Who'll Stand Up for Israel?

The Times has four contributors to Line of Fire, its new blog about the conflict in Israel and Lebanon (Times Select $ may be required), none of whom line up on Israel's side.

Gershom Gorenberg, Jerusalem bureau chief for The Forward newspaper, is at the top with the naval-gazing "No Easy Answers," and doesn't come up with any hard ones either, simply taking the pacifist take that there must be a better way than Israel counterattacking:

"If, for instance, Hezbollah's initial attack on July 12 was a 'deliberate provocation' - as one strategic analyst told me, defending the government's decisions - should we have let ourselves be provoked?

"Extremist groups abhor calm. Hezbollah wants neither a reconstructed, materialist Lebanon nor Palestinians reaching compromises that renew negotiations with Israel. It wants the battle of sons of light against sons of darkness. The answer to calm is provocation - a terror attack, or a raid across a peaceful border. If the enemy responds with great force, if children are killed, houses destroyed, then those who have abandoned the struggle might return to it. Moderation will vanish. This methodology is written in the textbooks of revolution.

"Did those who proposed an Israeli version of 'shock and awe' consider this conundrum? How much support have we enlisted for Hezbollah, and how much have we hurt those in the Arab world who sought accommodation with us?"

Such as?

Michael Young, editor of the Daily Star in Beirut (which has a "marketing representation, printing and distribution agreement" with the Times' international edition) opens his entry:

"As Israel widens its military operations in southern Lebanon, and in other parts of the country, the Bush administration is on the verge of losing the diplomatic initiative -­ and its regional credibility."

Daoud Kuttab from Ramallah in the West Bank has a personal tale of trouble about his Palestinian family being denied entry into Israel, but his personal blog is far more slanted against Israel:

"For those with short memories, Gaza was being pounded indiscriminately in what many considered a collective punishment to the Palestinians because of their capture of an Israeli soldier. It is unclear whether the war on Lebanon has helped or hurt the embattled Palestinians of Gaza. On the one hand, the vast majority of the political and media attention has shifted almost exclusively to put out the fires in Lebanon and the north of Israel, allowing the Israelis to continue punishing Palestinians without any international protest. Palestinians continued to be killed on a daily basis not only in Gaza but also in Nablus. Nearly 100 Palestinians have been killed since this round began with July 26 one of the bloodiest days; 23 three Palestinians, including children and mothers, were among the victims of the Israeli attacks."

The fourth contributor, Chibli Mallat, a law professor in Beirut and candidate for president of Lebanon, hasn't posted an entry yet.