Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Is Etger right?

As you know, I am very sympathetic to Israel's mission, and would like nothing more than to see the final rout of Hezbollah. Still, despite what Etgar Keret said about this being a black and white war, I see ambiguities.

The other night I saw a Hezbollah spokesman on Fox news speaking passionatly about the Lebanese "hostages" Israel is holding. He seemed to believe that two Israeli soldiers were taken last week, not because Hezbollah wanted to provoke Israel into war, but because they wanted to provoke a swap. In the past Israel, has always been happy to trade prisoners and such exchanges are part of the regular business of Mid-East diplomacy. Could Hezbollah know that this time Israel would refuse to play its part?

Now, of course, I found the spokeman disengenuous because he neglected to mention that Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli towns and villages preceeded the kidnapping. Also, I am prepared to believe that the people being held in Israeli jails are all criminals, and not prisoners of war, as the spokeman suggested. But this isn't to say that there was nothing compelling about his points. Sympathtic as I may be to the Israeli position, I still posses the power of imagination. With very little effort, I can put myself into the shoes of a simple apolitical Lebanese farmer, and imagine what it might be like to be caught between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah, after all, is a minority party in Lebanon; most people don't support it politically. With quite a bit more effort, I can pretend to be a Hezbollah supporter who remains outraged that Israel took Shebba farms and keeps my father or my brother or my son in a distant jail. And of course, because my father, my brother and my son truly are, in a sense, hiding in bomb shelters from Hezbollah rockets, it is very easy to imagine what its like to be a victim of Hezbollah's terror.

I also recognize that though I long for a final rout of Hezbollah, such a rout might send Leabonon into Syria's welcoming arms, a development that might arguably be worse for Israel that the previous border skirmishing with Hezbollah.

I've been struggling for the better afternoon to end this post on a positive note, but I don't think I can. Instead, let me just assure you that while I recognize the moral ambiguities of the current situation, I still want Israel to win, and I want Jews to be safe.

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