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Sunday, 30 July 2006 03:22

How We Miss Yitzhak Rabin

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When Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, we felt a profound loss and a sense of horrible foreboding.

He was killed by a right wing Israeli -- not an Arab, not a Palestinian, not an Iranian, not a Syrian. He was killed by a fanatical, radical Israeli who saw the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel as a proponent of the Oslo accords and as an enemy of the settler movement.

We support Israel's full right to be a nation-state and live without suicide attacks and rockets launched by Hezbollah. The editor of BuzzFlash, who is Jewish, has relatives and friends in Israel. We wish them, as would anyone, long and safe lives for them and their children. Many of them are quite dear to us.

But we cannot support, condone, or do anything but fully condemn the loss of life in Qana, Lebanon, where the majority of more than 50 people killed by Israeli air strikes were children.

Rabin was shot and killed by a right wing Israeli after he sang a song of peace in a packed rally in front of the Tel Aviv government center.

That was a long time and so many hopes of peace dashed ago.

Israel has real security problems; that has always been clear.

But, like Bush in Iraq, you can become the terror you behold if you lose your sense of decency, humanity, and compassion.

Too many children have died in Lebanon for ongoing explanations by Prime Minister Olmert that it is "Hezbollah's fault" to be acceptable by any standard of responsibility.

Hezbollah -- which is really a gang that is a political arm of Iran and Syria -- is outsmarting Israel this time because it is winning both the public relations war and appears to be holding its own in the ground war with Israel. That is nothing to cheer about. Hezbollah is up to no good.

But the Israeli government, still basically a right wing Likkud leadership with a makeover as a new party, has lost its strategic savvy and its moral advantage.

It appears to have been drawn into an entrapment from which it cannot escape -- and children and civilians are the victims of this grave miscalculation.

Hezbollah came to power as a result of the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon. They won many Shiites over by setting up a system of social, educational and medical services in the absence of a functioning Lebanese government. They are no Boy Scouts and Lebanon would be better off without them, but they are strategists who have exploited the vulnerabilities of Israel's "air war" mindset.

It's a military vulnerability that America has shared since the Vietnam War. You can't win a war against guerillas by bombing them into submission, unless you want to take a whole country out with them.

The desire of the Bush administration to lead the Middle East further into chaos and bloodshed is both heinous and destructive. Nothing will come of Bush's "out of chaos comes calm" theory except more chaos. Afghanistan and then Iraq were supposed to bring calm to the Middle Eat and all they have brought is ruin.

Destiny is not fixed, nor are attitudes. The world is dynamic and evolutionary.

We can only hope that Israel survives the dreadful mistakes in its conduct of the current Lebanese war, and that it can turn to spending billions of dollars to woo the Palestinians and Shiites on its border instead of bombing them off the map.

We also fear that the military confrontation with Hezbollah, which thus far has accomplished little to increase Israel's security according to most analysts, is perhaps an effort, coordinated with the White House, to try and draw Syria and/or Iran into the conflict, thus justifying U.S. air strikes on those countries.

Because with every bomb, Israel is just creating 10 more terrorists, and increasing the "mythic image" among Palestinians of Hezbollah as a fearless "warrior" against Israel.

Israeli citizens must be protected from rocket attacks, but this war appears only to be increasing them, not decreasing them.

Steven Spielberg, a Jew and the creator of "Schindler's List," was denounced by many Jewish leaders for his ambivalence about revenge killings as depicted in "Munich." But what will all this lead to, the lead Israeli assassin of the terrorist leaders who planned the Munich Olympic massacres, asks his Mossad handler at the end of the operation?

There will be more terrorists to fill their shoes. An eye for an eye is in the Bible, and so we have ancient bloodshed still unfolding millenia later. Or maybe it is "ten eyes for an eye."

But, just as in Iraq, this will not stop the cycle of bloodshed.

It will only increase it.

How much we miss the wisdom of Yitzhak Rabin, the warrior who found a road to peace -- just before he was assassinated.