When an army is accustomed to besieging, humiliating, torturing, and killing kids and other civilians trapped in their homes, and then has to fight a disciplined, highly motivated guerrilla force, that army often endures heavy losses, confusion and disorientation--and frequently turns against other vulnerable civilians.
But that's not what happened to the Israel Defense Force in Lebanon this summer according to Eric Westervelt and "analysist" Michael Oren. Talking about what "lessons" haven't been "absorbed" Westervelt says, "the Israeli army changed dramatically during the second Palestinian uprising, or Intifada. After decades preparing to face off against big Arab armies, the Israel Defense Force, by the end of 2002, had transformed itself into a kind of giant police SWAT team, whose main job was arresting or killing Palestinian militants in crowded urban areas in the Occupied West Bank or Gaza. So when war broke out this summer in the rocky terrain of Lebanon…they were ill prepared for the wider fight."
Giant SWAT team? Arresting or killing Palestinian militants? How about a brutal occupation force rounding up and killing many innocent civilians and engaging in extrajudicial executions?
Then Oren, commenting on Israel's inability to defeat Hezbollah says of the IDF, "they had very good weapons for fighting in hallways, in Jenin, but nothing for fighting in the hills of Southern Lebanon." Very good weapons? Hallways in Jenin? That is some dramatic mythmaking--one of those hallways in Jenin is pictured in the photo on this post (from Electronic Intifada). If you think Oren is an impartial historian because of his book on the Six Day War, consider these comments from a Winter 2006 paper of his:
- "...the Israeli army has become the world’s foremost anti-terrorist fighting force."
- "...the refusal of many Arab leaders, whether they be Palestinians, Iraqis, Saudis, or Syrians, to take responsibility for their own failures and foibles....this refusal to accept responsibility is the largest single obstacle to America’s efforts to foster democracy in the Middle East."
- "Israeli soldiers go into the homes of terror suspects, risking their own lives and often sacrificing them in order to reduce civilian casualties, where another army might simply call in an air strike or an artillery barrage."