WE'VE MOVED! IsraPundit has relocated to Click here to go there now.
News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 24, 2003

Giving into Tyrants

While the news media are playing up the objections to America's war effort against Iraq, it's worth noting what happens when virtuous nations fail to stand up to aggressive tyrants. Read Caroline Glick's latest column, "Rejecting false realities." Glick argues (correctly) that:
"For their part, the Palestinians themselves have stated repeatedly since the withdrawal that the perception that Hizbullah forced Israel to surrender in Lebanon was the major inspiration for their terrorist war against Israel. According to Ya'alon, 'The withdrawal from Lebanon is perceived in the region as a major victory of the Islamic revolution. For this we are paying a strategic price.
It impacted the Palestinian situation and in the long run it has implications for the Syrians.'
In other words, the decision to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon was a mistake in every respect Yet, rather than learning the lessons of Lebanon, Israel's Left, again with media support, has for the past two years been attempting to repeat its policy prescriptions with the Palestinians."
And how did Israel reach the point that it had to withdraw from Lebanon?
"In the days and weeks after the crash, the media gave almost uninterrupted coverage to defeatist voices telling the public that there was no reason for the IDF to be in south Lebanon.
Statements by security officials such as then-head of IDF Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon who explained that such remarks played into the hands of Hizbullah and obfuscated the fact that the soldiers were in Lebanon in order to protect Israel's towns and villages in the north were either given cursory attention or dismissed as opportunistic opining of officers trying to defuse legitimate criticism of the IDF.
So overwhelming was the media's coverage and backing of the campaign for defeatism, and so successful was the manipulation of national grief, that a poll taken a week and a half after the accident showed that 74 percent of Israelis favored a unilateral pullout from Lebanon."
So the media (and political) focus on the supposed failure of military force created a climate where the government chose to retreat rather than hold its ground; with awful consequences.
Of course there were quite a few experts who figured that Israel would benefit greatly from withdrawing from Lebanon; notably Thomas Friedman. In a hypothetical column "How Bibi Got Re-elected"
Friedman supposes that by withdrawing from Lebanon, Netanyahu would beat Barak. Of course Netanyahu didn't withdraw from Lebanon; but Barak who defeated him did. Still Friedman supposed:
"The Israeli move has totally unnerved the Syrians, the Hezbollah guerrillas and Iran "They are all now in a quandary," said the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen. "The Hezbollah guerrillas are saying to themselves: 'Now that we have liberated Lebanon, do we want to use that as leverage to rule Lebanon? Or do we want to use that as a springboard to move on to Jerusalem?'
If they want to do the latter, now they're really going to have to pay for it."
Syria, Iran and Hezbollah are still ensconced in Lebanon and even have their hooks into the PA. They do want to move onto Jerusalem; and they haven't paid a cent. Despite the fact that Hezbollah hasn't changed; the NY Times still gets misty eyed for these Al Qaeda allied Islamacist terrorists as Friedman did in "Lebanon and the Goblet of Fire" or Neil MacFarquhar did here in "To U.S., a Terrorist Group;
to Lebanese, a Social Agency.
Another parallel between the efforts to encourage an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and the antiwar folks now is that the defeatism is something that is encouraged by Europe! Glick writes how Israel's domestic proponents of a withdrawal from Lebanon were often funded by the EU. The efforts to stop the war against Iraq also are heartily endorsed by France and Germany.
Maybe Daniel Pipes is correct in Europe vs. America.
Cross Posted to Doubting Thomas