Hamas and Israel

After what is called the Second Lebanese War of 2006, the Wingograd Committee concluded that the army played too big a part in the decision-making at the political level.

The Committee said this problem was compounded by the Government’s lack of military experience.

In Chapter 11 of Amos Elon’s The Israelis: Founders and Sons, he writes that the external threats that make Israel a “nation in arms” make it ripe for militarism and a mentality that help ensure the supremacy of the army over the civil authorities.

And yet, he concludes, Israel does not have a militaristic mentality. He talks about the army’s comparative informality, the forced retirement of officers at an early age, the ideals of the unprofessional soldier, of the farmer who leaves his land to fight and then returns to pick up his plough.

Elon wrote this in 1972. Has the ideal been abandoned?

And a question I have. If war is defined as a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations, or tribes, or groups, then how did the conflict between the State of Israel and Hizbollah meet that definition?

Of course we use the word ‘war’ in other senses – such as the ‘war on terror’ or the ‘war against poverty’. And yet it seems dangerous – culturally and psychologically – to describe the conflict between the State of Israel and a group of terrorist/freedom fighters/guerillas (you choose your definition) as a war.

Unless one considers it a proxy war between Israel and Syria/Iran.

And now in 2009 with the incursion into Gaza we have accusations that Israel has over-reacted and is using too much force against what are after all poorly-aimed rockets that have caused very few deaths.

And again I wonder why the Israeli government has failed to make the point that precisely because this is a proxy ‘war’ between Israel and Syria/Iran, Israel has the right to fear that if not stopped now, Hamas will import weapons guidance systems that will enable it to target Israeli cities more precisely. And if the capability is not stopped now, then when?