Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On the capturing of Israeli soldiers

This morning two more Israeli soldiers had been captured in an operation by Hezbullah in the South of Lebanon. So far this has led to massive reprisals by the Israeli army as well as the first incursion into Lebanon since 2000. The story is here in Arabic and also the link in English.

Apparently the IOF Chief of Staff Dan Halutsch has promised to turn the clock back twenty years on Lebanon if the two soldiers aren't returned, while the Israeli Prime Minister has held the Lebanese government directly responsible for this. By implication Syria will also be condemned and no doubt it and Iran do have some hand in the matter. What this shows is that they still do have leverage and are able to hit Israel where it hurts in spite of it's military might. In a way, this could be interpreted as a message to the United States, at the moment busy sowing terrorism and fomenting civil war in Iraq, yet already eyeing Iran or Syria as potential sequels.

"The Proxy Policeman"
It's interesting to see how Israel and the United States like to respond to these scenarios, namely by placing responsibility squarely on governments and authorities that have no way of controlling these militant groups. I like to call it the "Proxy Policeman" technique. You force somebody else to protect your house otherwise they go to prison instead of the thief. This technique, used in conjunction with the collective punishment of civilian populations has been perfected by decades of Israeli occupation. To some extent, Israel's ideological parent is now applying these techniques in Iraq. Increased responsibility placed on a Quisling Iraqi government along with collective punishment such as we saw in Fallujah help to cow the population and bog down the natives with infighting and police actions. Israel's reaction to the kidnapping is a calculated response aiming at exactly such results.

What's all the fuss about?

Thousands of Palestinians are languishing in Israeli jails and yet there seems to be more outcry on the release of the Israeli soldiers. What could possibly explain the difference in reactions? One argument may go along the lines that it is only to protect the Arab's from Israel's response, likely to be bloody and violent. The Arabs, so the argument implies, are little more than errant children and must be saved from their irresponsible actions before the god-like Israel unleashes its righteous fury. If not they have only themselves to blame. A quick look on the BBC's discussion forum about the Israeli response quickly demonstrates this mentality even amongst members of the public.

"A flawed argument"
Where this argument is deeply flawed is the way in which it neglects a crucial factor. This factor is civilian deaths or "regrettable incidents" as the IOF likes to call them. One Israeli soldier is killed or captured in what is essentially a warzone, and the response is collective punishment to the entire civilian population. What purity of arms and justice is this? These attacks are designed to do nothing more than convince these people to pack up and just move. Allowing more settlements to spread. I think this is called ethnic cleansing? Oops, apologies, I don't think I'm allowed to use that term for liberal democratic Western Israel!

No comments: