Saturday, September 16, 2006

Michael Totten On The Second Lebanon War

Michael Totten interviews Yaacov Lozowick, the archivist at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, on the Second Lebanon War. Lozowick is essentially a centrist and he provides Totten with another informed perspective on Israel and the Lebanon war besides the left wing one he already had two members of Peace Now.

It's an interesting interview, and although longish, Totten's interview style makes it a quick and enjoyable read.

And although I would not classify myself as a centrist, I happen to agree with most of Lozowick's conclusions - at least his one's on the second Lebanon war. Not his evaluation of Bibi Netanyahu's prime ministership or his opinion about disengagement from the West Bank. But that goes outside the point I am making in this post. Although I still think Totten should have gone to the West Bank and talked to settlers himself to gain, firsthand, a sense of their perspective.

Here's Lozowick on the Lebanon war:
Lozowick: Okay. So tens of thousands of people live [in the Hezbollah suburbs of Beirut]. We killed 500 of them? That means that most of them weren't there. Right? Now, clearly it's easier to do this in Nablus than in the [southern suburbs], and I think from the perspective of the Israelis that a certain amount of collateral damage was inevitable. But ... what for? Killing Lebanese civilians in order not to achieve anything ... there's no justification for that that any of us can see.

So we stumbled into this thing without thinking, we set very high goals, we had international backing at one point to an unprecedented degree, and then within days we were killing hundreds of civilians which ... we don't like. The army was saying, "it will take us ten days and we'll kill off Hezbollah." So had we killed off Hezbollah and had 600 dead Lebanese civilians, nobody would have been happy about it, but maybe you say, okay, maybe there's no choice. Hezbollah hides itself among civilians, etc, etc, etc. I don't know. The question would have been raised after the war, not during the war, and it would have been raised in any case, but maybe we would have said there was no choice.

But by the second week of the war the air force clearly wasn't going to beat the Hezbollah. And then we squandered a week doing absolutely nothing. And then in the third week of the war, and the world is getting more and more impatient with us, the goodwill that had been there was being dissipated. We finally started going in there with totally the wrong forces. They were sending in small units. You know, it wasn't even done right.

I made much this point on this blog several weeks ago. Over a month ago, on August 11th, I said:
I myself feel that the destruction Israel wrought on Lebanon is less morally defensible for serving so little purpose. Since that damage was not in service of some useful end, like destroying Hezbollah, or destroying Hezbollah more than it did, if there is no useful, strategic, moral point to it, than it is harder to see the point of it at all.

Lozowick also discusses the current angry unanimity among Israelis vis-a-vis the government and the military leadership.
When Israelis are angry at one another, they're angry. And they're not angry at one another right now. They're angry at their government and they're angry at the generals. You get this movement of soldiers and parents who are from two different directions and have somewhat different agendas, but they're merging. The two groups are the parents and the soldiers. It's not left and right. There are left and right in both of those groups. They haven't worked together for twenty years and they will not work together again for the next twenty years. But right now they're working together. And everybody is conscious of all those three sentences. They know that they haven't in the past, they know that they won't pretty soon, but right now they know who they are. Because everybody is aggravated and furious at the political leadership for totally mismanaging the war and at the military leadership.
One of the commenters at Totten's site is guessing it will take six months to rid Israel of this government. We'll see.


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