Sunday, July 30, 2006

Defending Israel in the war against Hezbollah

Some may accuse me of bias in my reporting when it comes to Israel. I plead guilty. I am biased in favor of democracy. I am biased against terrorists. And I am sympathetic to a country that is the fulfillment of 2,000 years of Jewish yearning for a homeland, where Jews could defend themselves rather than depend on the kindness of those who regard them as strangers.

When I was a criminal defense attorney, I was often asked some permutation of the question, “How can you defend those people?” Today, on the heels of the Israeli attack on the UN observer post, and the disaster in Qana, I can expect the same question. How can I defend the Israelis?

Just watch me.

Let’s begin with the UN post. It has been widely publicized that a Scottish member of the UN force warned the Israelis that their fire was coming uncomfortably close. You would have to go to our neighbor to the north (or east, if you are in Alaska) to get a different take.

The Ottawa Citizen carried this story under the headline Hezbollah was using UN post as ‘shield’:
The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a “shield” to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.
My question is this: What were the UN observers observing? Were they there to assist in the enforcement of UN Resolution 1559, which calls for the withdrawal of Hezbollah militias from the Bakaa? I guess not.

But what about the tragedy in Qana? For those to whom the name Qana is not familiar, here’s how the NY Times described today’s events:
An Israeli air raid on the southern Lebanese town of Qana killed dozens of civilians on Sunday, many of them children, marking the bloodiest day of this conflict and putting enormous pressure on Israel and the United States to move rapidly toward a cease-fire.
How is Israel to respond to this pressure on a day when 115 Kaytusha rockets aimed at civilians landed in Northern Israel?

Well, first Israel expressed deep regret and remorse at the loss of civilian life. Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gellerman put it this way on Meet the Press: "This is a horrible, devastating, bloody Sunday, and it’s a horrible morning, and we grieve the deaths of those civilians and children." Compare this to the Hezbollah, who regard the taking of civilian lives as a tactical objective and a victory to be celebrated.

Then, Israel unilaterally declared a 48 hour cease fire so that civilians could leave the areas infested with Hezbollah. Of course, we are talking about the civilians who did not evacuate when warned by the leaflets that the Israeli air force dropped.

Next, Israel announced that it would investigate the incident to learn the cause of so many civilian deaths. How is that investigation going?

What we know so far is that the Israeli attack was on an area from which the Hezbollah was firing rockets on Israeli civilians. The operation ended between midnight and one o’oclock in the morning according to Brigadier General Amir Eshel, Head of the Air Force Headquarters. The building collapsed seven or eight hours later.

Ambassador Gillerman said today, "We have a film which we will release very shortly which actually shows a missile which is being, being launched right from behind a three-story building there, very similar to the one that was hit.”

The building was allegedly empty, except for the basement, which was being used as a shelter. What we don’t know so far is whether or not the building was being used as a cache for Hezbollah rockets. Is it possible that secondary explosions caused the collapse of the building? What kind of people would store munitions in a building being used as a shelter for women and children? That would be Hezbollah.

In other news from Lebanon, UNICEF has begun to deliver relief to people displaced by the war against Hezbollah. You might think that this would be a matter of grave concern for the Israelis since UNICEF aid in the past has made it possible for the Palestineans to wage a war of attrition. How did Israel respond to the latest UNICEF action? By opening safe corridors for the delivery of relief to Lebanese civilians.

All of this was on my mind when I received an email from my friend Reb David. He enclosed this story:
    Cry to those Using Babies as Shields
By Naomi Ragen

My son is in the army. He is not the type at all, believe me. Quiet, studious, a writer, a lover of Jewish history,
Talmud, ethics. He spent two years in a pre-army program in the Galilee called Karmei Chayil. He made many good friends
there from all over the country, and now he and all hisfriends are in the army. One of them I know well. A bit chubby, with payot, [the long side curls worn by some religious Jews -- Big Mitch]and a great laugh. He and my son have become like brothers. While both of them tried out for the elite paratroopers unit, only he made it in. He and his unit are the ones in Lebanon. They were there over a week, fighting under horrific conditions, running out of food and water. Even though the Israeli air force dropped tons of leaflets warning civilians to flee because they were in terrorist territory and likely to be injured, they still encountered civilians. My son spoke to his friend yesterday, and this is how he described it:

The village looked empty, and then we heard noises coming from one of the houses, so we opened fire. But when we went inside, we found two women and a child huddled in the corner of the room.

We were so relieved we hadn't hurt them. We took up base in one of the empty houses. And then all of a sudden, we came under intense fire. Three rockets were fired at the house we were in. Only one managed to destroy a wall, which fell on one of us, covering him in white dust, but otherwise not hurting him. I spent the whole time feeding bullets to my friend who was shooting non-stop. We managed to killed 26 terrorists. Not one of us was hurt. Our commanding officer kept walking around, touching everybody on the shoulder, smiling and encouraging us: “We're are better than they are. Don't worry.” It calmed us all down. And really, we were much better then them. They are a lousy army. They only win when they hide behind baby carriages.
Please remember this when you hear about the "atrocity" of the Israeli bomb dropped on Kfar Cana, killing many civilians, a place from which Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. Unlike previous administrations, Mr. Olmert has my respect when he says: "They were warned to leave. It is the responsibility of Hezbollah for firing rockets amidst civilians."

Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right to complain about civilian casualties, since all they have done this entire war is target civilians. Every single one of the more than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel, is launched into populated towns filled with women and children.

Just today, another suicide belt meant to kill civilians in Israel was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus. So don't cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using your babies and wives and mothers; cry to those who store weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals, and private homes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of your kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and however many of their troops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious as long as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children.

Save your sympathy for the mothers and sisters and girlfriends of our young soldiers who would rather be sitting in study halls learning Torah, but have no choice but to risk their precious lives full of hope, goodness and endless potential, to wipe out the cancerous terrorist cells that threaten their people and all mankind. Make your choice, and save your tears.

That terrorists have been unsuccessful in killing more of our women and children is due to our army, God and prayers, not to any lack of motivation or intention on their part.

If you hide behind your baby to shoot at my baby, you are responsible for getting children killed. You and you alone.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow, there may be an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to condemn Israel. After all, how could anyone defend those people?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

1 comment:

Mentarch1 said...

Point taken.

But here is the *real* question: does the cowardly actions of the Hezbollah in using innocents as "shields" still excuse the killing of innocents?

Where is the moral high ground here?

Sending warnings to "flee the area" in advance, when you attack cars and mini-vans fleeing the areas because they might harbor Hezbollahs?

Or is this all hypocrisy?