Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spiegel Online: "Why Israel's Reaction is Right"

Matthias Küntzel is a Hamburg-based political scientist to whom I have linked before. It is not easy to know how much his opinion reflects those of the man on the street in Germany, but his arguments are iron-clad. He opens with a frank admission that his is probably a minority view. This was published yesterday.

In reality, German and European public opinion does take sides—and it tends to side with the apparent underdog and against Israel. It has almost become areflex on the Continent. In 2003, 59 percent of all Europeans pointed to Israel as the country presenting the greatest risk to world peace. On the third day of the current crisis, fully three quarters of all Germans polled were convinced that Israel was overreacting and using too much force in its response to Hezbollah. And since then, the images coming from the war zone have set the tenor: A cease-fire, most believe, should begin as soon as possible.

I disagree—and have four reasons for doing so.

First, Israel is fighting a just war. Germany and the European Union should unequivocally back Israel....

Second, Israel wants peace....

Third, there is no alternative to Israel’s current military operation.....

Fourth, Israel’s military operation has already resulted in positive effects....

Each of these points is well-argued. He concludes with these two paragraphs:
The pacifist reaction that the Israeli defensive war has triggered in Germany and Europe is not well thought out and is disingenuous. It is also counter-productive. An immediate cease-fire would merely result in a worse conflict in the future. The consequences drawn from Adolf Hitler’s World War II—“Never again fascism! Never again war!”—were intended to prevent an anti-Semitic war from ever again taking place. Today, that lesson has been forgotten. “Never again war against fascism” is all that remains.

Israel must not be forced to abandon its war against Hezbollah, rather it must win the conflict. Just as Hezbollah is fighting the war as Iran’s proxy, Israel is fighting genocidal Islamism as the proxy for the rest of the Western world. The least Israel should be able to expect from the West is that it not be betrayed.

My own pacifism is tempered by a lifetime of studying history and observing the world around me. The capacity of swelling millions of people to be swept away in a frenzy of blind hatred is as obvious to me as any natural phenomenon, from the eruption of a volcano to the global spread of a deadly virus. If I had a remedy I would propose it, but in this case non-violent direct action seems as pointless as the behavior of the suicide bombers themselves.

1 comment:

Kerstin said...

I cannot agree with Kuentzel's analysis. The author does not take into account that taking two soldiers as hostage is a non-violent action, which was answered by the Israeli side by a massive military attack.

It is also not exactly true as the author states that the Hamas side tries to kill as many Israelian civilians as possible whereas the Israeli side tries to kill as few as possible. 380 Lebanese and up to 40 Israelis have died in the nearly two weeks of conflict in Lebanon.

In his 'Berichterstattung' about the current Middle East conflict the Spiegel shows a massive shift to conservatism, one that even goes beyond Condoleeza Rice's, who is now actively pursuing diplomacy and mutual understanding in the crisis.