Israel's main enemies in this crisis are not normal parties and governments that act on behalf of their people. They are jihadist organizations that happen to have gained control of territory for bases of operations. Hamas and Hezbollah knew their kidnappings and missile launches would set off retaliation that would hurt Gazans and Lebanese, but they attacked anyway for the sake of jihad. They answer to a higher authority and dream of genocide in his name.
What's happened over the past few years, in short, is that public opinion in Israel has moved to the center at the same time that decision-making power on the other side has moved to the extreme.
Now there is a debate over how Israel should respond to this situation. Some say Israel should temper its response so Arab moderates can corral the extremists, which would be great advice if the moderates had any record of ever doing that or any capacity to do so in the near future. Others say Israel simply must degrade the capabilities of its fanatical opponents.
But this is a secondary issue. The core issue is that just as Israel has been trying to pull back to more sensible borders, its enemies have gone completely berserk. Through some combination of fecklessness and passivity, the Arab world has ceded control of this vital flashpoint to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad. It has ceded its own destiny to people who do not believe in freedom, democracy, tolerance or any of the values civilized people hold dear.
And what's the world's response? Israel is overreacting.
President Bush, speaking candidly at the G8 Summit without realizing his microphone was on, said it best. I'll join NPR is warning that there is what some might consider strong language in what he said:
See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing this shit and it's over.
The President gets it. Those who complain about Israeli actions against Hizbullah and Hamas do not. The only way Israel can protect it's population and end the threat of massive casualties and damage is to take away the terrorists' toys and reestablish deterrence. Weakness is the last thing Israel needs to show. As I've argued before, Israeli military action in this war has been, if anything, too restrained. The best thing the world community can do now is shut up and keep from interfering since they lack the courage or stomach needed to enforce the six year old U.N. resolution calling for Hizbullah to withdraw from southern Lebanon.