Thursday, August 14, 2008

'War And Peace' And Indignation

Yesterday, I passed along an email I received from Chris Lydon, whose reading of Tolstoy leaves him riled at the thought of an Israeli attack on Iran, and even at the thought that the thought should be seriously entertained. Another brother-friend, Sheldon Schreter, living in Ra'anana, sends me this in response:

The fatuousness, arrogance, condescension and sheer stupidity of this piece are hard to take. I'm at a loss to understand why you circulated it.

So sorry for belonging to the primitive Neanderthals who actually live near the center of the bullseye drawn by those sweethearts who proclaim their intention to wipe me and my ilk off the face of the earth, while steadily acquiring the means to do it, and mocking the pathetic diplomatic attempts to delay them. So sorry for failing to recognize that we shouldn't take all the rhetoric seriously, that the Iranian regime is hardly suicidal, that Tolstoy has already said everything worth knowing on the subject, that anyone who considers war as an option is a monstrous criminal. So sorry for having to express contempt for the superior wisdom of my intellectual betters, whose personal risk in this discussion is nil, and whose reaction in the unlikely event that they are wrong, and some maniac actually nukes central Israel before we can deter or second-strike, will be: "Whoops!" or "Oh-oh!" What happened to patience and time, those venerable heroes? That's a pose.

I wish Mr. Lydon long life and good health in his superior irrelevance and cavalier dismissal of what is at stake here. At least you and Reza Aslan attempt to assess the actual situation and real options. I pray you are right. I doubt Israel will hit Iran preemptively, and the saber-rattling verbiage strengthens that hunch. It doesn't look as though the U.S. will sanction and cooperate, nor the Iraqis, which makes the idea impossible to implement in any case. So Iran will sooner or later acquire nuclear weapons capacity. Anyone who denies how serious a problem that will be (already is) for this region and way beyond it, is just burying their head - or ours - in the sand.

Like the majority of Israelis, I don't need Tolstoy or his interpreters to convince me that war is bad, and moreover, that we need to terminate the occupation of the West Bank. I do need to know how we can avoid war and separate from the Palestinians when Iran and its proxies aren't interested, to put it mildly, in anything less than reversing the Nakba, i.e. destroying Israel. You don't have to be a Darwinian to appreciate that anyone who can't or won't defend themselves is dead meat, at least in this general neighborhood. (Georgia, on my mind....)

Of course I'd rather co-operate harmoniously with our neighbors in optimizing the common good via active, joint participation in the global economy, but for that you need to be alive.

Curious how, when you come down to it, both Chris and Shelly are arguing for the same course of action by Israel, which is to refrain from attacking Iran, pursue a peace with Palestine and Syria, and learn to live with an Iranian bomb, should one materialize--while working with the Western powers to contain and seduce the Iranian regime over time (what Reza Aslan and I stated or implied in our Washington Post article).

The argument, which can be fierce, seems to be over the efficacy, or (let us call it the) moral status, of military power itself. I'll have more to say about this, but for now I think Shelly's attitude, which many Israelis share, should be slept on.