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July 30, 2006

Not so sure anymore

"All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," says Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon. And with that categorical inaccuracy, I find myself losing a great deal of sympathy for Israel.

The strike in Qana reportedly killed 20-odd children. The Israelis had to know those children were there, and they certainly know, furthermore, that the children left in south Lebanon aren't "terrorists". If they were "related in some way to Hezbollah," it was in that their parents support the movement and didn't move them out of harm's way. If the Israeli government or military considers every civilian left in south Lebanon a terrorist, and therefore an inherently legitimate target, then western nations who more or less support Israel have a problem on their hands.

Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman said this today:

Every dead Lebanese child is a horrible mistake and a tragedy. For them (Hizbollah) every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration.

That first part looks frighteningly leaky when you hold it up against Ramon's statement, and rather facile altogether. Hezbollah would never consider apologizing for killing an innocent Israeli child, but the fact that Israel feels pangs of guilt and doubt isn't anything special — it's what separates mature secular democracies from terrorist groups.

No sane person can argue over which of Hezbollah and Israel is the more meritorious entity, but with every bomb dropped on a civilian target, accidental or otherwise, the onus becomes greater on Israel to explain just what it hopes to accomplish here. I'm still with the hawks on one thing: an early ceasefire is a victory for Hezbollah. Even so, if Israel isn't actually committed to wiping Hezbollah out once and for all — from the air, or (which seems more likely) in a ground war — then it should start investigating just such a ceasefire immediately. Otherwise every one of these innocent Lebanese deaths is in vain, and probably fuel for an even hotter fire in the future. Such unpleasant compromises are among the petty moral annoyances of not being terrrorists.

Posted by Chris Selley at July 30, 2006 11:23 PM

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Comments

Even so, if Israel isn't actually committed to wiping Hezbollah out once and for all — from the air, or (which seems more likely) in a ground war — then it should start investigating just such a ceasefire immediately.

There is, thankfully, no moral support for a Cathagenian solution either within Israel or the broader international community. In fact, to wipe out Hezbollah once and for all they would likely have to engage and wipe out a couple of state players as well -- an impossible task in any practical sense.

It's been my view from the beginning of the most recent conflict, that the waning of support was both predictable and predicted.

The Israelis, IMO, had no intention of wiping out Hezbollah. Their intention was/is to diminish their military capacity as much as they can during the time available before, inevitably, civilian casualties mounted to the point that they were forced to stop.

I expect they've reached that point now.

Posted by: KevinG at July 30, 2006 11:41 PM

Wow - dead on. Wish I could've said it that well.

Posted by: Jason at August 1, 2006 01:43 AM

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