perhaps if we looked at how the demographics have changed over a period of 20 or 50 years we could find greater significance.

  54. plnelson, you ask “What does that have to do with the current situation in Lebanon?” It has everything to do with the present situation as Daniel Levy and others clearly point out.

    Greg Myre and Steven Erlanger writing in the New York Times on July 12, 2006 write:

    “The new Israeli incursion came on a day when the army was still expanding its two-week-old operations in the Gaza Strip, seeking the return of a soldier captured by Palestinian militants inside Israel on June 25. ”

    “The Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, suggested the possibility of a package deal. “The capture of the two soldiers could provide a solution to the Gaza crisis,” Nasrallah said in Beirut. The operation had been planned for months, he said, though he added, “The timing, no doubt, provides support for our brothers in Palestine.”"

    They go on to note, “In the past, Hezbollah has attacked Israel at moments when there was already heavy fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Hezbollah says it acts out of solidarity with the Palestinians, and the timing also creates additional problems for Israel.”

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/12/news/mideast.php

  55. Potter, I agree that Israel has made some peace overtures in the past couple of years and the capture of the soldiers by Hezbollah was an unprovoked act. Everyone asks what more could Israel have done, as if this had to be solved now once and for all. Where is the long-term view that the history of the region should have taught? Israel could have negotiated, as these sides have in the past in this ongoing back-and-forth. Rather, following the Cheney doctrine, it overreacted and now it has poured fuel on a smoldering fire. Rather than seeking a more comprehensive and lasting solution through engagement with many of the players in the region, as Levy has urged, it has just reaffirmed that Israel and the US are a threat to the security of Islamic nations, thus pulling moderates into supporting radical elements, much the same way the Israeli and the Jewish diaspora left have move closer to the side of the hard-liners. For example, a report on the BBC website says that the Turkish anti-West mood is ‘rising’.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5198290.stm

    Bad as the situation in Lebanon now is, you are right to fear that this could be the start of something much worse. So I want to know, what has been gained?

  56. Sidewalker: What significance are you getting at regarding population figures?

    If you look at percentages Arab population has been growing faster than Jewish Israeli even with immigration ( which has leveled off ).

    My point was that as the deal has been laid out, Israeli’s will have to leave all Palestinian land while Israel will have 20% ( and growing robustly) Arab within it’s borders. We started off with a discussion about fairness.

    At the moment there are roughly 20% of each on the other’s land. If Palestine were a state and no one moved at all ( ie settlers were allowed to live in Palestine as Palestinians, just as Arabs live in Israel as Israeli’s) would that not be fair?

    In addition there is the issue of return of the refugees to Israel. That would have to become compensation and token.

    You brought this up above by citing the numbers of settlers in the West Bank- as if it was about the numbers. It’s really about the occupation and Palestine not being a state.

  57. Sidewalker: There is no one to talk to on the other side except extremists ( who Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, Assad, Haniyah?) Abbas has always been weak and effective. There are many factions, many pulling strings. Are you being realistic?

    You ask where is the long term view that history should have taught. The point is that history has taught that people talk but only after the violence has caused suffering- and at that- they do not keep their promises.

    If anything we should not look at history but need to cultivate some amnesia about the outcomes of all the attempts, and have the courage to keep trying.

    Yes,there should be talks and no pre-conditions, should responsible willing sincere parties be found. And it should involve the surrounding Arab countries as well.

  58. Potter, I brought the numbers up to show that if Israel had been really sincere about working things out, it would not have let the number of settlers and settlements expand during the 80s and 90s. I am not saying that the Palestinian leadership was acting in good faith all or even most of the time, but I just think what is happening today has to be put into perspective. If the Israeli state wants to claim it is in the right, and not accept a fair share of responsibility for the failures, then it has to account for the continuing occupation and the fact that Israel has a state and the Palestinians still do not. The question I keep hearing is what else can we do? And I am suggesting that there were and are steps, some laid out in Clinton Peace Plan. This is not to say that the extremists on either side will now accept giving up something and losing face since they were unwilling in the past. But I just don’t think the Iraq approach to building security and democracy, now used in Lebanon and Gaza, is going to win over anyone and will only create more extremists on both sides.

  59. Sidewalker:. When you argue you pass over (without spelling out) Palestinian complicity in their plight emphasizing/blaming Israel. This is natural because Israel is the stronger or appears to be. No one is winning really. But you open yourself up to getting a defensive argument back. If you are going to argue one side you have to expect resistance.

    For instance: Above you question that Israel had been sincere in it’s attempts at peace because of the settlements. I disagree with that conclusion because I know that is not right.

    You do not question Palestinian sincerity.

    You say above that Israel has to account for the fact Israel has a state and that Palestinians do not have a state.

    Don’t Palestinians have to account for why they do not have a state?

    You challenge Israel’s claim to be in the right. Do you challenge the Palestinian claim, just as strong?

    You are suggesting we go back to the Clinton Peace Plan. Clinton was very angry with Arafat for rejecting that when the moment was pregnant. Arafat’s turn/okay to violence brought Sharon to power and left the plan in the dust. There were consequences.

    Are you saying that there are extremists on both sides in equal measure? Israel has it’s extremists, but they are not in power. They have very little support. Olmert was planning to leave parts of the West Bank, that is why he was elected.

    What is going on now is not the same thing as the “Iraq approach� except that they both have the use of force in common. Israel is not trying to create a democracy in Gaza or Lebanon. That is internal to both. Israel is acting ostensibly for it’s own security reasons. We may agree that this must lead to negotiation, that it is excessive.

    But yhe rockets keep coming towards Israel. Today I heard on the news that Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, has said that they are doing quite well against the Israeli’s and they do not want a ceasefire. His popularity is soaring. ( Is this his “bring it on” ?)

    David Grossman, who wrote compassionately for the Palestinian’s cause for years (starting for me with “The Yellow Wind”) and worked wholeheartedly for peace writes this in the LATimes:

    Shaken Awake By War

  60. “Israel could have negotiated, as these sides have in the past in this ongoing back-and-forth”

    you mean submit to blackmail by terrorists. that doesn’t lead to peace, that leads to emboldened terrorists and more attacks.

    as for any peace deals, its all nonsense until the arabs/palestinians denazify themselves. stop with the indoctrination of hate from birth. stop churning out the hitler youth. until you do that, any peace deal is a sham, a house of cards that will blow over the second one of these groups follows through on its promise to continue the fight, as the palestinian state is but the first step to the destruction of israel. and that is the real goal, not the palestinian state which comes after. it is up to the palestinians to take responsibility and show they deserve a state because so far they certainly do not. the lebanon debacle at the moment shows how stupid it is to rebuild while you have the tumor of terrorists living and operating freely and openly amoung you. and yes the lebanonese are complicit,they didn’t disarm hezbollah and considered them their protectors. theones that pretend they changed their mind on hezbollah because of israels “disproportionate” attacks are full of it. one has to have an underlying sympathy to both tolerate and so quickly switch allegiances back to a group that is responsible for all this all the while hiding behind civilians. what would they do instead? disarm hezbollah themselves? of course not. yet they gripe about israels bombs which are targeted where they are because hezbollah hides behind civilians. they’d probably rather the israelis bend to blackmail, give hezbollah a victory and make their group even more legitimate in the eyes of many, growing even stronger, then attacking again with even more tragic results in the future. its irrational

  61. Old Nick says: “I want to comprehend why my tax dollars are channeled, filter by filter, into policies and weaponry that kills innocents in distant lands my nation simply doesn’t understand. Weaponry that additionally rains ruin onto the infrastructure of already threadbare, fragile economies.”

    I realized yesterday that one thing that bothers me more than the use of force in this situation ( it may have been entirely necessary) was hearing that the IDF had this plan “on the shelf”. If it did I’d like to know why they did not have a plan to evacuate civilians, I mean a good one, not leaflets.

  62. pl, you wrote: “If I read your analysis correctly then you seem to be saying that their unique cultural and historical psychology prevented them from asking for help, from anyone – the UN, the EU, the Arab League. (Though I would note that just ASKING for help would at least represent an acknowledgement that they were being held hostage by the machinations of foreign powers – Iran and Syria – and their agents, Hezbollah.) In a sense you are consigning them to being moral or ethical no-ops – incapable of acting as moral or political free agents, predestined by their history or culture to being nothing more than the ground that the Israeli’s and Hezbollah fight over and trample in the process. That’s kind of a depressing picture of the Lebanese.â€?

    I differ—subtly but significantly—with your interpretation of the points I’m hoping (without apparent success) to represent.

    First, “…consigning them to being moral or ethical no-ops…� is a Western analysis, not a Lebanese one, because the presumptions of your analysis are American/Western, not Lebanese/Southwest Asian. For an illustration, read Rasha’s dispatches here in ROS: http://www.radioopensource.org/another-beirut-has-emerged/#comments . Rasha is clearly acting both morally and ethically according to the norms of her society.

    She isn’t obligated to interpret events the same way we do.

    In other words, I’m not saying the Lebanese are “moral or ethical no-ops�. You are. Perhaps not intentionally, but implicitly.

    Read Faysal’s comment here: http://www.radioopensource.org/israel-and-lebanon-three-views-of-a-regional-war/#comment-13759 for another Lebanese perspective.

    Likewise, ‘zaqidog’s two posts in the same thread demonstrate a very differently-lensed view of the same crisis and its seemingly eternally unfolding consequences.

    Secondly, give a listen to the Thursday installment of KCRW’s To The Point: http://www.kcrw.com/cgi-bin/db/kcrw.pl?tmplt_type=program&show_code=tp —it’s the ‘Listen’ link below the title US and UN at Odds over Middle East. In it, professor Fouad Ajami places culpability squarely at Iran’s feet, absolving the non-Hezbollah Lebanese. And why not, considering Lebanon’s tortured history, both recent and no so recent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanon ?

    Keep in mind that the Lebanese managed to minimize the Syrian influence on their government only a year and a half ago! See the ‘Cedar Revolution’ section of Wikipedia’s Lebanon entry. And note the pro-Syrian counter-demonstrations by Hezbollah. Yet this isn’t an example of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ anymore than was the American-puppet junta’s grip on the Guatemalan people of the 1970’s and 80’s. To claim otherwise is either hypocritical – which I don’t accuse you of – or simply a product of American/Western-centric thinking, which I suggest we’re all guilty of. All of us, and all too often.

    Fouad Ajami explains that the Lebanese government had NO prior knowledge of the Hezbollah actions that have brought Lebanon to ruin. And Daniel Levy in the same show—yes, the same Daniel Levy whose sensible empathy graced this thread’s hour of ROS—offers plenty of sympathy for the Lebanese. Unbiased people familiar with recent Lebanese history understand the tragedy unfolding now in that country, and how that history has been driven not by the moderate Lebanese middle – many of whom are Christians with absolutely no sectarian sympathies for Hezbollah – but by militant Islamists funded by Iran and supported for decades by the slimy government of Syria.

    Recall please that I’m neither anti-Israel nor pro-Hezbollah. I needn’t ‘take sides’ anymore than Rasha need view the devastation of her country as the price for her people’s putative ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. Because someone wiser than me once insightfully defined ‘tragic conflict’ not as ‘right vs. wrong’ but as the collisions of two rights. Israel is right to defend itself. It must. But the majority of Lebanese who are innocent victims – like Rasha and Faysal – are another ‘right’. Rasha and Faysal are parts of a ‘right’ fully deserving of international championing.

    Unfortunately, their country and their lives will suffer much more tragedy than will the fanatic Hezbollah jihadis (and their Iranian sponsors) who’ve hijacked the collective Lebanese future.

    In closing, Daniel Levy’s offering on ROS was the most sensible tonic I’ve heard in years: take ‘playable cards’ away from Iran by making peace with the Palestinians. I can only hope that the history of Israeli expansionism in the occupied territories hasn’t made the search for a ‘reliable Palestinian partner’ as futile as the alchemist’s legendary search for the recipe to make gold from lead.

  63. Well said Nick. I would only say that any possibilities for peace rest with the Palestinians themselves. Israel has done a lot of soul searching and has come to the conclusion that it wants to seperate itself from the Palestinians. Peace is the operative term among most, not all, but most Israelis, so long as efforts towards achieving that peace are meaningful, and will not endanger Israel’s security. I’m not sure the Palestinians have come to the same national consensus.

  64. “Rasha is clearly acting both morally and ethically according to the norms of her society.”

    I didn’t get that from her letter. She just seemed to to be a scared civilian speculating about different theories to account for her current plight, but with a complete sense of resignation about any role that she or her compatriots have played or might play in this. But why project her own passivity onto her countrymen?

    By your reasoning terrorist are simply behaving according to the norms of terrorist society; Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, at al, are simply actng according to the norms of their rich, Americam, triumphalist society, etc. We are all absolved from taking any responsibility by our cultural upbringing. Is there any such thing as a moral free agent in your view?

    The big problem comes from the INTERNAL inconsistencies. Lebanon has been playing host to a terrorist organization DEVOTED to killing Israeli civilans and disregarding the lives of Lebanese civilians.

    In my biased western view that would be a good enough reason to ask them to leave but you’re saying that there’s something about Lebanese culture that makes concern over the lives of Israeli and Lebanese civilian SECONDARY to . . . what? Something. OK, fine, but now they’re all upset that lots of Lebanese civilians are being killed in this war. They can’t have it both ways. If concern over the deaths of civilans was secondary for years, why is it primary today?

    As far as I know the Lebanese government has STILL not demanded the Hezbollah take their weapons and leave.

  65. “Fouad Ajami explains that the Lebanese government had NO prior knowledge of the Hezbollah actions that have brought Lebanon to ruin”

    What constitutes prior knowledge?

    Is he saying that the Lebanse government was not aware that Hezbollah has been conductiong a huge military buildup, including thouands of missiles, for YEARS? I think he’s being disingenous. No one is suggesting that Hezbollah informed the Lebanese government of the details of their attack plans. But the fact that the ONE and ONLY purpose of Hezbollah’s buildup was to attack Israel was certainly no secret.

  66. “Yet this isn’t an example of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ anymore than was the American-puppet junta’s grip on the Guatemalan people of the 1970’s and 80’s.”

    In Guatemala there was a long civil war. Which at least provided proof that not everyone supported the puppet government. But the Hezbollah buildup has mostly been in the period since the Lebanese civil war ended. So again, I’m not aware of any evidence that the Lebanese government or citizenry strongly objected to the presence of a heavily armed army on their territory devoted to the destruction of Israel.

    You keep saying the my interpretation is through western blinders. But rather than asking us to read various conflicting Lebanese opinions, why don’t you just summarize what you feel is an alternative interpretation for why the Lebanese are not culpable for allowing a bloodthirsty terrorist organization to operate in their midst?

  67. pl wrote: “You keep saying the my interpretation is through western blinders. But rather than asking us to read various conflicting Lebanese opinions, why don’t you just summarize what you feel is an alternative interpretation for why the Lebanese are not culpable for allowing a bloodthirsty terrorist organization to operate in their midst?�

    Okay, I’ll do my best, but I can’t do it in 200 words or less. (Apologies in advance for the ‘carpet bombing’.)

    First, big apologies for putting you one the defensive; it was not my intent. I’m not accusing you of anything I haven’t done too. Israel is a more or less Western country: it’s much easier to view the conflict through the lens shaped and ground by Israeli points of view. I’ve done it most of my life. But I no longer think that’s a wide enough lens. It offers too small an information base.

    We’re up to our collective necks in the Middle East, and the majority of people in that region resent our ignorance of their perspectives. Couple that popular resentment with the incendiary passages of a widely believed-in religious text that calls for true adherents to slay the opponents of their faith, and you get stuff like 9-11. The world is home to 1.3 billion Muslims. Much if not most of the Islamic world has access to Al-Jazerra or similar networks.

    And it doesn’t matter whether the scenes on those networks are representative of ‘reality’ (as we would define it), or selectively edited to maximize their sensationalism. It doesn’t matter because the anti-Zionist arguments represented, on this very site, by ‘zaqidog’ are widely held opinions in the Muslim world. It doesn’t matter whether those arguments are incomplete ‘halves’ of the full two-sided picture, because to Muslims these figures are an ‘untold truth’ of bloody injustice. ‘Untold’ because, according to this regional/cultural perspective, the ‘Zionist controlled American press’ suppresses it. Add to those beliefs of suppression the images of Muslim civilians—including children—dying from American made and Israeli delivered munitions—and then consider this:

    “The unbelievers are your sworn enemies.� ~ Sura 4:101.

    “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal harshly with them.� ~ Repentance; Sura 9:123.

    “We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. They serve other gods for whom no sanction is revealed. Hell shall be their home.� ~ The Imrans ; Sura 3:150.

    “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its load.� ~ Women; Sura 4:47 (To “smite a neck� means to decapitate).

    “Let the unbelievers not think they will escape Us. They have not the power to do so. Muster against them all the men and cavalry at your disposal, so that you may strike terror into the enemies of Allah and the faithful, and others beside them. All that you give for the cause of Allah shall be repaid you.� ~ The Spoils; Sura 8:60.

    “…[You] shall not kill—for that is forbidden by Allah—except for a just cause.â€? ~ Cattle; Sura 6:151.

    “Fight for the sake of Allah those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. Allah does not love the aggressors. ~ The Cow; Sura 2:190.

    “Make war on them [unbelievers]. Allah will chastise them through you and humble them.” ~ Repentance or “Al-Tawbaâ€?; Sura 9:14.

    Source: http://www.campuscrosswalk.org/2005-winter-13.html

    Now, you and I will likely find these passages as unsettling as they are archaic. (And I’m an inveterate and unapologetic unbeliever—in any god.) But Muslims don’t believe that Mohammed was ‘inspired’ by God – they believe God spoke directly through Mohammed. It’s a tenet of the faith that the Koran contains God’s literal words – and that this God is very much alive, not ‘archaic’. And that he’s very, very judgmental.

    If only one in every 10,000 Muslims is inspired enough by what he considers outrages perpetrated by ‘infidels’ and so much so that he’s willing to fly airliners into skyscrapers, or sneak nukes out of Pakistan and into Western cities, that’s 130,000 jihadis, not the mere 20-minus-1 of the 9-11 attacks. And yet what if one in 10,000 is a conservative estimate? What if the Islamists, armed with their Korans and utilizing the televised images coming from Lebanon, are able to propagandize even better, parleying my speculative figure to one of every 1,000 Muslims? What if it’s 1.3 million jihadis? And what if that’s a conservative estimate?

    I, for one, want a wider information base: I want more perspective. Even if I don’t agree with the Islamic world’s conventional wisdom, I feel obligated to understand it. Because Muslims aren’t merely outraged by ‘infidels’ raining death onto their faithful coreligionists. They’re outraged and frustrated by our apparent dismissive unwillingness to even begin to consider their points of view.

  68. pl wrote: “The big problem comes from the INTERNAL inconsistencies. Lebanon has been playing host to a terrorist organization DEVOTED to killing Israeli civilians and disregarding the lives of Lebanese civilians.�

    And: “As far as I know the Lebanese government has STILL not demanded the Hezbollah take their weapons and leave.�

    You know already that it’s my opinion that most Americans—including me—are ‘generally aware’ but not genuinely informed of the facts, history, and cultural background of the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. Well, here’s evidence: Amr Hamzawy, a guest on tonight’s hour of ROS, said earlier today on KUOW’s The Conversation that Hezbollah acted not only at Iran’s behest but precisely because some Lebanese, as a natural consequence of the Cedar Revolution’s ousting of Syrian troops, had begun calling for Hezbollah to disarm. Instead, Hezbollah opted to use its Iranian arms, arms built up over the years of Syrian domination of the Lebanese government.

    Here’s the link: http://www.kuow.org/programs/theconversation.asp

    Why didn’t we know this before today? My guess is this: because the Western news media didn’t know it, and therefore couldn’t report it.

    Wouldn’t knowing this have altered your opinion of the Lebanese? And since the government of Lebanon was manipulated by Syria, and since the Syrians were kicked out only 18 months ago, and since Hezbollah, under decades-long Syrian auspices, had grown into a quasi-governmental entity with a well-armed militia in southern Lebanon, how reasonable is it expect the Lebanese to deal with that third of their population in only 18 months?

    They didn’t want another civil war. Can’t say I blame them. Civil wars are some of the world’s worst barbarisms, and typically not ‘blitzkriegs’ that are over in but a few weeks. The Lebanese know this much better than we do. Their (15-year) civil war, unlike ours, took place in living memory.

    So, we’re ignorant of many if not most of the salient facts, not by choice but by chance. When it comes to the Middle East, we don’t know jack. Yet day by day we hear more from experts who can enlighten us. This is all to the good. And I want more, especially because most people of the Middle East aren’t jihadis but people like Faysal and Rasha, who, for all we know, might be Muslims the way most Europeans are Christians: more by descent than by conviction. Still, their seemingly secular perspectives are molded by their gradually modernizing societies that are rooted in ancient cultures. Ancient cultures that were molded by harsh, uncompromising beliefs.

    I want to understand their perspectives and sympathize where appropriate—not from political correctness but from simple human empathy. I want the Middle East to know that we’re listening, even if we don’t always agree. It’s the least we can do, especially since Europeans, not the natives, carved the region into its ill-suited states, and since Westerners continue to manipulate the geopolitical winds via the politicians we elect, who determine our foreign policies.

    I’ve got more to say—especially about our ignorant politicians—but this little essay is already way over the ROS word limit.

  69. So, okay pl, you don’t like my Guatemala analogy. Fine, I can live with it. It’s hardly worth fighting over. Then how’s this? – Lebanon was a Syrian satellite until 18 months ago. During that time, the Lebanese Shi’a, numbering as much as a third of the population, were armed and financed by Iran, and cultivated by the Syrians into their manipulative tools.

    If you can accept that Lebanon was a satellite, then the Lebanese weren’t ‘hostages’ anymore than the Lithuanians were while the USSR busily settled Russians in the Baltic States. The Balts had no choice in this, and neither did the non-Hezbollah Lebanese. They were subjects, not hostages. We can’t in any good conscience blame them for being a small country controlled by bigger miscreants Nor should we blame them for being so religiously and ethnically diverse that reaching consensus is next to impossible: after all, the French gave Lebanon its borders, not the Lebanese.

    Here’s another imperfect analogy that has at least some relevant parallels: are you and I responsible for the KKK? Would we have been even had we lived in the South 85 years ago? Would the blood of the lynched been on our hands? Even if we despised the KKK – and even while Grand Dragons weren’t the shady underground figures of today, but popular politicians?

  70. pl wrote: “By your reasoning, terrorists are simply behaving according to the norms of terrorist society…�

    No, that’s not how I’d phrase it. Instead, I’d say: ‘terrorists’ (who consider themselves holy warriors) are behaving according to the literal words of their God. See the Koranic quotes in the post above.

    And don’t think for a second that I’m sympathizing with the people who act out those medieval exhortations. I can’t quite accept that humans should allow beliefs like those to persist in this dawning age of scientifically obtained knowledge.

    From reading you elsewhere, I seem to recall you’ve not much respect for the current US administration. If voters like you and I are to choose better and wiser national leaders, we ought, I think, know as much as possible so that patent nonsense like ‘They Hate Us For Our Freedoms’ doesn’t frame the next electoral cycle’s foreign policy debate. We may well be hated in the Muslim world, but it ain’t ‘for our freedoms’.

    It’s for our policies, yes—but that’s not all. It’s also for our collective ignorance that enables the policies which the majority of the Middle East find so objectionable. And I don’t mean just our support for Israel. Peter Galbraith chronicles in his new book The End of Iraq that as Bush, before the invasion, discussed the coming Iraq war with exiled Iraqis, the Iraqis began to understand that the American President was unfamiliar with the words: ‘Sunni’, ‘Shi’a’, and ‘Kurd’. These Iraqi exiles later admitted this to Galbraith despite being supportive of Bush. They were stunned that the man ordering the invasion had no idea of the country’s three primary ethnicities. Galbraith was stunned too: how could the administration plan for the possibility of a civil war when the government’s leader didn’t even understand the target country’s basic divisions? (And is it any wonder that Colin Powell later quit in disgust?) And now we know that they didn’t plan for it. They believed they were about to liberate Paris, circa 1944.

    There’s a word for such ideologically spawned idiocy and ignorance: inexcusable.

    In another decade, ‘They Hate Us For Our Freedoms’ will likely be viewed as a propaganda ploy as baldly jingoistic as WWI’s infamous ‘Kill The Hun’. Catchy phrases like that pander to the ignorant. It’s a code for prejudice, and prejudice is a human failing that never demands the authentication of actual evidence.

    We’re the people responsible for the election of these ignorant, manipulative, and unreasoning ideologues. We must begin to take our responsibilities more seriously. The only way to start is to understand all we can about the 1.3 billion people our government is so busily infuriating.

    I’m aware, as a reader of yours, that you’ve plenty of enviable knowledge of other topics in the various ROS threads. So, I haven’t been picking a fight with you, but trying to offer the smidgeon of extra perspective that I’ve recently gleaned on this topic of Lebanon, etc. If it has come across as overly critical, I apologize. I expect we’ll disagree much less elsewhere. Until then, thanks for the conversation!

  71. Oh! I almost forgot— regarding Rasha:

    Rasha doesn’t strike me as ‘passive’ or cowering. She is defiant of the Israelis. Might she be a Hezbollah sympathizer? Perhaps; but I think it doubtful. Her self-proclaimed ‘Ottoman’ identity is much more Sunni than Shi’a. Her defiance is the act of ‘morality’ I wrote of. I suspect that if bombs were raining down on my neighborhood, I’d feel as though the bombers were trying to make me flee. It takes a lot of gumption and defiance to override one’s instinct to run. She would rather chronicle the destruction of her city than guarantee her own survival. I can only guess that she is choosing this in hopes of making a difference in the world: a difference of perception. That’s not merely defiant but brave, and it’s certainly not ‘passive’.

    Frankly, I think we in the West need her perspective: that non-Western perceptual lens. Were we to converse with her in depth, we might find that her geopolitical opinions don’t jibe with ours. Or, we might learn something to the contrary.

    I hope she writes more for us. And I hope she survives it.

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