What is happening in Lebanon is Gaza writ large. A targeted military
operation, something Israel and the US apparently find more infuriating than
anything else, has prompted Israel to retaliate in the only way it knows: By
targeting civilian infrastructure and engaging in murder on a large scale.
No amount of anger at the capture of three of its soldiers one in Gaza and
two in Lebanon justifies blowing up bridges, power plants, airports and
killing civilian after civilian. There is no justification for such
disproportionate and brutal collective punishment.
The numbers speak for themselves. Against the four Israeli civilians killed
in rocket attacks and nine soldiers in action since the two soldiers were
captured (another three are now missing at sea), the Lebanese casualty list, by
contrast, reaches into the hundreds. Nearly 80 Lebanese have so far been
killed, almost all of them civilians. There is simply no equivalence.
As with Gaza, what began as an operation to find captured soldiers has
broadened into a wider, open-ended and ill-defined fight to the finish, first
against Hamas, and now against Hizbollah.
That, obviously, will not work. Neither group is simply or even largely
militant. They represent sectors of their respective societies, and do so in
all aspects, from the socio-economic to the political. But astonishingly, this
is lost on Israel, whose foreign minister, apparently without irony (or
reflection), on Thursday said: We cannot allow that a leader like [Hizbollah
chief Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah... dictate acts in the area.
With all due respect to Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, that is simply idiotic.
To dictate events one needs to predict them, and Israel is so eminently
predictable. It acts only with force, and the only degree of surprise comes in
the depths to which Israel is willing to sink and the lengths to which the US
is prepared to back it.
The past few weeks of unequivocal American support for the Israeli killings
of Arab civilians has now reached a level of obscenity. A White House lacking
all shame and any semblance of integrity is defining self-defence scaring Gazan
children witless at night with sonic booms, ensuring that hospitals can only
run on emergency power, and killing civilians in Lebanon.
How do Gazas refrigerators threaten Israels security?
The US proclaims itself a friend of Israels but even on that score it is
sorely lacking. Allowing Israel the rope to hang itself and everyone around it
is not very nice, really. But since the US invaded Iraq and became Israel, the
US has lost its way, the little credibility it had, not to mention its moral
Both the US and Israel are devoid of ideas and of policies for dealing with
the Middle East.
Arab leaders far no better, rudderless in the absence of direction from
Washington. So they run around, saying first one thing than another like
nervous schoolgirls, while Nasrallah steadily increases his influence.
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