24 July 2006

Amos Oz on the Current Conflict

Several days ago, at the outset of the curent violence between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, I posted on the conflict in terms drawn from Amoz Oz's recent book How to Cure a Fanatic. This evening I came across this Op-Ed piece Oz published in The Los Angeles Times. It is germane because in the comment thread that the post prompted commenters debated what Oz might think of the current state of affairs.

Hezbollah Attacks Unite Israelis
The usual domestic divide dissolves in the face of rockets.

By Amos Oz,
July 19, 2006

Many Times in the past, the Israeli peace movement has criticized Israeli military operations. Not this time. This time, the battle is not over Israeli expansion and colonization. There is no Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. There are no territorial claims from either side.

Last Wednesday, Hezbollah launched a vicious, unprovoked attack into Israeli territory. This was also an attack on the authority and integrity of the elected Lebanese government, as Hezbollah has, by attacking Israel, hijacked the prerogative of the Lebanese government to control its territory and to make decisions on war and peace.

The Israeli peace movement objects to the occupation and colonization of the West Bank. It objected to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 because the invasion was aimed at distracting world attention from the Palestinian problem. This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It is defending itself from daily harassment and bombardment of dozens of our towns and villages by attempting to smash Hezbollah wherever it lurks.

The Israeli peace movement should support Israel's attempt at self-defense, pure and simple, as long as this operation targets mostly Hezbollah and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians (not an easy task, as Hezbollah missile launchers are too often using Lebanese civilians as human sandbags).

There can be no moral equation between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah is targeting Israeli civilians wherever they are, while Israel is targeting mostly Hezbollah. Hezbollah's missiles are supplied by Iran and Syria, sworn enemies of all peace initiatives in the Middle East.

The real battle raging these days is not at all between Beirut and Haifa but between a coalition of peace-seeking nations — Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on the one hand — and fanatic Islam, fueled by Iran and Syria, on the other.

If, as we all hope — Israeli hawks and doves alike — Hezbollah is going to be defeated soon, Israel and Lebanon will be the winners. Moreover, a defeat of a militant Islamist terror organization may dramatically enhance the chances for peace in the region.

AMOS OZ is an Israeli novelist and essayist. His most recent work is "How To Cure a Fanatic."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for finding and posting this - though on initial reading I am not sure what to think. I enjoyed the book and the argument it contained, but this seems less agreeable - I have to take time to figure out why.

25 July, 2006 06:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Oz's opinion on this situation fits perfectly within his philosophy. The Palestinians want land and liberty, but as Oz mentions in the excerpt posted in this blog, some groups are trying to make this a religous war (like Hamas). On the other hand, Hezbollah is not after territory, but the destruction of Israel in the name of Allah. They may point to Israel's occupation of the small, inconsequential Shebaa farms as a reason for continued attackes, but the UN says this is part of Syria and must be negotiated between those parties. Israel pulled out of Lebanon, so Hezbollah has no legitimate reason for attacking the country.

Anyway, I don't see any contradiction in what Oz is saying in this article, the posted excerpt, and his philosophy in general. I haven't read his most recent book, but an excellent, short essay he wrote in an updated version of "In the Land of Israel" (last chapter) is well worth reading. He wrote this when the Oslo agreement was signed, and he summarizes his philosophy about the Arab-Israel conflict. Based on the excerpt and article, it sounds like he hasn't changed his mind that much.

30 July, 2006 14:34  

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