Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Israel's Right To Defend Itself

Today Israel has warned South Lebanese that it will 'escalate its operations' as well as destroy 'moving vehicles' [BBC]. So if you are a family still living there, you can't escape.

As the conflict dragged on, I heard various people say 'well Israel has the right to defend itself'. I don't have any problem with this statement. Any sovereign nation (and I include Israel) has the right to deal (militarily if needed) with threats to its existence. You heard it here on Crescent Canuck - most Arabs accept that Israel is here to stay (some like Jordan and Egypt even have peace treaties with them). This may come as a shock to some people, but most residents in the middle east aren't opposed to peace - even if that means giving up claim to occupied territories - in return for a fair solution to the refugees / displaced people and settlements.

Growing up in the Middle East, every book teaching Arabic used to have a chapter on the Palestinian issue. During 1993, when the Oslo accords were signed, and we saw pictures of Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land exchanging flowers, I remember telling my Arabic teacher - "we don't need this chapter now". There was genuine optimism amongst the Arabs. Sadly, the joy was short lived as the thorny issue of the refugees remained.

In this crisis, I criticize the 'defensive' action of Israel that went too far in proportion. Most Arab states - initially supporting the Israeli action (even *gasp* Saudi) - has now withdrawn that support.

As I posted on June 28,
"Today, in response to the kidnapping of a 19 year-old Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, Israeli forces have invaded the Gaza Strip - cutting off electricity and water, at the height of summer, to some 1.3 million people."

This is what sparked off the chain of events. Israel could have dealt with the militants by
a) sending in a negotiation team.
b) trying to pinpoint where the soldier was being held hostage and attempt a rescue.
c) warn Ham as of consequences if the soldier wasn't released.

They did none of that.

Again, when two soldiers were kidnapped and few others killed in Lebanon, again Israel had the following options
a) give the government of Lebanon time to negotiate a safe release for the hostages and demand punishment for killing eight others, and warn of consequences.
b) send in an elite force to rescue the hostages.
c) restrict military operations in south Lebanon. As Beirut is over 100 km away from the border, and the maximum range of the rockets are 30 km, rocket launchers in Beirut are not a threat.
d) provide positive proof to the UN that Iran was behind this attack.

This didn't do any of this. Instead, Lebanon is being collectively punished. A government that could've been a model of democracy is now terribly weakened. A terr orist organization is now seen as legitimate by the rest of the country.

And finally, Israel could have asked itself why are 342 Palestinian children (under 18) still in custody. Surely, they can't all be terro rists?


Jay said...

I feel the same way. There is absolutley no need for what is happening.

I am very confused as to exactly what we are doing in Afganistan after this incident. Muslim nation are being told the a secular democracy is the way to go and we would welcome you to the 21st century. Then Israel blows the hell out of the only peaceful secular democracy. Why would they want to be a democracy now? What benefits are there? Israel has for all intents and puposes destroyed a secular democracy.

How much do you want to bet that the Lebanese will have a Hizbollah run government after the next election should there be anything left to govern?

Congrats Harper-Bush, and Omert you three have now made the world less safe and the Middle East more violent and less likely to have a peacful future.

s.b. said...

Israel has a right to defewnd itself period. It doesn't matter if ten civillians die or ten thousand civillians die. 100,000 civillians have died in Afghanistan and we are still there in a combat capapcity 4 1/2 years later helping the US to defend itself militarily. How do you explain that and not think Israel has the right to defend itself from attack? Antisemitism perhaps. Its just the Jews trying to defend themselves frmo anhiliation right.

Crescent Canuck said...

"It doesn't matter if ten civillians die or ten thousand civillians die."

It does. Period. You sound awfully like Michael Ignatieff when he said "I don't lose sleep over it" (or something to that effect).

I have never been a fan of a carte blanche open ended mission in Afghanistan, if you read some of my previous posts here and here, you would know that.

Anonymous said...

How do you explain that and not think Israel has the right to defend itself from attack? Antisemitism perhaps

This is not only a ridiculous assertion, it's just an easy diversion. A comment to hide behind, rather than engage in meaningful dialogue.

Those who oppose the incursion, or it's intensity, value the loss of life...ALL life.

As I've said elsewhere, are all the Jews who are protesting in Israel, anti-semetic? Ridiculous.


Kyle Carruthers said...

Im with you on this one CC. It most certainly DOES matter if ten thousand civilians die.

Shoshana, I would pose this question. If Israel's right to defend itself (which I believe does exist) means that it can kill as many Lebanese civilians as it needs to, does that mean that a Lebanese civilian is entitled to kill as many Israelis as he needs to?

"An eye for an eye" leaves the whole world blind.

burlivespipe said...

The issue of hezzbollah seems to have put Israel into a corner -- damned for what they do and damned for what they don't do. How do you disarm a terrorist group that can hide behind the skirts of women and children? How do you stop someone who is more than happy to die for their cause?
Blasting Lebanon to smithereens doesn't appear to be the answer, unless your goal is to legitimize your enemy. You need to get the Lebanese on side, not make them fear and hate you. As has been said by everyone I've read and heard, no one debates Israel's right to defend itself. Having rockets shot inside your borders does give them the right to defend themselves. But now they are providing fodder for those who believe who is there to defend the arab population. No one looks good here. Dialogue would have helped, but unfortunately, there is no one listening now. But for SB to constantly fall back on 'antisemeticsm' for everyone who questions the isreal (over) reaction is another case of not listening. The region is now a mess.