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Random Notes On An Interrupted War


Continued from last week, some random observations of what others have been saying about the warfare in Lebanon, beginning with a series of fiercely anti-Olmert columns by Ari Shavit in Haaretz, Israel’s preeminent left-wing daily.

Olmert, Shavit wrote on Aug. 8, “is a prime minister whom journalists invented, journalists protected, and whose rule journalists preserved…. If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one more day….You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power. You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring the next war very close, and then say – oops, I made a mistake. That was not the intention. Pass me a cigar, please.”

In his column of Aug. 8, Shavit reeled off the number of ways Hizbullah had surprised Israel: “They surprised us with Katyushas and they surprised us with the Al-Fajr rockets and they surprised us with the anti-tank squads. They surprised us with the bunkers and the camouflage…. They surprised us with strategy, fighting ability and a fighting spirit….”

Even worse, Shavit continued, “they surprised us this summer with our own weakness…. They surprised us with the low level of national leadership. They surprised us with scandalous strategic bumbling. They surprised us with the lack of vision, lack of creativity and lack of determination on the part of the senior military command…. They surprised us with the fact that the Israeli war machine is not what it once was. While we were celebrating it became rusty.”

Here in the U.S., writing in The Weekly Standard on President Bush and the Jews, David Gelernter declared: “For years I have watched the Palestinians do absurdly self-destructive things, and have never understood them until now. But watching the Bush administration stoutly defend Israel…against the background of an American Jewish population that vocally (often sneeringly) dislikes him and his administration, and constantly votes by massive majorities for his Democratic opponents, I start to understand the Palestinians just a little.”

While conceding that American Jews “are not Palestinians and have not sunk to the level of supporting terrorist murderers,” Gelernter nevertheless suggested “their behavior is a lesson in self-destructive nihilism that could teach even the Palestinians a thing or two…. One thing is certain: Palestinians and left-wing American Jews would understand each other beautifully if they ever got together for a conference on refusing to face reality.”

In a New York Sun op-ed titled “Transforming the Jewish Psyche,” Warren Kozak related how at a Manhattan dinner party a woman exclaimed “Israel is a terrorist nation” and then added, “I can say that because I am Jewish.” The woman’s statement, Kozak wrote, comes back to him “when I read Richard Cohen in the Washington Post calling the creation of Israel a mistake. I am reminded when I see the letters to the editor in The New York Times where people with Jewish names say all of this is Israel’s fault….I see it over and over again in the pages of the New York Review of Books, The Nation, The Progressive, publications that are inordinately heavy with Jewish names and Jewish donors.”

“Find a protest against the state of Israel,” Kozak added, “and you will always see sign that says something like ‘Jews Against Occupation.’ Listen to the most rabid anti-Israel professors on campus and if they aren’t Arabs, they’re Jews.”

Donna Berman is the kind of Jew Kozak laments. Here is some of what Ms. Berman, a Connecticut Reform rabbi, told her fellow demonstrators at a rally protesting Israel’s military actions in Gaza:

“My neighbors, my Palestinian brothers and sisters, are bleeding and I feel it is my Jewish obligation to take action, to raise my voice, to say publicly that what Israel is doing in Gaza in retaliation for the abduction of [an Israeli soldier] is simply wrong – that collective punishment for the action of a few is unethical, is a violation of Jewish law, is ultimately destructive of life and liberty and everything that the dream of Israel entails.”

Ever notice how Reform rabbis seem to evince concern for the sanctity of Jewish law only on those occasions when they can use it as a rhetorical device to give a religious trapping to their left-wing politics?

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.

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