Monday, August 07, 2006

An Israeli View

Diklah Cohen, with whom I worked some when I was with Middle East Studies, appears in today's Capital Times with an Israeli view of the war in Lebanon:
"Her father's story, she said, demonstrates that Israel is a haven for the Jewish people in a world where anti-Semitism is still in fashion. That haven, she said, is constantly under attack from those who believe land for peace isn't enough.

"She said she disagrees with a common critique of the war against Lebanon that she often hears in Madison: that Israel overreacted after Hezbollah crossed into Israel and kidnapped two soldiers last month.

"Israel's attacks, she said, are the result of a cumulative effect of attacks by Hezbollah over the years, by a growing threat on Israel's northern cities by a group that does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

"'We feel like we have no choice. Countries around us want to wipe us off the map,' she said. 'Are we going to sit still and do nothing? We have nowhere else to go. Israel is the only place.'

"Steve Morrison, executive director of the Madison Jewish Community Council, said the war hits home for Cohen, whom he said has a compassionate manner.

"'She's a sweet, charming, a loving, delightful person. She hasn't specifically mentioned any worry, but I can see it, I can sense it, because of her style. She's a very emotive kind of person,' Morrison said. 'I know her well, she also mourns for the families of the Lebanese who have died, too.'

"Cohen said it's easy for people to criticize Israel from afar. Of Israel's critics in the area, she said, 'When was the last time they've been witness to a terrorist attack, or sat in a bomb shelter? When was the last time they had to cancel a trip because a bomb hit their hotel? Do they ever walk into a restaurant and wonder, what is the best place to sit in case of a bomb?'"

Unfortunately, what this really does is show one part of the bunker mentality you find in the region. The obvious rebuttal is to talk about how Israel's opponents haven't had the experience of living under occupation. For my part, even given Israel's own terms, I still don't see what this war accomplishes.


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