Friday, July 21, 2006

Speaking on the unspeakable

Anyone who follows my musings will be aware that the Latest Israeli response has rendered me sick at heart. It has almost dried up my desire to understand and analyze the momentous events swirling around us.

But it is essential that we should understand, to the degree that we can, what is happening to our world.

I don’t except notions of nationalist isolationism; this row boat drifting the universe is simply too small and fragile to sustain such notions. We are not talking about a butterfly fluttering its wings in the Amazon, we are talking about sophisticated weaponry being lobbed violently in an inflammable zone.

The closest I have come to a reasoned explanation and analysis is an article from the Melbourne Age. A war with no winners

As far as Australia is from the epicenter of this tragedy, the country has large representative Jewish and Arabic communities. I still have friends from both camps, those I choose to entertain as friends. This issue is very real to Australians.

Having said that, some snippets from this essay:

Both Hamas and Hezbollah captured soldiers. To outsiders, that would seem to be fair play under the rules of guerilla warfare.

But soldiers carry an almost sacred status in the Israeli imagination. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is a conscript army, so the rhetoric about "everyone's son or daughter" is literally true. Its personnel are not seen as professionals hired to kill or be killed, but as citizens.

One eminent Israeli writer suggests that Israel, in a strange reversal of the norm, mourns a military death more than a civilian one - that it has a ceremonial, collective language for the former that it lacks for the latter.

Accordingly, it has become part of the national psyche that when a soldier is taken, he cannot be forsaken: the state must go to any lengths to ensure his return, even if that means bringing back a corpse.

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Ariel Sharon could negotiate a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah in 2004, rather than bombing them from the sky, because he had no fear of being branded weak. Olmert and Peretz, by contrast, need to assert themselves. Hence Olmert's declaration that "we will demolish them and nothing is going to hold us back".

And the Defence Minister's vow that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah "will remember the name Amir Peretz for the rest of his life". In that mood, neither man was likely to rein in Israel's ambitious chief of staff, Dan Halutz. Instead, say the Israeli commentariat, there are "three Napoleons" running the show.

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From all the rational, strategic calculations, this is the factor that is so often missing: the hatred sown in the human heart. Both sides have ensured this dreadful conflict spreads, not just across borders - but down the generations.

I guess the issue of a conscript army depends somewhat on passions. Switzerland has a compulsory conscript army, but they don’t really have a record of conflict. I’m not sure what you compare the Israeli psyche with.

On the issue of leadership the rationale is easier to understand. The post-foundation leadership simply doesn’t have the moral or political authority Israeli leaders are familiar with.

If taking a reasonable compromise is considered weakness, in them or by them, then the world hasn’t seen the best of it yet.

But the real issue is that this stupid conflict can only breed more hatred and more conflict. No one in that hot house is going to simply forget these atrocities and get on with life as normal.

Poor leaders on all sides have ensured a continuation and even an increase in hostilities, for years to come.

The Israeli leaders are crazy if they think they can simply wipe out the problem by murdering all and sundry around their borders.

The Arabic players, and they are not particularly homogenous, are crazy if they think the world will let them wipe out Israel. The history of the ‘beleaguered Jew’ is just too deep. Oh, and there is oil in them thar desserts!

Now if any halfwits, wingnuts, anons or other wastes of real estate feel moved to proffer their nonsensical crap, be warned, it will not see the light of day.

This issue does not encourage my sense of humour one little bit.

4 comments:

abi said...

Well said, cartledge. This conflict will be continuing long after we're gone.

Cartledge said...

Thanks Abi. While the article crystalized my feelings credit should go to the author.

romunov said...

I don't think Peres and Olmert are trying to be "this or that", as the plans for the invasion was planned for about one year. It doesn't take a history major to figure out that the captured soldiers were just a decoy. WRH brings up a good point, the MOSSAD has already infiltrated HisBallaz... Who could be doing nasty things in name of the Muslim "brothers".

But those are just speculations, take them for what they are.

Cartledge said...

Oh romunov. Let you go off for a holiday and all hell breaks loose.
Great bunch of comments.