Israel-Hezbollah War

A view of the July-August 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war from an Israeli living in Haifa (under Katyusha rocket attack)- send personal comments to david2@lisbona.com

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Friday, August 04, 2006

A wake-up call

There's an article by Ari Shavit in the supplement of today's (4 August) edition of Ha'aretz www.haaretz.com (I'll try to find the exact link) that's well worth reading. It's titled "Systematic Failure" and it deals with the many failures and questions in Israeli society that have lead to Israel's middling achievements in the current war against the Hezbollah. The result of this war will either be a stalemate between Israel and Hezbollah or a small advantage for Israel. It is far from the resounding victory that Israel's oveconfident military thought it could achieve. Prime Minister Olmert's declarations about "unprecedented achievements" - see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/746308.html - are just spin.

In a democracy (and Israel is a very vital democracy) spin works only in the short term. There is a very lively (and sometimes acrimonious) debate going on in Israel at the moment about whether it is legitimate to criticise the military or the government while the fighting continues and soldiers and civilians are getting killed. The patriots say it is demoralising and that we all (including the mainstream media) should all be supporting the government, at least until the war is over. The "democrats", the liberal, and the critical and the media claim the inviolable right of free speeach at all times. I doubt whether there is a "right" answer for this - I have been very hesitant about giving vent in this blog (at this stage) to the many criticisms I have. But, as the war progresses, the media, which initially was very gung-ho and unconditionally supportive of the government is increasingly realistic and critical. Jewish-Israeli society is very self-critical (some would say masochistically so) and the Israeli media is often hyperbolic in its criticisms.

There are probably only 3 good things that will come out of this war:
1) the Israeli public has become cruelly aware of the threat from Hezbollah (and indirectly Syria and Iran)
2) Hezbollah military capabilities have been significantly damaged
3) Many questions are emerging about Israel's values, leadership and direction. This is the main point of Ari Shavit's article. In a democracy there is an opportunity (I believe it is a neccessity) to air, discuss and resolve these questions. The aftermath of this war in Israel may be much more tumultous than the war itself. This war is one hell of a painful and expensive wake-up call. Let's make sure we hear it loud and clear, and not just press the snooze button.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog on a websearch yesterday and I think it's very intriguing.

Although I'm American and I'm not Jewish, I have always been supportive of Israel's efforts... not from a political or religious standpoint, but because of my admiration for Israel's relative solidarity, and refusal to be pushed around and bullied.

And although I feel that Israel struck too quickly, I think UN cease-fire talks are too hypocritical, especially when it's their own resolution to disarm Hezbollah. The UN has yet another failed resolution.

This is a war on terror, and for anyone to ask Israel to stop fighting terrorists is like asking the USA to stop fighting al-Qaeda.

Keep fighting, as I pray for all of you, as well as the non-terrorist (and non-hezbollah sympathizer) Lebanese civilians.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Voyager said...

I think the real issue is how Iran 1000 air miles from Israel created an Iranian Foreign Legion in neighbouring Lebanon capable of putting Israel under rocket attack to buy time for Iran to get nuclear warheads for those same missiles.

That Jacques Chirac threatened nuclear retaliation against any state sponsoring terrorist groups which attack France.

The world allowed the Dutch at Urenco to proliferate centrifuge technology to A Q Khan who sold it to Pakistan, North Korea, Libya, Iran.............and China proliferated rocket technology

It seems almost inevitable that a nuclear war will be fought - Iran seems to have chosen this method of self-immolation

Perhaps the iPod generation should wake up to the Iranian Problem. It was Germany Pre-Hitler that considered the Existence of Poland illegitimate and conspired after 1919 with Russia to destroy it - just as Iran now proclaims Israel illegitimate.

All those "brave warriors" armed with words fought the Hitlerite menace with vigour 40, 50, or even 60 years after the event - presented with similar words they run for new-flavoured language of appeasement to avoid the reality but cannot quite escape the ultimate conclusion of Iranian recklessness

9:23 AM  
Blogger olufela said...

As a democracy, if you do not question your government at this time, Israel could end up with an Iraq style quagmire. If Olmert had the solution to the Hezbollah 'problem' why did he not say so during the 18 year occupation of southern Lebanon?

I live in England and we faced a terrorist threat for decades from the IRA. Rather than bomb Dublin and the Catholic areas of Ireland, the British government put boots on the ground and took the inevitable casualties.

Air power is a blunt tool that hurts more civilians than terrorists. If Israels intention is to punish the Shia population of Lebanon, fair enough.Just be honest about it. It can be argued they had it coming for supporting Hezbollah.

If collective punishment is not the aim of the air strikes, then the emphasis needs to be switched to a ground campaign with the IAF only providing close air support and taking out rocket launch sites.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in Beirut and I have read your blog, and I appreciate that you are trying to be fair and honest about the current conflict between Hizbullah and Israel. I understand if your view is slightly biased, because things look very different on your side of the border. But there's one thing I think we all have in common. Most of us (Lebanese and Israelis) just want this war to be over, so that we can resume our normal, peaceful lives.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

I live in England and we faced a terrorist threat for decades from the IRA. Rather than bomb Dublin and the Catholic areas of Ireland, the British government put boots on the ground and took the inevitable casualties.

The IRA thoughtfully gave telephoned warnings of bombings, never used suicide bombers, and faced the Majority Population whose UDF and Red Hand Commando would have expunged the IRA had the Army turned a blind eye.

The British commentators are getting somewhat trite. The IRA never killed indiscriminately, never fired MLRS nor were they sponsored and trained by a major country - simply by the PLO.

If you want to see how the British really deal with terrorists look at Mau Mau in Kenya or the Communist insurgency in Malaya, or how the British dealt with The Mahdi at Omdurman

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in England and we faced a terrorist threat for decades from the IRA. Rather than bomb Dublin and the Catholic areas of Ireland, the British government put boots on the ground and took the inevitable casualties.

These tactics seem to be somewhat useless in Basra where Iranian agents and IEDs are killing British soldiers very effectively.........what Britain really needs is to draft all 18 year olds for combat readiness so these theories can be tested - then Britain could supply 10.000 soldiers for a "peacekeeping force"

8:13 PM  
Blogger N.MURALI said...

As an observer with no real love for either side, I can only say this war was unnecessary and has put Israel 25 years back in development while not really changing the fortumes of Hezbollah( they had nothing to lose!). This war will result in increased militancy in the middle East, serious alignment of countries along sectarian lines, major Arms race including rush to nuclear weapons by Iran and a squeeze on the oil dependent west's economy by rising oil prices. The world opinion has uniformly hardened against Israel. Hezbollah will emerge as the new force to be respected and reckoned with. Israel , like the USA is fighting a war with weapons in a world where wars today are fought in the arena of commerce and trade. This is a war of attrition.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous vinoveritas said...

Food for thought.....
I come from Philadelphia. If you walk into a Jewish neighborhood and throw a stone and break a window the owner comes out with a baseball bat and works you over. You end up in the hospital. The police would say you should have known that before you walked in a Jewish neighborhood. The public would say that the owner was an American defending his home. The press would say a brave homeowner defended his property. This is something you have to respect. The right to bear arms in the US is a hot issue here in Europe. The shock when someone breaks into your house in America is very deep. Most people can not live in that house after the crime.This is something you have to respect. In Europe the people have the same feelings, however the laws says that we have to rehabilitate the thief and understand how he suffered during his childhood. The homeowner is guilty because they had a home.

It is interesting to look at the situation in Israel and Lebanon. A gang breaks in the house Israel, kills several people and kidnaps several others. The reason for the attack was the home owner in house Israel was not very nice. The home owner grabs his baseball bat and goes out on to the street and beatsup one of the gang and puts him in the hospital. The homeowner demands justice. The rest of the gang decides to throw more stones. The homeowner exercises his birth rights and goes out and buys a shotgun. He kills one of the attackers. Once again if this happend in the USA or Canada or Europe then we are talking about a man who defended his home.

The press reaction in Europe is different than I expected.

France sees big business there and wants to manover itself in line for contracts. Russia also wants a piece of the cake as well as Germany.

Take the case of NTV in Germany. NTV complaints about the baseball bat. NTV says that Israel was attacked but the reaction was hard. NTV shows more pictures of the crying mothers in Lebanon and a few pictures of the crying mothers in Israel. Afterwards there is a list of care organizations were the general public can send money to help the people in Lebanon. This big business! This is between 5 to 10 million Euros per day. For the insiders they know that 800 thousand of every million will never leave Germany. The food and blankets you can get for free. The shipping costs are also reduced. The profit is big! Get me more pictures of the wounded and suffering people in south Lebanon and I will make you millions. What value is a picture of an Israel mother and child wearing a clean t-shirt, scared to death in a bunker.

ARD and ZDF in Germany. 60 people die in a house in Lebanon and 30 rockets fall on Israel. Great material is coming out of Lebanon. A few people die in Israel and a few apartments have a bigger windows than before. I can not make money with the pictures and stories which are coming out of Israel. The smell of fear can not be transported over the internet.

Take the case of CNN. Finola and her partner ask the Israel speakers why are they doing the bombing. These reports seem to be crying the propaganda of Hezbollah. What do they ask Hezbolah? Nothing because they are not there. Pictures of destroyed homes and injured children sell more charity donation programs than an Israel mother and child sitting in a clean bunker.

This is the same as the situation of the raped woman. Some people say she got raped because she had to much makeup on or her skirt was to short. In the US you get 15 years to life for such a crime. Here in Germany you get three years. You also get vacation from prison. This gives you a chance to rape another woman. In Belgium it takes 5 years to sentence you to jail.

Take the case of Hezbolah. The billions are programmed to come into the area. The Arab countries, The German banks and French construction companies are waiting to come in and rebuld. The insurance companies have been collecting fantastic sums since the last destruction. Who rebuilds the 6000 homes in Israel?

Who are the losers? The young Israel soldat The civilians in Israel, women and children and the old people there.

For years we have been looking at the following scenario. The family of ten has 20 anti tank rounds in the kitchen. The father has a 30 cal. Machine gun under the baby bed. 5 year old Ali is preparing to kill for his mother who is proud that he will die. His brother is beating his back with chains and begging to die for the cause. Attitudes change when Europeans see rockets coming out of a 6 family house. The problem is that the press generates back to the poor and pr effective pictures and forgets who started this crisis.

Another aspect that one has to look at. The Charities see this conflict as a chance to make money. For each Euro collected 80 cents stays in Germany. Photos of damaged homes and killed children in Lebanon bring more money than Israel women and children with dust on their body or people dying in a clean hospital. After every report in Germany the christian charities avertise their bank accounts.

Hezbollah is also a winner. They get to manage the funding out of the rich oil states. If someone gets a bag of beans then he can phrase the leadership of Hezbollah and the victory over Israel.

Where is the justice?

12:40 PM  

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