The Jewish Journalism of Joel Shurkin

Sunday, August 06, 2006

War is not heck

And try not to make it too loud, please--There is nothing happy about what is happening in the Middle East but the inability of the world to understand it is infuriating. It’s a war. It’s a war between radical Islam and western civilization. It is a war between terrorism and those who would live in peace. It also clearly is a war between Israel and Iran. People actually get hurt in wars. And the world is dumping on the good guys.

This war is even messier than most wars. It is what experts call asymmetrical. One of the world’s best armies has been slugging it out for weeks with a guerilla band of about 5,000 and making little visible progress. My belief is that part of the problem is that they started meekly, rejecting the Powell Doctrine that says that if you go into a war, you go with overwhelming strength and know how you are going to get out. They instead sent the air force. If I know that air power could not defeat a guerilla force and never has in all of history, why didn’t the Israeli politicians and generals? (It’s possible the generals did but were inhibited by the politicians; I don’t know.) Only when it was finally obvious that wasn’t working did they send the boots over the border. If I know that this was a different kind of war than the wars everyone has been fighting though history, why didn’t they? The U.S. is having the same problems in Iraq, had the same problem in Somalia and even in Vietnam. This is how wars are fought these days, not organized army against organized army.

Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. They were responsible for killing more Americans than any other group until 9/11. They blew up embassies, invented suicide bombings, and just incidentally, are dedicated to the eradication of Israel and western civilization. They are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran and Iran is using it as an adjunct army to create chaos. They set up their own territory within the sovereign state of Lebanon, hurled rockets at Israeli towns and cities, kidnapped Israeli soldiers and refused a U.N. resolution to behave. Having had enough, and getting no support from the rest of the world, Israel went after them. And every bleeding heart in the world, who had ignored the rockets and the kidnappings, came out in force. They lament the deaths of innocent Lebanese. So do I. So do the Israelis.

But Hezbollah has bragged about how they infiltrate civilian populations (despite human rights organizations denials), and then let the world scream "massacre" when the Israelis attack. And the world sucks it up. Bad Israelis.

Either you are prepared to go after them and accept the civilian casualties or you surrender and save everyone the aggravation.

War is hell. People get killed. Most of them are innocent of anything except being the wrong place at the wrong time. When the British bombed Hamburg in the summer of 1943, some 40,000 Germans were killed in one night. They buried the dead in mass graves in the shape of a cross. I don’t remember the French advising restraint or exclaiming the response was disproportionate, or Belgians demonstrating in protest. The U.S. did the same thing to Dresden and Tokyo. No one complained. Want to discuss Hiroshima and Nagasaki? That is a war. Shit happens. It is terrible and should never happen but it does. And when the Israelis kill--in almost every case, accidentally--a few hundred Lebanese, suddenly the world is outraged. This must stop! Bad Israelis!

(Part of the problem, I think, is Israel’s traditionally abominable public relations. You would think with a country of 6 million Jews they could find five good p.r. people, but apparently not, or at least the establishment won’t let them do their thing. Did you know that the Canadian U.N. solider killed in the Israeli raid e-mailed home his unhappiness with Hezbollah using his outpost as a shield to fire rockets? Why don’t you know that? Do you know the Israelis have tape from unmanned drones of Hezbollah using human shields? Why don’t you know that? Why haven’t you seen the tape on CNN? Why aren’t reporters allowed to imbed themselves with the IDF? When I was in the Middle East in 1967 for UPI, the answer I would get from the IDF was that it was too dangerous and they didn’t want to be responsible. War correspondents know the danger, volunteer for the job and ask for access, not protection. Not much has changed. No wonder Israel is losing the p.r. battle.)

This must stop when the Israelis have finished what they need to do with Hezbollah. To do anything else is a victory for Hezbollah, for radical Islam and for evil and we are all in deep doodoo. The world needs to leave Israel alone to do it--if they can. As to the mood in the Arab street? Fuck ‘em. If that’s their sense of morality, they are the ones we need protection against and it is that immorality Israel now is battling.