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What It’s Like To Be An Israeli
You’re dead because you went to the wrong Starbucks. You were tired of the one closest to your house, so you went to the one closer to work instead, but that was the one some terrorist planted a bomb in. Or, maybe the terrorist didn’t plant one – maybe instead of worrying about whether somebody is about to shout into their cell phone, you were more worried about whether they were going to pull the ripcord on their body explosives...and then you and your latte blew up.

Now, let’s pretend California is Israel and Mexico is Lebanon. Osama Bin Laden has moved just over the border, and he’s paid citizens there to keep katyusha rockets in their living room, like the Hezbollah has done in Lebanon. They’ve moved into the first floors of many apartment buildings –- making sure to be mixed in with civilians. To fight back against Osama then means killing civilians. Not innocent civilians but culpable civilians –- culpable for storing bombs and putting their families and their neighbors’ at risk.

But, what about the government of the state where Hezbollah is allowed to store missiles in residential areas? Can you imagine if people in the hood were allowed to keep scuds in their backyards, and rocket launchers on their SUVs? Lebanon bears culpability for letting Hezbollah infest their society.

Here's an excerpt from a New Yorker article by Jeffrey Goldberg about their intentional placement of their offices in residential buildings:

The chief spokesman for Hezbollah is a narrow-shouldered, self-contained man of about forty named Hassan Ezzeddin, who dresses in the style of an Iranian diplomat: trim beard, dark jacket, white shirt, no tie. His office is on a low floor of an apartment building in the southern suburbs of Beirut, which are called the Dahiya. Hezbollah has five main offices there, and all are in apartment buildings, which helps to create a shield between the bureaucracy and Israeli fighter jets and bombers that periodically fly overhead. The shabby offices are sparsely furnished; apparently, the idea is to be able to dismantle them in half an hour or less, in case of an Israeli attack.

Sure, there’s a problem with the bombing Israel’s doing, in that it’s taking out innocents with the hostiles, and surely creating hatred and resentment. But, the difference is, every time I hear an Israeli talk about that, in TV, radio or print, they lament the loss of innocent lives. Kind of different from when all the Muslims cheered about 9/11, huh?

Don't think Israel isn't showing restraint. They surely have the capacity to flatten all of Lebanon. They don't. But, what would we do if we were facing the same situation from Mexico -- if Mexicans wanted not just land, but to run all Americans into the sea? How can there ever be peace with a people who want that?

Benjamin Netanyahu explains in The Wall Street Journal:

Since Israel's unilateral withdrawal in 2000 to an internationally recognized border, Hezbollah has established in Lebanon a terror state-within-a-state, and, working on behalf of Iran and Syria, it has sought to undermine the emergence of a free and democratic Lebanon. In crossing an international border, murdering and kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing rockets at Israeli cities, Hezbollah has also committed blatant acts of war. Like any nation exercising its right of self-defense, Israel is responding not only to the specific incidents that occurred but is also working to eliminate the threat posed by this clear and present danger.

In direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559--which specifically calls for the disarming of all militias in Lebanon--Hezbollah has used its de facto territorial control over southern Lebanon to amass a deadly arsenal of over 12,000 rockets. Some of these missiles are Iranian-made and bring over one-half of Israel's population within range of the terrorist proxies of a fanatic Iranian regime that denies the Holocaust and is planning a new one with its promise to "wipe Israel off the map."

Imagine what the U.S. would do if, on its northern border, a terror state-within-a-state pledged to its destruction was established from which flurries of missiles were fired at Chicago, its third-largest city. With that in mind, to suggest, as some have, that Israel is not acting with restraint is preposterous. Unlike Hezbollah, which is indiscriminately launching hundreds of missiles at Israeli cities and towns to kill as many civilians as possible, Israel is using only a fraction of its firepower and is in fact acting with great care to minimize harm to civilians. But because Hezbollah not only targets civilians but also uses them as human shields by hiding its missile launchers in population centers, Hezbollah has deliberately placed innocent Lebanese civilians in harm's way.

At stake in the current operation is not only Israel's security, Lebanon's democratic future, and stability in the region, but a central principle in the war on terror. Soon after Sept. 11, President Bush made clear that America would no longer make a distinction between the terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. This policy is essential because international terrorism cannot survive without the support of sovereign states.

In order for the global terror network to be dismantled, its support by sovereign states must end--whether that supports comes in the form of actively perpetrating terror attacks (as in the case of Iran and the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority), providing safe havens for terror groups (as in the case of Syria) or not acting against terror groups within their borders (as is the case in Lebanon). A world in which the international community does not hold states accountable for the terrorism that emanates from within their borders is a world in which the war on terror cannot be won.

That is why any cease-fire or diplomatic effort that does not have as its objective the disarming of Hezbollah will only strengthen the forces of terror. And that is also why the world should fully support Israel in disarming Hezbollah--for Israel's sake, for Lebanon's sake and for the sake of our common future.

Posted by aalkon at July 24, 2006 12:49 PM

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Comments

I keep hearing about the religious right who want to bring about Jesus' second coming by restoring Israel to the Jews, causing Armageddon in the form of nuclear war, etc. Fulfilling the prohecies of Revelations. I know there's always nutters about, and they always talk themselves up, but are these people really a serious threat?

Posted by: Norman at July 24, 2006 1:04 AM

Hey, Amy, thanks for writing this. It's hard for me to understand the situation, because it seems like no one in the mainstream media talks about the bigger picture, at least what I have access to. It's always, "X number of people killed today," "X rockets fired today," and so on. This has helped me gain a little perspective.

Posted by: Brenda at July 24, 2006 3:19 AM

Thanks for writing this, Amy.

i've always thought the U.S. had gone after the wrong idiots. Funny how not one of the terrorists who flew any of the planes on 9/11 were Iraqi. There were several Saudi's, an Egyptian, and a couple of Syrians. HELLO!?!

Iran has been supporting terrorism for years. Why hasn't anyone beside Israel done anything about them?

Posted by: Rob at July 24, 2006 6:03 AM

I'm not buying that every civilian in southern Lebanon is "complicit" and "culpable". Suppose a gang of armed thugs moves into your apartment building. They seem to be up to no good, but have threatened you to keep your mouth shut or else. You can't afford to move, and there is no effective police force you can contact for protection. I think this is the situation a lot of Lebanese civilians have found themselves in. I'm not saying that Israel doesn't have the right to defend itself or try to go after Hizbollah, but neither do I think a majority of Lebanese are complicit in hiding and supporting terrorists.

Posted by: deja pseu at July 24, 2006 7:39 AM

They're not, Deja, and that's the sad part. Their government allows, if you look at it in our terms, "gang members" to have scud missiles in their backyards, making everybody a target. I'm not saying "a majority" of Lebanese are doing this - I don't think that's true. Enough of them are doing it. Their government is culpable for allowing it, same as our government would be if it let your neighbors stockpile missiles to take out cities in Mexico - or vice versa.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2006 8:23 AM

Norman, to answer your question, the religious nutters are thrilled about this, and make no bones about that. Check out this link from Harpers of all the "rapture readies":

http://www.harpers.org/rapture-ready-20060718001.html

Praise God! We are chosen to be in these times and also watch and spread the word. Something inside me is exploding to get out, and I don't know what it is. Its kind of like I want to do cartwheels around the neighborhood.

* * *

Got that dancing feeling on the inside of me.

* * *

This is the busiest I've ever seen this website in a few years! I have been having rapture dreams and I can't believe that this is really it! We are on the edge of eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

* * *

Whoa! I can sure feel the glory bumps after reading this thread!

* * *

I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what's going on in the M.E.!! And Watcherboy, you were so right when saying it was quite a day yesterday, in the world news, and I add in local news here in the Boston area!! Tunnel ceiling collapsed on a car and killed a woman of faith, and we had the most terrifying storms I have ever seen here!! But, yes, oh happy day, like in your screen name , it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited, right there with ya!!

* * *
I am excited beyond words that the struggle of this life may be over soon and I can finally be FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Creepy, huh?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2006 8:28 AM

Excellent post, Amy.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at July 24, 2006 9:00 AM

"Got that dancing feeling on the inside of me."

I hope he made it to the bathroom before the dancing broke out all over the floor.

If support for Hezbollah is widespread among the Lebanese, perhaps this is not primarily because of their ideology, but because they provide needed health, social, and educational services.

[Bob Marley is singing in my head right now, "Them belly full but we hungry. A hungry mob is an angry mob"]

When you have few prospects for ever getting your family beyond a dirt-poor existence and some group comes along with clean water, money for elementary schools, etc, you tend to develop very positive feelings about them. This seems so friggin' obvious. Perhaps we should try to compete with Hezbollah as a developer, rather than a destroyer, of infrastructure?

Just an early morning thought. Gotta get back to folding the laundry. Flew in from Boston late last night. So glad to see that all you smart-ass, sharp-tongued bloggers have been hard at work. Missed you.

love,
Lena

Posted by: Lena at July 24, 2006 9:06 AM

The Hezbollah is a terrorist group, there's no doubt about that. But to pick on what Lena writes, maybe we should look at the circumstances that breed such organizations. Drain the swamp, rather than keep on killing mosquitos -- which has shown its self-defeating limits, and has dramatic consequences for civilian populations. The Lebanese may be victims of their government's (in)actions, but it seems to me that the Israelis are, too.

Posted by: LA Frog at July 24, 2006 9:19 AM

"When you have few prospects for ever getting your family beyond a dirt-poor existence and some group comes along with clean water, money for elementary schools, etc, you tend to develop very positive feelings about them. This seems so friggin' obvious. Perhaps we should try to compete with Hezbollah as a developer, rather than a destroyer, of infrastructure?"

You're very right about that, Lean. That's what Clinton said - I still have to post his talk from the altie newspaper convention...anyway, he said that we did more to combat terrorism with all the donations and good works after the tsunami than with all the fighting. Seems simple when you think of it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2006 9:27 AM

"he said that we did more to combat terrorism with all the donations and good works after the tsunami than with all the fighting."

You just reminded me of one explanation of the more accepting public attitudes towards gays/lesbians that US polls have shown over the past decade or so: It probably has more to do with making people laugh and feel good with light entertainment like Will & Grace, Ellen Degeneris, etc, than with all the heavy-handed, dreary policy wonking of Human Rights Campaign and all the other LGBT think tanks back east.

Posted by: Lena at July 24, 2006 9:53 AM

Laughter over tanks. It works for me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2006 10:02 AM

I have a schoolgirl's crush on Christopher Hitchens. Load this link:

http://tinyurl.com/h32s3

And scroll to 18 minutes 38 seconds. Watch for two minutes and twenty seconds. (Remember, HItchens' mother was Jewish, therefore...)

2 additional points:

- We (the U.S.) are playing both sides of the chessboard, as if for our own amusement; the most frequent sleepover weekend visitor to the Clinton White House was Yassir Arafat. (This makes Arafat the number two recipient of Oval Office hospitality, second only to Clinton's overweight, unemployed brother-in-law.)

- Israel is six million people surrounded by 125 million less-developed, bitter, manipulated muslims and arabs. If Israel went away, those nations would have to find something else to distract themselves, and their own incompetence might well come to the fore.

I support the Ken Layne plan: Israel should buy a piece of Baja and move next door to it's best friend on Earth.

If Condi needs me this week, she's got my cell number.

Posted by: Crid at July 24, 2006 10:43 AM

Amy-


I checked out the link to the Rapture Ready lot. While they're keen to bring about the End Times and get raptured away (if only they would!) they didn't seem to be anything more than a bunch of excited fruitcakes. Do they have significant influence on the US government? That would take money and organization.


I haven't seen any sign of them in the UK. Nobody here seems to have any influence on the UK government (except Bush, of course :-).

Posted by: Norman at July 24, 2006 11:40 AM

Now, let’s pretend California is Israel and Mexico is Lebanon.


Wouldn't we then have to pretend that California has an extremely powerful and wealthy ally on the other side of the globe? That this ally is willing to ignore California's many documented violations of human rights and UN resolutions, and keep it supplied with sophisticated weaponry, aircraft, etc? Wouldn't we further have to pretend that this weaponry was used to strike well beyond Osama's area of influence, bombing Mexico City, its airport, its main roads? Then wouldn't we have to pretend that, on the pretext of destroying potential rocket launch sites, the California Air Force targeted civilian suburbs of Mexico City, including buses and cars, medical facilities and fuel supplies?


I guess the game would end for the time being as California's powerful friend sent its senior diplomat to propose peace to Osama's people, while simultaneously re-supplying California's army and air force so the destruction could continue....

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at July 24, 2006 12:08 PM

Now, let’s pretend California is Israel and Mexico is Lebanon.


Wouldn't we then have to pretend that California has an extremely powerful and wealthy ally on the other side of the globe? That this ally is willing to ignore California's many documented violations of human rights and UN resolutions, and keep it supplied with sophisticated weaponry, aircraft, etc? Wouldn't we further have to pretend that this weaponry was used to strike well beyond Osama's area of influence, bombing Mexico City, its airport, its main roads? Then wouldn't we have to pretend that, on the pretext of destroying potential rocket launch sites, the California Air Force targeted civilian suburbs of Mexico City, including buses and cars, medical facilities and fuel supplies?


I guess the game would end for the time being as California's powerful friend sent its senior diplomat to propose peace to Osama's people, while simultaneously re-supplying California's army and air force so the destruction could continue....

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at July 24, 2006 12:13 PM

Now, let’s pretend California is Israel and Mexico is Lebanon.


Wouldn't we then have to pretend that California has an extremely powerful and wealthy ally on the other side of the globe? That this ally is willing to ignore California's many documented violations of human rights and UN resolutions, and keep it supplied with sophisticated weaponry, aircraft, etc? Wouldn't we further have to pretend that this weaponry was used to strike well beyond Osama's area of influence, bombing Mexico City, its airport, its main roads? Then wouldn't we have to pretend that, on the pretext of destroying potential rocket launch sites, the California Air Force targeted civilian suburbs of Mexico City, including buses and cars, medical facilities and fuel supplies?


I guess the game would end for the time being as California's powerful friend sent its senior diplomat to propose peace to Osama's people, while simultaneously re-supplying California's army and air force so the destruction could continue....

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at July 24, 2006 12:13 PM

"Israel should buy a piece of Baja and move next door to it's best friend on Earth."

If that means I wouldn't have to fly all the way to NYC to get a decent plate of kasha varnishkas, I'll all for it. Unfortunately, I don't think a Baja-based Israel would have much strategic value to the US. This is one of those relationships that's strengthened by the distance.

Posted by: Lena Finkelheimer at July 24, 2006 5:31 PM

"I have a schoolgirl's crush on Christopher Hitchens."

Well then, why weren't you there to tuck in his friggin' shirt collar before he went on the air? The chest hair is really TMI. A MESS!!!

Posted by: Lena at July 24, 2006 5:36 PM

Very soon middle age will happen to you too, Lena, and then you won't be so judgmental.

Posted by: Crid at July 24, 2006 8:21 PM

I turned 44 in April, Crid, so that makes me about 92 in Gay Years. It's over for me, baby. Ship me off to the glue factory already!

Posted by: Lena the Cross-Dressing Spinster at July 24, 2006 9:37 PM

in reading the article in slate about the lebanese nightlife just after the war started, i was reminded of the musical 'cabaret'. do you think the moderate lebanese are in denial about hezbollah the way the germans were with the nazis?

i don't care if the israelis flatten hezbollah headquarters in southern lebanon now. if you haven't gotten out of dodge now, you're just as stupid as those morons who don't get of the way of a hurricane.

i really like the bajasrael idea. it would require that the jews give up on the whole yahweh thing, and they've got the ethnic history binding them to it, unlike us silly xians. it would probably be the best thing to happen to the U.S., as it would force those crazy bastards to unfuck their religion.

that and i hear israeli chicks are primo hotties.

Posted by: g*mart at July 24, 2006 10:33 PM

I want to recommend to you and everyone reading this blog this thread on FlyerTalk that is essentially a discussion between two friends, one in Israel, and one in Lebanon, who are in the middle of the war right now. They are not members of either combating party. They are intelligent, insightful, and occasionally funny. This is one of the largest, and certainly the fastest growing thread on the enormous FlyerTalk forums. It is moderated to keep the discussion on what is happening and away from politics.

Caution: It is addictive. It currently has 83 pages with 1649 posts from community members. It started less than a month ago. It is growing exponentially. It is beginning to get international attention. There are several mentions in the thread of major newspapers around the world recommending it. Some teachers are using it for class discussion. The Israli was interviewed on a major international T.V. network (and did not accept a repeat invitation -he tells us why, and describes how even an interview can be most misleading).

Here is the link to the thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=563147&page=1 The link takes you to the first page. You may want to jump to the last page and work backwards, to get the latest first.

Posted by: Gary Steiger at July 24, 2006 10:36 PM

"that and i hear israeli chicks are primo hotties."

And a lot of the men are total fucking babes.

Posted by: Lena at July 25, 2006 6:30 AM

i don't care if the israelis flatten hezbollah headquarters in southern lebanon now. if you haven't gotten out of dodge now, you're just as stupid as those morons who don't get of the way of a hurricane.

Kinda hard to get out of Dodge with the major infrastructure blown up. If you're anything but foreign or wealthy, you're fucked. At least the victims of Katrina had buses comin in to pick them up and wasn't worried about the hurricane coming back to fire lightning blots at the buses.

that and i hear israeli chicks are primo hotties.

Lebanese girls are the hottest women in the world. There is 0 room for debate on that.

One question, if Israel, the primier military in the ME (besides us) couldn't get rid of Hizbollah after occupying the country for almost 20 years, how do you expect Lebanon's emasculated military to be able to put a dent in them? Not a single commentator has been able to give an answer to that very simple question.

Posted by: Mo at July 27, 2006 7:59 AM

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