Aug 4, 2006

Recent Israeli Offensive: The Backfire Heard Round the World

Headlines We've Been Seeing Lately

  • August 4 Air Raid Kills 33 Civilians in Lebanon, predominantly farm workers

  • July 31 Air Raid in Qana, Lebanon killed up to 54 civilians, 37 of them children

  • Casualties Since June 28 Israeli Offiensive: 720 Lebanese, 73 Israelis

Israeli Offensive Unites Enemies Against Her
The disproportionate offensive Israel has launched against the Shia Lebanese resistance movement helps transform the unsavory, admittedly terrorist Hizbollah (or Hezbollah), into underdog status and is fomenting and uniting sympathy across the Arab world against Israel. Before this recent offensive, most Arab governments vocally opposed Hizbollah. Now, Saudi Arabia and even normally neutral Jordan are distancing themselves from Washington and there is increasingly widespread support for Hizbollah, at least on the street, only fueled by such arrogant swaggering of Condoleeza Rice's "birth pangs of a new Middle East" comment. The U.S., continuing in our dogged support for Israel, will not condemn any of the atrocities, much less put chutpah into a push for a real cease-fire. "Never before . . . the 1960’s, had the Arab streets been so angry at the Israeli aggression and ready for confrontation with the Israeli army." This zeitgheist of anti-Israeli sentiment is also making the normally detestable Hassan Nasrallah into a hero, another Salahuddin Al Ayyubi perhaps, who once stemmed the tide against the Crusaders in the Holy Land.

Few of us in the western world, particularly the U.S., would fault Israel for defending itself from the original attack on June 28. But the scale and the intensity of the offensive are effectively working against Isreal in the longer term. The huge proportion of civilian casualties make it seem that Isreal would like to remove the citizens from southern Lebanon entirely. And the more Isreal moves in this direction, the more the tide of public sentiment in the Middle East strengthens against them.

What Could Be Done?
Is there room for a middle ground? Should the West push more forcefully for a cease-fire? Does Israel realize its effort is backfiring? What do you think? Let me know by clicking Comments, below.

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