Thursday, August 10, 2006

Write On

David Grossman, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua are arguably Israel's most distinguished novelists. They are also leading doves. Today they tooks the rare act for writers of holding a press conference to express their opposition to Israel's widening the war against Hizbollah. In the shadow of the Ministry of Defense, they called for the government to negotiate with Lebanon on the basis of Siniora's seven point plan. They iterated that they believed Israel had a right to response vigorously to Hizbollah's capture of the soldiers, but insisted that it should stop now and accept Siniora's program as a political victory. The deployment of the Lebanese army along the border is what Israel wants. Grossman added (my translation)
This war has surfaced our deep seated fears and traumas. Perhaps that has caused people to lose their sense of proportion and their ability to identify what is in our best interests for now and in the long run. We are not exactly the hunted Jews. We have several hundred planes and thousands of tanks. I do not ignore that some aspects of the fundamental Jewish tragedy are present in this war. I do not ignore the feeling that still after sixty years we are not accepted in the Middle East and that many nations regard this place more as our shelter than our home. Nevertheless, I think we must act differently than we have [in this war].
The press conference proceeded a demonstration sponsored by Meretz and Peace Now against widening the war.

The writers' statements today much more strongly articulated the demand for a cease-fire and political settlement than an essay they published article last Sunday. The essay called for a cease fire, but justified the war as an appropriate, legitimate response to the capture of the soldiers. A few Israeli Jews further to their left criticized the essay, because it ignored that government's top declared purpose was to destroy Hizbullah. The Talmud has a felicitous means of reconciling two differing statements by sages on the same point. It explains the second statements as made "after they learned."

And more learning: The decision of Olmert and Peretz to wait for diplomatic developments before launching expanded operations is commendable. The US and France have just asnnounced they have agreed on an amended resolution that was approved by Israel and apparently by Lebanon. It calls for an immediate cease fire, withdrawal of Israel forces from Lebanon as the Lebanese army is deployed in the south and the expansion of an international force there. According to Israel sources, an embargo on arms shipments to Hizbullah will be included.


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