Creating people's geographies
Avnery and Gush Shalom are voices in the wilderness even more so now. What’s wrong with Israeli society and this mass / collective insecurity and oblivion to terror and pain caused in such wildly disproportionate terms?
A recent article by the excellent Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, Days of Darkness, has noted this well. Where in the world does a ‘peace’ group (Peace Now) not rally against such a monstrous war and in fact buys the absurd rhetoric that this is about the “self-defence” of Israel? The article below rightly notes that Katyushas do not threaten the existence of state of Israel, though Ahmadinejad did not say “wipe off the map” as has been reported by Juan Cole, The NY Times and others.
Israelis Line Up Behind Lebanon Campaign
Thu Aug 3, 2006 9:02am ET
By Allyn Fisher-Ilan
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli public support for the war on Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon has been so overwhelming it has become hard to tell the doves from the hawks in the Jewish state’s generally fractious society.
One of the strongest examples of the wide consensus Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has mustered for the three-week-old offensive has been the surprise backing of Israel’s premier anti-war group, Peace Now, for the military campaign.
A Peace Now spokesman, Yariv Oppenheimer, says the group has no plans to demonstrate against the fighting in Lebanon that followed a Hizbollah cross-border raid on July 12 in which eight soldiers were killed and two kidnapped.
The organization was at the forefront of protests after Israel launched a large-scale invasion of its northern neighbour in 1982 with the declared aim of driving Palestinian guerrillas away from the border.
Israeli forces, under frequent attack by Hizbollah fighters, pulled out of Lebanon in 2000.
Back in 1982, many Israeli doves felt Israel had other options besides a war, which sharply divided the nation. This time, many believe Israel is fighting for survival, and polls show upwards of 80 percent of Israelis supporting the campaign.
“Everyone justifies the war,” Oppenheimer said. “The position of Peace Now is this war is just and that Israel has every right to defend itself.”
Hizbollah has rained hundreds of rockets on northern Israel, killing 19 people. Another 37 soldiers have been killed in battle.
The Israeli casualty toll is far less than in Lebanon where 643 people have been killed and 750,000, or a quarter of the population, driven from their homes.
The intensity of Hizbollah rocket strikes, reaching unprecedented distances into Israel, has rekindled fears of a group many Israelis had hoped would cease to pose a threat after their army withdrew from Lebanon to a U.N.-sanctioned border six years ago.
Many look anxiously beyond Hizbollah to its regional backer Iran, whose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”.
Tehran has been the target of a concerted international effort to curb its nuclear program, based on fears it could produce atomic weapons, though Iran denies such a plan. Israel is believed to be the region’s only nuclear power.
“Katyusha rockets are really a pain, but they don’t threaten to destroy the state. Iran getting nuclear weapons could lead to the destruction of Israel,” said Sam Lehman-Wilzig, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv.
Compounding Israeli anger at Hizbollah is that it attacked the Jewish state as its army was embroiled in battle on another frontier, against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, who had also captured a soldier in a cross-border raid.
Disappointment that a Gaza pullout last year had failed to ease tensions after nearly six years of violence has also hardened the hearts of many in the Jewish state, experts say.
Only a small number of Israelis have protested against civilian deaths in Lebanon caused by Israeli strikes.