There's Something About Qana

Had Hizbullah scored a similar devastating hit against Israel (and they're relentlessly trying to do so), it would have been with deliberate malice, and much of the Arab world would be firing celebratory fireworks accompanied by exuberant rooftop dancing and plentiful platters of sweets.

Ellen W. Horowitz

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Arutz 7
Nittai the Arbelite said: "Distance yourself from a bad neighbor; do not associate with the wicked; and do not despair of retribution." (Pirke Avot 1:7)
"Deja vu" doesn't do it justice. "Haunting" might be the best way to describe the events that transpired at Qana this week.

Ten years ago, under the direction of acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Operation Grapes of Wrath was launched in response to relentless and fatal attacks by Hizbullah on Israel's northern Border. IDF gunners accidentally shelled a UNIFIL compound in response to Hizbullah mortar and Katyusha fire coming from that direction. A large number of civilians taking shelter in the compound were killed and injured. Israel responded to the international outcry by abruptly and prematurely suspending operations against Hizbullah.

Who should be plagued by guilt, Israel or Lebanon?

After all, for too many years, Lebanon has been graciously hosting killers on her borders, and in her neighborhoods and backyards. Lebanon has allowed terrorist militias to stockpile weapons, train, scheme, provoke and attack Israel from populated civilian areas. And they continued to do so even after Israel made the moronic gesture of withdrawing from the security zone in southern Lebanon; and after Syria withdrew troops from Lebanon; and after a democratically elected Lebanese government was in place.

After identifying a Hizbullah launch site and dropping leaflets that urged the inhabitants to flee the war zone, Israel is still wringing her hands, hanging her head, suspending air strikes, and calling for an investigation over this week's Qana incident. But it should be remembered that had Hizbullah scored a similar devastating hit against Israel (and they're relentlessly trying to do so), it would have been with deliberate malice, and much of the Arab world would be firing celebratory fireworks accompanied by exuberant rooftop dancing and plentiful platters of sweets.

Juxtaposing the severely contrasting reactions of both sides puts a whole new perspective on the concept of proportional response, doesn't it? Perhaps the United Nations should be concentrating its energies on monitoring the human response, in terms of a sense of national accountability and moral consciousness, in their so called quest to create a peaceful and civil world. Condemnation, finger-pointing and international pressure would then be proportionally applied to the Arab and Islamic world - and we would be that much closer to true peace in our time.

One has to wonder if the Muslim spin doctors aren't rubbing their hands in glee at the priceless opportunity made available via Qana for creating a mega Al-Dura and Gaza Beach media extravaganza.

Indeed, the terms "pallywood" and "infotainment" are fast becoming household words to describe the theatrics and antics used in reporting so-called news events in the Middle East.

Palestinian Authority television isn't even ashamed of the fact that they exercise gross artistic license and mesh creative expression, emotionalism, and romanticism when dispatching what they claim to be factual information to the public. They have no sense of western fair play, but they do understand that in this region of the world, "all's fair in love and war" - and that includes lies and media distortion.

When reporting the still unresolved, yet notorious, alleged shooting of Mohammed Al-Dura back in October of 2000 (an incident which was used repeatedly to inflame the Al-Aqsa Intifada and inspire homicidal martyrdom throughout the Arab world), PA television staff saw fit to insert a clip of an Israeli soldier firing his weapon, who was not at the scene, for dramatic effect. The PA Television official comfortably justified the act with the following statement:

"These are forms of artistic expression, but all of this serves to convey the truth and explain a specific event. We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth."

While the Arab world and European news agencies are acting like frustrated Spielbergs as they frantically cut and paste on the editing room floor in order to create (invent?) the news, Western diplomats work hard at turning the killing fields into the playing fields.

The Western concepts of fair play, moral equivalency, proportional response and restraint seem more suitable for a sporting event than for a war against an enemy who deems such concepts as absurd. Israel's timeout for an investigation must seem downright laughable to an adversary who would litter any playing or battlefield with penalty flags and fouls. The UN referees best pack-up and go home, because any whistle-blowing will fall on deaf ears.

Nobody understands that better than Dutch attorney and former UNHCR official Johan Rhodius. Last week, I had the opportunity to exchange thoughts on Israel's predicament with him.

Mr. Rhodius asserts that the very existential nature of Israel's wars make the Western concepts of proportionality and restraint irrelevant. And by insisting on the Jewish State's adherence to such notions, the Western world demonstrates a lack of moral clarity and endangers itself by weakening Israel.

It's very clear to Rhodius that Hamas and Hizbullah are intent on destroying Israel and, as such, Israel cannot act with restraint: "You cannot, by definition, disproportionately destroy such an enemy: you either destroy Hamas and Hizbullah, or Hamas and Hizbullah destroy Israel. You cannot destroy them too little or too much."

Mr. Rhodius goes on to say that the Western concept of restraint has permeated the Israeli justice system and weakened Israel's state of security. Terrorism, by its very nature, knows no restraint: "It's not moderate, proportionate, objective or unprejudiced."

Israel's harsh reality is wedged somewhere between the sportsmanship of the West and the theatrics and cruelty of Arab culture. But perhaps both tactics are just a front masquerading for what may amount to classical anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

The hardest lesson for us Jews to absorb is that "those who are kind to the cruel end up being cruel to the innocent." The innocent in this case are not the residents of Qana, who proudly display the portrait of Hassan Nasrallah in their homes and allow terrorists to dwell in their midst; rather, it's the citizens of the State of Israel who may have to absorb brutal and tragic consequences resulting from their government's indecision and capitulation.

There's something about Qana, and it stinks far more than the corpses of those women and children who shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Israel best hold her nose, learn to play by Arab rules, and get the job done.