Friday, August 04, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Rafi G.

Memories (Shop Window, Angers, France) by Louise - 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 an Israeli blogger who's young and hip, urban and country. He's well taught and well learned, at the forefront of the changing face of the Israeli blogosphere. It's the one and only Rafi G from the very nice Life in Israel, and Torah Thoughts blogs.

MG: How has the Conflict personally affected you?

Rafi G.: I have been affected personally in the sense that many of my friends have been called up for reserve duty. Friends who live in the northern section of Israel are either living in bunkers or have become refugees and staying in other parts of the countries. I call this "personally" because we are all borthers and sisters. What affects them, affects me.

MG: Could you tell us what sustains you during these times of crisis in Israel?

Rafi G.: What sustains me is the strength of charachter we have all seen of the Israeli people. Nasrallah himself said they were surprised by the response of Israel. They assumed we would roll over and play dead and negotiate with them. They were wrong and the people of Israel showed they care. The government cares and the people have shown they care by the great outpouring of help and assistance offered all over the country for both the residents of the north who have been displaced, and for the soldiers who have been fighting for us.

MG: What would you as an Israeli like to say to the world about the necessity of this war?

Rafi G.: We did not ask for this war. We did not look for this war. We ignored the border for 6 years, enjoying the virtual quiet, despite knwoing Hezbollah was arming themselves to the teeth. We would have been happy enough to let it continue like that. Just let us live in peace and quiet.

After they attacked us, as a sovereign state, we had to respond. They were the straw that broke the camels back. After Hamas attacked us from the Gaza border, Nasrallah's timing was terrible. We could not let his attack go with no response.

MG: Iraqi blogger Sam from Hammorabi writes: The Israeli attack on Qana in Lebanon... in which tens of handicapped children and women killed represent the ugly face of terrorism by the Israeli forces. Terrorism got only one face and the ugliest of it represented by state terrorism which is shown in Qana...

What is your response to this?

Rafi G.: I will not honor that with a response. It has already been shown that the "massacre" in Qana was staged by Hezbollah in a major PR coup.

That being said, it is very sad that innocent civilians have had to die. Unfortunately, that is part of warfare. While it is sad, this war was started by Hezbollah, not by Israel. Hezbollah uses civilians as shields, hiding in bunkersunder civilian buildings and storing their weapons in civilian buildings. If the civilians in these areas are willing to give their support to hezbollah and allow them to operate in this fashion, they are putting themselves in danger.

MG: What would you say to your compatriots in the Lebanese blogosphere?

Rafi G.: I would tell them that we did nto want this war. It was forced upon us. If the Lebanese are upset, they should be upset at Hezbollah for putting them at risk for absolutely no reason. They should be upset at Syria and Iran who use the Lebanese people as pawns in their own political games, because they consider Lebanese blood cheaper than the blood of their own citizens. Uproot Hezbollah from your midst. Tell Iran and Syria to martyr their own citizens instead of the Lebanese. We have no beef with Lebanon.

MG: The Lebanese appear to be a people weakened by decades of civil war, occupation, internecene fighting, and political turmoil which has rendered them incapable of dealing with Hezb'allah. So, can they really be blamed for the actions of Hezb'allah?

Rafi G.: There is no one else to blame. We are all big boys and we must take responsibility for our actions. if they allow Hezbollah to operate in their neighborhoods and use them as shields to attack Israel from behind, they are responsible.

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

Rafi G.: I do not feel we are misunderstood. I feel we are held to a double standard. No other country would put up with what we are made to put up with. A similar attack on any other country would draw the immediate wrath and retaliation of the country and nobody would stop it. When it happens in Israel, we are controlled by the worlds governments. everybody has to have their say and tell us when enough is enough.

Nobody stopped the Russians when they destroyed the Chechens. The USA has been destroying Iraq and Afghanistan for years now. Nobody cared much about Serbia and Croatia. Think of the conflict in Somalia.

I do not think we are misunderstood, I think it is latent, if not overt, anti-semitism that causes the perception and double standard Israel is held to.

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?

Rafi G.: During this war I have not spent time in a shelter. However, in the original Gulf War I spent much time in shelters as Iraq rained Scud missiles on Israel.

A shelter is generally not big enough for the occupants. It is a room meant for short term stay, and after a couple of hours the air gets stale and the company gets nervous and uptight. In the Gulf War our stays in the shelter were generally short.

Unfortunately, this war is different. The residents of the north have been forced to stay in small shelters for many hours and even days at a time with only small opportunities to come out and get some fresh air and stretch their legs. Staying in a shelter for long periods of time can make a person crazy, and sick as well.

MG: If you had the chance to watch any of the international coverage of the war like CNN, BBC, or Fox, do you think their coverage has been fair and objective?

Rafi G.: I have not watched their coverage. From their coverage on their websites I would say ti is mostly fair. Their are some pieces written in favor of Israel and some in favor of Lebanon, so it has mostly been fairly reasonable. BBC is usually worse than the others and more anti-Israel.

MG: Do you have an opinion on whether the US or Israel will take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

Rafi G.: I do not think it will happen. It does not look like anybody wants to get involved over there just yet. That would open a big can of worms.

MG: The Iranian government and the Mullahs and the religious junta that rule Iran have basically stated that they want to obliterate Israel, nuke Israel - When you hear about another country wanting to destroy you, what goes through your mind?

Rafi G.: Not again! We have always been the object of other peoples' desires for destruction. It is practically a miracle Israel was ever created. The desire of these countries to destroy us is nothing new and nothing we should be afraid of.

MG.: After Hezb'allah's ability to wage war from southern Lebanon is neutralized, where does Israel go from here?

Rafi G.: Hopefully we will go to having peaceful relations and quiet borders, so we call live happily and prosperously. We should all have the ability to send our children to visit their relatives and friends and the mall and wherever they want to go, without having to be concerned that they will be a victim of a suicide bomber or a rocket attack.

We just want to live in peace and quiet. leave us alone and we will happily leave you alone. Thank you for the interview and for the opportunity to express my views to the world.

MG says: Our thanks go out to Rafi G. for a thoughtful In T View.

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