Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Amechad

Lions of Judah by ForestForTrees - Flickr

Millions of words have been written by Bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities.

In this In T View we present Amechad, an Israeli blogger who lives in Jerusalem and blogs at Am Echad.

MG: Why do you think Hezb'allah acted now?

Amechad: I am not an expert on Lebanese society so I must state, first off, that my responses are both influenced by articles that I have read in the past week and my own studies of the Middle East and my own sense. Nevertheless, in 2000, Israel unilaterally withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon. It had been in Lebanon because of the rockets that were then being shot at homes and gardens and families and children in Northern Israel. Yet, most Israelis, who only want peace for their children, opposed Israel's presence in Lebanon because it meant that they and their children had to wage war instead of prepare peace. So, in 2000 Israel voluntarily and unilaterally left Lebanon. This was seen by Hizbollah as a victory and they immediately moved in to Southern Lebanon.

I remember in 2001 standing in northern Israel, on the Good Fence "the border between Israel and Lebanon “ and looking into Lebanon “without the need for binoculars“ and being able to see yellow Hizbollah flags flying over Lebanese apartment buildings “where ordinary Lebanese live. I had previously been in the same spot before the Israeli withdrawal and the IDF presence kept Hizbollah away from both Lebanese and Israeli children. But, the IDF withdrew, hoping it would bring peace. Instead, it brought war.

Dr. Martin Kramer, formerly of the Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center for Middle East Centers, said in Haâaretz over the weekend that Hizbollah, basking in the illusion that it defeated Israel, made a strategic mistake and underestimated Israeli reaction. Why they chose to shoot Katushya rockets on Israeli civilians in cities such as Haifa, Safed, and Tiberias last week and not last month or last year is not something I can answer. But, sadly, the simple answer is simply that they do not recognize Israel's right to exist and they want to annihilate us and our children for simply living in our own homeland.

MG: How does your routine or perception change during a crisis like this? Do you become a news junky, call frequently to check on your family members and friends, worry a lot, spend more time with your loved ones?

Amechad: I live in Jerusalem and luckily Jerusalem is one of the safest cities (at least from rockets) in the world. It is assumed that Hizbollah will not attack Jerusalem for fear of hitting the mosques that sit on the Temple Mount or other Muslim sites for fear of inter-Arab retaliation. It is no secret that the Arab world is fractured and even Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have condemned their Arab brethren. Yet, publicly, by condemning Israel they do not serve to stop the violence as they have created a culture of martyrdom and want to eradicate the Jews instead of seeking peace.

Nevertheless, as Jerusalem is relatively far from the front lines, I have spent most of my time reading analyses, trying to explain Israel's position and checking the news. As an American immigrant, most of my family is in the United States and, besides my wife and a handful of distant cousins, my family is not in Israel. Yet that poses a difficult challenge as the images on television portray a danger both in Israel and in Lebanon that is distorted and not reflective of reality. I have spent my time trying to convince foreigners who claim to stand with Israel to not cancel their trips to Israel, which is the ultimate abandonment with Israel.

MG: Americans, other than when natural disasters strike, have no concept of what a shelter/bomb shelter is and living in one of them - if you've spent time in a shelter, could you describe the experience for us?

Amechad: As noted above, I have not had the misfortune of being in a shelter being in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, from what I understand, it is quite difficult because it is incredibly difficult to explain to innocent children why they are being attacked for simply trying to live their lives in peace. Sadly, we face an enemy who doesn't fight our soldiers. Rather, they deliberately target and murder innocent children in their homes and gardens.

060420-17192 (Statue, Lebanon) by Light Guard - Flickr

MG: Does the world have the wrong impression of Israel? Do you feel that you're misunderstood?

Amechad: The State of Israel has always placed the pursuit of peace as its highest goal, along with the return of the Jewish nation to its historic homeland “where there has been a continual Jewish presence for over 3,000 years." The State of Israel does not want and has never held any territorial ambitions in Lebanon and has always desired peace with her Arab neighbors.

Sadly, however, the world wants to deny the Jewish nation the right every other nation has “self determination." Jews have lived in Israel for thousands of years before Christianity or Islam existed. The Jewish people have lived in Israel, giving the world morality, monotheism, a system of universal ethics, along with science and technology and arts and culture, long before Europe and America were settled. Yet “whether due to ignorance or Antisemitism, I do not know “ much of the world, particularly those in Europe although increasingly also in America, wants to deny to Israel basic human rights that the rest of the world has. There is much misconception about Israel, the only state in the Middle East that grants Arab women the right to vote and the only real democracy in the region.

Unfortunately, too, Israelis are not always the best at communicating their message. We often act tough and talk tough and sometimes that is misunderstood and misinterpreted by an outside world that doesn't know the facts about Israel. Yet, even the most tough-talking Israeli wants only one thing: peace. Yet, peace can not come until the Arab nations recognize the Jewish people's right to self-determination in our homeland. In fact, the word Jew or Yehudiâ in Hebrew comes from Yehuda, part of the biblical heartland of Israel. The Jewish people lived in Israel even before receiving the Hebrew Bible and practicing Judaism. Peace can not come until the Arab people loves their children and lays down their arms and ends their quest for tyranny and starts pursuing peace and loving liberty.

MG Should Israel invade Syria, or are you worried about Syrian missiles and Iran's response?

Amechad: Historian Dr. Michael Oren, senior fellow of the Shalem Center, has written a convincing argument in favor of invading Syria. Not out of joy but out of necessity. Syria and Iran are arming Hizbollah so that they can murder our children. Israel must do what it needs to disarm Hizbollah and keep Hizbollah from murdering our children.

Unfortunately, they place themselves in civilian areas (many of whom, in fact, support Hizbollah
“even the Israeli-Arab family in Nazareth," whose own children were murdered by Hizbollah, support their own children's murderers) and target civilians, as noted by Human Rights Watch.

Nevertheless, I am not a military tactician nor military scholar and the decision on the most appropriate defensive actions must be left to the specialists.

MG: Will there ever be peace in the Middle East in our lifetime?

Amechad: Several decades ago, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (the third female prime minister in the world) once said that "We will have peace with the Arabs once they love their children more than they hate us. We say 'peace' and the echo comes back from the other side, 'war,'" she once lamented. "We don't want wars even when we win." The State of Israel has always held out its arms for a true peace with her Arab neighbors. There is no reason why we can not have peace with Lebanon instantly if they wanted it.

Israel sits on the internationally recognized boundary. Until Lebanon and the international community decide to put an end to groups dedicated to murdering children, like Hizbollah, which operates freely, we have no choice but to defend ourselves and our children so that one day, when the attacks against Israel stop, we can live in peace. Sadly, however, the Arab world does not seem to recognize that peace remains the only solution “a conclusion known by all Israelis, whether on the political left or political right."

Bvrachat Shalom “ With Blessings for Peace,"

MG says: Our thanks go out to Amechad.

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