Zeev Sternhell writes very cogently in Haaretz about the impoverishment of the Olmert government’s response to the Qassam shelling and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. As a result of the escalating brutality of the IDF response:
The border between what is permissible and what is forbidden in civilized society, even when that society is compelled to deal with terror, will be completely erased. Already now, in Gaza, the line separating legitimate combat from actions meant to break the civilian population, is disappearing, as is the distinction between fighting that serves a real national interest and the desire to compensate the battered ego of the army, and the distinction between the supreme responsibility for the life of every soldier and his personal liberty, and the urge to seek retribution and vengeance. But the motive for vengeance has never been a replacement for policy. Judging by what is happening right now, our government is not capable of much more.
“Vengeance has never been a replacement for policy.” True words. Is anyone in the PM’s office listening??
Not from the looks of this quotation provided by Sol Salbe from Haaretz:
Shimon Schiffer wrote on Friday in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an internal discussion that he “wants the Palestinians to understand that the landlord has gone crazy.”
This nutcase [of a] strategy reminds me of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon’s brutal 1972 Christmas bombing campaign against North Vietnam in which they sought to persuade the enemy that they’d lost their minds and were willing to do everything up to and including using nuclear weapons in order to make them more pliant to our will. New York Times columnist James Reston called the bombing “war by tantrum.” Sound familiar?
But no one believes that Olmert has half the strategic vision of a Kissinger or Nixon. So this threat will likely fall on deaf ears as far as the Palestinians are concerned. What more can Israel do to them than it has already been doing? Full scale invasion and occupation? Been there, done that.
But the main purpose of Akiva Eldar’s article linked above is to demolish the argument that the Labor Party’s participation in this government is doing anything at all to temper Olmert’s worst impulses. In other words, it would be far better for Labor to be outside this government and in Opposition than it would be to have it sitting alongside the warmakers as they savage Gaza to very little apparent purpose.