While we were busy putting the finishing touches on summer, Saturday, and remembering the first major terror attack on American soil, nearly 30,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv to demand accountability from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his mishandling of the war in Lebanon. As Reuters reports, the demonstration, in Israel, was "the largest public show of dissatisfaction" with the prime minister since his ascent to power.
Notably, many of the protestors were members of the Israeli reserve; speakers at the rally represented both sides of that country's political spectrum. From the right came outcries against how poorly equipped soldiers were to face battle, as well as contempt for the government's response to bombardment by Hezbollah rockets. From a former member of the leftist Meretz party came a warning to Prime Minister Olmert: "If you don't return home on your own initiative, Israeli democracy will send you home." One can only applaud a battle-scarred, and much maligned nation, as well as marvel at how it is the teacher must now become the pupil. A country that mastered Occupation 101 through mimesis now sets the paradigm for how to nuance hubris and runaway power.
Inexorably, one must ask why it is that members of the American military don't take their commanders to task. Why aren't our reservists, and infantrymen taking to the streets of Washington, D.C. to demand investigation, or war inquiry, into our failed leadership, and a pandemic of arrogance that has afflicted both Israel and America, and gutted foreign policy over the past several years. How is it that we have become moral lemmings willing to accept the politics of preemption over statesmanship, and diplomacy. And why is it that the left and right, in our country, can't come together to challenge executive authoritanism and the dismantling of a representative government? How is it that we, the people, have come to accept a most pernicious level of toxicity that tries to pass itself off as national security while, at the same time, compromises the integrity of international harmony for generations to come.
So it is that America, the unilateral exporter of democracy for over a century, must now take a backseat to countries like Israel, and Mexico, who challenge authority. So it is that the teacher must now learn from the student, and if democracy is to survive and prevail on our soil, then we must do as our Israeli counterparts, and tell those in command of our military that if our troops don't return on their "own initiative," American democracy will bring them home.