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Reality Check

Not all Jews are Israelis, and not all Israelis are Jews.

The current government of Israel is not the selection of a majority of Israelis; it is a coalition. No one party commands the respect of a majority of voters.

The Kadima party, which formed the current government, has only 29 of 120 seats in the Knesset [Israeli parliament], so more than three out of four Israeli voters preferred someone else.

I want a supporter of Israel to explain why the objective, physical evidence shows that the two Israelis soldiers captured by Hezbollah were in Lebanon when taken.

I want a supporter of Israel to look at this photograph and explain why it doesn’t prove that the Israeli air force is targeting ambulances.

I want a supporter of Israel to explain why an Israeli bomb kills UN observers.

Hezbollah is not blameless. As Juan Cole has pointed out several times, firing Katyusha rockets is almost by definition a war crime. They are giant “bottle rockets” designed to break up massed formations of troops, and are not as accurate as most artillery. Firing them in the direction of an occupied area is almost a guarantee of civilian casualties. Just because the Israelis started the attacks on civilians doesn’t excuse Hezbollah.

6 comments

1 andante { 07.26.06 at 11:53 am }

Okay, I’ll bite.

I’m a supporter of Israel, but not of this overwhelming Israeli military action – just as I am a supporter of the United States but deplore the war in Iraq.

The two sides – and I mean Israel on one side and fill-in-the-blank on the other – have been pushing each other’s buttons for a long, long time. Pinning the blame on anyone is like trying to figure out which came first – the chicken or the egg.

But realistically – I wish someone would tell me just what is Israel supposed to do? Hezbollah has been lobbing rockets into northern Israel for a good ten years, and anyone who thinks Hezbollah’s only ultimate goal is the return of a few prisoners is dreaming.

Israel is going to sit down at the diplomatic table and negotiate with….whom?

Israel is going to pack it up, go home, and let whose army deal with Hezbollah?

I won’t even try to defend the indefensible – the ambulances, the UN observer bombing….or Abu Ghraib or Haditha. Those actions are just as wrong as the Hezbollah rockets that fall – who knows where.

But I’m trying to look around and see just what other options Israel has – and I don’t see any. If you do, I’m sure willing to hear it.

2 Bryan { 07.26.06 at 1:10 pm }

Hezbollah was born from the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, Israel could finish its pull out from Lebanon for a starter. The Lebanese don’t want trouble and they don’t want the Israelis stealing their water, and that’s what the Shebaa farms is all about- water, not security.

That’s what the West Bank settlements are all about, water.

Ehud Olmert is a break with the past – he’s the first Israeli prime minister who has no terrorist acts on his resumé. The British let those charges drop when Israel became a nation.

You can’t occupy other peoples’ land and use their resources and expect to live in peace. Israel could try the “high road” and withdraw to their recognized borders. They are not the only people in the area with a right to live in peace.

3 andante { 07.26.06 at 3:35 pm }

As soon as Israel pulls out of Lebanon, Hezbollah moves back in with the full blessing of Iran and the behind-the-back blessing of others. And the rockets continue to fall on northern Israel.

In an ideal world, I’d like to see a cease-fire with prisoner exchange – a meaningful exchange – and then a full court press by Lebanon to build up their military, police, and social welfare system so they could take their own country back. They’d need help – lots of it.

But back to the real world –

“They are not the only people in the area with a right to live in peace.”

Of course not. But even if they withdrew to their pre-1967 borders, do you really think Israelis would be allowed to live in peace?!

There are some facts on the ground that will have to be accepted by all sides before anyone can live in peace. Number one among those facts – Israel is not going to disappear. Muslim leaders have been stoking their people with that fantasy since 1948. Some may speak pragmatically to the world but do little or nothing to encourage such thinking in “the street”. Many outright encourage “Jew hatred”. Right-wing Israeli leaders are just as guilty.

Ehud Olmert is a break with the past – he’s the first Israeli prime minister who has no terrorist acts on his resumé. “ – You know I love you, but I’ve got to challenge that statement! I’ll grant you Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon – those two are a shame to Israel’s past and a reflection of the fearful times.

The others – Ben-Gurion, Sharett, Eshkol, Allon, Meier, Rabin, Shamir, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak, and Olmert – are no more terrorists than Harry Truman, Gen. Wm. Westmoreland, Dwight D. Eisenhower, or the crew of the Enola Gay.

4 Bryan { 07.26.06 at 5:02 pm }

Andante, they were all part of the various groups that committed acts of “terrorism” against the British Mandate. Some of them are tied to massacres. Everyone, on both sides, who went into politics belong to what would be called a “terrorist” organization under today’s definition. They blew things up and killed people. That’s the way things were done. That’s how all of the original political parties started. The Likud to Herut to Irgun is the shortest path, but they all started the same way. Read about Folke Bernadotte, and the King David Hotel bombing.

The Palestinian Authority can’t get control of anything because Israel periodically destroys its security infrastructure. They’ve just done the same thing to the Lebanese army. Why would you want to reduce the danger to Israel when the Israelis are attacking you for doing your job?

Would the Israelis live in peace within their borders? No, the government would be attacked by Jewish extremists, just like the settlers attack Palestinians. What would be accomplished is that it would remove the excuse for the violence. The people who want peace would be able to say that there is no reason for the violence. There is no justification for the violence. It would make it obvious to one and all who the crazies really are so they can be dealt with.

Things cannot continue as they have – there will only be more violence. Israel is the only one who can change the basic situation. The nations that surround Israel no longer have the military capability to threaten the existence of Israel, and haven’t had it for decades, or Israel wouldn’t have been able to invade Lebanon.

5 andante { 07.27.06 at 12:43 pm }

I know all about Irgun, the King David bombing, the Stern Gang, Count Bernadotte, and a handful of other black marks on Israel’s modern history. There’s not a country on the planet that doesn’t have shameful episodes in their past, including our own. I’ve never claimed Israel was whiter than snow or tried to justify past horrors. Nor can I find any justification for Hezbollah or Hamas’ actions.

I suppose one could say Hezbollah and Hamas don’t ‘deliberately’ target civilians – they just try to hit anything they can.

Only a few of those prime ministers belonged to Irgun; if you classify Palmach, Haganah, and the resulting IDF as ‘terrorists organizations’, you’ll still need to drop Golda Meier and add Olmert back into your list. He did his service, and much later attended OCS to beef up his political resume’.

Thanks to the mismanagement of Yassir Arafat, the Palestinians wasted boatloads of money on weaponry and ammunition, letting their infrastructure and society rot. Now that Hamas has the upper hand, the rockets are falling again – a perfectly predictable situation.

The situation in Lebanon isn’t all that different – thanks to Syria and Iran. Israel withdrew from their so-called ‘security zone’ in Lebanon, and those two gleefully went about rearming and refortifying Hezbollah. Neither Syria nor Iran have to worry about their own military – they have a proxy army to wage unconventional warfare on their behalf.

You are absolutely correct – things cannot go on as they have in this vicious circle. Israel has to accept her part of the blame, but there is plenty to go around.

6 Bryan { 07.27.06 at 3:03 pm }

Golda was very involved in a number of “shady groups” and was very good on the planning side. Remember that Israel started as a colony that wanted independence, so everyone who was political was a “terrorist”.

By the time Olmert got involved, beyond being the child of “terrorists”, the conversion to political parties and a national army had taken place.

Hezbollah is Lebanese. They accept help from anyone willing to give it, but they have their own goal and it is limited to Lebanon. For a while they got support through the sale of cigarettes smuggled from North Carolina into Michigan. Are North Carolina and Michigan supporters of Hezbollah? Iran’s support is totally based on religion and Syria doesn’t want trouble from Hezbollah or Hamas in Syria where there are large refugee populations.

This is not simple. This is not black and white. Both sides have legitimate grievances and neither is willing to negotiate.