I should really not write about Lebanon, but I can’t stop. I’d like to draw your attention to Hizbullah attacks along Israel's northern border May 2000 - June 2006, a June 2006 document from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who are presumably experts on the subject. Go read it yourself. I’d like to write some more on truce-breaking, on killing civilians and hiding among them, and about whom it’s appropriate to be angry at. If you don’t feel like reading what I have to say (and it’s not very cheerful), go have a look at the Ceasefire Now petition and consider signing it. [Update: Thank you world! I have a mailbox full of people saying things like “wanted to inject a positive note into what’s probably a flood of hate”; and not one warmonger. I’m truly moved, and who knows, maybe there’s hope.]
Breaking the Truce · That Israeli document paints a picture of an armed truce that had been holding pretty well since May of 2000. The number of incidents was 2 in 2000, 2 in 2001, 2 in 2002, 4 in 2003, 3 in 2004, 5 in 2005, and one in 2006 before it all blew up. (Check out April 2005, when the Hez kidnapped two northern Israeli Arabs to shake them down for for intelligence; what lovable guys).
Clearly somebody in Israel thinks the current situation is an improvement; Lebanon’s infrastructure ripped up, hundreds of civilians dead, hundreds of thousands of refugees in motion, and hundreds of Hez rockets over the border every day.
Weirdly, Israel seems to prefer hereditary dictatorships to emerging democracies on their borders.
This all seems insane to me, but draw your own conclusions.
On Killing Civilians, and Hiding Among Them · I got an astounding amount of pushback on my it’s wrong to kill civilians post, all of it saying more or less exactly the same thing: “No, it’s sad-but-necessary to kill them because Hezbollah is hiding among them.” This point of view is not obviously insane; if an armed man were about to kill me and I couldn’t stop him without taking down an innocent bystander too, well, I just might do it. But let’s be reasonable, please: killing them by the hundreds to get dozens of your enemy is barbaric, pure and simple. And flattening whole suburbs in an unsuccessful attempt to kill enemy leaders is worse.
That hiding-among-civilians issue has more nuance than you might think. In Salon, The "hiding among civilians" myth offers solid evidence that in fact Hezbollah does not do this down south where the fighting is hottest. On the other hand, there is evidence (albeit somewhat shaky) that Hez has been launching attacks from inside Christian villages. Which makes a kind of perverted sense, since those gangs are often blood enemies. Once again, draw your own conclusions.
Once again: Military violence against civilians is wrong, and if you have an argument that convinces you it’s right, your argument is broken.
Worthy of Contempt · I’m having a persistent anger-management problem; seeing your former home blown to hell with malice aforethought will do that. So, who am I mad at? Oddly, I’m not that mad at the foot soldiers on either side, the IDF or the Hez. It’s depressingly easy to get young men to go out and kill and die for reasons that turn out later to have been really crappy. The IDF grunts’ leaders tell them that doing this will make the rockets stop and bring peace to Israel’s northern border, and I’m sure a lot of them are going about their bloody business as conscientiously as they possibly can. The Hez grunts are mostly poor, oppressed, ignorant, and religion-befuddled, and their leaders tell them that doing this will punish violent oppressors and do God’s will.
Those leaders, though... anyone who’s read first-hand reportage about the Hez leadership knows they’re bloodthirsty racist fundamentalist barbarians who would really like to kill all the Jews and revert the world to fourteenth-century ways. Scum.
As for the Israeli political leadership, we have to act on the assumption that they actually kind of understand what’s going on around them, and that they launched this in full knowledge that they intended to kill hundreds, displace hundreds of thousands, and break a country. And there’s a sickening suspicion that they knew it wouldn’t work, that this is all playing to the domestic political theater; which would be getting into Milošević territory. Scum.
But right at the moment, there’s another group that I’m even angrier at. These are the individuals right here in the civilized world who are egging on one side or the other, who show up in blog comments and on talk radio and in some newspaper columns, explaining how it’s OK for one side to lob rockets into cities, or for the other to blow up towns with everyone in them, because the other side deserves what it’s getting; the victims are kind of sub-human, or are paying a fair price for something they did in 2001 or 1987 or 1973 or 1967 or 1949 or a couple of millennia before that.
Their position, basically, is “Let’s you and him fight”. Yep, they’re willing to fight to the last screaming bleeding victim, as long as it’s a couple of continents away from their comfy chair. Some more of them will write me after I publish this. They’re not just scum, they’re cowards.