Blame the aggressor

It's become more common to criticize "both sides" and call for "calm" rather than blame side at fault.

iaf strikes lebanon 298. (photo credit: Associated Press)
iaf strikes lebanon 298.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Six years ago this month, Israel left the security zone it had established in southern Lebanon to protect against terrorist attacks. Israel withdrew behind a border, the "blue line," painstakingly demarcated by the UN. And Hizbullah - which was created in order to evict Israel from Lebanon - declared its job done and dismantled itself as the Lebanese army deployed along its sovereign border. At least that was what was supposed to happen. Instead, the area that Israel evacuated is now bristling with missiles pointed at Israeli cities, and snipers aiming at Israeli soldiers. At 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Islamic Jihad decided to blame Israel for the assassination of one of its leaders in Sidon two days earlier, and launched a volley of nine Katyusha rockets against Israel, some of which hit a key air force installation, lightly wounding a soldier. Israel responded by attacking two terror command posts in Lebanon. Then, around 3 p.m., Hizbullah launched a massive mortar attack against an IDF base near the border, and a Hizbullah sniper seriously wounded an Israeli soldier in Kibbutz Manara. The IDF ordered Israelis in towns all along the border, including the city of Kiryat Shmona, into bomb shelters, lifting the order only three hours later. As Israeli civilians hunkered down, Israel's air force and artillery simultaneously bombarded more than 20 Hizbullah positions. According to the IDF, it was the heaviest response to a Hizbullah attack since Israel left Lebanon. Soon after, Hizbullah asked the Lebanese government to convey its request for a cease fire, to which Israel acceded. While some observers have concluded that Israel has "won" this round - and they may be right in the sense that Hizbullah was hit harder than it bargained for - such a calculus misses the point. The whole objective of entering Lebanon in 1982 and leaving it in 2000 was to end the "process" of tit-for-tat rounds with terrorists on our borders. With this goal in mind, Israel has formally asked the United Nations to enforce the international community's own demands that Hizbullah be disarmed and that Lebanon take control of its own territory and border. The most straight-forward way to begin such enforcement would not involve force or even sanctions but simple words: a UN Security Council resolution strongly condemning the attacks against Israel from Lebanese territory, condemning Iran's and Syria's support of such international aggression, reasserting the demands to dismantle militias and for Lebanon to take control of its territory, and recognizing Israel's right of self-defense against unprovoked aggression from beyond the existing UN-recognized border. Such UN action would hurt Hizbullah, Iran and Syria, and help Lebanon assert its sovereignty even more than the military action Israel has taken. It would show that Hizbullah's aggression, rather than helping Iran and Syria relieve international pressure, would increase that pressure. And rather than rushing to put out fires that have broken out in a tinderbox, the international community would have taken a concrete step toward deterring further provocations - and even toward dismantling the tinderbox entirely - in the future. Let their be no illusions: the modus operandi of Hizbullah, Syria and Iran depends on the continued hope that some stray Israeli missile will create a situation that has occurred many times in the past - in which these forces can not only attack Israel and get away with it, but can heap international opprobrium on Israel in the bargain. The Security Council, of course, has in the past been pivotal in this strategy, since it could be relied upon to condemn Israeli responses while ignoring the aggression that precipitated them. Lately, the ability of rogues and terrorists to rely on the UN to blame the victim has been reduced in the sense that now it is more common to criticize "both sides" and issue a global call for "restraint," thereby merely treating aggressor and victim as equals. What is yet to happen, however, is for the international community to blame the aggressor and show unequivocal solidarity with the victim, such as in the resolutions condemning the 9/11 attack on the United States. Blaming the aggressor is a novel strategy, but it's worth a try, and it might just work.