- Not insist on the release of the two Israeli soldiers whose capture ignited the conflict
- Not disarm Hizbollah
- Not end Hizbollah's occupation of southern Lebanon
One might say, Oh well, the worst that can happen is that Israel will eventually realize that everyone was kidding about enforcing the UN resolution, and be forced to accept the status quo ante, no worse off than before. The problem is what this suggests about the eventual situation in Israel's neighborhood. A precedent will have been set that when Israel withdraws from an area, it becomes a permanent base for staging attacks on her. The same is true for Gaza. I suppose someone opposed to Israel's policies might argue that when Israel withdraws from the West Bank, then all of this hostile activity will cease. Hizbollah and Hamas will become peace-loving political organizations, and stop shooting rockets into Israel, and launching other offensive operations. But can anyone seriously believe that?
The truth is that Europe and much of the rest of the world can easily foresee that eventually Israel will be surrounded by dedicated, well-armed enemies. They can foresee that these enemies will be satisfied only when they have pushed the Israelis into the Mediterranean (the survivors, I mean). They can foresee that, and it doesn't bother them very much. It makes the blood of the average American run cold. The reasons for this difference one can only guess at, but it's hard not to conclude that the history of the Europeans' oppression and genocide against the Jews is relevant.
I'm not saying that Americans are saints compared to the Europeans. When it comes to discounting the lives of innocent bystanders, we are champs. Every night the news carries the number of Iraqi civilians killed that day by sectarian conflicts and the number of American soldiers killed. Where is the statistic on the number of Iraqi civilians killed by American soldiers? Apparently these deaths are irrelevant. Even the deaths of innocent civilians killed by Israel in Lebanon get more attention. (Although it is rarely mentioned that many of them were cut to pieces by cluster bombs supplied by us — and possibly used by the Israelis in violation of rules we imposed when we sold them the weapons.)
The Europeans are quite upset about all these civilian casualties among the Arabs, as they should be, but my point is that nobody but us cares much about the Jews. "Big news!" my Jewish friends would say (including my Jewish wife). When in history have the Jews had any friends? Well, they have the U.S. now, and they need to have somebody. It's true that the Israelis have killed too many civilians in Palestine, and mistreated even more. But there's an ultiimate difference between the goals of the Israelis and the goals of the Arabs in Palestine. The Jews don't want to annihilate the Arabs. If the Arabs were to scale down their violence as the Israelis scaled down their occupation, isn't it obvious that peace would eventually come about? If you're skeptical, then isn't it obvious that the Arabs should give it a shot? It's within Hizbollah's power (or Iran's power, if they control Hizbollah) to impose a moratorium on rocket attacks on Israel while the Israelis withdraw from the West Bank. Until the recent war, the idea of trying this hadn't crossed their minds, and it seems clear why: their goal is, and has always been, to destroy Israel. The slightest sign of weakness by the Israelis is taken as encouragement to step up their attacks.
The Nation a few days ago carried an interview with a Lebanese who said something like, Of course Hizbollah isn't going to honor its promise to disarm. We can't trust the Lebanese army to defend us against Israel; their units collapsed when the Israelis attacked, while the Hizbollah units fought well. The Nation correspondent saw nothing odd about this statement. But it's absurd. Israel has never had any reason to attack Lebanon; if Hizbollah were disarmed then the border would be peaceful. Their target in the recent conflict was Hizbollah itself. The argument that Hizbollah is good at defending things is circular when the only thing they are defending is themselves. Whoever the Nation talked to was obviously a disingenuous apologist for the militant Shiites. The only argument for not disarming Hizbollah is that annihilating Israel and killing Jews is too important a goal for any commitment to honesty to stand in the way.
The Europeans know that the Islamist militants holding the reins in the Middle East feel this way. They just don't particularly care.