Sunday, August 06, 2006
The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: David Bogner
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 a very fine Israeli blogger, David Bogner, who lives in sunny Efrat, Israel and blogs at the very popular www.treppenwitz.com where he's got his finger on the latest pulse of public opinion, thoughts, and
news on Jewish Culture and Israel.
MG: For those Americans and others who question Israel's actions in Lebanon, what would you tell them?
David Bogner: Hezbollah has spent every second of the six years since Israel left southern Lebanon preparing the ground for this war. They have created complex networks of trenches and bunkers throughout densely populated civilian areas and have deliberately placed over 13,000 rockets in close proximity to schools, hospitals and mosques. They did this on the assumption that Israel would adhere to a 'Judea-Christian' ethic about avoiding civilian casualties at all costs.
For their part, during the same period the Lebanese government willfully ignored their responsibilities under UN Resolution 1559 that required them to root out all militias and exert sovereignty over all Lebanese territory. They and the UN observers stationed in the south both sat by and watched for 6 years as Hezbollah prepared to launch this war, and now act shocked that Israel has taken off the gloves and responded forcefully to a clear provocation and violation of its sovereignty. Quite simply Hezbollah wagered that using Lebanese civilians as human shields for their infrastructure would keep them safe from serious reprisals. They are now in the process of losing that bet.
MG: Do you feel that the U.S. shackles Israels? Does it let Israel operate at full capacity against terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas?
David Bogner: Up until this war began the US kept a fairly tight leash on Israel and allowed it only 'measured response' to the kinds of provocations that would have launched any other country into full scale war. My opinion is that this is due to the murky legal/national status of Israel's perennial antagonists; the Palestinians. However in this latest conflict I feel that the US has allowed Israel to 'take off the gloves' because the law is much more clearly defined.
MG: Has Ehud Omert been a strong leader during this crisis? Do you have confidence in him or do you think Benjamin Netanyahu would have been a better choice to lead Israel during this period of war?
David Bogner: It is hard to judge how much of what is going on is due to Ehud Olmert's leadership or whether he is simply getting sound advice from his advisers. In either case I am satisfied with the way he is conducting the war but wish he would address the nation more often to reassure us. The fact that the Knesset still hasn't decided if this is legally a war or not is an example of the information vacuum that exists between the government and the people. I don't know if Bejamin Natanyahu would have been as capable (or perhpas more capable), but the sad truth is that the Israeli left would not have lined up behind him the way the right has lined up behind Olmert.
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?
David Bogner: I have never had to spend an extended period of time in a shelter. But when we bought our home it was sobering to note that, like most Israeli homes, it was built with a concrete and steel reinforced 'safe room' where the family could take refuge if our town came under fire such as is occurring in the north right now. That this is standard construction practice throughout the country should give the reader some idea of the depth to which Israel has, by necessity, developed a bunker mentality.
MG: Could you give us your thoughts on whether the world has the wrong impression of Israel?
David Bogner: Too simple a question. Readers should think for a moment about the complexity of the societies within which they live. Now think for a moment if you could sum up or crystallize the essence of your country in a few sentences. What this question is asking is that I take that task and add an extra level of complexity to it by trying to figure out if the rest of the world sees Israel according to the same short-hand essence that I do.
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?
David Bogner: Yes, I am much more addicted to the news these days, although I was never really disconnected from current events. However, the current conflict has not really had any effect on the way I relate to my family and close friends.
Thanks for the opportunity to offer my insights.
MG says: our thanks go out to David Bogner.