There are limits to what outsiders can tell Israel

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What can outsiders say about Israel's war against the Hezbos? Maybe Prime Minister Olmert was indecisive. Maybe he made wise choices ——— or at least  choices that seemed wise to the inner cabinet, which was really in charge. He's the elected leader in a pretty vigorous democracy. If the voters want him out, he won't last. But that's not up to us.

There is a great reservoir of genuine identification with Israel among Americans (and secretly even among Europeans). When they win, we feel relief, and when they lose innocents, we hurt. We identify less with Arabs, in part because we cannot forget that the Arabs want to murder all the Israelis, and that Israel wants nothing more than to live in peace. Yet they live in a bad neighborhood, and we know how hard it is to sacrifice good men and women. Many of us feel we are practically there on the spot.

But we are not. We are not living in the red bull's eye of Iran's missiles. Our pizza parlors are not being blown to bits by zombified teenagers. We have not been subjected to daily abuse and hatred over years, by people living a few dozen miles away. We are 300 million, they are six million. We don't have a tough universal draft, and if we've served in the armed forces we still don't need to  be ready every day to risk our necks and go to war. We don't have to look at our kids and imagine them as dead soldiers. Our mortal enemies are not an hour's drive away.

Yes, terrorism is a threat to the United States, but it is not as personal.  Now if the Kool Aid Mullahs get their heart's desire for nukes, we, too, will be targets of a nuclear suicide cult for the first time in human history. But that mortal danger is not felt as real — not yet. If anything, we tend to err on the side of denial.

So we should not be too eager to pretend we are there. If the Hezbos are sane, they will count their five hundred plus dead and compare it to Israel's 110 dead soldiers. If they are not sane, they will need more persuasion. But Israel is awake to that possibility. And the Lebanese may get tired of being Iran's puppet. Egypt got tired, Jordan got tired, and recently even the Saudis came out against the Hezbo War. It's not impossible.

So we have to be a little cautious about telling others to risk their necks. I'm not suggesting we should outlaw speech, like leftist speech codes. But some kind of modest self—restraint seems wise.

The IDF fights brilliantly when it must, but Israel mourns every single loss. This is not a Bushido culture. It is not a culture that sends children on motorcycles to clear minefields, as the Khomeiniacs did during the Iran—Iraq war. That is why we can identify with Israel. But they are not our puppet, in the way that the Hezbos are Iran's. They are a feisty, independent nation that will make its own decisions when it comes to war and peace. We must respect that.

James Lewis    8 21 06

What can outsiders say about Israel's war against the Hezbos? Maybe Prime Minister Olmert was indecisive. Maybe he made wise choices ——— or at least  choices that seemed wise to the inner cabinet, which was really in charge. He's the elected leader in a pretty vigorous democracy. If the voters want him out, he won't last. But that's not up to us.

There is a great reservoir of genuine identification with Israel among Americans (and secretly even among Europeans). When they win, we feel relief, and when they lose innocents, we hurt. We identify less with Arabs, in part because we cannot forget that the Arabs want to murder all the Israelis, and that Israel wants nothing more than to live in peace. Yet they live in a bad neighborhood, and we know how hard it is to sacrifice good men and women. Many of us feel we are practically there on the spot.

But we are not. We are not living in the red bull's eye of Iran's missiles. Our pizza parlors are not being blown to bits by zombified teenagers. We have not been subjected to daily abuse and hatred over years, by people living a few dozen miles away. We are 300 million, they are six million. We don't have a tough universal draft, and if we've served in the armed forces we still don't need to  be ready every day to risk our necks and go to war. We don't have to look at our kids and imagine them as dead soldiers. Our mortal enemies are not an hour's drive away.

Yes, terrorism is a threat to the United States, but it is not as personal.  Now if the Kool Aid Mullahs get their heart's desire for nukes, we, too, will be targets of a nuclear suicide cult for the first time in human history. But that mortal danger is not felt as real — not yet. If anything, we tend to err on the side of denial.

So we should not be too eager to pretend we are there. If the Hezbos are sane, they will count their five hundred plus dead and compare it to Israel's 110 dead soldiers. If they are not sane, they will need more persuasion. But Israel is awake to that possibility. And the Lebanese may get tired of being Iran's puppet. Egypt got tired, Jordan got tired, and recently even the Saudis came out against the Hezbo War. It's not impossible.

So we have to be a little cautious about telling others to risk their necks. I'm not suggesting we should outlaw speech, like leftist speech codes. But some kind of modest self—restraint seems wise.

The IDF fights brilliantly when it must, but Israel mourns every single loss. This is not a Bushido culture. It is not a culture that sends children on motorcycles to clear minefields, as the Khomeiniacs did during the Iran—Iraq war. That is why we can identify with Israel. But they are not our puppet, in the way that the Hezbos are Iran's. They are a feisty, independent nation that will make its own decisions when it comes to war and peace. We must respect that.

James Lewis    8 21 06