Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Processing the Ceasefire

The New Republic's Yossi Klein Halevi sums it up adequately:
This is a nation whose heart has been broken: by our failure to uproot the jihadist threat, which will return for another and far more deadly round; by the economic devastation of the Galilee and of a neighboring land we didn't want to attack; by the heroism of our soldiers and the hesitations of our politicians; by the young men buried and crippled in a war we prevented ourselves from winning; by foreign journalists who can't tell the difference between good and evil; by European leaders who equate an army that tries to avoid civilian causalities with a terrorist group that revels in them; by a United Nations that questions Israel's right to defend itself; and by growing voices on the left who question Israel's right to exist at all.

David Mamet chalks it up to anti-semitism:

Israel wants peace, the Arabs want Israel gone (in 2000 Arafat on the eve of ending a territorial dispute which would have given him 98% of the land he desired, withdrew and went to war). Yet most of the Western Press, European and American, pictures Israel as, somehow the aggressor, and the Israelis as somehow inhuman, and delighting in blood.

There is no "cycle of violence." Israel wants peace behind the 1949 armistice borders, with some relatively minor variation. There is no indictable "disparity of force." Israeli civilians are being bombed. Hezbollah knows where the Israeli military bases are, but chooses to bomb civilians. Hezbollah murderers put their armaments exclusively in the midst of civilians. The Israeli aim is not to invade Lebanon (they left Lebanon) but to force Hezbollah to stop killing the Jews.

That the Western press characterizes the Israeli actions consistently as immoral is anti-Semitism. What state does not have the right to defend itself - it is the central tenant of statehood.

On an inspiring note, an all-Druze battalion of the Israeli army returned without a single casualty:
They hiked over 40 kilometers, killed close to 20 Hizbullah guerrillas and spent 32 days in Lebanon without a single casualty. But on Monday, soldiers from the Herev Battalion emerged from battle, sweaty, dusty and tired making history twice - as the first battalion to enter Lebanon and the one to spend the longest amount of time deep in enemy territory under Operation Change of Direction.....For Herev, the war in Lebanon was not just a war against a fierce enemy but was a war in defense of their home - not just the State of Israel, but their homes in the literal sense. All of the soldiers, without any exception, Abu Faris said, live in northern Israel and their homes came under the incessant Hizbullah Katyusha rocket attacks during the past 30 days of fighting.

Non-Jewish British journalist Julie Burchill ralis against the blatant anti-semitism prevalent in the British press and pionts out another semantic casualty that would make Bernard Henri-Levy proud:
Over at Channel 4, Jon Snow interviewed an Israeli diplomat with all the finesse and objectivity of a neo-Nazi spraying a six-foot swastika on a wall. Of the rockets which murdered Israeli civilians in the town of Sderot, he said "Rockets, pretty pathetic things - nobody gets injured." This was gleefully picked up and proclaimed by The Guardian, the newspaper I left some years ago in protest at what I saw as its vile anti-Semitism.

All across the board, Lebanese civilians are referred to as "civilians" where Israeli civilians are referred to as "Israelis" - an eerie and sinister difference pointed out by the non-Jewish stand-up comic genius Natalie Haynes, and one which very few people appear to have noticed - even me, until then.

Speaking of BHL, he continues to grow in awesomeness with this candid Q & A session in the NYTimes:

Q. 6. Do you, as an intellectual in France, feel that you are afforded more credibility in speaking out and writing in support and understanding of Israel than other Jews who seem rather too intimidated by French anti-Semitism to speak out and be visible in French society?
— Deidre Waxman, Newton, Mass.

A. I don't even understand what you are saying! For me, anti-Semitism is a form of terrorism and the very idea of letting myself be intimidated by any terrorism whatsoever completly horrifies me. Jewish or non-Jewish, intellectuals must speak out. Jewish or non-Jewish, they have a duty to truth. And, conversely, to tell them-or tell oneself-"A Jew has, because a Jew, a duty to reticence" would be to give into anti-Semitic terrorism. Not my style. I want to add that my defense of Israel is not so closely tied as you perhaps think to the fact that I am Jewish. There is an element of that, of course. But it is certainly not the essential. I defend Israel because I defend democracy. I defend Israel because I have a horror of all fascisms. I defend the Israelis in this war as in the past I have defended other peoples who have nothing to do with Judaism. Bosnia, for example. The Bosnian Muslims whom I defended, I believe, with no less ardor or passion.

Damn, he's good.

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