French intellectual Bernard-Henry Levy recently travelled through Israel. A translation of an essay he wrote appeared in the New York Times today. Levy makes the point that those who rush to condemn Israel for waging its war against Hizbullah tend to overlook. This war is about the future strategic threat (I dare call it an existential threat) posed to Israel by Hizbullah. It is not inconceivable that Hizbullah will one day be armed with precision rockets and chemical weapons supplied by Iran. Syria and Iran already possess those kinds of weapons, but their leaders are still deterred from using them by the prospect of massive Israeli retaliation. They are, after all, responsible for entire countries. My fear is that Hizbullah, goaded on by its patrons and its ideology, will not operate according to the same calculus that has so far prevented Syria or Iran from launching direct attacks against Israel. Here is an excerpt of the Levy article:
the problem, the real one, is that these incoming rockets make us see what will happen on the day — not necessarily far off — when the rockets are ones with new capabilities: first, they will become more accurate and be able to threaten, for example, the petrochemical facilities you see there, on the harbor, down below; second, they may come equipped with chemical weapons that can create a desolation compared with which Chernobyl and Sept. 11 together will seem like a mild prelude. For that, in fact, is the situation. As seen from Haifa, this is what is at stake in the operation in southern Lebanon. Israel did not go to war because its borders had been violated. It did not send its planes over southern Lebanon for the pleasure of punishing a country that permitted Hezbollah to construct its state-within-a-state. It reacted with such vigor because the Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped off the map and his drive for a nuclear weapon came simultaneously with the provocations of Hamas and Hezbollah.