Let there be no doubt about it: in the current conflict between Israel and various Arab groups in Gaza and Lebanon the blame lands squarely and exclusively with the Arab thugs. This is no reflection on other Israeli policies with which I may or may not agree.
The current conflict was triggered by open terrorism by Hizb’allah (commonly known as Hezbollah), Hamas and the puppet masters in Syria and Iran who control these groups. Nor do I believe that Israel’s reaction to the Arab provocations has been disproportionate. Whereas Hezbollah is sending rockets indiscriminately into Israel, hoping to kill and maim as many innocent Israelis as possible, Israel has targeted the infrastructure in places where there would be maximum inconvenience for the terrorists and minimum chance of civilian casualties. One prime example of this Israeli strategy is the bombing of fuel depots at Beirut airport: little chance of innocent civilians being in the way but it immediately disrupted air traffic in Lebanon. It underscores Israel’s measured response.
The US and the West should stand with Israel unconditionally. After all, Israel’s demands are no new demands. They want Hezbollah to be dismantled and disarmed. And it is not like they are being unreasonable in demanding this. The United Nations passed a resolution (Security Council Resolution 1559) to this effect years ago and no one has ever done anything about it. So now that Israel is finally enforcing this UN resolution, it is Israel that is supposed to be the aggressor? Come off it. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and can be no partner in any conference or talk. It must be shunned by government leaders and its members should be hunted down and arrested or killed.
It is especially disheartening that many supposedly moderate regimes in the Middle East are supporting Hezbollah. Even Iraq’s fledgeling government has announced its support for Hezbollah and the Palestinians, blaming the Israelis for everything that is going on now. It is yet another dark cloud over the troubled attempts to set up a responsible democracy in a country wracked by internal strife and terrorism stirred up by foreign (read: Iranian and Syrian) agents.
There is no doubt in my mind that Israel will not solve the conflict “once and for all,” as many naive people phrase it. The Israelis will rattle many cages in the process and stir up trouble in new quarters. I refuse to accept this argument—which I acknowledge—as a reason for Israel to desist from its current actions. Israel has no choice but to stamp out this source of terrorism. Hezbollah’s only aim is to eradicate Israel and drive the Jews into the sea.
Though other anti-Semitic groups will undoubtedly be encouraged on other sides of the Israeli state by the determined military actions of the Israeli government, this brush fire must be extinguished before it becomes a forest fire. Conditions in the Middle East being as they are, this is the only sort of containment one can hope for. Any talk of “cease-fires” or “once and for all” solutions, and arguments based on these views are irresponsible, emotional slogans that will cost hundreds and thousands of lives. Secretary Rice is very correct in perceiving this and refusing to call Israel to stop fighting.
We must stand with Israel in its attempt to destroy Hezbollah, at least for the present. This hydra will return, no matter what, but it could take a while—even if only five or ten years—and this would buy the Middle East some important time to move forward with substantive peace negotiations. That should be the goal because only this route will lead to long-term containment of Islamo-fascist terrorism.