Israelis React to Prospect of War in Lebanon
NOAH ADAMS, Host:
Mr. Erlanger, the world is seeing quite a bit of destruction constantly on television, hearing about it on the radio. What's going on there in Israel? What's on the front page? What's on television and radio there?
STEVEN ERLANGER: There are lots of stories about psychological trauma and stress, and there's also - you know, as you'd expect - a lot of coverage of Lebanon.
ADAMS: Israel is used to conflict, but is it a general topic of conversation? Is it overtaking everything in the country?
ERLANGER: It is not overtaking everything, but it's overtaking quite a lot. I mean, it is a war, and it feels like a war. And there's the feeling that the Israeli government is finally taking on Hezbollah. And I think there's some resentment to the sense Israelis have that the world is against them and that somehow, you know, what other countries do is okay, but when Israel does it, it is not okay.
ADAMS: The issue of proportionality comes up here. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights talking about both Israel and Hezbollah and attacks on civilians, saying that these attacks could qualify as war crimes when investigated.
ERLANGER: They say, at least, that they are trying very hard to target Hezbollah targets. They're not targeting civilians, and the rockets they're facing are indiscriminate weapons aimed at cities, aimed to create terror. And they feel that the moral equation is twisted here.
ADAMS: Do people have an idea of what the government is up to? Is there, indeed, a plan? Is it being made public? And does it have support? And does it involve Iran?
ERLANGER: I think people are actually quite pleased that he's aggressively in southern Lebanon. What no one's quite sure is how and when it's going to end, and whether it's going to end with Israeli's goals satisfied, which is a weakening of Hezbollah and a pushing back of Hezbollah from the border. Because if it doesn't end that way, then I think the Olmert government is probably in some deep political trouble.
ADAMS: And do people indeed see Iran at the end, somehow at the end of this?
ERLANGER: Well, they do, but no one particularly wants a wider war. Regionally, the fight against Hezbollah is seen as a blow to the prestige of Iran, depending on the way it comes out. And Hezbollah is seen as a cat's paw of Iran and a proxy. It's weakening would be considered to be a defeat for Iran as well.
ADAMS: Thank you, sir.
ERLANGER: Thank you.
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