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What Israel is doing is wrong

For a short while last week, before I understood the scope of the Israeli attacks, I supported them. The attack on and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers was an act of war by Hezbollah, an organization (or elements of it) that had no business sticking out the rest of Lebanon’s neck for it. Despite hopeful signs in Lebanon, this was also but the latest in a string of serious provocations by Hezbollah since the “Cedar Revolution” [1] that only failed to be lethal by good luck, Israeli resistance, and/or poor execution.

So I felt that striking back at Hezbollah military targets — their rockets, headquarters, and so forth — was legitimate, and I even thought wrecking Beirut Airport runways and some bridges in South Lebanon was not an outrageous way of both slowing the kidnappers and of getting the rest of Lebanon’s undivided attention, so long as civilians were not injured.

But it’s clear to me now that Israeli government does not care enough about minimizing collateral damage, probably never was merely aiming to slow kidnappers, and is waging a wholly disproportionate war on Lebanon as a whole. From the Irish Times [2], via Juan Cole [3] (“Informed Comment”):

The civilian toll continued to mount in Lebanon yesterday as Israeli planes struck dozens of targets. Nine civilians, including two children, were killed when they were hit by a missile that struck a bridge in the southern port city of Sidon. In the southern city of Tyre , rescue workers pulled nine more bodies from the civil defence building that was hit on Sunday in an Israeli strike.

Close to 200 civilians have been killed in Lebanon since the Israeli offensive began last week, when Hizbullah attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two. Five more soldiers were killed when they gave chase into Lebanon .

I understand and support Israel’s efforts not to be subjected to missile barrages or border raids, but what they’re doing is grossly excessive collective punishment. Ehud Olmert is writing a shameful chapter in Israel’s history.

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10 Comments To "What Israel is doing is wrong"

#1 Comment By anonymousgf On July 18, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

I completely agree. The Israeli response has been disproportionate.
I also believe that Israel has the right to continue its existence and the right to defend itself against civilian-killing terrorists.
But their lack of concern for the civilians they are killing is shameful.

#2 Comment By Nell On July 19, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

On CNN I heard an announcer say, “Attacks by Hezbollah and Israel together have killed more than 200 civilians.”
I thought to myself, “Scotty Bowman and I have won eight Stanley Cups between us.”

#3 Comment By Thomas Nephew On July 19, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

You’re right, that’s exceptionally slippery and dishonest of CNN. To correct the faulty impression that report leaves: Israel’s death toll is currently [4].

#4 Comment By David Fleck On July 20, 2006 @ 2:46 am

So, what would be a response that is both “proportionate” and effective, i.e., significantly reducing the probability of missle attack from Lebanon?
I ask because I suspect the two things are mutually exclusive.

#5 Comment By Thomas Nephew On July 20, 2006 @ 3:29 am

Hi David, long time no see. I’d say attacks focused on Hezbollah’s South Lebanon missiles and known military installations, and maybe its HQ in Beirut, would be proportionate and effective. Conversely, how does killing 200 civilians in half a week or bombing the length and breadth of Lebanon reduce the probability of missile attack from South Lebanon? That doesn’t seem proportionate or concerned with collateral damage to me.
EDIT, + ~10min: had been “South Lebanon’s Hezbollah…”

#6 Comment By Tiredofitall On July 23, 2006 @ 6:33 pm

On May 14, 1948, modern day Israel was born. Within days, its Arab neighbors attacked the Jewish state, and Israel has technically been at war ever since. There has been no peace for Israel or the Palestinian pawns that have languished for decades because Islam refused to accept that Israel has a right to exist.
The heads of several Arab countries have infuriated Islamic leaders by recognizing Israel as a legal state. These leaders saw the futility of the constant fighting and killing that often spilled over into their own countries. But even political leaders fear the Islamic powers within their own borders and have not stopped the massive transfer of weapons, money, and even men to the Palestinian leaders to carry on the fight.
King Abdullah of Jordan and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt have been condemned by Islamic leaders across the Arab world for accepting Israel. Islamic leaders in both Jordan and Egypt have declared that Israel must be destroyed. America and England must also be destroyed for supporting the Jewish state. Hamas followers often take to the streets chanting, Â?Death to America.Â?
This is not a fight between Arab and Jew. The free world must understand this is a war between Islam and Judaism and Islam and Western culture. Some people may find this to be a fine distinction, but it is an important one.
FOX News reported that Palestinian refugees blew a hole in the wall erected by Israel to stop the transfer of weapons into Israel from Egypt. Palestinian refugees, some eager to join in the fight, continue to pour through that opening and Egyptian border guards are making no attempt to stop them. Mubarak dares not stop them. If he does, the wrath of the Islamic leaders will be unleashed upon him and he wants no part of that.
But this war is different from others that Israel has been involved in. Previously, Israel has been attacked by one Arab neighbor or another or several at one time. In each case, the Israeli military was up to the challenge. When fighting a conventional war, there is no Arab or Persian military that could beat Israel.
Hamas and Hezbollah use the tactics of cowards. Their fighters surround themselves with children and women. They hide in peopleÂ?s homes, putting civilians between Israeli soldiers and bombs and themselves. Then, when those innocent civilians are killed, Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic spokesmen wail and cry over their bodies declaring that Israel must be stopped. It is all a well planned and often repeated sham. Yet, the West seems to fall for this sham every time, ignoring the death rained down on a daily basis by the enemies of Israel.
One year ago, the world watched as Israeli soldiers dragged Israeli citizens out of their homes in the Gaza strip. The Gaza Strip was the second Â?occupied territoryÂ? being returned to the Palestinians. Southern Lebanon was the first. Later this year Israel had planned to return 90% of the West Bank. It is unlikely now that this will occur.
The reason Israel had occupied southern Lebanon was because Hezbollah used that area constantly to attack the citizens of Israel. A United Nations resolution stated that in return for Israel leaving Lebanon, Hezbollah would be disarmed. Israel kept its part of the agreement in May of 2000. Hezbollah never disarmed. The fragile government of Lebanon seems helpless to stop the rampage of the Islamic terrorist organization. This should have surprised no one. In war, Muslims do not keep agreements and consider anyone that does, a fool.
We now hear the hue and cry from the world at large, and from those who are the cause of this war, Hamas and Hezbollah, that the Israeli response is Â?disproportionate.Â? Did the Islamics not know when they crossed onto Israeli land to kidnap their soldiers that Israel was better armed and could, in effect, blast their enemy back to the stone-age if they desired to do so? Did Hezbollah not think that Israel would respond to the kidnapping of their soldiers from Israeli land?
When a war is engaged, is the goal not to win that war? Why should the Israelis have their hands tied behind their backs because a foolish group that is out-gunned on every front decided to pick a fight with them?
Did Japan or Germany keep their superior fighter planes and tanks in reserve until the United States caught up so the fight would not be Â?disproportionate?Â?
The Muslim spokespeople are out in force, talking of how the Â?innocentÂ? civilians are being massacred by the overwhelming forces of the Jewish state. They say nothing of the daily bombings, the suicide bombers, the use of the Gaza strip to launch rockets onto Israeli citizens, or the rockets and missiles being launched from Lebanon deep into Israel. Amazingly, these spokesmen continue to babble on about the return of the Â?occupied Muslim land.Â?
Also ignored is the fact that these attacks have gone on for several years. Now, Palestinians go on television and wail about how the soldiers were taken only because the evil Israelis were bombing the Gaza Strip. One must ask why Israel was bombing the Gaza Strip. In the last 11 months, since the return of the Gaza Strip, over 700 rockets have been launched into Israel. That averages two rockets a day. What other country would live under such conditions?
The world was told that if Israel just gave back the Â?occupied landsÂ? peace would come to the Middle East. That, too, was a lie. Both returned occupied territories were instantly turned into areas to attack Israel with rockets and bombs.
A few words on those Â?innocentÂ? civilians needs to be said. First, children on both sides are always innocent. But the adults must be responsible for their decisions. The Palestinians, finally free from the tyrannical Arafat, elected yet another terrorist group, Hamas, to lead them. They are now paying for that decision. It is difficult to have great pity for a people who continually make bad choices. Even now, as they lay in the dark, many in shacks, with little food and even less hope, they go to the streets to cheer on the very group that has lead them to such misery. The Palestinians cheer Hezbollah even as their Lebanese brothers and sisters pay the price.
There is only way to end this endless fighting. Hezbollah and Hamas must be destroyed. Both groups must be disarmed and defanged. The leaders must be arrested, imprisoned, or killed. Israel has the means to carry this out. The world must step back and allow Israel to break the backs of its enemy. It must be done. In the long run, more people will die if Israel is stopped, once again, from obliterating those that have sworn to drive every Jew into the sea. It may sound cruel and heartless, but neither Hamas nor Hezbollah nor Islam has any heart. Let the Israelis drive a stake in the heart of the devil that has vowed to destroy them and perhaps then, there will peace at last

#7 Comment By Thomas Nephew On July 23, 2006 @ 8:50 pm

OK, tiredofitall, my post invites a counterargument and you supply many. Maybe I’ll take up your whole comment another time, but for now, I’ll address just one point you made: When a war is engaged, is the goal not to win that war? […] Did Japan or Germany keep their superior fighter planes and tanks in reserve until the United States caught up so the fight would not be Â?disproportionate?Â?
No, of course not — though I’d hardly have chosen WWII-era Japan or Germany as the ideal point of comparison to Israel today. But the US, the UK, and Russia didn’t suddenly hold back either, once they had the upper hand. The difference to this situation is that the wars the Nazis and Japan started were naked wars of aggression, while the resistance the Allies put up was a response to something a great deal more threatening than snatching a couple of soldiers. Israel, thankfully, is not using all the force at its disposal (eg, nuclear weapons) so even they feel something holding them back from utterly unlimited war. Nothing in your arguments provides a motive for that, so I’d say take your arguments up with IDF people or supporters who are apparently somewhat more realistic and measured than yourself. If, on the other hand, you agree some self-control in a conflict like this is a good thing, then you’re on the slippery slope towards realizing Israel isn’t doing enough of it.
PS: Now that you’ve reposted this comment, I’ve deleted your prior identical comment, entered under the wrong post (perfect crime vs. humanity).

#8 Comment By Tiredofitall On July 25, 2006 @ 3:23 am

Sir,
The man pirpose of the comment was that Israel has been the punching bag of the Islamic Terrorists since it’s begining. Is Israel suppose to sit by and let rockets kill it’s citizens? It is easy to say that all that was done was take a few soldiers but what about all the suicide bombers that kill innocent Isreali women, children? In 2000 Israel left Lebannon under the false pretense that Hezballoh would disband, did that happen? Israel has given and given to the Terrorists of Islam for years and years only to be in the shape they are in today. I have read that Israel is killing innocent the Lebannon people, that is true but why did their goverment allow Hezbollah operate within it’s borders? I have really enjoyed your blog and am thankful that we live in a country that allows us to disagree but still live without fear.
PS:
Excuse me for the other post, it was by error.

#9 Comment By Thomas Nephew On July 25, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

[5], Israel withdrew from South Lebanon unilaterally; there was no “pretense” that Hezbollah would disband. You’re right that suicide bombings are not foreign to Hezbollah as an (arguably) [6] tactic; they’re also accused of [7] them as terror tactics by Palestinians in the second, or Al-Aqsa, intifada. But they appear to play no role in the current dispute.
No problem about the other post; I would have left it there if you hadn’t reposted, it just would have been a bit puzzling to people. I appreciate your nice comment, and agree it’s good to be able to argue without fear about political issues.

#10 Comment By Tiredofitall On July 26, 2006 @ 1:25 am

I have to disagree with your comment that there wasn’t a pretense that Hezbollah was to disband if Irael withdrew.bIn 2000 the UN did set that in a resoulution. One of many of their usless resolutions. I find war of any kind senseless and wasteful because so much human life is lost. I was a pilot in the first Desert Storm in Iraq and I guess my bombs killed innocent people but it was a duty that I chose to under take. I hope you’ll check out my blog @http://tiredofitall-israelsright.blogspot.com/
Please feel free to comment on any of my issues.