Israel Risks Squandering Moral High Ground
A clear recognition that Israel is engaged in a just war against warlords that seek her demise has finally begun to emerge. No less a left-liberal source as the Los Angeles Times ceased the perennial excuse-making for Hamas and Hezbollah's holy terror against Israelis. Instead, they replaced Freudian exculpations (America loves Israel more, "occupation," traumatic toilet training) with factual analysis:
The "crisis was triggered by cross-border raids on Israel by Hamas in Gaza and by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Ever since Israel unilaterally withdrew troops from southern Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza last year, radical Islamists have stepped up their war on the Israeli state. The Israeli pullout from Lebanon was supposed to be followed by the Lebanese army's occupation of the border region and the disarmament of Hezbollah. Instead, the Islamist group … operates in southern Lebanon as a separate state-within-a-state. In the Palestinian territories, meanwhile, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was followed by the triumph at the polls of Hamas."
Indeed, Israel's disengagement from Lebanon was complete. Ditto her withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military government is no longer exercising its authority or any of "the functions of government." The conditions specified in the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention have been met: the "occupation" in Gaza is no longer. Still, no sooner had the withdrawal been accomplished than official Palestinian spokesmen began insisting Gaza remained "occupied" territory. According to the Institute for Contemporary Affairs, then-PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas even stated that "the legal status of the areas slated for evacuation has not changed."
Hezbollah and Hamas' assaults against Israel, however, have served to yank the rug out from under such propagandists. Honest observers have come to realize that no amount of withdrawing Israel does will ever pacify those bent on her elimination. The Sunni syndicate in the Palestinian Authority and the Shia mafia in Lebanon—both openly admit they aim to hoist "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."
Why, even leaders across the Arab world—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan—condemned the Hezbollah strike as injudicious. Soon the only people still hailing these terrorist militias as resistance fighters or candidates in legitimate governments will be Noam Chomsky, The Nation, Pat Buchanan, and the Counterpunch crackpots.
And the Palestinians, of course. They took to the streets chanting, "O beloved Abu Hadi [Hassan Nasrallah's nickname], bomb, bomb Tel Aviv." (Adapted from, "O beloved Saddam, bomb, bomb Tel Aviv," a jingle Palestinians inaugurated during the first Gulf War.)
That said, Israel's pulverizing of Lebanon—blowing the place to kingdom come, killing hundreds of civilians, and displacing thousands—threatens to sunder its moral superiority.
True, the blame for civilian casualties lies indirectly with Hezbollah (and Hamas), which targets civilians and hides among them. Although necessary, this fact, however, is not sufficient to exempt Israel from responsibility for its direct actions. For those, Israel can't shirk accountability. It can't claim it didn't intend to take out civilians when Israeli generals can both see and foresee the devastating results of their bombardments.
But if the Israeli army is called off, what of Israeli civilians? The blunt protection of the state is all they have. The Murder Inc. of the Middle East has placed itself outside the law—national, international, and natural. Does this mean it must remain forever beyond the reach of any law, however imperfect?
Furthermore, if Hezbollah and its sizeable arsenal are not eliminated, they may eventually invade Israel. Debkafile intelligence raises the disquieting possibility these Vietcong-like guerillas are quite capable of getting that caliphate up and running in the Galilee, where they've already attempted "to breach the Israeli border and capture stretches of land."
It so happens that when they're not advancing on Israel, Hezbollah officials are mixing it up with Prime Minister Fuad Saniora in Lebanon's parliament and government, where they occupy seats and portfolios, and jostle quite comfortably for constituents. Lebanon may not be as rotten as the Palestinian Authority—there Hamas is the highest authority, not merely a minority faction.
Still, let's not mistake the Lebanese government's professed military weakness for moral innocence.
The only alternative I can think of, then, is for the Lebanese government to mount the necessary ground offensive against Hezbollah. Saniora and the Pontiff insist Lebanon is a sovereign nation. If so, let it take on the thugs occupying southern Lebanon and launching forays into a neighboring nation. Let Saniora raise his 55,000-strong army against Hezbollah.
Since this is as likely as Britney (Spears) growing a brain, what are Israel's options?
© 2006 By Ilana Mercer