That’s my $0.02 on the government of Israel, given the ongoing military action they are taking against Hizbullah. Israel refuses to honor the UN-brokered truce, stating that it would give their adversaries time to rebuild, regroup, and “build human shields” against attack.
For a so-called “peace-loving” nation-state, that’s not exactly a pacifist stance, nor is it an attempt at civility.
When you compare the casualty count on both sides, the Lebanese people – both Hizbullah and innocent, non-affiliated civilians – have suffered a far worse fate: for every one Israeli casualty, between 10 and 12 Lebanese have died. If Israel is going for any kind of proportional response, they’re failing.
And are they actually targeting their enemies? Most of the Lebanese dead are non-Hizbullah: ordinary citizens, people who were, according to Anthony Bourdain, embracing joy and life, and blossoming as a world cultural destination. The Lebanese people are angry and scared. The airport in Beirut is in ruins, as is most of the city, which spent almost two decades rebuilding from war. Families are cut off from each other. Rural towns and villages are losing basic utilities and stability, as explosions blossom mercilessly from Israei rockets and bombs.
And the military response is not coming from the Lebanese military. Rather, it originates from a militant group. Yet Israel continues to attack all types of targets on speculation and so-called “gathered intelligence,” as if Hibullah is the Lebanese government. That’s the same logic as saying that Methodists or Lutherans represent all of Christianity, or that the Green Party represents all of U.S. politics – it’s an asinine strategy.
Still, the Israeli military is responding with the same kind of “proportional response” that they’ve used against the Palestinians: they use high-tech, high-power rockets and bombs against the low-tech, low-power rockets and mortars of their opponents. There’s nothing reasonable about the level and scope of response from Israel.
And it’s a story that the U.S. media hasn’t covered in much depth. And it’s a situation that the Bush administration has treated in a fairly flip manner. Secretary of State Rice even said that she didn’t know what to think of the matter on last week’s Sunday talk shows – an inexcusable attitude toward a conflict that stands to cause more trouble on the world stage than our ill-thought and ill-executed police action against Iraq.
And yet Israel is looking for the world’s sympathy. To me, they’ve run out of last chances. This is a country that can fight for itself. It manufactures some of the best munitions in the world. It also has one of the best-trained militaries in the world, with some of the most battle-tested and well-educated leaders and strategists in world history. It has a vibrant economy and a democracy that has lasted a long time with an incredible amount of stability.
Israel is a grown-up nation-state now – it should be able to stand its own ground without crying to the world that it it being picked on.
And I have no respect for what they’re doing to the Lebanese people. I do not support their current action, and neither should the U.S. government.
Update: It seems that Israel has suspended aerial attacks for the next 48 hours after an air strike in Qana killed 60 civilians, most of them children. It’s a start, but it still doesn’t make up for the abject brutality of their earlier strikes.