Violence around Israel


in Bombs and rockets, Politics

As is so often the case, it is only with the greatest of dismay that one can read headlines from the Middle East at the moment. What baffles me is that I cannot see what anyone hopes to gain from this looming conflict. Kidnapping Israeli soldiers is a good way to provoke massive retaliation (or provide justification for attacks planned before the kidnapping). At the same time, what Israel really hopes to achieve through incursions into Gaza and Lebanon is unclear. Almost certainly, there actions are further imperiling the hostages. The only comprehensible reasoning I can come up with is that the Israelis fear that anything less than a massive response to these kidnappings would encourage more.

The prospect of large-scale violence in the region, including considerable loss of life, is increasingly real. I am suspect that covert diplomatic efforts are being made on the part of the United States and others to urge greater restraint upon Israel, though a public condemnation seems pretty unlikely.

The only possible solution in the region is normalized relations between Israel, its neighbours, and a viable Palestinian state comprising the great majority of the West Bank and Gaza. The prospects of that point being reached are in the process of receding far off into the distance. And we can really do is hunker down for more bloodshed, while watching the oil producing nations (including Canada) rub their hands together in greedy anticipation of the further windfall from turmoil-boosted prices ahead.

[Update]: The Economist on this (requires subscription)
Patrick Porter on Israel and Lebanon (via OxBlog)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

B July 14, 2006 at 11:29 pm

Israel is being really stupid.

The Americans need to shake them, remind them that they will always need to live in this damnable region, and threaten to withhold support unless they tone things way down. Another regional war would serve nobody.

Anonymous July 15, 2006 at 1:43 am

Ehud Olmert likely sees Israel’s simultaneous offensives in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon as a way to strike a decisive blow not only against Hezbollah and Hamas but also against the interests of Syria and Iran, which bankroll and arm the militants.

Because of widespread Israeli support for strong action against Hezbollah, which penetrated Israel’s northern border and captured two soldiers this week, Olmert could be in even bigger trouble if he backs down.

Milan July 15, 2006 at 1:19 pm

Tristan has a post on this also. I think we would both appreciate someone who has a comprehensive theory of what’s going on sharing it with us.

Jon Stewart also has some commentary on this, specifically on President Bush’s reaction to the events, while he was in Germany. When it comes to planning to resolve crises in the Middle East, the man is no Clinton or Carter.

Anonymous July 15, 2006 at 2:19 pm

No-one would deny, surely, that kidnapping soldiers and holding them to ransom against the release of various political prisoners is the kind of act that would ideally be condemned rather than condoned, just as no-one would deny that some Palestinian and Arab organisations hold and voice some rather unpleasant views about Jews. People do, however, struggle to condemn the use of bombing as a technique of collective punishment. A crime is greeted by a greater crime, and we hold our hands and say, ‘what can be done?’, excusing the disproportion of the response by reference to the barbarism, the residence in the hinterlands beyond reason, almost beyond humanity, of those on whom it falls.


R.K. July 15, 2006 at 5:22 pm

It could be the extremely basic strategy of keeping the Palestinian and Lebanese governments so smashed up and weak that they can’t threaten Israel in any comprehensive way: either in terms of overall security or the security of post-1967 land grabs.

Milan July 16, 2006 at 4:09 pm

Another Oxford blogger comments: Katheder Blog.

Anonymous July 16, 2006 at 11:32 pm

Things really are going to hell:

Eight Canadians, including several members of the same family, were killed in an Israeli air strike in Lebanon on Sunday as the Canadian government stepped up plans for an evacuation of the war-torn region.

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