Monday, July 31, 2006

A Very Immodest Open Letter

Dear Israel,

It was just about two years ago that I wrote my modest open letter to you. While inspired by the tragic events and disgusting moral preening that were in evidence at the time, that little missive was still meant to be in good fun. Not this one.

A short while ago, one of your bombs hit a Lebanese shelter. Dozens were killed, including many children. To call this a "tragedy" would be a massive understatement.

But as usual with global geopolitics, tragedy is quickly followed by farce. Right on cue, we are now witnessing widespread global outrage over the fact that you hit a civilian shelter while firing at a rocket launcher, while barely anyone is even remotely bothered by the fact that rocket launchers were dispersed amongst civilians to begin with. That no outrage is evident as Hezbollah's deliberate targeting of your civilians is so normal now, it hardly merits comment. Such is the cravenness and duplicity of those who would hold themselves your moral superiors.

And yet, somehow, you're still letting them do that. No matter how much abuse you take from this worthless "community" of cheaply bought, largely disposable nations, like a battered wife, you keep coming back begging. See, look, we're giving a state to a terrorist who's been murdering our people for over two decades! Check it out, we're leaving Lebanon, abandoning our Lebanese allies, and handing over strategic points to Hezbollah! Come on, sweetie, we'll even forcibly remove Jews from Gaza and the West Bank is coming soon! Can't you show us some love, just this once? And so it is now. My jaw dropped when I heard FM Haim Ramon claim that the world was giving Israel a "green light" to continue its war on the Hezbollah. Not necessarily because it was untrue but... since when does Israel ask permission to do what needs to be done? If invading Lebanon and bombing Hezbollah targets is what you feel is required to defend your citizens, what "green light" do you require? Naturally, once you start looking over your shoulder and asking for permission, others see fit to deny it to you. And why not? Certainly Hezbollah isn't going to ask their permission, and when you're, say, France, it's nice to pretend you matter and give orders to independent nations. Especially if said nations are dumb enough to ask.

Yes, I know, you want to be viewed as a respectable, "normal" country, part of a community of nations. The feeling is understandable, especially in people who have been shunned and spit upon by other nations for centuries. But here's the thing -- "normal," respectable countries don't go around begging others to respect them. You don't get respect by begging for it -- you get respect by showing that you respect yourself, and will take no crap from those who don't share that view. That's why China can mow down demonstrators on CNN, and get respect. It's why Iran can execute teenage girls for being raped, and get respect. It's why Saudi Arabia can be a privately owned backwards hellhole whose sole contribution to the world is Wahhabist terorrism, whose religious police shove girls into burning schools, and whose laws enshrine religious bigotry -- and they still get more respect than you. They don't ask for respect, they assume it, even though they hardly deserve it. You, on the other hand, permit yourself to be judged by a group 99% of which isn't fit to be in the same room with decent nations. Well, if you don't respect yourself, don't expect it from others. That's just life.

Which brings us to the goings-on in Lebanon today. Quite frankly, Israel, you'd better decide once and for all: do you want to live, or not? (This is not to be confused with that idiotic refrain about your "right to exist" that some well-meaning intellectuals bandy about. Yes, that's real smart, let's put that up for discussion, too! You exist, and you don't need anyone's edicts about your right to do so. The question is, what are you doing to protect that right?) If you're going to live, you'd better be willing to live without conditions -- the instant you set those, you're done, for they are nothing more than declared parameters for your destruction. For the past 50 years, you've imposed conditions on yourselves: sure, we want an Israel, but only as a "light unto nations;" yes, we want an Israel, but only if the world approves; definitely, Israel should prosper, but only if the Palestinians are happy; sure, Israel should defend its cities, but maybe not if getting our enemies requires going through their children... Your enemies aren't stupid and they aren't restrained by any such moral codes, so when you say this, all they hear is, "Palestinian demands are an effective tactic" and "Lebanese children will make excellent human shields." Such high-minded fantasies aren't nobility and heroism -- they are the opposite of nobility. When you succumb to them, you abdicate your responsibility to your fellow citizens in order to protect your enemies. And any society that does this seals its own destruction. You'll note that Arabs aren't reciprocating, and they only send you more rockets and bombs as a "thank you." So what is it that you hope to accomplish? If it is sainthood you want, fine -- but the problem with sainthood is that it's always granted posthumously.

No, it's not pleasant being labeled "aggressors," "world's greatest terrorists," "war criminals," and the like -- especially as these labels come from the very people for whom war crimes are a normal tactic, or their apologists. But let's look at this in perspective: a few decades ago, Jews were held in contempt, often despised, and viewed as helpless victims and convenient targets. Better to be hated and feared, than abused and pitied. Better to hear impotent global shrieks of "war criminal!" as you calmly eliminate your enemies, than wincing at whispers of "dirty yahood!" as you walk down the street in fear. Don't sacrifice your advantage in strength for empty promises of "peace" and "love." No one ever achieved peace by giving up tactical advantage. You've learned that lesson too many times in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon; don't do it again.

What does all of this mean, in practical terms? Are you really to start disregarding world opinion? Absolutely. Do what you and your citizens need. Right now, that means eradicating Hezbollah. So do that. Destroy them, without worrying about what happens to those they hide amongst -- it's sad that Lebanese innocents will die, but you are Israel, and your concern is with Israeli innocents. Lebanon should have worried about its civilians when Hezbollah was parking missile bunkers under their schools -- but they chose not to, and the consequences of that choice aren't your problem. That doesn't mean you target civilians just because, Hezbollah-style; but you know that. On the other hand, if the Lebanese park a missile launcher in a nursery, you take out the missile launcher. The nursery is not your problem. If you can't deal with having blood on your hands, you won't have a nation for long. No nation can survive that kind of squeamishness. You'll note that Arabs have no issues with infanticide, and they have some two dozen nations. After all they've done to you for the last 50 years, you don't need to apologize to them. (No, that doesn't mean you stoop to their level. But don't be such high-minded elitists that they shoot you off your high horse, either. War is hell, and if they don't want to wear cement in the morning, perhaps they should accept their losses and your existence. Otherwise, they can die, making their feelings about your existence a purely academic question.)

Always remember: as Israelis, your job is to protect Israelis. Protecting Arabs from their own suicidal stupidity is not your job -- that's why they have their own governments and mental health facilities. Sacrificing your own people -- soldiers or civilians -- in order to protect Arabs from the consequences of their behavior is downright criminal negligence. Your people come first -- period.

In the short term, this won't win you any love. Some of the more hypocritical and sanctimonious countries (who long ago secured their positions through exactly this attitude) may even cut their ties with you. So maybe you won't be able to travel to quite so many places, or have as many customers for your products. Travel is nice, trade is nice, but you know what's nicer than both of those things? Not having rockets fall on your heads. Not having suicide bombers in your midst. Sorry if I'm pointing out the obvious here.

And don't be so sure about those consequences. It took Arabs a long time to turn world opinion against you, mostly by drawing out the conflict. Get the conflict off the world's TV screens, and memories turn short. I'm an American. Recently, I took a trip to Tokyo. It was a lovely experience -- service on Japan Air Lines was superb, and people in Japan were polite and helpful. Never mind that 60 years ago, we fought a brutal war with them, which we ended by nuking their country -- twice. Today, I don't even need a visa. Nor is this an isolated example: those same Japanese do business all over Asia, which they brutalized in that same war. That was then; now they come for cheap booze, cheap labor, and (occasionally) cheap hookers, and no one seems to mind. Germans are still overrunning Europe, but now mainly in the form of slightly obnoxious tourists. The trains between India and Pakistan are packed. Russian nouveaux riches buy up Japanese televisions and American SUVs. Taiwanese businessmen run factories in central China. Even you have good relations with Jordan (Transjordan before you took away the West Bank) and Egypt. Life goes on, and peace is possible, but only if you bring it by killing your enemies until they are no longer willing to fight, either because they are exhausted, or because there's none left. The quicker you kill them, the quicker the conflict ends, the sooner everyone moves on and you resume normal life: t's not inconceivable that in a few years, you could be skiing on Mount Lebanon, doing business deals in Dubai, and visiting historic synagogues in Algeria. Hesitate, and you are doomed to neverending conflict, until your enemies grow stronger and destroy you. There is no "third way" -- five thousand years of history prove that conclusively.

To end conflicts, win them. World opinion isn't worth a warm cup of spit. Every "normal" country out there knows it. Figure it out, and you too will join the community of nations. And you won't have to sacrifice your people anymore.