July 20, 2006

Well, Israel continues to pound Lebanon

As I have noted, Israel certainly has cause to defend itself, and the terrorism of Hezbollah and Hamas are dangerous and clearly wrong. But the question of the endgame here for Israel seems less clear.

As Ezra Klein notes, justification for attacking these two groups might be one thing, but displacing some 500,000 civilians is making it harder to issue Israel some kind of blank check for attacking terrorism. Sojourners notes in their special mailing, that Western media tends to distort the numbers and we often forget the one-sided nature of the violence and death toll:
The violence of Hezbollah and Hamas should be unequivocally condemned and opposed. It cannot be ignored or underestimated that the two terrorist organizations have as their goal the eradication of Israel. However, much U.S. media coverage of this new Middle East war paints a misleading picture of a tit-for-tat equivalency between the two sides: Hezbollah explodes a bomb in Israel, Israel responds in kind. While their intentions are indeed malevolent, the two terrorist groups have nowhere near the military capability of Israel, which wields one of the most powerful military forces in the world (with the aid, of course, of more than $3 billion per year from the United States). The death toll in Lebanon in the first six days of the war has been tenfold that in Israel - according to The New York Times, 310 people, most of them civilians, have died in Lebanon while Israel has suffered 27 casualties, 15 of them civilians, since Israel began its attacks. (Similarly, 4,064 Palestinians and 1,084 Israelis have been killed since Sept. 29, 2000, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Israel Defense Forces, respectively.)

Back to Ezra, the issue of where Israel is going needs addressing, but by all in this war on terror.
"There's been some talk about how the sustained deployment is radicalizing once-sympathetic Lebanese. Less covered, but true in my experience, is that the ferocity and seeming indiscriminate nature of the counterattack is discomfiting and disappointing their Western supporters as well. At a point, 'Israel, right or wrong' is really just a fig leaf for 'Israel, wrong.'"

I have always struggled with the Bush administration's approach to the war on terror, which seems to be the model chosen by Israel as well. I understand the need to stand up to terrorists, and don't mind strong responses to terrorists themselves, but have always thought that the real issue here are the non-terrorist Muslims. They want to like us, and don't like their religion being hijacked for murderers, but they need some assistance in standing up to Al Qaeda and Hamas. In the long term, it seems to me that the more terrorists we kill, and certainly the more civilian deaths, the more terrorists we create. It doesn't appear to be a winning solution by any stretch of the imagination. In this scenario, Israel may succeed in displacing Hezbollah, but if they radicalize the moderate Lebanese, what have they really gained?

4 comments:

ANewAnglican@gmail.com said...

Why do you hate Israel?

Greek Shadow said...

anewanglican -- get a life!

Israels problem is that they're trying to swat mosquitos with sledgehammers.

Streak said...

Never fear, GS, the Anglican is hip.

ANewAnglican@gmail.com said...

Thank you for the compliment, but I don't think the word "hip" has every been used in my proximity.