MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Tel Aviv -- Moments after the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah it was clear that outbreak of war on Israel's northern border was inevitable. I anticipated the unleashing of the Israel's military might, not because I willed destruction but because I saw no other alternative. The simple and logical Israeli conclusion is that Hezbollah is a fundamentalist terrorist organization that had infiltrated into our sovereignty, captured two of our boys and killed eight more in the battle that ensued. We had not provoked Hezbollah, we were not occupying Lebanon and therefore there could be no plausible justification for their actions… so they must be punished.
However, after what seems to be an eternity of combat on the northern border, I have reached the sobering conclusion that there is a point where justice transforms into vengeance and vengeance cannot be justified. To vengeance there is an alternative. As the war wears on and casualties on both sides accumulate, each of us must take a moment to ponder at what price must justice be served. How just is the displacement of over half a million Lebanese civilians? If we tear an entire village to the ground, even if it does harbor terrorists, is that justice?
The public consensus in Israel is quite simple -- "yes." Security above all else. Sometimes I wish that current surge of patriotic pride would overtake me, but regretfully I see the ongoing conflict in blinding shades of gray.
I cannot help but wince when I see my city adorned in billboard signs proclaiming "WE WILL WIN" -- a national rally cry to a war that can bear no decisive winner. I cannot rejoice when I hear of a successful air force operation that wiped out an entire neighborhood in Beirut. I cannot miss the irony that this Lebanon war followed the retreat of Israel from Gaza, which many Israelis viewed as a national weakness, much like the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 took place only two months after the evacuation of Yamit, the largest Jewish settlement in Sinai, which was returned within the framework of the Israel-Egypt peace accords, also objected by many in Israel.
In this part of the world war has become routine. Exerting your power is seen as the only means of survival and showing restraint is an unquestionable weakness.
Israel is caught up in war fever. An understandable phenomenon, as we are constantly rushing into bomb shelters and our loved ones are called up to fight against the source of all this chaos. I absolutely relate to the fever but I cannot march blindly to its beat. I shiver with each news report of another salvo of katyusha launchings into Israel, another air force bombing in Lebanon, another action, another reaction and who will remember who started it all when we are busy counting the dead.
My greatest fear is that the democratic values, on which we pride ourselves, will also come under the threat of the war-fever. Ninety people protested in Haifa against the operations in Lebanon last week. They endured verbal and physical abuse from a much larger group of onlookers and were ultimately arrested for conducting an illegal protest. I did not attend nor witness the protest, I am not brave enough to voice anti-war sentiments at a time when the country is fighting what the public perceives as an existential battle for existence, but I believe its outcome serves as a warning. Even in times of national adversity, we must not sabotage the democratic foundations of Israel and not allow ourselves to be drowned in patriotic sentiments. It is crucial to take a moment to listen to the other side, what he says might actually make sense.
Opinions like mine are marginalized in this fever-ridden country. I thought I was a traitor for thinking what I thought. Maybe I am a traitor but at least I know that here I can publish these thoughts without fear of being arrested for treason and this is a point the Israeli populace must fight with equal passion to preserve… even in times of war.
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Replies: 8 comments
It is obvious to me and to many other Muslims and Arabs that Israel is a terrorist state, specially after her raking work in Lebanon. Every body is looking to what Israel and her backer America are doing to this region? May this will stimulate the feeling of get even with Israel. This feeling might be translated to a unify effort to put all our strength together and spell whatever inside feeling to work. First get rid of all absticles in our way of Palestine liberation from those terrorist Zionist Israelis, and then build what it takes to dismantle this terrorist state Israel, and solve it and get Palestine liberated.It is not going be far away, it is not going to be far away.
Posted by Mohammad Hasanat @ 08/01/2006 11:23 PM CST
Mohammad - I suggest that instead of resorting to petty name-calling and making inflammatory proclamations you take a moment to act as the article suggests and listen to the other side. It cannot be denied that the Palestinians have also resorted to terrorism as a means to achieve their goal and the PA in fact has an internationally sanctioned terrorist organization at its helm but this does not lead me to the conclusion that all Palestinians are terrorists. Nor should anyone reach such erroneous conclusions regarding Israel. Such dogmatic claims (on both sides) will only lead to further bloodshed.
Posted by adam werner @ 08/02/2006 10:50 AM CST
I AM A US CITIZEN AND AM SICK OF ISREAL'S AND THE UNITED STATES
THATSS RIGHT I TEACH IN YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. YOU WANT TO CAUSE
Posted by john @ 08/02/2006 09:31 PM CST
I had no idea how to respond to these comments, especially John's, until a conversation with my uncle this evening. I am a, generally, liberal American jew. The death of Lebanese children pains me as much as the death of Israeli civilians. I was glad when Israel's response showed restraint -- warning civilians to leave targeted areas -- and horrified when their bombs seemed to target civilians, such as the bombing of a convoy of refugees.
We all know, I believe, that whatever destruction Israel has caused in Lebanon over these past few weeks, it is at least a tenth or even a hundredth of the destruction it is capable of causing. And yet Israel and jews are still hated for their unbalanced response. What can we do to stop this hatred? If Israel killed exactly the same amount of Lebanese people that Hezbollah killed, would Mohammad's opinion change? Would John feel any differently about Jews? If Isreal released 30 Lebanese prisoners for the release of one captured Israeli soldier, Hezbollah be satisfied? Or would they say, now release the rest, and give back the Golan Heights, and then the Sheba Farms, and then the West Bank, and then East Jerusalem, and West Jerusalem. John said it best when he said that he wants Israel to revert to it's 1947 borders.
So, Hezbollah hates Israel no matter what she does. They hate the jews no matter what we do. What can we do? There is, sadly, only one answer. When Israel is attacked she should hit back, without restraint and with all the destuctive force she can muster. Consider one Israeli casualty too many. And thousand's of enemy casualties insignificant. They hate us anyway. They want to destroy us anyway.
The French might call Israel bullies; the British may say stop the bloodshed; the U.S. may call for restraint. Yet how did these countries act during World War II? They firebombed Dresden and obliterated Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Many people look back at these actions in horror as excessively violent, but ask those people, when faced with an enemy with a knife, if they would rather have a gun or a knife? Some will say that the German's were going to be defeated anyway when Dresden was bombed, and the U.S. could have defeated Japan without using the bomb. It might have been harder, and taken longer, but they could have done it. Ok, back to the knife analogy: you could, almost certainly, defeat the assailant using only a knife, but would suffer serious wounds -- do you now choose the knife, or the gun? Answer honestly.
So, would Mohammed or John hate Israel less if one Israeli died for every ten Lebanese? How about if ten Israeli's died for every one Lebanese -- they may scream less, but would certainly cheer more, and where would Israel be left? The only answer is to wreak such destuction on Lebanon and Hezbollah that it would take them decades to recover the capacity to kill an Israeli. Rain such massive amounts of death on them they will be too terrified to let Syria and Iran use them as proxies for their war. The UN will still debate, the arab street will still protest, and they will hate us, but at least Israeli citizens will be spared death.
Posted by Bill Gross @ 08/14/2006 05:41 AM CST
Hi there Bill,
I have to say that I don't agree with your point of view. Because the fact that one won't change his point of view (Hate, hatred or whatsoever) towards you doesn't give you a green light to spread destruction and killing among innocent people under the excuse of self defense or because the other side hates you.
Posted by Felipe @ 08/14/2006 07:59 PM CST
Felipe, I'm not saying it's right that Israel bombs Lebanon. Issues of life and death transcend right and wrong. It's about having and exercising enough power so that your enemies will be afraid to attack. It's about having enough power to be able to live in peace. Why did Egypt and Israel negotiate a peace treaty? Because it was the right thing to do? No, Egypt realized that Israel was too strong for them to defeat. Israel realized that peace with Egypt was worth more than all the oil in Sinai. On the same token, why have peace talks with Syria failed when Israel was willing to give back the Golan Heights (http://www.mideastweb.org/briefhistory.htm)?
Israel left Gaza last year, forcibly removing its citizens. Why? Because it had become more difficult to occupy the territory than to retreat. Israel's enemies see that as weakness, so they attack. It is now up to Israel to prove its strength, to make the equation so unbalanced that the only option its enemies have is to accept what they have and stop fighting.
I'm not saying it's right, just that it's the only option. It's the way the world works.
Posted by Bill Gross @ 08/14/2006 09:57 PM CST
Bill, This perspective won't ever work. There are several ways to prove that one is infinitly stronger and conquer respect. Egypt and Israel achieved a peace treaty because Egypt is an INDEPENDENT STATE. Palestine isn't, and it's authorities are continuosly weaken and threaten by the israelis, they don't have autonomy neither resources, and can't develop either one due to the israeli permanent economical, political and physical siege. What i'm saying is that Israel should work to make or simply allow the palestenians to have a better life, instead of trying to spread fear by arbitrary killings of innocents.
Posted by Felipe @ 08/14/2006 10:47 PM CST
Let us put aside the middle east problem problem and just focus on WHY YOU ARE A JEW???? If you want to intellecually discuss anything that is related to the morality of Isreali actions or the morality and actions of the arabs, then let us first discuss why you are a Jew??? Please when you reply to this, do not tell me FAITH, BECAUSE A MUSLIM HAS FAITH, A CHRISTIAN HAS FAITH. feel free to define faith then if you would like. But if you are intellectually honest then please tell me how you became jewish, and how someone else can become jewish??? I await.
Posted by john @ 09/09/2006 04:31 PM CST
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