Wednesday, July 26, 2006

On the Israel/Lebanon Crisis

The standard line of thought in the United States while discussing this situation has been the idea that Israel had to respond as they did because Lebanon was not properly containing Hezbollah. I take you back to April of last year, when Syria left Lebanon. This event was much praised in the United States, as it was taken (wrongly) as a sign that because we invaded Iraq the neo-conservative goal of spreading democracy through the middle east was working. No one seemed then to wonder whether the weak state of Lebanon would be able to control Hezbollah, but it was an obvious result, Lebanon lacked resources predictably after years of Syrian control of their country, if anyone had bothered to consider the situation it would have been a bright idea to lend support to Lebanon that would be necessary for them to crack down on Hezbollah militias in the south of their countries. But we sat there and praised the Syrian exit and talked about how wonderful it was that democracy was spreading instead of doing anything to ensure the stability of Lebanon.

Now in response to the kidnappings of several Israeli troops by Hezbollah Israel has decided to bomb the living crap out of Lebanon. Many of the strikes by Israel have been civilian targets, such as their fist one, the Beirut Airport. Foreign nationals have been hit by Israeli airstrikes, and all European countries as well as the United States and Canada have evacuated Lebanon. The casualties have overwhelmingly been in Lebanon, with Israel sustaining about 1/10 the number of casualties as Lebanon.

Israel and its defenders justify this by saying that Lebanon wasn't doing enough to crack down on Hezbollah. By doing so they conflate a sovereign country with a guerrilla force inside that country. Essentially this amounts to Israel bombing the crap out of the country of Lebanon, which serves as essentially a third party to the conflict as they take the brunt of Israeli strikes aimed at Hezbollah. All the while the United States refuses to get involved in any substantive way while we cheerlead the Israeli aggression.

And throughout it all, not a word in the mainstream discussion in the United States of what I have just stated. Not a word of opposition to what Israel is doing, as though speaking ill of Israel is tantamount to support for Hezbollah.

Democrats and Republicans alike seem to be lining up to see who can be more gung ho in support of everything Israel does. On Meet the Press, Newt Gingrich anounced that we were in the early stages of World War Three and his counterpart Joe Biden disagreed with the specific but was almost equally gung ho in his defense of everything Israel does. Olmert is making Sharon look like a pacifist and no one in the American press or political establishment is willing to offer so much as a word of criticism towards Israel. It even goes to the point where Israeli soldiers are not referred to as "soldiers" or "troops" but "defense forces" setting the frame of the debate completely arround the idea of Israel "defending itself" for the rest of the discussion.

This goes deeper than just a conflation of opposition to Israeli tactics with support for Hezbollah but goes down to conflating opposition to Israeli tactics with opposition to Israel itself. Once someone offers a word of criticism they immediately are labeled "anti-Israel" to the point where in order to offer criticism one almost has to begin the discussion with "I support Israel, but..." That should not have to be a prerequisite for criticizing Israel's policies, and for that reason I refuse to do it. It even goes beyond that, once one is labeled as "anti-Israel", that is in turn conflated with anti-semitism. So by the transitive property of politics, opposition to Israeli policies is treated as equal to anti-semitism. So I think Israel is pursuing a harmful policy, and suddenly I'm Hitler. That, my friends, is not a formula for honest open discourse, it creates an environment where everyone is afraid to criticize anything Israel does for fear of being labeled anti-semetic, and that is precisely what is happening right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Now in response to the kidnappings of several Israeli troops by Hezbollah..."

Soldiers are not "kidnapped."

Please quit regurgitating this ridiculous phrase.