Israel's Psyche at 60

[Baltimore Sun] Walter Reich - As Israel celebrates its 60th birthday, there's a remarkable spirit and courage here. Despite the rising tide of Islamism that surrounds the country and the constant threats to destroy it, Israel bustles with energy, commerce, science and the arts. And, most of the time, its people display a convinced optimism that Israel is here to stay. Hamas, which controls Gaza, is open about its intention to destroy Israel, however long it takes. And it, like its ally Hizbullah in south Lebanon, has adopted a military strategy that's strikingly effective in this age of television and the Internet: launching rockets at Israeli cities from places inhabited by civilians, provoking Israelis to strike back, and waiting for images of the resulting casualties to inflame world opinion. If Israeli leaders don't strike back, they fail to protect their own people; if they do, they receive global condemnation for using disproportionate force. And the threats from Hamas and Hizbullah pale in the face of the possibility that, after a peace deal, the West Bank, lying alongside the length of Israel's population centers, will become a launching pad for still more rockets. The writer, a psychiatrist, is the Yitzhak Rabin memorial professor of international affairs, ethics and human behavior at George Washington University and former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

2008-05-09 01:00:00

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