These personal reflections are based upon an e-mail to Susie Becher, a member of the Meretz-Yahad party executive, whom we met while attending the World Union of Meretz conference and the World Zionist Congress last month — a million years ago.– R. Seliger
Everybody in this crisis is playing a customary role. Hezbollah (and Hamas previously) have made their provocations and Israel has immeasurably ratcheted up the violence level in response. Now, they can all compete ably as righteously aggrieved parties – we’ve seen this before.
I hate the wholesale suffering being inflicted upon Lebanese civilians and know that this excess has strengthened support for Hezbollah politically. But given that this has already happened, I hope that the IDF can somehow deliver a blow against the actual Hezbollah fighters and thereby trigger a diplomatic process that removes them and their rockets and missiles from the border. I don’t know if this is possible, but it’s for this reason that I have reluctantly disagreed with calls for an immediate cease-fire. But I’m not of one mind in this; I know that cease-fires take time to arrange and hope that Secretary Rice can help pull it together.
I think that Meretz USA’s statement on the crisis (posted on our homepage) is flawed because it doesn’t emphasize enough the need to minimize civilian casualties; I would have preferred more questioning of IDF targeting priorities. To a large degree, we’re all floundering in an attempt to make sense of things.
It is amazing how things got so bad, so quickly after we spent time there. I visited with various relatives near Haifa for two days, right after the World Zionist Congress, even strolling along the beach there. (My flight departed on June 25, just before the attack from Gaza that captured Gilad Shalit — who turns out to be related to some of my cousins!) My Haifa- area relatives report that a rocket landed a block from their former home of less than a year ago and that the old downtown post office near my late uncle’s apartment has been hit. They themselves report constant hours and days in shelters and security rooms, and a food shortage due to limited access to a grocery store.
Another cousin has left her boyfriend’s house in Nahariya and was in refuge with him near Jerusalem, before returning to her kibbutz next door to Nahariya, where she says that many rockets reported as hitting Nahariya, are actually falling on their grounds. She’s the closest to me emotionally, having stayed with me in New York for several months in the fall of 2001, when we experienced 9/11 together. She’s a member of Meretz, but actually more dovish than I — an activist in Women in Black and Tayuush (a joint Jewish-Arab Israeli effort to relieve the suffering of Palestinians under the occupation) and remarked upon how difficult it is now, to be “in the opposition.”
The following is excerpted from Susie Becher’s article in Ynet:
…. Analysts looking for the answer to how we got here ought to recall the initial demand from the Palestinian militias for the release of female prisoners and children in exchange for Gilad Shalit. In our rush not to negotiate with terrorists (never mind that we have done so in the past and will inevitably end up doing so again this time) no one bothered to consider how it came to be that hundreds of Palestinian women and children are languishing in Israeli jails.
Those who can’t understand why the Palestinians haven’t given up the struggle in the wake of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza might be surprised to learn that they don’t share the distinction Israel draws between Gaza and the West Bank, and suffer daily reminders that the demolition of Gush Katif did not leave them a free people in their own land….
… Olmert is still trying to sell the idea that there is a measure of force that has not yet been used but which, when unleashed, will deal what the prime minister called the “winning blow.”
More force, he is telling us, will succeed where mere force failed. We must restore the Israel’s deterrent power, he is saying, as if the IDF’s military superiority has ever been in question and as if it stopped the stones of the first intifada from evolving into explosive belts and rockets.
Whether Hasan Nasrallah gave the order to attack Israel’s northern border and take IDF soldiers prisoner because he wanted to come to the aid of the Palestinians, win the release of Sami Kuntar after almost 30 years in captivity, ‘liberate’ the Sheba Farms farms, or simply strike a blow at the Zionist enemy, Israel certainly had a right to respond.
But as the saying goes, it is better to be smart than right, and the government has been anything but smart from day one. It is proceeding militarily as it did diplomatically prior to this latest outbreak – with no peripheral vision….