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About The War - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
July 31st, 2006
10:55 am


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About The War
I suppose I should say something about the war being waged by Israel in the North. It's hard to write about it: it's depressing, senseless, and full of more lies than a PR statement.

Nevertheless, I shall say a few things, briefly.

First, to understand this war, one needs perspective. It has antecedents and context, and ignoring it helps spread righteous rhetoric without foundation.

Second, to understand Israel, one needs to really look the facts in the face, probably in disbelief; specifically, one must forget what one expects of a "Western" democracy -- Israel scores poorly on that test, except perhaps in the orderly transfer of titular power following elections, itself only one aspect of a liberal representative democracy.

Third, now that the fighting is on, and the violence on both sides has escalated, few specific deeds can be justified entirely. Both sides should just stop; but both sides won't, being entrenched in their own hollow rhetoric and public opinion skirmishes, unless someone with a bigger stick threatens to whack them into submission. That's too bad.

Ran HaCohen, a former lecturer of mine and an Israeli publicist, wrote well about the background of the recent events, including the quiet coup that seems to have taken place in Israel wherein the army has the government on a leash, and you may read his article to get an idea of my own stance on this conflict. Note that it was written two weeks ago, when the fighting had barely begun, and does not propose practical (as distinct from ideal) ways of resolving the escalated situation.

HaCohen also later wrote about the mainstream Israeli media's treatment of the recent bombing of UN observers in what appears to have been a deliberate Israeli Air Force attack on their post. This one's more bitter, but no less grounded.

Also, while I'm at it, if you read Hebrew, do read ygurvitz's latest column. It's important.

Current Mood: numb

(16 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:July 31st, 2006 10:14 am (UTC)
Perspective and context: following Israel's retreat from Lebanon, the remainer of the UN's resolution in the matter included deploying the Lebanese army along the southern border and disarming Hizballah. Neither happened. Instead, the Hizballah deployed its troops along the border with Israel, gathering intelligence on IDF movements, and every once in a while attempting an attack into Israel. Twice they have succeeded in abducting soldiers from within Israel.

Perspective and context: In the last exchange of prisoners and bodies, there was an agreement on Stage 2 of the exchange. According to the agreement, the remaining prisoners in Israel will be released once Hizballah supply information on the whereabouts of Ron Arad's remains. The Hizballah decided not to bother, and instead chose to abduct more soldiers, assuming Israel will give in to its demands once again.

That is the context of the current war. That is the context that Hacohen neglects to mention in his tedious piece on "what the observers observed". Did they not observe the Hizballah on the border? Oh, they did. Here's something the late Canadian soldier observed: "They use the UN as shields knowing that they can't be punished for it"

Here's what that same soldier thought of the Israeli attacks: "We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within two metres of our position and the closest 1,000 [pound] aerial bomb has landed 100 metres from our patrol base.

"This has not been deliberate targeting," Kruedener said, "but has rather been due to tactical necessity."

The UN knew, and did nothing. Because the UN indeed loves people only when they're dead. The UN defends those who look like the underdog even if they are responsible for their own fate. The UN is so caught up in its own rhetoric that they didn't even lift a finger to protect their own soldiers from the Hizballah's crimes.

Your saying that the bombing "appears to have been deliberate" is, except for infuriating, so obviously a pandering to those sentiments of the uninformed left of the US and Europe. You know full well that Israel has no reason to attack the UN, and no such intention. You have do be really oblivious to the reality of the situation to think that Israel "wanted to hide something", like Hacohen claims. It's a lie. It is, in fact, a dirty lie. It is not "criticism" like Gurvitz encourages - it's a rotten lie. And lies aren't criticism. You could criticize the army for falling into the Hizballah's trap in bombing close to the UN post. That's criticism. Saying that the intention was to kill UN soldiers because we were afraid they'd "observe" something - that is so far removed from the truth that it can't serve to do anything but infuriate anyone who cares about what's going on here.

I'd say I'm surprised at this from you, but I'm afraid that is no longer the case.

(and, oh, bringing proof to how lame the Israeli media is from Channel 1 is oh-so-clever. Bravo. Seriously. He really showed us stupid Israelis. Bah.)

[User Picture]
Date:July 31st, 2006 08:09 pm (UTC)
Indeed, the second article (in general shamefully dishonest with its selective quotation from the UNIFIL reports) ends on this note: "And as for the killing of the observers, we can only speculate what it was that Israel didn't want them to observe anymore."

This statement presupposes that the killing of the UN observers was a deliberate act of Israel, that the aim was specifically to kill those observers. There isn't even anything like "appears to be" about this.

That this presupposition is completely out of touch with Israeli reality is without doubt. I find myself unable to believe that Asaf would, on serious reflection, fail to recognize that. We all have our ways of getting sweeped along with the pull of our rhetorics, unfortunately and unavoidably...
[User Picture]
Date:July 31st, 2006 10:15 am (UTC)
P.S. I've just read the first article you linked to. Well, started reading it. I can't believe you fall for such rhetoric. First he congratulates Nasrallah for being so charismatic (and handsome, no doubt), then he mocks the military for falling prey for a sophisticated and well-planned attack. He then goes on to mock Israel for admitting defeat in Lebanon (would he have prefered we stay there?) and then, to top it all off, claims that the Second Intifada was "initiated" by Barak -- as if Barak himself called on the Palestinians to start blowing themselves up in the middle of Israeli cities. I really don't understand you. You used to be above such things. I understand you lost your patriotic flare, but you went to the other extreme, to pure and simple anti-Israeli sentiments, believing anything bad being said about Israel and ignoring anything good we do - or worse, claiming that too is a bad thing. This isn't criticism. Criticism comes from a "loyal opposition". What you're doing is an act of desertion.
[User Picture]
Date:July 31st, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)

way to not try to understand what you read

he didn't mock israel for admitting defeat in lebanon, he stated a fact, and claimed the army wasn't too happy about that.

and saying nasrallah is carismatic? so what? he is. it is not a moral judgment, I can think of quite a few contempt worthy people who were carismatic.
[User Picture]
Date:July 31st, 2006 11:20 am (UTC)

Re: way to not try to understand what you read

I saw mocking in "admit its defeat", especially within its context (see: "humiliations". see: "The strongest army in the Middle East seems unable to protect its own soldiers"). Mocking? No, he's bloody gloating.

Why mention it, if not in glorification? Why write "the Middle East's most sophisticated guerilla" if not to glorify the Hizballah? This contrasts so painfully with what he has to say about anything Israeli (why, he even puts "one of the most protected tanks in the world" - a statement of fact - in quotes), that there is nothing left but to conclude as I concluded. The only way to read it otherwise, is if you agree with his opinion of Israel in the first place.
Date:July 31st, 2006 10:18 am (UTC)
I think it's fascinating that nobody mentions that the kidnapped IDFers were Druze! I honestly have no idea if that's even "news-worthy" but the fact that it was totally unknown to me (until some pretty random unrelated searching,) shows how terrible the media (used to be plural for medium) is in America. :(
[User Picture]
Date:July 31st, 2006 11:15 am (UTC)
Which kidnapped IDF soldiers are Druze? One of the three kidnapped soldier in the previous round was Druze. Some of the soldiers who died during the current kidnap were Druze. But unless I am mistaken, the soldiers now held by Hizballah are Jewish. Not that it matters, really.
[User Picture]
Date:July 31st, 2006 10:41 am (UTC)
thanks for the insightfull links
Date:July 31st, 2006 11:13 pm (UTC)

not objective with no grasp of reality

thats what i think of the two articals.

lets have some facts:
1. hizbullah provoked and have been provoking since 2000.

2. the trade off in 2004 of the israeli dead soldiers and tenenbaum was in a way a mistake - they thought they could extort us again.

3. yes - the israelis are being taught lessons by hizbullah but hizbullah at the same time are cowards that hide arms in mosques and use the media
in a very cynical way. and though this episode is especialy bloody - i think that in future hizbullah will think twice before trying such things - even they have been surprised by the israeli anger.

4. blowing up the tank - well, the Merkava IS THE BEST but ANY TANK IN THE WORLD will be destroyed if you hit it in the right spot, there are a couple of "right spots", the two main deadly one's are from underneath it (this case) as it has minimal protection there and as it happens the israeli tank that went it an hour later did not have on it an extra protective plate installed (as was the standard during Israels occupation of south lebanon - i should know, i served there in tanks) and second soft spot - between turret and body.

But now for reality:
1. Israel didnt like hizbullah turning itself into a major strategic threat (with all those rockets being launched into israel on a daily basis then even the most innocent of people should realize why)

2. Hizbullah are the arm of Iran and Syria who seek to attack israel

3. IT WAS AN ACT OF WAR. It was an attempt at Ransom after all.

4. SHOULD israel weaken the hizbullah it stands to gain. and if (or more to the point - when) the international force arrives in south lebanon - then that WILL weaken hizbullah as it will be in a problem to attack israel, it will also strengthen the lebanese government, hopefully to the extent that it will take the brave move to disarm hizbullah.

5. Military is used when Diplomacy fails - with Hizbullah, Iran and Syria there is no room diplomacy as they quite simply want us dead and that no matter how much appeasment you will give them.

6. "Peaceniks go home" - your strategies have failed due to over-intoxication with the doctrine of "please be silent while your being shot at!" (beilin makes me especialy sick, he actually wants to negotiate with them for prisoners... i mean - why dont you just say: "kidnappings and provocations are fine with me!", i hope he gets kidnapped!, i doubt anyone in israel would launch a war in return though)
I dont see why we should always be at the recieving end of those extremists. enough is enough!

7. It is a shame about the destruction in Lebanon but what did they expect when they didnt do anything about it and hizbullah were part of their own elected government after all. while i believe theyre claims that they were too weak to disarm hizbullah - they could had at least reached agreements with hizbullah not to do anything that will jeapordize lebanon's peace... and i am still sure that now that it has happened - the lebanese people will still know who started the whole thing and the lebanese government will hopefully at least try to get something out of hizbullah.

8. The death of UN observers - again, a shame. but mind you - how many times have hizbullah hid behind their positions and they did nothing about it? need i remind that the hizbullah used UN uniforms to kidnap the Israeli soldiers in 2002.
UOM SCHMOOM said Ben-Gurion, it is still so so true. I have no respect for the UN, theyre policy is the policy of Chamberlain - "do anything including humilation and betrayel for the sake of short lived peace"... and when war will come knocking at your door act surprised and apologize.

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[User Picture]
Date:August 1st, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
I agree with most of what's said about HaCohen's articles here.
As for Gurvitz's column, I think that it suffers from a problem common to most of his other columns - he's driving the point so hard, using all his arsenal to do it, that the result is unfocused, and thus less effective.
In this particular column, for example, he fails to distinguish between policy, which is one thing, and performance, which is another. One claim, to which I sadly agree, is that there are horrible problems with the way the army functions, and heads must fly - most notably the whole Navy command. Another claim has to do with government policy and the amount of control that the government has over the army. While this subject is even more important than the first, putting it side by side with it degrades them both and makes the author's claim weaker. Especially since the former claim can be backed by hard facts, and the latter can't - we simply don't know what exactly is going on in those closed meetings, and there can be no reliable reports of their contents. So Gurvitz, while having an amazing amount of knowledge and a good writing skill, not only mixes claims but also treats deductions as facts.
Pity, really, because he'd be much more effective if he didn't, and he has some important things to say.
[User Picture]
Date:August 1st, 2006 08:27 am (UTC)
Just out of curiosity, what was Yossi's job in the IDF?
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)

dude ehhhh dude, machmootseeyeh

Islamic leaders’ corruption and radicalism is not something to question inside IDF functionality. It is a different question in all aspects. The IDF is quite a mirror for our general society, I believe. But, but, but it has nothing to do with Islamic Nazism!!! It seams that sometimes a fight is needed, as bloody as is it gets, before a correction is applied. Sometimes you have to defend with yourself bare arm. You don't ask questions. It's your instinct. We have leaders, which we have democratically elected. Not our best idols, but they are what we have, don't we? Let's make sure we remember we are still defending ourselves, not threatening any country or nation within the essence of our existence!!!
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if you read the Haaretz interview with Kupperwasser. If you did not, you should (here is the English transltion, the Hebrew right here).

At the very end the former head of MilInt is asked: "So according to what you say there will be no permanent settlement in the years ahead?" and he responds "I don't see it.”

The entire interview is worth reading. It is a very hard read, because of the implications - the man interviewed was the HEAD OF MILINT. The country's concept of its place in space and time is based on that man's perceptions. I am forwarding it to my brothers. I figure you need to see it, too.
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