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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bill Maher: "The world IS Mel Gibson"

From his column in the Huffington Post:
As I watch so much of the world ask Israel for restraint in a way no other country would (Can you imagine what Bush would do if a terrorist organization took over Canada and was lobbing missiles into Montana, Maine and Illinois?) - and, by the way, does anyone ever ask Hezbollah for restraint. you know, like, please stop firing your rockets aimed PURPOSEFULLY at civilians? - it strikes me that the world IS Mel Gibson. Most of the time, the anti-semitism is under control, but that demon lives inside and when the moon is full, or there's been enough alcohol consumed, or Israel is forced to kill people in its own defense, then it comes out.
Andrew Sullivan agrees.

Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone disagrees:

The reason the world doesn’t ask Hezbollah for restraint is precisely because they’re a terrorist militia that purposefully targets civilians. These people are not reasonable; they are a vicious anti-Semitic virus, an organization with American blood on its hands that needs to be disarmed and defanged, if not annihilated.

But what is supposed to differentiate a civilized democracy like Israel from the enemy they face is precisely a sense of restraint: an unwillingness to massacre women and children and U.N. peacekeepers in pursuit of its righteous goal of eliminating Hezbollah’s army.

Now don’t, please, purposefully misunderstand me. I do not believe that Israel intentionally targets civilians. (I reserve judgment, however, about the intention behind the strike on UNIFIL). But Qana happened because Israel has opted for a strategy of collective punishment of Lebanon for the sins of Hezbollah. And in so doing it has debased itself.

Yes, Hezbollah hides out among the civilian population. But, under all but the most extreme of circumstances, that does not excuse bombing apartment buildings and towns that are home to desperate civilians unable or unwilling to abandon their homes. Israel’s apparent indifference to the “collateral damage” that is the inevitable consequence of its urban bombing campaign might — might — be excusable if these attacks were sure to produce a swift victory: three weeks of death and destruction to eliminate a pernicious threat once and for all.

But Israel appears to be having little luck in degrading Hezbollah’s leadership or its military might. Indeed, with 200 rockets fired into Israel yesterday, the campaign seems to be most successful at defanging the dogs of Hezbollah by goading them into mauling Haifa with their katyushas.

I commented there:
What should Israel do?

Seriously. It is easy to criticize - but if you can find a more moral alternative that doesn’t involve Israel letting its citizens die for the sake of your “morality”, please let the world know.

Also, it is a little sanctimonious to declare that since the “Party of God” shot 200 missiles yesterday then Israel’s strategy is counterproductive. Let the Israeli people who are under attack make that decision, not you.

This has been my main question for the critics of Israel who don't hate Israel. What is the alternative? No one is happy that Lebanese civilians are dying (although the numbers are somewhat suspect, certainly way too many are dying.) But not to attack Hezbollah heavily means that they, and the Islamists who will copy them, now have a surefire way to achieve any aim they want against the West - just hide behind civilians.

The world reaction should be horror at Hezbollah, and despite Dickinson's justification, one can be sure that when Israel is criticized in Europe and elsewhere it is not out of concern for Israel's losing the moral high ground. Because if the world is so concerned about morality, the EU would not hesitate to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization, depriving it of funds used to kill Jews. If the world was concerned about morality, it would not have grieved over Arafat.

It is obvious that Israel should act far better than her enemies. But from reading the news, what is not so obvious is that Israel always has, and clearly always will. Criticizing only Israel for defending itself - which necessarily means sometimes making mistakes and adjusting tactics to the evolving threat - gives the impression that only one side is doing something wrong. Over time of reading coverage filled with such "loving" criticisms inevitably makes people think that Israel is in the wrong, or that at best "both sides do immoral things."

This is the worst and most dangerous kind of misrepresentation of the conflict, and it is one that Dickinson is unconsciously a part of.