Monday, July 24, 2006

The Middle Beast

As Kurt Andersen points out in New York Magazine, many bloggers are loath to discuss what is happening in Lebanon right now. I don't know about the rest, but me, I am wary, because this topic is getting so tiresome and exhausting, after so many years of strife, who has the strength?
But one has to have an opinion and here is mine:
Sometimes, Israel is not right. This time, it is right to pound on Hezbollah, and not with a delicate slap on the wrist. That doesn't work with pesky Shiite zealot terrorists backed by Iran. It is not Israel's fault that Hezbollah hides its weapons under civilian neighborhoods. That's what illegitimate terrorist organizations do, they use civilians as shields and weapons.
It pains me to see Beirut destroyed again and to see its civilians suffer. I hope for the sake of everyone involved, except Hezbollah, that it ends soon. And that it does not bring about another disaster like the first invasion of Lebanon. There is no guarantee of that.
Still, reading the Andersen piece, I was very disturbed by this:
Yet as Richard Cohen wrote in his Washington Post column last week, “Israel itself is a mistake . . . an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable [but which] has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now.”
This is a terrible misquote. You need to read Mr. Cohen's article in its full context. Otherwise, it's reductive and simplistic to say that the creation of the State of Israel was a mistake. There were many mistakes committed along the way, and not only by the Jews. Had the neighboring Arab countries decided not to wage war against it, perhaps it would have been less of a mistake, no? Mr. Cohen then tries to fix his unfortunate choice of words throughout the article:

In his forthcoming book, "The War of the World," the admirably readable British historian Niall Ferguson devotes considerable space to the horrific history of the Jews in 19th- and 20th-century Europe. Never mind the Holocaust. In 1905 there were pogroms in 660 different places in Russia, and more than 800 Jews were killed -- all this in a period of less than two weeks. This was the reality of life for many of Europe's Jews.

Little wonder so many of them emigrated to the United States, Canada, Argentina or South Africa. Little wonder others embraced the dream of Zionism and went to Palestine, first a colony of Turkey and later of Britain. They were in effect running for their lives. Most of those who remained -- 97.5 percent of Poland's Jews, for instance -- were murdered in the Holocaust.

And, as an article in the NYT points out, those who came back to Poland after the war, were murdered THEN. So when and where would it have been less of a mistake? In the Moon?

The fact today is that Israel exists. It's destruction is not an option. This is what this crisis with Southern Lebanon is all about. Iran is sending a message and Israel is answering back.
It is not in the civilized world's best interests to be even remotely ambivalent about this fact. Unless we want the world to be terrorized and brought back to the dark ages by Shiite madmen.
As always, here's an interesting pov by David Remnick in the New Yorker.

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