OxBlog

Thursday, August 10, 2006

# Posted 12:37 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DO THE LEBANESE REGRET ISRAELI DEATHS? On the July 30 edition of Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer interviewed both Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora and Israeli Deputy PM Shimon Peres.

The interviews took place just hours after the death of scores of Lebanese civilians at Qana. Schieffer's first question for Peres had to do with military operations. Peres' response began as follows:
Before I should answer the question, let me say how sorry am I to see the children that lose their lives. Every child alive is a hope for humanity. Every child--Jewish, Arab, American, doesn't matter--that loses his life is a tragedy for all of us. I really feel sorry and sad for what has happened.
I wish Fouad Siniora would say the same sort of thing. As noted below, Siniora is afraid to even acknowledge that Hezbollah commits the exact same crime of which he accuses the Israelis: the intentional slaughter of civilians.

But even if Siniora is afraid to say that Israel has been the victim of war crimes, is he afraid to say that the death of Israeli children is a terrible thing? Although I suspect that Siniora personally does feel regret, his inability to say it affirms in my eyes that Arab politics takes place in a moral universe where Israeli life is worth nothing.

What matters more is that millions of Israelis sense the same thing. Confronted with such a threat, they may not hesitate to sacrifice hundreds of their own to inflict even some damage on Hezbollah.

Or am I being naive? Would a realist dismiss the significance of anything said in public by an Israeli or Lebanese PM? Would an expression of regret from Sinioria even matter given his inability to control Hezbollah?

And I am sure that my pro-Palestinian friend at work would write off Peres' statement as nothing more than crocodile tears. If Israel truly cared about Lebanese civilian life, it would act differently, not just talk sympathetically.

But I do believe words matter. And if one of the very few elected heads of government in the Arab world cannot even regret the loss of Israeli life, then the time is not ripe for peace.
(46) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Looks like that whole Cedar Revolution is looking less and less impressive with each passing moment.
 
Given that Israel is invading and bombing their country, I would be surprised if they were. Are you?
 
Anon, the escalation of the conflict followed years of Hezbollah attacks on Israeli civilians. Lebanon continues to bomb Israel (excuse me, the Hezbollah faction of the Lebanese government - I should say, the military wing of the Hezbollah faction for sticklers on plausible deniability). Given that, are you as surprised at Peres as you would be if there were an Arab politician with a hint of compassion?
 
Peres was PM during Operation Grapes of Wrath, when in 1996 100+ people in a UN shelter in Qana were burned alive by an Israeli bomb. Peres apologies are as transparent as the "balance" you attempt here.
 
"he interviews took place just hours after the death of scores of Lebanese civilians at Qana."

Human Rights Watch places the death toll at 28. A "score" is 20, "scores" would signify a multiplier of 20.

http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/08/02/lebano13899.htm

"Arab politics takes place in a moral universe where Israeli life is worth nothing."

I would say that a political culture that valorizes martyrdom inhabits a moral universe where life in general is worth nothing. Indeed, martyrdom places a higher value on death than it does life.
 
HRW link
 
The bigger question is why didn't Schieffer ask Siniora? Do they have classes in journalism school about not being confrontational anymore? At the risk of over-generalizing, you almost never see a reporter question the answers of their interviewee -- people say the most insane lies and are never called on it.

grrrrr
 
Perhaps Siniora feels it, but feels, also, that saying it would be either politically or actually suicidal.
It's a rough neighborhood.
But Siniora's is rougher.
 
Isreal is killing more innocent people, period. Even the mainstream news shows this.

I don't know about you, but if a country was killing innocent americans at a ratio of 10-to-1 -- let's say China -- I would not feel remorse if their children died in a retalitory strike.

2 soldiers kidnapped is not a license to kill 700 people. The side who killed more is the side that is ultimately wrong. Any other attempt to explain away the situation is a justification for murder.
 
clintjcl - the US killed thousands firebombing Germany and Japan, does that make us ultimately wrong?
 
" Isreal is killing more innocent people, period. Even the mainstream news shows this. "

Disproportionate civilian casualties are a direct result of two things:

1. Hiz'b's military capabilities are pathetic
2. Hiz'b are non-uniformed fighters hiding their weapons and themselves within civilians.

Change either of these two factors, and the 10-1 ratio would quickly change. I guarantee that if Hezbolla had better more lethal weapons, there would be many more times Israeli casualties. If Hezbolla didn't conceal themselves w/in civilians and stood in the open, I guarantee you that Israeli bombs would kill far fewer innocents.

So clintjcl if you really want to see the proportion of civilian deaths come to equal footing, you would be advocating for Hezbolla to stop hiding among the Lebanese people. But then Hezbolla wouldn't last more than 24 hours - and we can't have that now can we clintjcl?
 
I do not envy a person whose moral principles are reduced to pure 1st grade arithmetics:
"The side who killed more is the side that is ultimately wrong."

Even on semantic level it is stupid: what does it mean more? percents to total population? absolute numbers? higher shot/kill ratio? Also, what happens if between the moment A (when first side kills more) and the moment B of the last judgement (remember "ultimately"?) the second side kills some more and becomes a leader? etc.

The life is very easy when you do not think. Just look on any tree.
 
"The side who killed more is the side that is ultimately wrong."!?!

Wrong. The side who started killing first and intentionally targets women and children is wrong. Period. And by wrong I mean subject to war until surrendered or dead. Period.
 
"War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want."

W.T. Sherman
 
I'm always amused when, in an amoral, might makes right battle of one tribe versus another, one of the tribes tries to introduce "morality" to the situation.

Adesnik is upset that the Lebanese leader does not feel sorrow for the killing of Israeli children, but I just read the other day that a rabbi in Israel claimed there are no "enemy innocents" in a warm and that is is rooted in Jewish law.

One tribe vs. the other, might makes right, the winner writes the history books. Let's not pretend otherwise.
 
Sandmonkey asked his co-workers pretty much the same question.

Two said it was bad but justified when Israeli children died from a Hizbollah attack. In contrast, seven said they would celebrate.
 
"Adesnik is upset that the Lebanese leader does not feel sorrow for the killing of Israeli children, but I just read the other day that a rabbi in Israel claimed there are no "enemy innocents" in a warm and that is is rooted in Jewish law. "

--

So you found "a rabbi in Israel" who said something callous about the killing of Arab children, and this somehow excuses Lebanon's elected leader not being able to say that the killing of Israeli civilians is wrong? Your obtuseness is stunning.

FWIW, I could show you some quotes from Arab religious leaders that I guarantee would be far more bloodthirsty and violent than any quote you could find from the most radical rabbi in Israel.
 
Is there room on this small planet for both muslims and human beings?

The answer from one side is "No."
 
No, now that the fight is on they wish that Hezbollah had better rockets.

One of the most compelling reasons to support Israel is that if the Arabs had been the ones with a monopoly on nuclear weapons, there'd be no Israel. They're desire to negotiate and coexist with the Israelis is only limited by the size of their guns in comparison with Israel's.
 
Interesting, for a blog meant to advocate central politics, when it comes to Israel, people zoom to the right of Israelis themselves.

And shame on you for tolerating the Arab-bashing and Islam-baiting that happens in your comments section.
 
Thankfully we're not limited by your ideological totalitarianism.
 
Mr. Gates,

"the escalation of the conflict followed years of Hezbollah attacks on Israeli civilians."

And following similiar though somewhat more lethal bombing and shelling of Lebanese and Palestinians. Short memory?

Israel is doing this because it can. It has no moral authority or compass.
 
David VS:

Here's the link:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/1,7340,L-3283720,00.html

Here's the quote:

"The Yesha Rabbinical Council announced in response to an IDF attack in Kfar Qanna that "according to Jewish law, during a time of battle and war, there is no such term as 'innocents' of the enemy."

All of the discussions on Christian morality are weakening the spirit of the army and the nation and are costing us in the blood of our soldiers and civilians," the statement said.

My point is that the Israelis understand that might makes right and act accordingly, and that the concept of an objective moral justification is simply something overlaid on Israeli acts to gain Christian/Western support, support that would be lacking if Americans viewed this battle as what it really is: an amoral struggle between two tribes. It's the story of human history in a nutshell, baby!
 
David VS said:

"FWIW, I could show you some quotes from Arab religious leaders that I guarantee would be far more bloodthirsty and violent than any quote you could find from the most radical rabbi in Israel."

Oh, I'm sure you could. My point is that this is just standard tribe vs. tribe stuff, no "morality" about it. What tribe you're in seriously colors your ideas of what's "right" in analyzing Arab-Israeli conflicts, just as whether your last name is "Worthington" or "Silvercloud" colors your view of the morality of, say, Manifest Destiny.

Might makes right. That's our world!
 
Just because there is no black-and-white in this fallen world does not mean that all shades of gray are the same. Making moral distinctions are what "morality" actually is. The cute and world-weary cynicism that it's all might makes right with no real morality was an attractive idea when I was a freshman in college. We were so old and wise then, and no one would ever take us in with their phoney moralities. We saw through all that.

I think the point of the OP is a valid one. The leaders of countries should at least make an attempt to give voice to the higher morality, even if their own feelings do not coincide. The inability of Arab leaders to express even hypocritical regret is damning. The advantage of hypocrisy is that some of your hearers believe you and start to try and live up to it.
 
"Israel is doing this because it can."

Then why hadn't it been in Lebanon for the past 6 years?
 
Because it chose not to. If Israel had wanted peace, Israel would have chosen this path a long time ago.

Instead Israel is in a militarily superior position, especially given its financial backing by the US. They bomb when they choose to. They invade when they choose to. Internally, Israelies overwhelmingly support this warrior culture, and in the end, this is the way Israel has *chosen* to live.

No respect.
 
Amazing, Israel withdraws from Lebanon and in gratitude the animals ----I mean Heszbola military wing of the minority Hezbolah party of the Lebanese government--- rocket Israeli cities day after day, and the withdrawal is not credited towards them as a gesture of peace. Well, flatten southern lebanon, Israel will be hated no matter what it does.
 
Assistan Village Idiot (great handle, btw) writes:

"Just because there is no black-and-white in this fallen world does not mean that all shades of gray are the same. Making moral distinctions are what "morality" actually is. The cute and world-weary cynicism that it's all might makes right with no real morality was an attractive idea when I was a freshman in college."

We certainly need rules of morality to live by, AVI. My point is only that those rules are highly flexible and susceptible to vastly differing interpretations when ethnic affinity demands a certain action be deemed moral and another immoral.

In my view, these concepts of morality have proven so flexible that the same actions (firing rockets into Israel and bombing southern Lebanon) are seen by some as completely different, one moral and the other not. When two similar actions can be seen as moral/immoral based on who's doing them to whom, the very concept of morality has to be questioned.

I know, there are lots of fancy reasons both sides can give why there is no "moral equivalence" between their two actions...but it seems really convenient that one tribe or the other would virtually always be doing the moral thing, doesn't it?
 
the same actions (firing rockets into Israel and bombing southern Lebanon)

When Israel is able to obtain intelligence indicating the presence of Hezbollah at a specific location, that location is attacked. Sometimes the intelligence is flawed; sometimes other tactical mistakes are made; rarely a shot is fired in anger. When any of those eventualities occur, Israel expresses regret, and investigates to ensure the mistake won't be repeated and those responsible will be brought to account.

When Hezbollah attacks it's because they want to kill Jews. If they kill small children they celebrate, and create posters and billboards to honor the killers.

Anonymous, why does Israel's moral superiority make you so uncomfortable?
 
bgates writes:

"Anonymous, why does Israel's moral superiority make you so uncomfortable?"

Not really "uncomfortable" Bill -- I just find any tribe who claims moral superiority in a simple, amoral Tribe vs. Tribe battle to be hypocritical.

Whether it's the Israelis vs. Palestinians, Pioneers vs. Indians, or British vs. Argentina in the Falklands, it's still just a regular old battle over land between two groups of people who both want it.

You can make up all kinds of ad hoc reasons why your side "should" win, but in the end they boil down to ethnic affinity.
 
Anonymous 5:06 slams OxBlog for promoting extremism:

"Shame on you for tolerating the Arab-bashing and Islam-baiting that happens in your comments section."

All civil discourse is welcome on OxBlog. Strong opinions are expressed above, but I believe it has remained thoroughly civil. Thus, I appreciate all who contributed to it.
 
Is this civil?!:

Is there room on this small planet for both muslims and human beings?

The answer from one side is "No."

# posted by Anonymous : 4:57 PM
 
As a frequent anonymous poster, I agree with David's assessment. The tone is disagreeable but civil.

I disagree with him about just about everything else though.
 
Anon says
Is this civil?!

Is there room on this small planet for both muslims and human beings?

The answer from one side is "No."


Perhaps anon has a point. We aren't showing enough respect to the headchopping murderers who target non-combatants.

Israel is doing this because it can. It has no moral authority or compass.

Why stop there? You are basically saying that Israelis are the worst people to ever live. You might as well call them nazis or the devil or evil space aliens.
 
"Why stop there? You are basically saying that Israelis are the worst people to ever live. You might as well call them nazis or the devil or evil space aliens."

Actually, I didn't say that. I said that Israel has no moral authority or compass. Then I said that I didn't respect them because of this. And I don't.

The other stuff is your own paranoia.
 
Not really "uncomfortable" Bill -- I just find any tribe who claims moral superiority in a simple, amoral Tribe vs. Tribe battle to be hypocritical.

Whether it's the Israelis vs. Palestinians, Pioneers vs. Indians, or British vs. Argentina in the Falklands, it's still just a regular old battle over land between two groups of people who both want it.

You can make up all kinds of ad hoc reasons why your side "should" win, but in the end they boil down to ethnic affinity.


Please. Call me Mr. Gates. As it happens I'm neither Israeli nor lebanese, so clearly I chose a side in that conflict based on something other than ethnic affinity. Same for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. But you seem convinced that there is no moral basis to favor one side over the other in a dispute over mere property. That being the case, you won't mind if I insist you mail me the deed to your house.
 
... or the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, in 1948, 1978, 1982, 2006. And the Israeli invasion of Syria, Egypt and Jordan in 1967. And the 1956 invasion of Egypt by Israel. And in 1948, Israel also invade Egypt. Then there are the bombings. Israel even had a Prime Minister, Begin, who was a terrorist. Remember the King David Hotel bombing? 91 people.

billy, it is interesting that you choose a side.
 
I'm tired of typing 'anonymous' so I'll just call you 'Sally'.

Quite an anti-Semite, aren't you, Sally? Blaming Israel for the 1948 war, that's laughable. Yet you don't have the backbone - on a completely anonymous blog thread - you don't have it in you to admit you're rooting against Israel. Go on, say it - it's an amoral territorial dispute, and you always want the Jews to lose.

And get me that house deed. I want your car, too. (Or do you think you have some kind of moral claim in this dispute over property?)
 
Bill,

I think there are a few "anonymouses" on this thread. I didn't write that long list of Israeli invasions, but I don't particularly disagree with its point.

Certainly I don't approve of the Japanese invading Manchuria, or you taking over my house (you wouldn't like it, it's a real hole!).

What I'm saying is that the rules of morality we live under are so flexible that in one breath someone can criticize the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, but in the next breath excuse, say, an Israeli invasion of the Sinai. Are they the exact same thing? No. But they both boil down to tribe vs. tribe battles of resources.
 
It's an amoral territorial dispute and I'm tire of wasting American money on Israel.
 
I should have added, why do you think we should waste more money on Israel? How is it in the interests of America? BTW, the anti-Semite line is a common rejoinder to any criticism of Israel, and so it is easily ignored.
 
Sally, I'm at a loss as to why you would condemn the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Just tribe vs tribe, right?

Which event during the Suez Crisis are you claiming as the analog to the Rape of Nanking? Or when you say, "exact same thing? No," do you mean, "In one case, hundreds of thousands of civilians were murdered, and in the other case they weren't." It strikes me as an important distinction.

Just because accusations of anti-Semitism are common doesn't mean they're always wrong, Sally.
 
Ugh.

"Just because accusations of anti-Semitism are common doesn't mean they're always wrong."

Another vacuous statement. For the record, I haven't said anything remotely anti-Semitic nor from what I can read has anyone else on this entire thread said anything remotely anti-Semitic. Period.

Also, for the record, I would put myself in the Mearsheimer and Walt camp.

The rest of your drivel is just an attempt to shift the argument to more comfortable ground.
 
If you can use 'vacuous', 'drivel', and - the real showstopper - 'ugh' in one post, I have no business exposing your intellectual shortcomings further.
 
Who cares what country is morally superior to the other?
The point is, why is America so obsessively militarily aiding one side with, most recently, CLUSTER BOMBS. Now we're going to have more American soldiers get dragged into another Middle East problem in order to clean up Israel's pathetic performance against a measly militant group.
 
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