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July 26, 2006
The Transformation From Dove To Hawk

Today's Der Spiegel has a fascinating column from Zeev Avrahami, a former Israeli soldier turned peace activist after his required service ended. Avrahami discusses the generational attitudes of Israelis towards their vision of their nation's place in the world and how it affected the policies adopted by a series of governments. Avrahami concludes that his peace activism may have been misplaced after all, and the man he despised twenty years ago is now the man he misses:

Every time war footage from Lebanon flickers across the flat screen television in my apartment on the 30th floor of a high-rise in mid-town Manhattan, I am overwhelmed by a deep feeling of sadness. When I scan through the news on the Internet each morning, I'm overtaken by anger. The result is confusion: I go to sleep at night thinking I am a dove and wake up in the morning to find out I am a hawk.

It's gotten so bad that I have even started missing Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel who has been lying in a coma for the past six months. I find myself writing screenplays in my mind: Sharon wakes up, stares at the TV screen, and sees Israel invading Lebanon. Sharon, I think, would presume he has landed in hell where he is damned to relive the most dreadful moments of his political career.

The very fact that I am reminiscing about Sharon is shocking -- many people of my generation can't stand him. The man led Israel into its traumatic "optional war" of 1982 when we invaded Lebanon -- an experience that left behind numerous scars on the Israeli population, both physical and psychological. The soldiers who fought in southern Lebanon then did not understand why they where there; why they lost their friends, their youth and their innocence; why they had to fight against an unknown enemy and patrol the streets of Lebanese cities -- passing by civilians who were drinking coffee and playing backgammon in the cafes.

Avrahami writes movingly about his experiences in the military, and how he came to the conclusion that Israel had to change its stance from armed fortress to a good neighbor. Avrahami served forty-five days in prison for his refusal to report when his reserve unit got activated and ordered back to Gaza, where Avrahami had spent his two years of active duty. He became a peace activist and a journalist, part of the generation that rejected the vision of Israel shared by their parents and grandparents.

The withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon opened his eyes. He "knew" that the violence and intifadas sprang from Israeli military occupations, and that the violence would abate as soon as the Israeli military left. He did not expect the violence to not only continue but to amplify. The rockets coming from Hezbollah territory into northern Israel and from Gaza into Sderot and now Ashkelon have changed his mind about the nature of Israel's enemies. Avrahami has reluctantly concluded, as his parents and grandparents did, that Israel's struggle is existential and not political.

Avrahami has laid down his olive branch and picked up his gun -- literally. He informed the Israeli Embassy here in the US that if the IDF has some need of a thirtysomething journalist with a couple of years' experience and twenty years of better perspective, they know where to find him. Be sure to read the entire essay.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 26, 2006 8:53 AM

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» 'Former' Peace Activist Picks Up Rifle from It Shines For All
In Der Spiegel (via Captain's Quarters) there is a piece by Zeev Avrahami, whom the paper desribes as a "former Israeli peace activist" who "explains why he has laid down his olive branch and is prepared to grab for his... [Read More]

Tracked on July 26, 2006 1:07 PM

» A Doves Eyes Opened from A Second Hand Conjecture
(Listening notes: Dedicated to cussed Irish beekeepers everywhere: The Pogues, The Specials, The Fall, U2, and The Chieftains) Over at Captains Quarters I noticed this: Every time war footage from Lebanon flickers across the flat screen television i... [Read More]

Tracked on July 28, 2006 1:04 PM


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