Cutting through the bullshit.

Friday, 21 July 2006

Truer words

"The Middle East has been through too many spasms of violence, and we have to deal with underlying conditions so that we can create sustainable conditions for political progress there." US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Truer words were never spoken, at least by Ms Rice and the neocons. Now, if only she meant them for real. But that would be asking for too much – as the aphorism goes, ‘Trying to embarrass a politician with accusations of hypocrisy is as futile as trying to embarrass a dog with accusations that he licks his own balls’.
And while on the topic of dogs’ balls, here’s what the Forward’s editorial had to say This fight began when Israel was attacked on its southern border on June 25, without provocation and without a shred of justification. The attackers were armed gangs that are sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state and make no other pretense. On July 12, a second front was opened on Israel's northern border, this time by an armed gang from a neighboring state that does not even have a semblance of a territorial dispute with Israel.
Don’t they think anyone will have noticed the two Palestinian civilians kidnapped within Gaza’s ‘borders’ by the Israeli military on 24 June, the very day before Shalit’s capture ‘without provocation’? The Forward may not have reported it, but it’s widely known. And even if they happened to have succeeded in insulating themselves, as well as their readers, from this inconvenient little fact, in my dialect of English, which is the same as theirs, blockading Gaza, shelling the beach with or without casualties, shelling residential buildings and infrastructure, and extrajudicial executions with or without ‘collateral damage’, separately or collectively, all count as provocation.
Don’t they think, moreover, that anyone will remember the Shebaa Farms?
And then you read all the crap about how the ‘terrorists’ manipulate the western media!
Writing of the similarity of the situations in Beirut and Haifa, Juan Cole writes, ‘The big international companies with offices not far from where the rockets landed include Microsoft, and the danger posed to Israel of capital flight in the billions dwarfs in magnitude the Lebanese losses of $100 million a day, mainly in forfeited tourism.’ I would have thought that the destruction of literally all of Lebanon’s infrastructure would come to more than that, not to mention the losses sustained by individual households of their dwellings and possessions as the Israelis quite publicly and deliberately drive them north of the Litani, as Cole himself reports. Expelling civilians is of course a war crime, but what difference will one more war crime make, when committing war crimes is effectively Israel’s raison d’etre.
In the same piece on Salon, Cole is at pains to assure the reader that ‘There is no question that Israel has the right to defend itself against rocket attacks, and to respond appropriately to Hezbollah's illegal and immoral abduction of two soldiers and killing of others.’ Indeed, he makes the same point twice, ‘Of course Israel has the right to defend its citizens against missile attacks and its soldiers against being attacked.’ I suppose this could be a vain attempt to insulate himself from the inevitable accusations of anti-Semitism, but he should be used to that by now. He probably believes that this is obvious.
Indeed, a state does, in principle, have not just the right, but the responsibility, to protect its residents. But this raises two issues: How can a state legitimately do this? And do states in reality take on this responsibility?
In the context of Israel, little could be more obvious than that the most effective way of protecting Israelis from Hisb’allah rocket attacks would have been to refrain from bombing Lebanon in the first place. The rockets were a response to the bombing, not the other way around. The bombing was a response to the capture of two soldiers, but it was not the only possible response, it was not the most effective response, and, unless you happen to agree with Bolton’s racist comments about the relative value of Lebanese and Israeli lives, not the most humane, either.
It is one thing to protect citizens from rocket attacks by provoking rocket attacks, but what about protecting citizens from other perils. There’s an advert in Ha’aretz every day appealing to me to help feed the third of Jewish children in Israel who go to bed hungry. With the homeless camped on their doorsteps, Israeli politicians gleefully go off and squander their US billions on war toys.
Jonathan Cook reports from Nazareth:
Several Israeli armaments factories and storage depots have been built close by Arab communities in the north of Israel, possibly in the hope that by locating them there Arab regimes will be deterred from attacking Israel's enormous armory. In other words, the inhabitants of several of Israel's Arab towns and villages have been turned into collective human shields – protection for Israel's war machine…. The fifth of the Israeli population who are not Jewish but Arab are rarely to be found hiding in public shelters because the authorities neglected to build any in their towns and villages.
It all makes things look as if the Israeli state is not that concerned about protecting its citizens per se. Rather, they are interested in proclaiming that they protect certain citizens from certain perils, while assiduously inciting those perils in the first place.
If Israel were serious about protecting its citizens from rocket attacks, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Releasing the prisoners and withdrawing to the 1967 ‘borders’ would probably do the trick, although there is much much more Israel would have to do to redress the Palestinians’ legitimate grievances.
Cole concludes his article, ‘Just as their 1982 invasion of Lebanon and occupation of the south haunted them for a generation, they will be living with the blowback of their ill-considered war on hapless little Lebanon for decades to come. Tragically, the United States, as Israel's closest ally, will also have to suffer for its actions.’
So what’s so tragic about that? The US congress and Senate have speedily passed resolutions applauding Israel’s wanton attack. ‘It harshly condemns Israel's enemies and says Syria and Iran should be held accountable for providing Hezbollah with money and missile technology used to attack Israel.’ (AP). But the US$3 billion plus per year Americans spend arming Israel, and not feeding its poor starving Jewish children, is a non issue.
Meanwhile, back in Turkey, according to Reuters, ‘Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rapped the United States on Tuesday for tolerating Israel's attacks on its enemies in Lebanon while refusing to allow Ankara to crush Kurdish rebels hiding in northern Iraq.’ So Israel now has the distinction of setting new standards in international diplomacy.
Many thanks to Information Clearing House (, which provided links to most of the material I have discussed here. It looks like a particularly valuable resource and the guy who runs the site is obviously putting in a monumental effort. I have donated to the site and if you are reading this, you probably should consider doing so too.

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