|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Thursday, July 20, 2006
So does Israel itself:
Israel regrets the loss of innocent lives. Israel does not target civilians, yet is forced to take decisive action against Hizbullah, a ruthless terrorist organization which has over 12,000 missiles pointing towards its cities. Israel, like any other country, must protect its citizens, and has no choice but to remove this grave threat to the lives of millions of innocent civilians. Had Hizbullah not established such a missile force, Israel would have no need to take action, and had Hizbullah chosen to set up its arsenal away from populated areas, no civilians would have been hurt when Israel does what it obviously must do. The responsibility for the tragic situation lies solely with the Hizbullah.
The doctrine is quite unshaken by the fact that Hizbollah's actions so far have killed a far higher proportion of the enemy in arms than the IDF's laser-guided precision bombs have managed, but that isn't the point I want to make. The doctrine itself is false. Its preaching should be regarded as a crime against humanity. We are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of our wilful acts. These include the consequences of restraint, of pity, of not hurting the enemy in any way you can. They also include the consequences of attempting to make war an accepted part of civilised life, which is to institutionalise war and thus to perpetuate it.
War is not civilized, but a regression to the state of nature, and in the state of nature there is no sin. In the state of nature there are, however, necessary and unnecessary evils, and in that respect we still have to make judgements. 'All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.' If I were to criticise Hizbollah's rocketing of Israel, which in the present circumstances I will not, it would only be on the grounds of its futility, if that could be shown.
In The Execution Channel, the novel I've just finished, I imagined a terrorist campaign to destroy a country, to set its sects at each other's throats, to drive it backward towards barbarism; a campaign that targeted motorway junctions, oil refineries and fuel depots, conducted by '[a] network with some strategic thought behind it, that could hit at the most vulnerable points of an industrial society, that could sever blood-vessel and nerve-centre and tendon and take it apart limb by limb.' I didn't imagine that I would see just such a campaign so soon. It makes no difference that it's being done by an air force. Terrorism is not a matter of altitude.
The argument that Israel has a right to self-defence but that its present actions are disproportionate leads nowhere. Sometimes disproportionate response is exactly right, and for the state of Israel disproportionate response will always seem right. What is wrong is the existence of a state that can exist in no other way. Its only hope of survival, spelled out clearly enough by Jabotinsky, is to reduce the millions of people it has wronged to utter despair:
Every indigenous people will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement.
Israel's assault on Lebanon is rooted in that same precept, and in Israel's past assaults on the Palestinians in Lebanon and on their Lebanese allies.
Protest this Saturday.