Passing anecdotes and thoughts on politics, history, lit, sports or whatever...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Total War

How quickly the world changes, generally for the worst. I am quite shocked by Israel's latest excessive antics, manifesting itself in hyperbolic rhetoric and disproportionate agressive actions. Hamas kidnaps an Israeli soldier in Gaza a few weeks ago; undoubtedly, this is to arrange a prisoner swap. Israel, in an attempt to seize the soldier, has bombed a power station that was owned by the USA incidentally. They have also killed over 80 Palestinians as they have run frequent bombing sorties into Gaza. Today, Palestinians blew a hole in the wall seperating Egypt from Gaza: when a resident of Gaza is that desperate to get away, you know it is bad. I don't think everyday life is entirely that pleasant in the Strip.
Actually I mispoke, the whole was blown open to let Palestinians back into Gaza...

This excesive response really references the techniques of former fascist regimes that the Jews are quite acquanted with: the Nazis. If a prisoner escaped from Sachenhausen or Auschwitz, the gendarmes would often kill 10-50 prisoners as a reprisal. This lets you know that your people are going to suffer for your actions. I am not trying to equate kidnapping a young soldier to escaping from a prison camp, rather the similarity in punishing other innocents in reprisal for the actions of unrelated individuals. This technique to dissuade will only lead to further escalations of violence. What do the Palestinians really have to lose at this point?

While watching the film Munich recently, I had a thought about the development of Israel. I have recently moved away from the usual poorly thought out left wing stance automatically condemning Israel as evil without thinking about the nuances of the conflict, or attempting to empathize with their experience and situation in the world. I recently read Amos Oz's book "A Tale of Love and Darkness." One begins to understand the real struggle that the Jews experienced in finding a safe place to exist. There were the massacres on the Pale settlements in Galicia during WW1. There were vicious massacres in the Ukraine in 1919. Moreover, the usual virulent anti-semitism that pervaded the cultural climate of fin-de-siecle Europe symbolized by the Dreyfus Affair in France. Jews were migrating to Palestine throughout the early 20th century. The Germans were more than happy they were leaving, but still felt the need to air radio broadcasts to the arabs which incited violent reprisals from Palestinians. Palestinians revolted about the growing number of Jewish refugees and many were killed by the British protecting the Jews. Following WW2, there was much rhetoric by the Palestinians about another genocide and a desire to fire up the ovens again. Well, this is just a little bit insensitive considering the events that just took place right?

1948, Israel declares independence, kicking off the conflict that will dominate the post-war world: the arabs vs. Israel. Egypt, TransJordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attack Israel and Israel triumphs at the cost of 6,000 casualties. I believe that this constant state of attack that Israel endured created a Holocaust mentality that informs domestic and foreign policy. Israel needs to come to an understanding that they aren't in survival mode anymore. They cannot strike with such force because a total of 3 people have been kidnapped. They need to show some restraint and diplomatic finesse before they start bombing airports and engaging in the belligerent operations in civillian areas. Yes Haifa was hit, the damage was minimal. After 9/11 the USA even managed to show some restraint; we didnt start carpet bombing Kabul the next morning.

Some other interesting developments:

Israel is claiming that the missles that crashed into Haifa were made in Iran. The subtext is that Israel is trying to find a reason to hit Iran. Also, they fear that Hez and Hamas are transferring their prisoners to Iran. So what if the missles were made in Iran... Does this mean that Lebanon should be able to hit the USA as Israeli missles that crashed down on their airport were American made? Can the Turkish Kurds bomb the USA as the Turks use American helicopters to annhilate their villages?

Watching CNN last night, I heard an anchor (filling in for Anderson Cooper) say that one of the real tragedies is that the people of Haifa no longer feel safe nor know what is coming. I dont know when the last time a denizen of the Gaza Strip felt safe...

Bush has declined to intervene in a cease fire and "refuses to pressure Israel to cease." He has "promised that he will urge Israel to limit damage." Uhhh when did he plan to do that, when there are done levelling Beirut? He is concerned about the stability of the Lebanon goverment. How ethical of GW.

I am not trying to deny the suffering of Israeli citizens at all; nor do i think that the government there necessarily represents their country anymore then our government represents anyone I know. Israel has a much larger capacity to inflict conventional war wounds and needs to give diplomacy a chance. I know they are trying to geographically move Hez off their northern flank, but the people that live in Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon are the ones that will pay.


At 11:15 AM, Blogger beth said...

do you think this will escalate until someone (the UN? the US?) stops Israel? I heard Congress is overwhelmingly in support of Israel's actions, so can this go on until there is no Lebanon? I don't understand why Israel isn't afraid of leveling Lebabon, esp. when theyre supposed to be backed by Syria and Iran. Isn't this all a bit risky for them and the US?

At 11:05 PM, Blogger Il_Duce said...

Well, I don't think that it will really escalate. Casualties will increase, probably at a steady level. Every time there is a new conflict, everyone fears that the "war will spread" into other countries. Syria will try to millitarily stay out of, preferring a proxy war against Israel. Congress: who know what they think? AIPAC pressures them and kicks down contributions. Hillary even said that we stand with Israel. With Liberals like that, who needs Republicans.

Is it risky? I guess it depends on if they can disarm Hez. If they can, and create a buffer zone in southern Leb, then Israel will have made gains. If they get pushed back, Hez bombs Tel Aviv and or Hez emerges at some strength with arms, then Israel kind of loses. Most of the Middle East already hates Israel, so it is not like they are trying to win the hearts and minds like the USA stated in Iraq. It does appear that Rice has no interest in stopping this.

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