More Tribalism

89beirutairport2_s "Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the offensive in Lebanon has far-reaching objectives, including pushing Hezbollah militants away from the Israeli border and eventually sidelining the group altogether.

"We must neutralize the hostile terrorist infrastructure that exists in Lebanon," he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz also demanded that Lebanese army forces be deployed along the border, saying Israel would not allow Hezbollah guerrillas to reoccupy its positions there. Lebanon has long refused to do this, saying that it is not in business of protecting Israel’s northern border.

The Lebanese government said Wednesday that it had not known of the Hezbollah operation, did not condone it and bore no responsibility for it. The Lebanese Cabinet, which includes two Hezbollah ministers, urged the U.N. Security Council to intervene.

"We hold the government of Lebanon responsible for attacks carried out from its sovereign territory," said Israeli Army spokesman Jacob Dallal."  cbsnews


With its foreseeable offensive in Gaza and its vigorous efforts in the Lebanon the Olmert government in Israel demonstrates the indifference to the possibility of a peace with its Muslim neighbors that has characterized its short history.

In general, there is a certain disingenuous quality to the statements made by many Israelis to "outsiders" concerning their real attitudes toward the Arabs.  Having been on the scene by chance a few times while the IDF "shot up" rock throwers with steel cored riot ammunition and then "ball" ammunition I can only say that indifference to maiming and severe injuries inflicted on the "natives" seems to be a "motif" of Israeli exercise of power in the "territories."   On one occasion I heard an IDF officer in command of troops in the field tell a foreigner who had given first aid to a dying teen aged rioter, "you are lucky, we usually shoot people giving them first aid."  He was an honest man.  On the other side of the scales, I would have to say that I rarely meet Muslims who are in any real way resigned to the long term existence of Israel.  They, also, are relentless in their refusal to accept the legitimacy of any sort of "rights" on the part of the "other."

There are now three Israeli soldiers in the hands of Hamas and Hizballah.  This has been declared by PM Olmert to be an "act of war" for which the Palestinian and Lebanese governments will pay, and pay, and pay.  In the case of the Palestinians, this will inevitably lead to the destruction of the Hamas government.  This has been an Olmert goal from the time the Hamasniks were elected.  The principle is clear.  The Arabs are free to elect governments, but only those which are compliant with the goals of the Israeli state.  In the case of the Palestinians, the election of a government which is inherently hostile to Israel triggered an automatic response leading to the present situation.  The Bush Administration follows the Israeli "line" in this and so the outcome is and was  inevitable.  Hey, folks, this ain’t rocket science.

Airport For the Olmertniks, the Lebanese situation is closely analogous.  The "terorrists" are in charge.  Listen to the Israeli spokespersons.  They are all saying the same thing which is —  The feckless collection of pseudo-democrats who make up the Siniora cabinet and the parliament are RESPONSIBLE!!!  Well, they are, but the truth is that the great majority of  Lebanese politicians are gutless schemers who talk a great fight about almost anything but commerce.

Nevertheless, President Bush speaking in Germany today held this government up for public admiration as a "bridgehead of democracy in the region"  Translation – Israel! Do not tear down this government that we think may "save our (policy) bacon" in the region by its very existence.

Stay tuned for a major conflict between GWB and Olmert over the fate of the Siniora government.

Pat Lang

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19 Responses to More Tribalism

  1. jonst says:

    I know you are busy but I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on numerous possible scenarios here if you can find the time. Or any other commenter as well.
    Will Israel hit Syrian targets? Will they hit Iranian targets? If full scale war breaks out between Israel and Hezbollah, what might the Shia militias in Iraq do?

  2. bh says:

    Israel’s direct attacks on Hezbollah in Lebannon raise the issue of the merger of the Hamas, Hezbollah and Iraq conflicts into a single war. How close are we to that?
    Bush seems to be willing to publicly support Olmert in the face of European criticism. And of course the one factor that these conflicts all share is the connection to Iran as an adversary.

  3. ckrantz says:

    The logical next steep would be for Syria to enter the conflict when or if Hezbollah starts to be to hard-pressed. Assad could hardly abandon
    Hezbollah. Taking out Syria could of course have been the plan from the start.

  4. zanzibar says:

    The markets sure don’t like the smell of this budding conflagration. Crude hit $78/barrel, Dow down today and gold up.
    That’s the problem with tribalism. Of course there are some financial beneficiaries including Iran, Russia and the Saudis and the Carlyle Group and those getting the rake-offs from all the defense and black program spending here in the US.
    Those that pay – the innocents caught in the cross-fire in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, border towns in Israel and of course the next generation in the US saddled with all the debt.

  5. zanzibar says:

    PL, you have a lot of courage in calling it as you see it. Unfortunately any debate about Israel and the Middle East inevitably turns highly emotional with charges of being either an anti-semite or a likudnik. No rational discussion can take place here in the US although we are deeply embroiled in the Middle East and are the largest financier of Israel.
    Maybe there will be no compromises or resolutions until we have genocide of a scale previously unimaginable????

  6. Jerry Thompson says:

    Call me a conspiracy theorist — The Israelis are reacting in a predictable fashion, which makes me wonder. Are we receiving a ‘message’ from Iran — a further demonstration of just how much trouble they can cause if we and the Europeans dare sanction them? Just heard a guy who sounded like he knew what he was talking about draw a connection between Iran and the Mumbai bombings based on fuses, detonators and technique — he was pointing at the G8 summit. If you mark down the original Hamas kidnapping as an independent operation, then take a look at the Hizbollah and Mumbai operations and the recent actins by Sadr’s “out of control” elements, one can at imagine backtrails that lead to Iran. Have I been drinking too much “Middle East Conspiracy Juice”??

  7. John Howley says:

    Ignatius has a sensible op-ed in todays’ Wapo. He concludes:
    “The radicals want to lure America and Israel deeper into the killing ground, confident that they have the staying power to prevail. We should not play their game.”

  8. W. Patrick Lang says:

    This may well be and why have we and the Israelis been so foolish as to play their game?
    In the Israelis’ case it is clear that the excuse provided by the captured soldiers is bogus. Everyone in sight who had a “dog in this hunt” is now freely admitting this.
    Instead we now hear otherwise sensible people saying that Israel wants to destroy Hizballah and that this is what cratering the Beirut aitport runways is about. That is what bombing bridges and highways at the latitude of Beirut is about.
    Does Israel intend once again to advance to the neighborhood of Beirut to “destroy Hizballah?”
    If that is their goal, then why have they not taken measures to trap Hizballah’s fighters in the zone next to their northern border so that an armored thrust into the “borders” would have a good chance of decimating Hizballah.
    No, it appears that Israel is pursuing the old dream of forcing the Lebanese to act like something they are not – a nation state.
    This dream will fail once again as similar and probably related thinking has failed in Iraq and Afghanistan. pl

  9. Radio Left says:


    Crooks and Liars
    Sic Semper Tyrannis 2006: …

  10. canuck says:

    What will Israel do after they have eliminated Hizbollah? especially in Palestine? There won’t be anyone left to negotiate any peace treaties. Is Israel planning to deliver services to the Palestine population as well as their own? By eliminating all of Hizbollah, some who might have been more moderate will be gone, all that will be left are the militant wing of Hizbollah. The vacuum will be quickly filled by perhaps even more extreme groups.

  11. canuck says:

    Oops, I see you don’t think Israel is trying to eliminate Hizbollah…but realistically are there any friendlies to Israel in the Middle East? The ones that they have captured were elected–like it or not, they do have to negotiate with elected Hizbollah’s. Palestianians would have liked to have voted for someone else–there wasn’t anyone else to vote for in the Palestianian election–they chose Hamas because they believed it would be better than what they had. Israel has refused to recognize them and that is a mistake. In rejecting them, they left Palestianians with no funds or way to survive. The greenhouses were a great example. Very little produce ever made it to outside markets before the border was shut down by Israel.

  12. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Hizballah = Shia Lebanese = north border for Israel.
    Hamas = Sunni Palestinians = Gaza and West Bank
    Both groups have had significant contact with the Iranian government. Hizballah more so than Hamas.
    The Israelis could care less what happens to the Palestinians and Lebanese so long as they are made into a non-threat. If that means reducing them to an impotent mass of helots, so be it. pl

  13. LanceThruster says:

    Israelis defend most all of their actions in regards to treatment of Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims by appealing to exceptionalism. It seems always acceptable in their minds to do those things for which they would condemn others. This is rarely addressed as they control most of the discussion. I used to think Israel was exclusively the ‘white hats’ and the Palestinans were the ‘black hats’ just as with our own history of ‘cowboys and Indians’. It was only later I realized how accurate the comparison was with the exception of who the aggreived parties were.

  14. canuck says:

    If that is true, then Israel will fail. Did they learn nothing from their own history? The more other cultures attempted to annihiliate them, the more determined they became to survive. No wonder they need much better arms. They should be very familiar with the hate that grows when groups are forced to bow to their demands. Hizbollah will grow ’til they have enough power to wipe them out. Or is that the lesson you intended to illustrate with this topic?

  15. Dave says:

    I don’t think we are connecting the correct dots here. Israel wanted us to attack Iraq — and we did. It was a bogus was that only served the Israeli, and their friends and supporters in this country, purpose. At the same time, we have heard a constant drone about Syria and Iran. Are these also targets on the Israeli’s list? Of course. Do the Israelis want us to attack these two countries as well? Of course. Has Bush discovered the friendlies in Iraq throwing flowers in our path never showed up? Yes. Has the cruel wars in Iraq continued until even the most warlike American can see it was phony and now holds Bushies responsible? Yes. Has Bush started to back off from seriously threatening to attack Syria and Iran and following the lead of our allies? Yes. Is Israel now pissed that we are no longer on track to fight their wars for it? Of course. Has Israel started a fire that it hopes we will be forced to put out by attacking Syria and Iran? Sure. Will Bush be so stupid as to be sucked into a war with Iran which will jeopardize his oil friends in Arabia while exposing our troops in both Iraq and Afganistan to attack? Probably not. So what it all boils down to is the Israel desperate attempt to sucker us into another war in their interest. The rest is just frosting on the cake. If they fail, they retreat to their borders as if nothing happened.

  16. John Howley says:

    Why’s Israel’s over-reaction? Part (only part) of the explanation lies in genuine public suprise in Israel at the snatching of IDF soldiers. Look at the map, measure the distances. Israel cannot afford any slippage in its superiority in military technique.
    This from an editorial in Haaretz:
    “The army failed both at Kerem Shalom and on the northern border. Hamas’ ability to dig a long tunnel and surprise an IDF outpost on alert, and Hezbollah’s ability to surprise a patrol along the northern border two weeks later, should not spur a disproportionate operation that is meant to restore the army’s prestige. The IDF must first learn its lessons at the unit and command levels, chastise itself for being overly complacent, and ensure that such failures, which have the potential to fundamentally alter the situation through possible escalation, do not recur.”

  17. Jerome Gaskins says:

    “the great majority of Lebanese politicians are gutless schemers who talk a great fight about almost anything but commerce”
    When has any politician been anything but?

  18. bob gardner says:

    thanks for article it was excellent, the way israel are at the moment it wont be long before they give in to the fight.

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