Sunday, August 13, 2006

Israel Overkill

WWII suicide bombers and modern day Arab suicide bombers are worlds apart. What sets them apart is that Arab terrorists have been successful and they have a community that believes they are making a noble sacrifice. I don't think you're going to see any extremist Muslim deciding that his/her suicide bombing is ineffective; every life they take is supposed to be some sort of statement to the world that they will attempt to win at any cost.

While I'm sure members of the IDF and Israel are not proud of killing civilians and mourn to some degree, I have to think that most take the stance that you do (edit: this was a blog comment response to Matt Rutta), that it is an accident when civilians are killed but that is a by-product of war.

What troubles me is that it really isn't an accident. Israel knows full well that the areas that they bomb are heavily populated and that the civilian death toll will be high. Yes, Hezbollah does use "human shields" if you mean attacking from public spaces and they are endangering their own people. However, Israel being the obviously stronger party in the mix might take care to notice that their campaign against Hezbollah has resulted in the deaths of about 50 Hezbollah guerrillas, ~ 20 Lebanese soldiers, and 700+ and growing civilian deaths.

At this point calling this an accident is becoming a joke, regardless of how Hezbollah chooses to wage war; Israel is supposed to be better than this. Carpet bombings leveling entire towns and the use of white phosphorous is overkill. At this point if you can justify the staggering accidental deaths of civilians as a unfortunate product of war and the leveling of cities because guerrillas are launching rockets from the centers of towns, you might as well completely destroy Lebanon if that is your mentality. From their justification, what is sparing anyone in Lebanon? Guilty by geographic proximity.


Sean said...

I agree with you: civilian casualties should be accepted plainly at face value as a fact of targeting Hezbollah, though it should be noted that the Israelis have been relatively consistent in utilizing leaflets and transmission systems to warn populations to evacuate a targeted area before engaging in a heavy commencement of fires.

When one is attempting to destroy weapons systems that are actively targeting one's own people and military infrastructure, there are few alternatives. However, in my view this idea of force escalation only perpetuates a conflict, and Israel is straddling a line it should not be straddling. Either it should have sent in a small team to attempt a rescue of its captured soldiers, or it should have targeted and obliterated all of Hezbollah' infrastructure and resources in one fell swoop: shock and awe.
The back-and-forth engagements of what can only be characterized as a devastating skirmish (for both sides) have accomplished little.

Matt said...

Wang, I did a google of my name and found this. I am not saying Israel is unimpeachable in this aspect. Regardless of what you feel about whether or not this is considered a "disproportionate response", would you agree with me that Israel is held to disproportonate standards. The committee on Human Rights is after Israel because it killed a couple of civilians (who shouldn't have been allowed to be pawns in Hizbullah's game in the first place. Why is it that when Hizbullah, Hamas, Al Aqsa, Islamic Jihad, and others intentionally kill Israeli civilians, possibly because the Israeli military bases are too well guarded, there is no international outcry (with the possible exception of the United States government). I cry foul, the United Nations has not done anything that can be considered pro-Israel since 1947.

If anything, Israel held back too much. PM Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz and General Halutz are all under fire for not fighting this war well. Israel is a nuclear state, and though obviously we should not use nukes, The weaponry we have is advanced enough and the United States offered us weaponry (bunker busters, laser guided missiles) that could do more damage more efficently. So I think we (when I say we, I mean Israel) should have done more, not less. If you harbor terrorists, you are going to be killed like one.

Wang said...

I hope you check this site again Matt because I'd like to continue the conversation. I am in agreement with Sean, see first comment, either Israel should have attempted to rescue its soldiers or pounded Hizbullah's entire infrastructure. I think the extended combat that was fought by means of traditional combat was a big mistake that led to what amounts to my entire criticism, the large loss of civilian life. I think the Israelis and you agree just how bad Olmert carried out the war.

You are right though, I think Israel is held to disproportionate response; for the sake of Israeli and the rest of the middle east, continued back and forth skirmishes could continue indefinitely as it had been for decades without anything being accomplished. The US offered like you said a lot of advanced weaponry and Israel has arguably one of the best intelligence services in the world, because of that I hold them to a high standard of getting things done. This is not a "couple of civilians", this is approaching 1000 civilian deaths because of poor execution on the Israelis part. Yes they occupied the same geographic area as the terrorists but could the loss of innocent life have been held to a much lower level? Almost certainly. Better intelligence, better planning, better technology, better execution. Instead we saw weapons that are meant to cause widespread uncontained destruction that really didn't kill or cripple very many Hizbullah forces. I don't think Israel held back, I think they did a poor job. I think the ratio to civilians killed to Hizbullah soldiers killed is like 60:1 now.

I don't turn a blind eye to terrorists or Hizbullah. Yes they have killed civilians as well, albeit not very many. They have weapons that are... pretty crappy. They create large destruction but can barely be aimed, i'm sure they wanted to kill more people (civilian and military) but they weren't up to task technologically to do it. Hizbullah is not to be dismissed and should be held accountable, but Israel should have done better.

Matt said...

Where do these statistics come from? Hizbullah maintained two weeks into the war that Israel only killed a half dozen terrorists (I think Hassan Nasrallah chose the word shaheed). Who is to say who is a civilian in an area where the terrorists dress the exact same as civilians. Perhaps Hizbullah, which is the only possible source of statistics in that area (Israel gives a completely different number) was changing the status of a significant number of people. Let's not forget that the terrorists dress exactly like civilians and they blend into the crowd! Israel's domestic policy of profiling is required because the days of "martyr-white" dress has gone the way of the dodo, undercover shahid when homicide bombers detonate themselves wearing the same clothing as civilians. They don't target our army; they intentionally target our civilians and see them just as guilty of standing in the way of a caliphate. Therefore I feel that a good number of these "civilians" were actually plain-clothes terrorists. An army uniform is like a bullseye; if you wear normal clothing then you can blend in. What do you think Hizbullah did? Check the net for the pictures of various launchings.

Yes Qana was a tragedy, but let's remember what happened in Jenin in 2002. There were false allegations of a massacre of Palestinians in Jenin and as it turned out it was mostly staged by "Pallywood" propaganda (I suggest you google the term). Corpses are not supposed to jump back on a funeral bier once they've fallen off! So too much of this war was doctored by Hizbollywood. The events at Qana are controversial on both sides and yes I consider that particular operation a mistake. Israel often has a need to shoot in the dark (and ask questions later) and when you are fighting for your very survival you may do some rash things. Since rockets WERE fired from that area in Qana (videos of the reconnisance have been released to the public), Israel decided to destroy the launchers. Israel is faced with enemies who want to push them and the rest of the Jews of the world into the sea. I don't see how the threat of a renaissance of Naziism, Appeasement and an Anschluss to rebuild a lost caliphate (because this how I see all of this as resulting) could allow Israel to stand idly by and let ourselves to be slaughtered like sheep just to be in the good graces of world opinion. Indeed, no matter what Israel does, the world is going to find something wrong with it just to appease the OPEC nations.

So they have crappy weapons. If Iran had nukes, I know they would certainly use them and launch them directly at Tel Aviv. So they only have rocks and rockets; they'll use whatever they have. Unlike Israel, Hizbullah didn't restrain themselves and I think the world needs to realize that Israel is facing a great evil and I fear that the world is purposefully blinding itself to it. I may sound radical, but I think Israel is completely justified in its response and as long as the world would never approve of whatever Israel may do, she should have launched a quicker, more effective, and indeed deadlier response. I'm not saying that Israel should pull a Hiroshima-Nagasaki, but we do have the technology and the military might to put something together and yet we held back. Big mistake; we may have pierced a head of the Hizbullah hydra, but these heads grow back with a vengance and this is going to happen again.

Today Israel get's blamed for violating the ceasefire? Hizbullah hasn't even returned our kidnapped soldiers nor withdrawn from south of the Litani! No, this remission is going to escalate into a conflict with Syria and Iran.

If you haven't seen it yet, please check out Pallywood and Hezbollywood on the internet. I appreciate you engaging me in conversation because this a topic on which I am very passionate.

Wang said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wang said...

By Israeli estimates, by Lebanese estimates, BBC estimates, Al Jazeera estimates, by everyone's estimate and count the number of civilian casualties greatly outnumber the number of Hizbullah fighters killed. Making an argument that nobody can tell the differnece between a terrorist and a civilian, that other "attrocities" are staged propaganda, really do nothing to justify anything that Israel has done. Israeli leadership needs to admit what the people of Israel have been clammoring for weeks about, that the war has been carried out terribly. There is no justification for such a huge number of civilian casualties other than ineptness at carrying out the conflict.

There is currently a idea being circulated by Israeli politicians and permeated through zionist channels and their respective pro-Israel American mediums that basically everyone in Lebanon is a legitimate target. Is that not what you yourself are trying to justify? If You can't tell the difference between a terrorist and a civilian, it is ok to kill everyone you suspect to be a terrorist. If you can't tell if a building is a residential building that possibly is being used to harbor terrorist and shoot missiles out of, it's ok to blow it up with an airstrike and rain napalm onto the streets? By that logic, Lebanon and its citizens will be reduced to rubble and an unfortunate statistic that politicians can go on camera and say they care deeply about. What i'm saying is that Israel has bungled the war. A disproportionate response would be permissible if it was actually effective in causing a halt to Hizbullah attacks and counter-attacks, it would make sense if actual soldiers were killed. Why do you keep trying to justify accidental civilian casualties. Even when you admit what happened at Qana was a tragedy, you have to back step and mention a number of possibly staged massacres. Let's not forget that Hizbullah or Lebanon are not Hamas, or the PLO, or any other terrorist organization and lump everything together.

Your comment about Iran is unfair and unjustified. I don't think Iran is an exactly admirable country with an admirable leader, but there is nothing other than the prideful words of a president that would make you think that they would fire them at Israel. Iran does not want to isolate itself from the world, and if they wanted to destroy Israel, don't you think they would have entered the frat and attacked Israel by now while it was distracted by Lebanon? Yes I think Israel should be able to defend itself, but it should do it in a fashion that reflects a technologically advanced and morally developed nation. That is something it is absolutely not doing.

I understand that you are very passionate about this topic, the more I read and discuss, the more passionate I become as well (though you have a cultural tie to the conflict, I just observe in hopes the conflict doesn't mean the world blows up tommorow). I think it's important not to have so much faith in Israel that we think that it can do no wrong, that there is a clear bad guy and a clear good guy. This is simply not so. The truth is many civilians have died, many more than can be chalked up as a unfortunate by product of war. Israel is operating on a terrible strategy that is killing people that they did not aim for and is inciting more violence and instability in the region.

Oh and before we perpetuate this Hizbullah human shield thing any further... please read this. By no means is this an end all kind of article, but I think it does shed light on something that we haven't all thought about; that Hizbullah doesn't want to be near civilians in the first place.

Matt said...

I see that we both are passionate about our positions. I also see the media divided on what possition it takes. BBC and CNN will usually take an Anti-Israel approach (I love the BBC; they say the Jews control all the banks, media, and the world and I always love good news... sorry, bad joke). FoxNews and usually MSNBC will take a Pro-Israel approach. I am wary of any news I read and I do trust the truthiness of this Salon article. I have seen a number of photographs of people launching rockets while surrounded by people all wearing the same clothing. Sure this could be photoshopped, but at least these pictures look real. Maybe because Israel, in addition to having better weaponry, technology, and morals , has better photoshopping skills. Whatever the case may be, I have conflicting information on the topic of terrorists embedding with civilians that I choose not to believe the veracity of this article.

Israel is the only western (read: civilized) country in a part of the world where every other country is some sort of dictatorship. Even the elections in Lebanon require that the president be a Menonite Christian and the prime minister be a Sunni Muslim. Israel has time and time again tried to appease (which I was against) the Muslims because all Israel wants is to dwell in peace within her borders (a Biblical promise from God to the Jews and our biggest dream for four millennia). We give and they take, and if you give a mouse a cookie or you give a Hitler the Sudatenland, he's going to want some milk or Czechoslovakia. Notice that there is relative calm between the Jews and most of the Arabs in the West Bank. Us giving back Southern Lebanon or giving up Gaza (which was never part of an Arab Muslim Palestine), rather than peace, has led to the inhabitants of these places waging attacks civilians and military in Israel-Proper.

Israel is fighting for her very survival. We remember too well what has befallen us in the Holocaust. We are facing an enemy who not only denies the Holocaust, but also thinks Hitler didn't finish the job and would be only too glad to follow up on Ahmadinejad's diatribe. Any more land we may give up would be disastrous to Israel. These areas that Syria and the Palestinians want from us are contain the only freshwater supply in Israel. The last time Syria controlled the Golan Heights before they lost it in the Six Day War, they were attempting to use the Dan River on the Golan to divert all water flowing into Israel's only freshwater lake, the Sea of Galilee into the Jordan River. International Law (which has always been friendly to Israel's existance; yeah right) says that any country which contains a water source has authority to control said water source. Do you not think they will try to thirst the Jews to death if they get their hands on the water-source again?

All of these States have called for the complete and utter destruction of the Jewish State before they would be willing to talk. We're dealing with a kind of world that only is willing to use force (often guerilla) and only listens to force. Diplomacy is completely ineffective. Since Oslo, Israel has fared worse than ever. Compromise to them means Israel ceases to exist. They want us to give them Jerusalem?! Never! We've given the Muslim Wakf authority over the Temple Mount and look what they've done to it! No, peaceful gestures are only seen as signs of weakness and Israel needs to play their game the way they play it. The world is against Israel and I think Israel needs to come off of its elevated pedastal and start bringing herself down to their level and begin to kick some ass.