}

This Lousy War

Candide’s Notebooks, a terrific website that tends to cover a broad range of political topics wanted us to be aware of a very fine article authored by one of their contributors, Cecilia Lucas, where she addresses Amos Oz who justified the right of Israel to wage the current war. Below is my response. I want to be clear that I support Israel and its actions, but truly regret that Israel is at war in Lebanon and wish for nothing more than a peaceful and open border between the two countries, with lots of trains and visitors going back and forth from Beirut to Jerusalem.

Thank you CN, that was a touching letter. Your writer’s questions are strong. How can Amos Oz claim that Israel is different a decade ago in a different war against the same country. How can he differentiate between the harm, killing and destruction of that war versus this one? After all, it is again Israel inside Lebanon and once again Lebanese are dying and watching parts of their country lie in ruins.

I find the conclusion of the letter to be the most salient part:

I have been touched by your words, Amos Oz, and so I will end this letter with those words that I hope will inspire you once again: “among the victims of the Lebanon War was ‘the Land of Israel, small and brave, determined and righteous.’ It died in Lebanon perhaps precisely because, in Lebanon, its back was not to the wall. After Lebanon, we can no longer ignore the monster, even when it is dormant, or half asleep, or when it peers out from behind the lunatic fringe. After Lebanon, we must not pretend that the monster dwells only in the offices of Meir Kahane; or only on General Sharon’s ranch, or only in Raful’s carpentry shop, or only in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It dwells, drowsing, virtually everywhere, even in the folk-singing guts of our common myths. Even in our soul-melodies. We did not leave it behind in Lebanon, with the Hezbollah. It is here, among us, a part of us. That which you have done-whether it be only once in your life, in one moment of stupidity or in an outburst of anger-that which you were capable of doing-even if you have forgotten, or have chosen to forget, how and why you did it-that which you have done and regretted bitterly, you may never do again. But you are capable of doing it. You may do it. It is curled up inside you.”

I think a key phrase there is “backs against the wall.” This is not like 1985 in Lebanon or 1987 or 1999. This is 2006 and the world, as well as Israel’s situation, have changed.

A couple of days ago Ted Koppel published an op-ed in the NY Times (you can find it in the Times Select section) entitled “Look What Democratic Reform Dragged In.” I think he articulates the case very well that in essence what we have on our hands in the Middle East as the fruits of attempts at democracy is a successful power play by Iran and its religious revolution. We see Islamism take root and become more powerful, watching as Iraq becomes controlled by a Shia leadership with links to Iran that has taken effective control of the government. We see it in the Palestinian Authority with Hamas, and we see it in Lebanon with Hizbullah’s outsized military and political influence.

Common to Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas (and their many supporters) is the declared intent to destroy Israel. They also share vile anti-Semitism, hatred of not only “Zionists” but Jews in general (note Nasrallah’s comments a few years ago that it would be easier to destroy them if all the Jews of the world gathered in Israel). I see prominent commentators like Juan Cole and perhaps less prominent but a much better writer such as your Cecilia Lucas comment that Hizbullah isn’t as strong as the Israeli military or in Cole’s case that Iran doesn’t really mean it when it declares its desire to see Israel annihilated.

Yet, that is precisely what they mean. And Hizbullah is sending more rockets into Israel today than it did a week ago.

To put it bluntly, a nation with 60 million Muslims, a declared enemy to Israel, is providing arms, funds, tactical assistance and state-level propaganda to its two proxies abutting Israel, Hamas and Hizbullah. Furthermore, it is doing so with the explicit consent, and perhaps partnership, with the Syrian regime which is a bitter enemy of Israel’s and no less committed to its destruction.

Israel has been quiet about these developments for the past couple of years. It watched as 1000 Qassems rained on its head AFTER it left Gaza. It watched, AFTER leaving Lebanon in its entirety (let’s not discuss Shabaa farms here because Israel is following international views and rules on this parcel of land), as Hizbullah would launch its raids into Israel, sometimes causing death, and as it built up an arsenal of 12,000+ rockets plus a strong fighting infrastructure. It watched and watched. Sometimes it might have targeted a terrorist in Palestinian areas, or sent planes over Lebanese territory, but the ongoing screaming by pro-Palestinians about those practices just shows how small a response it was relative to what Israel could do if it wished to cause damage.

Voices inside Israel shouted that this relative quiet on Israel’s part was folly, but the democratically elected government and the majority of Israelis agreed that it was best not to react on a large scale.

Then these two recent attacks on Israel changed a great deal. These were successful military efforts against military targets (Hizbullah also attacked a civilian area to draw attention away from the main attack). They were unprovoked attacks seeking to gain advantage on Israel by proxies of a state, ten times the size of Israel, bent on destroying it. The attacks have come at a time when the Iranians feel more open than ever to declare their intentions to destroy Israel; a time when their proxies are stronger and better armed than ever before.

As Koppel suggests, perhaps the Israelis, at the forefront of these attacks by the Islamists, see a danger that others cannot see as readily. Perhaps the Israelis recognize that if they don’t go in now to destroy and weaken these proxies, and thereby also harm their benefactors’ objectives, then they will find themselves under more and more severe attacks and greater danger. After all, Hizbullah used to have only Katyusha rockets but now possess missiles like the Fajr series, able to reach Haifa, and the Zalzals with a range reaching Tel Aviv. As I write this, 160 such rockets have fallen on Israel 10 days into the fighting and just less than an hour ago two Israelis were killed by these rockets in Haifa. How long before the warheads on those are given chemical weapons or worse? How long before Iran decides to upgrade Hizbullah’s infrastructure even further, as they did by providing an 802C missile which they launched successfully against the Israeli ship?

There was nothing defensive about Hizbullah’s posture, or that of Hamas for that matter, they are all about destroying Israel, and their benefactors – at least Iran, and possibly Syria – share this goal. However, the attacks are coming from Lebanon, with at least tacit consent at the Lebanese government that Hizbullah has the right to array itself against Israel and attack it at will.

I recognize that everybody wants to tell Israel how to fight this war: not a single civilian should be killed; not a single non-military building should be destroyed. Perhaps they are right that in an ideal world this would happen. I, personally, would not wish to have a single civilian casualty in this war. Not one.

I believe that the IDF has attempted to minimize civilian injury and death. I say that knowing that many have died and have been injured. But to say that Israel came out seeking to cause these civilian deaths is untrue. If after thousands of sorties and 1800 targets bombed (these are published IDF numbers), 350 civilians have been killed – and among those I’m sure there are many, some analysts are saying half, who are Hizbullah members – doesn’t this suggest that the something that “is curled up inside [Israelis]” is far from the hatred, destructiveness or desire to harm that perhaps Amos Oz saw as part of that earlier war? Wouldn’t 3000 air force attacks leave far more than 350 dead if the intent was some form of inherent evil?

If the other side seeks war and Israel’s destruction, at what point may Israel respond as if it’s in a war? After 500 Qassems? 1000? 5000? After a third attack on its North? A fifth attack? A tenth attack? After the 10th soldier is killed or injured? The 20th soldier? Who should it attack if not the attacker in the place from which the attacks are coming?

When Israel responds, what should it try to do when the other side mocks it and believes it is immune from attack or harm? Should it show further weakness by not responding again, thereby encouraging even more attacks (as we have now seen conclusively, this is what happens)? Should it attack in ways that don’t destroy the capacity of its enemies? What is the right way to fight a war against somebody who seeks to destroy you? And what is the right way to negotiate with somebody who not only seeks to destroy you, but has launched similar attacks in the past and believes they can do so with impunity at any time? When do you stop talking or accepting unacceptable conditions?

I believe the complexity of these issues perhaps signals the difference between Oz’s comments years into an occupation of Lebanon that was a mistake on many levels, and where the conflict stands now.

I wish to conclude with a couple of last points. One of the key claims in these arguments against Israel is that Israel is using disproportionate force. What does that mean in the context of war against an enemy who seeks to destroy you? If the force was disproportionate, wouldn’t Hizbullah be destroyed already? It is far from destroyed. If Israel drops 23 tons of explosives on a bunker in Beirut and the bunker remains relatively unharmed, would those who complain agree that Israel should drop 46 tons? Should they send in ground forces? Should they stop distributing warning leaflets or radio broadcasts to residents of areas slated to be attacked? Walking away from a confrontation is not a ready option because, as we have learned, the attacks will return and the arming will continue unabated. So what is disproportionate here? How can war be avoided?

I write this as somebody who, prior to recent events, wrote on this site, Jewlicious.com, that the Lebanese border has been relatively quiet and Israel’s departure from Lebanon was, in effect, a success. I was wrong!! It was a false quiet; a quiet before the storm. It was a time of retrenchment and heavy organization for war against Israel by Hizbullah – a group with deep popular support and even seats in the Lebanese government.

If Israel has now lashed back, it has done so because it has been attacked and because the attacks are significant, signaling a new stage of a new war. If Israel loses this war, nobody will be talking about proportionate or disproportionate force.

In the meantime, Israel may make some mistakes and those mistakes will tragically cost lives on both sides, but especially the Lebanese side. For this reason, I hope the parties involved will begin diplomatic talks soon. In many respects, Israel’s reaction may also open a door to discussions among all the principal players. Would Syria wish to see Damascus in the condition parts of S. Beirut currently stand? Would Israel wish to see Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the line of fire as Haifa is? In 1967, the Arab countries refused to speak to Israel after its victory and certainly refused to make peace. We’re in 2006 now, let us hope that a different outcome can be had this time

38 Comments

  1. Daniels Counter

    7/23/2006 at 5:27 am

    I disagree with your assessment of united hate against Israel. If you are right one hate is even greater that is the hate of people of veing a victim to war and opression. Our home-land Israel lacks a moral higher ground until such day that Palestinians become Israel’s autonomous independent neighbours. Let Israel defend rightous borders. Hibolloah attempoted to trick Israel into a war to justify its fading meaning. For the life of 8 soldiers, 2 of which were abducted, how many are now sacrificed on both sides?

  2. shtreimel

    7/23/2006 at 8:39 am

    Daniels…

    Wars successes aren’t measure in days or weeks. It takes months and years to see their effect. The Left tends to see things in minutes and hours, something much better left to meditation practice. The IDF are not fools, and they know they were being goaded by Hez. And they’re giving Hez more than they barganed for…as well as letting their neighbors know they’re not so soft. Something that Jordan and Syria demonstrated in the 60’s and 70’s (and to this day, both countries haven’t had much of a Pali problem). Politics in time, right now, it’s time for the gun.

  3. Daniels Counter

    7/23/2006 at 10:51 am

    to Shreimel: You say Syria and Lebanon have shown that their not so soft. Do I remember that there was an attack on Fatah in 1982 followed by a dozen of years of security occupation?

    Does that not count as not so soft?

    So why did Hizbollah rearm and dare?

    My view is because they were in fact becoming insignificant in Lebanion and needed a reason to
    continue to be credible and keep their arms?

  4. Candide's Notebooks

    7/23/2006 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you for the kind words about CN themiddle. If anyone wants to see the Koppel piece in full, we have it posted at http://pierretristam.com/Bobst/library/wf-277.htm

  5. suzan

    7/23/2006 at 12:58 pm

    Just wanted to share this article here

  6. Cecilia Lucas

    7/23/2006 at 1:29 pm

    I do not believe there is “inherent evil” in Israel, not in its government, not in the IDF, and most certainly not in Israeli civilians. Nor do I believe there is inherent evil in Hizbullah or in Hamas. But evil has a way of growing, even if that was not the intent of seeds that were planted. One of the most powerful lessons for me in anti-racist work has been that you do not need racist intentions to have racism when it is built into the system. I think the same is true for imperialism and colonialism and exploitation. There is a system that has been set up. And we can look long and hard at how it got there, what actions people took, what intentions they did or did not have, but regardless of the answers we come up with, the fact remains that the system is there. Calls for the destruction of Israel pain me. Deeply. Calls for the destruction of Israeli colonialism, however, can not be loud enough. There is a range of opinions within Hizbullah just as there is within any group of people. Not all of them are calling for the destruction of Israel, but all of them are calling for the destruction of Israeli colonialism. It has been hard for me to finally stand up and say I support this group which for as long as I can remember has only been described to me as pure evil. But I’ve learned to grow suspicious when people talk about pure evil. It rarely exists. There are also extremists within Hizbullah who think Israel is pure evil. This is just as scary. But before I slip back into the trap of creating too much symmetry where it does not exist, we need to remember the larger systems in play. We need to remember that Hizbullah was born out of violence and colonialism. And, yes, we can go back to many different points in history and the story will change with each new beginning. But that does not change the reality with which we are living today. It does not change the colonial and exploitative power relationships that are currently in play.
    You ask some questions that are on many people’s lips:
    “Should [Israel] show further weakness by not responding again, thereby encouraging even more attacks (as we have now seen conclusively, this is what happens)? Should it attack in ways that don’t destroy the capacity of its enemies? … Walking away from a confrontation is not a ready option because, as we have learned, the attacks will return and the arming will continue unabated. So what is disproportionate here? How can war be avoided?”

    No, Israel should not show further weakness by not responding again. Israel should respond, but if it really seeks to avoid war, its response needs to be completely different. It needs to take seriously the question of why there are people that want to destroy it. It needs to take many actions that go much, much further than the nature of the recent Gaza withdrawal, it needs to commit to decolonization. This, I believe, is the only approach that will destroy the capacity of Israel’s enemies and that will ensure its long-term survival as well as the long-term survival of its neighbors. Just ignoring or not “overreacting” to Hizbullah or Hamas provocations is not enough. Israel needs to be proactive. But in a way quite different than how it has been interpreting that term. No, walking away from a confrontation is not a ready option. Dismantling the reasons for that confrontation is.

    I’ve been struggling with these thoughts for a while and with everyone who keeps telling me to be more balanced in my critiques. I have written a piece I am sharing with you below that tries to capture my frustration with that request. I hope you understand.

    Cecilia

    Love Poem for Hizbullah from a Non-Violence Lover

    Some of my friends who trust my politics and believe in my soul have been approaching me cautiously lately. In nervous whispers they put a question mark at the end of what should be a statement: “You wrote that you’re learning to have hope in Hizbullah?” The question mark begs me to take it back, to brush it off as a moment of hotheadedness, to please, PLEASE remove it from my blog. But I replace the question mark with a period, repeating, yes, I’m learning to have hope in Hizbullah. The lectures begin. Reminding me of my commitment to non-violence. Appealing to my sense of pragmatism: “Cecilia, you will never get anyone to listen to you by using such inflammatory language.” I wonder, how is it that we have learned how to muster up so much more outrage for inflammatory language than for the flames burning where people used to be? Yes, I am learning to have hope in Hizbullah and it is just that: a learning process. And an un-learning process. Because the inflammatory language of “terrorist” – even for someone like me who has an ingrained reaction of ‘who’s causing the most terror here?’ – has burned its way into my psyche, its dehumanizing smoke filling my ears and blinding my eyes.

    The un/learning has not been made easy. My question-mark friends are frustrated by my increasing unwillingness to decry Hizbullah and Hamas each time I open my mouth about Israel and the United States. I, too, am frustrated. Frustrated by the insistence on symmetry where there is none, frustrated by terms that oversimplify like “cycles of violence,” frustrated by my own tendency to retreat into these terms when the question-marks pry at me.

    But I am making progress, seeking and finding new information, clearing some of the smoke. I am coming to terms with something that I’ve tried to deny, something I’ve been taught to deny. And so I have written a love poem. For Hizbullah. Like love that inspires poems often is, this love is not all rosy and sweet. It is complicated, tortured, frustrated, somewhat inappropriate, certainly scandalous, sometimes hesitant. It is irrational and overly rational. But still, it is love. A dear friend told me today, “Nobody ever really learns something without feeling something.” So, to Hizbullah, I offer this poem.

    I Don’t Want to Love You, But I Do

    You were born out of death to a life in a cage
    Where bombs are not the only reason people die
    Fed by the violence of hunger and homelessness
    Raised by colonialism
    Your heart and your will still grew strong

    You scare me
    Not just because they tell me to be scared
    Not just because they repeat, repeat, repeat
    The story of 1983
    Begging me to understand
    Americans are worth more than Lebanese

    Why do they never tell me about Jihad al Bina
    That you have created so much
    Saved so many lives
    Improved so many more

    It scares me
    When I admit to myself
    That I would be more scared without you
    If I still took the time to see

    To see the violence
    that does not just fall from the skies
    that exists in hunger and homelessness
    in colonialism

    It scares me
    That my hope is tangled up
    In actions I would never want to commit

    But I don’t sleep much these days
    And I’ve tried hard
    But I haven’t found
    Anything
    to give me hope that they will listen

    They repeat, repeat, repeat
    The story of Gaza withdrawal
    Hoping we won’t see
    The violence that continues
    That kills in so many ways
    Hoping we will now support it
    Or at least stop looking

    They insist talk does not work
    When there is no one to talk to
    It is hard to find an interlocutor
    When you’re not willing to listen
    To see
    To feel

    How do you keep faith that talk will work
    When even they are insisting it won’t?

    I am learning to have hope in you
    I am learning to see you as so much more
    Than those actions I would never want to commit

    You amaze me.
    Born out of death to a life in a cage
    Raised by colonialism
    You did not accept imprisonment as natural
    You did not accept hunger as justice
    You did not accept
    the ceaseless killing in so many ways
    Of those next to you
    Or those farther away

    I love you
    But I will never be yours
    I don’t want you inside me
    You are too male for me

    And I cannot, gratefully, fully silence the voice that insists:
    Some deaths you did accept
    Including of some who were listening

    That is why the full statement that the question-marks pry me with reads:
    It is sad, but I’m learning to have hope in Hizbulla

    Maybe it is the naivety
    of one whose life has never been directly threatened
    I still believe:
    Be the change you want to see in the world.

  7. themiddle

    7/23/2006 at 1:29 pm

    Daniels, with all due respect, Israel was completely out of Gaza and completely out of Lebanon. It’s a little hard to speak of being victims to war and oppression and then when Israel departs, people continue to speak about war and oppression. Could the Palestinians not have focused their energies on, I don’t know, DEVELOPING A PEACEFUL GAZA? You know, they can show everyone how capable they are of governing themselves, of building infrastructure, of being a mature political entity. Instead, they did nothing of the sort, continued their Qassem attacks, voted in a terror group as their government and maintained the rhetoric of war. Then they attacked outside of Gaza borders and inside Israel in an attack that probably took 6 months to plan and put into effect.

    Same with Lebanon. Israel was not at war and was not oppressing there either. It left, of its own volition, 6 years ago. Since then, Hizbullah has clearly been planning for war, building an arsenal and actually attacking Israel every once in a while.

    Consider that this Israeli government was elected on the platform of unilateral withdrawal from 90% of the West Bank, including the removal of settlers and settlements from these areas. Did that seem to you to make a change in the posture of either Hizbullah or Hamas?

    You would like Israel to defend “righteous borders” but the Lebanese border was so righteous even the UN – no friend to Israel – signed off on it.

    You would like Israel to defend from a moral high-ground and relate that to autonomy for the Palestinians, but that leaves your theory wanting since Gaza was far from friendly.

    I’m not saying that war is the solution, but you haven’t answered my questions above. At what point, is it permissible and perhaps obligatory to respond to these attacks and threats?

    Having said that, there is always the question of how one does and should fight a war. Those opposed to this war ascribe horrendous motives to Israel. Those in support ascribe measured self-defense. I obviously hope that the latter are right and use Israel’s relative military silence prior to this war as my proof. I also hope the military echelon remembers 1982 and gets the hell out of Lebanon as soon as possible and I mean in weeks not months.

  8. themiddle

    7/23/2006 at 1:41 pm

    Cecilia, I just saw your comment. Thank you. I am busy now but will try to digest it and to respond by tomorrow.

  9. michael

    7/23/2006 at 1:50 pm

    Dear Cecilia
    I thought
    I would respond in the manner to which you are
    Accustomed
    Because if you put in random line breaks, you’re really
    Saying
    Something

    I’m glad you’ve learned to love
    A violent Islamic fundamentalist group
    And are able to neatly fit everything into
    A colonialist/oppressor paradigm while also
    Ignoring the fact that history shows us
    Especially with the Jews
    That colonialism generally has nothing to do with
    Anti-Semitism
    Especially when you throw in
    Triumphalist religion
    You might have less hope in Hizbullah
    If they were shooting missiles at you
    And their patron state was
    Calling for you to be eradicated
    (again)

    By the way, have you ever read
    “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”?
    I think you might really like it
    You seem to be into that whole
    Noble Savage Thing
    You know, where the oppressed brown natives fight
    The occupying colonialists
    And wealthy Westerners who have nothing to do with the conflict
    Get over their post-colonial white man’s guilt
    By identifying with the most violent, nasty people
    They can find
    As long as they’re the right color and religion
    But then again
    T.E. Lawrence was, for all his faults
    A better poet

  10. Steves Rock

    7/23/2006 at 4:11 pm

    I am deeply embarrassed by the Israeli so called tough response.

    THey are appeared as spineless weak, and allowing the Hizbollah to continue their cowardly missle shootings.

    Reduce them to rubble, now.

    Syria, Iran, and Lebamon.

    This is all that their animal brains truly comprehend.

    What Israel is doing, with the pinpoint this and that, is an abominations. prissy, schoolyard.

    I am ashamed of this, and ashamed that I am in fact identified as an Israeli citizen.

  11. Sheikh Nazzi Nasrallah

    7/23/2006 at 4:45 pm

    I can’t wait until Iran gets nukes. Then it’s like, kaBOOM! motherfuckers. Downtown Tel Aviv. Aw jeaaah. And don’t think you’re coming to the USA either. Fuck that, we don’t want you. It’ll be your turn to do time in refugee camps policed by racist-religious occupation troops. HAHAHAHAHA! Israel, it’s only a matter of time. Your puny terrorist murder state is unsustainable. You can’t hold back the Arab tide. Say your prayers, pariah-settler-apartheid-terrorist state! Iran, Syria and Nasrallah aren’t gonna stand for this bullshit. All the cash and weapons we give you, and you dickheads can barely even capture Maroun al-Ras! Damn, is that shit lame. Personally, I’ve lost all respect for Israel. Check this out:

    “In nine days of fighting, all there have been were assaults against civilians and infrastructure. There has been no military operation in terms of army against army,” — Hizbullah #2 Sheikh Naim Kassem

    I mean, WTF? Hizbullah is talking massive smack and I don’t see you shutting them up. I thought you were the tough guys! But Kassem’s still talking–what are you doing about it? Zip zilch nada motherfuckers. Yeah. Hey–and while the party’s going down in the north, who be keeping it so reelz in da West Bank and Gaza? That’s right, HAMAS is, the Islamic Resistance Movement. What part of Resistance do you not understand? Just a hunch, but I’m guessing not much work is getting done on the Apartheid Wall these days. Ok, talk to yall tough guys later (so tough you need nine days to take Maroun al-Ras = wimps!).

  12. Mike

    7/23/2006 at 5:54 pm

    Cecelia–

    Shame on you. Not for your content, but for your form. I find nothing–not even depraved acts of terrorism followed by ill-conceived acts of retaliation–more unforgivable than bad poetry.

    Let me put my disgust in terms you may understand. Airing such undercooked lines–let’s be real, they aren’t verses–is akin to Israel’s bombing the Gaza electrical plant: the heinousness of your effort thwarts whatever good had hoped would come from your previous, more measured operations.

    You’re at least a good enough prose writer to engage the highly critical TM. Why spend that capital before you can cash in by producing such “poetry?” By your own hand, you have relegated yourself to the level of a 14-year-old who, in trying so hard to be the star of both her freshman social studies and English classes, proves that she didn’t learn a thing in either.

    -Mike

    p.s. As for what I would have said had your poetry not gotten in the way…

    If you are committed to being against all things colonial and you profess your deepest empathies with Hezbollah, how, then, do calls for Israel’s destruction really pain you? After all, all of Israel is, in essence, a UN/Western-created colonial entity, right? So, if you are to follow your ideals and your affections to their consistent end, then how can you possibly accept the legitimacy of Israel’s statehood?

    I’m just as much for ending the occupation as you are. But my reasons are not only for the hope of peace, but also for the calling of bluffs. That is, is the “resistance” really about Israel’s occupations or Israel’s existence? While one may argue that there were complex motivations for the Gaza kidnapping, Israel may now call a spade a spade regarding Hezbollah. So as you cheer on their efforts by telling them to “be the change [they] want to see in this world,” you should at least be aware of exactly what change your benediction encourages.

    -Mike

  13. DK

    7/23/2006 at 6:20 pm

    Michael,

    You are brilliant. I really hope you go back to school very soon and get an inter-disciplinary phd and do something awesome with your life. There is no need for you to be a pawn in the Zionist propaganda or war machine. Leave that to suburban-egalitarian anonymous guy. If you must serve the Zionists, do so as a big fat general with sufficient alphabet soup. Anything less is wasting your time and your role in life. Put down the gun and the spliff, and get to it.

    Sincerely,

    Your Elder

  14. R

    7/23/2006 at 7:48 pm

    Cecilia, stick to essays. Through your terrible poetry I realized who you were. A poseur. I did not realize that Hizbollah was the new Che.

  15. R

    7/23/2006 at 8:17 pm

    I like your handle sheikh Nazi! Very original. You are not very convincing as a Lebanese. They just don’t talk like that. They have more charm than the average White Power trash dude.

  16. Avigail

    7/24/2006 at 7:25 am

    Michael, I don’t know you but I love your poem!

  17. Tom Morrissey

    7/24/2006 at 9:13 am

    Middle, you may believe the withdrawal from Lebanon was a mistake, but you and Koppel both should consider the alternatives. Koppel’s piece fails to consider the alternatives to democracy: rarely than in the case of the Middle East has Churchill’s adage been more apposite– democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others.

    Consider Iran. Look what decades of US support for the Shah, and periodic CIA interventions, got us. Shall be continue to prop up Mubarak and the House of Saud and hope for the best?

    Hamas has been voted in; Hamas will be voted out. This is the way forward.

  18. Tom Morrissey

    7/24/2006 at 9:34 am

    . . . And don’t give up on Lebanese democracy. Watch the non-H politicians in Beirut cooperate with Olmert’s proposal for foreign peacekeepers.

    Then, there’s duly-elected President Abbas, who the Israelis, if they have any sense, are cultivating like crazy right now.

    That’s democracy: for every Hugo Chavez, there’s a Felipe Calderon. Go to your room, Middle, and bring John Locke and the Federalist Papers with you.

  19. Jewish Mother

    7/24/2006 at 10:32 am

    I cannot get through all these long posts. Gee wilikers, where is the editor’s pencil? Michael rocks, however.

  20. Leila

    7/24/2006 at 10:37 am

    I too once wished for an open border with lots of visitors. Not so long ago I had a fantasy of inviting my Israeli and American Jewish friends (and relatives – my husband is half-Jewish) to my home village east of Sidon for a peace party. One day, I thought.

    I am 44 years old this week and I don’t believe I will see that day in my lifetime. The borders may open but no one in Lebanon will want to host Israelis for a party, not for a very long time.

    You understand, do you, that Israel has lost whatever sympathy or tolerance or friendliness she ever had inside Lebanon? I am a Lebanese-American of Christian background, from the South. How can I say – oh well, they had to kill all those people and destroy the infrastructure of the country and displace hundreds of thousands and starve them and break the water delivery system – they had to cause that damage, and wound the economy for years to come…It was necessary to destroy Lebanon in order to save it.

    NO, there is no rationale or justification anyone can make that can justify this murder and destruction. Sorry. And I’m not a Jew-hater. I go to temple with my husband on Yom Kippur, I go to Jewish funerals in his family and cry when they sing the Kaddish. Someone from the Arab side called me a Zionist appeaser last year because I flew a kite for peace on the beach.

    And you have lost me. You have totally lost me.
    I make a distinction between governments, military, and the people. I know that the people are not monolithic, there are many diverging viewpoints; I’ve received kind messages from Jerusalem and from concerned Jewish friends and relatives.

    So I would never support punishing Jews or all Israel for what is being done to my father’s country, yet again. I don’t want to become the evil that I deplore.

    But open border and train trips and parties?
    It will take another generation. My children maybe. They are learning that people make bad choices and use guns to solve their problems, when they need to use words. They will not hear from me that one side or the other is evil. I hope that this is the last war and they won’t have to see a new war on their televisions when they are old enough to watch. because watching this war has broken my heart.

  21. Steves Rick

    7/24/2006 at 12:27 pm

    Leila, what did you want Israel to do with these Hizbollah monsters that your country allowed to grow in their land?

    The whole thing is painful to watch, and we don’t know if there will be any good that will bear fruit.

    But the situation as it was, that was OK with you?

  22. Tom Morrissey

    7/24/2006 at 1:35 pm

    Leila, what’s wrong with you? Get an AK-47 and start shooting up those Hizbollah fighters NOW!

  23. Leila

    7/24/2006 at 1:47 pm

    Yeah, those Hizbullah monsters needed to be exterminated by any means necessary, even if it means civil war. The national dialogue process was just too much talk, talk talk. You have to show those monsters some real muscle. They’re not quite human, they only understand force, etc. etc.

    The Lebanese are just wusses because they didn’t want to start another civil war. They thought they could find a way to negotiate. They thought that once they got Syria out and got some time to breathe as a country, they could demilitarize Hizbullah. THey thought it was better to go slowly than to wreck the country again. Because most Lebanese, non-Hizbullah ones, oddly think that saving lives and saving the country is more important than exterminating Hizbullah.

    However the problem is these airstrikes will only cripple the whole country, tehy won’t wipe out Hizbullah, because how do you wipe out the party without wiping out 1/3 of Lebanon’s population whcih supports it? So if you are really serious about exterminating vermin, please line up the boxcars, the crematoria, and the work camps because it is a complicated business wiping out a whole population. You need planning, technology and good organization to do it. Good luck, I am sure you can organize it, Steves Rick and your friends, you just have to have the courage and the commitment and the determination to succeed. It has been done before, although never with complete success. Vermin always escape, to rise again.

    (You realize that in these times irony is the last weapon of an Arab peacenik)

  24. Tom Morrissey

    7/24/2006 at 1:57 pm

    Leila, at least you got the Pope praying for you all. (Are you a Maronite Christian?)

    Best of luck. But watch the irony, ok? Holocaust humor perhaps not such a good idea at this, uh, sensitive time.

  25. Leila

    7/24/2006 at 2:35 pm

    You know, my sarcasm upthread is too much for me to live with. I think that people who want to wipe out Hizbullah are misguided and I think it’s puzzling that people whose grandparents’ generation were nearly exterminated by the Nazis would use the language I’m seeing around here, but I myself used that language in trying to expose its insanity, and I’m not comfortable with that. I guess I can’t really be a true satirist. Words matter.

    I would like to ask the blog owner to strike my comment of 1:47 pm

    I felt this as soon as I wrote it.

    But remember, when voices start demanding the expulsion or extermination of the people of South Lebanon, what other association can a person make? I have been telling Arabs to cool it wiht the genocide talk for years, I have never before been able to tolerate it. But really, take the logic of “wipe out Hizbullah” to its natural conclusion and what do you get?

    No, I’m not a Maronite Christian, my father’s family are Melkites so we are also associated with the Pope. I was baptized a Protestant and raised secular. My husband is a Jew. For what it’s worth.

  26. Leila

    7/24/2006 at 2:42 pm

    Tom Morrisey – I posted my retraction before I read your comment, but agreed on the irony. I got up from posting it to tend to my children and was just uncomfortable with those words resonating in my head – my words.

    I do not want to become the evil that I deplore. WHoever is the blog owner if you care to, please delete. If not, then let it be known that I retract the statement, made in the heat of war and its suffering.

    My own hot-heated responses help me have compassion for those on the other side saying terrible things. We’re all just human beings here with our flaws, some of them unbelievably sick ones.

  27. themiddle

    7/24/2006 at 3:57 pm

    As we see, this is an illegal state; it is a cancerous entity and the root of all the crises and wars and cannot be a factor in bringing about a true and just peace in this region. Therefore, we cannot acknowledge the existence of a state called Israel, not even far in the future, as some people have tried to suggest.

    Nasrallah in 2000

  28. themiddle

    7/24/2006 at 4:47 pm

    Cecilia, you write:

    I do not believe there is “inherent evil” in Israel, not in its government, not in the IDF, and most certainly not in Israeli civilians. Nor do I believe there is inherent evil in Hizbullah or in Hamas. But evil has a way of growing, even if that was not the intent of seeds that were planted. One of the most powerful lessons for me in anti-racist work has been that you do not need racist intentions to have racism when it is built into the system. I think the same is true for imperialism and colonialism and exploitation.

    These do not apply to Israel. If it were colonialist or imperialist, wouldn\’t it have retained Sinai, made more aggressive moves about controlling Lebanon and have taken over Jordan which is part of the biblical Land of Israel as well as the true \”historic Palestine?\”

    As for exploitation, Palestinian standards of living inside areas controlled by Israel since 1967 were, until 2002, higher than in most Arab countries. You had started by equating Israel and Hizbullah and Hamas with their evil growing without intent but all of a sudden you shifted to things of which Israel is accused by many on the Left.

    There is a system that has been set up. And we can look long and hard at how it got there, what actions people took, what intentions they did or did not have, but regardless of the answers we come up with, the fact remains that the system is there.

    Okay, we agree that a situation exists and that there are systems in Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Israel and under PA rule.

    Calls for the destruction of Israel pain me. Deeply. Calls for the destruction of Israeli colonialism, however, can not be loud enough. There is a range of opinions within Hizbullah just as there is within any group of people. Not all of them are calling for the destruction of Israel, but all of them are calling for the destruction of Israeli colonialism.

    I haven\’t seen this difference of opinion. If you would point me to senior Hizbullah members who differ with Nasrallah, I might be able to learn about these differences. From my POV it looks like a monolithic \”destroy Israel\” movement.

    I also have to ask what you mean by colonialism. Do you mean inside 1967 lines or just outside of them?

    It has been hard for me to finally stand up and say I support this group which for as long as I can remember has only been described to me as pure evil. But I’ve learned to grow suspicious when people talk about pure evil. It rarely exists. There are also extremists within Hizbullah who think Israel is pure evil. This is just as scary.

    Again, can you point to sources in Hizbullah that differ? Sources that you would say differ from the \”extremists?\”

    But before I slip back into the trap of creating too much symmetry where it does not exist, we need to remember the larger systems in play. We need to remember that Hizbullah was born out of violence and colonialism.

    You mean Syria\’s colonial adventure in Lebanon which lasted much longer than Israel\’s, right? You\’re speaking of the violence of the civil war that preceded Israel\’s entry into Lebanon in 1982 that managed to cause tens of thousands of deaths, right?

    It\’s as if you\’re ignoring the Islamist nature of Hizbullah, which was founded by people who departed Amal.

    And, yes, we can go back to many different points in history and the story will change with each new beginning. But that does not change the reality with which we are living today. It does not change the colonial and exploitative power relationships that are currently in play.

    Israel was entirely out of Lebanon. Entirely. Even the UN sanctioned that they had left every last inch of Lebanon. If you are speaking about Gaza and the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, what business is this of Hizbullah\’s if you are right and it was born of \”the violence and occupation\” presumably of Lebanon?

    No, Israel should not show further weakness by not responding again. Israel should respond, but if it really seeks to avoid war, its response needs to be completely different. It needs to take seriously the question of why there are people that want to destroy it. It needs to take many actions that go much, much further than the nature of the recent Gaza withdrawal, it needs to commit to decolonization.

    Let\’s accept your term \”colonisation\” for a moment and assume that you refer solely to areas outside Israel 1967 lines – the Green Line. Wouldn\’t you agree that what Israel offered at Camp David II and then at Taba qualify as taking seriously the reasons for people seeking its destruction? The Palestinians believed these were a touching off point for a war, not further negotiations. Hizbullah was suddenly watching Israel vacate Lebanon unilaterally at the same time that it approached the Palestinians with serious offers. What more did you expect Israel to do?

    Let\’s say you just answered, \”leave colonised lands\” and let\’s assume we continue to refer to Gaza as \”colonised,\” didn\’t Israel meet this claim as well? Didn\’t its current government get elected on a platform of leaving 90% of the West Bank? 100% and 90% sounds good to me, how about you? It may not be perfect, but surely it leaves room for talks. Surely it addresses at least an initial point of \”decolonisation.\”

    This, I believe, is the only approach that will destroy the capacity of Israel’s enemies and that will ensure its long-term survival as well as the long-term survival of its neighbors. Just ignoring or not “overreacting” to Hizbullah or Hamas provocations is not enough. Israel needs to be proactive. But in a way quite different than how it has been interpreting that term. No, walking away from a confrontation is not a ready option. Dismantling the reasons for that confrontation is.

    If you mean dismantling Israel as a Jewish state, then this is unacceptable. The Jewish nation has the same right to self-determination as any other nation. If you mean dismantling something else, Israel did so or has proposed doing so. If you are referring to a supposed historic injustice that took place in 1948 to the Palestinians, I might remind you that I am victim to two historic injustices, one from an Arab country and one from Europe. The Arab country\’s historic injustice is not even being discussed because Israel offered my family a refuge and took us in. As a result, and since I don\’t have UNWRA to help me define myself as a refugee, I am not a refugee. Perhaps if the PLO had not come into Lebanon and taken over the South and acted with great violence both inside Lebanon and toward Israel and perhaps if lebanon would have patriated its Palestinian refugees after decades of not doing so…oh wait, that changes the entire narrative of your point.

    Cecilia, you support Hizbullah. You chide Amos Oz for not seeing that he once called Israel\’s presence in Lebanon something inherently evil and yet you support Hizbullah. This is Hizbullah.

  29. Steves Rick

    7/24/2006 at 8:15 pm

    Leila, very simply, Israel is saying, enough. Yes there are tragedies happening on both sides.

    I’m still not understanding what you want Israel to do?

    They are going to reduce the Huzzies numbers and influence.

    Then it will be up to the Lebanese to enforce.

    You have a defeatist and pessimistic attitude imo.

    You feel that the ideal will never happen. Maybe not, but you have to try. There is no other option.

    Talking was tried, giving significant land away was tried, (in the process, btw, creating Jewish refugees).

    This was likely appreciated by some, but not by this strain of Shiite Islam. You know it.

    You just don’t want to fight it, bec. you are afraid or you think they cannot be defeated.

    Israel is sounding the charge to the West and the rest of civilized humanity. Let’s take back the world.

  30. Tom Morrissey

    7/25/2006 at 9:56 am

    Leila’s comments are worth pondering. This war seems to have two (albeit related) dimensions: a war versus H, one provoked by H; and a war on the Lebanese state.

    As to the latter: even according to US estimates, well in excess of 80% of Lebanese roads and bridges have been hit by the IAF. Meanwhile, the evidence we all have on our television screens suggests Israeli bombing of Lebanon for its own sake, for its in terroram effect on Lebanese civilians.

    Perhaps it’s intended to turn non-H Lebanese against H. I suspect, though, that the strategy is simpler: a raw demonstration of the power of the Israeli state and the futility of resistance to it, by anyone.

    Such a strategy requires the death of civilians: abject, shameful death, in light of Lebanon’s inability to exercise sovereignty on its own territory.

    One may as well admit the strategy demands civilian deaths, and weigh the moral merits of Israel’s conduct accordingly. One might still support the operation as currently implemented (as I do), while still observing the continued truth of Saint-Just’s remark, in approving the execution of the king, that no one can rule guiltlessly.

  31. themiddle

    7/25/2006 at 10:56 am

    Tom, it’s not exactly a war on Lebanon and it’s not a simple display of power, although that is going to be part of Israel’s strategy (no less than being the wily fox who mocks the lumbering giant is Nasrallah’s).

    The transportation system was attacked to hamper transportation option for movement of fighters and particularly armaments and other assets. The Shiite district of Beirut was targeted because it housed Hizbullah among the civilian population. And as in other places, leaflets were sent and radio broadcasts were broadcast as advance warning.

    If you will read this article, you will get a clearer sense that the Israelis were targeting specific areas only. I would guess that certain section of Beirut have not been hit at all or were hit once or twice as in the case of those construction trucks in the Christian section because their rear sections looked like rocket launchers.

    I’m not trying to justify any civilian deaths, but I do think Israel was trying to keep its war as Hizbullah oriented as they could.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/25/world/middleeast/25beirut.html?hp&ex=1153886400&en=be1c981b68a49147&ei=5094&partner=homepage

  32. Tom Morrissey

    7/25/2006 at 2:29 pm

    I agree your last sentence is probably right, Middle. But Olmert declared war on Lebanon, did he not? By design, this war involves far more than simply keeping H rocket launchers at some remove from the Israeli border. A message is being sent to non-H Lebanon– and, by extension, to Syria and Teheran.

    I think the Israelis want to show that they would not shrink from wiping Damascus off the face of the earth. The poor Lebanese can testify to Israel’s bona fides in this regard.

  33. themiddle

    7/25/2006 at 3:16 pm

    I’m not sure yet if “sending a message” is anything more than a by-product of this war. I think Israel truly perceives Hizbullah and their arsenal as a threat and, in combination with the pressure coming from Gaza and the brazen attack on its forces, perceived it had better eliminate or weaken the threat substantially.

    If their focus is on S. Lebanon and S. Beirut, it seems to me any fighting and any resulting message are directed at Hizbullah and its supporters.

    Also, the notion of avoiding ground troops’ penetration of Lebanon has driven certain decisions, just as the extensive use of civilian buildings by Hizbullah has dictated targets.

    Ultimately, I think it’s too early to know whether the early part of this campaign was a mistake on Israel’s part, or part of a wise strategy. It certainly has been a bad move in terms of media coverage and losing much of the sympathy and support it would have received from the international community for a more limited range of strikes. This is the bane of fighting non-governmental armies, particularly those that cynically use civilians as cover. How do you hit them in a way that enables you to maintain a moral high ground and also win decisively? It is not for nothing that Hizbullah has refused to claim any casualties in the first days of the war, although they must have had some.

  34. Pete (Alois)

    7/25/2006 at 7:18 pm

    They’re covering the lovely poem to Hezbollah (rendered above) over at LGF.

  35. themiddle

    7/25/2006 at 8:23 pm

    Pete, you didn’t mention Jewlicious. 😉

  36. Jack

    7/28/2006 at 2:23 am

    Nor do I believe there is inherent evil in Hizbullah or in Hamas.

    Cecilia,

    You are acting like an ignorant tool, a moron lost in academic longings who misses the real world picture.

    Don’t give me bullshit about their being diverse opinions in those two terror groups. They send rockets in the air without a care for who they murder.

    They blow themselves up on schoolbuses, in supermarkets and in all sorts of public places.

    They intentionally hide in public with the desire of causing massive casualties because they do not care who dies as long as it serves their purpose.

    Israel is not perfect, but believe you me they could just carpet bomb large sections of land, drop daisy cutters on funerals and in that way save many Israeli lives. They do not.

    I’ll buy your brand of BS when I see Hamas and Hezbollah drop their weapons and take a Ghandi like approach.

    In the meantime watch this video and try telling us again about the diversity of opinion. Shame on you.

  37. themiddle

    7/28/2006 at 2:34 am

    Uh, Jack, that video is horrendous. On many levels.

  38. Jack

    7/28/2006 at 10:07 pm

    TM,

    That video is absolutely horrific and should never be viewed in any other terms. It makes me sick. I have no doubt that there are many many many good Arabs.

    I won’t besmirch everyone because of some radicals, but at the same time I don’t play games with the truth and that is there is a strain of radical Islam that is happy to slaughter us.

    It is ignorant and foolish to claim otherwise. It is an ideological war that has little to do with who did what to who and more with interpretation of religious text.

    I haven’t any time to deal with the ignorance of people who willfully ignore this. I went to the same schools as Daniel Pearl, grew up in the same area and haven’t forgotten what they did to him.

    As I said, when the terrorists choose to use nonviolent means of protest it will be a whole new story.

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