by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
July 14, 2006
WHAT DOES ISRAEL WANT?
BRADENTON, Fla., June 14, 2006 -- It's time to ask very urgently what the true goals of Israel are in its invasion of Lebanon and its assault on Gaza in the Palestinian Territories.
The news that Hezbollah, which snuck into Israel to capture them, may intend to transfer two captured Israeli soldiers to Iran escalates the potential for doomsday far beyond what we have already contemplated as a result of Middle East clashes, and makes America's strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its international obligations with respect to Iran's nuclear ambitions and North Korea's nuclear capability, a far more complicated matter.
If Israel adopts the same stance towards Iran, presuming it accepts the Israeli POWs, that is has adopted in Gaza and Lebanon it would draw many threads together into a terrible net that at a minimum will ensnare the United States, Pakistan and Syria in a fierce and very deadly confrontation over issues that seem trivial by comparison.
So far, dozens of Palestinians, some Lebanese and at least eight Israeli soldiers have died since the capture by Palestinians of a 19-year-old Israeli soldier. Israel's response was not the predictable one of diplomatic negotiations (it doesn't formally recognize the Palestinian Authority), but a substantial invasion of Palestinian territory in Gaza from which it had recently withdrawn.
Frankly, it is our feeling that Israel's withdrawal was accompanied by substantive warnings to the Palestinian Authority, now under the control of Hamas, the fiercer wing of Palestinian nationalism, about what would happen if Israelis became victims of its dramatic gesture on behalf of Middle East peace.
We believe that the Israeli government flatly told Palestinian officials that if the withdrawal demanded by the PA and most of the Western world occurred and should prove harmful to Israelis, it would respond to attacks on Israelis in a harsher, more violent way than it ever has before.
Whether or not such a warning was made may be debated; what has happened is precisely that.
But what are Israel's goals, beyond revenge and beyond the saving of three lives, each as precious as any other life? Why is it willing to kill many more Palestinians and Lebanese, and see so many of its own soldiers killed, to enforce what must have been a sub rosa warning? If there was indeed a warning, it served no constructive purpose other than to assure Palestinians that a major international news opportunity awaited them to win more support from Arab donor nations as soon as Israel withdrew and attacks on Israelis could begin.
It appears that Israel, probably intent on building buffer zones, has allowed itself to be drawn into a well-set trap.
Wouldn't Hezbollah be expected to open a second front by shelling Israel from Lebanon after days and days of Israeli attacks on Palestine? Probably so, and the Israelis probably anticipated it, perhaps hoping with their ferocious assault to permanently disable terrorists in both places.
But drawing Iran into the matter was a bold and probably unexpected stroke. Now the fundamental emptiness of the stated reasons for the Israeli war is bearing unexpected fruit.
Once again, the Old Testament's exhortation to "an eye for an eye" is compromised by military designs, and once again, the bonds of friendship that have knit Israel and Washington into one fabric in the eyes of the Middle Eastern world are tested, with consequences that are unknowable.
Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter.