Israelis Watch Afghanistan and Remember Lebanon
While Israel isn’t the U.S., and Lebanon isn’t Afghanistan, the common themes that run through both sets of wars are jarring, especially in the way a Western democracy tries to end a military campaign and how it manages (or not) the fate of local allies who fought alongside it.
In what seems like science fiction now, given the state of Israel-Lebanon relations, Lebanese school kids attended summer camps in southern Israel, while Lebanese traders and tourists drove into Israel regularly.
All of this, however, didn’t stop the guerrilla war that escalated throughout the 1990s. Like the PLO before it, Hezbollah began firing rockets into northern Israel, and IDF casualties inside the Security Zone were running at some two dozen a year. Increasingly, the impression inside Israel was that this was a campaign with no end and with no discernible objective.
Watching events unfold in Kabul over the past two weeks, Israeli officials are less concerned about what it says about the U.S. commitment to Israel and other close allies. “I’m not sure it’ll have a major impact on us directly and on how the U.S. does things here,” one senior Israeli government official told me when queried regarding Afghanistan. Yet there is concern in some Israeli quarters that a similar dynamic will play out among America’s enemies as happened after the Lebanon withdrawal.