- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 17, 2009


Claude Salhani asks and answers his own question in his Friday column (“Is armed conflict solving anything in the Middle East?” Nation). He means to say that wars are generally futile exercises that just cost a lot of mostly innocent lives, but when he looks more closely, he comes near to realizing the efficacy of the Middle Eastern wars he showcases.

For one, Israel’s 1947-1948 war ensured its independence, much as did our American War of Independence in 1775-1783. In 1967, Israel escaped annihilation by its Arab neighbors in the Six-Day War. The only war in which the Arabs had some initial success, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, ultimately led to the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt, as Mr. Salhani acknowledges.

In every other armed conflict, including the current Gaza dust-up, Israel has responded to Arab provocations by repelling and punishing its attackers. Whether the demolition of Gaza will give Arab rejectionists pause, as Mr. Salhani indicates, remains to be seen. Hezbollah’s reluctance to join in suggests that it learned a painful lesson in 2006. Mr. Salhani insists on presenting all cases as essentially equivalent, but, as President Bush recently reiterated, there is good and there is evil, and most people can tell the difference. In Israel, these armed conflicts are called, in Hebrew, wars of ein brera (“no choice”).

So to the question Mr. Salhani raises, the answer is a clear “yes.”


Columbia, Md.

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