Monday, July 17, 2006

Save Lebanon!

A friend and colleague from work is stuck in Lebanon with her two children. A friend and neighbor's 16 year old daughter is in Israel. On both sides, civilians are dying and getting hurt. I do not understand why the US is not calling for an immediate cease-fire!

Israel has the right to defend itself, yes. But why is it not targeting Hizbollah's stash of rockets instead of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure? Why does it think that Lebanon's army (with a weak and divided government behind it) can somehow destroy Hizbollah when the Israelis tried for decades and couldn't do it? Juan Cole this morning tells us:
Israel struck at large numbers of targets on Sunday, and early Monday morning, that had nothing to do with Hezbollah. The far north of Lebanon is Sunni, as is the port of Tripoli, where the Israelis killed a Catholic Lebanese soldier. They also hit factories in north Beirut, not a Shiite area. They bombed a village near Zahle, a notorious center of Greek Orthodox, killing 3 civilians. The Israelis are either not very good shots, since they have murdered 140 civilians since Wednesday and only managed to kill about 17 Lebanese military personnel. Or they just don't give a damn.

Ordinary Israelis do care about the deaths of civilians in Lebanon. At the very end of an article in the New York Times, we are told that 2000 people are demonstrating in the streets of Tel Aviv for an end to the attack on Lebanon. Why doesn't this get more coverage? Helena Cobban noted that within hours of the very first attack 200 people were protesting in front of the Israeli ministry of defense. Gush Shalom, Peace Now party, in Israel reports on on-going protests against the war in Israel(despite high levels of support for the conflict in Israel.) Leaders on both sides seemed gripped by megalomania and grim dreams of destruction. Olmert, stop the collective punishment of the Lebanese people. Nasrallah, stop the (barely guided) rocket attacks. Again, Juan Cole:

Hizbullah's attacks on Israeli civilians are war crimes. The killing of the civilians in Haifa at the train station was a war crime. And threatening to release chemicals from factories on civilian populations is probably a war crime in itself, much less the doing of it.

And the circle continues. We have to attack civilians X because they attacked our civilians Y, and so on and so on. On this I will stand with the Vatican:
"As in the past, the Holy See condemns both the terrorist attacks on the one side and the military reprisals on the other." It stated that Israel's right to self-defense "does not exempt it from respecting the norms of international law, especially as regards the protection of civilian populations."

"In particular, the Holy See deplores the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation."

Let's hope the prayers of the Pope are powerful because I do not have much faith in the diplomatic ability of President Bush or his administration to guide the world through this tight spot.

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