Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israel At War

"After al-Qaida, [Hezbollah] has been blamed for more deaths than any other terrorist organization, including suicide truck bombings that killed over 241 U.S. servicemen, most of them U.S. Marines in Beirut, the bombing of the Israeli Embassy that killed 29 and a Jewish community center, killing 95." Stephanie Sonntag, UPI

"I want someone to address the problem (of) how you get a cease-fire with a terrorist organization." John Bolton, US Ambassador to the United Nations

Americans were given a horrendous lesson in fanatical terrorism on September 11, 2001. But we don't seem to have understood the reality of the message. Maybe because it was a one-off. Maybe we're just too filled with nationalist conceit.

Maybe it's because it happened almost five years ago. Here in America we don't live with the very real threat of terror attacks every single day.

And we're such a big country, whatever horror might happen in New York or Tulsa or Kansas City has only an emotional--or briefly financial--impact on the citizens of Chicago or Seattle or Philly.

So when Hezbollah, the radical and deadly proficient advocate of Israel's destruction locates itself in Lebanon and starts ambushing soldiers and lobbing bombs at civilians, what is Israel supposed to do? Call the UN? Yeah, right.

I don't mindlessly defend Israel's every action, but I do get seriously pissed off whenever some pundit analyzes Israel from a safe American armchair and talks about Israel's "overreaction" to terrorist attacks. Israel is surrounded by loaded rockets in the hands of lunatics dedicated to its total destruction. There can be no debate on that.

Listen to Hamas and Hezbollah threats, the impotent whining from Lebanon, the ominous silence from Syria and Iran. The hands-off support from Bush administration. The toothless condemnation from Arab controlled and/or oil dependent France, Italy and Russia. Notice Spain and England haven't added their voices too loudly to the chorus ... they know firsthand the power of terrorist bombs.

Give me one example when "measured and sober approaches" have worked. A few prisoner exchanges -- tiny stop-gaps. The Camp David Peace Accords -- in the end a failure, accomplishing no lasting peace or safe borders.

I stood on the tarmac at Lod (now Ben Gurion) Airport in 1978 and watched Egypt's President Anwar Sadat come down the steps of his plane and shake Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin's waiting hand.

The collective dream of a nation was wrapped in that handshake, hope was palpably buzzing in the air. I will never forget it. Nor will most Israelis, especially today's leaders.

But history has forgotten that handshake and the goals behind it. Iran and Syria never came to that peace table. Hamas and Hezbollah could care less.

And by the way, why is no one asking for "measured and sober approaches" from Hamas and Hezbollah or the puppet governments they control? Because everyone knows it's pointless. They will never compromise. Never.

Their fanatical dedication to nothing less than Israel's total annihilation will never cease. Two primary reasons it hasn't happened to date: 1. US support and 2. Israel's superior intelligence and military might.

But the danger to Israel also has grown exponentially as the US becomes even more overextended and under-supported in Iraq. And as Hamas and Hezbollah have gained strength and support from Syria and Iran.

So Israel's current response, I believe, is not a rampage but a carefully planned campaign to rout Hezbollah and serve notice to Hamas, Syria and Iran that, to quote our president, this shit has to stop.

Are the conditions in Gaza deplorable? No question. But who supplied Gaza's food and water and housing and refrigerators and TVs and air conditioners and cell phones in the first place? Not the Palestinian government -- Israel. And where do the citizens of Gaza earn the money to pay for those things? Israel.

And what would those Gaza citizens do if they had arms and centralized leadership? Attack Israel.

And why haven't the Palestinian leaders stepped forward with aid or military force to address Gaza's plight? Because the poor, disenfranchised people of Gaza are only important to Hamas and Hezbollah as propaganda fodder. They are, in a word, expendable. How twisted is that? And how naive to blame it all on Israel.

The hypocrisy in dealing with Israel is stunning. The Western world is engaged in a subtle and insidious form of racism when it expects Israel to behave in a civilized way largely because Israel's citizens, while mostly Jews, are also descended from white Europeans. While it has only an expectation of primitive savagery from the Semitic Arabs, whom most outsiders picture as depicted in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

Yes, Israel is hitting civilian targets. This is war, and war is never pretty or pleasant or carefully thoughtful of civilians. Especially civilians who claim to believe in their fanatical leaders' cause and whose kafias those bastards hide behind.

So Israel is sending Hamas and Hezbollah a message: You value the lives of your people? Get out of town.

And keep in mind, Hezbollah is now bombing the hell out of Northern Israel and Haifa regardless of the huge civilian Arab population in harm's way there.

Does Israel make political and military mistakes? Of course! But one mistake it has never made is to underestimate its enemies. Something the US and other nations continue to do.

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