I watched the Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz yesterday in an interview with Fionnuala Sweeney on CNN (is that her name? It sounds like something sprouting in my fridge, which hasn’t had power for the last 18 hours.) Peretz, “the dove”, is in many ways the Condoleeza Rice of the Olmert administration. She’s black and female, while he was born in Morocco and is a “civilian”; the affirmative action hire, the hawk in sheep’s clothing, so to speak. Why would an Arab-born peacenik want to kill women and children, right?
Peretz denied the intentional targeting of the UNIFIL troops. And he did so with the same tired bogus argument, the one you hear from people all around the world, who cannot accept that Israel went off the deep end a long time ago.
He said, “Why would it be in the interest of Israel to kill da UN peacekeepers?”, and he did it with that self-righteous grimace, of someone who has posed the ultimate rhetorical question, who knows he has had the final word (I wouldn’t expect too much resistance from a CNN anchor, either.)
Except that I don’t buy that argument; I hear it all the time. I tell a certain someone, “Israel used phosphorous weapons today against civilian populations in the south”. “I see no proof. It’s not in the western media. It hasn’t been confirmed”, is their first response. The second one is “Why would that be in their interest? It is not. It is tragic in itself, but even more tragic, because it is not in their interest”.
And at the heart of this not-in-our-interest argument lies another aspect of the existential victimization that Israelis are fed daily: the rest of the world hates us, they criticize us anyway, regardless of what we do. So, then the argument suffices for the majority of Israelis and her supporters: “Why would that be in our interest—to do something that will damage our reputation? We are after all the party in this conflict whose actions are governed by rationality; not the Arab terrorist masses.”
The truth is that many Israelis would also say that, they don’t care what the Europeans and the UN think, because they hate us anyway. Which is when the “Why should we?” becomes a “Why not?” And the answer to that, of course, is because they can. Least someone wants to argue against the fact that Israel can and does get away with doing what it wants, as long as the US doesn’t object.
I’m willing to learn; show me the evidence.
Israel has no love for the UNIFIL. In fact they’ve been wanting to get rid of them for a very, very long time; they claim they are in contact with Hezbollah (well of course; Hezbollah governs the south of Lebanon where they are stationed). They said yesterday that they don’t want another UN mission in the south of Lebanon; they’ll only settle for NATO. The US also has no love for the UN unless it can be used as a means to pressure a country she doesn’t feel like invading right now. And here’s the proof: “The United States blocked the U.N. Security Council from issuing a statement that would have condemned the Israeli action. Diplomats said the U.S. objected to one paragraph, which said the council ‘condemns any deliberate attack against U.N. personnel and emphasizes that such attacks are unacceptable.’”
I’m not one hundred percent convinced that they targeted the UNIFIL on purpose. But it amounts to the same thing if they were just blindly shelling the shit out of the entire area, followed by lobbing a few missiles into populated places. You cannot turn the tables and blame those who are blaming you by saying, “Why would we want to do that?” I’ll try that next time I get caught shoplifting; I’ll just keep a crisp $50 note in my wallet, and say, “Why would I steal? I have money. I'm swimming in it”.
The second part of that, “Why would it be in our interest?”-argument was pronounced by that Harvard-reared cowboy, Benjamin Netan-YAHOO! who said, “We are not using our full military might. If we were we could have leveled the entire country a long time ago...” So restraint amounts to only leveling half the country.
I think that part of the problem is that the Israelis know that Hezbollah will exist as long as there are Shia living in the south of Lebanon. And they can’t really picture “eliminating” Hezbollah with all those pesky Shiites around. Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. Restraint, restraint, restraint. How to eliminate with restraint?
This is how I see the Israeli dilemma from their point of view: If I was living with an infestation of cockroaches, and I wanted to practice restraint in eliminating them, what would I do? I would kill around half of them, and teach the other half a lesson. If the other half is not willing to learn, then I would practice restraint by not using the nuclear option of spraying them with OFF! but maybe I would just splurge on some of that organic stuff to kill them, slowly. But first I would call the landlord to get permission.
Peretz also claimed that he would not speculate on why or how the UN peacekeepers were attacked, but added —without speculating— that maybe the Hezbollah was using UN flags. Maybe they were also dressing up as toddlers in baby bonnets, disguised as voluptuous nurses hiding in the back of ambulances, and posing as milk factory employees. Very cunning. Lebanon from the north to the south, from the east to the Meditarranean coast, is just one big Hezbollah mirage. That’s because Iran supplies them with costumes, some of which are manufactured in Syria. Syria must at once stop providing costumes to the Hezbollah. And here's the headline to go with it: "Israel intercepts shipment of ballgowns from Damascus to Hezbollah".