Monday, August 14, 2006

Wading into the Middle East

Normally I avoid online discussions of issues relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict, since there's very little hope of productive discussion. But when I saw someone whose intelligence I respect utter complete nonsense, I had to reply in the comments.
I’m pretty sure that it is the first time in more than 1000 years that a non-governmental group of non-Jews has attacked a group of Jews and suffered in any way.
No matter what side you favor in this struggle (pro-Israel, pro-Arab, or pro-peace) this is just silly. Israel has been retaliating against Palestinian Arab groups since before it even existed. Remember last year's film Munich? Remember the last invasion of Lebanon? Remember Gaza, just a month ago?
In Israel's first military operation in Gaza since disengagement, being called Operation Summer Rain, thousands of troops, backed by warplanes and tanks, moved into the coastal strip overnight Tuesday. The army knocked out nearly 75 percent of Gaza's electricity supply, destroyed major highways and water supplies, and struck fields in northern and southern Gaza in a show of force meant to intimidate Palestinian militants. Artillery units also opened fire near Gaza City....

Israel's goal in Gaza is to make Palestinians uncomfortable enough to think twice about committing more kidnappings, or in the language floating around the camp here, to teach them a lesson.

How well did that work? So well that Hizbullah kidnapped more soldiers immediately afterwards.

The point is, retaliatory violence by Jews is hardly a fresh concept and it's ridiculous to base an analysis of the Lebanon situation around pretending it is. The larger point is that this particular act of retaliation, justified or not, has been a complete disaster for Israel -- they have failed to root out Hizbullah, whose stature has been raised immeasurably. The war destroyed any hope of a more liberal peaceful regime emerging in Lebanon. Israel's basically been fought to a standoff by a non-state actor -- that's a defeat in any reasonable definition of the term. I don't pretend to know what Israel should have done about the presence of Hizbullah on its Northern border -- but I'm pretty sure that what they did do has been a disaster. Americans relishing some fantasy image of the region based on completely false assumptions will not help matters.

My comment (which was not particularly rude, I thought) seems to have been rejected by the moderator, which is the only reason I'm bothering to post here. Interpreting censorship as damage and routing around it, etc. Maybe it will show up in a trackback.

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