Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Israel's Next War Has Begun

For Shivah Asar Be-Tammuz, a brief departure into the safety of our brothers in Israel.

Yossi Klein HaLevi in The New Republic on the current events in Israel:

The next Middle East war--Israel against genocidal Islamism--has begun. The first stage of the war started two weeks ago, with the Israeli incursion into Gaza in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and the ongoing shelling of Israeli towns and kibbutzim; now, with Hezbollah's latest attack, the war has spread to southern Lebanon. Ultimately, though, Israel's antagonists won't be Hamas and Hezbollah but their patrons, Iran and Syria. The war will go on for months, perhaps several years. There may be lulls in the fighting, perhaps even temporary agreements and prisoner exchanges. But those periods of calm will be mere respites.

The goals of the war should be the destruction of the Hamas regime and the dismantling of the Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot coexist with Iranian proxies pressing in on its borders. In particular, allowing Hamas to remain in power--and to run the Palestinian educational system--will mean the end of hopes for Arab-Israeli reconciliation not only in this generation but in the next one too.

For the Israeli right, this is the moment of "We told you so." The fact that the kidnappings and missile attacks have come from southern Lebanon and Gaza--precisely the areas from which Israel has unilaterally withdrawn--is proof, for right-wingers, of the bankruptcy of unilateralism. Yet the right has always misunderstood the meaning of unilateral withdrawal. Those of us who have supported unilateralism didn't expect a quiet border in return for our withdrawal but simply the creation of a border from which we could more vigorously defend ourselves, with greater domestic consensus and international understanding. The anticipated outcome, then, wasn't an illusory peace but a more effective way to fight the war. The question wasn't whether Hamas or Hezbollah would forswear aggression but whether Israel would act with appropriate vigor to their continued aggression.

So it wasn't the rocket attacks that were a blow to the unilateralist camp, but rather Israel's tepid responses to those attacks. If unilateralists made a mistake, it was in believing our political leaders--including Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert--when they promised a policy of zero tolerance against any attacks emanating from Gaza after Israel's withdrawal. That policy was not implemented--until two weeks ago. Now, belatedly, the Olmert government is trying to regain something of its lost credibility, and that is the real meaning of this initial phase of the war, both in Gaza and in Lebanon....
Continued here.

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