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Lebanon War: No Winners

I wish I shared Rabbi Grossman’s rosy assessment of the legacy of the Lebanon War, which marks its one-year anniversary next week. She lists a number of factors that she cites as positive outcomes from the war, and it is certainly true that there are some improvements. On the other hand, she fails to mention Hamas’ takeover in Gaza, the decreased morale of Israel’s citizens, the stagnation in the current administration and at the top ranks of the army, the strengthening of Palestinian militants in southern Lebanon, and the final nail in the coffin of the all-important myth of Israel’s invulnerability. All of these factors can be traced to Israel’s disastrous decision to go into Lebanon–a fitting irony since it was Israel’s original incursion into Lebanon under Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon that first began to erode that myth.
If there is one lesson to come out of the last 50 years, it is that wars launched to gain territory or with the “strategic intent” of realigning the neighborhood hardly ever go the way the aggressor intends or desires. From Korea, to Vietnam, to the First Lebanon War; from the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan to Rwanda to Kossovo to Iraq to the Second Lebanon War, time and again the hostilities have backfired in the face of the aggressor.
The clear lesson is that voluntary wars, in Hebrew milchemet reshut, have no winners. (Witness the immortal words of Kevin Kline’s pro-America character in “A Fish Called Wanda”: “We didn’t lose Vietnam. It was a tie!”), and there is something distasteful about debating who lost less, as Rabbi Grossman does. This is not to say I’m a pacifist; Israel needs to stand up to aggression and to respond militarily if provoked to maintain its security. However, launching full-scale wars on the shaky premise of installing friendly governments or creating new allies ought to be so thoroughly discredited as a tactic that any minister or government official should be ashamed to propose it. Yet Dick Cheney is making coy remarks about attacking Iran and Ethiopia is fighting a proxy war in Somalia, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
For all countries considering military action to promote foreign policy, the Lebanon War should serve as a stunning rebuke.

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laura t mushkat

posted August 9, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Nobody wins a war even if they think so. The cost is too great.
That being said, there are things worth fighting for, and you do what you feel you have to.

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Bonnie Selmer, Cornell, WI USA

posted August 10, 2007 at 11:21 am

This short concise article definitly clarifies the situation for anyone taking the time to read it. The writer correctly states the outcome of the so-called wars of the last 40 years. There is no winner, nor is there an end. And nobody should heed that more than the United States.

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posted August 10, 2007 at 12:22 pm

History showes that the war worshipers attack Israel about every ten years! But if they see any weakness they may attack sooner, G-D forbid!
No one hates war like a combat veretan, & this vet says the world will not have peace/sholom until it is clear who the dominate power in the world really is!
“Let G=D arise & his enemies be scattered!!!”

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posted August 11, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Israel clearly got beaten by a bunch of rabble. like the united states, if you aren’t willing to let the military win then don’t bother even showing up. I think it was an absolute breakdown in leadership period. The muslims will now capitilize on this weakness and I expect worse the next time around. Having a homosexual drug addicted military isn’t going to win Isreal too many battles either. I think God’s blessings are all but gone unless changes are made from the top down. hopefully they come to realize that the Israeli leaders are incompetent.
anybody who actually belives Isreal came out ok on this one is delusional. cleary a military fiasco from a strategic standpoint. It really showed weakness and indicision.

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posted August 12, 2007 at 9:10 pm

I the very near future we may have weapons similar to the Predator except in greater quantity and accuracy. Furthermore ‘Arrow’ type weapons are on the horizon that could take down incoming missiles.
Soon, hopefully.

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posted August 13, 2007 at 11:10 am

Since when has Israel waged a war to “gain territory?!?” THis is an invention of an anti-Semitic world that will not allow Israel to live in peace.
It seems most people have forgotten history of the past 100 years. In 1948, Arab armies, supported by Russia and other countries, attempted to finish Hitler’s job. Their failure was their own fault, since they couldn’t kill all the Jews, G-d forbid.
In 1967, Egypt and the other Muslim Arab countries massed armies once again, to “drive Jews into the sea.” Is is Israel’s fault that they won, and won Jewish lands besides?
Had the Arabs expressed a willingness to share living in the Holy Land with their Jewish cousins, none of these wars would have been necessary or even fought. But they continue to refuse, their attitude is that Jews are an inferior race and “occupiers” of our own land, and this is NOT a post-1948 phonomena. Even today, Arabs refuse to share neighborhoods peacefully with Jews. IMHO, Gaza should have been INTEGRATED, not PURGED!
True peace means that mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhoods must exist, and exist in peace, throughout the Middle East. Arab/Muslim racist/apartheid policies forbid this.
Israel must, therefore, be strong and not give one inch of land to Arab racists/apartheidists, at least until they agree to allow Jews and Arabs to live peacfully together on the land being discussed/disputed…Yossel

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Scott R.

posted August 13, 2007 at 3:23 pm

Having a homosexual drug addicted military isn’t going to win Isreal too many battles either.
What kind of garbage is this?

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posted August 13, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Some Jews feel Israel is making Jews around the world look bad by violating human rights, and/or by failing to uphold Jewish religious values (such as: you are your brothers’ keeper – the keeper of all of your brothers, not just your Jewish brothers, ie. what excuse does Israel offer for turning away refugees from Darfur?) Due to persistant stereotypes and global anti-Jewishness, Israel as a Jewish nation has a responsibility to all Jews to behave BETTER than other nations. It is not that Israel is any worse than anyone else – it is that Israel is and will be judged more harshly and held up to more scrutiny than other nations. There IS a double-standard.

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posted August 13, 2007 at 6:26 pm

I have been listening to a leftist (atheist intellectual Jewish perspective often called “self-hating”) anti-Zionist, which I think I finally understand. The point of view seems to be that a Jewish State is inherently racist due to its exclusivity. Israel admits Jews and rejects others, thereby placing Jewish needs above human needs. Thus, by this definition, Israel is racist because of its Jewishness. This is why the humanist perspective is to maintain a strict separation between church & state. On the flip side, for those who feel the existence of a Jewish State is a necessity (which frankly appeals to me in theory – there ought to be one safe refuge in the world, even though Israel is not safe) any opposition to its existence is going to be interpreted as anti-Jewish, which it must be, by definition. You would think in a world this big we could find one corner where we could be left alone, but apparently the current location isn’t it. The whole issue raises questions about xenophobia and clannishness, and whether exclusivity or tribalism is moral or healthy or…not.

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laura t mushkat

posted August 14, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Lino-all Jewish people can get into Israel. If the people from Darfur were not Jewish then that is why that occured. Israel is a small country founded for Jews. This might sound awful but that is the way it has to be. It is treated by Jews thruout the world as sort of insurance because we know history gets repeated.
That is what make the USA different from other countries. We here take anyone who needs assylum-supposidly. Sometimes this is difficult-Jews were turned away sometimes during the holocaust. Much to our shame we sometimes do not let other minorities in-particulary those whose skin is black or if we are at war with people similar to those who want to enter our country during wartime.
Israel, as you can see from many of the topics like this one, has enough problems with her neighbors making things hard for her. She can not handle more then she was meant for-and even that is hard now.

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posted August 14, 2007 at 10:06 pm

Thanks, Laura – I think I understand that now, too. I struggle with the awareness that people of conscience – people I respect and care about – can have diametrically opposed views on the subject. How can people who strenuously disagree both be right in their own way?

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(Rabbi) Arthur Waskow

posted August 20, 2007 at 5:07 pm

I think Lino was right the first time. One of theobligations ALL countries have under international law & teaties is to accept rtefugees who fear for their lives. This was rooted in post-WW II effort to do better than the world had doine cis-a-vis the jews before the war. So if Israel and the Jewish people choose to create a soveriegn state, they can’t justy say the ineternational law intended to protect ALL states and peopoles doesn;t count for us because — why????
On the Lebanon question: Try imagining the following: ” After the killing & capture of some Israeli soldiers, imagine the Israeli govt had said: “Ok, we ill negotiate the exchange of some Lebanese prisoners for the soldiers. AND we will now blow up ONE Hezbollah base as punishment. AND we demand the UN deliver on its half-hearted promise to have a peacekeeping force protect the border (in both directions). If the UN has not beefed up the peacekeepers in three weeks, w will destroy one Hezbollah base each week until the UN does so. If the UN DOES do so, we will enter negotiations with Lebanon on how to deal with the border farming area still under dispute, AND we will meet with the Syrians to explore peace treaty in exchange for the golan Heights.
Would that have worked? I don;’t know. It could hardly have worked WORSE than the disastrous policy followed by the Olmert govt.
Shalom, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center

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