PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER
ISRAELI WARMAKERS GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT
You can see Lebanon from my sisterís backyard.† She and her family and thousands of others in
But the real threat to
It started in June when the elected leaders of Hamas clearly declared that they accept the existence of the Jewish state.† As government officials who wanted to stay in power, they had to produce practical results. So they compromised, moderated their views, and forged a deal with their Fatah opponents to form a united government.
That alone would have been enough to scare hell out of
the Israeli government.
†It was worse for Olmert because the Hamas-Fatah accord gelled around a concrete peace proposal, implicitly accepting the permanent existence of a Jewish state. Polls said that a huge majority of the Palestinians supported the plan. Most of the world would have supported it, too.
But it would have called for Palestinian control over
To keep the enemy divided and maintain its slim hold on power, Olmertís government had to head off the prospect of peace talks at any cost. The simplest solution was war. A Hamas splinter group, bent on wrecking the peace plan of the Hamas moderates, gave the pretext by kidnapping an Israeli soldier. They wanted to swap him for Palestinian women and children in Israeli jails.† Israeli journalists pointed out at the time that such swaps are rather routine.† But political calculations took over, and the Israelis rejected negotiation in favor of war.
Israeli journalist Danny Rubenstein
explained his governmentís view clearly: ďIt is best
that the Palestinians remain extremists because then no one will ask the
In early July, with the attack on
The biggest winner may be Gen. Dan Halutz, the head of the Israeli military. Some Israeli commentators say heís really calling the shots, with the civilian leaders powerless to object even if they wanted to. The military has recovered much of its fading public lustre in the last couple of weeks. And in traditional Israeli fashion, the top general is said to have big political ambitions, too.†
An explanation is helpful, to know why a war started.
But itís not an excuse. There is no excuse for the slaughter being carried out
Of course, Israeli Jews arenít the only ones who use
violence to feel proud of themselves. Hezbollah leader
Hassan Nasrallah is cashing in politically, too. By strutting his bravado, heís become the most popular leader
But that all suits the Israeli leaders fine. Theyíve got the political situation in both neighboring countries more divided -- hence paralyzed -- than ever before. Theyíve made sure that theyíll have no partner for peace. So theyíre free from the difficult task of making peace. This gives them more chance to control things, or so they believe. Even if itís just an illusion, itís one that satisfies an Israeli public ever eager for more chances to display Jewish power. †
The bigger and more satisfying illusion is that
My heart goes out to all the victims, including my
loved ones and their neighbors, though I recognize that
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