The blog of Eric Lee - web design and internet consulting for the trade union movement.

The Left should be supporting Israel in this war

No socialist group in Britain is saying what needs to be said today about the crisis in the Middle East. All the groups on the organised Left are busy denouncing Israel for its "aggression" against Gaza and Lebanon. Many are expressing their solidarity with the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. None are saying that Israel needs and deserves the support of the Left.

But that is exactly what they should be saying.

One doesn't have to go back decades, as is the tradition in articles of this sort, to explain. Let's just go back to the dawn of the twenty-first century. In Israel, the far Right has been defeated in elections. A coalition government including the Left is in power, and is committed to ending the conflict with the Arab world. In 2000, as a first step, it completely withdraws all Israeli forces from every last inch of Lebanese soil. Even the United Nations admits that the Israeli withdrawal is complete, and conforms with all UN resolutions. The Lebanese government is obligated to move its army up to the international border. It does not do so.

Now fast-forward five years. It's 2005 and the Israeli government decides to withdraw from Gaza after 38 years of occupation. Every single Israeli settlement is closed, despite a massive campaign of civil disobedience by settlers and their supporters. The country is torn apart by angry debate, the Right implodes, but in the end, every last Israeli soldier is withdrawn from every inch of the Gaza strip.

Israel still occupies the Golan Heights and West Bank, and those of us on the Left legitimately call for the Israeli government to negotiate the return of those territories. And let's not forget that those territories were seized in a war of self-defence in June 1967.

If there had been a violent uprising among Palestinians in the West Bank, or among the Druze living in the Golan, one might have understood. After all, their Arab brethren in Lebanon and Gaza were now free of Israeli soldiers and their hated roadblocks and searches and arrests.

But while the West Bank remained relatively calm, and the Golan completely quiet, Israel suddenly found itself under attack from precisely those territories which it had evacuated. Let's be absolutely clear about the nature of the attack. It was not the case that some Palestinian "militants" (as the BBC calls them) seized one Israeli soldier near Gaza. Those same terrorists (let us call things by their right names), having interpreted the 2005 withdrawal as a sign of Israeli weakness, have been bombarding the western Negev desert for months with their Qassam missiles. And at the first opportunity, the Palestinians voted out the regime which had recognised the right of the Jewish state to exist and replaced it with the Islamo-fascist Hamas, which aims to create an Islamist state from the Jordan river to the sea.

The Islamo-fascists of Hizbollah joined in the fun shortly thereafter with a massive rocket barrage attacking Israeli towns, cities and kibbutzim from the shores of the Mediterranean to the foothills of the Golan, destroying homes and killing and wounding innocent civilians. Under cover of that barrage, they launched a raid to kill and capture Israeli soldiers on Israeli soil.

Israel is under attack -- unprovoked, brutal attack. Attack by forces such as Hamas and Hizbollah with which socialists have nothing in common.

And Israel is responding in the way that any state, even a state with a workers' government, even an ideal socialist state, would respond. It is hitting back with all the firepower at its disposal, but doing so in a way to minimize civilian casualties. That is why it decided to flatten Hamas' foreign ministry building at 2:00 in the morning, when it was unoccupied. Or used targetted aerial bombardment to create craters in the runways of Beirut airport, rather than bombing terminals crammed with people. (Either way, they would have shut down the airport -- but they chose a way that saved innocent lives.)

At the present time, Israel has more powerful and more effective weapons than their opponents. Their situation today is a bit like that facing the Allies near the end of the second world war. By that time, Germany and Japan were severely weakened. Did that lead the Soviet Union, which was doing the bulk of the fighting, and its western allies to let up? To give the Nazi regime a break? Not at all. They took advantage of their superiority and hit harder -- to bring the war to and end as quickly as possible.

Israel's military should use all its power to defend the country and decisively defeat its enemies -- while taking every precaution to reduce the number of innocent civilian casualties on both sides to an absolute minimum.

The real question for socialists when a war like this breaks out is to look at what will happen if either side wins. Let us imagine that Israel wins -- meaning that the captured soldiers are returned and the rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon end. The result will not only be good for Israel, but good for the Palestinians and Lebanese as well. The Islamo-fascists will be weakened. Democratic and secular forces will be strengthened. Socialists should cheer this on.

Now image what happens if Hamas and Hizbollah win. They over-run the Jewish state, slaughtering and expelling its several million Jewish inhabitants. They create a reactionary theocratic dictatorship along the lines of their benefactor, Iran. No one benefits -- not the Jews, not the Arabs. This a result that only fascists could applaud.

Some socialists are pacifists and oppose all wars. But most of us understand that sometimes a country has to fight. And sometimes two peoples go to war against each other, and we have to take sides. We look at the reasons behind the fighting and more important -- we look at the consequences of victory for one side or the other.

Looking at the war taking place today in the Middle East, it is clear to me that the position taken by the Left in Britain and elsewhere is wrong. We should be giving our full support to Israel, while of course insisting that the Israeli military behave according to international law and keep civilian casualties to a minimum. We should insist that at the end of the fighting, Israeli forces be pulled back to the international border with Lebanon, and withdrawn from Gaza. And we should support a renewal of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians leading to a withdrawal from the West Bank.

Our view as socialists of Hamas and Hizbollah should be absolutely clear: these are the enemy. We have nothing in common with Islamo-fascism and look forward to it suffering a crushing defeat in battle.

As I write these words, I realize that many friends and comrades will disagree with me. I invite them to respond, to engage in debate, and above all to listen and try to understand. In the end, the important thing is not to say what is popular, what wins friends and gets applause. Our job as socialists is above all to tell the truth. And that is what I have done here.


Good to see the left not taking a knee-jerk position against Israel.

Dear Eric Lee,

Well written.
For those who doubt, read the works of Gilles Kepel:
*The Struggle for the Moslem Mind....

Good article.

(typo?: "Now image what happens if Hamas and Hizbollah win" - should that be "imagine")

Rhetorically the 'if Hamas AND Hizbollah' win is true but I suspect that Hizb's real aim at this stage is to defend the existence of their own micro-state against the rebirth of a united Lebanon by turning their country into a cantonised warzone again.

Ultimately its all about dual power versus the monopoly of violence - at some point the Lebanese govt were going to have to fulfil their international obligations to disarm Hizbollah and the Gaza crisis was seen as a perfect opportunity to pre-empt this by forcing Israel to intervene - with the Hizbollah assumption being that Iran and Syria will intervene militarily to prevent their destruction by Israel and at the end of the carnage the clock will have been turned back six years.

The argument that Israel is obliging them by doing so is not totally without truth (but only in the same sense as Poland obliged Hitler in 1939 by fighting rather than meekly surrendering the Polish corridor and thus denying him the war he really wanted) but I really can't see what other option Israel has.

There already is a 'UN peacekeeping force' in place and all those missiles have been whizzing over their heads without any action being taken.

As for Lebanon, it now has a functioning army and government again and has had more than enough time to act against Hizbollah and presumably would have enjoyed some level of military support from the US and other western states if it had done so.

So how on earth would Israeli restraint/appeasement now give the Lebanese govt the power to do what they are clearly neither willing nor capable of doing.

Rather than risk another limited civil war to restore their own sovereignty, the Lebanese govt have allowed their citizens to commit repeated acts of war against a neighbouring state and have no one to blame but themselves for the death and destruction that has ensued.

The whole thing is a bloody mess but Hizbollah are the prime culprits and if no-one else will drive them out of South Lebanon, Israel will have to do it.

I agree with Mr. Lee. Good article; thanks for taking the time.

Couldn't agree more.

Very good article, has articulated a lot of what I think better than I could have done. Cheers, A

How does supporting either side help? How does using phrases like islamo fascist help? Sure it would be great if the Israeli armed forces defeat the military wings of Hiz/Ham but how does that happen? Given thenature of those forces doesn't that require a long term occupation of the lands that they operate from? Hell Israel occupied a good chunk of Hiz homeland for years and still couldn't eradicate it or create conditions that made the occupants of those territories not want them. The palestinians voted for a Hamas goverment after Israel started the process of disengaging from Gaza. This is not a pop at Israel. They are the only party in this that have taken any constructive steps towards peace. I just don't think taking sides helps.

Very well said, Eric.

I'm a bit too bitter these days and feel too betrayed by the left to speak from a left perspective, so it is particularly valuable to have this written by you which I can show to others and say, "this is what being on the left is all about".

Excellent article, I'm in full aggrement.

Very good article Eric. As always you make people squirm as they face their doubts on this important issue.
But how do you measure/judge whether Israel has gone overboard in its use of overwhelming military power in Lebanon.?
Provoked by Hizbollah have they over reacted and destabilised the current Lebanese political leadership.
If the broad politicial perception in Lebanon, the Arab world and more generally is that Israel has gone overboard does this not play into the hands of the Syrians,Iran and Hizbollah?


I agree with your analysis on the nature of Hizbollah and Hamas - however, do you really think that the current action will result in the overwhelming defeat of either of these movements? If not, then what will happen when the bombing stops? Peace? I think not.

This is just another episode in a downward spiral of atrocity (on both sides) that leads further and further away from the establishment of peaceful and democratic states for the Israelis and Palestinians.

The Left should be calling for an immediate end to military action on both sides and ask the Israeli labour and peace movements to exert maximum pressure to start negotiations with rational forces on all sides – that doesn’t mean Hamas or Hizbollah but Palestinian democrats and the foot-soldiers of the Cedar revolution.


Hopefully I won't have all the Euston Left on my back for this. :p

I never understood the unholy alliance between the left and islamic-fascists that many of your comrads participate in. I am glad to see at least one sane lefty.

Please keep spreading the word!

Superb post!

Andrew Casey and TomU are entirely within their rights to question the tactical wisdom of Israel's reaction. I don't think there's an easy answer - which is why this is the debate that people of good will need to be having. The danger for friends of Israel is that they lose sight of that when they're constantly forced to respond to arguments based on the moral inversion that turns Israel into the aggressor.

Disgusting. Not a word about the suffering of the Lebanese. The Israeli Air Force is killing civilians by the score as they flee their terror attacks and you ask the Left to support it! Israel hold over 9000 Palestinian and Lebanese hostages and occupies the Shebaa farms area which both Syria and Lebanon agree is Lebanese territory. Gaza has been turned into a ghetto.

As for fascism, some of us know that Ehud Olmert is proud of his past as a leading member of the Betar brownshirts.

Eric - this is the most thoroughly intelligent commentary on the war I have read so far. Thank you for your wisdom.


The Left in Europe and the rest of the West is long overdue to realize that the purpose that guides Hamas and Hizballah is to establish fundamentalist Islamist states in all of the Middle East. Just because many of their supporters are poor, it does not mean that economic and social justice are part of their agenda. They also do not espouse equality for women, let alone respect gay rights. They do not hold any of the values that lie at the roots of social-democracy and socialism.
I am opposed to collective punishment, but I can understand the concept of trying to force the population in which terrorists hide and act, to expel them from their midst. The Lebanese government did not carry out United Nation Security Council Resolutions to disarm Hizballah and establish their control and sovereignity in Southern Lebanon, after the withdrawal of all Israeli forces in 2000. It has been more than 10 years since the Oslo Accords were signed, yet the Palestinian Authority has not disarmed terrorist groups, as they had agreed to do. And it is almost a year since all Israeli forces and settlers left the Gaza Strip, and still the Qassam rockets fly daily, terrorizing the civilian population on both sides of the border between Israel and Gaza. Even children understood that when an Israeli soldier was taken hostage, all of Gaza would pay the price.
Yes, the Israeli military machine is powerful, and it can be understood when well-meaning people call for an end to the use of "disproportinate force". But if your child were kidnapped, and you knew who did it but not where your child was being held, wouldn't you want to apply some "disproportionate force yourself? Even if you are unwilling to say it out loud, be honest with yourself.

Eric, this is less a matter of Left vs Fascist as opposed to effective vs counterproductive military tactics. Olmert has NO properly thought out military objective for this offensive. Destroying civilian infrastructure (and it is civilian infrastructure even if terrorists use it) will not by itself stop Hizballah attacks. It WILL undermine the stability of Lebanon which will be bad, bad, bad for the workers of Israel and everywhere else in the Middle East.

Middle East logic - like in a zoo, retreat is a sign of weaness. Attack weakness - don't help it !!!

Amir Peretz is the former Head of the HUGE labour Union of Labour Unions the HISTADRUT.
Head of the Work party (Avoda in Hebrew WORK) a red International party of Dove Nobel Peace prize winner Shimon Peres.
Peretz is Minister of Defence now! What more could the Left ask for?

Unfortunately we have come to the point where we can say WE HAVE DONE ALL WE CAN - WE HAVE EXPLORED EVERY AVENUE.

Uzi Ran - Lt. Col. IDF (RES)
Lower Galil Israel

Lots of good points. Thanks.

The Israeli right will use current events to argue that withdrawing from the West Bank would just lead to close-distance rocketing of Tel Aviv. How will it be possible to disagree if rocketing from Gaza and Hezbullahland is permitted to continue?

Hi, I just called attention to this post at my blog. (My trackbacker hasn't worked all evening, hence the comment here.)

You make sound, morally clear points. It's been a long while since I amicably exchanged thoughts with a "socialist." Never heard of you before yesterday I saw Harry's Place link you. I'm curious to what makes you tick. Cheers, -JMK

"How does using phrases like islamo fascist help?"

Just like fascists, Hamas and Hezbollah are devoted to an extreme ideology.

Just like fascists, their members regularly perform Hitler salutes.

Just like fascists, they buy Mein Kampf in large numbers.

Just like fascists, they hate Jews and want to destroy them.

Just like fascists, they believe God supports them and indeed has given them a divine mission.

Understand now?

Lee, you are vile. Simply vile.

Thanks for the excellent and insightful commentary, Eric.

Images of children killed by the Israeli Air force.

Warning - strong images

Is this what you want the left to support Mr Lee?

Lebanon is hadicapped by forces beyond its control.The overwhelming Lebanese people did not want this problem with Israel.They also did not want the assasination of Mr Raffick Harriri,but it happened anyway.It should not be so hard to understand that Lebanese people do not want to risk visiting a chapter so dark in their history.That is the reason for not attacking Hizballah head on.Instead, they pray that the situation will improve.As far as the Goverment not deploying the army at the border,here are some facts.#1 neither the Lebanese army or police forces have full control on the internal situation in Lebanon,but they were making progress(little steps). #2 The Lebanese Goverment could not even provide continous electicity to its citizens,but they were making progress(little steps).#3 The average Lebanese is too busy trying to provide for his/her familly under very difficult situations prior to the new wave of bombs.#4 Medical care is a nightmare compared to western standards both for patients and providers who perform under tense situations and shoud not have to deal with aditional bombs and vanishing bridges.the fact is that lebanon is fighting multiple internal cancers at the same time and our expectations should be appropriate.I pray for all the victims of both countries and hope that the survivers can find common grounds and justice for all.

Hezboallah are Islamic Fascists and anti-Semites. Therefore, they will win the support of the Left.

Please, I am a conservative. I understand that the Left has become the home of modern, Hitlerite anti-Semitism, masquerading as anti-Zionism. There are men of the Left who have a conscience and understand the proper lineage of the Left that goes back to the Spanish Civil War, who find a proper democratic heritage in the writings of Orwell. Expecting the Modern Left to escape the four corners of the Guardian, however, is to tilt at windmills.

The Christopher Hitchenses of this world are few and far between. The Left will march so that Islamic Nazis such as Nasrallah, Saddam, and Ahmadhi-Nejad can sleep safe in their beds.


Nicely done.

If there were more rational lefitsts like yourself they might even win elections.

I'm a right wing kook. That said we need more political opponents like yourself.


There are three things that should be clear from the current events in the middle east.

First, there are far too many on the Arab side that only seek the destruction of Israel, so until the underlying hate is eliminated, there can be no peace.

Second, the idea that military responses to terror must be proportional is idiotic. That is where asymetrical warfare gets its strength, so proportionately is really just fertilizer for future terror.

Third, and most important, there is no such thing as land for peace. What we are seeing today is the effect of land for peace. Israel gave up land (or withdraw from land it was using as a buffer) and the only thing that resulted was the rockets and missiles can strike deeper into Israel and the terrorists can easily sneak across borders to launch attacks. I hope that what is happening now shows that land for peace is one of the worst policies to ever be attempted.

More on this topic at

"Now fast-forward five years. It's 2005 and the Israeli government decides to withdraw from Gaza after 38 years of occupation."

Except that it didn't withdraw. Yes, it removed the few thousand settlers and the soldiers that protected them, but it retained control over Gaza and, essentially, left it to rot. Here's Gideon Levy:

"Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like "partition" and "an end to the occupation," did result in the dismantling of settlements and the Israel Defense Forces' departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip. Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be transported, sometimes not. Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate."
Now back to you:
"Those same terrorists (let us call things by their right names), having interpreted the 2005 withdrawal as a sign of Israeli weakness, have been bombarding the western Negev desert for months with their Qassam missiles."

Prior to June 24, Qassam missiles killed precisely zero Israelis since October 2005. Let's take a look at the moneth prior to the kidnapping of Shalit, with the help of MediaLens:

"On June 8, the Israeli army assassinated the recently appointed Palestinian head of the security forces of the Interior Ministry, Jamal Abu Samhadana, and three others. On June 9, Israeli shells killed seven members of the same family picnicking on Beit Lahiya beach. Some 32 others were wounded, including 13 children.

On June 13, an Israeli plane fired a missile into a busy Gaza City street, killing 11 people, including two children and two medics. On June 20, the Israeli army killed three Palestinian children and injured 15 others in Gaza with a missile attack. On June 21, the Israelis killed a 35-year old pregnant woman, her brother, and injured 11 others, including 6 children. Then came the Israeli capture of two Palestinians, followed by the Palestinian capture of the Israeli soldier and the killing of the two other soldiers."

You'll notice there's no mention there of any Israeli casualties due to Qassams - that's because there weren't any. In fact, since the Second Intifada began in September 2000, there's been a roughly 3:1 ratio of deaths (the '1' being the Palestinians). Prior to that it was 10:1.

So for you to focus on Qassams and the kidnapping is misleading.

You say:
"And at the first opportunity, the Palestinians voted out the regime which had recognised the right of the Jewish state to exist and replaced it with the Islamo-fascist Hamas, which aims to create an Islamist state from the Jordan river to the sea."

That's the heart of it. That's what this operation is all about - the Palestinians held an election despite not wanting to, and the wrong party won. Why 'wrong'? Is it because the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel? Of course not. Israel is not fighting for its existence any more, and everyone knows that. Of course Hamas won't revoke their charter, why should they? But its obvious to *everyone* that there's nothing behind the bravado. The Hamas vote was not a vote for terrorism or for complete destruction of Israel, it was a vote against corruption and for an organisation that actually acted for the Palestinian interest. Hamas unilaterally imposed a ceasefire and, for 17 months, has not broken it except in extreme provocation. The reason why the Hamas result was a bad one for Israel is that Hamas will not settle for an unfair deal, like Arafat would have (and almost did). A peace settlement with Hamas will involve much less Palestinian compromise then a settlement made with Fatah. And so, ever since the Hamas election, Israel has tried to undermine it - witholding aid, witholding tax money, building up troops on the border (which, anywhere else in the world, would be considered an act of war), keeping the Palestinians short of food by closing the border crossings unpredictably...they were *waiting* for an opportunity such as this one, and now they're taking it.

"Israel is under attack -- unprovoked, brutal attack. Attack by forces such as Hamas and Hizbollah with which socialists have nothing in common."

How can you say it is unprovoked? Who is the occupier? Who holds thousands of illegal prisoners, kept with charge or trial or convicted on evidence extracted by torture?

It is interesting that you grant Israel the right to "defend itself", but when Hamas tries it, that's 'terrorism', an 'unprovoked attack'. Why have you not mentioned the Israeli kindapping of two Palestinians just two days before Shalit was abducted? Surely *that* was unprovoked?

"It is hitting back with all the firepower at its disposal, but doing so in a way to minimize civilian casualties."

Minimise civilian casualties? Oh, is *that* what this is? So when IAF jets bombed a power station, depriving hundreds of thousands of people of electricity they depend on for water, for a sewage system, for light and for hospitals, that was them trying to 'minimise civilian casualties'? Or when IAF jets fired on a convoy of fleeing Lebanese civilians, killing 17 people, was that minimising civilian casualties?

No, it was collective punishment that completely violated the legal doctrine of proportionality. What's more, Israeli strategy makes no sense unless it is to deliberately make the civilian population suffer, to try and turn them against Hizbullah/Hamas. That would the deliberate targetting of civilians for a political ends - or, more succinctly, terrorism.

"The real question for socialists when a war like this breaks out is to look at what will happen if either side wins."

But there is no question of a side 'winning' like that. Israel will not destroy Hizbullah, because to destroy a movement of 1.35 million people would require the destruction of Lebanon. You can't bomb Hamas or Hizbullah out of existence - it was the brutal Israeli use of military force that effectively created these organisations. It isn't going to destroy them.

And your alternative, that Hamas and Hizbullah will somehow 'win' by 'over-run[ning] the Jewish state' is ridiculous. It's bad enough that 20 Israeli civilians have been killed over the past few days, but to act as if Israel is facing a threat to its existence is ludicrous.


your points mayor may or may not be correct. I can certainly understand that someone with your handle would believe them. However you still haven't answered the question of how using the term islamo-fascist helps at all. The original article,whether anyone likes/agrees with it or not was broadly a reasoned discussion towards supporting a view point. I don't see (and your comments actually don't help) how using phrases like islamo-fascist are going to persuade fence sitters such as myself or socialists supporting the palestinian cause to support Israel.

Having 2nd bite in this important discussion.

Eric I have always been uncomfortable with the unilateral withdrawal concept.
I am not sure that will ever deliver real peace for both parties.
Somehow the current killings are evidence that the idea of unilateral withdrawal was always faulty.

Unilateral withdrawal undermined those sections of the Palestinian community who were actually prepared to discuss the drawing of new boundaries with Israel.

Uniltateral withdrawal simply gave more political space to the Islamo-fascists who were able to say - see there is no partner to talk to on the Israeli side of the debate!

The Hezbollah and Hamas Islamo-fascists interpreted it as a weakness rather than a strength.

Now the peace process has been set back even further!

>> Lee, you are vile. Simply vile. >>

Coming from this source, count this as the highest praise.

In the spirit of your last remarks...

First, it is false that Israel has withdrawn from "every last inch" of Gaza. Israel redrew the borders so as to be able to make that claim. But the borders it redrew are not recognized by the UN, nor should they be.

Second, the people of Gaza have many legitimate grievances, contrary to your implicit claim (implicit in your claim that a response from Gaza makes no sense). They are confined to an impoverished ghetto, subject to routine incursions and blockade. That does not, of course, justify the response by Hamas. Which brings us to

(3) The reason that Hamas's response is unjustified is precisely the same as the reason that Israel's current actions in Lebanon (the case of Gaza is more difficult) are unjustified. They are several. First, your claim that Israel is making an effort to minimize civilian casualties is laughable. Of the 140 people killed so far in Lebanon, four are terrorists. Just war theory sets out the conditions under which lethal force is admissible. Israel (like Hamas) is clearly in breach of them, because it fails to respect the principle of civilian immunity.

Second, and independently of the first, one is only justified in killing anyone - civilian or not - when there is a reasonable expectation that doing so will lead to a just peace. Israel's actions (again, like those of Hamas) are undertaken, at best, without any eye to consequences.

There is an implicit assumption in your post, and in much writing on this topic: that there must be some legitimate response to terrorism. This assumption is false. Not all problems have solutions. Yes of course Israel has the right to defend itself, and owes it to its soldiers to do everything permissible to rescue them. But it's clear that the current response, which punishes civilians directly (by killing them) and indirectly (by targetting essential infrastructure) is not permissible. Israel may or may not have had other responses available; that's irrelevant to the question of whether this response is permissible.

="while of course insisting that the Israeli military behave according to international law and keep civilian casualties to a minimum."=

Here's your problem, the civilian death toll draws out the lie in the claim that this is selective targetting of terrorists.

However I certainly agree that the left have to make a more cogent attempt at saying what they believe Israel IS entitled to do.

I've had a bash at this:

So what could Israel have done?

(recip link coming).

"None are saying that Israel needs and deserves the support of the Left."

Why does one of the most powerful military countries in the world, supported by the single superpower NEED the left?

"A coalition government including the Left is in power, and is committed to ending the conflict with the Arab world."

Ending the conflict doesn't mean very much, if you don't say how. Russia is commited to ending the conflict in Chechneya - using massive and brutal force. Should socialists support them?

"In 2000, as a first step, it completely withdraws all Israeli forces from every last inch of Lebanese soil."

The Shebaa farms thing is arguable (though what justification - strategic, or moral - Israel had for staying there is beyond me), but Israel hung onto Lebanese prisoners of war. Which is what the recent incursion was about. Since then, Israel has constantly violated Lebanese sovreignty by planes flying over, occasional shellings and incursions by her troops - not to mention kidnapping Lebanese nationals (including two fishermen, bizarrely) and assassinations of Hezbollah officials. The rocket attacks by Hezbollah since 2000 have been in response to these kinds of events. Israel is hardly an innocent here.

"It's 2005 and the Israeli government decides to withdraw from Gaza after 38 years of occupation. Every single Israeli settlement is closed, despite a massive campaign of civil disobedience by settlers and their supporters."

8000 settlers on a rubbish piece of land. Big deal. Keeping that settlement safe was enormously expensive and tied up a large number of soldiers. They got a huge amount of positive publicity for doing something that beneffited Israel strategically.

"The country is torn apart by angry debate"
That's something of an exageration.

"those of us on the Left legitimately call for the Israeli government to negotiate the return of those territories."

Well that's big of you I guess. I mean Israel obviously isn't going to return them, has no intention of doing so and is building more settlements and a great big wall on the westbank, but you have "legitimately" denounced it. Cool.

"And let's not forget that those territories were seized in a war of self-defence in June 1967."

A war of self-defence that Israel started (and it attacked Syria a couple of days into the conflict. Syria tried to stay out of it). How do you explain the settlements away? A mistake? The war of self-defence against the Palestinians?

"After all, their Arab brethren in Lebanon and Gaza were now free of Israeli soldiers and their hated roadblocks and searches and arrests."

But not free of being shelled, constant sonic booms and an economic blockade. Not to mention occasional missile attacks. I mean obviously roadblocks are worse than having your family blown up, or starved...

"And at the first opportunity, the Palestinians voted out the regime which had recognised the right of the Jewish state to exist and replaced it with the Islamo-fascist Hamas, which aims to create an Islamist state from the Jordan river to the sea."

No, they voted in Hamas because they saw it as relatively uncorrupt, and because they saw Fatah as collaborating with the Israelis (not to mention that in Palestinian eyes, Fatah had achieved nothing in negotiations, whereas Hamas seemed to achieved a few things).

"Under cover of that barrage, they launched a raid to kill and capture Israeli soldiers on Israeli soil."

Which was of course predated by a seperate raid by Israeli commandos who seized two Palestinians from Gaza (one was a doctor, I believe). Funny how we're not hearing more about that story.

"is hitting back with all the firepower at its disposal, but doing so in a way to minimize civilian casualties."

"And Israel is responding in the way that any state, even a state with a workers' government, even an ideal socialist state, would respond. "

Well my ideal socialist state wouldn't be militarily occupying and colonising another people's land - or for that matter wouldn't have been built by dispossesing the original inhabitants. Still I guess tastes vary.

"It is hitting back with all the firepower at its disposal, but doing so in a way to minimize civilian casualties."

This is surely some kind of joke. Have you been following the bombardment of Lebannon? They bombed South Beiruit. People, houses, children. All dead. Not to mention the convoy they bombed.

"Or used targetted aerial bombardment to create craters in the runways of Beirut airport, rather than bombing terminals crammed with people."

Crammed with westerners and Christian Lebanese for the most part (who are the most sympathetic to Israel). Of course the reason for bombing it was rubbish (weapons were not being smuggled through the airport).

"Let us imagine that Israel wins"

Hmm. How are they going to do that, without wiping out the Shiites in the south? I'm a bit baffled by what you think Israel's strategy could possibly be, other than mass civillian death. Hezbollah is a popular movement - not a hated Arab government with a weak army.

"Now image what happens if Hamas and Hizbollah win."

Right. That's going to happen. Hezbollah is a guerilla army, not the Waffen SS. The idea that Hamas could somehow defeat the Israel army within Israel is clearly so ridiculous, that you should be embarrassed to even be suggesting it.

If Israel wanted to really end both conflicts, its easy.

Hezbollah's aims are pretty limited. They want Israel to stay out of Lebannon, Shebaa farms and Lebanese captives returned. They've been fighting a pretty limited war for these since 2000. If Israel stopped provoking Hezbollah, and Hezbollah got more involved in Lebanese politics, they'd have far too much to lose from sabre rattling with Israel.

The solution to Hamas is even easier. Pull out entirely to the 1967 border. Build a big wall. Allow Palestine to build up its economy (hell help them do so with loans and infrastructure). Stay out of their business, unless there is an attack on Israel (which should be responded to in a way which makes it clear that Israel will hurt Palestinians financially). The Palestinians currently have very little to lose. Change that, and you'll change the nature of Palestinian society.


Other than targeting infrastructure, how can Israel stop Syria from trucking more Iranian-purchased missiles into Lebanon. As for targeting civilians, no, Israel isn't targeting civilians. It's targeting Hezbollah and Hamas, as it always has. Sadly, civilians who are happen to be in the vicinity, may also be killed or injured.

Meanwhile, the Big Pharoah reports that Nazrallah seems just a tad less confident than he was at the outset and posits that Nazrallah realizes he has blundered big time.

Whew, Eric

I find it hard to imagine how I could disagree with you more on the dynamics of the current explosion in the Middle East.

I hold no brief for either Hamas or Hisbollah, or for the use of terror whatever.

But it's hard not to recognise the role that Zionism and US imperialism have played in their creation, and to lay so much of the blame squarely at their door.

And the mind boggles at any attempt to characterise a government that is turning whole swathes of the Middle east into a walled concentration camp as "left"!

Both sides bear responsibility for plunging the region over many years into a continuing downward spiral of violence, slaughter and bloodshed.

No-one on the left can possibly condone this tribal bloodbath!

The real question for socialists when a war like this breaks out is to look at what will happen if either side wins.

It might not be the question, but surely one that everybody including socialists should ask themselves is - what will happen if no-one wins? This is the most likely outcome after all.

Socialists should cheer this on.

People take different views on this latest development along with all the others that have occupied our attention for the last four of five years. I don't know about anyone else but for myself I'm sick to the heart with all the cheering.

When 'Islamo-facists' meet 'Judeo-facists', they're not going to compare knitting.

Quite frankly, the problem is belligerent radicalized evangelical fundimentalism.

If you need that explaining, let me know.

Regs, Shaggy

"As for targeting civilians, no, Israel isn't targeting civilians. It's targeting Hezbollah and Hamas, as it always has. Sadly, civilians who are happen to be in the vicinity, may also be killed or injured."

Bullshit. It has targeted residential areas in South Beiruit (with precision weapons, so these were not accidents). It bombed a town in North Lebannon for god's sakes. It has also hit some Hezbollah targets - but those have not been the only targets.


Pleeeeeeeeessssseeeeee to suggest that with the current coalition governing Israel their is something similar between ' Islamo-fascists' and your so-called 'Judeo-facists' is either a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters with false propaganda or mind bogglingly simplistic analysis.

I don't deny that there are not elements in Israel whose racist and far-right values can beproperly labelled fascist..but how ever poor the current Israeli Gvt is they are definitely not fascist.

It is of course interesting that a so-called socialist should join hands with George Bush and US imperialism in defending Israel's blitzkrieg in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Attacks which are as disproportionate as were Nazi 'reprisals' against civilians after Resistance attacks on them.

Or maybe Eric Lee has forgotten the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners and the Lebanese hostages or maybe he has forgotten that after withdrawal from Gaza Israel retained absolute control from the air, land or sea. Or maybe he has forgotten the kidnap of PFLP supporters allegedly involved in the assasination of the far-right Rehavam Zvi. A kidnap that took place under 'Labour' Defence Minister Peretz.

Of course it's a crime for the oppressed to fight back and Lee's hysterical fantasy about Hizbollah overrunning Israel are on a par with similar fantasies about Jews polluting other races that some held not so long ago.

Tony Greenstein

Israel is at the cutting edge of the "WEST's" fight against Terrorism.

The G8 should do their best to give the "have-nots" the ways and means to become "haves" before they (the not haves) succeed in TAKING what the economicly developed "WEST" has - or brings them both down in a flame of despair.

It is a long up-hill battle - but that is the only way to REALLY fight the war between the west haves and the east not haves.

I don't understand why the left should support fascists with a glorious state, helicopter gunships and nuclear weapons against - I'll give it to you - fascist wannabes with AK-47s and homemade rockets.

Something's wrong with your logic here.

This seems way off the mark, I can understand why many people who have friends and family in Israel might support much of what the current government has done, equally I can an understand why many people might reject the 'islamofascism' of Hamas.

However the Isreali response, even if one is broadly supportative of the Israel state, is crazy. Hundreds of people in the Lebanon who have nothing to do with Islamofascism have been killed.

Lets face it Israeli action, the action of Bush and Blair, breed Salifism of the worst kind and weaken secular and moderate opposition to oppression.

I can imagine some difficult debates in the political organisation I belong to (Green Party) over the middle east, I can't imagine a single member supporting the bombing of Beirut!

unilateral withdrawl from occupied territory is not a guarantee of peace and attacking military targets are legitimate acts of war. the end result of israel's withdraw from gaza and now-unlikely withdrawl from the west bank was a shit deal for the palestinians and they have no obligation to take it lying down. hezbollah, on the other hand, had no place to interfere, and israel has every right to retaliate. however, that retaliation must be proportionate and comply with international law, which it has not.

the left should not be taking sides in this war. it should be an impartial and fair arbiter of justice for both the israelis and the palestinians.

Some people believe that this is predestined,
everything is linning up for the rapture.I can here some of them saying go israel go.Others who are heavily vestted in weapons,are also saying go israel go.Some, unfourtunatley only watch fox news.I can go on and on but my point is that regardless of your religion,politcal affiliation or personal agenda.A jury must be honest.This response from the state of ISRAEL is beyond unjust.There is a little hitler in there hearts that will keep on breeding terrorists until the world jury(left,right and centre) says this is bullshit,stop the atrocities now.

I doubt this will be approved by Eric but it is important to remember that there are many anti-Zionist Jews who are totally against the kind of perspective Eric writes from.

For example:

The Insane Brutality of the State of Israel"

Atrocities in the Promised Land

former CIA analyst

Words fail; ordinary terms are inadequate to describe the horrors Israel daily perpetrates, and has perpetrated for years, against the Palestinians. The tragedy of Gaza has been described a hundred times over, as have the tragedies of 1948, of Qibya, of Sabra and Shatila, of Jenin -- 60 years of atrocity perpetrated in the name of Judaism. But the horror generally falls on deaf ears in most of Israel, in the U.S. political arena, in the mainstream U.S. media. Those who are horrified -- and there are many -- cannot penetrate the shield of impassivity that protects the political and media elite in Israel, even more so in the U.S., and increasingly now in Canada and Europe, from seeing, from caring.

But it needs to be said now, loudly: those who devise and carry out Israeli policies have made Israel into a monster, and it has come time for all of us -- all Israelis, all Jews who allow Israel to speak for them, all Americans who do nothing to end U.S. support for Israel and its murderous policies -- to recognize that we stain ourselves morally by continuing to sit by while Israel carries out its atrocities against the Palestinians.

A nation that mandates the primacy of one ethnicity or religion over all others will eventually become psychologically dysfunctional. Narcissistically obsessed with its own image, it must strive to maintain its racial superiority at all costs and will inevitably come to view any resistance to this imagined superiority as an existential threat. Indeed, any other people automatically becomes an existential threat simply by virtue of its own existence. As it seeks to protect itself against phantom threats, the racist state becomes increasingly paranoid, its society closed and insular, intellectually limited. Setbacks enrage it; humiliations madden it. The state lashes out in a crazed effort, lacking any sense of proportion, to reassure itself of its strength.

The pattern played out in Nazi Germany as it sought to maintain a mythical Aryan superiority. It is playing out now in Israel. “This society no longer recognizes any boundaries, geographical or moral,” wrote Israeli intellectual and anti-Zionist activist Michel Warschawski in his 2004 book Towards an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society. Israel knows no limits and is lashing out as it finds that its attempt to beat the Palestinians into submission and swallow Palestine whole is being thwarted by a resilient, dignified Palestinian people who refuse to submit quietly and give up resisting Israel’s arrogance.

We in the United States have become inured to tragedy inflicted by Israel, and we easily fall for the spin that automatically, by some trick of the imagination, converts

Israeli atrocities to examples of how Israel is victimized. But a military establishment that drops a 500-pound bomb on a residential apartment building in the middle of the night and kills 14 sleeping civilians, as happened in Gaza four years ago, is not a military that operates by civilized rules.

A military establishment that drops a 500-pound bomb on a house in the middle of the night and kills a man and his wife and seven of their children, as happened in Gaza four days ago, is not the military of a moral country.

A society that can brush off as unimportant an army officer’s brutal murder of a 13-year-old girl on the claim that she threatened soldiers at a military post -- one of nearly 700 Palestinian children murdered by Israelis since the intifada began -- is not a society with a conscience.

A government that imprisons a 15-year-old girl -- one of several hundred children in Israeli detention -- for the crime of pushing and running away from a male soldier trying to do a body search as she entered a mosque is not a government with any moral bearings. (This story, not the kind that ever appears in the U.S. media, was reported in the London Sunday Times. The girl was shot three times as she ran away and was convicted to 18 months in prison after she came out of a coma.)

Critics of Israel note increasingly that Israel is self-destructing, nearing a catastrophe of its own making. Israeli journalist Gideon Levy talks of a society in “moral collapse.”

Michel Warschawski writes of an “Israeli madness” and “insane brutality,” a “putrefaction” of civilized society, that have set Israel on a suicidal course. He foresees the end of the Zionist enterprise; Israel is a “gang of hoodlums,” he says, a state “that makes a mockery of legality and of civil morality. A state run in contempt of justice loses the strength to survive.”

As Warschawski notes bitterly, Israel no longer knows any moral boundaries -- if it ever did. Those who continue to support Israel, who make excuses for it as it descends into corruption, have lost their moral compass.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession. She can be reached at

I wonder if, a generation or two down the road, anyone will bother remembering the laughable residue of 'Encounter' liberalism that is the Decent Left and its theory of 'Islamo-fascism.'

I thank God for this medium.300 Lebanese minus 25 Israelies = 205 of Gods children.Appropriate,collateral,utmost care not to hurt civilians and my favorate,unprovoked.People need to stop insulting our Intellect and Gods will.At the end of the day the evil roots plantted by Israel today will bear evil fruits tomorrow.All of humanity must eat those fruits.Left,Right and centre.

Jamie Stern-Weiner,

Hong Kong did more with less.

All Gaza needs is a strong govenment that will end violence instead of a weak governmen committed to violence.

The Israelis (and Bill Gates0 left greenhouses to help jump start the Gaza economy. The Gazan's wrecked the gift.

You can't help people like that.

Especially if they have a religious committment to killing Jews.

"as socialists" we should support Israel and also the USA. They will bring the socialism, don't you agree Eric?!

The most important piece of information in the current destruction of lebanese and palestinians is this:


This is an UNDENYABLE fact which due to worldwide corperate media was only reported on Turkish Television. And if rightfully put in its place in the who started it debate, the debate would read this:



(if the capture of the 2 Palestinians had been reported as it SHOULD have been would condi rice have still called it "OUTRAGEOUS PROVACATION"? I can guarantee you she would not have!!

The lies the Corperate Media are feeding us are no longer edible, while we may not be able to stop the "UNITED STATES OF BRITISRAEL" we should be doing something about our Media, payed for by the big political players and silenced by the same players. While we continue to let the television reports in US and UK and Israel omit the most important facts then we will never be able to stop the secretive nations like US, UK and Israel.

Facts omitted like the USA gives Israel over $200 billion dollars in military funds EACH year. So it makes me sick to the stomach when the US and UK and Israel say the Syria and Iran are funding Hezbollah, when the US are doing exactly the same albeit a bigger funding for Israel.

Biggest case for Hypocrisy I've ever seen!

Here in the UK the Independent Newspaper had THE best cover regarding the current situation. One one side of page it said "all countries who support an immediate ceasefire" with every country in the world apart from 3.

On the other side for those countries against an immediate ceasefire:

USA, UK and Israel.

Demand more from your news stations, have protest marches against your Newstations because the bottom line is this: without a corperate media, world opinion would be entirely different. If all facts were given no-one would be able to say no to an immediate ceasfire without being shown for what they are - The real terrorists.

Your news channels are lying to you everyday, they are committing a crime against you daily by falsifying the truth and omitting the most important reports. Making you believe what they are saying is true when it is not.

How can people who dont have internet access learn the real facts? Answer: They simply dont learn the real facts. They may still believe they have freedom of speech, but how can they have that when they are not being given the truth.



This has got to stop NOW, because when Syria and Iran get involved - which they will, you can guarantee they won't be supporting Israel and US/UK.

The Syrian Minister says that Hezbollah are "Freedom Fighters" and you know what? So do I and I'd rather support Hamas and Hezbollah than the 3 Governments of US/UK/ISRAEL who are indeed:


Excellent article, Eric.

I agree with most of this, although a year ago I wouldn't have. My background is as a supporter of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, CND &c … and then after years of inaction re Israel and the middle east signing the statement of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, joining a 10-day study tour of the occupied territories and contributing posts to Just Peace UK. I was also one of the founder members of ICAHD UK, the British branch of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. I was also a keen member of the Stop the War Coalition and opposed the invasion of Iraq. But I was a also a keen reader of the journalist Nick Cohen whose arguments, even when I don’t agree with them, are always very clear, I read and signed the Euston Manifesto, and I then discovered the radio broadcasts of Little Atoms , and finally that led me to that terrific book by Paul Berman called Terror and Liberalism – and that was it for me, the whole thing fell into place. I left STWC (long after I should have) and resigned from ICAHD when they launched a so-called “anti-apartheid campaign” and didn't renew my sub to the seriously astray CND. Yes of course all war is terrible and all war pictures look alike and states fighting for survival, or those that sincerely believe they are, do things that come within the category of war crimes. (Why excuse, or ignore, the way terrorists set up their HQs amongst civilian populations, with, yes, children, knowing the consequences? Well, why pass over that war crime?) The Independent (a UK newspaper) recently published a letter from me, including the following: “Isn't Hamas only part of an Islamist imperialism that seeks to restore the Caliphate and impose a medieval theocracy? And whatever the rights and wrongs in establishing the state of Israel in the first place, isn't the conflict with the Palestinians now one part of the struggle between a religious totalitarian mindset and liberalism?” So yes, I agree with Eric on this, though it certainly isn’t easy in the present atmosphere.

Thanks Eric, well written. I wish Israel were more cautious of civilians, but this is war, and I'm not a military expert...maybe they are being as careful as possible (unfortunately unlikely).

Don't be bothered by the radical left...they never learn from old mistakes (ie: their support of Stalin and communist Russia)

They forget, or are ignorant of the fact that they are considered dhimmis as well. Gotta stand up to the slew of little Chamberlins crawling about.


I must have misread this; you can't seriously be arguing that solidarity with the innocent, attacked Lebanese, Druze, Christians and Muslims alike, isn't the left's priority in this situation?

There are many issues on which you talk a lot of sense. But socialists supporting IDF bombardments of women and children in villages? Forget it.

I'm glad that Eric Lee finally support the left in its settlement enterprises. Withrawing from Gaza is one thing, but giving up our rightful claim to our homeland is something other.

Maskiot needs to grow, and currently Peretz makes that possible. The fine Gaza settlers that live there needs Eric Lee's support. The Israeli left should never give in to the Arabs! We should continue removing Arabs from the Jordan Valley, as is the current policy of Peretz and our IDF. And as Olmert says we should claim our right and add the Jordan Valley to Israel as soon as possible.

How can any socialist, much less a member of the IWW, ever support war? Only the capitalists benefit from war!! Have we not learned anything?

I live in the USA and am well aware that Israel is a client state of the government here. Nothing good can come from supporting the invasion of Lebanon. If the US government used the same logic it used with Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait, there would be US Air Force plans bombing the hell out of Tel Aviv right now.

As a socialist, an IWW member & a member of the working class, i can never support war. Violence does not solve anything (on either side of a conflict).

While i appreciate what Eric Lee does with LabourStart, i can in no way support him in this. It is misguided and incorrect.

In Solidarity,
Wade Hannon
Moorhead, Minnesota, USA

Fantastic article. Most of trendies think: "enemies (Hezbollah and Hamas) of my enemies (USA) are my friends, and friends (Israel) of my enemies (USA) are my enemies". But politics is more complex than that.

I have had many Jewish friends. Sixty years ago one told me he was stopping being a Jew because their old title to Israel was through Genocide. He was a sentimental Leftie.

Rather more recently one who was my Cable Street anti-fascist Hitler listed hero told me that the older he got, the more he came to think that "Fascism is the only answer" that upset me and many others. I think we now see what he meant.

Eric is throwing the word fascist about everywhere. His name was given supporting an email denouncing as a fascist a trustworthy Christian Earth Firster who was always doing some useful job whenever I met him. Making things safer, or cleaning up. Or participating in an action. They ran a witch hunt against him for linking to an uncensored web site. One that when I looked was carrying the most frocious anti-Bush article I have seen.

There is then the use of 'socialist' - that can be linked to Zionist. But there is no way that Israel can be described as a socialist state - not even a Bevin- Morrisonite one. the link comes in one of the Baltic States where a socialist girl was Zionist advertised as speaking in favour of the Balfour Declaration before she had read it. She read the Declaration and could not speak in support. She remained silent off the platform at the meeting. That was long ago. She saw there was not enough room in Palestine for all the World's Jews, and asked what would happen to the Palestinians. She did not become a Zionist or remain a Socialist. She went to South Africa and became a Communist. But who she was escapes me now. Perhaps had she had the advantage of being brought up within the CP, she would not have joined it.

Perhaps she would have renounced all the corruptions of all the political Parties and joined the 'something better' one who never returned from Spain belonged to.

Not that any of it matters. If the Jews cannot be so nasty and sucessfull that the Arab Nation turns off the Oil, all Life faces Mass Extinction rather soon.

Neither side have yet suffered anything like enough to make them accept the Swiss solution, so there is hope.

I think it is false to claim "And let's not forget that those territories were seized in a war of self-defense in June 1967." It was not a war of self defense.
"That war was preceded by three weeks of mounting, nerve-racking anxiety,
when almost all Israelis - from members of the cabinet to the last citizen - believed that the state and its inhabitants were in mortal danger. The armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan were poised - so it seemed - to invade its territory from three sides and eradicate it from the face of the earth, when the Israeli army attacked first, defeated all three and conquered not only the remainder of Palestine, but also the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.
Years later, it became clear to historians that there had been no real danger to the
state, that the neighboring countries has not intended to attack but merely to bluff, that Israel's victory had been no miracle but the result of meticulous preparations, especially by the Air Force. But the myth survives to this very day.
During the fighting and the following days, it looked like a classic war of defense.
Nobody even considered a permanent occupation. It was clear that we would
be compelled to leave the occupied territories very soon, as happened after the 1956 Sinai war. The question was who to give them back to: The government and most parties were thinking about Jordan and Egypt, while I and those who shared my ideas, including at the time several army generals, proposed handing them over to the Palestinian people, so as to enable them to establish the State of Palestine. Until that happened, it was believed, they would live under a "benign occupation".
Since then, 38 long years have passed. The "benign occupation" has long since turned into
a brutal and ugly regime of oppression. The prophecy of Professor Yeshayahu Leibovitz, that the occupation would corrupt us through and through and turn us into a people of exploiters and secret-service-men, has come awfully true. Nothing has remained of the "beautiful Eretz Israel" but a cloying nostalgia, of which Naomi Shemer was a standard-bearer. A small and gallant state, progressive and (relatively) egalitarian, respected by the world, has become an occupying and looting state, hostage to delirious settlers, full of internal violence and "swinish capitalism" (a phrase coined by Shimon Peres, one of those most responsible for this situation.) Throughout the world, the idea of boycotting Israel is gaining ground.

What looked at the time like a divine miracle now looks more like a pact
with the devil.
Israel is a country built on many symbols and myths. What could be more symbolic than the destruction of the myth of the Six-Day war, now followed by the collapse of the myth"
-Death of a Myth - Uri Avnery
Israel's Six-Day war was as much self defense as the US invasion of Iraq.

i wouldnt have a problem with this article except for one thing. you claim to be a leftist.

"The Islamo-fascists of Hizbollah joined in the fun shortly thereafter with a massive rocket barrage attacking Israeli towns, cities and kibbutzim from the shores of the Mediterranean to the foothills of the Golan, destroying homes and killing and wounding innocent civilians. Under cover of that barrage, they launched a raid to kill and capture Israeli soldiers on Israeli soil."

That's not what it says on the BBC's timeline. It says a few rockets were fired as a diversionary tactic, slightly injuring one person. I think we may need some further research here?

I am from London and watching this conflict from afar and as so, I'm trying to grasp how this conflict might come to an end. I have listened to both the anti zionists and pro Israeli arguments. I do tend towards an Israeli standpoint, primarily in response to Islamic extremism. I think its unfortunate that the Arab world has barely left the archaic world of the past unlike the rest of the world, bar maybe Africa. Africa mainly due to extreme poverty, but the Arab world, rich in resources has squandered its money and built very little infrastructure. We in the west need to engage on an intellectual level with these people if we are ever to see any significant change. I dont think for one minute that this will have an immediate effect, but an argument for freedom, democracy and the rule of equality is an argument that we must win. They are not fanciful words, they are the words that keep the very fabric of our countries (including Israel) alive

The only reason fundamentalism has spread is purely an economic one. Millions in the middle east feel disenfranchised due to poverty. This poverty prevents them from developing as individuals. As Rousseau said, 'Man is born free, and everywhere he is in shackles'. The only real sense of power they have is a religeon that tells them that one day they will succeed and be victorious. I say that in reality, as with all conflicts, economic stabilty and wealth is the only way to lasting peace in this region.

I dont believe its the only reason mind, unfortunately this radicalism, is a belief system that has not been purged through years of enlightened thought. Our enlightement brought wealth and economic stability to our citizens, this is yet to happen in the middle east. Until Saudi Arabia begin to start sharing their enormous wealth and prosperity with its citizens it will always remain in strife. Saudi Arabia is a classic example of a nation of disenfranchised citizens. One could argue that Bin Laden acts as a reassurance to these disenfranchised people that someone is fighting for their cause. He rails against the Saudi elite and sees them as arbitors of evil. Unfortunately Bin Laden sees everyone as such, as he is just another despot eluding to great power and control. I see no way forward for the middle east from the likes of him. What is needed is intellectuals who believe in the principle of democracy and equality to show their faces and begin to give people some real hope for a much brighter future. One that isnt filled with hate and misguided religeosity. I am sure religeon has a place, but certainly not as a head of government seeking absolute power

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can understand Israels response. I can also understand the world view that they feel Israels response is disproportinate. But these radicles need to be defeated militarily in the short term, but in the long term the intelect has to succeed in winning these peoples hearts and minds. Some like Newt Gingrich believe we need a major conflict with Iran, Syria and more distantly with Korea in order to subjugate these extremists. I'm not sure I concur with this view at all, but my mind believes this could be possible. If these countries cannot be held back intellectually, then I fear a world war is inevitable.

Good article, though it should be stated that the bombardment of Israel began AFTER the offensive began. However, there may be a good outcome to this war IF it is handled correctly on all sides.
1. Israel seeks peaceful borders - a strong Lebanon is complimentary to this aim.
2. Hizbollah must not be rearmed - why should a sovereign state like Lebanon be held ransom by an armed militia?
3. Israel AND Hamas must begin to talk to one another about a peace agreement - the prerequisite is for Hamas to make the first move.

My reservation following the campaign in southern Lebanon is that (in my opinion) the IDF and the Israeli war cabinet mishandled the campaign. The best programme to have followed would have been to call up 50,000+ reservists, invade up to the Litani and hold the ground, while 'clearing out' the Hizbollah fighters, bunkers, minefields and ammunition depots. Then the IDF could pull back with the UN/Lebanese force to take over the neutralised ground. Within that plan, the IDF could also have brought supplies forward along the roads north from northern Israel.
Never go to war with a half-hearted plan.

Real leftist support gay rights, womens rights, workers rights, democracy, free speech, free religion, free press and a liberal society - that why they support Israel.

The 'Left' anti-zionist trolls should take their jewish-media, jewish-power conspiracies to the whitepower sites where they belong.

Thanks for your insightful commentary!

Your article was brought to my attention by Prof. Derek Meyers of Westminister University. Very well done. I don't know if you've received any feedback from the folks at ENGAGE, but I do hope they will see this. I intend to put it in the SPME Faculty Forum for our 6700 faculty members to see world wide of which about 240 are UK professors. Cheers and best of luck. Fight the good fight.

Keep up the great work on your blog. Best wishes WaltDe

A month later ( form the last comment) and we have had to deal with the slaughter the Israelis imposed throughout Lebanon. And Mr Lee thinks this is what the left should be supporting!

Despite your LabourStart work you're an embarrassment to the left Mr Lee if you hold to such views.

How curious. Why? Because of throw away lines like this:"Our view as socialists of Hamas and Hizbollah should be absolutely clear: these are the enemy."

And Israeli is what -- NOT the enemy? Is it then the liberator?

Tell that to the Palestinians, Eric,and to the Lebanese... they're on the ground there, so how come they can't know an enemy when they see it?

Were the Lebanese supposed to welcome this incursion from the IDF and embrace them as liberators as the Iraqis are supposed to have done in Iraq? There's massive support for these outfits -- but then thats' not the issue because Mr Lee has ordained them fascist and that is supposed to explain all...

But Mr Lee knows all. Take this indulgence in fantasy:". Let us imagine that Israel wins -- meaning that the captured soldiers are returned and the rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon end. The result will not only be good for Israel, but good for the Palestinians and Lebanese as well. The Islamo-fascists will be weakened. Democratic and secular forces will be strengthened. Socialists should cheer this on."

Stuff you Eric! What democracy are you talking about? Hamas was ELECTED by the Palestinian people and the ones who ignore that result are the Zionist state, the US et al...Theres' no wages for the workers, no aid because these "democrats" are choking the Palestinian Authority because they don't like the way the Palestrinian people voted.

So on what basis do you call your analysis "left"?