The Dissenter's Voice

The ocassional comments, opinions, rambling and rants of a liberal dissenter in New Labour's Britain

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An act of terrorism

Can a nation lose its soul? If so, then Israel is in danger of doing just that.

The murder, for that is what is was, of four unarmed UN observers, is without justification or even excuse. It crosses the line between an act of war and an act of terrorism.

It is arguable, though vehemently I disagree, that the death of so many Lebanese civilians is unavoidable 'collateral damage' caused by Hizbollah's insistence on placing its weapons in residential areas. It is even arguable that the bombing of 2 Red Cross ambulances, evacuating civilians who had already been victims of the bombings, was, despite their clear markings, a tragic case of mistaken identity. What it is not possible to argue though is that the Isreali defence force did not know that it was attacking a UN outpost.

The first sheeling took place before Noon, in all there were 14 artillery attacks up to the point it was detsroyed at 7pm by a precision misile. Throughout that time the UN feverish tried to reach Isreali command, apparently tyelling them 10 days that day that they were in danger of destroying the outpost & killing its unarmed occupants.

The post was over 20 years old, it has the distinctive blue UN colours, it features on every Isreali army map. when the order was given to kill its occupants the IDF knew what is was and who they were targeting. There is no defence for this act, the deliberate targeting of unarmed non-combatants - and there is no moral difference between it and a suicide bomber blowing up a city bus.

What are you prepared to do in order to defend your country? What line are you not prepared to cross? When does your conscience say enough is enough? Can a nation lose its soul?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israel must stop

I am a friend of Israel, I am a passionate believer not only in the right of the Jewish people to state of their own but also in their right to defend it.

Israel was founded amid the ashes of the concentration camps, its surrounded by hostile nations, it has fought 5 years in its 58 year history. It's a nation that is forever looking over its shoulder in fear. One cannot fail to understand its determination, indeed desperation to get its soldiers back.

None the less I believe Israel must stop its bombing of Lebannon. This crisis was sparked by the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. But the Israeli military campaign is not just about securing the return of its men, its about destroying the kidnappers Hizbollah as a military force capable of attacking Israel.

But why is Hizbollah such a threat? Hizbollah is the dominant political & military force in southern Lebanon, far stronger than the Lebanese government. During the 18 year Isreali occupation it was Hizbollah that led the popular resistance. Financially supported by both Syria & Iran, Hizbollah didn't just spend the money on rockets they also spent the money on local people, providing services for people who were struggling to survive. Hizbollah is a threat today because Isreal's occupation of Lebannon made them gave them a popular mandate as a resistance movement, now Israel's bombing of Lebananon is making them even more popular.

The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert has made a terrible strategic mistake, he is still trying to prove his strength to the Israeli public but appears to be seriously mishandling the situation. He says he wants the Lebaneese army to disarm Hizbollah, but he knows that that the govt in Beirut doesn't have the strength to do it. Ohlmert is using the capture of the soldiers as a pretext to tame Hizbollah himself.
This though cannot work, the bombing campaign is inevitably hitting civilians hardest, as we are now learning the Israeli army is not hitting the targets it wants and Hizbollah's capacity to strike southwards remains strong.

Unlike the PLO in 1982 when Isreal invaded Lebannon for the first time, Hizbollah are not a foreign force that can be expelled, they are Lebanese. If they are removed as a military force in the South their terrorist operation will fan out from Beirut around the world. Yes this campaign, if kept up long enough will humble Hizbollah, but unless Isreal is prepared to stay in southern Lebannon for another generation, then Hizbollah will regroup. Regroup that is in a different form, with yet another wave of supporters recruited by Israel's actions.

Isreal must stop, there must be a ceasefire. If not then Israel will find itself back in Lebannon, trapped in the same quagmire it so recently escaped from. It won't just be a tragedy for the people of the souvereign nation of Lebannon, which has struggled to rebuild itself from 20 years of devasting cival war, it will be a tragedy for Israeli too.