Monday, July 31, 2006

Qana - A Nightmare Repeated

For the second time Israel has lost a war in the Lebanese village of Qana. As in 1996, some kind of mistake lead to the bombing of a place filled with civilians. The public outcry lead to a halt of the military operations then, and it seems it is the beginning of the end also this time.

But why is that? Sure, it is terrible when civilians get killed, and even more so when it is children. I am a father of three, and seeing the pictures of those little bodies dragged from the ruins made me sick to my stomach. It is very easy to imagine that this could happen to my kids, too. After all, we are not living in Switzerland. And, unlike the Swiss, we are surrounded by neighbors who want nothing more than exactly that: Kill my kids, and celebrate it. Celebrate it to the silence of the UN and a probably not very deeply distressed Annan, as we have seen when 400 Israeli civilians were blown up by Palestinian suicide bombers in 2002 and 2003.

And that is the difference between Israel and Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all the other medieval warrior societies around us. We kill because we are fighting for our survival, and because the Hezbollah tactics leave us no choice. Hezbollah kill - for what? For the Sheba Farms, a small piece of dirt not even viewed as occupied by the UN? Bullshit.

Nobody other than the idiotic Al-Jazera (et al) propaganda can believe that Israel wanted to kill those Lebanese kids. (By the way, were there ever images of Israeli kids killed on a bus by a suicide bomber on Al-Jazera? Ever? Well, I didn't think so. Although, on second thought, there actually might have been - with victory music and a heroic poem about the martyr who just slaughtered them...)

I don't believe in the intentional killing because I live here, I know the people, the same people that make up the army, and they are not like that. My kids are drawing peace doves in the kindergarten, they learn that people come in different colors and with different cultures. At the same time kids in Palestinian kindergarten learn to hate Israel and the desire to become martyrs. A thin strip of land separates two cultures who are actually 500 years apart from one another. No wonder that some Arabs still talk about the crusaders when they refer to the West. They haven't yet realized that crusaders are an extinct species, and they themselves have turned into modern day crusaders. I just hope they will last a lot less than their medieval ancestors.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Where is the Diaper Truck?

I start to hate reading the Israeli newspapers. Apart from a few stories about heroism of individual soldiers, it is all just one big whining. Daily pictures of wounded soldiers being evacuated, soldiers crying over fallen comrades, articles about soldiers afraid to go into combat, mothers worried for their sons. The purpose of a heroic battle always seems to be rescue of casualties, not whacking Hezbollah's behind. This may all be very touching and human, but the IDF is not a congregation of social workers, it is a war machine that should make the enemy tremble from fear.

The only thing missing (so far) is a diaper truck bringing urgently needed supplies to the front line!

Israelis always know better than anybody else what has to be done. This is in particular the case with journalists. Now every commentator is a better general than those who serve in the IDF, so nothing the army does is right, they should have done this or that. Worst are the "we won't achieve the goal" articles. This kind of bullshit could very easily turn into self-defeating, self-fulfilling prophecies.

I can see the Hezbollah shmocks sitting in their bunker, or hidden among Lebanese civilians in some village, and browsing the internet for Israeli publications, having a big, fat smile on their faces.

It is time military censorship kicks in. The news media cause a serious damage to the war effort. They can and even should show what is happening on the home front, but please, no more images of crying soldiers - or I will send the diaper truck!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Finally the Truth: From an UN Official!

The western press is slowly picking up the following statement made by the UN Humanitarian Chief Egeland, published after his visit to Beirut:

"Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children," he said. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

Apart from explaining to the world why there are so many civilians victims in Lebanon, the statement is also most noteworthy from an Israeli point-of-view, as it is the first time ever any UN official is (at least indirectly) blaming anything happening here on Israel's enemies, not on Israel. There is hope!

I am dying to know if there is even a single publication in the Arabic or Muslim world citing this statement. Just one, maybe????

Monday, July 24, 2006

And all this because of two soldiers?

This is the most stupid sentence I have heard in a long time, and one can hear it a lot on TV these days. Very few of the journalists flown in to cover the new Lebanon conflict apparently take the time on the plane to read up a little before they go live with nonsense of that sort.

Of course it is not because of the two kidnapped soldiers, just like the army's return to Gaza was not because of one kidnapped other soldier. Those were just triggers. The current war on two fronts means that we have finally been forced to realized that "Land for Peace" is a formula which does not work. It has been the guideline of most governments in the last 15 years, but it has failed. Every time we have ceded territory we got punished for it, rather than rewarded.

Example Lebanon. The UN-verified Israeli withdrawal to the international border has created a certain lull in the daily small intensity fighting that was the routine ever since the creation of the buffer zone in South Lebanon, but in fact it did only produce an illusion of security. And, the final result was written on the walls for a long time, we just didn't want to know it. Israeli intelligence knew that Hezbollah was amassing missiles, hiding them among the civilians in South Lebanon. We knew they are building bunkers and observation points right on the border. We may not have know the full extent of those efforts. But that those efforts are not meant as confidence building measures was also clear from the frequent violations of the border by Hezbollah raids and occasional Katjusha fire into the towns and villages of Northern Israel. On the day of the kidnapping the North was hit by 150 Katjushas. At some point it had to boil over.

The same thing in Gaza. Instead of getting busy with building the first part of their anticipated State after the total withdrawal including the destruction of the Israeli settlements, the Gazans were busy producing Quassam rockets, and digging tunnels to smuggle more weapons in from Egypt. From the day we left Gaza for good (or so we thought) to the decision to reenter Gaza with ground forces, the Israeli towns and villages near the border were hit by 600 Quassam rockets. At some point it had to boil over.

I have heard this argument from the Israeli right many times and never believed it: "The Arabs will interpret such a withdrawal as weakness and result of their terror tactic. They will use the new freedom to intensify the terror rather than to lessen it." Well, I have to admit, they were right on.

Hamas and Hezbollah have convinced one more Israeli dove. There can not be peace without the total destruction of their capability to terrorize the Israeli population. Only once those organizations have been totally destroyed, by all means and whatever the cost in terms of Israeli and Arab casualties, only then the remaining forces among the Palestinians and all other current enemies will have learned the lesson: Israel can not be defeated by violence. Only then they will be ready for peace.

This also means that Olmert's plan of further unilateral withdrawals has no future - unless it is backed up by the credible threat of total destruction of any entity daring to attack Israel from any territory returned, whatever the cost may be. I hope Olmert has the stomach to build that lost credibility now, once and for all.

May the force be with you, Ehud!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Home, sweet Home!

Made it back home, not just in time, well in time. Very well in time, actually. This war in the North is quickly becoming part of the status quo. I start to suspect that I will be going and returning a couple of more times, before there will be a dramatic change in the news.

Oh yes, the news. While in Germany I was starving for news. The hotel deep in the forests of the "Schwaebische Alp" had neither cables nor satellite TV, so I could get only the local and two national German stations. The good souls have news in the morning and twice or three times during the evening program, that's it. Well, there is not much to talk about, is there. How many times can you look at a traffic jam caused by vacationers going south? Or see the dropping water levels in Lake Konstanz?

News in Israel are something else. For starters, there usually is something new to see, every day, every hour, somewhere somebody is trying to kill somebody else. Or gets killed. Or could have been killed. Whatever. So whenever you turn on the national channels, it will be only a few minutes before you get some news update thrown at you. Soap - commercial - news - commercial - news - promo - commercial - news - soap. That is roughly the typical programming sequence. This is how Israeli TV manages to spread a single episode of "24 Hours" over 24 hours actual viewing time.

Well, the thing is that even when it occasionally happens that there simply are no news whatsoever, how much news can 6 Million people generate after all, the pattern continues unchanged. When poor Ariel Sharon had his stroke all we could watch on TV for a full week were commercials and news bulletins. By the end of the week TV news crews had managed to interview every person Sharon ever talked to in his entirely life, and many more he hadn't, including hospital cleaning staff and random patients in other wards. Waiting for the next 30 seconds of "24 Hours" I had to watch Moshe from Moshav Galia, telling live about his abdominal pain, which is not entirely unlike the feeling Ariel Sharon must have had at the beginning of his stroke, being finally relieved by the same capable doctors, even with somewhat similar probing instruments. When Sara from Kfar Saba started to talk about the traffic jams on the way to the hospital, I changed channels for the 67th time that evening, only to return to the recorded version of Moshe's abdominal thriller.

It won't take long and the current news will decay to the same level. That will be the moment to finally go on summer vacation without the fear of missing another historic moment.

A peaceful weekened to our soldiers in the North, to frightened families in damp shelters, and to the poor Lebanese civilians who have nothing to do with the Hezbolla shmocks and get into the way of the IAF by bad luck only. May God watch out for all of you.

Friday, July 14, 2006

At War!

This is my ultimate nightmare. I don't mean the mini war going on in Israel at this very moment. I mean that I am not there! My family is preparing the shelter and I am traveling in Europe, green and summary, one big, peaceful Disneyland. Filled with people utterly clueless about what is going on in the Middle East, now more than ever. Besides being a bit worried for my folks, but not too much really, I have this tendency of missing the historic moments. The fall of the Berlin wall I experienced glued to the TV in an Israeli student dorm, instead of climbing over the wall myself. By the time the Iraqi SCUDs fell on Israel in the first Gulf War I was back in Germany and talked to people in Israel who were wearing gas masks during the conversation. When Rabin was shot I was in Hong Kong, stunned and sad about not being able to be with all the mourners on what is now called Rabin square in Tel Aviv. I did experience the return of the British colony Hong Kong to China, better than nothing, I guess.

And now this. Israel is finally getting tough with the maniacs, who have fired over 600 missiles into Israel since we have withdrawn entirely from the Gaza strip, and I am having croissant for breakfast - but good ones, I have to admit. The rightists in Israel were proven right - instead of getting less terror we got more. And now the Katjushas raining down on the North, with Syria and Iran getting a good show for their money.

However, I don't think we are doing the right thing with bombarding bridges and air strips in Lebanon. Of course Hezbollah has to be turned into dust, whatever it takes, but at the end of the day Hezbollah is just a group of demented Mafiosi, who live off the Lebanese people like blood sucking insects. They could do nothing without the support from Teheran and Damascus. And this is exactly where we have to go to stop the madness. If Assad has to witness the whole military and administrative apparatus of his governing clique turned into trash by the IAF, he will probably be smart enough to understand that a few Katjushas on Israel are not worth this price, as much as he may enjoy them. The same is true for Iran. The mullahs think they are out of reach and therefore they can support terror and call for Israel's destruction without any risk. This is the time to show them that Israel's arm extends all the way to Teheran. And, by the way, it is an excellent opportunity to finish their crazy nuclear ambitions. But whom am I telling this - Olmert and Peretz, do you read me?

I just hope I'll make it home before it is all over, once again.

You people out there, have a nice and peaceful weekend.