Caught in the crossfire

AMOS OZ is an Israeli novelist and essayist. His most recent work is "How to Cure a Fanatic."

MANY TIMES in the past, the Israeli peace movement has criticized Israeli military operations. Not this time. This time, the battle is not over Israeli expansion and colonization. There is no Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. There are no territorial claims from either side.

Last Wednesday, Hezbollah launched a vicious, unprovoked attack into Israeli territory. This was also an attack on the authority and integrity of the elected Lebanese government, as Hezbollah has, by attacking Israel, hijacked the prerogative of the Lebanese government to control its territory and to make decisions on war and peace.

The Israeli peace movement objects to the occupation and colonization of the West Bank. It objected to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 because the invasion was aimed at distracting world attention from the Palestinian problem. This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It is defending itself from daily harassment and bombardment of dozens of our towns and villages by attempting to smash Hezbollah wherever it lurks.

The Israeli peace movement should support Israel’s attempt at self-defense, pure and simple, as long as this operation targets mostly Hezbollah and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians (not an easy task, as Hezbollah missile launchers are too often using Lebanese civilians as human sandbags).


There can be no moral equation between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah is targeting Israeli civilians wherever they are, while Israel is targeting mostly Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s missiles are supplied by Iran and Syria, sworn enemies of all peace initiatives in the Middle East.

The real battle raging these days is not at all between Beirut and Haifa but between a coalition of peace-seeking nations -- Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on the one hand -- and fanatic Islam, fueled by Iran and Syria, on the other.

If, as we all hope -- Israeli hawks and doves alike -- Hezbollah is going to be defeated soon, Israel and Lebanon will be the winners. Moreover, a defeat of a militant Islamist terror organization may dramatically enhance the chances for peace in the region.