You are now entering Hisbullough-by-Strong-Wolds (formerly Beirut)

Smokewriting attempts to understand the fundamental psychology of Israeli actions which, to most on the sidelines, seem utterly illogical. I was reminded of the attitude elucidated as:

This time the Palestinians will understand that we mean business: they didn.t get it in 1989, or in 1997, or in 2002 but they will now.

when I heard an Israeli spokesman on the Today Programme a few weeks back. The spokesman was expressing astonishment that anyone could criticize Israel’s actions: it’s a stance you normally find in Israeli spokesmen and makes me wonder if it’s not pre-recorded, much in the same way as (FOR THE SAKE OF BALLAST) whining, aggrieved hollers seem to be the normal communication method of members of the Palestinian Authority.

But, to return to what this particular chap was saying, it seems that all Israel needs to do, to stop rockets being fired into its borders, is to fire rockets at where they’re coming from; by extension, to attack with any force necessary; by extension, to occupy. Of course! The rockets are there, and they’re being fired. So: kill anyone near where they’re being fired from, level that location, raze its buildings to the ground, and stick hundreds of troops there (whoever the land might belong too). Then “they” won’t fire any more rockets. It’s not rocket science: more rocket common-sense. You must be some sort of moron, Mr Naughtie.

The astonishment in his manner suggested that it had never occurred to him that firing rockets at one lot of people might make another lot—who consider themselves brethren, or even actual countrymen, given the violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, of the first lot—want to fire rockets at them even more. Besides, surely eradicating global terrorism or whatever it is this week must be a good thing, mustn’t it? He didn’t actually say “good thing” of course, because it wasn’t Thought for the Day and that particular bit of idiomatic idiocy doesn’t seem to have propagated to EFL yet.

As a country, Israel often seems to act like the class bully. In the same way as we no longer call children “bad”, one might say that Israel’s foreign policy has every right to act as if emotionally scarred: birth pangs were never so fierce, nor so well-remembered. But that only adds to the analogy. Israel, by far the most powerful state in the region (it’s allowed nuclear weapons and a hotline to the White House, for a start) snipes at and pinches its neighbours, who snipe and pinch back, and all the kids including the bully start it more or less simultaneously, although they all claim that “he was first, Miss.” Suddenly, with hardly any warning, Israel exercises its chunky council-estate muscles and starts thumping the littler kids, because they got a particularly nasty pinch in. A lot of wee chaps in shorts end up with that horrible feeling when you can smell your own blood rushing to your nose, or your leg goes all dead. But then, when someone thumps Israel back, it makes sure the teacher is looking before giving a long, loud bawl.

There was a reality under that analogy somewhere. But aside from its tedious length and tenuous connections its main flaw might be in the lack of consolation it brings. After all, when you see children in the playground doing this sort of thing, you can at least keep in mind that, sooner or later, they’re going to grow up.

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