MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Monday, July 31, 2006
Fighting Hezbollah in the worst way possible
When this war began, I observed that Israel had every right to defend itself, but that "Actions that may be "justifiable" may not be wise." What is happening in Lebanon is shaping up as a first class debacle -a "me'hdal" in Hebrew. As usual in such cases, everyone is quick to blame someone else, and to offer their favorite solutions. Culprits are not scarce, including past and present Israeli governments, the UN, the USA and Europe. We cannot blame Hezbollah or Iran or Syria. When the lion gets out of the cage and starts eating people, we don't blame the lion. That is its nature. [more]
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Generic Israel-Lebanon War
There is no doubt that Israel is at war. Nine soldiers were killed yesterday, as well as about 19 civilians in the past 15 days. Even without listening to the news, I would know there is a war. It is always the same. F-16s streaking by our windows make a racket, setting off the alarms on half the automobiles in the neighborhood. Don't live near an airbase in Israel during a war. [more]
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah: The vicious circle of righteousness, force, and loss of compassion
In the film "Paradise Now," one of the Palestinian potential suicide bombers tells his girl friend: "The Israelis took ownership on both the righteousness of being victims and on the total powerfulness. They have left us no choice but to do the same." I wish to add to this important sentence, that when both sides take ownership on both righteousness and powerfulness, there is no space left for compassion. When rockets fall on the northern and southern parts of Israel, the Israeli Jewish people shrink back into their primary sense of victimhood: We are a small people, threatened by many external forces that should be confronted with determinism and powerfulness. This primary sense of victimhood is based on righteousness of the weak ('who tries to kill you, kill him first'). We have experienced this sense of victimhood many times during the last decades so that it has become like a second nature to us. It gives us the feeling of togetherness and authorizes our government in our name to shoot at the enemy, including their civilians, as they shoot at ours; as in war, like in war. We are well trained in this scenario and possibly prefer it to all other possible scenarios of this region. [more]
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Gaza and Lebanon "We told you so"
As Qassam rockets come crashing in on Israel from the south, and Zilzal, Raad and Fajr rockets (all misnamed "Katyusha") come crashing in from the north, a chorus of right wing Israeli mother-in-laws is steadily chanting "we told you so" and "the end of Beilinism." They insist that all the violence is the fault of the "leftists" (Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon). They claim things would have been much better if Ehud Barak had not withdrawn from Lebanon and if Israel had not withdrawn from Gaza. [more]
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Fog of War in Lebanon and Israel: Rumors and misunderstandings
The events in Lebanon and northern Israel largely speak for themselves, and as the situation changes and unfolds from hour to hour, any commentary is like to be misleading, or to reflect the momentary passions of war. However, a few rumors and canards and misunderstandings must be clarified.
As usual in any crisis, the Middle East rumor, prevarication and excuses mill has been working overtime. A canard circulated by supposedly respectable people claims that the Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers was "legitimate" because the Israeli patrol had entered Lebanese territory. So let us be absolutely clear about this:
Friday, July 14, 2006
Putting it together: US Middle East Policy is coming apart
In the larger perspective, the current crises in the Middle East are due to the fact that the United States Middle East policy is coming apart at the seams. The US wanted to promote democracy in the Middle East. Result number one is the Iraqi non-government. In addition to corruption, disunity and incompetence, the Iraq situation is generating headlines that are so absurd that one doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
The speaker of Iraq's parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadan, delivered the following opinion on the origins of violence in Iraq:
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Israel: Returning to Lebanon?
This morning the Hizbullah killed 3 Israeli soldiers, kidnapped two and fired mortars and Katyousha rockets near Sheba farms as well as near the Israeli community of Moshav Zarit along the Israeli-Lebanese border. IDF responded with a bombardment of targets in Lebanon and invasion of Lebanon, apparently in pursuit of the kidnappers, and that is just the beginning. Four more Israeli soldiers were apparently killed in action today. The Israeli cabinet is meeting this evening to decide on further steps, following the expected bellicose rhetoric. An ominous red banner across the bottom of my TV screen proclaims "Back to Lebanon."
The IDF was also busy in Gaza today. It bombed a building where the top brass of the Hamas were meeting. The meeting was held in a concrete reinforced basement, so most of the Hamas leaders escaped unharmed. Seven civilians were killed. Mohamed Deif and another Hamas leader were apparently injured. The extent of their injuries is not known. [more]
A different voice from Sderot
Written just before the attack of June 25, this account by a member of the urban Kibbutz, Migvan, in Sderot, is a moving testimonial to human ideals under stress and to the enduring desire for peace. A.I.
Appropriate disclosure: I have been living in Sderot for almost twenty years. For five years I have been "breathing" Qassams. Some of them fell a few meters from my home, and for the first time in my life I comprehended the emotional meaning of the expression: "Victims of Shock and Anxiety." All the daily worries that were generously exported to the public are familiar to me too. All the rituals that were built around the anxieties: To jump in response to any unusual noise, To watch the sky while walking in the city, to bolt out of bed like an automaton at three in the morning and run to the fortified room. To tensely wait for the boom, to verify that everybody is okay, and so on again.
Nevertheless I want to sound a slightly different voice. I will not say anything new or original here, that was not already ground to dust before me. The only validity to my words is the fact that I am a resident of Sderot. I am not leaving the town for any Qassam. I am not returning to "Sheinkin" at the end of the day. [more]
Sunday, July 9, 2006
Gaza standoff is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in miniature
Viewing history and events is somewhat like viewing a fractal. As you zoom in on individual events, you see a level of detail not revealed at higher levels. Frequently however, the smaller events reproduce many of the characteristics of the larger conflict, and also resemble each other.
Such is the case for the standoff in Gaza. At first glance, it seems to have reproduced faithfully many aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A standoff that juxtaposes Israeli military might against Palestinian ability to marshal world opinion. It features Palestinian violence, images of helpless Palestinians versus Israeli might, disproportionate Israeli response, self-serving or indifferent responses by world powers and the Arab world, media distortions, and commentaries that insist on seeing only one side of the problem. [more]
Friday, July 7, 2006
Whose fault? The Blame Game in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
These observations, while very general, are applicable to the current standoff in Gaza and to every other aspect of the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, or any other conflict for that matter.
The basis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the competition between two legitimate claims on the one hand, and the fact that as often happens, each side ignores the claims of the other.
At one time there were several options to solve those claims that might have worked, such as a binational state, partition with economic union etc.
However, while very little effort was invested in advancing and protecting workable solutions, a huge effort was invested in advancing non-solutions that took into account the needs of only one side. This effort succeed in perpetuating the conflict and narrowing the options for workable solutions. [more]
Wednesday, July 5, 2006
Gaza: The Price of Protracted Occupation
1. The Urgent need for other terminology
One can look at the current crisis in Gaza, upon daily politics, and short-term perspective. The outcomes of such a perspective are: First: The Palestinians fire rockets towards Israel, and the Palestinians took captive an Israeli soldier. Second: The Palestinians should be punished for their aggressiveness by different means including the targeted killing of their "terrorists", intensive artillery shelling, closing the energy pipelines that supply them with fuel mainly in Gaza Strip, bombing their electricity power stations... The punishment for civilians in this regard will be considered sometimes as unfortunate side effects of the actions against the "terrorists" for which the terrorists themselves bear responsibility, while at other times it will be considered as a "proportionate" and "legitimate" response to the Palestinian attacks against the Israeli civilians (eye for eye and tooth for tooth). In yet a third explanation, the collective punishment is interpreted as a tool to separate between the "terrorists" and the people, and to make the people revolt against the terrorists. Third: Thus the Israeli acts are retaliations to the Palestinian aggressiveness, therefore they are part of Israel's right to defend itself. [more]
One state for Israelis and Palestinians is 'utopian'
Some South Africans are obsessed with the idea of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No doubt this stems from South Africa's own recent experience: throughout the apartheid era, remember, the Afrikaner Nationalists sought to impose separate development, dividing and ruling through a series of tribal mini-states while retaining the bulk of the land for whites; however, the majority desire for a single, undivided country triumphed and the new South Africa came into being.
If it worked in South Africa then it will work for Israelis and Palestinians, so the argument goes. Blame the Jews who will not let it happen.
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