The Logic of War

Thursday, July 13th, 2006 · 21 Comments »

An Israeli artillery unit fires across the border into southern Lebanon from a position on the frontier in Zaura, northern Israel.

This was Wednesday:

“Israel must respond with the necessary severity to this act of aggression… Israel will respond aggressively and harshly to those who carried out, and are responsible for, today’s action,” a cabinet statement said.

This was Thursday:

Lebanese police said 27 civilians, including 10 children, were also killed in a wave of Israeli attacks on the south on Thursday after the Hezbollah action that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert branded an “act of war”.


UPDATE: Here we go — more retribution on those “responsible”:

A baby was sliced into three and body parts hung from olive trees as the full force of Israeli military might hit rural southern Lebanon Thursday.

On a charred mattress rest the remains of a burned baby girl, her arm to one side. Her upper body is at one end of the bed and her lower body at the other.

Police said the 10-month-old and six other family members were killed when an Israeli missile hit their home in the usually quiet village of Baflay, near the coastal city of Tyre.

Serves that little baby right for kidnapping those Israeli soldiers. Hey, Israel’s got to defend itself.

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21 Responses to “The Logic of War”

  1. richard cherry says:

    Indeed – that’s going to be my post today (if i get to it) – how I wish we could be flippant about ballet again. Interesting that in UK even quite liberal writers (David Aaronovitch for one) regard any criticism of the foreign policy of israel as anti-semitic and start making spurious comparisons with nazism. not anti-semitic – never have been and never will be I hope: but killing civilians is wrong – israeli, iraqi, palestinian, afghan, iranian err and lots of other places. How many times do we have to state the bloody obvious??? You expect the right to have problems with concepts of such complexity, but you have to hope the liberals can get their heads round it without crying anti-semitism. we can’t tolerate the murder of innocents under any circs – preaching to the converted I know, violet, but my blood boils. Thanks for posting on it.
    What times do we live in when a poem about trees is almost a crime because it implies silence about so many evils (rough version) Brecht.

  2. Violet says:

    Thanks for posting on it.

    Yes, well, but I haven’t really said much. I was amused by your statement in the other thread — all caps — ISRAEL IS INVADING LEBANON. I almost posted that here: “Alert reader Richard Cherry writes that…”

    The thing is I’ve been watching this unfold via the Google News and I’m just too gobsmacked to say anything cogent. Jesus Fucking Christ. There, that’s my commentary: Jesus Fucking Christ.

  3. richard cherry says:

    yeah – I’m composing my post now and I keep breaking off as I can find nothing to say that isn’t obvious, nothing to say that helps and NOTHING to say that could be considered funny. just banging on about it is what we can do and invade the collective consciousness with the notion that this is something that must stop – won’t stop it on its own but it may be the tiny drop of water that wears away this particular stone. the days of going off to spain to form volunteer brigades are perhaps past us. don’t suppose bloody nijinsky (I can spell his name the a was for dramatic effect) did that!!! keep the flame alight and let everyone know we care. I shall shout out to slimy dave that he has to stop it next time I see him.did you see the chameleon site?

  4. Jimmy Ho says:

    I’d like to second Richard Cherry’s thanks to you, Violet. Wars (plural) have messed up my fam’s life and mental health. I am speechless and desperate; right now, all I need is a cup of kuding cha 苦丁茶 to taste something more bitter than my current thoughts.

  5. Infidel says:

    If the Israelis had bombed the Medeterranian would it have sent any less of a message, would it have been any less a detterrent?

  6. Geekery Today says:


    From Israel: Hezbollah also claimed to have fired a volley of rockets on northern Israel early on Thursday. Israel said one woman was killed. The…

  7. richard cherry says:

    5 Infidel – so you’re suggesting countries flex their military penises by bombing the sea (echoes of Xerxes at the Hellespont?) as a casualty-free frightener. Or was it irony? Or an attempt to illustrate there is no deterrent without casualties? Interesting but not sure I’m quite with your point yet…sorry! Once more for the slow English people?
    Rad Geek – easier for me to understand and a very precise picture of what you are against – yes! the proportionality. Israel has the right to defend its people and borders, but it’s the sheer random vindictiveness of their use of the kidnaps and missile strikes (‘poorly-aimed ‘or not) as an excuse for violence against civilians in neighbouring territories. Surely it’s a case for the UN. And as Dubya and Blair have a problem with people like Saddam doing this sort of thing a US/UK – sorry coalition of the free world – invasion of Israel would be their logiocal conclusion. But of course not for the obvious reason – Israel is ‘on our side’ whatever that means. These acts are no less horrific, their victims no less dead when perpetrated by a democracy.

  8. Love says:

    Peace would be good.

  9. Infidel says:

    7 Richard. Yes, Xerxes at Hellespont, and No I don’t think there is a deterrent(that was my point). All you can do is bomb the shit out of Lebannon until they can’t or won’t put up with Hezbolla within their borders lobbing bombs on Israel and taking Israeli soldiers hostage. That would only be temp. until they regroup- unless you wanted to “exterminate”. Maybe shock and awe would work, it’s never been tried. What happens if Israel spends all that bomb money on community relations? I mean all of it. Big risk. Not likely to work. Who is going to try war alternatives?

  10. Violet says:

    You see, Richard? Infidel perfectly illustrates the logic of war. All you can do is keep bombing rural families in Lebanon until they decide to get rid of Hezbollah. If those damned children would just stop attacking Israel across the border we could have peace, but until then they must pay with their lives.

  11. richard cherry says:

    …or even: all you can do is bomb the shit out of Israel until they can’t or won’t put up with their government lobbing bombs on Lebanon and killing civilians at random. Not getting us there yet. Still, at least Xerxes showed that bloody Hellespont good – never invaded anyone ever since.
    One very powerful moment in the guerrilla war that raged in Ireland for all of my youth was the peace movement which started from two women (one who eventually became an MP) who realised enough was enough. It didn’t stop either side at once – it may be argued that the situation only got better from sheer fatigue at the killings by both sets of leaders or perhaps a less intransigent British government, but those two women started people believing peace was an alternative. Once you can get some numbers on both sides believing that peace is possible, the majority who have always wanted it can join in and work for it – or at least stop being involved in the violence from pure fear. Very few will give up violence when they believe the other side won’t stop. And just for a change the whole thing started with the women. From the Hellespont to Lysistrata. A virtuous circle. But sometimes the circle needs a bit of help to get started, so let those of us not dug into a position by fear of violence from the terrorists of Isarel or Palestine get involved however we can. Either way, we have to believe in the possibility of something better.

  12. Peaches says:

    Ponder the logic: Nazi Germany annihilates millions of Jews in the Holocaust. In order to compensate the Jewish survivors for Germany’s heinous acts, the Allies take land from the peaceful kingdom of Palestine and create Israel. Wouldn’t it have been more equitable to give them, oh, Berlin? Biblical justice is “an eye for an eye” . . . but I think the intent is to extract the eye from the perpetrator of the initial injury, not from innocent bystanders!

  13. Jimmy Ho says:

    Let us be clear: it is the army of a state that is bombing and killing innocent civilians right now, not “the Jews” or “the Jewish people”. There were Zionist settlers in Palestine before World War II, some of which, like Yeshayahu Leibowitz, became strongly critical of Israel after 1967. In France, where I live, the most eloquent non-antisemite anti-Zionist intellectuals (and leftist Zionists strongly critical of Israel) are survivors of the genocide like the late Maxime Rodinson (author of a classical article about “Israel as a colonial fact), Maurice Rajfus, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Michel Warschawski, or descendants of survivors, like Le Monde diplomatique journalist Dominique Vidal, the son of Haim Vidal-Sephiha, an authority on the Judeo-Spanish and Ladino languages who came back from Auschwitz. They all have little patience with both those who deshumanise the Palestinians and justify their extermination and those who readily accuse all “the Jews” of the world for every horrible action perpetrated by Israeli governments.

  14. Violet says:

    Jimmy, I’m no antisemite. In fact, given my background and interests, it would probably be fair to say I’m a pro-semite (actually meaning pro-Jewish — god, the term antisemitic is a pain in the butt). I support the right of Israel to exist and am well aware that the history of this conflict is complicated, with plenty of blame to go around.

    It is unfortunate, as Richard said, that it’s so difficult to criticize Israeli foreign policy without being accused of antisemitism. It’s understandable, since all antisemites do criticize Israel, and a lot of people who claim not to be antisemitic really are, but nevertheless. It’s entirely possible to have serious problems with Israeli foreign policy without being the slightest bit antisemitic. Or even fundamentally anti-Israel.

  15. Violet says:

    Hi there, peaches — haven’t seen you in ages.

    I wouldn’t say that the Allies took land from the peacable “kingdom of Palestine,” since such a thing didn’t really exist and the entire region was part of the British Mandate; also, the Balfour declaration had designated Transjordan for Arabs and a Jewish homeland in Palestine a generation before the Holocaust. Of course Arabs complain that the British had no business designating a Jewish homeland, but the British also created the nation of Jordan and placed the Hashemites on the throne, yet I’ve never once heard of the Hashemites offering to abdicate because the British had no business giving them a country.

  16. Jimmy Ho says:


    I certainly don’t think that you are an antisemite, and I am truly sorry that you read my comment as such, because it was not intended to accuse you of such a thing. As I implied very succinctely in my first comment, I wholeheartedly agree with your post. In fact, the figures I listed would most probably agree, too.

    My second comment was prompted by Peaches’ comment above. I do not have any reason to think that Peaches is an antisemite either, but her comment (please correct me if I am wrong about Peaches’ gender) reminded me of the danger of simplification and essentialism on both “sides”. Since I did not have the time to respond to Peaches in detail, I wrote my comment as a way to prevent any further derailment of the discussion. This is important to me, because we come from a country (Greece) where it is common to use “the Jews” and “Israel” interchangeably, and where I often have to make similar clarifications.

    Sorry again for my poor expression (English is not the foreign language I know best).

  17. Violet says:

    I certainly don’t think that you are an antisemite, and I am truly sorry that you read my comment as such, because it was not intended to accuse you of such a thing.

    Oh no, I didn’t think you were — I was just stating my position for all and sundry. Anyone who might be reading.

    I can’t speak for Peaches (though I do know she’s female), but I agree with you that the history of Palestine and the State of Israel is complex. But whatever the events of half a century ago, and whatever the horrors that have been committed by both sides, it is long past time for people to find a way to live together. As another blogger (Billmon) has commented, the Israeli-Arab struggle has resembled a war between lunatics for quite some time now.

    I think your English is excellent!

  18. Violet says:

    Whoops — didn’t meant to imply in the comment above that I didn’t know if Peaches was antisemitic, because I certainly don’t think she is. Sorry about that, peaches! I just meant that I was in no position to expound on the meaning of her comment.

    There would have been a certain poetic justice in giving the Jews part of Germany, I suppose, but I don’t think they would have wanted it. It wasn’t their historical seat, the Zionist settlement in Israel was many decades old by that time, the Balfour Declaration had already designated the area west of Jordan, and besides — Germany was the home of the most virulent anti-Semitism that had ever existed in the entire history of the world. Not really an appealing place to put down stakes.

  19. Txfeminist says:

    Sheesh….. this is so incredibly awful. I just got back from a vacation. I knew NOTHING of any of this until late yesterday.

  20. Jimmy Ho says:


    Now I see that I misread your comment, but I am glad that we could clarify this, and agree on our position. And thanks for the compliment! Of all the languages I use with some frequency, English is the only one I never learned systematically, so I tend to be a bit insecure about it.

  21. will says:

    The United States needs to critically evaluate how our foreign policy is influenced by pro-Israeli forces. We seem to lose our ability to think when it comes to Israel and Cuba.