Sunday, July 16, 2006

Dial M for Mugger

“Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease,
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly,
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He’s the neighborhood bully.”

- Bob Dylan – “Neighborhood Bully” (1983)

On Friday I wrote that it wouldn’t be long till Israel would be faced with condemnation for defending itself against aggression. It’s now Sunday and the chorus has already begun to sound.

This is what the New York Times had to say yesterday:

“Even when acting justifiably in the face of aggression, Israel best serves its long-term security interests by acting wisely and proportionately. Its guiding principle must always be to focus military action as narrowly as possible.”

“Surely the repeated lesson of recent history is that inflicting pain and humiliation on Arab civilians does not make them angry at the terrorists who provoked the violence. It makes them angrier at Israel.”

French president Jacques Chirac issued a typically blunt French statement on the crisis:

“French President Jacques Chirac castigated Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon on Friday, calling it “totally disproportionate,” while he and other European leaders expressed fears of a widening Middle East conflict that could spiral out of control.”

“Referring to Israel's attacks Friday on Lebanon's international airport and other transport links, the latest in a three-day offensive, Chirac asked aloud whether Lebanon's destruction was not the ultimate goal.”

“One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communication,” Chirac said during an interview in the garden of the presidential Elysee Palace to mark Bastille Day, the French national holiday.”

This morning Fox News reported that Russian president Vladimir Putin, in more muted tones:

“Agreed it was unacceptable for Hezbollah to try to achieve its goal by using force and abductions. But Putin said that while Israel's concerns may be justified, “The use of force should be balanced" and should stop.”

The language, whether muted or blunt, tells the same old story. Israel has the right to defend itself, just not too vigorously. I think it’s just another way of saying that the international community doesn’t really believe that Israel has a right to exist, that the world would be better off without Zionists insisting on holding on to a piece of land far smaller than Kansas where I live. Chirac, Putin, and the New York Times can’t express it directly, of course, but I have no doubt they’re thinking it.

Israel has understood this for over three generations. Their existence as a state and as a people are the things at stake. The latest provocation on the part of Hamas and Hebollah is just one link in the uninterrupted historical chain of Arab provocations. The following exchange between ABC News’ Ted Koppel and Hebollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nsarallah is a mirror image of statements made by Nasser, Arafat, or other Arab leaders since back in the 1940’s:

KOPPEL: “My question to you, though, was somewhat simpler. My question was do you believe that the State of Israel, in any form, whether in reduced size, or otherwise, has the right to exist?”
NASRALLAH [through interpreter]: “I believe that Palestine is an occupied land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and this is the right of the entire Palestinian people, this land. On this land, Muslims, Christians and Jews can coexist together, as they have—as they had for the—for hundreds of years in the framework of a democratic state.”
“However, there is no legal and legitimate state called Israel.”

It couldn’t be much plainer than that, could it?

Several years ago when I was working as an engineer in New Jersey I was assigned the task of mentoring a young Palestinian man who had just been hired by the company I worked for. It was a good relationship; he was a wonderful, bright, charming man. He was a devout Muslim, which made it all a very interesting social experiment. I wasn’t sure how it would all work at first. Would my Christianity and his Muslim faith paired up in a professional setting be problematic?

It turned out not to be a problem at all. We often shared our worldviews and were still able to maintain a good, cordial relationship. There was only one exception – Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state. We discussed it often. I told him that I supported a two-state solution, that the world needed to find a way to build a peaceful Middle-East. He always listened politely and his response was always the same. “Phil, there is no two state solution. The Palestinian people and the Arab world will never accept Israel. Never! We will never be satisfied until Israel is destroyed and every Jew living in Palestine is driven into the sea!”

I’ve taken some course work in international relations, but that brief period of mentoring in New Jersey was the best education on the subject of how things really work in the Middle-East I’ve ever had.

That’s where we’ve been for generations in the Middle-East. That’s where we are today. The people of Israel harbor no illusions about this fact. The only ones who do are far too many of the leaders in the “civilized” world and their diplomats. Iran and Syria, using Hezbollah and Hamas as puppets, have flagrantly attacked a sovereign nation. Syria and Iran are supporting and exporting terror. Iran is working on developing nuclear weapons and will in all likelihood have one sooner than we all care to think. In the face of that the “civilized” world is offering toothless ultimatums in one hand and incentives in the other to Iran or any other terrorist with his hand out. And, Israel is now being told by men like Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac that they’ve over-reacting.

If that doesn't put the lid on the jar, I don't know what will. I’ve heard it said that insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time it’s tried. Israel has been poked and prodded by the “civilized” world for years now to give up land for peace and to accept the reality of a Palestinian state bordering them. They have done all they’ve been asked, with the same result. It must be clear by now that nothing other than the destruction of Israel is ever going to be enough to satisfy the Palestinians or the Arab world. That’s the line in the sand.

Well, I don’t believe that the Israelis are insane. They know what’s at stake – their very existence – and they’re going defend the lives of their people, their homes, their institutions, and their nation vigorously. The real insanity in this twisted equation is in the response of the “civilized” world. Expecting Israel to continue to be a diplomatic doormat is about as insane as it gets.

I wonder how my little world in the Kansas Flint Hills would look if the same rules of international diplomacy being applied to Israel were applied to how things work here. Last night Nancy and I went to see the second episode of the Pirates of the Caribbean series at the Flint Hills mall. We had a good time. Using the current rules of international diplomacy, though, would have made for a different situation altogether. It might have looked something like this here at 919 Neosho about three o’clock yesterday afternoon.

Phil – “What do you think, Coach? Should we leave about three-thirty to make the four o’clock show?”
Nancy – “That’ll work. Just be sure you make security arrangements before we leave.”
Phil – “Good idea. I’ll call right now.”
Phil dials phone and a man with a raspy voice answers.
Alphonse – “M for Mugger – security solutions for the twenty-first century, Alphonse speaking. How may I help you?”
Phil – “Hey, Alphonse, this is Phil Dillon over here on Neosho. My wife and I are wanting to make the four o’clock show at the Flint Hills Eight. Do I still have time to make security arrangements?”
Alphonse – “Can do, big guy. We aim to please. Whattya’ need? Burglarly protection for your car? You need to be mugger proofed?”
Phil – “That’s it. I need both”
Alphonse – “How long you going to be gone”
Phil – “About four and a half hours.”
Alphonse – “It’s a hundred bucks for the first four hours and fifty an hour after that.”
Phil (breathing a sigh of relief) – “Hey, that’s a real bargain. Do you take American Express?”
Alphonse – “Absolutely. We’ll just code the transaction to Sneaky Pete, the guy who would have been out on the street burglarizing and mugging you. American Express will get their ten percent, I’ll get my ten, and Sneaky Pete will get the rest.”
Phil – “I feel like a real public servant, Alphonse.”
Alphonse – “What about your house while you’re gone?
Phil – “I hadn’t thought about that.”
Alphonse – “We’ve got a Saturday anti-burglary special. Just twenty-five an hour on a special rider I can fix up for you.”
Phil – “Alphonse, my bucko, you’re a real godsend. Just add it to my bill.”
Alphonse – “We’re glad to have you as a customer, Phil. Call us anytime.”
Phil hangs up phone.
Nancy: “Did you make the security arrangements, Slick?”
Phil – “Piece o’ cake. I just called ‘M for Mugger’ and everything’s taken care of.”
Nancy – “My hero. It’s about three-thirty. Let’s go. Since you’ve taken care of the security, the popcorn and candy are on me.”

Insane? Of course it is. But that’s the real long and short of the approach the “civilized” world is taking in this situation. They’re just trying to buy off the muggers, pillagers, and plunderers of the Middle-East, thinking that concessions will satisfy the blood-lust. Right now it’s a matter of Katushyas, Qassams, and Shahabs. It all seems pretty harmless in the eyes of the wise men of the “civilized”world. I wonder how they’ll feel in five years when the pillagers have nuclear weapons and ICBM’s. I wonder what it will take to buy them off then?

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