Sunday, July 30, 2006

Putting Things in Perspective -- Middle East Style

As a term of art, perspective originally meant to look through a window with one eye closed. In the Middle East, perspective usually means to look at a wall with both eyes closed. That way one’s memory and imagination can project the scene one wants or one cannot repress without reality interfering.

Israel says it does not deliberately target civilian populations on the enemy side, although who is a civilian might be a matter for debate. If it did, the number of civilians it killed would be much larger. Israel targets people whom its soldiers believe are enemy combatants. That might include kids throwing stones, people who appear to be carrying weapons, people in cars that try to evade check points, officials of militant organizations, etc. Sometimes the soldiers make mistakes, sometimes they miss and hit innocent people, sometimes innocent people get in the way. Because IDF targets many combatants and has a lot of firepower, many civilians among the enemy are killed. Because of this intention of self-defense or preemption, but lousy execution, Israel’s killing of civilians is, according to some moral calculi different from that of Palestinian and other Arab militants, terrorists or whatever you want to call them. They shoot and bomb to kill as many Israeli Jews as possible, with no thought of distinguishing between soldier and civilian. They apologize when they kill Palestinian Israelis. Because they have less sophisticated weapons than the Israelis, over the last 30 years, Israel has killed between five to ten the number of civilians on their sides than they have killed on the Israel side. The ratio is even higher for children under eighteen. This is evidence of Israel's technological superiority. I fail to see how it evidences Israel's moral superiority.

Several narratives of the current Israel-Hizbullah conflict:
  • Israel Narrative 1 (Amir Peretz): We are fighting on the front line of the war with Iran. Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas are evil. We are making an exception of Syria this week.
  • Israel Narrative 2 (Ehud Olmert): We are fighting a tough local enemy and need to degrade it, so it will not be any threat in the future. We need more time to do that. Too bad if more innocent people get killed.
  • Hizbullah (Hasan Nasrallah): We are proving that we can stand up to the Israelis and give as good as we get. This has nothing to do with Iran. The Israelis should stop listening to the United States and bargain. I don't understand why they don't trust us.
  • George Bush: This is a great chance to turn things around and create a New Middle East. Israel can go on smashing Lebanon, just tell it to be careful not to destabilize the government, destroy the infrastructure or kill too many civilians, especially children.
  • The international community (Kofi Anan): Bush should get on the phone with Olmert or whomever and tell him to stop the shit.
Update: It looks like Bush just did. Adam Ereli, Rice's spokesperson has just announced that Israel has agreed to stop its air campaign against Lebanon for the next 48 hours. During the time the bombing at Qana will be investigated and the inhabitants of southern Lebanon will be allowed to leave the area.

2 Comments:

Anonymous daphne said...

Thank you, Atik, for putting things in perspective.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Atik Yomin said...

thank you, daphne for keeping your eyes open.

4:18 PM  

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