It was a conflict that officially lasted for 34 days. The widely televised Israeli incursion within Lebanon was a front-page news story for the month after the battles began. It all started July 12th, when Hezbollah gunmen captured two Israeli soldiers and took them to Lebanon. Israel immediately demanded their soldiers back, and when both Hezbollah refused to comply, and Lebanon made a mockery of trying to help, Israel decided military action was necessary.
On August 14th, the fighting was ended with a mutually accepted cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it was a victory for Israel, having effectively eliminated the “State within a State” that Hezbollah had formed in Lebanon, while Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said it was a great day for Hezbollah, saying his forced had, “came out victorious in a war in which big Arab armies were defeated [before].”
In my opinion, though, the battle was a victory for neither side. To give credit to the diplomatic efforts, there were no Hezbollah rockets fired into Israel on the 14th of August, but as one famous saying goes, “Peace without victory is not peace.” Israel had the upper hand in this conflict in every way, and effectively started to give it all away by agreeing to a cease-fire with Hezbollah, one that didn’t even ensure the safety that Israel needs. Soldiers are still missing, and Hezbollah isn’t dead: their leader remains, many in Beirut praise the group’s name, and they are very loud and boisterous in their celebrations that they had defeated the Israelis.
However, in speeches after the cease-fire took effect, Olmert was very stern in his warnings that Israel had more fight in her, if Hezbollah chose to provoke the nation. And, although this got a lot of bad press with the more anti-Israeli press in the world (which is to say most of it), this is neither unexpected of Israel, nor unwelcome in my opinion. It is vitally important that the world know that Israel will fight back if provoked. Olmert has clearly stated that Israeli troops will be in Lebanon, or wherever the threat may be, if attacked. He also added that the Israeli pursuit for Hezbollah’s leaders will not stop with this cease fire: “We will continue pursuing [the leaders] anywhere; all the time and we do not intend to apologize or ask anyone’s permission.”
But far from the Mediterranean, far from the battlefields, the damage, and the bloodshed in Israel and Lebanon, is how people abroad have expressed their concerns. Very few people have said a single word for Israeli safety or loss of life. Very few people have expressed concern for the Israeli state, surrounded by neighbors who actively campaign for the nation’s destruction, and the murder of every Israeli. Every time someone spoke of the conflict in Lebanon, they always spoke as though Israel was blindly lashing out like a schoolyard bully, just trying to flaunt its muscle to get a rise out of the world. The world as a whole seems to very easily forget the suicide bombings, kidnappings, and rocket attacks launched on Israel daily. Israel’s actions were not unjustified, they were overdue.
As much as people hate the fact (anti-Semitism didn’t die with the Second World War, ladies and gentlemen), Israel has a right to defend itself against those who would destroy her. Israel didn’t blindly attack Lebanon after her troops were kidnapped. They said very clearly what had happened: terrorist gunmen walked over the Lebanon-Israel border, got into a gunfight with Israeli troops, and kidnapped two soldiers and took them back into Lebanon. Israel also gave Lebanon the chance to spare itself from the combat: it asked for the nation’s assistance in hunting down those responsible, and getting Israeli troops back. Lebanon did more than refuse to help; they praised Hezbollah, calling them freedom fighters, and the best defense Lebanon had from Jewish occupation. Keep in mind, this statement came after Israel tried to resolve this conflict with the Lebanese government without firing a shot.
The rest is history, and the world was once again shown the might and ferocity of the Israeli military. Almost immediately, the naysayers came out. “Israel is occupying Lebanon! Stop the Jewish occupation of Lebanon!” Every time I hear these claims, I can’t help but laugh, and here’s why.
I’m a fan of the Israeli Defense Force. I’ve studied their methods, tactics, makeup, and the like. It is incredible to believe such a small nation could still remain while surrounded by nations who actively despise and wish to destroy Israel. The UN is equally anti-Semitic in their policies, rarely, if ever, providing help to Israel after attacks, and condemning any action Israel takes to defend itself. Interesting fact: did you know that Israel is under more UN weapons inspections than the pre-Iraqi freedom Hussein Iraq was? The Israelis have a very powerful defense force if they can maintain themselves for nearly half of a century in the face of nearly every imaginable obstacle.
I’ve also looked at the power of the IDF and Israel in general when they did have to flex their muscle to protect themselves. The first time they did wasn’t long after the foundation of the Israeli state, and they were attacked by their Arab neighbors. Israel defeated all of their enemies, and did it in a very short period of time. Ever since then, Israel has been somewhat hesitant to use their army, but when they have, they have shown that it is capable of striking out fast and powerfully. The conflict in Lebanon this summer was no exception. To everyone who claims that Israel is an “invading force trying to take over Lebanon and destroy that Arab state,” allow me to personally guarantee you, if Israel was trying to take Lebanon, there would have been an Israeli flag flying over Beirut, and if my estimation of Israeli strength and determination is correct, they could have taken over the nation in a little over a week. Notice how they didn’t, though: that’s because Israel is not interested in capturing or destroying Lebanon, or any other Arab nation.
Israel’s actions during the month-long conflict with Hezbollah were completely justified. Olmert admitted that Israel made mistakes; a statement that I believe is true in both the tactics and politics of the war. However, overall the actions of Israel were defensive and clearly provoked by Hezbollah, who was then hidden and defended by the Lebanese government. If Hezbollah hadn’t kidnapped the soldiers, or Lebanon hadn’t protected and praised the terrorist group, then Israel would not have attacked in the way they did. Ultimately, the blood of this conflict is on the hands of Hezbollah and Lebanese leaders, not Israelis. Sadly, the world will never realize this, blinded by their irrational hatred of the Israelis and their sliver of land in the Middle East.