Sunday, November 26, 2006

Israel's use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon

During the summer attack on Lebanon, Israel used cluster bombs but continued to deny it or at best indicated that they used it in accordance with international treaties, only in areas not populated by people. Several investigative articles were written about the topic.

Most recently, the Cluster Munitions Coalition came out with a report on the use of cluster munitions in Lebanon that challenges Israel’s claims. The report can be downloaded in full at: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/files/Foreseeable%20harm.pdf.

The report clearly indicates that Israel’s cluster munitions strikes were conducted over towns and villages. UNIFL’s report indicate that 90% of these munitions were fired in the last 72 hours of the attack, which indicates a clear attempt to exert long term terrifying damage on the civilian population of South Lebanon. Additionally, the report implicates the United States as it consciously and knowing sold cluster munitions weapons to Israel.
The report’s key findings indicate that:

Patterns of use
• Israel used cluster munitions extensively in south Lebanon during July and August 2006 with particularly heavy use in the 72 hours prior to the ceasefire.
• Israel employed surface-delivered cluster munitions, including 1,800 U.S.-supplied cluster rockets and an unknown number of U.S. and Israeli-manufactured 155mm artillery projectiles. U.S.-supplied Vietnam-era air-dropped cluster bombs were also used.
• Approximately 60% of Israeli cluster strikes hit built up areas. As of 5 September 2006, cluster munitions strike sites were recorded in 90 towns and villages.
• Although warnings were delivered, significant numbers of people including the elderly and infirm remained behind and some were killed and injured.
• Cluster munitions do not appear to have had any significant impact toward the military aims stated by Israel during the war. The massive and widespread use of cluster munitions across south Lebanon does not seem to accord with any recognizable legitimate military strategy.

Impact
• During the conflict cluster munitions caused deaths and injuries amongst civilians who were unable or unwilling to evacuate their homes.
• Very large quantities of unexploded sub-munitions contamination have been created, including contamination from those sub-munitions fitted with self-destruct mechanisms.
• Significant numbers of civilians have been killed and injured by unexploded sub-munitions at an average of 3–4 casualties per day during the first month since the ceasefire. Approximately 35% of the casualties from unexploded sub-munitions have been children.
• 97 percent of all casualties from unexploded ordnance and mines since the ceasefire have been caused by cluster munitions.
• One month after the ceasefire, unexploded cluster munitions were identified as one of the most significant threats to civilian life in southern Lebanon.
• Residential areas across south Lebanon have been densely contaminated with large numbers of unexploded sub-munitions.
• Sub-munitions duds have endangered returning populations and prevented some Lebanese people from returning home. Cluster munitions have hindered relief efforts and will impede work to rehabilitate communities.
• Unexploded cluster munitions are affecting the areas of south Lebanon that are already subject to the highest levels of poverty.
• Cluster munitions have seriously affected livelihoods by blocking water supplies, disrupting work to restore power lines and preventing excavation of rubble and reconstruction efforts.
• Unexploded cluster munitions have prevented or endangered the harvest of remaining tobacco, olive, wheat and fruit crops and will prevent or endanger the replanting of winter grain and vegetable crops.


According to Cluster Munitions Coalition (www.stopclustermunitions.org), cluster munitions are weapons that include cargo containers and sub-munitions. The cargo containers are fired, launched or dropped by aircraft or land-based artillery. The containers open over a target area and disperse large numbers of the sub-munitions that are designed to explode when they hit the target. Most of these sub-munitions are fragmentation weapons that include a shaped charge so that they are effective against soldiers as well as armored vehicles. The vast majority of cluster munitions contain hundreds of sub-munitions that are unguided and that cover one square kilometer with explosions and shrapnel. Cluster munitions are also called cluster bombs or cluster weapons. Sub-munitions are sometimes called bomblets.

The following countries have used cluster munitions: Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Israel, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Sudan, United Kingdom, United States.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Israel's Calls Are Clear If You Listen

If it were not clear enough that UNSC Resolution 1701 is meant as an enforcement mechanism for Resolution 1559, the comments below should make it clear. One can expect sustained pressure on Lebanon and Hizballah regarding disarmament.

Of course, disarmament will not happen. Thus, the lack of disarmament of Hizballah will likely be used a pretext for pressure, and eventually attacks, on Iran and Syria. The Bush and Olmert administrations have been very vocal about these two countries and their being the "root cause" of violence in the region.

From the Jerusalem Post:

"'The resolution is clear that Hizbullah needs to be removed from the border area, embargoed and dismantled," the official said. "If the resolution is not implemented, we will have to take action to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah. I don't think backtracking will serve any useful purpose. There has to be pressure on Hizbullah to disarm or there will have to be another round.'

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to raise the issue when she meets in New York on Wednesday with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Annan angered Israeli officials when he told Channel 2 on Tuesday that 'dismantling Hizbullah is not the direct mandate of the UN,' which could only help Lebanon disarm the organization. Annan upset officials further when he said that deploying international forces in Lebanon would take 'weeks or months,' and not days as expected.

Israeli officials said the IDF would not complete its withdrawal from southern Lebanon until the international force was deployed - even if it took months - to prevent a vacuum in Lebanon that could endanger Israeli civilians. An official in the Prime Minister's Office accused Annan of having an anti-Israel agenda."


Click here for the link.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

UNIFIL Chief Wants to Use "Strong Measures" in Lebanon

An article in Haaretz today makes evident the intentions of the US and its allies in crafting UNSC Resolution 1701. Especially the language referring to threats "to internatoinal peace and security," lifted from Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, will be used to justify further action against Hizballah and possibly Lebanon at large. As perceptive observers note, 1701 is an attempt to enforce Resolution 1559.

Click here for the link.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mr. Bush: Israel was defeated

Shortly after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon began, it became increasingly clear that the goals of that new Zionist war were not about to be accomplished. Many of us predicted at that time that Israeli defeat was forthcoming. Indeed it was. Today, it is a reality. In that context, one can't but be amazed at those trying to spin the situation into an Israeli victory - including the incredibly stupid members of the Bush administration.

Just in case he missed the news reports: Mr. Bush, none of the stated Israeli goals were accomplished - not one! I hate to tell you this, but the resistance is intact, the Israeli soldiers remain captured, the Israelis will withdraw, there will be no "safety zone", Lebanon did not break apart, Hizbullah is that much more popular, the wrath of the Arabs is that much more widespread, even Arab regimes had to side with the resistance, and Israel suffered massive losses at the hands of a small group of fighters (not a fully armed state). Politically, that New Middle East you and Condi have been talking about does not seem to be within reach - sorry!

In other words, the resistance, without planes or tanks, defeated the might of the Israeli army. Thus, I would have to say, Mr. Bush, that your investments in Israeli military hardware is a flop! The best the Zionist army was able to do is to pick on helpless children and destroy homes - how gallant and brave!

Perhaps you have hired the same advisors that told you that the "mission was accomplished" in Iraq. Oops!

Karim Makdisi on 1701

Karim Makdisi has written a good disection of UNSC Resolution 1701 on Counter Punch, showing its shortcomings and the way in which it leaves the door open for future attacks on Lebanon.



http://www.counterpunch.org/makdisi08142006.html

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jonathan Cook in Counterpunch

Jonathan Cook has been doing a pretty good job at poking holes in the media representation of Hizballah's missile strikes against Israel. As in previous articles, he points out that it is impossible to say that they are deliberately targetting civilians (and indeed they can't). There is some evidence, however, that they appear to be trying (within the limited means available to them) to hit, by and large, military targets, including munitions factories (such as the one near Nazareth). Whatever its faults, of the two parties, Hizballah has been doing a far better job avoiding civilian casualties.



How “Indiscriminate” is Hezbollah’s Shelling?

Hypocrisy and the Clamor Against Hizbullah

By JONATHAN COOK

Nazareth.

A reader recently emailed to ask if anyone else was suggesting, as I have done, that Hizbullah’s rocket fire may not be quite as indiscriminate or maliciously targeted at Israeli civilians as is commonly assumed. I had to admit that I have been ploughing a lonely furrow on this one. Still, that is no reason in itself to join everyone else, even if the consensus includes every mainstream commentator as well as groups such as Human Rights Watch.

First, let us get my argument straight. I have not claimed that Hizbullah targets only military sites or that it never aims at civilians. According to the Israeli army, more than 3,300 rockets have hit Israel over the past four weeks. How can I know, or even claim to know, where all those rockets have landed, or know what the Hizbullah operatives who fired each rocket intended to hit? I have never made such claims.

What I have argued instead is twofold. First, we cannot easily know what Hizbullah is trying to hit because Israel has located most of its army camps, weapons factories and military installations near or inside civilian communities. If a Hizbullah rocket slams into an Israeli town with a weapons factory, should we count that as an attack on civilians or on a military site?

The claim being made against Hizbullah in Lebanon -- that it is “cowardly blending” with civilians, according to the UN’s Jan Egeland -- can, in truth, be made far more convincingly of the Israeli army. While there has been little convincing evidence that Hizbullah is firing its rocket from towns and villages in south Lebanon, or that its fighters are hiding there among civilians, it can be known beyond a shadow of a doubt that Israeli army camps and military installations are based in northern Israeli communities.

An obvious point that no one seems to be making -- and given a news blackout that lasted several hours, Israel clearly hoped no one would make -- is that the 12 soldiers who were killed on Sunday in Kfar Giladi by a Hizbullah rocket were, under Egeland’s definition, “cowardly blending” with the civilian population of that community. We know there are still civilians in Giladi because their response to the rocket barrage was quoted in the Israeli media.

My second claim was that Israel’s military censor is preventing foreign journalists based in Israel, myself included, from discussing where Hizbullah rockets are landing, and what they may be aimed at. Under the censorship rules, It is impossible to mention any issue that touches on Israeli security or defense matters: the location of military installations, for example, cannot be divulged. It is arguable whether it would actually be possible to report a Hizbullah strike that hit a military site inside Israel.

I therefore have to tread carefully in what I say next, relying on information that is already publicly available, but which at least challenges the simplistic view that Hizbullah is firing rockets either indiscriminately or willfully to kill civilians. I draw on two pieces of coverage provided by BBC World.

On Tuesday, the BBC’s Katya Adler reported from the northern community of Kiryat Shmona, which has taken the heaviest pounding from Hizbullah rockets and from which many of the local residents have fled over the past month. As she stood on a central street describing the difficult conditions under which the remaining families were living, she had to shout over the rythmic bark of what sounded like an Israeli tank close by firing into Lebanon. She made no mention of what was doing the firing -- and given the censorship laws, my assumption is she cannot. But it does raise the question of how much of a civilian target Kiryat Shmona really is.

Consider also this. Throughout the four weeks of fighting, the BBC have had a presenter and film crew at the top of an area of Haifa known as the Panorama, above the beautiful Bahia Gardens. As the name suggests, from there the film crew have had an unrestricted view of the port and docks below and the wide arc of heavily developed shoreline that stretches up to Acre.

The spot where the BBC presenters have been standing, telling us regularly that they can hear the wail of sirens warning Haifa’s residents to head for the shelters, is in the centre of this sprawling ridge-top city, in one of the most heavily built up and inhabited areas of Haifa. So why have the BBC’s presenters been standing there calmly every day for weeks under the barrage of rockets?

Because all the evidence suggests that Hizbullah has not been trying to hit the centre of Haifa, where it would be certain of inflicting high casualties, whether its rockets were on target or slightly adrift. Instead, as BBC presenters have repeatedly shown us, the overwhelming majority of rockets land either in the mostly-abandoned port area or fall short into the bay -- and on the odd occasion travel a little too far, as one did on Sunday landing on an Arab neighbourhood near the port and killing two inhabitants.

If Hizbullah’s primary goal is to kill as many civilians as possible in Haifa, it seems to be going about it in a very strange manner indeed -- unless we are to believe that none of its rockets could be fired the extra 1km needed to hit central Haifa. Instead, as is clear from the view shown by BBC cameras, the port includes many sites far more “strategic” than the roads, bridges, milk factories and power stations Israel is destroying in Lebanon: it has the oil refinery, the naval docks and other installations that, yes, I cannot mention because of the censorship laws.

At the very least, we should concede to Hizbullah that it is not always targeting civilians, and very possibly is not mainly targeting civilians, which might in part explain the comparatively low Israeli civilian casualty figures.

That said, there are two valid criticisms, both made by Human Rights Watch, of Hizbullah’s rocket fire -- though exactly the same or worse criticisms can be made of the Israeli army. Those, unlike HRW, who single out Hizbullah are being either disingenuous or hypocritical. One is that Hizbullah has filled many of its rockets with ballbearings. Most critics of Hizbullah take this as conclusive proof that the group’s only intent is to kill and injure civilians. Anyone who has seen the damage done by a katyusha rocket will realise that it is not a very powerful weapon: it essentially punches a hole in whatever it hits. The biggest danger is from the shrapnel and from anything added -- like ballbearings -- that spray out on impact. The shrapnel can kill civilians nearby, of course, but it can also kill soldiers -- as we saw at Kfar Giladi -- and can puncture tanks containing flammable liquids like petrol, causing explosions.

The damage inflicted by the ballbearings is not in itself proof that Hizbullah is trying to kill Israeli civilians, any more than Israel’s use of far more lethal cluster bombs is proof that it wants to kill Lebanese civilians. Both are acting according to the gruesome realities of war: they want to inflict as much damage as possible with each rocket strike. That is deplorable, but so is war.

The second criticism made by HRW is that because Hizbullah’s rockets are rudimentary and lack sophisticated guidance systems they are as good as indiscriminate. That conclusion is wrong both logically and semantically. As I have tried to show, the rockets are mostly not indiscriminate (though presumably some misfire, as do Israeli missiles); rather, they are not precise.

This, according to Human Rights Watch, still makes Hizbullah’s rocket attacks war cimes. That may be true, but it of course also means Israel’s missile strikes and bombardment of Lebanon are war crimes on the same or a greater scale. Hizbullah’s strikes against civilians may be intentional or they may be the result of inaccurate guidance systems trying to hit military targets. Israel’s strikes against civilians are either intentional or the result of accurate guidance systems and very faulty, to the point of reckless, military intelligence.

Finally, what about the defense offered by Israel’s supporters that its air force tries to avoid harming Lebanese civilians by leafletting them before an attack to warn them that they must leave? The argument’s thrust is that only those who belong to Hizbullah or give it succor remain behind in south Lebanon and they are therefore legitimate targets. (It ignores, of course, hundreds of civilians killed in areas that have not been leafletted or who were trying to flee, as ordered, when hit by an Israeli missile. )

Hizbullah, of course, has done precisely the same. In speeches, its leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly warned Israeli residents of areas like Haifa, Afula, Hadera and Tel Aviv that Hizbullah will hit these cities with rockets days before it has actually done so. Hizbullah can claim just as fairly that it has given Israelis fair warning of its attacks on civilian communities, and that any who remain have only themselves to blame.

This debate is important because it will determine in the coming months and years who will be blamed by the international community -- and future historians -- for committing war crimes. Hizbullah deserves as fair a hearing as Israel, though at the moment it most certainly is not getting it.

Like every army in a war, Hizbullah may not acting in a humane manner. But it is demonstrably acting according to the same standards as the Israeli army -- and possibly, given Israel’s siting of military targets in civilian areas, higher ones. The fact that the contrary view is almost universally held betrays our prejudices rather than anything about Hizbullah’s acts.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His book, Blood and Religion: the Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State, is published by Pluto Press. His website is www.jkcook.net

The Israelis are talking about defeat

This was in today's Haaretz - note the language of Israeli defeat. The many responses to this piece indicated the same type of demoralized and defeated Israelis. Take a look:

"Ehud Olmert may decide to accept the French proposal for a cease-fire and unconditional surrender to Hezbollah. That is his privilege. Olmert is a prime minister whom journalists invented, journalists protected, and whose rule journalists preserved. Now the journalists are saying run away. That's legitimate. Unwise, but legitimate. However, one thing should be clear: If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one more day. Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power. You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring the next war very close, and then say - oops, I made a mistake. That was not the intention. Pass me a cigar, please. There is no mistake Ehud Olmert did not make this past month. He went to war hastily, without properly gauging the outcome. He blindly followed the military without asking the necessary questions. He mistakenly gambled on air operations, was strangely late with the ground operation, and failed to implement the army's original plan, much more daring and sophisticated than that which was implemented. And after arrogantly and hastily bursting into war, Olmert managed it hesitantly, unfocused and limp. He neglected the home front and abandoned the residents of the north. He also failed shamefully on the diplomatic front. "

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chavez: Taking a Moral Stand

Few days ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had just ordered the withdrawal of Venezuela's ambassador in Israel. Today, he is talking about cutting all diplomatic relations with the Zionist state. Such is a position deserving our utmost respect.

Curiously enough, not one Arab state has come close to anything like this, let alone carrying out boycotts. Imagine, for instance, the impact of oil and navigation through the Suez Canal, only - let alone all the other geostrategic assets the Arabs have. Yet not one word from any of the regimes, none.

Thank you President Chavez for doing what is right and what is moral. Perhaps the many spineless cowards heading the Arab regimes could begin to evaluate their shameless position. May the Arab-Venezuelan solidarity shine unto others.

Press Release-Lebanon: An Open Country for Civil Resistance

Press Release-Lebanon: An Open Country for Civil Resistance
Beirut August 7, 2006

Press Contacts:
Rasha Salti, +961 3 970855
Huwaida Arraf, +961 70 974452
Samah Idriss, +961 3 381349
Wadih Al Asmar, +961 70 950780


On August 12, at 7 am, Lebanese from throughout the country and
international supporters who have come to Lebanon to express
solidarity will gather in Martyr's Square in Beirut to form a civilian
convoy to the south of Lebanon. Hundreds of Lebanese and
international civilians will express their solidarity with the
inhabitants of the heavily destroyed south who have been bravely
withstanding the assault of the Israeli military. This campaign is
endorsed by more than 200 Lebanese and international organizations.
This growing coalition of national and international non-governmental
organizations hereby launches a campaign of civil resistance for the
purpose of challenging the cruel and ruthless use of massive military
force by Israel, the regional superpower, upon the people of Lebanon.

August 12 marks the start of this Campaign of Resistance, declaring
Lebanon an Open Country for Civil Resistance. August 12 also marks
both the international day of protest against the Israeli aggression.

"In the face of Israel's systematic killing of our people, the
indiscriminate bombing of our towns, the scorching of our villages,
and the attempted destruction of our civil infrastructure, we say No!
In the face of the forced expulsion of a quarter of our population
from their homes throughout Lebanon, and the complicity of governments
and international bodies, we re-affirm the acts of civil resistance
that began from the first day of the Israeli assault, and we stress
and add the urgent need to act!," said Rasha Salti, one of the
organizers of this national event.

After August 12, the campaign will continue with a series of civil
actions, leading to an August 19 civilian march to reclaim the South.
"Working together, in solidarity, we will overcome the complacency,
inaction, and complicity of the international community and we will
deny Israel its goal of removing Lebanese from their land and
destroying the fabric of our country," explained Samah Idriss, writer
and co-organizer of this campaign.

"An international civilian presence in Lebanon is not only an act of
solidarity with the Lebanese people in the face of unparalleled
Israeli aggression, it is an act of moral courage to defy the will of
those who would seek to alienate the West from the rest and create a
new Middle East out of the rubble and blood of the region," said
Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and
campaign co-organizer. "After having witnessed the wholesale
destruction of villages by Israel's air force and navy and having
visited the victims (so-called displaced) of Israel's policy of
cleansing Lebanese civilians from their homes," continued Arraf, "it
is imperative to go south and reach those who have stayed behind to
resist by steadfastly remaining on their land."

If you are in Lebanon and want to sign up and join the convoy, contact either:
Rasha Salti. Email: convois.citoyens.sud.liban@gmail.com . Tel: +961 3 970 855
Rania Masri. Email: rania.masri@balamand.edu.lb. Tel: +961 3 135 279
or +961 6 930 250 xt. 5683 or xt. 3933
If you are outside Lebanon and want to sign up and join the convoy,
you should know:
1) You need to obtain a visa for Lebanon and for Syria if your plan is
to enter Lebanon from Syria.
2) We don't have the funds to cover for the cost of your travel,
however we can help with finding accomodations.
For questions and help for all internationals please contact Adam
Shapiro at: adamsop@hotmail.com


You can also sign up on our website: www.lebanonsolidarity.org

This campaign is thus far endorsed by more than 200 organizations,
including: The Arab NGOs Network for Development (ANND), International
Solidarity Movement (ISM), Cultural Center for Southern Lebanon,
Norwegian People's Aid, Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanese
Association for Democratic Elections, Frontiers, Kafa, Nahwa
al-Muwatiniya, Spring Hints, Hayya Bina, Lebanese Transparency
Association, Amam05, Lebanese Center for Civic Education, Let's Build
Trust, CRTD-A, Solida, National Association for Vocational Training
and Social Services, Lebanese Development Pioneers, Nadi Li Koul
Alnas, and Lecorvaw.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon


Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon

By Anders Strindberg

01/08/06 Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK - As pundits and policymakers scramble to explain events in Lebanon, their conclusions are virtually unanimous: Hizbullah created this crisis. Israel is defending itself. The underlying problem is Arab extremism.
Sadly, this is pure analytical nonsense. Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict.

Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern.

In the process of its violations, Israel has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians. This past February, for instance, 15-year-old shepherd Yusuf Rahil was killed by unprovoked Israeli cross-border fire as he tended his flock in southern Lebanon. Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities and continues to occupy Lebanon's Shebaa Farms area, while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?

Hizbullah's capture of the soldiers took place in the context of this ongoing conflict, which in turn is fundamentally shaped by realities in the Palestinian territories. To the vexation of Israel and its allies, Hizbullah - easily the most popular political movement in the Middle East - unflinchingly stands with the Palestinians.

Since June 25, when Palestinian fighters captured one Israeli soldier and demanded a prisoner exchange, Israel has killed more than 140 Palestinians. Like the Lebanese situation, that flare-up was detached from its wider context and was said to be "manufactured" by the enemies of Israel; more nonsense proffered in order to distract from the apparently unthinkable reality that it is the manner in which Israel was created, and the ideological premises that have sustained it for almost 60 years, that are the core of the entire Arab-Israeli conflict.

Once the Arabs had rejected the UN's right to give away their land and to force them to pay the price for European pogroms and the Holocaust, the creation of Israel in 1948 was made possible only by ethnic cleansing and annexation. This is historical fact and has been documented by Israeli historians, such as Benny Morris. Yet Israel continues to contend that it had nothing to do with the Palestinian exodus, and consequently has no moral duty to offer redress.

For six decades the Palestinian refugees have been refused their right to return home because they are of the wrong race. "Israel must remain a Jewish state," is an almost sacral mantra across the Western political spectrum. It means, in practice, that Israel is accorded the right to be an ethnocracy at the expense of the refugees and their descendants, now close to 5 million.

Is it not understandable that Israel's ethnic preoccupation profoundly offends not only Palestinians, but many of their Arab brethren? Yet rather than demanding that Israel acknowledge its foundational wrongs as a first step toward equality and coexistence, the Western world blithely insists that each and all must recognize Israel's right to exist at the Palestinians' expense.

Western discourse seems unable to accommodate a serious, as opposed to cosmetic concern for Palestinians' rights and liberties: The Palestinians are the Indians who refuse to live on the reservation; the Negroes who refuse to sit in the back of the bus.

By what moral right does anyone tell them to be realistic and get over themselves? That it is too much of a hassle to right the wrongs committed against them? That the front of the bus must remain ethnically pure? When they refuse to recognize their occupier and embrace their racial inferiority, when desperation and frustration causes them to turn to violence, and when neighbors and allies come to their aid - some for reasons of power politics, others out of idealism - we are astonished that they are all such fanatics and extremists.

The fundamental obstacle to understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict is that we have given up on asking what is right and wrong, instead asking what is "practical" and "realistic." Yet reality is that Israel is a profoundly racist state, the existence of which is buttressed by a seemingly endless succession of punitive measures, assassinations, and wars against its victims and their allies.

A realistic understanding of the conflict, therefore, is one that recognizes that the crux is not in this or that incident or policy, but in Israel's foundational and per- sistent refusal to recognize the humanity of its Palestinian victims. Neither Hizbullah nor Hamas are driven by a desire to "wipe out Jews," as is so often claimed, but by a fundamental sense of injustice that they will not allow to be forgotten.

These groups will continue to enjoy popular legitimacy because they fulfill the need for someone - anyone - to stand up for Arab rights. Israel cannot destroy this need by bombing power grids or rocket ramps. If Israel, like its former political ally South Africa, has the capacity to come to terms with principles of democracy and human rights and accept egalitarian multiracial coexistence within a single state for Jews and Arabs, then the foundation for resentment and resistance will have been removed. If Israel cannot bring itself to do so, then it will continue to be the vortex of regional violence.

__________________________________________________________

Anders Strindberg, formerly a visiting professor at Damascus University, Syria, is a consultant on Middle East politics working with European government and law-enforcement agencies. He has also covered Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories as a journalist since the late 1990s, primarily for European publications.

Copyright © 2006 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Click here to go to the CSM.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Updated Images of the International Protests Against US-Sanctioned Israeli Barbarity


Valetta, Malta


Al Tireh, 1948 Palestine


Tanzania


Tanzania


Damascus, Syria


Tehran


Sadr City, Baghdad


Sofia, Bulgaria


South Africa


Sadr City, Baghdad


Saudi Arabia


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil



Panama City, Panama


Panama city, Panama


Peshawar, Pakistan


New Delhi, India


Najaf, Iraq


Moscow, Russia


Los Angeles


Kuala Lumpour, Malaysia


Managua, Nicaragua


Makati city, Philipines


Lahore, Pakistan


Kuala Lumpour, Malaysia


Kuwait


Karachi, Pakistan

'
Lahore, Pakistan


Moscow, Russia


Jalazone Refugee Camp, Israeli Occupied West Bank


Jakarta, Indonesia


Islamabad, Pakistan


Istamboul, Turkey


Jenin, Occupied West Bank


Athens


Hiroshima, Japan


Hyderabad, India


Jakarta, Indonesia


Gaza City, Gaza Strip


Cairo, Egypt


Cairo, Egypt


Damascus, Syria


Gaza City, Gaza Strip


Fuheis Amman


Manama, Bahrain


Bogota, Columbia


Baghdad


Bangalore


Athens


Montreal Canada


Paris


Brussels


Beirut


Helsinki, Finland


Beirut


Cyprus


Helsinki, Finland


Geneva


Edinburough, Scotland


Geneva


London


Stockholm


Paris


London


Chicago


Basra


Sydney


Sana' Yemen


Tulkarem, Occupied West Bank


Spain


Barcelona Spain


Prague


Holland


Prague


Holland


Boston


Boston


Calcutta


Dhaka Bangaladesh


Cairo, Egypt


Jakarta Indonesia


Nablus, Occupied West Bank


Nablus, Occupied West Bank


Bern Switzerland


Dhaka, Bangaladesh


Shrinigar, Kashmir


Sri Lanka


Manilla, Philipinies


Seoul, Korea


Seoul, Korea



Berlin, Germany


Berlin


Berlin


Copenhagen, Denmark


Santiago, Chile



Dearborn, Michigan


Houston, Texas


Hyderabad, India


Lucknow, India


Lahore, Pakistan


Karachi, Pakistan


Khartoum, Sudan


Rome Italy

Ramallah, Occupied West Bank


New York City


Sao Paolo, Brazil


New York


Civil Disobediance by progressive Jews in San Francisco



Sao Paulo, Brazil


San Francisco


Tehran, Iran


Chicago


Stockholm, Sweden, blocking the Foreign Ministry



Baghdad


Beit Lahiya, Gaza


Berlin, Germany



Amman, Jordan


Athens, Greece


Al Areesh, Egypt