These are frustrating times, politically to be living in the US, the past month has seen a state systematically target for mass punishment the civilian population of an entire country, and yet there appears to be almost universal political support for Israel. The fine people that populate the US Senate voted unanimously (pusillanimously) to endorse Israeli actions.
First, the bare facts – a 1000 + killed in Lebanon, the overwhelming majority civilians, and almost a million Lebanese displaced, something approaching a hundred Israeli dead, the vast majority soldiers. So, Israel's US supplied laser and divinty guided bombs and missiles killed mainly civilians
(and many more of them) whereas Hezbollah's cold war vintage Katyusha rockets, which are about as precise as a catapault, took mainly military lives.. Hmm, I wonder why? Could it be that all the cluster bombs dropped on Beirut were actually intended to cripple Lebanon? Could be that all the milk factories, food factories, power plants, water plants, bridges, aid convoys, Red Cross ambulances
, UN posts
hit were not Hizbullah hideouts or shields? Israel claims they warned residents to flee before the bombs came – first you bomb the roads and bridges into Southern Lebanon (ostensibly to prevent to rockets from reaching Hizbullah) and then you ask people to leave, just where do they go – into Israel? Marwaheen
will not be eaily forgotten:
All the civilians killed by the Israelis had been ordered to abandon their homes in the border village by the Israelis themselves a few hours earlier. Leave, they were told by loudspeaker; and leave they did, 20 of them in a convoy of civilian cars. That's when the Israeli jets arrived to bomb them, killing 20 Lebanese, at least nine of them children. The local fire brigade could not put out the fires as they all burned alive in the inferno
This is hardly the first time Israel was in Lebanon – they invaded Lebanon before in 1978, 1982, an invasion that involved the massacre of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians in refugee camps, and again in 1996. Hizbollah didn't even exist when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, it arose primarly as a resistance movement to Israeli occupation. (some more historical background from the Frontline
. Israel was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000, except of course it didn't, and continues to occupy parts of Lebanon – notably Shebba Farms (sp?), hold many Lebanese prisoners, and several thousand Palestinian prisoners hostage without trial in clear violation of the Geneva conventions, its aircraft have been persitently violating Lebanese air space since 2000 link
. Since Hamas won the (free and fair) elections in Palestine in February, Gaza has been systematically blockaded and ghettoised. In the background of all of this Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, and offers were made to negotiate their release, in exchange for some of those Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners, lounging in Israeli jails, the response – all out war.. Like George Monbiot notes in the Guardian
, this sort of skirmish is hardly unsual,
In October 2000, the Israel Defence Forces shot at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on the border, killing three and wounding 20. In response, Hizbullah crossed the line and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers. On several occasions, Hizbullah fired missiles and mortar rounds at IDF positions, and the IDF responded with heavy artillery and sometimes aerial bombardment. Incidents like this killed three Israelis and three Lebanese in 2003; one Israeli soldier and two Hizbullah fighters in 2005; and two Lebanese people and three Israeli soldiers in February 2006. Rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel several times in 2004, 2005 and 2006, on some occasions by Hizbullah. But, the UN records, "none of the incidents resulted in a military escalation"
So why this all out war now? The Palestinians had just elected Hamas recently, and Hizbollah also had seats in Lebanon's cabinet, could it be that Israel hoped that the oppressed would blame its politcal opponents for their oppression? This cold-blooded objective of gaining political mileage certainly seems plausible enough
. It's certainly a heck of a lot more believable than all the religious bollocks that's being touted around, which entirely ignores the fact that the struggles in Palestine and Lebanon are primarily nationalistic struggles against oppression.
The Security Council is set to meet soon to vote on a second draft
of a ceasefire resolution. Like noted here
, the first draft was simply insulting in its premise that Israel has the right to defend itself, but its neighbours don't. I meant tp write to criticise the political philosophy of Zionism not to endorse the methods of Hamas and Hizbollah, but to put things in perspective - Palestine doesn't have an army, and Lebanon's "army" has all of three helicopters..
For further reading:Aijaz Ahmad in the FrontlineIra Chernus
offers a dissenting Jewish viewJonathan Cook
writes a thoughtful piece on privilege and living on the margins of society.Electronic Intifada
- independent publication, with lots of info.Lebanon Updates BlogLebanese writing from BeirutMosaic from Link TV
- Digest of tv news from the Middle East..
Yes, it's a politically frustrating time, but at the same time, it's certainly a privilege to be in this position.. Comments, brickbats etc. welcome, as long as they're not accompanied by accusations of anti-Semitism or quotations from Tom Friedman - both of which I'm way too tired to deal with..