Conservatives and Israel

A reader writes:

I disagree with the Adesnik theory on the media and Israel. The absence of real debate about Israel's bombing of Lebanon (other than how loudly should the U.S. cheer it on) is as much a result of the fact that any criticism of Israel’s tactics is quickly labeled 'viciously anti-Israel' (at best) by all but a fringe. I'm a conservative supporter of Israel who thinks Israel has the right to respond to Hezbollah but fears the scale of the response is a tragic mistake.  I recently saw a quote from Henry Seigman: "Israel's political and military leaders remain addicted to the notion that whatever they have a right to do, they have a right to overdo." I think there is some truth in that. We so often demand forbearance of Israel's neighbors, but I do not recall (since maybe Eisenhower) where we've demanded it of Israel (by the way, for Netanyahu to compare the relatively ineffectual shelling of Northern Israel to the Holocaust trivializes the Holocaust and does us all a disservice). 

I wish media outlets like yours where sensible conservative discussion can be seen on any subject could also discuss the possibility that Israel's tactics might play directly into the hands of Ahmadinajad, and that the U.S.'s knee-jerk support of the bombing undercuts our "continued outreach to Iranian [Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Palestinian, etc.] civil society".  Israel is unfairly made the scapegoat for so many of the region's tyrants and maniacs.  But the Israeli hardliners (like our own neo-cons) make it much easier for them to do so. The notion spread by the neo-cons that the "road to peace in Jerusalem runs through Bagdad" is more likely the opposite. But it's going to take more honest criticism of all parties in the region including Israel, for that to happen. 

I certainly don't believe that all criticism of Israel is illegitimate. But in this case, Hezbollah's Islamist ideology, its threat to the fragile Lebanese government, its initiation of hostilities, and its close links to Tehran make me reluctant to condemn any attempt to degrade its military potential as much as possible. I'm heartened by the fact that many Arab countries are uncomfortable with Hezbollah as well - the Sunni-Shiite division is one the West should exploit as shrewdly and relentlessly as possible to further our interests in the region. I'm also happy to see that this small, yet brutal war may actually get the European powers to police the Israel-Lebanon border. But there are times when Israel's actions have actually damaged the country - the occupations of Gaza and Southern Lebanon high on the list. In this I agree with the reader: I don't think supporting Israel requires never criticizing its government. Au contraire.