The kidnapping of Israeli soldiers earlier this month, first by Hamas in Gaza and then by Hezbollah in Lebanon, were the straw that broke the camel’ back. Long mired in a failed policy of diplomacy and withdrawal, Israel has once again embraced its warrior legacy. Just as the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 reawakened the United States after a long period of appeasement in the face of Islamic terrorism, Israel too has reached its breaking point.
The subsequent incursions into Gaza and Southern Lebanon were a long time in the making. Israel had withdrawn from both regions only to find its enemies strengthened in their quest to annihilate the Jewish State. Aside from the usual suicidal leftists, many of them professors in Israel’ universities, the Israeli people appear to be united in this battle. It seems that some long in denial about the true nature posed by Israel’ enemies have at last figured it out.
However, the reaction among the elites of the so-called international community has been less than supportive. Much like the antiwar take on the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the chattering classes began clamoring for “cease-fire” and “negotiation” less than one day into Israel’ military campaign. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his cohorts scolded Israel for its “disproportionate response” and pressed for the usual toothless “diplomatic packages.” Injecting a rare moment of commonsense into the media maelstrom, U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton was the only one to question “how you negotiate with terrorists?”
But the appeasers of the world have become highly invested in cowardice as a political platform. Not knowing how to see any battle through to its conclusion, they clamor for defeat at the slightest opportunity. Anything to go back to the days of meaningless agreements, ineffectual sanctions and countless opportunities for diplomats and their hangers-on to discuss matters at UN cocktail parties. The idea of such an “international force” taking over in Southern Lebanon, an idea much touted by the UN, is laughable. One need only revisit UN Security Council resolution 1559, which called on Syria to leave Lebanon and Lebanese militias such as Hezbollah to disband in 2004. It has yet to be enforced.
The mainstream television media, with the occasional exception of Fox News, reacted just as predictably, offering Israel a day or two of sympathetic coverage before launching into the usual moral equivalence and thinly veiled terrorist propaganda. CNN committed perhaps the worst offense in the latter category when one of its reporters dutifully followed around a Hezbollah guide as he showed him the ruins of various buildings that had been bombed by Israel, insisting all the while that the victims had all been “civilians.”
The story that most engulfed media coverage of the Middle East conflict was the plight of evacuees trying to flee Lebanon. It became a sort of Hurricane Katrina Part II, where civilians stranded in war-torn areas were suddenly victims that only the government could rescue. Never mind the numerous State Department warnings about traveling to Lebanon in recent years.
The complaints about delays were belied by the relatively quick mobilization of the U.S. military in helping Americans, largely of Arab descent, get out of Lebanon. This hasn’t stopped groups such as The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) from instigating a lawsuit on behalf of evacuees they claim the U.S. government failed to protect, not to mention suing to stop monetary or military support to Israel. Such is the logical end result of biased media coverage.
Few in the media mentioned that Israel was not indiscriminately bombing the country and even dropped flyers on several occasions warning civilians to stay out of Hezbollah-dominated areas. This is more than can be said for the random, if not very well aimed, lobbing of over 2,200 rockets into Israel thus far.
Still, reporters felt the need to make constant reference to the suffering “on both sides” lest they offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. That is, when they weren’t covering every move of the Israeli military, much to the delight of Hezbollah and its mobile rocket launchers. And unsurprisingly, support for Israel’s actions by many in the Lebanese Christian community received little or no airtime.
Despite the media barrage, backing for Israel from its closest ally, the United States, has been unusually bipartisan. A Senate resolution condemning Hezbollah and Hamas and reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself was signed by all but the fringe leftists of the Democratic Party. Democratic politicians, among others, addressed crowds at a series of “Israel Solidarity Rallies” held across the nation. It seems that the Democrats do understand the principle of a just war, even if some of them still don’t apply it to their own country.
President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have stood firm in Israel’s defense up until this point, facing a hostile world in the process. At the time of this writing, Rice is on a diplomatic trip to the region, leading some to worry that her State Department influence will be an impediment to Israel finishing the job.
But the Bush administration knows that Islamic terrorist groups such as Hezbollah pose a threat that extends far beyond Israel’s borders. Indeed, it was a Hezbollah suicide bombing that killed 240 American servicemen and 58 French paratroopers in Beirut in 1983. The group has been involved in numerous other attacks on Americans and American interests in recent decades. Furthermore, the liberation of Lebanon from the grips of Iran and Syria, via the proxy state in the south controlled by Hezbollah, would be of great benefit not only to Israel, but also to the entire region. It’s unlikely that the Bush administration would want to forfeit such an opportunity.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich got it right when he described the current conflict as part of WWIII. The U.S. is engaged in the same battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. The attacks and aggression by Islamic terrorists all over the world from the Philippines to India, Spain to Somalia and London to Toronto, are also elements of this larger war.
It was clear immediately after 9/11, if not before, that all terrorist groups, not simply al-Qaeda, must be fought if the civilized (as in democratic) world is to weather the storm. In the wake of Israel’s courageous stand against this rising tide of Islamic fascism, more people seem to understand the shared nature of the conflict than ever before.
There’s no longer any denying that Israel’s battle is our own.