Israel and Lebanon

People who know me personally know that I’m not a black and white thinker. I take a scientific approach in that I try to simplify things as much as possible, but not more. In light of this, the situation between Israel and Lebanon strikes me as being exceedingly simple, as far as morality goes. Every ounce of pain, loss, and suffering that is occurring in Northern Israel and in Lebanon is 100% the fault of Hezbollah.

As I’m writing this, part of me can’t believe that I have to point this out. Hezbollah started this whole mess by crossing into Israeli territory and kidnapping Israeli soldiers. They have continued it since by firing thousands of Katyusha rockets at civilian centers in Israel’s beautiful Northern region – the Galilee, the ancient cities of Tiberius and Safed, and Israel’s third largest city after Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the port city of Haifa. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have fled their homes. Many of the editorials and article criticizing Israel’s actions in Lebanon seem to completely ignore this fact.

I had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Yamin Levy of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah speak tonight. He recently visited several cities under attack on a solidarity mission – there are still people living in the north – either they have nowhere to go, they have no way to leave (as you can imagine, public transportation isn’t exactly bustling), or they have elderly relatives who can’t travel. And he explained what it really means to live under the shadow of constant Katyusha attacks. It means that the streets are essentially abandoned, and stores are closed, so people don’t have access to basic supplies. It means that if you’re in the bathroom, and the sirens go off, you get up and RUN to the nearest bomb shelter, since the sirens only give you about 30 seconds heads up. The shelters themselves are cramped, hot, and unsanitary – but that’s exactly where you have to sleep every night. Not that you’d actually be able to sleep, of course – Rabbi Levy told us he didn’t sleep for five nights. The residents of Northern Israel have been living like that for two and a half weeks.

About the Katyushas themselves: I didn’t know this, but apparently the terrorists pack the payload with nails and pebbles, so they do maximum damage when the land. The shrapnel shoots out like a bullet, and will penetrate through car doors (he passed around pictures of a car that was in the vicinity of a rocket – it was riddled with what looked like bullet holes).

One nice thing I heard from him and from others as well – Israelis in safe areas have opened up their homes to the thousands of refugees fleeing south. The “ticker” that scrolls during the news shows have names and phone numbers of families who have volunteered to host people in need. But again, how long can a family of five comfortably stay in another family’s home? After two and a half weeks, it begins to become burdensome for both the hosts and the guests.

Israel doesn’t want this, and didn’t ask for this. And anyone calling for “an immediate cease-fire” is deluded – Hezbollah is a terrorist group that is not going to stop its attacks because of some paper shuffling. Only Israel would be constrained by such a cease-fire. The deaths of Lebanese civilians is definitely a tragedy, but Israel is not to blame – none of this would have happened without Hezbollah’s atrocious behavior. And needless to say, Israel can’t stand idle while one of its population centers is being destroyed.

There’s so much more to say, but I’ve covered what I want to cover for now. May true and sustainable peace (and not in the “trivial” sense) emerge soon.

–YY

p.s. I happened to have been in Israel for a wedding a few months ago, and I focused on the north during my week-long trip. Tiberius, which I visited for the first time, turned into one of my favorite places in Israel. I also have family in Avivim, which is on the Israel-Lebanese border. So I have a fair amount of personal involvement in all this.

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