I stand by Israel, no matter what they do, right or wrong

All the usual suspects on the far-right are singing in chorus, led on by the Big Momma of the wingutosphere: Israel ueber alles, no matter what. If you see the article Maglalangadingding reprints, French people are defined by the act of burning Jewish synagogues and the Vatican is a hotbed of Palestinian apologism. Two powers, the US and Israel, have free license to do as they please with no restraints, no limits, no matter what the cost. Those who criticize them or call for restraint are weak or antisemitic or both. Should Israel defend itself? Of course it should. But there are always limits to how far one should go. Israel has crossed those limits and the victim in the end will be Israel.

I supported Israel in many of its conflicts, but this time I can’t. Steve Clemons offers some much needed insight:

Why is Israel pounding most of Lebanon rather than just the South and rather than pinpointing its attack against Hezbollah assets? Why the dramatic bombing of explosive fuel centers? The attacks both in Gaza and in Beirut seem made for Fox News, CNN and the next Schwarzenegger movie.

I think that there is little doubt that a significant part of the explanation can be attributed to the fact that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his more liberal partner in this effort, Amir Peretz — now Defense Minister — are not former field command generals and want to demonstrate that they can be responsible stewards of Israel’s national security — and that they won’t be timid in using Israel’s military capabilities.

But that doesn’t explain it all. The Israeli response to the Hezbollah incursion is exactly what Hezbollah wanted. Adversaries rarely give each other the behaviors the other actually desires unless there are other objectives involved.

Clemons follows with a compelling argument as to how Israel’s excesses are posing a direct threat to US goals, such as reaching an agreement with Iran on its nuclear policy and reducing the number of US troops in Iraq – and why Israel may be intentionally derailing us.

The flamboyant, over the top reactions to attacks on Israel’s military check points and the abduction of soldiers — which I agree Israel must respond to — seems to be part establishing “bona fides” by Olmert, but far more important, REMOVING from the table important policy options that the U.S. might have pursued.

Israel is constraining American foreign policy in amazing and troubling ways by its actions. And a former senior CIA official and another senior Marine who are well-versed in both Israeli and broad Middle East affairs, agreed that serious strategists in Israel are more concerned about America tilting towards new bargains in the region than they are either about the challenge from Hamas or Hezbollah or showing that Olmert knows how to pull the trigger….

Keeping America from cutting new deals in the region — which many in the national security establishment thinks are vital — may actually be what is going on, and the smarter-than-average analysts are beginning to see that.

I know, I know, we are supposed to tiptoe around anything having to do with Israel and bless their every move. But this time, what Israel is doing is bad for the US, bad for its neighbors and bad, in the long run, for Israel. There’s good reason Condi is calling for restraint, and those like Malkin who give Israel carte blanche are acting against America’s interests, and Israel’s as well.

Update: It’s all making more sense: perhaps Israel’s response is purely strategic, and designed to result in a war on Iran. Let’s watch and see.

Updat 2: Signs of sanity: one of the warbloggers’ own has the courage to tell it like it is: Israel was right to act, but it has acted in the wrong way, and there will be a price. By being so forthright, he drew the full wrath of the righties, forcing him to close down all comments on his blog. This topic is radioactive and brings out the very worst in normally rational people.

Lebanon is Totten’s specialty, and his post is a breath of fresh are in the section of the blogoshpere that seems at the moment totally deprived of oxygen.

What should the Israelis have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone. Mainstream Lebanese have no problem when Israel hammers Hezbollah in its little enclave. Somebody has to do it, and it cannot be them. If you want to embolden Lebanese to work with Israelis against Hezbollah, or at least move in to Hezbollah’s bombed out positions, don’t attack all of Lebanon.

Israel should not have bombed Central Beirut, which was almost monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed my old neighborhood, which was almost monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed the Maronite city of Jounieh, which was not merely anti-Hezbollah but also somewhat pro-Israel.

Israelis thinks everyone hates them. It isn’t true, especially not in Lebanon. But they will make it so if they do not pay more attention to the internal characteristics of neighboring countries. “The Arabs” do not exist as a bloc except in the feverish dreams of the Nasserists and the Baath.

The Discussion: 24 Comments

The Israel-Palestine problem is very hard. I think Palestine has a right to have its self country, and Israel’s military is too barbarous to attack Palestine non-military men, it is just like terrorism. And Israel can do it because it is supported by the US, and no one in the world can make a noise about that. This is just an example of “enough power will give you enough legality and justice”. If some weak country in another continent starts to attack another country just because this little incident, I think the US will come out and “punish it”.

But I very admire the Jews. I think they are very smart and very value education just like Chinese. And the Israel is very friendly to China, they tried to sell China many weapons even when the US opposed. This is because China allowed many Jews to stay in China during world war 2 and saved their lives, they are still thanking China right now. I think over all, the Jews are friendly to China. So I support both the Jews and the Arabs.

July 16, 2006 @ 11:24 am | Comment

Richard, go check out Glenn Greenwald’s latest, about William Kristol’s editorial. It’s quite scary but states explicitly what the neocons have been about all along.

What the Israeli government has done in Lebanon goes so far beyond “self defense” that it crosses the line into criminal.

July 16, 2006 @ 11:57 am | Comment

Yes, I feel an emotional tie to Israel also. I’ve been contemplating converting to Judaism for a while now. I love sand and scorpions, and Israeli women are superlative. The only thing stopping me is mandatory circumcision.

Long have we Chinese been called the Jews of the East. I dream of the day people shall call Jews the Chinese of the West.

July 16, 2006 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

On Israel and Palestine, you guys need to read Mearsheimer.

July 16, 2006 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

Israel trying to derail peace talks with Iran? If only. Iran offered to negotiated with the US three years ago, putting everything (including Hezbullah) on the table. Cheney refused.

Now, Seymour Hersh reports that the Administration is still insistent on attacking Iran.

My take is that this is not Olmert derailing a US-Iranian accord; this is Tehran derailing a US-Iranian war it saw as inevitable. In effect, Iran is trading (expendible) Lebanese proxies and missiles for US diplomatic support, probably sufficient to weaken the Administration’s ability to mount an attack.

Given that in my amateur opinion the Rumsfeld-Cheney team is the least connected to reality of any of the players, having their plans derailed is probably for the long-term good of all of us.

July 16, 2006 @ 1:02 pm | Comment

Eight Canadians have been killed by Israeli air strikes in Lebanon. Others have been critically injured. Damn these Israelis! Why does the world allow this thug of a country to get away with this type of murder when others get crucified for less. I expect our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, a Right Wing Evangelical Christian and George Bush Clone, to say nothing critical. I expect our media cowed by the Jewish groups to mouth platitudes and call for peace.

Why is Israel striking the suburbs and residential areas? Have they gone crazy? Itโ€™s like the Israeli military has launched a coup and is now running the government.

July 16, 2006 @ 4:12 pm | Comment

Circumcision is a nice way of saying genital mutilation.

July 16, 2006 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

True, circumcision is genital mutilation, but I’ve read somewhere that circumcised men have less chance of contracting HIV and a variety of STDs.

My hobbies include monotheism and magical numbers. I devote my freetime to activities approved by prophets. In daliy speech I mimic biblical parataxis. Circumcision seems like a painful, but nevertheless logical step.

July 16, 2006 @ 8:33 pm | Comment

Richard, just because your mother may be Jewish, does not make you Jewish as well. That may be the only way one can be born Jewish, but you also need to believe in God and I’ve read your denouncement of such faith on your site many times.

Claiming to be Jewish in your case is akin to one saying they’re not racist because they know many black people.

July 16, 2006 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

Rabbi Steve: You’re lying. Richard has never denounced faith in God on this blog. If he had, then he would have kicked my mystical ass out of here a long time ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 16, 2006 @ 8:51 pm | Comment


Steve, that is just whack.

Ask the non-religious Jews in Germany during WW2 if it made a difference whether they attended synagogue or not.

My grandfather was Jewish. He abandoned that religious practice and eventually became a Buddhist. He was still Jewish.

Here’s your dictionary definition: Jew Audio pronunciation of “jew” ( P ) Pronunciation Key (j)

1. An adherent of Judaism as a religion or culture.
2. A member of the widely dispersed people originally descended from the ancient Hebrews and sharing an ethnic heritage based on Judaism.
3. A native or inhabitant of the ancient kingdom of Judah.

July 16, 2006 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Steve, where have I denounced faith in God? Show us, or else we all must assume you are a liar. And you are a liar. I never denounced faith in God.

I was brought up as a Jew, went through the Bar Mitzvah ritual, can read Hebrew and probably am more familiar with the Bible than most people. Who the f*** are you to set the definition of what a Jew is?

July 16, 2006 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

If Richard’s mother was Jewish, then Richard is Jewish. He may or may not believe in God. (I don’t.)

It would be nice if Richard were circumcised, but it isn’t really essential. (God tried to kill Moses because he hadn’t circumcised his own son. But God never said that Moses wasn’t Jewish, or that Moses’ son wasn’t Jewish.)

It also would be nice if he had a Bar Mitzvah, but that also is inessential.

I know this stuff because my kids had to be converted to Judaism. (Their mother is Japanese. They were therefore not born Jewish.)

When my kids were to be converted, they had to take a ritual bath. The Rabbi asked my wife why she wanted the kids to be converted, and she said that she wanted to do it for the sake of the family. He asked her if she wanted to be converted, and she said, “no.” And that was the end of that.

My wife was surprised that the Rabbi had not tried to get her to convert. She concluded that becoming a jew was like joining a tribe. When my kids were converted, they were one and a half and four years old respectively.

July 17, 2006 @ 3:06 am | Comment

I’m with the second option. I think this is all about Iran. Have you been listening to the MSM? Again and again I hear that Syria and Iran are working together on “state-sponsored terrorism.” Clearly the public is being presented with another reason to dislike Iran, along with hostage-taking, bad haircuts and Danish cartoon-protesting. I think this Israeli belligerence is part of, not in opposition to, US foreign policy.


July 17, 2006 @ 7:04 am | Comment

I would bet that the initial Hamas and Hezbollah attacks, while not completely coordinated, are an attempt by the Iranians to gain another card to play in the nuclear standoff. Since Mr. Bush’s adventure in Iraq, Iran has looked to become the dominant power in the region, as Saddam, odious as he was, performed as a vital check to Iranian regional hegemony. The importance of his removal to the Iranians cannot be underestimated. After all, they fought the longest continuous war in the 20th Century. The current situation is yet another unintended consequence of stirring up the Middle Eastern hornet’s nest. My bet is that Iran will let the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict play out for another week or two, then they’ll pull the reigns in exchange for better concessions and incentives on their nuclear program, which is clearly the overriding focus of their government.

July 17, 2006 @ 11:48 am | Comment

So Richard, are you stating that you ARE a PRACTICING Jew?

I have read on your site, while not commenting, that you have often made such references as, “If there really is a God”, which indicates a certain level of skepticism and lack of faith on your part.

Please do expain, I’m just curious.


July 17, 2006 @ 1:26 pm | Comment

What do you expect Israeli to do in a world where Hamas take power of Palestine, could-be nuclear armed Iran threaten to wipe it out of the earth, and Syria backed Hezbollah fire rockets into its cities.

Israeli government and its people is a model that ours should learn and follow.

July 17, 2006 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

Steve the Grand Inquisitor:

1. Skepticism is not the same thing as “denunciation” of which you accused Richard

2. Some theologians (including an extraordinarily high proportion of Jewish ones) say skepticism is actually a kind of faith, because it’s part of a love of (and striving for) truth

3. A “practicing” Jew can mean anything from Hasidism to giving to charity to trying to spread a bit more truth and justice in the world. Jesus of Nazareth was a practicing Jew and among his most repeated lessons was that following the letter of the law does not make you a follower of God – and neither does any official creed (thus the parable of the Good Samaritan, whose tribe the Jews excoriated) – but rather how you treat your fellow men.

Here endeth the lesson by Rabbi Ivan

July 17, 2006 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

Steve, I’ll explain: none of your f***ing business.

July 17, 2006 @ 5:57 pm | Comment

I happen to support the Israeli actions in Lebanon this time around. I had also thought its prior invasion of Lebanon was unjustified and a foolish provocation. If all of you will recall, the prior invasion ended with repeated assurances by the Lebanese government and the UN that Hizbullah would not be allowed to set up operations in southern Lebanon. After that witdrawal – Hizbullah has had free rein. In fact, there was a BBC broadcase that showed Hizbullah artillery positions less than 80 meters from UN positions on the Border. My guess is that the Israelis are making a point of letting the Lebanese government and the UN know that not keeping their promises will have consequences. If no one will take any action to deal with Hizbullah – how can you berate Israel for doing so.

Quite honestly, Hamas and Hizbullah have not responded to diplomacy and peaceful negotiation unless they were getting their asses kicked. Then after the ceaasefire, they regrouped, rearmed and waited and planned their nest attacks. Maybe Israel is fed up with getting them on the ropes only to have them saved by third parties – and then being attacked again. Can you really blame them for wanting to finish off their enemies once and for all?

There is a real simple reason for bombing the suburbs. That is where the Hizbullah missles are coming from. Just read the news. The missles are being fired from specially modified houses. Israel has plainly given the Lebanese a choice. Eliminate the Hizbullah armies or suffer right along with them. If you sleep with snakes you will get bit. To quote Stokely Carmichael “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

And I want to clearly state that the following is only my opinion, unsupported by any news reports. I believe the level of attacks by the Israels is also a direct slap at Syria. Why hasn’t the Syrian army come to the aid of its allies? Hizbullah’s missles have had only superficial effect. Israel’s response is crippling both the Lebanese government and Hizbullah. Both have been shown to be unable to deal with Israel’s military. They look weak. I believe Israel is trying to show the world that Syria is all show and no go. Assad is not going to risk the massive damage to his army that would result if he directly entered this war. I even suspect that Israel may look for just such a provocation – and possibly even create one itself – as an excuse to attack Syria.

I have in the past been highly critical of some of Israel’s policies and actions. But, in all truth, its time for this thing to be finished. Are you not fed up with going through this same BS every couple of years? Let Israel finish it. I would rather see a world without Hamas and Hizbullah than without Israel, it thats the choice I am given.

July 17, 2006 @ 10:46 pm | Comment

Richard, it would be even cooler if you could translate your last comment into Yiddish ๐Ÿ˜‰

July 18, 2006 @ 1:45 am | Comment

Sure. Steve ist ein Putz.

July 18, 2006 @ 1:51 am | Comment

Dear TPD,

I agree with what Richard said.

Sincerely yours,


July 18, 2006 @ 3:08 am | Comment

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