Living With Our Neighbors

I just read the remarks from the new Deputy Prime Minister of Israel. He’s sugggesting that it’s time for Israel to give up on ever having peace with its neighbors, and completely ignore the Palestinian government.

If I were US President, I would come down hard and clear in public about even a hint of such talk.

The single most important thing we must get through Israel’s head is that no amount of deceit, hatred, or killing gives any nation anywhere at any time any right at all to be anything other than a nation among nations that has to work at living with their neighbors, and indeed the rest of the world. (The Palestinians also have to learn this, true, but noone has any right to wait until the other guy does it.) I’m a full supporter of Israel’s right to defend itself. But that right to defend itself is limited to actions against their direct attackers. If Hizbollah takes action against Israel, Israel has every right to stomp Hizbollah into the ground. I’d rather they found a different way to handle the matter, but it is rightfully their decision to make. But then Israel destroys the facilities (and occasionally homes) of everyone else in Lebanon. They punished the Lebanese government and people, even though they’d have gotten rid of Hizbollah long ago if they had anything even remotely resembling the power to do so. By their actions, Israel simply increased the proportion of enemies around them, an act that makes matters worse not better. (There is also Lebanese foolishness, for not understanding that Hizbollah is largely the cause of their disaster, and thus are their enemy not their defenders. It is of very high importance that this is what they say at all times and what they base their actions on, and definitively cut the crap about their being in any way “heroes”.)

We know Bush knew that Israel had decided to go into Lebanon once those soldiers were kidnapped. It is now clear that W. took no action — not even talk — to try to impress upon Israel the importance of very strictly limiting their actions to their immediate purpose and their direct enemy. This failure on W’s part is of a piece with W’s other Middle East failures, including Iraq. His legacy is hellish, but who cares about that? I care about the blood, the bombs, the hatred, and the idiotic illusions that pass for reality in the Middle East. Bush is under similar delusions. He has blown the opportunity we had at 9/11 to really keep the world behind us and really get at the terrorists and what they represent. It was once said that we are a great nation because we are a good nation. (I never did believe we were all that good, just that most others are noticeably worse.) Bush has led the world to have even more doubt about how good our nation is. It is up to us to hold him and his administration responsible for that, and to do it right now. If we do, I expect Bush to then act more responsibly — like most anyone who is held responsible after misbehaving.

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