Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Altering Israel's Moral Rudder

The more I hear about Israel's actions in the recent conflict in Lebanon, the more horrified and disgusted I become. How must the world perceive us? How arrogant are our politicians and our military? Our leaders claim to want peace, but sometimes I wonder. Actions speak louder than words, and when we say that our war was not with the people of Lebanon, but it is then revealed that our military may have dropped upwards of 1,800 cluster bombs (which apparently works out to approximately 1.2 MILLION cluster bomblets), it makes me more inclined than ever to question my government's intentions. I cannot imagine any possible scenario in this conflict that could justify such action, and it destroys any legitimacy there might be in Israel's desire to demolish the Hizbollah infrastructure.

The arrogance of the upper military and political eschelons in this country is driving us deeper and deeper into the mire, and while we certainly have a legitimate right to defend ourselves, we seem to have a talent for disproportionate response that simply boggles the mind, whether it be our actions in Gaza or in Lebanon. While the Lebanese people are busy picking up the pieces of their ruined country, they are surely laughing bitterly at our audacity to claim that our conflict was not with Lebanon itself, and only with the Hizbollah. If I were a Lebanese citizen, I can't imagine that I would believe Israel either. The way this government is handling things, it is slowly but surely destroying itself, rotting away from the top down. Clearly, a serious shake-up is in order, and unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anyone capable of guiding us towards a better path.

A friend told me the other day that he was done dabbling in local politics in the area in which he lives. His undoing has to do with the fact that he is a good person, one who became involved because he truly wanted to make a difference, one who wanted to improve the quality of his community. He is not sly or underhanded, but rather moral and ethical, and found himself unable to stomach the dirty world of Israeli politics. I can hardly blame him, though I do think that it's a shame. Clearly, we do not have enough politicians in this country who truly care about people, no matter on what side of the border they may be. Instead, we are left with large egos and bank accounts, a morally bereft elite who believe that they are above all others and responsible to no one, doing as they please while running the country into the ground, taking the citizens down with them.

I love my country, but I am sorely ashamed of its leaders, and cannot help but wonder where we will go from here, alternately drifting and careening towards an abyss with no safety net in sight. We have no choice but to change as a nation. Our leaders cannot go around making shady real estate deals, sexually harassing employees and cluster bombing the citizens of other countries. We cannot expect the world to continue tolerating our actions (and indeed, many people do not). If we do not change course, if we do not alter our moral rudder, our situation will only get worse, and it will be no one's fault but our own.


tafka PP said...

Amen, Liza. This is quite possibly the best appraisal of the tragic situation we find ourselves in that I have read. Worrying questions indeed. I don't even know if we (the country) are up to the challenge.

Hope you still manage to have a good holiday...

rami said...

I am taking a break from politics and blogging.. but seldom one finds rational calls for peace like yours.. salute

The friend said...

hmmm... well put although I do not totally agree with the first section of the blog. I do think that "we" did not have an issue just with the hizbulla. As known, the hizbulla is an active party at the lebanease goverment which in fact has 3 ministers within that goverment. Thus, I think the things presented in the blog are not that black and white (as all of our life in the middle east).

Hope you enjoy your little vacation in the land of wooden shoes.

Richard said...

Thanks Liza for having the courage & vision that many other Israelis & esp. English language Israeli bloggers do not seem to have regarding Lebanon.

It was an unmitigated disaster on almost all fronts. I wish more Israelis recognized this. I guess they recognize that it was. But many of them seem to believe that the worst error invovled not letting the IDF fight to the end & victory, which of course would've made the situation even more insane than it was.

I run an Israeli Palestinian peace blog aggregator, Israel Palestine Blogs. WOuld you be willing to have me include your feed there?

odog said...

Israel really could be the beacon of democracy and liberalism in the Middle East if it would only normalise its relations with its neighbours, beginning with the Palestinians.

Palestinian society is already fairly modern and liberal for midregional standards. If there could be two democratic states, think of the repercussions throughout the middle east and the subversive effect this would have on the corrupt Arab autocracies.

Liza said...

tafka pp: Thanks for the compliment. I agree with you. I don't think that we're up to the challenge. I cannot think of a single politician out there who has the necessary qualities for leading this country. It's terribly depressing.

And I definitely managed to enjoy my holiday. Look out for details in an upcoming post...

rami: A break? Oh no! I demand an explanation... :-(

Will write you an email soon.

The question is, will anyone heed the call, and unfortunately, I'll be really surprised if the answer is yes.

the friend: Perhaps, but to be honest, I'm not sure just how active a role HA is currently playing in the Lebanese government. I could be wrong, but I think I've read something stating that they were actually boycotting the government. Can anyone verify that?

And, let's say that they are an active part of the government. That doesn't mean that the rest of the government or the majority of Lebanese people support them. Look at the Israeli government. We have a number of Arab-Israeli parliamentarians who are rabidly anti-Israel, supported Hezbollah during the war, and recently visited Syria. They are members of our Knesset, but that doesn't mean that they are supported by the majority of Israelis - far from it, in fact. All it says in both cases is that both countries have governments elected via the democratic process.

The "Land of the Wooden Shoes" was most excellent, thank you very much. I would have been quite happy to stay at least a few days longer.

richard: Thank you for the compliment. I actually think that there are a number of English-language Israeli bloggers out there who share my thoughts. Many of us were positively heartsick during the war over what was happening to Lebanon, and I was quite impressed that despite what was happening here in Israel, there were so many of us who were incredibly concerned for the Lebanese people, in spite of all the anger directed at Israel. This was the feeling amongst a good part of the general Israeli population as well. I think you'd be surprised by how much concern there was for our neighbors, actually. Most people weren't gung ho about the war. If anything people were simply resigned to it. People didn't want to see Lebanon destroyed; they "only" wanted to see the Hezbollah disarmed/destroyed.

I think the war in Lebanon has caused a national identity crisis of sorts here, and with each new bit of information that comes out, the situation becomes even more muddled, as the government's true ineptitude in it's handling of events come to light. We are definitely a country in crisis right now, and it will be interesting to see how things are played out.

Please feel free to include me in your peace blog aggregator.

odog: Welcome to Something Something. I couldn't agree with you more, with regard to everything you've written. I worry that neither side has leaders who are strong enough or moderate enough to take the necessary steps and make the difficult decisions, though, and there are fanatical groups on both sides who will work very hard not to let it happen. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that either side is willing or capable to do what it takes to silence these groups and allow the peace process to move forward. I'd be interested in hearing what you think.