Monday, July 31, 2006

Transparent pretext for mass murder will backfire

Consider the Israeli attacks that killed 4 UN observers in Lebanon the other day. The word from Israel and the US on this now is that the attacks were justified because Hezbollah was "operating" nearby. This is and will continue to be a main theme promoted in the news media going forward. I heard this described on the radio today as Hezbollah's "cowardly tactic" of "hiding" in civilian areas. The people who allow them to hide, the reasoning goes, are accomplices and justify Israel killing as many Lebanese civilians as they deem fit. As Israel's Justice Minister has already announced publicly, "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah." This is nothing more than a self-serving pretext designed to justify a mass-murder that Israel and the US have already decided to undertake.

What is really meant by saying Hezbollah was "operating" in the area? Is Hezbollah only a militia that carries out guerilla attacks? I'll answer that. No. Hezbollah is much more than a just paramilitary or terrorist unit. They are a full-blown social and political movement. Yes, they have the militant wing we hear so much about, true enough. But they have a strong social services wing as well. They run schools. They run shelters. They run food banks. They run hospitals and clinics. On top of all of that, they are also an active, grass-roots political party with strong local support. So what is meant when the Israelis and US claim that Hezbollah was "operating" nearby or that they had a "base of operations" there? I think that's a good question. Someone with a microphone should ask it.

Imagine for a moment these Hezbollah "operations" that are being targeted are not military in nature at all. Suppose instead that, like the victims in the attack on the UN observation post, the people who are being attacked are ordinary folks, citizens seeking social services and the workers there to provide it for them. The survivors, who politically may have been fence-sitters, might experience a change of opinion in favor Hezbollah after seeing their loved ones torn to pieces by
Israel's US-made bombs. It just so happens that these multi-pronged activities Hezbollah provides in that community positions them uniquely to take advantage of any groundswell in anti-Israeli sentiments this bombardment may inspire. It gives them instant access to streams of disaffected, displaced and angry victims to whom they can provide shelter, nourishment, clothing and, most significantly, an immediate outlet for revenge.

Yes. As a result of this Israeli campaign in
Lebanon, Hezbollah will be stronger. Just as one previous occupation created them, the second will strengthen them. There are nearly 4-million people in Lebanon. Should Israel
kill them all?