Thursday, August 10, 2006

Voice That Should Be Heard

These days it's not difficult to be critical towards the policies of Israel - but it remains difficult not to admire Israel as a society.

It's an open, pluralistic and dynamic society in every sense of the world. It would have a lot to give to the rest of the region. It could be a model to be admired by the region - instead of a threat to be hated.

In the middle of this sixth war for modern Israel, it's remarkable how open and transpent the political process remains.

Yesterday's Cabinet meeting on strategy ahead seems to have been filled with dissent and controversy, although at the end of it a large majority gave their support to the Prime Minister. Everything else is unthinkable in a situation like these.

But divisions where there.

The IDF Chief of Staff - the man who said he was going to bomb Lebanon 20 years baqck in time after the Hezbollah kidnappning of two soldiers - wanted to bomb and destroy the entire power grip of Lebanon. Thankfully, that wasn't even supported by his minister.

After a short interval for diplomacy, the intention now seems to be to launch three divisions into southern Lebanon. Officially, it is said to take a month to achieve the objectives. Some ministers predict it might take two months.

Although this would not take away the rocket threat to Israel, it could initial a catastrophic series of events. It is not to be excluded that other Arab nations would feel compelled to start coming to the aid of Israel. The risk of a wider war increases substantially.

Among the three ministers at the meeting who did not support the plan was Shimon Peres.

He is by far the man with the most experience in the Israeli government, and the only link with the founder generation of the country. He was the protege of David Ben-Gurion - the founder and first President of Israel.

At the meeting - and according to media reports - Shimon Peres said that he did not support the move because it has already forfeited the element of surprise, may involve numerous fatalities and would endanger Israel's relations with Arab and Muslim states.

It's a tragedy that his words of experience and wisdom were overruled in a Cabinet that seems to be dominated by those with only a very limited experience.

But it's still the strength of Israel that there are voices like those of Shimon Peres.