A Matter of Time

by matttbastard

Via Memeorandum, Glenn Greenwald looks deeper into the skeptical Israeli public and its collective refusal from day one to accept official spin about the war in Lebanon:

Almost from the start of the Israeli war in Lebanon, Israelis were aggressively critical of their government’s prosecution of the war. While most (though by no means all) Israelis were originally supportive of the decision to commence the war, public anger towards the government’s ineptitude and refusal to recognize transparent realities intensified seemingly on a daily basis, until Israel finally agreed to end the war and withdraw from Lebanon — a mere four weeks after the war began — with almost every one of its proclaimed objectives unfulfilled.


There are several important points highlighted by the Commission’s report:

First, the contrast between how the Israelis address the failures of their war and the way Americans have addressed our failures in Iraq is depressingly stark. Whereas the Cheney/McCain/ Lieberman/Kristol faction continuously shrieks that recognizing our failures is to aid and abet the Enemy — and therefore we should simply shut our eyes and yell “Victory!” as loudly as possible until we win — the Israelis debated the war from the beginning as candidly and critically as can be, and recognized and openly acknowledged that it had gone terribly awry.


Second, such sweeping criticisms of the Israeli war did not merely arise once the war was over. Objections to the war were loudly voiced by Israelis across the spectrum during the war itself, and it was those objections which likely forced the government to end the disastrous bombing campaign and counter-productive occupation.


Third, during the Israel-Lebanon war, right-wing devotees of Israel in the U.S. routinely accused those who questioned or opposed that war of being anti-Israel or, even more despicably, anti-Semitic. As always, they attempt to equate blind support for right-wing militarism with “support for Israel,” and disgustingly characterize any deviations from their extremist ideology as “anti-Semitism.”

Yet now this Commission has concluded that the Israeli attack on Lebanon was ill-conceived, misguided, and harmful to Israel — just as many opponents of that war argued it was. As is so often the case, the American faux-warriors who (from a safe and protected distance) mindlessly cheer on every act of Israeli aggression are the ones who inflict more damage on Israel, and make it more vulnerable, than virtually any other group.


Finally, Israel issued this report even knowing that — to invoke the Cheney-ite cliche — it would “embolden the enemy.” Predictably, Hezbollah immediately cited the Commission’s report as “proof” that it won, that Israel lost, and that in light of the report, “no one will take us lightly from now on, especially since we have only gained strength of late.” Israel obviously knew that the report would be exploited by Hezbollah this way, but it issued it anyway.

More from Thomas O’Dwyer on the regional fallout of the Winograd report:

In Washington, Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, was asked about President George W Bush’s reaction to the Winograd report, and issued the anodyne comment that the report was “obviously, internal investigations within the Israeli government.” He was clearly unaware of the reverberations of this “internal investigation” already echoing across the middle east and the connections that were being forged in Arab media between the moral defeat of Israel in Lebanon last summer and the looming American defeat in Iraq.

“This proves our enemy can be defeated, the path of resistance can bring victory”, said Sheikh Hassan Benzedrine, a senior Hizbollah political official. What more convincing stamp of victory could there be than to have the enemy itself admit in its own language that it had botched a war?

“The report proves our divine victory came true”, said Ezzeddine. “The Israeli side was defeated … revealing the weaknesses of those who thought they couldn’t be beaten. What happened proves what we said all along – that this enemy can be defeated.”

[ …]

The most important lessons…may already have been learned outside Israel’s borders – mainly the lesson that the era of the invincible Israel is now in full retreat before the era of the missile and what the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said called the “post-heroic” realities of the post-Zionist state.

24 hours after a partial version of the damning report was released, a growing number of calls for the resignation of Israeli PM Ehud Olmert have been tendered. Within the PM’s cabinet, both a Labour (who quit because he felt he could “no longer sit in a government headed by Ehud Olmert”) and a Kadima minister have requested that the PM step down. A Channel 2 report claims Kadima MKs will collectively ask for Olmert to quit on Thursday, with some eying popular Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as a potential replacement.

Compounding the pressure, a snap poll conducted on Monday following the release of the report showed 69% of Israelis believe Olmert should resign. More expressions of public displeasure are likely to be presented on Thursday when mass demonstrations against the ruling coalition are expected to take place (which, as noted earlier, is the same day Kadima ministers are expected to lay out their resignation demands).

I don’t see how at this point Olmert, seemingly damaged beyond repair, can cling to power, even temporarily. Just hope his inevitable topple doesn’t lead to the ascension of a hawkish Netanyahu-led Likud government. The last thing the region needs is for Bibi to once again stir the pot of Arab resentment.