“The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive.
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin,
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He’s the neighborhood bully.
- Bob Dylan – “Neighborhood Bully” (1983)
The New Republic almost got it right; in fact they got it about nine-nine percent right. This is what they had to say yesterday about Israel response to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon:
“There are crises that complicate and crises that clarify. The crisis along Israel's southern and northern frontiers is of the latter sort. Hamas and Hezbollah, in accordance with their lunatic assumption that the worse, the better, crossed an internationally recognized border and killed and have taken hostage soldiers of the neighboring state whose existence they despise. The attacks were unprovoked, except by the attackers' view of the world. Israel has rightly chosen to regard these provocations very seriously, and so far it has earned the sympathy of decent observers everywhere.”
Right now Israel has the upper hand in the court of international opinion, but I doubt that the good will has any staying power. Give it some time and the “decent observers everywhere” will be condemning Israel, Zionism, and all things Jewish. The Arab “street” will soon start ratcheting up to a fever pitch. We’re already getting the dispatches and reports, like this little Beirut gem from Fox News:
“I have huge debts and now my store is damaged,” said Fadi Haidar, 36, cleaning away broken glass at his appliances shop, which he said had taken up to $15,000 in damage from the airstrikes.”
“Still, he supported Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, in their decision to snatch the soldiers. “Israel is our enemy and every Muslim must make a sacrifice,” he said. “As time goes by, they will all realize that Sayyed Nasrallah is right and is working in the interest of Muslims.”
It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I was stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio in 1967 when the Arab world was attempting to put the noose around the necks of millions of Israelis. Then, like now, Israel was being blamed. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the father of pan-Arab nationalism, was revving the Arab world up to a fever pitch:
“The armed forces’ responsibility is now yours. The armed forces yesterday occupied Sharm el-Sheikh. What is the meaning of the armed force's occupation of Sharm el-Sheikh? It is an affirmation of our rights and our sovereignty over the Aqaba Gulf. The Aqaba Gulf constitutes our Egyptian territorial waters. Under no circumstances will we allow the Israeli flag to pass through the Aqaba Gulf.”
“The Jews threatened war. We tell them: You are welcome, we are ready for war. Our armed forces and all our people are ready for war, but under no circumstances will we abandon any of our rights. This water is ours.”
“War might be an opportunity for the Jews—for Israel and Rabin [Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, the Chief of Staff]—to test their forces against ours and to see that what they wrote about the 1956 battle and the occupation of Sinai was all a lot of nonsense.”
Once it all began it took only six days. In that short period of time Israel had occupied Sinai, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Wailing Wall. From that point on Israel has existed on a treadmill. They claim a right to exist. The international community agrees. Islamic terrorists crawl out of their holes like cockroaches. Suicide bombers ply their deadly trade on innocent Israelis. Hezbollah and Hamas lob rockets across the border. Israel responds. The international community condemns Israel.
It’ll be no different this time.
The Lebanese seem powerless, probably unwilling to do anything about Hezbollah and their cross border attacks on Israel:
“Wracked by divisions over relations with Syria, the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora has yet to muster the political will, or the courage, to disarm the guerrillas of the Shiite Hezbollah, allowing them to continue to operate with almost total autonomy in southern Lebanon.”
“Successive Lebanese governments have maintained that replacing the guerrillas by Lebanese army troops would be tantamount to offering Israel a free service — protecting its northern border from guerrilla attacks.”
Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Hezbollah, operating with impunity in southern Lebanon, crossed the border into Israel, killed several Israeli soldiers, then took two back across the border as hostages. Hezbollah fired rockets into Israeli cities along and south of the border. And, all the sovereign government of Lebanon can say, in effect, is, “Do you Jews seriously expect us to give you a free security service?”
I realize that I live in Kansas and tend to simplify things, but if I were in Israel’s shoes I’d be saying, “You damn betchya!” Let me really simplify this international dilemma. If the folks in Nebraska started lobbing rockets at Atchison, Topeka, Overland Park, or Emporia you’d better believe we here in Kansas would be engaging in a bit more than table talk with our northern neighbors. And if the governor of Nebraska told us that he was powerless to stop what his citizens were doing we’d be telling him in no uncertain terms that he was so full of crap that his shoes squished when he walks.
Let me simplify it even further. I’m a peaceful man. I like my neighbors. I mow my lawn on a regular basis and my wife, Nancy, spends a lot of time in the garden. We often sit on our front porch and watch folks walk by. As they do we exchange pleasantries with them and they say “Howdy do” to us. Occasionally some come with their dogs in tow. We haven’t had the problem yet, but there may come a time when one of their Fidos does his business on our freshly mowed lawn. If that time ever comes I believe I’d be justified to suggest politely that my neighbor clean up the mess. If my neighbor tells me something clever like “You shouldn’t worry because the deposit was bio-degradable,” I think my next move might be to buy an elephant, take it over to his place, and have it place a fresh deposit on his neatly manicured lawn and tell him that the deposit my elephant made is every bit as bio-degradable as his.
That’s about as simple as I can make it. Israel is not the provocateur in this situation. Israel isn’t the Middle-East’s neighborhood bully. Hezbollah and Hamas have sent their dogs across the border and Israel is now responding by sending its elephants. That seems eminently fair and reasonable to me. All the Lebanese and Palestinians need to do to defuse the crisis and end the war is to call off their dogs.
That’s how I believe things should work. However, that’s not how they will. Israel is on the treadmill. They’ve gotten to the response stage. The next step is international condemnation of Israel, Zionism, and all things Jewish.
Technorati tags for this post: