We'll Take Any Positive Sign We Can Find

|

Leon Hadar reacts to the Israeli elections. Here's one upbeat argument:

All of Israel's PMs were part of the country's national security establishment. They were either ex-military generals, like Rabin or Barak, or were involved in one way or another in defense issues, like Peres, Begin or Meir. Olmert is the first "civilian," a lawyer-businessman by profession, to become a PM. This I think is going to have a major impact on the way Israel's national security/foreign policy is going to be managed. In a way, this will be the first Israeli PM whose view of the Arabs hasn't been shaped by looking through the barrel of gun.

NEXT: Burned

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. All Israelis’ views of the Arabs are shaped by being looked at through the barrel of a gun

  2. Pretty much all the “biggies” in Israeli politics have been military types for many decades because Israel was in a war against agressors practically “all the time”. As a result practically the only way to get elected big time was to be a war hero.

    It has been a really long time since anyone has had the chance to be a war hero in Israel. Therefore I wouldn’t read too much into any election where they elect someone without that pedigree since they aren’t making them any more.

    So long as the Palestinians claim they want to push the Israelis into the sea, they will continue to demand their leaders be tough on defense one way or the other.

    It personally drives me crazy when those of us outside of the region praise Israel for making another choice besides a pragmatic choice for defense, and drives me even crazier when they root for the Left to win because they assume that means a better chance for peace. There won’t be peace there until the Palestinians decide the Israelis have the right to live. Period.

  3. “Olmert is the first “civilian,” a lawyer-businessman by profession”

    What crap ! What ignorance !

    Olmert is a professional politician. Never did a honest day’s work in his life. “Businessman” my foot. Though he is adept at crooked schemes.

    Same goes for Shimon Peres and Golda Meir. Both professional politicians, lifelong politicians. Never did anything else in life, and both civilians too. Same for Levi Eshkol and Moshe Sharet – also civilian politicians, unrelated to military matters. Israel had mostly civilian prime ministers, despite its hundred year old war for survival.

  4. Happyjuggler: I think the biggest myth of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — because it’s pervasive on both sides — is the idea that all peace requires is for one side to give in. This notion is espoused only by people so entrenched in their support for one group that they haven’t bothered to think about why the ordinary people on the other side (not leaders/militants) might feel the way they do.

    So you don’t think there will be peace as long as Israelis are insecure. Do you think there will be peace before Palestinians are accorded their rights? More important: Do you think there will be peace as long as Israeli security and Palestinian rights are regarded, by many on both sides, as a zero-sum trade-off?

    While I’m at it: I know people who think outsiders shouldn’t condemn or praise Palestinians for how they conduct “their struggle.” Do you agree with them?

  5. The people in the Mid-East are committed to killing each other. Nothing can change that.

  6. Warren:

    Not so long ago people in Europe were committed to killing each other, and it seemed that the killing would never end. Poland and Germany are now friends. Don’t be so pessimistic.

  7. I stand behind the country where it’s a lot easier to get a shot and a beer, a lap dance, and maybe a massage with happy ending. I stand behind the country where it’s a lot easier to go out into the street and say “I totally think that men who love each other have every right to stand before (deity) and marry each other!” I stand behind the country where it’s a lot easier to argue that religion is a poisonous influence upon children and they need to be raised as atheists lest we all kill each other over a handful of misinterpreted documents from centuries ago.

    On the other hand, Bush likes Israel.

  8. Jaybird,

    That was beautiful, “I stand behind the country where it’s a lot easier to argue that religion is a poisonous influence upon children…” Last I checked you can’t even get legally married in Israel unless it’s an Orthodox Jewish ceremony.

  9. Wait, does that mean you can’t argue that religion is a poisonous influence on children in Israel without fear of the hammer of the state coming down upon you?

  10. Way to sock it to another Israeli apologist, Jesse. We can certainly quarrel about the best route of resistance for Palestinians to take, and terrorism ain’t it.

    But let’s stop pretending it’s the Ps who hold the cards. They have no tanks, no Air Force, no economy, no richest-country-in-the-world-with-powerful-pro-Israeli
    -lobby patron state. Israel is not some poor woe is me force, they are NOOKLEYAR power with the best Air Force this side of Colorado Springs. No one is pushing them into the sea, and that falserhetoric is as absurd as it is when used by Israel bashers.

  11. Fredsox: Israel’s security as a nation-state might not be threatened. But the security of individual Israeli citizens is, nukes or no nukes.

  12. Bibi was a general? He’s not even on the list.

  13. Netanyahu wasn’t a general, but he was a military guy, and his brother was a hero of the Entebbe raid.

  14. Fredsox: Israel’s security as a nation-state might not be threatened. But the security of individual Israeli citizens is, nukes or no nukes.

    Would liberating Palestine increase or decrease this security of Israeli citizens of which you speak?

  15. Do you think there will be peace before Palestinians are accorded their rights?

    Exactly what rights are we talking about here?

    Do you think there will be peace as long as Israeli security and Palestinian rights are regarded, by many on both sides, as a zero-sum trade-off?

    Depending on what you mean by “Palestinian rights”, they may well be a zero-sum trade-off. I’m thinking of the asserted Palestinian right to drive the Jews into the sea, for example.

    On a less tendentious note, a right of Palestinians to travel in Israel and to be free from searches would be very plausibly regarded by Israelis as a trade-off against the Israeli right not to be blown up.

  16. Jesse said:

    Happyjuggler: I think the biggest myth of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — because it’s pervasive on both sides — is the idea that all peace requires is for one side to give in. This notion is espoused only by people so entrenched in their support for one group that they haven’t bothered to think about why the ordinary people on the other side (not leaders/militants) might feel the way they do.

    I said:

    There won’t be peace there until the Palestinians decide the Israelis have the right to live. Period.

    I am sorry if my quote implied I meant the only thing needed for peace there is for Palestinians to concede the Israelis have the right to live. There are plenty of other conditions. I simply meant that no peace can be achieved without that precondition being met first. Any plan that does not have that as a precondition is simply stupid or complicit in future genocide.

    If you insist on the right to murder innocent people, all of those people for that matter, and there is no police force around to put you in jail, then you should consider yourself lucky if you are not killed outright before you get the chance to carry out your promise.

    I know people who think outsiders shouldn’t condemn or praise Palestinians for how they conduct “their struggle.” Do you agree with them?

    I think the deliberate murder of innocent people is always wrong, even in the noblest cause. There is a huge difference between deliberate murder and innocent deaths as an accidental byproduct of warring parties. If you are at war, or in “a struggle”, and you target a combatant, and innocents die, that is regrettable but it is going to happen. You should try to avoid it, but ultimately zero civilian casualties is unavoidable in a conflict between enemy combatants.

    Does that answer your question?

    I am not a reflexive supporter of Israel, so I will offer up a major problem I have with Israel to prove it, since this seems in doubt by someone I respect.

    I think Israel is in a self-imposed pickle along these lines:

    Israel sometimes refers to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, and says it is part of Israel. In this case Israel is an apartheid country and can’t really be called a true democracy since it doesn’t allow many of its “citizens” the right to vote.

    Alternatively the West Bank can be considered not to be part of Israel, in which case it is illegally “squatting” on another country with its many settlements. They originally excused themselves from this illegality by claiming they were in effect early warning outposts against invasion by via Jordan by Arab countries. However this excuse does not wash for the vast majority of such settlements, especially since they are civilians and not military outposts.

    Israel can’t have it both ways. They either own the West Bank or they don’t. They are either an Apartheid government and should be roundly condemned for it, let alone be given $3 billion a year from the US each year(if I am not out of date on my figures), or they are illegal occupying a sovereign country via its settlements which should be dismantled or abandoned ASAP. If they don’t dismantle them, then they should also be condemned for this.

    Either way, Israel is very much in the wrong, and as far as defense from foreigners or terrorists as an excuse for their wrongdoing is concerned, that dog don’t hunt, as they say. Military occupation of a foreign country in justifiable self defense against terrorism may be legitimate, but I am talking about civlian settlements in a foreign country, or apartheid, neither of which is justifiable under any circumstances.

  17. Wait a minute, Happyjugglero, the victims of Palestinian suicide bombings aren’t “an accidental byproduct of warring parties.” I agree in general with your condemnation of Israel’s occupation, but the Palestinians have not furthered their cause with their murderous tactic of deliberately targeting innocent civilians.

  18. When Syria and Jordan were in possession of the occupied territories they had ample opportunity to create a Palestinian state. It didn’t happen.

  19. Wait a minute, Happyjugglero, the victims of Palestinian suicide bombings aren’t “an accidental byproduct of warring parties.” I agree in general with your condemnation of Israel’s occupation, but the Palestinians have not furthered their cause with their murderous tactic of deliberately targeting innocent civilians.

    I couldn’t agree more. What part of the following statement did you miss? The first sentence or the second?

    I think the deliberate murder of innocent people is always wrong, even in the noblest cause. There is a huge difference between deliberate murder and innocent deaths as an accidental byproduct of warring parties

    A terrorist does not need to wear a uniform to be a “warring party”. If said terrorist targets a soldier, then this qualifies as an act of war in my opinion, not murder. If a terrorist, or a general, targets a “warring party”, (two such examples of a warring party are 1) a terrorist or 2)a general) and innocent civilians die or otherwise get hurt in the process, then that is definitely regrettable, but qualify as acts of war in my opinion, not acts of murder. It of course seems more outrageuos when such accidental byproducts happen to “your” side. When a terrorist targets innocent civilians it is murder, and when a general targets innocent civilians, a la the Dresden or Tokyo carpet bombings, then it is also murder.

    In my opinion Chruchill was a war criminal for ordering the bombing of German civilian populations for the first time in WWII when both sides were previously targeting military institutions. I understand why he did it, so as to get the Germans to get revenge and do the same, and thus stop targeting military targets and give England a chance to survive. It worked, but was still wrong. A nasty fact generally overlooked in K-12 history books, that “we” were war criminals too during WWII.

  20. happyjuggler0

    Sorry, I did misread what you wrote. I think the so-called “targeted assasinations” that Israel carries out come pretty close to state terrorism because shooting rockets into crowded neighborhoods is bound to kill innocent civilians. What do you think?

  21. If said terrorist targets a soldier, then this qualifies as an act of war in my opinion, not murder.

    It only qualifies as an act of war if the “terrorist” is wearing a uniform, is under orders in the army of a nation-state, etc. In other words, is a soldier, not a terrorist.

    Otherwise, its murder.

    Unless the terrorist wins. Then its an act of revolutionary justice.

  22. I think the so-called “targeted assasinations” that Israel carries out come pretty close to state terrorism because shooting rockets into crowded neighborhoods is bound to kill innocent civilians.

    As long as the intended targets are legitimate, and the means used are (within very broad bounds) calculated to minimize civilian damage without unduly compromising the likelihood of success, then I think its legal/legitimate.

  23. Yeah, I don’t get it. All Israelis have formed their view by sifting through the rubble and bodies left by a Palestinian suicide bomb.

  24. Hi…Since there is another “Leon” out there… this comment is Leon Hadar who is actually the author of the first item posted here. I just wanted to respond to “Jacob” who challenged me on one or two points. First, I described Olmert as the first “civilian” — not civilian — to serve an Israeli PM. All the politicians here mentioned were members of the Zionist/Israeli national security establishment, involved in one way or another before and after Israel’s establishment as a state in dealing with diplomatic and military issues, relationship with the Arabs, British, etc. The Founding Fathers (and sons, in the case of Sharon and Peres). Olmert wasn’t/isn’t. Period. And it’s not only that he isn’t a military general; unlike Netanyahu and Barak he hasn’t served in combat unit in the military. He may of may not be a a crook (unlike Sharon’s son he was indicted). But he is a lawyer-businessman. He practiced law and was a member of a law firm. So in that sense he is the first “civilian” serving in as PM.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.