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Tuesday, August 08, 2006
"Those Poor Innocent Lebanese"....A Reality Check on the Complex Israeli/Hezbollah War
For anyone conflicted over the raging violence in the Israeli war against the terrorist Hezbollah militia, I highly recommend reading the terrific piece recently penned by Irwin N. Graulich. It aptly describes the current rules of engagement in modern warfare; warfare that is not limited to army vs army, but army vs. terror organizations who blur the lines between themselves and the civilian populations whom they exploit. Graulich's piece is one of many perspectives that everyone should have in order to intelligently discuss the intensely complex battle that's being waged by Israel against a "hidden" enemy. While I don't agree with everything he writes, (some of it is actually a bit outlandish) the overall message about the Lebanese government's and civilians' complicity in this conflict is highly relevant:
Those Poor, Innocent Lebanese
By Irwin N. Graulich
Aug 4, 2006
Let me get this straight. You allow one of the largest terrorist organizations in the world to set up shop throughout your country. You permit them to completely take over the entire southern third of Lebanon and you claim to have seen nothing.
You allow the terrorists to build sophisticated, fortified bunkers and you did not see any heavy equipment building them. You allow the Hezbollah terrorists to move into many of your towns and villages, including the complete takeover of one of the largest neighborhoods in Beirut, where they proceed to build numerous, complex command and control centers...and then you claim ignorance.
You allow Hezbollah to store weapons, bombs and rockets in your basements. You turn a blind's eye when they carry arms into your restaurants, stores and buildings, yet you call yourself an "innocent civilian."
You watch the Hezbollah parades with hundreds of thousands of participants including children screaming, "Jihad. Death to Israel, Jews and Americans," burning American and Israeli flags, while goose-stepping soldiers with Nazi-like salutes receive your cheers--and all of you "innocent civilians" did not see a thing even though you were captured on videotape. All this, while Koffi Annan and much of the UN insist that "we should not believe our lying eyes about the innocent civilians."
There are giant posters of the rubenesque terrorist leader, Hasan Nasrallah, all over Lebanon with headlines declaring the imminent destruction of Israel. Yet you choose to elect this terrorist party to your government--and all of the so called "innocent Lebanese" do not know anything about anything.
Twenty thousand rockets and launchers are shipped into your country along with other military equipment by plane, truck and ship, and the government industrial complex knew absolutely nothing; and neither did all those "poor, innocent civilians" who are now crying.
So you allow the "Devil" into your homes and into your lives; you take the Devil's money, food and medicine; you sleep with the Devil...and get a serious evil disease. And then you blame the Jews, of course! Well, there is no sympathy for the devil...or his helpers!
The Lebanese "knowingly allowed (aka aided and abbetted)" murderous terrorists to proliferate in their sovereign nation. Like spoiled teenagers, they now refuse to take any responsibility. Of course there are some truly innocent civilians, but there were hundreds of thousands of beautiful German babies and mothers in Dresden and Berlin who were blown to bits. If an attack emanates from your country, the entire country is responsible. That is how life works and it is sometimes unfair.
I hate when people lie to my face and expect me to believe their vile fabrications. Does the Muslim world really think that the vast majority of Americans are that foolish? Only the quislings at CNN like Larry King, Nic Robertson, Wolf Blitzer, et al will fall for this Joseph Goebbals-style propaganda.
The confused, immoral left and their paper of record, The New York Times only see "innocent civilians throughout Lebanon." Europe, that moral bastion which gave birth to Nazism, will look at photos of men, women and children in despair, without putting the image into its proper context. Yet countries like Sweden, Switzerland and Ireland, who could not decide whether to support Hitler or Churchill during WWII, can drum up the moral authority to criticize Israel today. And leave it to Vichy, France 2006 headed by Jaques "Petain" Chirac to condemn Israel's response.
Seeing television snippets of wounded or dead Lebanese with people sitting on the ground crying and calling them all "innocent civilians" is the same as looking at a photograph of the armpit of Christie Brinkley and saying, "Here is the photo of a supermodel. Isn't she beautiful?" The armpit picture is only a part of the story. When human beings see babies or mothers hurting, no matter what, we feel the pain. If we saw baby pictures of Charles Manson, we would want to cuddle him.
We cannot look at photos of so-called "innocent civilians" in a vacuum. It is important for all "moral, decent" human beings to realize that the compassion emotion is similar to the sex emotion. Often times, it interferes with truth, logic and morality.
Listen up all you "Innocent Lebanese along with your innocent, Hezbollah supporting government." Do you want to know why your towns, villages and cities are smoldering? Do you want to know why 800,000 people are homeless and 600 are dead? Do you want to know why your infrastructure is devastated?
The answer is..."That the Jews are simply not going to pack up their little valises and walk into gas chambers again. The Jews will not be taken from their homes and marched into the Mediterranean Sea by Nazis or Hezbollah-Hamas-Syrian-Iranian, Nazi-like sympathizers.
The Jews in Israel or anywhere else are just not going to allow themselves to be shipped away like you dream about every day. Attention all radical Muslims throughout the entire world and Jacques Chirac. The Jews will not be walking into death camps or graves ever again, and if you dare try it, Qana, South Beirut, Tyre, Nabatiyeh, Bint Jbeil, Kounine, Beit Yahoun, Rashaya, Baalbek, Majdel Zoun, Ayt-a-Shab, etc. will all look a whole lot worse than Dresden and Berlin. And Tehran may become hotter than Hiroshima.
Attention Lebanon--your country is smoldering because Jews are sick and tired of being murdered. You keep pushing those pathetic, weak, Torah studying Jews by using terrorism and kidnapping soldiers, and all, yes all of Lebanon will be smoldering.
Listen very carefully enemies of Israel, because you are making a giant mistake. I urge any person that will be having dinner with Sayed Hassan Nesrallah, the big fat brave man hiding in his little rat hole while his fighters are being picked off like little olives on a tree, to make sure his life insurance is fully paid.
Mr. hero Nesrallah is just a pimp for Iran, sending out his Hezbollah terrorist hookers to "screw the Jews." The amazing thing is that Iran is not an Arab country. They should not be involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. They do not border Israel, so there is no Iranian territorial dispute where they claim, like everyone else, that Israel occupies their land. Yet, Ahmadinejad's (pronounced--"a mad dog on Jihad") hatred for Jews and Israel rivals that of Adolf Hitler.
It is no wonder that the Iranian president feels this way since Israel is supreme in virtually every area--technically, militarily, scientifically, culturally, morally and religiously. Each attempt by macho Muslim/Arab countries to destroy Israel has been met with a totally devastating, humiliating defeat. Like Saddam, the skinny, little Ahmadinejad (pronounced "a mad dog on Jihad") aspires to be the big hero of the Muslim world.
What Ahmadinejad (pronounced "a mad dog on Jihad") does not comprehend, is that Israel will not use a tongue depressor when they capture him and his associates. The truth be told that should Iran dare make one wrong move directly on Israel, then Israel will simply "Beat the Shiite out of them!"
Irwin N. Graulich is a well known motivational speaker on morality, ethics, religion and politics. He is also President and CEO of a leading marketing, branding and communications company in New York City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by The Ostroy Report at 8:24 AM
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Andy, besides you, these are other organizations who have published Irwin Graulich pro-Israel and anti-Arabs articles. You are in good company indeed! Andy, who pays you and your attempts to fool your progressive readers?
MichNews.com – Most in-depth, Conservative, Honest News and Commentary
American Daily - American Daily: Conservative oriented political commentary and opinion.
Freeman Center for Strategic Studies - Its activities include commissioning extensive research into the military and strategic issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and disseminating pertinent information to the Jewish community and worldwide.
The Conservative Voice – I. Graulich publishes periodic commentaries in here
OpinionEditorials/Frontiers of Freedom - founded and chaired by Malcom Wallop (a retired right-wing Senator – here is his biography by “Right Web” http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/1378)
This is the entire list (with no omissions) I found on the first page shown by Google; there are many more pages with more links to other Zionist or right-wing websites.
This is nothing but right-wing BS.
The new Lebonese democratic government could no more control or stop Hezbollah than the newly established Iraqi government can defend itself against the insurgency. Talk about not looking at reality.
And Israel is a pimp for the American neo-cons. So many in America don't support our present administration but we have no power to stop them. The Lebanese children and women have no power under any circumstances, democracy notwithstanding. Are they and we therefore guilty and thus targets for murder?
Groups undercover usually are demolished through intelligence agencies. We see how little intelligence the Israeli's have shown in fighting this war - either covert intelligence or the normal ability to assess its emeny's capabilities and methods.
Hopefully there aren't alot of "kooks" like you running around in Arab circles...It would be devastating to American citizens to have this type of analysis reversed.....
No one in America can deny we have leaders who want to dominate the world....we have leaders who have weapons of mass destruction--including the ultimate A-bomb....so who would be an "innocent" in America according to your definition?
sean, so let me get this straight. Your point is that if it is posted on a conservative site that it is automatically false? And that is your only point. Wow, you really have Andy on the ropes. Not.
I have yet to see anybody take on the points in the post. Or do you all think you can simply claim it is false and expect thinking people to believe you.
Andy does a good job at tolerating me here. I am darn sure he has no desire for the likes of me to defend him. I responded because the responses here to Andy's post are completely contrary to what progressives claim they stand for: tolerance, free speech, multiculturalism. I guess only some cultures need apply for some of you, and only speech you agree with is tolerated.
My hats off to Andy for sticking up for his heritage. There are a lot of Jewish Americans with their hand too far up in the liberal cookie jar to pull out to support their own people. Andy may be a huge liberal, but he won't desert Israel over it.
Who do you think is paying for Israel's war??It's us Americans because of the the Jewish Americans who wield a lot of power with their powerful lobby and their powerful postions in our government. (Look at most of the neocons, as well as the people who run the media.) Get your blind eye fixed.
And we in American don't SUPPORT OUR HERITAGE. We SUPPORT AMERICA, or should out of everlasting gratitude.
I'm a Kid. I'm in high school but I love history. I've read and heard about a lot of anti-semitism. Would somebody tell me what the Jews did to make anti-semitism. I live in the Bible Belt. Is it still that they killed Jesus or did they do something else bad or do people just want to hate them. Sorry if this is an embarrasing question. My teacher wouldn't answer me.
To the Kid,
I wonder myself and I'm old. I know the Arabs don't care about Jesus and a Pope years ago said that the Jews were not to blame for the death of Jesus. I fought in the WWII but I don't know what got into the Germans to slaughter so many Jews. But I've heard about anti-semitism all my life. I hope it ends soon. It doesn't seem to have a reason.
And we in American don't SUPPORT OUR HERITAGE. We SUPPORT AMERICA, or should out of everlasting gratitude.
I am not talking about supporting heritage instead of America. I am talking about those who sell out their heritage for a political agenda.
And you still did not disprove any of the points in Andy's post.
Many Jewish people (not all) have a knack for acquiring wealth and influence. You can see a reference to it in the book "Ivanhoe" by Sir Walter Scott how Isaac the Jew is treated. It seems to be related to resentment at this wealth and influence.
The Arab-Jewish hatred is likely 99% religious based.
You must have a pretty crummy teacher if he/she won't answer a question.
All I Can Stands is right. And it is possible that he and I can agree with each other on some issues. I make no apoligies for my varied opinions, and I have little interest in appeasing progressives and/or Democrats who are myopic and partisan, and unwilling to accept that a better America is one where Dems and Repubs can agree once in a while. That's the trouble with America today. No one gives a shit about the issues anymore, just which party they eminate from. Count me out of that club. I am first and foremost a liberal Democrat. But my position on many issues varies according to what I, not anyone else or what any party tells me, believe. And let me set the record straight on something else. Contrary to what Stands suggests, I would support ANY sovereign nation's right to defend herself, Israel included, that's been attacked in an uprovoked act of war...and has been subjected to years of suicide bombs and brutal killing. I don't care if it's Israel, Jordan, Spain, England, India or the U.S. My position is not based on my being a Jew. It's based on me being a human being who is sickened by terrorists and the dirty, vile, cowardly acts they perpetrate on civilization. I would be defending India's or Spain's aggression to stamp out their terrorist enemy as fervently as I have Israel's.
On this blog we welcome people of all political pursuations, and all political opinions. We may not always agree, but dissent is healthy. I respect the opinions represented by "the other side" even if I don't agree with them.
You're also a blind diehard Israel defender against any accusation of bad behavior. I won't support your blog anymore. I realize it matters little to you.
You people (popey and others) assume that if someone criticizes the current Israel policy he is an anti-semite. This is the same logic of those who say that if you are against Bush you are anti-american. This is objectively a right-wing position.
For the record, I came from a family who saved a dozen of Jews from the fascists during WWII by risking their lives and hiding them in their countryhouse. I was raised to respect and defend people, independently from their race or religion. I respect cultural heritages but I fight any chauvinism. I believe this is a progressive view. I have many Jew friends, as well as Arabs.
Andy is of course free to defend his Jewish Heritage the way he wants. He is also free to use racial arguments claiming the intellectual superiority of his race as compared with the inferior Arab specie, as he has been doing. BUT, he cannot expect that progressive readers will buy his views.
Objectively, if you haven't noticed it yet, there is a 100% alignment bewteen Bush and Olmert, and both are aimed at destroying military and conquering the Middle East. The destruction underway in Iraq and Lebanon, are part of the same plan. Now, feel free to support this if you like it for whatever reason, but please do not call yourelf progressive.
As for your first remark on posting on conservative sites, yes I believe if such arguments are posted in such a variety of right-wing sites, yes they reflect a right-wing view, not a progressive one.
Cheers to everybody
V said: "You're also a blind diehard Israel defender against any accusation of bad behavior. I won't support your blog anymore. I realize it matters little to you."
You stand corrected. I did not support Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. I did not support increased, aggressive settlements in the West bank. I am not particularly supportive of walling off the country. I am not particularly supportive of Israel cutting off its tax payments to the Palestinian Authority as retribution for Hamas being elected. Clearly, I have a problem with a lot of what Israel does, but I'm not sure you and/or others who criticize me over Lebanon have thw ability to see a full picture. While I of course care about your opinion and whether or not you support my blog, I'm comfortable with my convictions and believe I am balanced and open-minded. I hope you are as well.
I just wanted to add this link http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/746312.html with an article regarding the simmetry of American and Israel current policy.
This is an Israeli newspaper.
Andy, of course the fighting is guerrilla style and the lines between "supporters" and "innocents" is blurred. You could have made that very good point without pandering to some nutball who in one article said: "the Nazis were boy scouts compared to Hamas" and "You remember Jimmy Carter--the guy with the hammer in one hand. Look closely; you will see the sickle in the other hand!" http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_11613.shtml Come on. This guy's nuts, just like the racist/nationalist you quoted from at length before: Wafa Sultan. You attack others as being one-sidedly anti-Israeli, etc. yet you continually cite people who are one-sidely pro-Israeli/anti-Arab/anti-Islam. If you're serious about discussion and debate, its time you quit citing those who are unable or unwilling to think about the issues from more than one perspective and start thinking about how you can position yourself between the opposing sides -- stand alongside those who are interested in understanding, not finger pointing. Please be the thoughtful individual I thought you were.
And please don't see my non-response to the article you posted as tacit agreement. The article is so flawed that I simply don't have the time to respond to it from work.
What an idiotic letter. A ravishing display of words does not mean you can twist the facts.
IT MUST BE NOTED that ISRAEL attacked Lebanon and ISRAEL is the occupier of this area for a few decades - THE JEWS are the invaders and they need to constantly struggle to survive but now armed with the advanced weaponry provided by the US it can now do this masacre in Lebanon and then start screaming foul blaming the other side for its crimes.
GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT and stop following the bias media
Frank, just because I reprint someone's work and suggest that he/she has a "perspective" that's worth exploring does not mean I agree 100% with everything they say or write. Try to have a little bit of an open mind so that you can sift through the writing in order to get at its centrral point...that being, that the government and the people of Lebanon have some responsibility in this mess in their harboring of Hezbollah and allowing it to thrive unchecked. You'd be hard-pressed to convince us otherwise.
By the same "perspective", King Mohammed VI of Morocco would be justified in bombing the crap out of Israeli women and children if the Ehud Olmert fails to extradite Amir Peretz:
Why then are the terrorists in Iraq fighting so hard to destroy their newly formed democracy? They could be free like us.
It is very similar to communist oligarchy. Those few at the top that do rule have no desire to grant freedom to the masses below that do. In order to keep their position they use force, propoganda, bribery and in this case population puppetry through religion and sectarion bigotry in order to get the masses to do their bidding.
A voice of wisdom:
Breaking the cycle of violence
The people of the Middle East deserve peace and justice, and we owe them our support.
By Jimmy Carter
08/08/06 "The Guardian" -- -- The Middle East is a tinderbox, with some key players on all sides waiting for every opportunity to destroy their enemies with bullets, bombs and missiles. One of the special vulnerabilities of Israel, and a repetitive cause of violence, is the holding of prisoners. Militant Palestinians and Lebanese know that a captured Israeli soldier or civilian is either a cause of conflict or a valuable bargaining chip for prisoner exchange. This assumption is based on a number of such trades, including 1,150 Arabs, mostly Palestinians, for three Israelis in 1985; 123 Lebanese for the remains of two Israeli soldiers in 1996; and 433 Palestinians and others for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three soldiers in 2004.
This stratagem precipitated the renewed violence that erupted in June when Palestinians dug a tunnel under the barrier that surrounds Gaza and assaulted some Israeli soldiers, killing two and capturing one. They offered to exchange the soldier for the release of 95 women and 313 children who are among almost 10,000 Arabs in Israeli prisons, but this time Israel rejected a swap and attacked Gaza in an attempt to free the soldier and stop rocket fire into Israel. The resulting destruction brought reconciliation between warring Palestinian factions and support for them throughout the Arab world.
Hizbullah militants in south Lebanon then killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others, and insisted on Israel's withdrawal from disputed territory and an exchange for some of the several thousand incarcerated Lebanese. With American backing, Israeli bombs and missiles rained down on Lebanon. Soon, Hizbullah rockets supplied by Syria and Iran were striking northern Israel.
It is inarguable that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens, but it is inhumane and counterproductive to punish civilian populations in the illogical hope that somehow they will blame Hamas and Hizbullah for provoking the devastating response. The result instead has been that broad Arab and worldwide support has been rallied for these groups, while condemnation of both Israel and the United States has intensified.
Israel belatedly announced, but did not carry out, a two-day cessation in bombing Lebanon, responding to the global condemnation of an air attack on the Lebanese village of Qana, where 57 civilians were killed and where 106 died from the same cause 10 years ago. As before there were expressions of "deep regret," a promise of "immediate investigation" and the explanation that dropped leaflets had warned families in the region to leave their homes.
The urgent need in Lebanon is that Israeli attacks stop, that Lebanon's regular military forces control the southern region of the country, that Hizbullah cease as a separate fighting force, and future attacks against Israel be prevented. Israel should withdraw from all Lebanese territory, including Shebaa Farms, and release the Lebanese prisoners. Yet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has rejected such a cease-fire.
These are ambitious hopes, but even if the UN Security Council adopts and implements a resolution that would lead to such an eventual solution, it will provide just another band-aid and temporary relief. Tragically, the current conflict is part of the inevitably repetitive cycle of violence that results from the absence of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, exacerbated by the almost unprecedented six-year absence of any real effort to achieve such a goal.
Leaders on both sides ignore strong majorities that crave peace, allowing extremist-led violence to preempt all opportunities for building a political consensus. Traumatized Israelis cling to the false hope that their lives will be made safer by incremental unilateral withdrawals from occupied areas, while Palestinians see their remnant territories reduced to little more than human dumping grounds surrounded by a provocative "security barrier" that embarrasses Israel's friends and fails to bring safety or stability.
The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known.
There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key UN resolutions, official American policy and the international "road map" for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians. Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications, Israel's official pre-1967 borders must be honored. As were all previous administrations since the founding of Israel, US government leaders must be in the forefront of achieving this long-delayed goal.
A major impediment to progress is the US administration's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and will be withheld from those who reject US assertions. Direct engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority and the government in Damascus will be necessary if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and leaders involved risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.
The people of the Middle East deserve peace and justice, and we in the international community owe them our strong leadership and support.
Thank you for sharing the Carter article. At last, the voice of reason, compassion, pragmatism and wisdom.
It does not make sense because you are trying to squeeze what I said into some erroneous point you are trying to make. When it does not line up you are getting confused.
My point to the kid was that as near as I can tell the biggest cause of resentment of Jewish people seems to be the wealth and influence they have had or have been perceived to have. I did not convey the word jealousy in my topic. You did. Then you tried to make some other point based on jealousy of freedom that did not have much to do with what I was saying but I responded to what you said. If it does not make sense, then forget it as your comment has drifted too far from my statement for me to worry about.
Well that was just about the saddest thing I've ever read from a supposedly intelligent person.
The hate just seems to keep on coming.
"A supposedly intelligent person"?
Why would you suppose that anyone who writes for the lunatic MichNews.com is in any way "intelligent"?
I'm not surprised by its stupidity, but am shocked by its cruelty.
Below is what I consider an accurate analysis of the current situation in Lebanon and the parallel policies carried out by the US and Israeli administrations.
By Bill Van Auken
9 August 2006
On Tuesday, Israeli warplanes struck the southern Lebanese town of Ghaziyeh, killing at least 14 people. Missiles demolished civilian homes just as some 1,500 mourners were participating in a procession to bury 15 of their relatives and neighbors slain just the day before. The explosions sent the crowd running in panic, dropping shrouded corpses in the street.
Ghaziyeh’s normal population of 23,000 has reportedly been swelled by a wave of refugees. It is a predominantly Shiite town near Sidon, a region where most of the population is composed of Sunni Muslims. Many people from further south had fled there to stay with relatives and friends.
There was no indication that the town was used to launch rockets against Israel or had any intrinsic strategic significance. The objective was merely to further terrorize people who have already suffered the loss of their homes and seen members of their families massacred in the relentless Israeli bombardment of southern Lebanon. The aim is to force them to flee further north, or kill them.
Israeli planes have dropped leaflets on southern Lebanon announcing an open-ended curfew, violation of which is punishable by death from the air. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has warned that any vehicles on the roads will be struck. Anyone disobeying these orders will be considered a terrorist and a target for Israeli bombs, missiles and shells.
This threat, combined with the escalating air war against the south, has effectively shut down attempts by the International Red Cross and other relief agencies to bring desperately needed food, water and medical supplies into the ravaged south. The bombing of roads and the destruction of the last bridge crossing the Litani River into the southern city of Tyre has cut off the region from rest of Lebanon and the rest of the world.
The head of the International Red Cross, Jacob Kellenberger, accused Israel of violating the Geneva Conventions—that is, committing a war crime—by threatening aid convoys with military attack. Kellenberger dismissed Israel’s claims that its leaflets warning of imminent air strikes somehow justified violent attacks on civilians. “By letting down leaflets, you cannot get rid of your responsibilities under international humanitarian law,” he said.
The Israeli practice is akin to a serial murderer telephoning death threats to people before killing them and then blaming the victims for their own deaths, because, after all, “they were warned.”
This is the real context in which the United Nations Security Council is going through the motions of considering a US-French resolution designed not to end the fighting, but to allow it to continue until US-Israeli objectives are met. This document demands that Hezbollah disarm, while it allows the 10,000 Israeli troops occupying Lebanese territory to remain and permits Israel to continue “defensive” air strikes and artillery bombardments.
It essentially demands that Hezbollah, a mass movement of Lebanon’s impoverished Shiite population, commit suicide and that the government of Lebanon accept the status of an occupied protectorate. By presenting an utterly unacceptable proposal, Washington aims at provoking Lebanese rejection and then using this supposed opposition to “peace” as a justification for continuing the month-old war.
In a further indication that it has no intention of compromising on the terms of its UN diktat to the Lebanese people, the Bush administration Tuesday dismissed a Lebanese proposal to send 15,000 Lebanese troops to the south to take control of the area from the Israeli army. A State Department spokesman declared that the Lebanese army is not “a robust enough entity to be able to, on their own, exercise total control of that southern area of Lebanon.”
This word “robust” is endlessly repeated to describe a proposed multinational force to be sent into the region. It is a euphemism for an occupation army that will utilize murderous force against the local population to achieve US and Israeli war aims.
In a rare moment of candor at the UN, the Qatari foreign minister told the Security Council on Tuesday: “It is most saddening that the council stands idly by, crippled, unable to stop the blood bath which has become the bitter daily lot of the defenseless Lebanese people.”
He warned that adoption of the US-French resolution posed the “danger of civil war in Lebanon.” This is no idle threat. The proposed smashing of Hezbollah would be seen by the Shiite population as an attempt to disenfranchise and oppress them, reversing the results of Lebanon’s previous civil war and restoring the power once wielded by Israel’s traditional ally in the country, the Maronite Christian right.
Such social reengineering of the country—carried out under George Bush’s slogans of “freedom” and a “new Middle East”—would undoubtedly ignite a new round of bitter sectarian warfare.
What the US-Israeli offensive aims to accomplish as its immediate goal is the thorough ethnic cleansing of southern Lebanon.
This is a term that never appears in the mainstream media in relation to the present war in Lebanon. It appears only in the occasional stories following the continuing tensions in former Yugoslavia, where US-led NATO forces intervened in 1999 with a savage bombing campaign against Serbia, which was carried out under the pretext of halting ethnic cleansing in the province of Kosovo. The end result has been a thorough ethnic cleansing of the Serb population at the hands of the Kosovar nationalists whom Washington supported.
In the Israeli offensive against south Lebanon, the media invariably refers to air strikes and ground assaults against “Hezbollah strongholds,” a formulation meant to conceal the fact that the real target is the Shiite population as a whole. Missiles, cluster bombs and artillery shells are employed to massacre men, women and children in order to terrorize the entire population and send them fleeing north.
Unlike the wave of moral outrage generated by the US media over the alleged ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, which was critical in conditioning public opinion and providing a pretext for Washington’s war against Serbia, there is no similar condemnation of Israel for the mass expulsion of a population.
One major television network, the ineffable Fox News, expressed more concern for the lost dogs of northern Israel than for the Lebanese women and children buried beneath the rubble of buildings demolished by US-supplied Israeli bombs.
The IDF has had little success in defeating Hezbollah or even halting its rocket attacks against Israel, but its strategy against the civilian population has proven effective. While more than 1,000 Lebanese have been killed and approximately 3,500 wounded—the majority of them women and children—one million Lebanese, fully a quarter of the national population, have been turned into refugees, most of them driven from their homes in the south.
Ethnic cleansing is nothing new for Israel. The very foundation of the Israeli state was bound up with the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and farms. The Zionist leaders employed massacres and terror to drive out the native population.
As the well-known Israeli historian Benny Morris acknowledged in a 2004 interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, “A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore, it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads.”
In 1967, with the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, military terror was once again utilized to drive hundreds of thousands of Palestinians off their land, paving the way for the Zionist settlements in the occupied territories and Israel’s claims over all of Jerusalem.
There is no reason to believe that anything different is being planned for Lebanon. Once again Israel, in the name of “security,” is driving an Arab population off of its land. Where does this process end?
There is every indication that the IDF is now being deployed to conquer Lebanese territory between the Israeli border and the Litani River, 18 miles to the north. A new senior officer known to favor a far more extensive ground assault, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, has been placed in charge of the Lebanon operation. Haaretz reported that his mission would be “to coordinate land, air and sea operations in case of a widescale offensive.”
There is more at work in the current Lebanon war, however, than Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing against the country’s Shiite population and the potential annexation of Lebanese territory. Prodding the Israeli government to intensify its attacks is the Bush administration. It sees the IDF offensive as a means of furthering its own objective of setting the stage for new wars of aggression in the Middle East, to achieve “regime change” in Iran and Syria and bring the extensive oil reserves of the entire region under uncontested US control.
This is the reality behind the Bush’s rhetoric, casting the conflict as one between “freedom” and “democracy,” on the one side, and “Islamic fascism,” on the other.
If anything in the present war recalls the crimes of fascism, it is not the Lebanese, who are fighting an Israeli army that his invaded their land, but rather the regimes in Washington and Israel, which are utilizing overwhelming military force to conquer an oppressed people.
Like the one-sided wars waged by fascist regimes that shocked the world’s conscience in the 1930s—from the rape of Ethiopia to the incineration of Guernica—the destruction of Lebanon contains the seeds of a global conflagration.
yeah right, Joe, you and your article are really objective. The freakin thing opens with "On Tuesday, Israeli warplanes struck the southern Lebanese town of Ghaziyeh, killing at least 14 people. Missiles demolished civilian homes just as some 1,500 mourners were participating in a procession to bury 15 of their relatives and neighbors slain just the day before. The explosions sent the crowd running in panic, dropping shrouded corpses in the street."
Yup, with this opening paragraph it sure makes me see it as a truly objective piece.
Facts are facts no matter through what distorted and biased perception you view them.
I could not disagree with you more, again. While your violent tendencies are veiled somewhat when you write about the US, and Republicans, it is in full view when you write about foes of Israel. It is tiresom. You should refrain from commenting and just use your "Megaphone desktop tool" to alter opinion polls.
Zionist crap...how many Zionist PM's were on the British Gangsta list in '47 - '48?
Anon 10:07. Sorry pal, the article you cite very clearly has a message that Israel is killing civilians unjustly, and I have no interest in reading this propaganda crap.
Mr. Abrams, I hate to dissapoint you, but I'm not going to "refrain from commenting" on my own blog. Given how dissatisfied and "tired" you are of my writings, the more logical approach would be for you to find another blog. Happy trails.
To "V" from yesterday: what, no apology? You claim I agree with Israel on everything, and then I list many things I am actually opposed to, and instead of a mea culpa from you I get zippo! I guess it's more fun to just make wildly false accusations rather than to acknowledge error.
"You allow one of the largest terrorist organizations in the world to set up shop throughout your country>"
The first line of this tirade distinguishes it immediately as Israeli propaganda.
Do some research. An occupying power cannot legally "defend" their illegal occupation. Claiming those who resist the occupation are "terrorists" is purely propaganda.
Israel has invaded Lebanon before, continues to defy U.N resolutions regarding its earlier withdrawals, imprisons Lebanese citizens without charges, and continues to occupy Lebanese territory.
Just who are the real "terrorists" in the Middle East?
One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter...
....would you call someone a freedom fighter if they strapped on bombs and blew up your family at the mall this Saturday? Nah, they'd probably be terrorists. Their only freedom fighters when they kill other people's kids.
Don't read the crap. Take Ostroy's advice and go elsewhere.
"You allow one of the largest terrorist organizations in the world to set up shop throughout your country>"
Would we in America "allow" Hezbollah to set up shop?
"You allow the terrorists to build sophisticated, fortified bunkers and you did not see any heavy equipment building them. You allow the Hezbollah terrorists to move into many of your towns and villages, including the complete takeover of one of the largest neighborhoods in Beirut, where they proceed to build numerous, complex command and control centers...and then you claim ignorance."
Would we in America allow Hezbollah to build sophisticated fortresses and take over neighborhoods? If we did, wouldn't we be complicit in their actions?Especially if their actions included bombing, say, Canada, or sponsoring/supporting suicide bombers?
Most Americans had no problem with the logic of fighting against Afghanistan since it harbored terrorists. Why should Israel be similarly denied the right to defend itself?
Proud liberal here.
"Hezbollah fired more than 160 rockets at Israel on Wednesday. Since the fighting began July 12, a total of 3,333 have been fired at Israel, officials said."
Not that everybody here cares, but Israeli civilians are suffering too:
"Panic is the mood at a northern Israeli shelter" article-
cool. about time we see some balance on this board with some support for Israel.
From all reports the newly formed democratic Lebanon didn't have the power to stop the Hezbollah build up. Is that so hard to understand? Here in our country we had the Oklahoma bombing - why didn't someone stop that? We have major illegal drug commerce which is responsible for most of our crimes -- why hasn't someone stopped that? We have more domestic abuse that any civilized coutnry: Why hasn't someone stopped that? We have the Mafia that's never even been slowed down. We have white supremist groups. We have, would you believe, terrorists in this country. For that matter, why didn't someone stop 9/11? Even our president couldn't do that with all his resources. And none of these groups is as powerful as Hezbollah was when Lebanon became a new government. And you can be sure the woman and children couldn't have stopped Hezbollah under any circumstances.
Anon 2:06, you are an idiot. You're going to compare the one-shot surpirse attack by Timothy McVeigh in Ok to what Hezbollah's carried out over the past 5 years against Israel? Did we have prior knowledge of McVeigh's build-up, planning, headquarters? Did he committ smaller acts for five years while we had all this info and let him continue unchecked? Did he come out publicly and say he won't be happy until he wipes that building off of the face of Oklahmoa? Did he flaunt his future terror in our faces for 5 years like hezbollah has to the Lebanese and Israeli governments? The trouble with idiots like you is that you clog up boards like this with uninformed drivel. Nice comparison, jackass.
Destruction, Death, and Drastic Measures
By Dahr Jamail
08/09/06 "TomDispatch" -- -- Damascus, Syria -- "I care about my people, my country, and defending them from the Zionist aggression," said a Hezbollah fighter after I'd asked him why he joined the group. I found myself in downtown Beirut sitting in the backseat of his car in the liquid heat of a Lebanese summer. Sweat rolled down my nose and dripped on my notepad as I jotted furiously.
"My home in Dahaya is now pulverized," he said while the concussions of Israeli bombs landing in his nearby neighborhood echoed across the buildings around us, "Everything in my life is destroyed now, so I will fight them. I am a Shaheed [martyr]."
He asked to remain anonymous, and that I refer to him only as Ahmed.
The late afternoon sun was behind him as he told me just how hard his life had been. When he was eleven years old, he and his youngest brother had been taken from their home by Israeli soldiers and put in prison for two years. I asked him what happened to him there, but that was a subject he wouldn't discuss. One of his brothers was later killed by Israeli soldiers. After his release from an Israeli prison Ahmed was spending his teenage years in southern Lebanon when he was caught in crossfire between Hezbollah fighters and Israeli soldiers near his home. He was shot three times. Many years before, his father had been killed by an Israeli air strike on a refugee camp in south Beirut.
"What are we left with?" he asked, while the angle of the sun through the windshield highlighted tears welling in his eyes, "I know I will die fighting them, then I will go to my God. But I will go to my God fighting like a lion. I will not be slaughtered like a lamb."
A Widely Misunderstood Group
Leaving on this trip to Syria, I never intended to go to Lebanon. When my plane took off from San Francisco, Lebanon was still a peaceful land; by the time my plane touched down in Damascus, however, everything had changed. That very day, I learned on landing, Hezbollah had taken two Israeli soldiers captive and killed eight others. While the mainstream media have taken it as fact that the Hezbollah raid occurred inside Israel, many Arab outlets claim the Israelis actually entered Lebanon before being attacked. The exact location of the clash remains in dispute.
Clearer, however, are the effects of the subsequent Israeli attack on Lebanon. Physically, Lebanon has been bombed if not yet back to the Stone Age, then at least to a point where much of the country now looks as it did in the worst periods of its brutal civil war, which lasted from 1975 until 1990.
According to statistics provided by the Lebanese Government on July 24th, there had already been well over $2.1 billion of damage to the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon -- all three of its airports and all four of its seaports had by then been bombed, and in the weeks to follow it was only to get worse.
By estimates that go quickly out of date as the brutal bombing campaign continues, there has already been nearly $1 billion of damage done to civilian residences and businesses, with over 22 gas stations as well as fuel depots bombed and the major highways along which fuel resupply would take place badly damaged. Scores of factories, worth over $180 million, have also been damaged or destroyed.
Red Cross ambulances, governmental emergency centers, UN peacekeeping forces and observers, media outlets, and mobile phone towers have all been bombed, each a violation of international law. Mosques and churches have been hit; illegal weapons such as cluster bombs and white phosphorous used; and, as far as can be told at this early point, over 90% of the victims killed have been civilians.
As of this writing, the Lebanese government had already announced at least 900 deaths, and that number is now certainly well over 1,000. At least 60 Israelis are also dead from Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel and fierce fighting inside Lebanon.
Tom Engelhardt recently wrote,
"As air wars go, the one in Lebanon may seem strikingly directed against the civilian infrastructure and against society; in that, however, it is historically anything but unique. It might even be said that war from the air, since first launched in Europe's colonies early in the last century, has always been essentially directed against civilians. As in World War II, air power -- no matter its stated targets -- almost invariably turns out to be worst for civilians and, in the end, to be aimed at society itself. In that way, its damage is anything but 'collateral,' never truly 'surgical,' and never in its overall effect 'precise.' Even when it doesn't start that way, the frustration of not working as planned, of not breaking the 'will,' invariably leads, as with the Israelis, to ever wider, ever fiercer versions of the same, which, if allowed to proceed to their logical conclusion, will bring down not society's will, but society itself."
The government of Israel stated at the outset that the goal of their massive air campaign, leveled directly at the infrastructure of Lebanese society and at its economy, was essentially psychological -- meant to increase popular pressure against Hezbollah; but, as might easily have been predicted, exactly the opposite has occurred.
"I never supported Hezbollah before," a young student at the American University of Beirut told me shortly after I arrived in the capital city. "But now they are defending us against Israel." His view of Hezbollah is quickly becoming the norm for hundreds of thousands of previously unsympathetic Lebanese as American-made Israeli bombs and missiles continue to rain down on the country.
During my time in Lebanon I drove to Qana. On the way there, I passed one small hilltop village after another, all of them resembling bombed out ghost towns. Chunks of buildings littered the roads, which our car had to carefully negotiate. Powdered rock from shattered homes seemed to cover everything like a thin film. No one was walking the deserted streets, even in the middle of the day. The few who remained, mostly the elderly and children, hid in basements. For whole stretches, only occasional stray cats and dogs were seen, along with a flock of goats whose herder had long since fled.
The villages looked like ghost towns as the irregular thumping of bomb explosions continued in the distance. The roar of Israeli F-16's overhead was a constant reminder that no place in the south of this country was safe. After witnessing this level of destruction, the literal tearing apart of a society, it was clear to me so many more people were supporting Hezbollah.
To grasp the unfolding events in Lebanon, you have to begin with an uncomfortable fact. Hezbollah, widely known throughout much of the West as a "terrorist organization," is seen as anything but in Lebanon. This was obviously true of most Shiites, especially in southern Lebanon, before this round of war began. Now, even many in the conservative Christian population in parts of northern Lebanon and West Beirut have come to hold its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, in high regard. With seats in the Lebanese parliament, Hezbollah is seen as a legitimate political group.
Hezbollah first came into existence as a result of the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, which began on June 6, 1982. The group draws most of its popular support from southern Beirut and south Lebanon, where the majority of the country's Shia population live. Downtrodden, impoverished, and largely overlooked by a government in Beirut in which they had inadequate representation, the Shia were primed for a leader who would promise them a better future.
The group was officially founded on February 16, 1985 when Sheik Ibrahim al-Amin proclaimed its manifesto. Hassan Nasrallah would only come to power after the Israeli military assassinated al-Amin. A charismatic leader, he promptly solidified his base and swelled Hezbollah's ranks by working to satisfy the most essential needs of his followers. Hezbollah soon started providing the basic social-service infrastructure in the neglected Shia areas of southern Beirut and southern Lebanon -- hospitals, schools, construction projects, welfare programs, and, above all, a well-trained, highly disciplined militia for protection.
After years of brutal guerrilla war against the Israeli military, which had occupied part of southern Lebanon, Hezbollah succeeded in doing what neither the Lebanese government, nor their impotent army could possibly have done. Its fighters wore down the Israeli military and finally forced it out of the country in 2000. This, not surprisingly, lent it even greater popularity.
While the coming years also brought it more significant political representation and respect, the Druze and Christian populations, continued to distance themselves from or oppose the group.
Now, the staggeringly disproportionate Israeli response to the detention of two of its soldiers and the killing of others in mid-July has changed even this. In a sense, the Israelis are accomplishing the previously inconceivable -- uniting the otherwise hostile power centers of the country behind Hezbollah. Last week, the Israelis actually began bombing key bridges in the Christian part of the country for the first time -- a clear statement that no Lebanese are to be spared their attentions. Most of the Druze and Christian leadership have by now condemned the Israeli response. Many have even gone so far as to state that they believe Hezbollah is working to defend the country's sovereignty.
Thus, the Israeli response has played a huge role in strengthening the already strong hand of Hassan Nasrallah.
The View from Damascus
Hezbollah enjoys massive popular and political support in Syria. Everywhere in the ancient city of Damascus the yellow and green flags of the group hang from storefronts, flutter in the wind from television antennae, and fly from the radio antennae of cars. Portraits and photos of Nasrallah are taped to the back windows of Mercedes and BMW's. Key chains of his bearded, smiling face, along with iconic t-shirts in which he is portrayed between the Syrian flag and that of Hezbollah are now selling like hotcakes.
"We know the Americans are trying to smash our dignity," a man named Faez told me in the coastal Syrian city of Latakia. Inside a heavily air-conditioned European-style coffee shop, while sipping espresso, the businessman did what so many Syrians do nowadays – he used "America" and "Israel" interchangeably.
The head of the Syrian Union of Engineers, Hassan Majid, was no less frank as we sat in his plush office in downtown Damascus. "Hezbollah has our greatest respect now," he said softly.
Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese refugees have flooded the capital. You can see them inhabiting schools and crowded into various offices for Middle East Airlines, Lebanon's air carrier. They are always to be found at Syrian Red Crescent shelters hoping to acquire lodging, food, or other assistance. The support they receive here is of a far better kind than is available to the tens of thousands of internal refugees who have fled no farther than Beirut, where they sleep in the dirt in city parks or, if they are lucky, on thin foam mats in still empty schools; yet their accounts of suffering and loss are no less heart-wrenching. These stories ripple across Syria daily, broadcast far and wide by state television.
At the headquarters of the Syrian Red Crescent, you can still see a plaque from the Red Cross thanking them for their efforts assisting Hurricane Katrina victims. When I asked about it, one of the volunteers told me Syria had donated medical supplies to aid the desperate residents of New Orleans.
An old man named Hassan Hamdan has just arrived from southern Lebanon and is waiting for volunteers to find him somewhere to sleep. He catches the spirit of the moment when he takes my very first open-ended questions as an opportunity to vent his rage.
In a sense, it never feels as if he's talking to me at all. As he begins, he promptly stands up. His voice rises instantly into the shouting range and he quite literally yells, "The Israelis are attacking and killing everything which moves!" I involuntarily take a step back, fearing he's so angry he might actually assault me. "It's total destruction! They just shredded our city!" For a moment he calms slightly and explains that he's just left his village near the southern Lebanese city of Bint Jbail. Immediately, his voice rises and he's off again: "Everyone is now with Hezbollah! Even Jesus is with Hezbollah! Insha'Allah [God willing], Hezbollah will smash the Israelis and kick them from Lebanon once and for all!"
I've seen similar rantings broadcast on Syrian state television as people crowd around to watch inside sweaty falafel restaurants and I automatically dismissed it as so much state propaganda. But here that "propaganda" is alive and unbelievably vociferous, with not a screen in sight.
In fact, it hardly matters any more what anyone says or does. Sometimes you can feel a tidal pull in events -- in this case, a strong one flowing in but a single powerful direction. When one Israeli general recently aimed some pointed barbs at Syria for supporting Hezbollah, and President Bashar Assad promptly put the Syrian military on high alert, popular support for Hezbollah, further galvanized, only grew accordingly. It's no longer hard to imagine a whole region in which the shouting might reach previously inconceivable decibels and nobody will be listening.
After visiting a hospital in Beirut where I saw dozens of horribly wounded children, women, and the elderly, their skin burnt, often from the flames of their own devastated homes, their bodies shredded, possibly by the cluster bombs the Israelis have reportedly been using, I walked outside and wept.
Shortly after, I met with Ahmed again and briefly described the experience while, once again, tearing up. "This is what I've been seeing my entire life," he replied, staring into my eyes. "Nothing but pain and suffering."
Now, this is also what so many Lebanese, sheltered these last years of reconstruction from life experiences like Ahmed's, are seeing first-hand, and this is why Hezbollah is viewed by almost all Lebanese as a legitimate resistance movement, not a "terrorist organization." This is what the Israelis have actually done to the Lebanese, other than dismantling their society and turning them into refugees in their own land.
When you are in Syria or, I suspect, in most Arab states today, and utter the words "terrorist organization," it doesn't even occur to people that Hezbollah might be the topic of conversation. They take it for granted that you're referring either to Israel or the United States.
As Israeli pilots continue to drop American made precision-guided bombs from F-16's and Hezbollah launches barrages of rockets ever deeper into Israel, the radicalization of both populations -- and of the region -- only intensifies amid the spreading devastation.
When this war finally ends, the societal, economic, and environmental destruction will undoubtedly be staggering -- it already is -- as well as long-lasting; but it will pale in comparison to the psychological damage which has already been done. Rather than sowing the seeds of a future peace, it's painfully clear to an observer that the seeds of everlasting bloodshed, resentment, and resistance are now sprouting amid the ruins.
Arab leaders continue to earn the scorn of their populations for not putting their all into stopping the Israeli campaign against Lebanon. Meanwhile, Hezbollah appears committed to doing so until the very end -- and, based on what I saw in my days in Lebanon, that "end" of mutual destruction seems all that is left on the minds of those involved. The Israelis, over-valuing the technology of war and, in particular, of air power (as so many have done before them), began their campaign against Lebanon by using perfectly real bombs and missiles to achieve largely psychological ends -- the humiliation of Hezbollah in the eyes of the Lebanese population. As it turns out, they have indeed changed the psychology of Lebanon -- and possibly of the region. Just not in ways they ever imagined.
As Tarad Hamadé, the Lebanese Minister of Labor and official representative of Hezbollah told me in Beirut recently, "We might not be as powerful as the Israeli army but we will fight until we die."
Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist from Anchorage, Alaska who spent eight months reporting from occupied Iraq. He regularly reports for Inter Press Service, and contributes to the Independent, the Sunday Herald, and Asia Times as well as Tomdispatch.com. He maintains a website at: www.dahrjamailiraq.com/
To 319 (And why I bother I do not know)
How dare you imply that 9/11 was not a monumental tragedy because it hadn't gone on for five years, because no one knew abaout it, because the terorists hadn't warned us or told us that they wanted us dead. Most sane people measure tragedy by the number dead - especially the number of innocents. And of course, as always, you missed the point of the argument. LEBANON DIDN"T HAVE THE POWER TO STOP HEZBOLLAH. You're not only stupid, you're hard-hearted and most unforgivable - A BORE.
Anon 10:12, where in my 3:19 comment do I utter even one syllable about 9/11?
"A PERSONAL MOMENT WITH CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER....M.J. Rosenberg shares a Charles Krauthammer moment:
About three years ago, I saw Krauthammer flip out in synagogue on Yom Kippur. The rabbi had offered some timid endorsement of peace — peace essentially on Israel's terms — but peace anyway. Krauthammer went nuts. He actually started bellowing at the rabbi, from his wheel chair in the aisle. People tried to "shush" him. It was, after all, the holiest day of the year. But Krauthammer kept howling until the rabbi apologized. The man is as arrogant as he is thuggish. Who screams at the rabbi at services? For advocating peace?
Those neocon hawks are such a charming bunch, aren't they?"
Why the Dems Have Failed Lebanon
By Stephen Zunes
08/09/06 "Foreign Policy In Focus" -- -- The Bush administration's unconditional support for Israel's attacks on Lebanon is emblematic of the profound tragedy of U.S. policy in the region over the past five years. The administration has relied largely on force rather than diplomacy. It has shown a willingness to violate international legal norms, a callousness regarding massive civilian casualties, a dismissive attitude toward our closest allies whose security interests we share, and blatant double standards on UN Security Council resolutions, non-proliferation issues, and human rights. A broad consensus of moderate Arabs, Middle East scholars, independent security analysts, European leaders, and others have recognized how—even putting important moral and legal issues aside—such policies have been a disaster for the national security interests of the United States and other Western nations. These policies have only further radicalized the region and increased support for Hezbollah and other extremists and supporters of terrorism.
The Democratic Party could seize upon these tragic miscalculations by the Bush administration to enhance its political standing and help steer America's foreign policy in a more rational and ethical direction. Instead, the Democrats have once again overwhelmingly thrown their support behind the president and his right-wing counterpart, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Supporting the Israeli Offensive
Soon after Israel began its offensive on July 12, House Republican leader John Boehner, along with House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, introduced a resolution unconditionally supporting Israel's military actions and commending President Bush for fully supporting the Israeli assault. Despite reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that Israel (and, to a lesser extent, Hezbollah) were committing war crimes in attacking civilians, the resolution praised Israel for its “longstanding commitment to minimize civilian loss” and even welcomed “Israel's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties.” The resolution also claimed that Israel's actions were “in accordance with international law,” though they flew in the face of longstanding, universally recognized legal standards regarding the use of force and the treatment of non-combatants in wartime.
Despite such a brazen attack against the credibility of reputable human rights groups and the UN Charter that limits military action to legitimate self defense, Rep. Tom Lantos signed on as a full co-sponsor. Lantos is the ranking Democrat on the International Relations Committee and likely to chair the committee should the Democrats win back the majority in November. Even more alarmingly, all but fifteen of the 201 Democrats in the House of Representatives voted in favor or the resolution.
In supporting the Republican-authored resolution, Pennsylvania Democrat Allyson Schwartz invoked the September 11 tragedy and insisted that the United States had a “moral obligation” to “stand by” Israel “on the side of democracy and freedom versus terror and radicalism” since to do otherwise would “undermine our national security.” Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida praised Israel's efforts “to eradicate this global threat” and insisted that Syria and Iran should be held responsible for the violence. Even though the Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel began only after Israel started bombing civilian areas of Lebanon, Democratic Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey insisted that the killings of these Israeli civilians took place “despite every attempt” by the Israeli government “to demonstrate their genuine commitment to peace.”
One reason for such broad Democratic support for the resolution may stem from the fact that the Arms Control Export Act forbids arms transfers to countries that use American weapons for non-defensive purposes, such as attacking civilians. Thus, in order to protect the profits of politically influential American arms merchants, the Democrats joined with Republicans in supporting language in the resolution claiming that Israel's actions were “legitimate self-defense.”
The Senate endorsed by a voice vote a similar resolution unconditionally supporting Israel's military offensive. Introduced by Republican Senate leader Bill Frist, the resolution was co-sponsored by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and the majority of Senate Democrats, including Barack Obama and Dick Durbin of Illinois, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, among others.
The Democrats' support for the Bush administration's defiance of the international community was most clearly articulated by Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, another co-sponsor of the resolution, who claimed that the European community and others who called on Israel to “show restraint” believed that “Israel should not be given the ability to defend herself” and that those who advocated “any other course” than that pursued by the Bush administration and Israeli government would constitute an “appeasement of Hezbollah.”
Hillary Takes the Lead
Yet another Democratic co-sponsor of the Senate resolution was Hillary Rodham Clinton, a front-runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008. Speaking at a rally in New York City in support of the Israeli attacks against Lebanon, she praised Israel's efforts to “send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians [and] to the Iranians,” because, in her words, they oppose the United States and Israel's commitment to “life and freedom.”
Clinton's statements were challenged by her opponent in the Democratic primary for Senate, union activist Jonathan Tasini, who pointed out that “Israel has committed acts that violate international standards and the Geneva Conventions,” citing reports by a number of reputable human rights organizations, including the Israeli group B'Tselem. Clinton's spokesperson dismissed Tasini's concerns about Israeli violations of international humanitarian law as “beyond the pale.”
Tasini, a former Israeli citizen who has lost close relatives in the Arab-Israeli wars and Palestinian terrorism and whose father fought and was wounded in the Israeli war of independence, correctly observed that “Hezbollah's actions violate international law” as well. He argued that his criticism of Israel's policy of collective punishment and attacks on civilians comes from the perspective of being a “friend of Israel,” citing the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam, or “repairing the world.” Facing vicious attacks from Clinton supporters for his liberal views, Tasini has called for a debate with his opponent to demonstrate how her unconditional U.S. support for Israeli militarism actually threatens Israel's security interests. The Anglo-Saxon Protestant Clinton, who—like the vast majority of the overwhelmingly WASP Democratic Party leadership—has never lost a relative to the region's violence, has thus far refused the challenge.
Democrats Attack Maliki
The perversity of the Democrats' Middle East policies can be illustrated in their reaction to the visit to Washington in July by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki's government, primarily through its Interior ministry, has been responsible for the ethnic cleansing of thousands of Sunni Arabs in Baghdad and elsewhere and the massacre of hundreds more. Amnesty International and other reputable human rights groups have documented gross and systematic human rights violations by Maliki's government, including torture and ill treatment, arbitrary detention without charge or trial, and the excessive use of force resulting in countless civilian deaths.
With so much blood on Maliki's hands, one would think that at least some Democrats would have chosen to protest or even boycott his speech before a joint session of Congress on July 26. Yet few concerns were aired. However, once the Iraqi prime minister criticized Israel's attacks on Lebanon, only then did the Democratic leadership decide to speak out against the Iraqi prime minister.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi stated that unless the Iraqi Prime Minister “disavows his critical comments of Israel … it is inappropriate to honor him with a joint meeting of Congress.” Given that the leaders of America's most important allies have also made critical comments about Israel's offensive, very few foreign dignitaries will be given such an honor in the coming years if the minority leader's recommendations are followed.
The Democrats' offensive against Maliki may have been part of a broader campaign to oppose discontent within their own ranks regarding criticism of the Israeli offensive. For example, Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois declared that the Iraqi prime minister's comments inflicted “hate upon another democracy,” linking criticism of a particular Israeli policy with hate against Israel (an important warning, given that he heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.) Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Pennsylvania claimed that Maliki, in criticizing Israel's attacks against civilian targets in Lebanon, had “condemned Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism,” an apparent effort to equate criticisms of Israeli war crimes with denying Israel's legitimate right to self-defense. Senator Schumer claimed that Maliki's criticisms of the Israeli destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure and the large-scale killings of Lebanese civilians raised questions as to “which side is he on in the war on terror,” thereby insinuating that those who oppose Israeli attacks against civilians are supporters of al-Qaida. Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean, in a speech on July 26, went so far as to insist that Maliki was an “anti-Semite,” perhaps as a warning to party liberals that anyone who dared criticize any policy of America's top Middle Eastern ally would be subjected to similar slander.
Ironically, 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry defended his support for the Iraq war by claiming that sacrificing American lives to defend the Iraqi government was worthwhile in part “because it's important for Israel.” In other words, the Democrats want it both ways: condemning the Iraqi government for being “anti-Israel” while justifying the ongoing U.S. war in Iraq because the Iraqi government is “pro-Israel.”
Behind the Democrats' Hawkish Stance
The decision by Democratic members of Congress to take such hard-line positions against international law and human rights does not stem from the fear that it would jeopardize their re-election. Public opinion polls show that a sizable majority of Americans believe U.S. foreign policy should support these principles. More specifically, only a minority of Americans, according to a recent New York Times poll, support President Bush's handling of the situation or agree that the United States should give unconditional support to Israel in its war on Lebanon.
Nor is it a matter of Democratic lawmakers somehow being forced against their will to back Bush's policy by Jewish voters and campaign contributors. In reality, Jewish public opinion is divided over the wisdom and morality of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. More significantly, the vast majority of Democrats who supported the resolution came from very safe districts where a reduction in campaign contributions would not have had a negative impact on their re-election in any case.
Perhaps more important than pressure from right-wing political action committees allied with the Israeli government to support the Bush administration's backing of the Israeli attacks has been the absence of pressure from the liberal groups who oppose such policies.
For example, MoveOn not only continues to work for the re-election of many prominent Democratic hawks who backed Boehmer's resolution, but has not even sent out an alert to its supporters to contact their representatives and senators to protest their defense of Israeli attacks or to support proposed House resolutions calling for a cease-fire. And while Peace Action, the country's largest peace group, has called on its supporters to encourage their elected officials to back a cease-fire, its political action committee turned back efforts to rescind endorsements of incumbents who supported the House resolution.
This reticence contrasts with other foreign policy issues related to international law and human rights from U.S. intervention in Central America during the 1980s to Iraq today. In these other cases, liberal groups made it a priority to hold their elected representatives in Washington accountable for backing administration policy. However, it appears that if the victims of such policies are Lebanese or Palestinian civilians, there are—with some notable exceptions—few organized protests heard on Capitol Hill. With so little pressure from progressive groups, elected representatives have little inclination to withdraw support for administration policy toward Israel and its neighbors.
In reality, the Democrats' support for Israeli attacks against Lebanon is quite consistent with their support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In both cases, Democrats rushed to the defense of right-wing governments that have run roughshod over international legal norms, that have gone well beyond their legitimate right to self-defense, and that have taken an incredible toll in innocent civilian lives.
For example, when President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in violation of the UN Charter, only eleven House Democrats voted against a resolution that “reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone” could not “adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.” If such an overwhelming majority of Democrats believe that the United States invading a country disarmed of its offensive military capabilities, overthrowing its government, and indefinitely occupying its territory is an act of self-defense, it would be quite easy for them to believe the same about Israel's assault against its northern neighbor. Indeed, to this day, despite not finding any “weapons of mass destruction,” an overwhelming majority of Democrats in both houses of Congress continue to support funding the war despite polls that show a growing majority of Americans now oppose it.
In other words, the Democratic Party's support for Israel's attacks on Lebanon is quite consistent with its disdain for international law and human rights elsewhere and its defiance of public opinion on other foreign policy issues. It is not, therefore, something that can simply be blamed on “the Zionist lobby.” Rather, it indicates that the Democrats' worldview is essentially the same as that of the Republicans.
This ideological congruence calls into question whether the increasingly likely prospect of the Democrats regaining a majority in Congress in November will make any real difference on the foreign policy front. Many supporters of human rights and international law are debating whether to continue to support the Democratic Party or instead support the Green Party or other minor parties that embrace such principles.
The tragic misdirection in U.S. foreign policy in recent years cannot be blamed on the Bush administration alone.
Stephen Zunes is Middle East editor for Foreign Policy in Focus. He is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003).
Using your logic, all of us Americans are not innocent civilians because we have allowed an unjust war to continue, have approved or acquiesed in permitting torture and violations of the Geneva convention and have permitted our liberties to be taken from us, among other things. Any argument which blames the victim is problematic at best. The reality is that not all the "good" people are in positions to get their governments to do the right thing nor are some governments strong enough to protect their citizens from ideological troublemakers. The kind of argument put forward in this article is an attempt to rationalize and simplify what is an extremely complicated moral dilemma and does not really add much to the discussion.
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