Monday, July 31, 2006

Unintended Consequences?

Spot got this comment to a post about the Israel/Lebanon/Hizbullah conflict the other day.

I'd like to hear your take on a statement I heard (Yours too, Wege, if you come back to this):"If Hezbollah disarmed, the fighting would end. If Israel disarmed, there would be no more Israel."I don't remember who said this.DiscordianStooge | Homepage | 07.29.06 - 10:35 am |

Well, It probably wasn’t Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah! Or maybe it was. Regardless, it’s a pretty provocative statement. And you know, it’s probably true. But it’s not the issue. Nobody, but nobody, is asking Israel to disarm. Heck, if the US disarmed, we’d all have to learn to speak Canadian (what do they speak up there, anyway?)! Or the Mexican dialect of Spanish, which on the other hand we’re already learning.

It comes back to one of the myths exposed by Jonathan Cook as mentioned in Spot’s post It’s a mythical beast. That is, the conflict in Lebanon is not an existential struggle for Israel. It’s just not. So you can’t say, poor Israel, it is fighting for its very existence, whatever it does is justified. Moreover, Israel is bound by the laws of war:

International Rules About Civilians

Both the fourth Geneva Convention and the two Additional Protocols extend protections to civilians during war time.

  • Civilians are not to be subject to attack. This includes direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks against areas in which civilians are present.
  • There is to be no destruction of property unless justified by military necessity.
  • Individuals or groups must not be deported, regardless of motive.
  • Civilians must not be used as hostages.
  • Civilians must not be subject to outrages upon personal dignity.
  • Civilians must not be tortured, raped or enslaved.
  • Civilians must not be subject to collective punishment and reprisals.
  • Civilians must not receive differential treatment based on race, religion, nationality, or political allegiance.
  • Warring parties must not use or develop biological or chemical weapons and must not allow children under 15 to participate in hostilities or to be recruited into the armed forces.

This is from summary of the Geneva Conventions found here, on a website of the Society of Professional Journalists.

It is pretty obvious that Israel is guilty of some of these prohibitions.

Right at the top, there is a prohibition against targeting civilians, and that includes indiscriminate attack where civilian are present. From the BBC:

But in modern times it is blood - not water and wine - that is indelibly linked with the town, the blood of Lebanese civilians killed in Israeli bombing.

In 1996, one of the deadliest single events of the whole Arab-Israeli conflict took place there [Qana, where according to legend, Jesus performed his first miracles] - the shelling of a UN base where hundreds of local people were sheltering.

More than 100 were killed and another 100 injured, cut down by Israeli anti-personnel shells that explode in the air sending a lethal shower of shrapnel to the ground.

[You will recall, boys and girls, that Israeli rockets hit a UN outpost and killed UN Peacekeepers in the recent dustup, tool.]

Ten years later, the town is again in the headlines, this time because of a single massive bomb dropped by an Israeli aircraft, causing a building to collapse on top of dozens of civilians - many of them children - taking cover in the basement.

Both incidents took place during sustained Israeli military operations against the Hezbollah militant group for firing rockets at Israel.

So there’s not much new under the sun, Spot guesses. Combatants are enjoined from wanton destruction of property, too. Not to mention collective punishment:

Since we've grown accustomed to thinking collective punishment a legitimate weapon, it is no wonder no debate has sparked here over the cruel punishment of Lebanon for Hezbollah's actions. If it was okay in Nablus, why not Beirut? The only criticism being heard about this war is over tactics. Everyone is a general now and they are mostly pushing the IDF to deepen its activities. Commentators, ex-generals and politicians compete at raising the stakes with extreme proposals.

Haim Ramon "doesn't understand" why there is still electricity in Baalbek; Eli Yishai proposes turning south Lebanon into a "sandbox"; Yoav Limor, a Channel 1 military correspondent, proposes an exhibition of Hezbollah corpses and the next day to conduct a parade of prisoners in their underwear, "to strengthen the home front's morale."

It's not difficult to guess what we would think about an Arab TV station whose commentators would say something like that, but another few casualties or failures by the IDF, and Limor's proposal will be implemented. Is there any better sign of how we have lost our senses and our humanity?

Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz.

The ironic thing is that Hizbullah really got its start in southern Lebanon after Israel chased the Palestinians Authority and Arafat out in 1982. And secular Baathist Syria got interested in Lebanon during the latter’s civil war to prevent an Islamic fundamentalist country from being established on Syria’s southern border, via Hizbullah. Boy, Israel! Talk about your law of unintended consequences!

Anyway, how’s that, Mr. DiscordianStooge?

Update: Cleared up dangling modified in penultimate paragraph.

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