Thursday, July 27, 2006

Billmon - A Blight Unto the Nations

I read billmon every day I'm horrified, contemptuous, and angry, at this latest bloodbath, billmon expresses it perfectly

"I've felt many emotions about the Israelis before. I've admired them for their accomplishments -- building a flourishing state out of almost nothing. I've hated them for their systematic dispossession of the Palestinians -- even as they smugly congratulated themselves for being the Middle East's only "democracy." I've pitied them for the cruel fate history inflicted on the Jewish diaspora, respected them for their boldness and daring, honored them for their cultural and intellectual achievements. But the one thing I've never felt, at least up until now, is contempt.

But that is what I'm feeling now. The military and political leaders of the Jewish state are doing and saying things that go way beyond the blustering arrogance of a powerful nation at war. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they are behaving like a gang of miltaristic thugs -- whose reply to any criticism or reproach is an expletive deleted and the smash of an iron fist.

[snip]

And now a proposal to turn all of southern Lebanon into a free fire zone.

This all might be considered normal military behavior for, oh say, a Bosnian Serb militia captain, circa 1991, but when the political and military leaders of an allegedly civilized state start talking this way, something big is going on, and going wrong. The dehumanization of the enemy (much of the Israeli press routinely uses the word "terrorist" to refer to any Hizbullah fighter or Palestinian militant) and the rage and humiliation at not being able to stop the rain of rockets falling on northern Israel, are combining to knock the props out from under whatever remains of Israel's claim to be different from, and morally superior to, its enemies.

The Israeli national persona has always had a macho swagger to it (it's part of the rationale for the state -- that Jews should be able to act like "normal" masculine hyperpatriots everywhere) but what we're seeing now is something different. It has a nasty edge of hysteria to it, a compulsive need to prove to the Arabs, and the world, that Israel still can and will stomp on anyone who gets in its way. The fact that Hizbullah is now demonstrating the limits of Israeli power -- or rather, the limits on how much Jewish blood Israel is willing to spend to exercise that power -- is only making matters worse. The Israeli leadership elite is starting to sound like the semen-crusted violence addicts at Little Green Footballs. Given how much real violence the generals and politicians can inflict, that's a sobering thought, to say the least.

Combine this with an enormous sense of historic grievance ("Serbs will never be beaten again!" "The Versailles Treaty has shamed the Fatherland!") and a gnawing fear of encirclement, and you've got all the ingredients for a catastrophe, of the kind that could leave the Israelis, and their American patrons, up to their necks in blood -- of the innocent and the guilty alike.Combine this with an enormous sense of historic grievance ("Serbs will never be beaten again!" "The Versailles Treaty has shamed the Fatherland!") and a gnawing fear of encirclement, and you've got all the ingredients for a catastrophe, of the kind that could leave the Israelis, and their American patrons, up to their necks in blood -- of the innocent and the guilty alike.

[snip]

If there's one thing that should be obvious from this God awful tragedy in the making, it's that history has a savage sense of irony -- cruel and pitiless almost beyond belief. That Israel, haven to Holocaust survivors, should find itself in this situation, and respond to it in this way, is enough to make the very walls of Jerusalem weep. As I weep now.


His posting is "A Blight Unto the Nations it's well worth your while reading the whole thing and following his links.

I want to add one technical point. The Israeli artillery are technically superb. I've seen them in action repeatedly. They're good, they're very good, at what they do. They knew precisely where the UN observtion post was and hit it anyway. The excuse that this was a "mistake" simply won't wash. There's a binary solution set either:

  1. The artillery officers committed an act of gross insubordination by firing on a UN post which the Israeli Prime Minister assured Kofi Annan would not be fired upon.

    or
  2. They fired upon it following their orders.

They are simply too good at their job for it to have been "a mistake."

markfromireland

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