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The west must recognise that Israel's agenda is in conflict with its own
by UK Guardian (reposted)
Sunday Jul 16th, 2006 5:23 PM
The Olmert government, Hizbullah and Hamas are tacitly united in rejection of any moves towards a compromise peace
Whatever else can be said for or against Israel's escalation of military action against Lebanon, there is little prospect that it will achieve its stated objectives. If Israel couldn't defeat Hizbullah after 18 years in which its army occupied large swaths of Lebanese territory, it is not going to succeed with air strikes and blockades, or even another occupation. The same point applies even more forcefully in the case of Gaza. Every time Israel applies the iron fist in an effort to beat the Palestinians into submission, their resistance simply re-emerges in a more extreme and rejectionist form. Far from fearing Israel's wrath, Hizbullah and Hamas must be rather pleased at their success in provoking it into the sort of over-reaction from which they have always benefited.

Nor does it seem plausible that military action will enable Israel to secure the release of its captured soldiers. The civilian victims of Israel's indiscriminate retaliation have no real influence over the militias that hold them, while the militias themselves are untroubled by the spectacle of public suffering. On the contrary, they thrive on it. In the case of Lebanon, it is possible that acts of collective punishment, such as the destruction of Beirut airport and yesterday's killing of yet more civilians, might divide Hizbullah and its supporters from the rest of the country, but only at the risk of triggering another civil war and creating a vacuum that Israel's enemies in Syria and Iran will find easier to exploit.

In view of all this, it is valid to ask what Israel thinks it is doing. Indeed, this question is implicit in the statements of world leaders at the G8 and elsewhere who have called on Israel to use force proportionately, avoid civilian casualties and refrain from acts that might strengthen Hamas or destabilise Lebanon's fragile political settlement. No one quibbles with Israel's right to defend itself, but doesn't it understand how irresponsible and immoral it is to deliberately escalate the conflict in this way?

by Mike Novack
Sunday Jul 16th, 2006 6:19 PM
"Hizbullah and Hamas must be rather pleased at their success in provoking it into the sort of over-reaction from which they have always benefited."

YES -- but it is one thing to say that Hamas benefits (gains strength within Palestinian society) and another to assume that the overall result strengthens the Palestinians or is of benefit to them. The maxim "all politics is local" is very true -- expect groups of humans to act to maximize their LOCAL gains. Similarly we now see the large scale fighting with Hizbollah becuase they had accumulated the necessary wherewithal to increase the size of their pinpricks AND this will greatly improrve their position among those advocating armed struggle against Israel -- damage to Lebanon as a whole be damned.

The only reason I am bothering to state this is that the SAME effect works within our own struggles where groups act to increase their relative position regardless of the cost to the overall movement -- which they don't see as cost because "in our hearts we know we are right, our way the only way, our truth the only truth". Like I used to see in the 60's where various leftist factions whose NATIONAL membership ranged from 50-400 battled each other as if they were then enemy. Laughable were it not so sad.
by more
Sunday Jul 16th, 2006 7:07 PM
Experienced pols and cautious Americans could have avoided this war
Yigal Sarena

It has always appeared to me that in war, wisdom comes after the fact. After the destruction and the mourning. Afterwards, summation reports appear to outline just how stupid we were, books are written about all the mistakes we made, and about just how we allowed ourselves to be dragged into a trap it will take 10 or 20 years to extricate ourselves from.

Gaza and Lebanon are traps we return to periodically. The cemeteries I visit each year on Memorial Day to visit my friends' graves – Tzupar, Tziki, Ori and Mintz – are full of casualties from Gaza and Lebanon.

Now, too. We are facing a wholly extraneous war. Previous wars were followed by deterioration, failed negotiations, political freeze. The July, 2006 war was followed by elections – in Israel and the PA.

No leaders

In both places there is a vacuum of leadership. Leaders are confused and arrogant, and security forces are sitting with itchy fingers and looking for action.

The crushing of Beirut and the destruction of Nahariya will be the most unnecessary war we've ever fought. Every thing that happens could have been predicted and prevented, if only we'd had experienced politicians to act alongside restrained Americans.

This is a war that has quickly disintegrated due to armed militias and a strong army, hurt and seething for revenge and lacking all stops.

Failure to capitalize

The recent past, following the blood-soaked second intifada , is full of our own mistakes. The death of Yasser Arafat that so many people waited for was not capitalized on. Israel failed to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas, and the Fatah party prepared for elections emasculated. Israel and the United States supported those elections, and Hamas emerged victorious.

We pulled out of Gaza unilaterally and left Gaza a wasteland. I have visited Gaza many times since the pullout and send the hell of hunger, the misery. It is a pressure cooker with no release valve.

"A cat pushed into a corner becomes a panther," goes the Arab saying. The miserable Gaza panther fires its annoying tin-can Qassams as a call of poverty from those choking, those who lack answers.


But when the army's pride took a blow and Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, the army hit back with all its might. Instead of negotiations, patience and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, our forces have killed about 100 Gazans over the last month, many, many of them civilians, including women and children.

The reaction came as a boomerang from Lebanon, the only Arab country with a strong, effective army, that came along and humiliated the IDF by hitting a weak spot.

In Lebanon, as in Gaza, the army made its decision and responded. The civilian echelon, which was so weakened during the intifada it just about disappeared, is just about invisible.

All the gains from the Lebanon and Gaza were lost in the blink of an eye. All that would seem left for us now is to consider the developments of new tragedy, of stupidity and blindness on both sides, both of whom lack wise leaders who could put out the fire before it consumes us all.,7340,L-3275645,00.html