Saturday, July 29, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Israel's perspective

As a Canadian Jew, it pains me to see Israel vilified in the media for its response to the latest round of attacks by Hezbollah terrorists. The same old uninformed perspectives - that Israel is a big bully, that its response has been out of proportion, that this is a simple bilateral disagrement - are trotted out. And we're supposed to sit idly back and let the wave wash over us.

Well, as a journalist, this kind of thing bugs me. Supposedly informed journalists routinely rant on the same old anti-Israel sentiment without taking the time to research the history of Hezbollah, and all the other state and stateless actors in the region who have repeatedly vowed to destroy the country and its people ("...into the sea is the common refrain, but I digress.)

That these folks had no personal stake in the region, had never been there, had never studied it, were simply responding to minute slices of coverage and using it as an opportunity to fill some space and provoke a reaction, bugged me even more.

So I published this piece in today's paper. I was initially concerned that it was too strong for the intended audience. Even publishing it here was worrisome. What would I do if visitors to my blog vehemently disagreed with me?

As you can tell, I got over my misgivings. This had to be said. And I'll say it again if necessary. Let the chips fall where they may.

Quick aside: I published this piece a couple of weeks back.
Sure, just sit back and blame Israel
Published Saturday, July 29, 2006
The London Free Press
By Carmi Levy

It’s easy to sit in an armchair in Canada and judge Israel’s response to a terror campaign that began long before the state was even founded.

It’s easy to say Israel has overreacted when you haven’t been singled out for elimination. It’s easy to blame Israel for causing the misery in Lebanon when you choose to ignore the context of its existence.

The facts are quite simple: Hezbollah, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others, has vowed to destroy Israel and its Jewish citizens. It has engaged in a sustained cross-border terror campaign since its 1982 inception. Regular rocket barrages against northern Israeli towns have been punctuated by murderous cross-border incursions.

It has set up camp in the middle of heavily populated areas, knowing full well the consequences in the event of a counterattack.

While you sit in your safe, comfy armchair, the Jewish state fights for its very life against a shadowy enemy that has no interest in negotiation or compromise.

You’d be forgiven for having no concept if you haven’t spent your entire life living under this never-ending threat.

-30-
Your turn: Thoughts?

32 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Good thoughts, Carmi. You wrote that piece well.

Michele sent me here.

utenzi said...

Michele sent me, Carmi.

I think Israel would have far less trouble if it would work a little harder at public relations. The troubles that exist now have their roots in the post-WW2 formation of Israel. It's been tragic on all sides ever since and a lot of the blame belongs on the shoulders of Europe and the US.

As is, politicians and military leaders in the Middle East form their rhetoric and marching orders based on internal politics--so it's no big surprise that the rest of the world looks on aghast.

Or something like that. Maybe I just need some sleep...good question, Carmi.

queen of light and joy said...

Can I get an AMEN!

kenju said...

Very well written, Carmi. I try not to take sides, since I have friends in both camps, so to speak. I do wish that people in Lebanon, the ones who are more peaceful in their outlook, would do something to stop Hezbollah from accomplishing their particular brand of terror.

Michele sent me this morning.

Pickalish said...

Very good, Carmi. You're right... no one can understand it until they or their country are faced with it. I'm proud of you for writing this! Your words have alot of value to alot of people, (me included) and you have every right to include your opinion and thoughts on something that hits close to home for you.

Shane said...

and the most puzzling thing is why would you negotiate with and entity that vows your destruction?

the frog princess said...

Michele sent me. I try not to take sides in such things ... I don't know what I would do unless I was there anyhow. Thanks!

margalit said...

You know my thought. It isn't strong enough. I went ballistic, and I mean stutteringly sputteringly ballistic the other day when they showed on national TV news the 9 IDF soldiers killed as SIMS, totally simulated and then of course the very next pictures were of the poor Lebanese people in front of their bombed out homes. The Israels, they're not even REAL on the news. Talk about biased reporting.

Me, I think it is CRIMINAL that the Lebanese government has done nothing to excise Hezbollah from their borders. But why should they? Hezbollah has rebuilt their infrastructure after the last incursion, and that means the government can sit back and get fat off the people. Gee, how.... oh, shall I say, Saddamish?

Here from Michele

Shephard said...

I think it always boils down to people being responsible for their citizens' and governments' actions. We in the US are certainly no one to point fingers.
With admitted ignorance, I ask why Lebanon can't take care of this and protect the rest of their citizens? Politics always overcomplicates everything. They are held accountable for their citizens, just as we Americans, are unfortunately held accountable for our president.
INHO.
~S

Wordnerd said...

Excellent points you made, Carmi, and as always, beautifully put. As you know by now, I'm no fan of the mainstream media and its biases, so I'm sending some virtual high-fives your way. I thought Shane made an excellent point in the comments as well.

Mamacita said...

Excellent. I hope you are reading "Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred" regularly, as I think you would be instant best friends.

Here from Michele's this time, but I come here daily on my own, too.

Terri said...

Here from Michele's this time...
And Bravo to you for standing by YOUR convictions and writing it for the public. (I heard the reluctance in your words and the reading public isn't always kind.)
You wrote an outstanding piece here on a very difficult subject and very trying times.

kenju said...

Carmi, take Mamacita's advice and read the three good docs every day. You will find the link in Michele's blogroll.

Michele sent me, and I'm sure she would approve!!

Prego said...

Me? As a pacifist, I find the whole scenario disheartening on all counts. I can see your point, though. If you're constantly punched in the face, at some point you should punch back, even if it makes you look like as much of a bully and you both go to the principal's office.

We are indeed a strange species.
p

Here via Michele today.

Im Chele In LA said...

Oh lord the entire thing just scares me..
Over from the other Michele's

carli said...

Bravely written piece. I've always thought it takes two to tango, but I see where you're coming from. I abhor George W., but I agree with him when he says Israel has a right to defend itself.

carli said...

I wrote a much longer post, but apparently the blog fairy ate it. . . bravely written piece. . . and Michele sent me.

Josh said...

Just to be clear: why are you perturbed, as a Jew, when people speak badly of Israel? Since when is a Zionist state equivalent to the interests of all Jews? This is precisely the kind of lazy conflation that allows Americans to associate Saddam Hussein with Al-Queda. I, for one, don't want anything to do with Israel, any more than I want to be held responsible for the atrocities being committed in Iraq "in my name."

Tim Draayer said...

Well said, Cami. It would be nice to see more journalists who are interested in the full story.

Miss Cow is a Cow said...

Israel has been attacked since before she was a state. We both know this. She will be for a long time to come, I believe. She could give up all her land and she'd still be attacked.

I would not want to screw with Israel. I've seen and heard the stories of the Mossad agents (as I'm sure you have too).

Good article, my friend. I'm working on an article as well, though not on Israel, on the Hora.

Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

Yikes.
This is a very touchy subject. I've lived in the middle-east, and realize that for a lot of Arabs, Israel doesn't even exist. In Saudi Arabia, when you buy a world map, Israel is called Palestine. This goes back to the war in 1948, the Arab-Israeli war. The Armistice Agreement came into effect in 1949, but Peace has never really found it's way into the region. It's an emotional subject, with fanatics on both sides. The Hezbollah to me, is as evil as the Taliban. The Israelis have forced Palestinians out of their homeland of the Gaza strip.
Who's better? Who's worse?
It's a frightening, and desperately sad situation.
Michele sent me! Aren't you glad?!

Theo said...

way to complex for me to discuss here...my thoughts anyway.

Michele sent me.

rashbre said...

The region is a scary mess and has been over a long period. Terrorism, asymmetric acts, hair trigger responses, extremism, civilian targets, rhetoric.

The current situation is terrifying, needs a synchronised ceasefire and determined diplomacy to rebalance an extremely fragile part of the world.

Michele sent me here today to make me think.

rashbre

phoenix said...

Touchy subject yes, but one that needs to be addressed. The conflicts overseas always touch the rest of the world. We are a mixed community and there will always be someone that has family in the middle of things. My fear is that it will become something that none of us want... a nuclear world war.

phoenix said...

Oh and Michele sent me.

Dak-Ind said...

greetings from michele.

it has been so long since i have been here, i had to read further and then come back to this.

It is easy for the world to blame Israel, and by extension the US, for responding to terrorism of any kind.

Perhaps it is a slap to your profession, but sometimes i think its just easier for the media to blast Israel than to find out the facts.

persia said...

A very touchy and tough subject indeed.

Sitting so far away, and with a little bit of life experience, you just know - KNOW - there are so many levels of politics and propoganda and spin between the Middle East and here, that any information about the ongoing troubles is suspect. So thank you Carmi for publishing the facts that are pretty undisputable, that the two sides operate very differently. One tries to be part of world diplomacy, and the other has no interest in diplomacy (therefore no respect for others' thoughts you could say).

The backlash against Israel is partly because of the harshness of its response. They have always responded harshly to threats. Perhaps that is what keeps the country on the map (well most maps around here!). Who knows.

In contrast to the anti-Israeli sentiment, the US and UK seem to be pulling in strong for Israel's side.

The situation there is so very sad no matter how you look at it. And no end in sight. And I can't think of any way the war could end.

Michele didn't send me. How do I get introduced? She must have good taste, always sending people to this blog. :-)

--jsf

Shan said...

Isreal has a perspective? Wow, I didn't know wars were a matter of perspective. It seems to me that war is about killing people. Both sides have political agendas, if this war was a matter of morals, fighting terrorism, then I think Hebzollah, Israel and anyone else would give some regard to human life. What about those 2 soldiers (read: TWO) that Hezbollah captured--hold it, not saying that Israel acted out of measure--for 2 soldiers Hezbollah didn't send a message and didn't accomplish anything, but they did provide impetus for more fighting and many deaths. So who the hell is fighting this war because of a perspective? Maybe an individual who enlists, or one politician who thinks he's a spokesperson. But on the whole, this war, like most others, isn't one of perspective, it is one of dereliction, anger and suffering.

Alethea said...

I'm also part of the Jewish diaspora, also not sent by Michele. And I'm pleased and relieved to see so much concurrence with your point of view. Like a previous comment, I would raise the question as to why Israel can't do some better public relations? Here in France, where sentiment for the innocent Lebanese is high and some anti-Jewish current runs low but present, I feel like the press has taken the lazy attitude of "who has killed more innocent people so far? those are the bad guys." It's so frustrating, because it's wishy-washy. Had the Hezbollah been able to wipe Haifa off the map and had done so, suddenly *they* would have been the bad guys and the impotent Lebanese government that tolerates their presence and arms shipments would be universally considered to be useless if not complicit. How can ANY one consider it reasonable to use co-citizens as human shields? Why can't Israel argue it better that they warn the population to leave a village, multiple times, and that if they stay it is indeed because the local majority Hezbollah pooh-pooh the alert and pretend they can protect the innocent, because even if they don't, it'll make great propaganda or more-or-less willing martyrs to their cause?

Sandy said...

The words are heavy with hurt and anger...but rightfully so. I think often times the ignorant speak the loudest. We need more informed, invested people to speak their minds. Good for you.

keda said...

i'm with prego and josh on this. though they say very different things.

i have both jewish and lebanese friends.
and all i see is destruction and death. mostly of innocents.

and sadly this attack on lebanon itself rather than against hezbollah specifically will lead to the destruction of a country that was attempting (be it slowly) to rebuild itself into a modern secular democratic country.
many more orphans and angry people within lebanons devastation will now no doubt look to hezbollah to help them. as they see noone else and no other way.
so the violence will perpetuate.

defending any goverment that attacks innocent citizens is beyond me though. instead of saying its not just our fault is not going to help anything. we should all be against any violence and war and calling for talks.

but whatever our views it is always good to speak our minds and invite discussion.

i hope your friends and family are safe carmi. and continue to be.
i worry still for many of mine.

mingerspice said...

Maybe the Canadian press is different, but the U.S. and Australian press is pretty "balanced", or perhaps with a slight bias towards their governments' positions (supporting Israel).

I think it's a bit odd to say that unless you've had the experience of living in a country under attack, you can't criticize Israel's policy. Someone could turn around and say that unless you've had the experience of being exiled from your home, you can't criticize the PLO or Hezbollah's tactics.