How can we stand by and allow this to go on?

by Leon
3rd August, 2006 at 12:30 am    

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon is making me increasingly partisan in my assessment of its developments. It’s nonsense that Israel is seriously threatened; they are virtually a regional super power (by fact of the billions of dollars in US ‘aid’ and military hardware).

The Lebanese people are paying thrice the price: one for the ineptness of their government, two for being neighbours to Israel and three for the provokations of Hezzbolah (although I suspect number three is viewed somewhat differently by them now…).

Israel has to be stopped. The question is how?

Robert Fisk reports:

“They wrote the names of the dead children on their plastic shrouds. “Mehdi Hashem, aged seven – Qana,” was written in felt pen on the bag in which the little boy’s body lay. “Hussein al-Mohamed, aged 12 – Qana’,’ “Abbas al-Shalhoub, aged one – Qana.’ And when the Lebanese soldier went to pick up Abbas’s little body, it bounced on his shoulder as the boy might have done on his father’s shoulder on Saturday. In all, there were 56 corpses brought to the Tyre government hospital and other surgeries, and 34 of them were children. When they ran out of plastic bags, they wrapped the small corpses in carpets. Their hair was matted with dust, most had blood running from their noses.

You must have a heart of stone not to feel the outrage that those of us watching this experienced yesterday. This slaughter was an obscenity, an atrocity – yes, if the Israeli air force truly bombs with the “pinpoint accuracy’ it claims, this was also a war crime. Israel claimed that missiles had been fired by Hizbollah gunmen from the south Lebanese town of Qana – as if that justified this massacre. Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, talked about “Muslim terror” threatening “western civilisation” – as if the Hizbollah had killed all these poor people.”

The killing continues, the disproportionate number of dead on either side widens and still nothing is done. But what can we do? The choice seems to be to back the monstrous Neo Con geo-political agenda or oppose it with a bunch of placard waving SWP zealots. Nothing in between and still the killing goes on…what can the average (and I might add SWP hating) anti war person do to stop this lunacy?

All (constructive) suggestions welcome…

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  1. Pickled Politics » A wider perspective on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East

    [...] What I would like to do is discuss and critique the conflict freely with anyone else who is interested in doing so, regardless of their background, colour, religion or nationality. But I don’t get much opportunity to do that, because I find myself – again like many Diaspora Jews – wearily having to defend Israel’s very right to exist or rebut ridiculous and palpably untrue slurs. Again. And again. And again. In conversations outside of this blog, and on threads in this blog, as people come out with the same thing over and over again. Even when, as Leon did a few days ago, a thread is started with the aim of discussing how to end the conflict, it quickly turns into an argument over whether Israel is entitled to exist at all. There has been plenty of posting on PP about the war and I have already set out what I think should happen here. What I want to do in this post is address some of the points that people often put to me in conversations about Israel, and to a certain extent about being Jewish generally. [...]

  1. Katy Newton — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:40 am  

    How about everyone gives back their hostages and goes back to the negotiating table? It’s crazy but it might just work.

  2. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:03 am  

    Katy, that would work. The question is how do you go out and win support for it?

    A starting point of course is an immediate ceasefire. For that something else needs to happen, and that is for Tony Blair to stand down immediately so that our government can again be independent of the Bush regime.

  3. Nav — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:28 am  

    Israel isn’t threatened?

    How about the fact that Hizbollah showered innocent Jews with volleys of Iranian and Syrian rockets even after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon all those years ago? And I presume the fact that they decided to launch a cross border raid that was unprovoked proves Israel’s safety…

    What exactly have they done to deserve this then?

  4. Nav — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:32 am  

    An immediate ceasefire would do more harm than good!

  5. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:34 am  

    “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.”

    From The Christian Science Monitor

  6. Nav — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:45 am  

    And the occasion on which Israel deliberately attacked Lebanese citizens?

    The occasion on which Hisbullah attack innocent Israelis? Every time they fire a salvo of said Katyushas…

    I can see the aforementioned pattern of “disproportion” already…

  7. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:52 am  

    you’re definitely right about the lebanese having to pay thrice the price. also i think the US interference/attitude is key.

  8. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:54 am  

    perhaps the USA could give Lebanon one of its many States to compensate..and that way they wouldn’t have to be stuck in such a clearly dangerous location! that idea could be floated for amusement purposes..

    ( watcing all those faces turn purple)

  9. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:56 am  

    Obviously the US and UK must say call for a ceasefire that’s what. and the USA can start taking the s seriously – it’s not nice for Israel to be in this situation, its not nice for the Palestinians, and it sure as hell ain’t nice for the Lebanese. So please can war hawks miles away in the States work this one out that peace is actually what any sensible person in the region wants.

  10. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:57 am  

    sorry my computer’s playing up – i meant ..taking the situation seriously.

  11. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:02 am  

    unless the killing stops immediately that’s so many more angry people who’ll feel less and less inclined to talk the longer this carries on, the more people dying – which ever side. and the only thing for it is for people to talk to each other.

  12. Sunny — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:35 am  

    I’ve gone off Robert Fisk’s articles. Not because he isn’t factual, but he’s rather like one of those pictures of dead people – a play to the basest of instincts. I prefer analysis and some objective overview.

  13. brok — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:52 am  

    Disporportionate DIsporportionate Disporportionate

    Would everybody be happy if Isreal only killed 55 civilians
    or let Hezbullah kill 655 to catch up.
    I dont understand this theory of porportionate viloence.

  14. Amir — on 3rd August, 2006 at 3:33 am  

    Could I say a few things about this [one-sided] debate

    Let us be clear on this: Israel is by far the most hated country in the Middle East. Throughout history and up until the present day, Jewish people are the most hated/dehumanised/vilified ethnic and religious minority on the planet. Zionism divides public opinion at home and abroad in ways which are often slightly disturbing. Not a day goes by without some venomous ode to the Final Solution or a glib remark about Israelis being intrinsically racist or ‘like the Nazis’. It is a matter where strong passions are generally matched by weak understanding and a limited historical perspective.

    Let me just say, first and foremost, my heart goes out to Lebanon’s broken families and terrified children, those brave Israeli soldiers who’re putting their lives on the line, and the millions of people (on both sides) who’re hiding in bunkers and cellars. There is nothing conservative about war. For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of fascism, communism, socialism and state control. It is the excuse for censorship, organised lying, regulation and taxation. It damages family life and wounds the Mosque/Synagogue.

    But sometimes, just sometimes, a nation must defend her borders and protect her sovereignty. And the sword is mightier than the pen. Hezbollah is intrinsically hostile to Israel’s existence and fundamentally opposed to the Jewish race. They’re an Iranian/Syrian proxy and a material extension of the Revolutionary Guard. Prior to the recent kidnappings and rocket attacks, the Israeli government announced its intention to engage in further withdrawals – this time from large portions of the West Bank. Israelis think of it as ‘land for peace.’ But how can Israel be expected to move forward with any withdrawal plan if all it can expect in return is more terrorism?

    As Nav points out, it should be obvious by now that Hezbollah and Hamas actually want the Israeli military to kill as many Lebanese and Palestinian civilians as possible. That is why they store their rockets underneath the beds of civilians. That is why they launch their missiles from crowded civilian neighbourhoods and hide amongst nurses and schoolteachers. They know that every civilian they induce Israel to kill hurts Israel in the media and in the eyes of the UN. They regard these human shields as ‘Shahids,’ or martyrs, even if they did not volunteer for the lethal jobs. In so doing, they issue a challenge to democracies: Either violate your own morality by coming after us and inevitably killing some innocent people, or maintain your morality and leave us with a free hand to target your own innocents. This challenge presents democracies such as Israel with a lose-lose option and terrorists with a win-win option.

    Of course, I object to the aerial bombardment of Lebanon’s populous cities and the partial destruction of some Northern towns. It’s a high-risk strategy, surgically imprecise, and anathema to the good will of potential allies. But in saying this, also, I acknowledge that Hezbollah needs to be weakened, not placated. Weakness and compromise on Israel’s part will only bring further war and destablization. We need to destroy Hezbollah’s military capabilities, fortify Lebanon’s porous borders and introduce an international peacekeeping force that will ensure a speedy reconstruction. People often retort by saying:

    Surely, the best way option now is a cease-fire?… and for Israel to start disengaging from the Occupied Territories? Only then will Israel be safe.

    This, I am afraid, is a flight from fact. For most of Israel’s neighbours and, of course, for the Palestinians, Israel is a crucial problem and it is unlikely that the radicals among them will accept its existence even within the borders of 1948. For the Moslem world at large, Israel is a symbol and catalyst of their rage rather than the cause. The Middle East is a hornet’s nest for vile anti-Semitic propaganda. Even in Egypt and Jordan – two supposed allies of Israel – we see the circulating of anti-Jewish rubbish such as the long-discredited The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as if it were fact, the description of Jews as the offspring of pigs and monkeys, in parts of the Arabic press. For more details of this sort of thing, you can find English translations of it here. It beggars belief. Really, it does.

    Whatever compromise is on offer, the Arab world is against it. This has been its consistent policy since British officials unwisely appointed Haj Amin al Husseini as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and so encouraged Arab Muslim militants to undermine the Jewish presence in what was then the British colony of Palestine. It began longer ago than most people realise. The 1937 Peel Commission’s partition of Palestine, with a tiny Jewish state, was rejected by the Arabs. Result? The 1947 UN partition, with a slightly less tiny Jewish state. This was also rejected by the Arabs and immediately attacked by them. Result? The war of 1948, the seizure of land by Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from their homes. The Arabs continued to threaten Israel. Result? The 1967 war and an even bigger Israel. Result? Yet another war in 1973, an Arab invasion of Israel, the first really serious threat to the West’s oil supplies from the Middle East, and the beginning of the ‘land for peace’ process.

    Under Barak, Israel offered the return of almost all the territories it had acquired in 1967, but Yasser Arafat refused the offer. Result? The al-Aqsa Intifada. When Arafat died of AIDS-like symptoms, Ariel Sharon unilaterally pulls out of the Gaza Strip. Result? The Levant Crisis.

    Hence… the reason why we’re in this jiffy is because Western pundits and Western politicians have lied and lied and lied and lied and lied about the Arab world. There is no such thing as ‘land for peace’… it’s always been ‘land for war’. Israel’s right-to-exist has never ever been taken seriously by the Umma and it never will. Yes, Israel drove many Arabs from their homes in 1948 and should be criticised for this. But no more – and no less – than the Poles and Czechs and Russians should be criticised for driving millions of German civilians from their homes after 1945; and no more – and no less – than India and Pakistan should be criticised for the horrible expulsions and massacres of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs at partition in 1947. Turkey’s treatment of the Armenians in 1915, and the ‘exchange of population’ between Greece and Turkey after World War One were also appalling. Come to that huge numbers of Jews were cruelly expelled from Arab lands in the years after Israel was founded.


  15. The Other Nav — on 3rd August, 2006 at 4:24 am  

    I agree with Sunny on Fisk. I lost interest in him even before Osama Bin Laden praised him as “neutral”.

  16. The Other Nav — on 3rd August, 2006 at 4:25 am  

    Nav: Why would an immediate ceasefire do more harm than good?

  17. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:40 am  

    “disproportionate number of dead” there it is again.

    Want to see more dead Israelis Leon? Not enough for you?


  18. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:04 am  

    From today’s Guardian leader:

    “Like a man who sets fire to his house and then discusses the flames, Tony Blair has a habit of drawing attention to his policy failures by analysing them. He did it in Los Angeles on Tuesday night in a significant speech on the Middle East that described a region ablaze with conflict without recognising his own role as one of the arsonists.”

  19. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:22 am  

    The Other Nav,

    Dont let Bin Laden poison the well. I hope that was the appropirate expression. He doesnt seem dishonest and is pretty consistent except in his support for Hizbullah. He is just a heretical bastard.

  20. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:22 am  

    The Friendly,

    Oh shut your crying.

  21. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:38 am  

    You flirting with me again Bikhair? You are so very cute when you are angry.



  22. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:57 am  


    This is very tired material you are presenting again.

    Repitition, however eloquent does not make it true.

  23. Old Pickler — on 3rd August, 2006 at 10:07 am  

    Amir – quite right. Most of the Umma will not be satisfied with anything less than Israel’s total obliteration. They would be stupid to stop now.

    You must have a heart of stone not to feel the outrage that those of us watching this experienced yesterday.

    You’d need a brain of stone to believe anything Fisk says. He’s the one that bigged up the Jenin “massacre” that never was.

  24. The Other Nav — on 3rd August, 2006 at 10:31 am  

    All right, I won’t let Osama ruin things. But the other reason I’m sick of him is an article he wrote on the media atmosphere in Canada following the Toronto terror arrests. He was either intentionally painting a false portrait, or he’s a fool. He objected to the suspects being referred to as “Canadian-born” because it suggested that they weren’t “real Canadians”. The actual reason for calling them “Canadian-born” is, of course, to say that they aren’t immigrants. He also called an article that referred to the suspects as “brown-skinned” racist. The author of the article was Indian. Oh, Fisk.

  25. saurav — on 3rd August, 2006 at 10:45 am  

    Leon, for us in the states, one of our anti-war groups in concert with an anti-occupation group put out this call today (or maybe yesterday). It largely calls for making your opinion heard to your elected official and in the media.

    It seems like you could say whatever you wanted if you do that and not have to side with anyone you don’t want to. Another option is to find likeminded people and meet together to brainstorm. A bunch of folks I know did that.

    Amir – quite right. Most of the Umma will not be satisfied with anything less than Israel’s total obliteration. They would be stupid to stop now.

    Old Pickler, I admire you for being able to wade through several hundred words of sometimes boldfaced polemic, the contents of which will be clear from the first six words or so, but even from your vantage point, I can’t understand why you would support this war. There is absolutely nothing good that is coming of this for Israel. In terms of how the war is going to be portrayed, they are going to look like both agressors and losers, which is quite an accomplishment. In terms of world public opinion, they are going to be known as a state that killed UN observers despite being warned and bombed a building full of children, killing them. Their own citizens are dying, and Hezbollah is proving to other anti-Israeli forces that Israel can be fought.

    So remind me again why it isn’t a good idea for Israel not to cut its losses (not to mention the humanitarian disaster it has induced) and get to the bargaining table. I mean, unless you think another 100 years of violence is a better answer.

  26. Old Pickler — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:08 am  

    In terms of how the war is going to be portrayed, they are going to look like both agressors and losers

    Israel should not worry about how it will be portrayed. It will be hated whatever it does. If it lets Hezbollah off the hook and lets it, with the help of the Umma, especially Iran, re-group and re-arm, it will be seen as the aggressor when – and it is when, not if – the jihad starts up again. The ummah – and Hezbollah is but one manifestation of the jihad – wants Israel destroyed. Nothing less will satisfy them.

    Islam has a doctrine “darura” or “necessity” which states that jihad may stop if the infidel is overwhelmingly stronger. Therefore Israel has to show overwhelming strength, or the jihad will not stop. Nothing else makes sense.

  27. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:10 am  

    interesting post amir. i think you have good points ( first part of your post) till you get to the bit about – ‘ so we must destroy hezbollah’s military capacity’.

    well one could and probably Israel will – but would that solve the problem? one could destroy that particular outfit and someone will fill the gap. in the same way a lot of Hizbollah fighters are of an age where basically they were kids in the 1982 situation, lost families and what have you. Just think what may be happening when the children who are experiencing this war now may think – well clearly whoever has the most arms benefits – and become violent in their turn.

    perhaps you may like to look into the psychology of trauma.

    then in the last bit of your post – you can compare what israel’s done with other parts of the world – i agree its no different from loads of places where settlers have killed whoever was there before. Sure – but so what? doesn’t make it any less just! Also it’s happening right NOW as opposed to ages ago, and given we’re all pretending we’re such a civilized lot of people and this makes it obvious we’re not really that different from yonks ago. but lip service is paid to human rights in a way it wasn’t before – so that adds to the situation.

    again – yes there needs to be a peaceful discussion but the more and more killing that happens in between just goes towards making it just much more impossible. Look how the Americans reacted to two of their buildings falling down – it’s pretty clear if you want to have some chance at peace – pulling out a gun ain’t gonna help. of course the question is does anyone want peace anymore. in the heat of war it’s easy to get bloodthirsty and not think about it calmly. but maybe you don’t realize that – i don’t know.

  28. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:10 am  

    Katy’s got a good point right up there.

  29. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:27 am  

    i do think that it’s valid to point out there have been points in history when Arabs/Palestinians have made some not very good decisions. but again – this clearly comes down to stubborn angry thinking, and both ‘sides’ are clearly guilty of this. yes a lot of missed chances all the way along.

    all this at the end of the day isn’t very different to a long protracted difficult relationship where divorce doesn’t seem to be much of an option. obviously both parties have fucked up and are angry and don’t want to acknowledge their part in the mess = and the more they carry on fighting the harder it is to make up…simply because if nothing else there’s more to hurt and argue about.

  30. Jagdeep — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:27 am  

    Hi – I am new to this blog and dont want to say anything too controversial.

    But I just want to say one thing. Until about a year ago I was typically anti-Israel on every issue. Something changed after 7/7 and i really started to look at things more independently and began to examine some of my assumptions about things. Really investigating the underlying issues amongst some Muslim extremists I talked to and read about.

    The Palestinians have a real grievance with Israel. Hezbollah have no grievance against Israel. Except they want to fight Israel until it is destroyed, and that is what they want to do. They stand as a proxy for Iran, who are led by a maniac, who wrote a letter to Chancellor Merkel of Germany, telling her that the holocaust was a lie, and asking her to join with him in condemning the Jews who destroyed Germany, and he has gone on record repeatedly saying that he wants to see and will work to see Israel being destroyed.

    This is an unhinged and stupid man, but when you talk like that repeatedly, you really have to be taken seriously and your words have to be taken at face value.

    So while I believe Israel has over reacted terribly, I dont believe that even if there was a fair peace deal between Israel and Palestine, that there would ever be peace, because regional players and their proxies are too commited to war.

    Doesnt alter my support for the Palestinians, but it does mean that I dont trust Iran or Hezbollah or any of those people who say that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth.

    Often when people say they are anti-war they are lying – they are pro-war, just that they are pro the destruction of Israel.

    You need to separate it and those who deny this extra pressure on Israel are being disingenuous or too biased.

  31. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:28 am  

    I was interested to note that the text of the EU statement condemned Hisbollah for firing rockets at Israel but did not condemn the type of border raiding that sparked off this conflict. I also don’t see why they wanted to demand an immediate ceasefire, but the return of the captured soldiers was not to be immediate. Why on earth not?

    Israel has to get those soldiers back. But this means Hisbollah being humiliated, something they’ve made very clear they will not stand for. And they don’t care how many people their pride is killing. They cannot be seen to back down.

  32. Jagdeep — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:37 am  

    Amir – You make some great points mate! Really good post.

  33. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:43 am  

    hmm jagdeep – who is hezbollah exactly do you know? they’re not iranians – they may get support in the same way you’re the enemy of my enemy so you’re my mate type support – which for example the USA had with Saddam and Bin Laden. does that mean the US is always going to have sympathy with Saddam and Bin Laden – hardly. getting money is one thing – but if you think they formed for some other reason apart from ‘resistance’ maybe you should think harder. its one thing to agree/disagree with the forms of resistance they’ve employed, and the platform they’ve based it on ( an Islamic one) but that’s another matter.

  34. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    Sonia – Iran and Hisbollah are the two most influential groups in shia islam. The relationship goes a lot further than the enemy of my enemy thing.

  35. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    Yes – Bert Preast “But this means Hisbollah being humiliated, something they’ve made very clear they will not stand for. And they don’t care how many people their pride is killing. They cannot be seen to back down.”

    {i don’t know how people define being humiliated..}

    but i think Hizbollah are a bit like that – yep. No reverse gear, bit like Tony and George. Take advantage of a threat to go berserk and get revenge, at the cost of civilians or ‘fighters’ – they don’t care – yep – again much like nations who think their armies are there to fight and get killed. I guess a bit like Israel too – wanting to sacrifice lots more people to get revenge on those already dead, or held captive. ( losing more soldiers to get your 2 back sounds kinda similar strategy to me)

    Oh look aren’t they all so similar – why they’ve more in common than they have differences. :-)

  36. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:01 pm  

    I think if Tony and George were losing soldier at a 10 to one ratio they find reverse gear pretty quick. We’re incredibly sensitive to casualties.

  37. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

    Oh so now this is about ‘Shia Islam’ and not Palestine.

    iran and hizbollah may well be influential groups in ‘Shia Islam’ but i wasn’t aware this discussion was about Shia Islam – I thought we were talking about Palestine.

    So now Hizbollah has nothing to do with Palestine?

    Very interesting that. You might have to explain it a bit more clearly Pert Breast -oops sorry Bert Preast.

  38. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

    Whatever you may mean by ‘Shia Islam’..

  39. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:04 pm  

    For the losing more soldiers to get 2 back bit, a military cannot compromise on such things. How would their morale be if the soldiers knew that no one was coming to help if they’re in the shit? And anyway, it’s the 80 plus Katyushas accompanying these raids that are the outrageous bit.

  40. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:06 pm  

    Sonia – Hisbollah are Lebanese shias. They aren’t Palestinians, who are sunnis. They work with the Palestinians against Israel, but have more in common ideologically with Iran.

  41. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

    “I think if Tony and George were losing soldier at a 10 to one ratio they find reverse gear pretty quick. We’re incredibly sensitive to casualties.”

    Who’s we – and don’t forget the vietnam war – plenty of casualties there and it took a long long time to ‘reverse gear’..

  42. Jagdeep — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:10 pm  

    sonia Hezbollah are funded and ideologically linked to Iran. Whose leader has spent the last year in overdrive, describing how the time has come to wipe Israel off the face of the planet.

    And apart from that, the point stands, what is their grievance against Israel except to do everything within its power to destroy it? They are not a resistance movement against anything? Resisitance movement to what? Iran is flexing its muscles and Hezbollah is one of its muscles.

  43. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

    “we” in that context would be the people of the UK and US.

    And with casualties up to now, the war in Iraq would have to last for about another 40 years to be the equivalent of Vietnam.

  44. Leon — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:57 pm  

    Cheers to those who gave practical suggestions (thank you Katy and Refresh for perceptive opening comments). I’m not going to get bogged down in the rights and wrongs of death numbers. I’m working on/thinking over another entry which looks at the Hezbollah/Iran/Syria/al Qaida side of things (for balance). On reflection I probably should have made it clearer I don’t support the killing of innocent civilians (on all sides).

    To give some background and context; I was quite active in the protests against the Iraq war, went to all the demos, listened to the boring speeches and came close to getting beaten by the police during the Oxford Street blockade (don’t think it was ever written about but we stopped Ox St traffic for nearly 4 hours by forming a line in the road and pushing up against police lines). Not that any of that is a badge of honour but I have been round the block, so to speak, on things like this.

    The outcome was the war went ahead and myself and friends (and I’m sure a lot of anti war protesters/activists) felt disillusioned, pissed off and wondered what the point of protesting was. This time around of course the situation is a great deal more complex…protesting isn’t enough but what other options are there? The anti war movement was long ago hijacked by the SWP etc but the tendency to fight injustice is still there. Damn shame the anarchists in this country are such a disparate bunch…

    So, there you go, Leon gets annoyed/frustrated and shoots from the hip (not the wisest thing to do in politics). I guess I need to work on keeping my anger in check when I write these things. Ho hum, onward and upward, you live and learn etc.

    Anyway, constructive suggestions are still welcome and I think I’ll throw the question out again (slightly re-configured): given your views on the current situation what would you do to make your voice heard?

    To be clear; I’m not interested in tirades against Hezbollah or Israel, just what you think you should do to protest their actions.

  45. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:08 pm  

    The sad fact is that protests only rarely result in serious policy discussion unless they are violent.

    Obviously, unless you fancy government policies being dictated by those prepared to kill the most for their point of view, this is a road to disaster. A strong message needs to be sent that any protest involving violence will be completely ignored from a policy viewpoint. Of course, then you have the problem of defining what equates to violence, but that’s for the lawyers to thrash out. Myself, I’d be inclined to keep them guessing.

    So, the only protests that get a voice are violent ones, and that voice is now to be ignored. This isn’t me advocating facism however, this is me advocating that the government listen to what the peaceful and numerous protesters want and even sometimes act on it.

    Except in the case of the Iraq war and suchlike, where the protesters are clearly suffering a case of hearts over minds. :)

  46. Pold Ickler — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:27 pm  

    Bert Preast is a great name.

  47. raz — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:34 pm  

    “Iran and Hisbollah are the two most influential groups in shia islam”

    Bullshit. There are huge numbers of Shia in the subcontinent and all around the world who are not influenced by Iran in any way. The Iranian mullahs aren’t even popular in their own country.

  48. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:36 pm  

    Yeah, maybe I should’ve said “of the most influential”, but I was feeling daring.

    It depends how you define influential – they’re certainly the most well known.

  49. raz — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:52 pm  


    ‘Influential’ would mean being able to exert influence, and Iran really only has influence over itself and in Lebanon.

    “they’re certainly the most well known”

    I would disagree. It is Iraq which has had by far the most influence over the wider Shia world historically, and currently with Ayatollah Sistani. The large contingent of Shias in the subcontinent have had their own identity and traditions for centuries – this goes for many other Shia communities all over the world. The only reason Iran/Hezbollah are ‘well known’ is because they happen to be in conflict with the West.

  50. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:54 pm  

    Someone somewhere suggested sanctions. i don’t know what people think about that.

  51. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:57 pm  

    refresh – no. 18 – good one. it was pretty funny that.

  52. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

    bert – ever been to the middle east? a sizeable bunch of lebanese folk were at some point palestinian refugees. Jagdeep-also maybe that will make somethings clearer for you guys. certainly they feel they have something to ‘resist’ against – you and i may not agree – but so what? doesn’t mean they don’t think they have something to make a fuss over!

    iran obviously has its own agenda supporting hizbollah and has funded them – no one’s in any doubt of that.

  53. sonia — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

    people who imagine the Palestine situation is about religion rather than anger at loss of land ( which is shared whether you’re christian, sunni or whatever) obviously don’t know much about it clearly. Or the region at all. it’s been turned into that and self-fulfilling prophecies being what they are – now look.

  54. Sid — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:15 pm  

    Those who think this is Israel against the Ummah discourse are fantacists. The Lebanese are Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Copts, Nestorians, Twelver Shii, Sunni, Druze, Alawi Jewish etc, to name just a few of its constituent demographies. The Hizbollah (shia) are now regarded by the Lebanese populace as *the* carte blanche defenders of Lebanon againt Israel. Nasrallah is now a national hero! I mean, what colossal irony.

    Do those who defend Israel’s disproportate acts of war believe this will be to Israel’s safety in the long run? I’m afraid that thats simply delusional.

  55. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

    Raz – Iran is certainly the most influential shia group there is. And while Sistani is gaining power, he has a long way to go before he’s up there with Khamenei. And although Iran is supporting the shia in Iraq, I still think there’s an element of mistrust there that there isn’t with Hisbollah.

  56. Bert Preast — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:25 pm  

    Sonia – Yes, I have. But not in any capacity that I saw much of it, I admit.

    Yes, some Palestinians are lebanese. But the vast majority are still Palestinians, with the attendent restriction imposed on them by the Lebanese. Probably because they sparked off a civil war, to be fair to the Lebs.

  57. bananabrain — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:41 pm  

    an excellent piece on here:



  58. Jagdeep — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:56 pm  


    So what? What are Hezbollah resisting? They are not resisting anything. They are the long arm of Iran and they are seeking to destroy Israel, or at least make her bleed. They are a militia that has been implicated in the bombing of Jewish targets around the world (Like in Argentina) and they are not resisting anything because Israel withdrew from Lebanon 6 years ago.

    The thing is, by their ideology they are locked in an existential struggle to destroy Israel/Jews and that means they will be in ‘resistance’ until the end of time or until Israel/Jews are destroyed. But that is just madman logic, and you either accept madman logic or reject it. I reject it so I reject hizbollah and Ahmedenijad!

    Now Israel’s response is a separate matter. They have over reacted, no doubt about it.

    Indeed extending whether or not Hezbollah have something to ‘resist’ and whether it matters if other people think they have something to resist or not, well, there are many people who think they are locked in a millenarian ‘resistance’ against Islam —- I would classify them in the same league if they started throwing bombs and forming militias and attacking mosques to make their point!

  59. Leon — on 3rd August, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    Interesting CiF piece: Link

  60. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Leon, that is an excellent piece on CiF. And probably the basis of any protest and just settlement.

  61. Kismet Hardy — on 3rd August, 2006 at 4:13 pm  

    with every mortar shell, another freedom fighter/terrorist/soldier/pissed off and seeking revenge amitabh bachchan stylee is born

  62. Amir — on 3rd August, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

    Hello my friend. Let me correct you on a few things:

    (1) Those who think this is Israel against the Ummah discourse are fantacists. The Lebanese are Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Copts, Nestorians, Twelver Shii, Sunni, Druze, Alawi Jewish etc.

    The Ummah isn’t an Army or a nation-state or a race of people. It’s an identity. Or, to be more specific, a global religious identity. It’s a consciousness without cohesion. And it’s having a devastating affect on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For such, America is the Great Satan, Israel the Little Satan; Israel is dangerous as a spearhead of Western corruption. The more consistent European-type anti-Semites offer an alternative view; that America is the tool or ‘proxy’ of Israel, rather than the reverse, an argument backed by a good deal of Nazi-style or original Nazi documentation. In much of the literature produced by Arabic organisations, the enemy is no longer defined as the Israeli or the Zionist; he is simply the Jew, and his evil is innate and genetic, going back to remote antiquity.

    The argument that “we cannot be anti-Semitic because we ourselves are Semites” may still occasionally be heard in Arab countries, though of course not in Turkey or Iran. But some of the more sophisticated spokesmen have become aware that to most outsiders this argument sounds silly or disingenuous. Some writers make a serious effort to maintain the distinction between hostility to Israel and Zionism and hostility to Jews as such. But not all. Various current news items – the scandal over Swiss banks accepting Nazi gold stolen from Jews, the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank, even the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) – are given an anti-Semitic slant. Jewish world plots – against mankind in general, against Islam, against the Arabs – have become commonplace.

    The strongest, most principled, and most sustained opposition to the peace process is offered in the name of ‘Islamic solidarity’, especially by the government of Iran and its agencies, and by other Islamic parties and organisations. Most of these accusations are familiar and can be traced to their European sources. Others arise from local circumstances. Thus, for Turkish anti-Semites, the misdeeds of the Jews include the downfall of the Ottoman Empire and the recent troubles in Bosnia. In Iran, American sanctions and the resulting economic hardships are ascribed to sinister Jewish influences in Washington. Other accusations are clearly transference or projection; for example, Israelis are allegedly told by their rabbis that if they drink Palestinian blood they will go straight to paradise.

    Denying or minimising the Holocaust facilitates another favourite theme – that Jews, far from being victims of the Nazis, were their collaborators who now carry on their tradition. Cartoons depicting Israelis and other Jews with Nazi-style uniforms and swastikas have now become standard. These complement the Nazi-era hooked noses and blood-dripping jagged teeth. The memory of both the Jewish victims and Arab admirers of the Third Reich is totally effaced. To maintain this interpretation of history, some measure of control is necessary, extending even to entertainment. Schindler’s List, a film portraying the suffering of the Jews under Nazi rule, is banned in Arab countries. Even Independence Day, which has nothing to do with either the Nazis or the Middle East, was denounced in Arab circles because it has a Jewish hero, and that is unacceptable. The film won approval for release in Lebanon only after the censors had removed all indications of the Jewishness of the hero – the skullcap, the Hebrew prayer, the momentary appearance of Israelis and Arabs working side by side in a desert outpost. A Hezbollah press liaison officer explained his objection to the film. “This film polishes and presents the Jews as a very humane people. You are releasing false images about them.”

    While visits to bookshops in Syria reveal a wide range of anti-Semitic literature, any kind of corrective is lacking. The Arab reader seeking guidance on such topics as Jewish history, religion, thought, and literature will find virtually nothing available. Some material on modern Israel is reasonably factual. But most of what is available is either lurid propaganda or used as such. Translations from Hebrew are few and fall mainly into three categories: accounts of Israeli espionage, memoirs by Israeli leaders (Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu), with explanatory introductions and annotations, and writings by anti-Zionist and anti-Israel Jews.

    (2) The Hizbollah (shia) are now regarded by the Lebanese populace as *the* carte blanche defenders of Lebanon againt Israel. Nasrallah is now a national hero! I mean, what colossal irony.

    There’s nothing ironic about it. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. Nothing is more conducive to hatred than the sight of relatives and friends being killed. And yet, what is Israel supposed to do? Stand by with patient watchfulness as more of its soldiers are abducted and civilians attacked? I don’t think so.

  63. Amir — on 3rd August, 2006 at 5:22 pm  

    Jagdeep – thank you very much for the kind words. ;-)

    Refresh – you accuse me (quite correctly) of polemicism, yet you speak favourably of an anti-Zionist polemic on CIF. It’s like a spade accusing another spade of being a spade, and acting all disgusted about it.

    As for Brian Whitaker’s article… I think it’s summarised very well by ‘antileft’:

    I LOVE this bit of revisionism – did you all catch it? – Israel started it by not giving over maps of landmines, by not handing over a couple of Lebanese murderers who belong in jail, and of course because of the Shebaa Farms. The fact that the UN said that Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon was complete doesn’t really matter does it? – if its a weapon to beat Israel with then why not?

    Let me re-quote a superb paragraph by David Aaronovitch

    It makes more sense to ask why Hezbollah provoked this crisis. There is a whole cottage industry devoted to the reweaving of Hezbollah as a kind of unique mixture of cool guerrillismo and charity organisation, and its leader Hassan Nasrullah as the turbanned love-child of Gerry Adams and Bob Geldof.

    Read it in full.

  64. Jagdeep — on 3rd August, 2006 at 5:23 pm  

    Wow – another enlightening and challenging post Amir, great!

  65. Jagdeep — on 3rd August, 2006 at 5:27 pm  

    Ummm…I was referring to Amir’s post 60, which took me so long to read and then compliment him on he had already replied to my earlier one. Anyway, you make your argument very well. At the very minimum, it has to be said, that this is not conducive to a settlement of the issues between Israel and Palestine, and some of this kind of ideology is seeping into Britain too, which is very bad when it manifests itself in extremist movements.

  66. Arif — on 3rd August, 2006 at 5:44 pm  

    Leon, to the question of how we can stand by and let these things go on – I’d say we probably allow such things to happen because we either think they should happen, or feel the effort required to stop it from ourselves is not worth making.

    If we think such things should happen, it is likely to be because we put these things into a particular context which makes these things seem just or acceptable.

    If we think these things should not happen, but can’t be bothered to do anything it can be because we believe that other people are not our responsibility, that we do not have sufficient power so the effort required would be too much, that our doing something will not really help, or that doing something which seems helpful can also have costs and dangers that may make things worse.

    So many reasons….

    And people who want to do something also have to make so many choices:

    what to do
    how to do it
    when to stop
    whether to do the same thing for other less sensationalised victims

    They also have to put up with people questioning their motives and intelligence.

    Here at Pickled Politics there are people who take a lot of different political positions, but there are probably some underlying common principles obscured behind well-meaning selective memory and interpretations.

    You are asking for constructive suggestions, but there is no consensus on the problem. Katy suggested something which seems a good starting point, but we then got bogged down in the game of who are the goodies and who are the baddies – destroying the search for a constructive solution.

    Sometimes we use this site is a place to fight our battles and sometimes as a place to discuss ways out of these battles. And your initial post showed a mixture of both motives: you seem clear on who to blame and who the victims are, but then you ask for constructive solutions.

    To get a constructive discussion going we need to put aside our narratives of heroes and villains, victims and bullies, defenders and terrorists. We all know by now that we take different sides on this, and we can bring them in again later.

    But first I think we need to agree on basic principles which we would want both sides to put into practice simultaneously and then bring in our interpretations of how each principle would deliver more justice. Then we can construct a common platform which isn’t just continuing the same old fights in cyberspace.

  67. Old Pickler — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:03 pm  

    It’s like a spade accusing another spade of being a spade

    No, it’s more like a pot calling a kettle black. Calling a spade a spade is a good thing.

  68. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:04 pm  

    ” another enlightening and challenging post Amir”

    I am totally flummoxed as to what you see as enlightening, challenging I would agree with.

  69. don — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:08 pm  

    #60 seemed to be a coherent and detailed account of how crude anti-semitism infects regional politics. Enlightening for those unfamiliar with the problem, surely?

  70. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:12 pm  


    I am pleased to have you back here.

    No I don’t see the CiF article the way you do. I see quite a few other articles which support what he actually says in terms of facts.

    The bit that you might not accept is his remedy – which in a nutshell says that should it (Israel) continue on this there is only calamity after calamity ahead.

    See also

    “How Israel’s gung-ho leaders turned victory into calamity

    Our government, in its desperation to outgun its predecessor, spurned a glorious chance to come out of this with honour

    Nehemia Shtrasler
    Thursday August 3, 2006
    The Guardian

    There was one moment during the war when we had the upper hand. It was the moment when Israel had succeeded in striking Hizbullah with strong and surprising force, Haifa was peaceful and the number of casualties was small. That was the right moment to stop the war, declare victory and move on to the diplomatic track.”,,1835894,00.html

    As for daily breaking of UN resolution by Israel see this:

    From Christian Science Monitor:

    “Hizbullah’s attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon
    By Anders Strindberg
    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.”


  71. Jagdeep — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:17 pm  


    Hi! It doesnt matter if you can’t see what is enlightening about the post, maybe that is precisely because it is challenging to your own position, or you don’t wish to acknowledge the argument. Either way, i reiterate, it is an excellent and enlightening and challenging (to you) post that Amir wrote! Stay flummoxed ;-)

  72. don — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:25 pm  


    re; the CSM piece. I would seriously question Strindbergs objectivity, as a Fellow in the Center for Strategic Studies and Research at Damascus University, Syria.

    And are we still regarding LT as balanced? I’ll grant you he does his homework, but I don’t think even he claims that.

  73. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:27 pm  

    Don, I am not so sure. It gives the impression that the context of the problem is anti-semitism. It does not elaborate in any way what does go on in terms of Israeli Statescraft. And what is a provocation, what is a reaction and so on.

    If the issue is to be re-cast into a religious conflict – which Amir is happy to do, then I see no further need for debate. But purely counter bad information.

    An underlying difficulty that Amir refuses to acknowledge is that there is not (certainly there was not) the antipathy to the West (and the US specifically), which all of a sudden seems to be the basis to back Israel in ALL it does. That suggests not even using ‘disproportianate’ as a description.

    This Little Satan, Great Satan stuff is no different to the descriptions given of Iran by ignorant people on the other side.

    Interestingly, not too long ago – the Shia were to be courted as they were needed in the objective in Iraq. Now they are a part of the Axis of Extremism. Axis of Evil having been overused.

    Pitting Shia against Sunni is a deplorable tactic – when what has been required and is seriously needed is compliance to UN resolutions by all parties.

  74. Ravi Naik — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:29 pm  

    “Stand by with patient watchfulness as more of its soldiers are abducted and civilians attacked? I don’t think so.”

    I really can’t comprehend this line of reasoning. Surely between standing patiently and doing nothing AND bombing airports, infrastructures, building and causing massive exodous of people and killing civilians (including children) – surely there must be a more intelligent way to destroy Hezbollah.
    All of this because two israel soldiers were abducted. All it takes to guarantee victory for the terrorists.

  75. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:31 pm  

    Don as for LT, as long as he does his homework and the material is well supported then its a good source.

    On the CSM article, yes I hadn’t noticed that. But is it questionable? Are there facts there or are there not. I presume CSM would have asked the same questions before publishing.

    The other point is that should all our sources be Western?

    Jagdeep, that’s fine. We have different views as to what enlightened means.

  76. don — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:35 pm  


    I would certainly agree that to re-cast the conflict as a religious struggle would be a negative development, albeit one that is already happening. But Amir’s post was an accurate account of one aspect, he was under no obligation to ‘elaborate in any way what does go on in terms of Israeli Statescraft’.

  77. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:39 pm  

    “he was under no obligation to ‘elaborate in any way what does go on in terms of Israeli Statescraft’.”

    Of course I agree with that, but not quite so enlightening to ‘those unfamiliar with the problem’.

  78. El Cid — on 3rd August, 2006 at 7:44 pm  

    Could you tell me a bit more about yourself. I’m one of those cynical types who believes a person’s views on really divisive international issues is often tainted by tribal loyalties. It’s not disimmilar to the legal argument that members of a jury should not prejudice a trial with any preconceptions they may have. Just curious.
    You clearly have a strong grasp of modern history, but then so do I, having a first class degree in modern history to my name. And I think comparing prejudices some people today have towards Arabs to prejudices some people had towards Jews in the 100 years before WW2 are very legitimate indeed. But if you really are gonna insist on making comparisons between Israel 1948 and Turkey 1915, then don’t be surprised if others go even further.

  79. Amir — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:02 pm  

    Let me just clarify a few points [via Refresh and Ravi Naik]

    Though I support Israel’s ground offensive, I disagree with the heavy-handed resort to aerial bombardment. The Germans tried it against the British in 1918 and again in 1940-41 and failed. The United States tried it against North Vietnam (most intensely in 1972) and also failed. It is true that on several occasions the United States has seemed to win a conflict through airpower alone – but in such cases, it has generally either had the support of indigenous allied forces or backed up the bombing with the threat of a ground invasion.

    Thus, although U.S. airpower achieved victory in Bosnia in 1995, it did so only with the support of a Croatian land offensive; in Kosovo in 1999, the Serbs only capitulated when rumours began to circulate of an impending U.S. ground attack; and the Afghan campaign of 2001 required the support of the Afghan Northern Alliance and Pashtun tribes in the south. Moreover, 39 days of bombing in 1991 did not make Saddam Hussein surrender, nor did the ‘shock and awe’ campaign of 2003, which struck several thousand targets with precision-guided munitions within a few days. Large-scale ground invasions were needed in both cases.

    Why has airpower alone almost always failed to force enemies to surrender? The reason is actually fairly simple. The destruction or partial destruction of a military, by itself, places a state’s ability to perform its core functions at risk, but it does not destroy that ability permanently. Militaries can be rebuilt. Shattered infrastructure can be repaired. Even losses in population can be made good over time.

    Only soldiers are discriminating enough, in terms of both judgement and the capabilities of their weapons, to mix with an enemy’s population, and identify the combatants intermingled with that population. What Israel needs to do is impair Hezbollah’s military capacity, kill as many guerrilla fighters as possible, trash their hideouts/tunnels/bunkers, fortify Lebanon’s borders, introduce an international peacekeeping force, and make sure that there’s an ad-hoc effort to strip Hezbollah of any future political/military clout.


  80. El Cid — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:06 pm  

    The punishment of Lebanon because it can’t control Hizbollah, because it is weak — the taking it back 20 years. How very sophisticated and forward-looking. It’s like jailing a mother who, incapacitated after a long illness, cannot control a son who whipped the jailer’s arse and his prison governor to boot in an earlier age. The only thing is, now you’ve got all his brothers, sisters, nephews, etc pissed off and so the cycle continues.
    An eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth. Pathetic.
    So who exactly created Hizbollah, let alone Hamas?

  81. Ravi Naik — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:32 pm  


    I believe that in this case, air bombs are totally uncalled for, as they are horribly destructive to civilians, infrastructure and thus ruining the lives of thousands of people. This is exactly the sort of thing that Hezbollah wants, and thus I believe that supporting Israel means discouraging from adopting such tactics.

    Furthermore, when they are dropping bombs where civilians live, they pretty much know that innocents – including children – will die. And how can people leave, if they destroy roads and bridges and pretty much any infrastructure? And why would destroy it? Oh, yeah, so that terrorists cannot flee.

    El Cid is absolutely right in #78. Israel cannot possibly benefit from what’s going on here. It’s pathetic and very depressing.

  82. Amir — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:42 pm  


    Though I support Israel’s ground offensive, I disagree with the heavy-handed resort to aerial bombardment.

    I’ve spent the whole piece explaining why aerial bombardment doesn’t work on its own!! Sheesh?

    For fucks sakes!! :-)
    Ha ha!

  83. Katy Newton — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:50 pm  

    Pretty much everyone is against the war. I think Leon was more looking for a discussion as to how to go about ending it in a way that is fair and productive for all parties, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it.

  84. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:51 pm  


    For me America is not the great Shaitan and Isreal the little Shaitian. The Quran speaks about Shaitian even before there was an America or Isreal. In fact it states that he is our avowed enemy. Having vowed to destroy all of mankind. It is for this reason that Muslims should be so insecure having such a commited advesary.

  85. Katy Newton — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:52 pm  

    @Amir: hello, stranger.

  86. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:52 pm  

    I’m bored.

  87. don — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:52 pm  

    El Cid,

    I only got a 2:1. Damn.

    But I don’t think the positions here are too far apart. From the start I have maintained that while Israel has the right to defend itself, including crossing the border into territory clearly not controlled by Lebanon, its massive use of high explosives in urban areas is unacceptable. Amir seems to be making more or less the same point, as does Ravi Naik in calling for ‘a more intelligent way’.

    Broadly speaking I am pro-Israel, as you may have gathered, but I am finding it very difficult to support this particular campaign. Israel seems to have been placed in a position where it had to respond strongly to open war and had to choose between a primarily ground offensive (with heavy loss of IDF personel) and an air offensive (with heavy loss of Lebanese civilians). It chose the latter.

    I think that was wrong, but then I don’t have to live with the consequences.

  88. don — on 3rd August, 2006 at 8:57 pm  


    Don’t you know there ain’t no Shaitan, that’s just Allah when he’s drunk.

    (apologies to Tom Waites)

  89. Ravi Naik — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:08 pm  

    “I’ve spent the whole piece explaining why aerial bombardment doesn’t work on its own!! Sheesh?”

    Amir, I did understand that and I was not totally disagreeing with you. Except that I looked at the civilian side rather than just military strategy.

  90. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:27 pm  

    Here is a suggestion. A buffer zone between Lebanon and Israel. The zone to exist on both sides of the border.

    Amir, the basis of your argument is what is at fault, not your military strategy (although I can’t really comment on that). To enter into your debate on the best way to invade a country is to accept aggression.

    I am of the view that regular, almost daily incursions since 2000 by Israel, were bound to obtain a regular response. It was also bound to ensure the continued existence of Hizbollah as de facto defence force in the South. And accepted as such by the Lebanese people.

    Destroying Hizbollah isn’t the answer, nor does it seem feasible. A prolonged period of non-agression, would allow the state of Lebanon to continue its political development; and as it happened with Irgun, Haganah and Stern gang become absorbed within the state infrastructure. Hizbollah is not an external force; they are Lebanese.

    The Lebanese Army needs to be strong enough to protect its people – and that requires it to be strong enough to see off any invading forces. Hizbollah absorbed, it may yet become so.

    Hell, the bunkers foxholes and tunnels (which presumably exist, not seen any pictures of them) would probably need to be re-inforced as a part of the Lebanon defence barrier.

  91. Kismet Hardy — on 3rd August, 2006 at 9:46 pm  

    ‘Don’t you know there ain’t no Shaitan, that’s just Allah when he’s drunk. (apologies to Tom Waites)’

    ha ha ha

    “I’m so horny the crack of dawn better watch out.”


  92. Bijna — on 3rd August, 2006 at 10:11 pm  

    > A buffer zone between Lebanon and Israel.
    > The zone to exist on both sides of the border.

    Israel is not that large.
    If you walk 5 minutes into Israel,
    you have already reached the other side.

  93. Ravi Naik — on 3rd August, 2006 at 10:56 pm  

    “I think Leon was more looking for a discussion as to how to go about ending it in a way that is fair and productive for all parties, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it.”

    He won’t get it because life is not fair. Not fair for the Lebanese because they were weak enough not to control an organisation that was created to fight the Israelis during the occupation of south lebanon. Not fair to the Israelis for having a government that didn’t learn the consequences of its acts in previous conflicts. And simply not fair that Hezbollah – the organisation that started this conflict – will grow in size as a result of all of this.

  94. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:06 pm  

    If anyone is familiar with Google Earth then here is some invaluable information:

    From here you can download a ‘KMZ’ file, and then open in Google Earth. It shows satellite maps of the region with locations of strikes for both Israel and Lebanon.

    Quite astonishing.

  95. Refresh — on 4th August, 2006 at 12:20 am  

    Amir, here is a CiF piece which might be of interest, let me know what you make of it:

    “A little democracy is a dangerous thing – so let’s have more of it

    The next US president may give up on Middle East democratisation, but we shouldn’t. It’s still our best hope

    Timothy Garton Ash in Stanford
    Thursday August 3, 2006
    The Guardian”,,1835808,00.html

  96. Amir — on 4th August, 2006 at 1:00 am  

    Refresh – It’s a superb article… I take my hat off to Timothy Garton Ash. He’s amazing. Seriously… he’s way too sage-like for those sandal-wearing, Muesli-and-yogurt eating, tree-hugging, badger-saving Guardianista readers.

    Katy – Why, hello Miss Newton! You foxy little minx! :mrgreen:

  97. Refresh — on 4th August, 2006 at 1:09 am  

    Amir, if you are entirely satisfied with that article then we have room for a healthy discussion. Beware it may mean a re-orientation.

    And for goodness sake leave the girlies alone (but you’re welcome to Old Pickler).

  98. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 4th August, 2006 at 1:13 am  


    “And for goodness sake leave the girlies alone (but you’re welcome to Old Pickler).”

    Lets hope after he is thoroughly inoculated.

  99. Refresh — on 4th August, 2006 at 1:21 am  

    Well OP really does need the attention.

    Not sure innoculation is necessary on a blog.

    (Actually I’m beginning to regret making that ‘girly’ comment).

  100. Amir — on 4th August, 2006 at 1:48 am  

    Ladies, there’s plenty of me to around… ;-)

    Just admit it: you need some Amir-lovin.

    All of you!

  101. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 4th August, 2006 at 2:04 am  


    Oh please. A bejeweled FOB with a hairy chest, wearing a silk shirt. You are the last thing these women on PP need.

  102. Bijna — on 4th August, 2006 at 6:49 am  

    > The killing continues, … But what can we do?

    Rewrite the Koran. The desire to kill Jews and other non-Muslims comes directly from the Koran.

  103. Refresh — on 4th August, 2006 at 8:37 am  

    Amir, you are a well read sort of fellow. Would you be so kind as to put Bijna out of her ignorance?

  104. Johnathan Pearce — on 4th August, 2006 at 8:54 am  

    You say that it is “nonsense” that Israel is seriously threatened. Huh? Imagine if say, Scottish terror groups kidnapped some English, starting firing long-range Soviet-era rockets into Newcastle, Carlisle or Manchester? Do you honestly think the right reaction is to put on a tin hat and sing a merry tune?

    One does not have to be a starry eyed defender of Israel to realise that that tiny nation, surrounded on all sides by people who want to obliterate it and kill its inhabitants, is right to take a robust view of its defence. Given Europe’s appalling treatment of Jews over the ages it ill behoves blogs like this to cut snooty poses as to the right of that country to defend itself.

  105. Roger — on 4th August, 2006 at 9:44 am  

    You are mistaken, Bijna. Muslims merely want to rule jews and other non-muslims- for their own benefit, of course. Only polytheists are to be killed, and then only if they do not renounce their false religions.

    Jonathan Pearce: Certainly Israel has a right to defend itself against Hizbullah. Israel itself- the state of Israel- is not in danger from Hizbullah’s attacks, however, although individual Israeli’s are. Apart from the question of proportionality, Israel seems to have responded in exactly the way Hizbullah expected and anticipated- not a wise thing to do.

  106. El Cid — on 4th August, 2006 at 9:48 am  

    Yeah, and when you tire of lickle bwai and want a real medallion man, you know where I am (*cue glint from shiny/tabacco-stained teeth*).
    God I’m so macho

  107. Roger — on 4th August, 2006 at 10:09 am  

    Greengrocers apostrophe’s are infectious!

  108. Jagdeep — on 4th August, 2006 at 10:10 am  

    If you’re still taking suggestions on what you can do, how about organising a demo calling for a ceasefire on both sides ie: Which supports neither Israel nor Hezbollah

    At the moment the ‘peace’ movement is mendacious because it is not supporting peace, it is supporting Hezbollah, who are not interested in peace. Therefore, there is no real peace movement at all.

    But then how many people are there who would support a march with slogans calling for Israel to stop it’s bombing and Hezbollah to stop its bombing? Not many – things are too polarised.

  109. Leon — on 4th August, 2006 at 10:26 am  

    I think Leon was more looking for a discussion as to how to go about ending it in a way that is fair and productive for all parties, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it.

    Indeed, but then it’s easy to talk about how bad things are than look for solutions…to be fair I have no answers, hence my questions!

  110. sonia — on 4th August, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    “how about organising a demo calling for a ceasefire on both sides ie: Which supports neither Israel nor Hezbollah”

    Jagdeep – what, you think that’s not happened so far? that the calls for ceasefire have been on ‘one side’ or the ‘other’..Really! Lots of us have raised our voices for a ceasefire and we don’t support either Israel or Hizbollah – obviously – but a call for ceasefire in the interests of PEACE and HUMANITY> i can’t believe how often you have to spell this out – so many partisan types seem to think if you want peace its for one side not the other.

    “At the moment the ‘peace’ movement is mendacious because it is not supporting peace, it is supporting Hezbollah, who are not interested in peace. Therefore, there is no real peace movement at all.”

    so much flawed thinking – goodness. No doubt you think I support hizbollah but let me put this straight: there are a lot of us who have called for peace because what we’re interested in is UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS – read that and try and take it in.

  111. Arif — on 4th August, 2006 at 4:57 pm  

    Hizbullah is itself offering a kind of ceasefire according to the Independent newspaper. Hassan Nasrullah offered to end all rocket attacks in return for an Israeli end to all airstrikes.

    Israel could offer to return their hostages/prisoners in exchange for Hizbullah’s.

    Neither side is pacifist, and it is useless to call on them to suddenly become pacifists. But they are politicians. They accept the principle of negotiating to achieve their goals nonviolently as well as violently. They can choose to create a context in their minds which leaves them with no choice but to be violent because they think it is the only language the other side responds to. But they know this is not true.

    Hizbullah negotiates nonviolently in the Lebanese Parliament. Kadima and Labour negotiate nonviolently to achieve their goals in the Knesset. In some part of their brains they know they can solve this without any intervention by the “international community”, but in another part they lack the will or have calculated their local political advantage relies on demonising and bombing a common enemy.

    I’m told Nasrallah has made this call, which is an opportunity for Israeli politicians to respond to if they felt there would be anything to be gained by it. And I’m sure the Israelis have offered their own options for a solution to Hizbullah. The role of the international community should be humanitarian – providing relief, documenting war crimes, setting up a tribunal to prosecute criminals on both sides and maybe setting up a system for reparations.

  112. sonia — on 4th August, 2006 at 5:23 pm  


  113. Amir — on 4th August, 2006 at 5:56 pm  


    Those anti-Jewish quotations you cite from the Koran are correct. But you’re forgetting one vital thing: context. There is a distinction in the Koran between (a) ‘time-dependent narratives’ and (b) ‘ahistorical religious precepts’. The former embodies the remnants of a lost past; the latter is ingrained in a permanent and unchanging ideology. (This is not easy because the architecture of the Koran is such that it weaves the practical, the historical and the philosophical together.) Those incendiary rants against Jews and ‘infidels’ are only applicable to Muhammad’s military conquests, his colourful speeches, public lectures, and political propaganda (which were all needed to attain power). If, on the other hand, you look at the ‘ahistorical religious precepts’, you will find many favourable references to Jews and the Jewish faith (People of the Book).

    Until the 1950s, for example, Jews and Christians lived peaceably under Moslem rule. In fact, Bernard Lewis, the pre-eminent historian of Islam, has argued that for much of history religious minorities did better under Moslem rulers than they did under Christian ones.

    If there is one great cause of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, it is the total failure of political institutions in the Arab world. Muslim elites have averted their eyes from this reality. Conferences at Islamic centers would still rather discuss ‘Islam and the Environment’ than examine the dysfunctions of the current regimes. But as the moderate majority looks the other way, Islam is being taken over by a small poisonous element, people who advocate cruel attitudes toward women, education, the economy and modern life in general.


  114. limpia — on 4th August, 2006 at 9:27 pm  

    Amir- wonderful and accurate posts! thanx from nyc. However, i am still not certain of the validity of the last one re the Koran. In any case, the jew hatred is there in the masses- well into africa and malaysia, indonesia. The madrassas are courtesy of Saudi arabia , it appears.
    what to do re the current war? Cease fire against hezb? I am not that trusting. I wonder if there is a way to get at iran and syria more directly? I mean military and otherwise. How about dealing with saudi arabia re the madrassas and their hypocrisy- something my president seems to disregard.

  115. Old Pickler — on 4th August, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    If, on the other hand, you look at the ‘ahistorical religious precepts’, you will find many favourable references to Jews and the Jewish faith (People of the Book).

    Unfortunately those are abrogated by the later, hateful verses. Abrogation, sadly, is a mainstream Islamic doctrine.

    If Muslims wish to reform Islam this matter must be addressed, not glossed over.

  116. saurav — on 5th August, 2006 at 10:54 am  

    Arif, I think as a general overview you’re quite right, but I also think that Hezbollah clearly has more to gain from an immediate ceasefire, both in terms of prestige and in terms of outcome, than Israel does. If the fighting stops today, Hezbollah–and especially Nasrallah–have “won.”

    Olmert, I assume, knows this and, as a result, the combination of domestic politics and a fear of growing regional power for Hezbollah are keeping this going. The other aim for Israel seems to be the only strategic one–reoccupying a portion of Lebanon. This seems like a recipe for (continued) disaster–and what is most likely to happen now.

    The “international force” is basically a way of reoccupying the Southern portion of Lebanon without Israeli troops there and would allow some semblance of victory for Israel. This presumably is Israel’s goal at this point and they’re trying to carve out as much Lebanese territory as possible for the “international” force to occupy once the U.S. stops stonewalling in the UN Security Council.

    So the end result will be that Lebanon will (again) be in tatters; Hezbollah and Nasrallah will be viewed as heroes; and the “sustainable ceasefire” that the U.S. allegedly held out for will be an international occupation of southern Lebanon that does nothing to address any of these real issues except for making it more difficult (in the short run) for Hezbollah to launch rockets into Israel.

    That’s assuming the fight doesn’t widen, as some people in these comments seem to be itching for and that the IDF actually captures enough territory to make it more difficult for Hezbollah to reach Israel with its missiles.

  117. Refresh — on 5th August, 2006 at 11:04 am  

    Its gone horribly wrong for Israel.

    “The other aim for Israel seems to be the only strategic one–reoccupying a portion of Lebanon. This seems like a recipe for (continued) disaster–and what is most likely to happen now.

    The “international force” is basically a way of reoccupying the Southern portion of Lebanon without Israeli troops there and would allow some semblance of victory for Israel. This presumably is Israel’s goal at this point and they’re trying to carve out as much Lebanese territory as possible for the “international” force to occupy once the U.S. stops stonewalling in the UN Security Council.”

    Saurav – I agree with your analysis.

    Had it been easy as Olmert expected, then it would have been Syria and then Iran.

    You’d think they’d have learnt from their dismal failures in Iraq.

  118. Roger — on 5th August, 2006 at 5:01 pm  

    “You’d think they’d have learnt from their dismal failures in Iraq”
    Israel’s failure in Iraq, Refresh? Actually, Israel’s interest in both Syria and Iran would be in encouraging fissiparous tendencies and civil war. There’s an irony to Syria making speeches deploring Israeli methods of waging war in Lebanon; when the Muslim Brotherhood took over the city of Hama the Syrian armed forces went in with no regard at all for civilian life- 10000 to 25000 dead.

  119. Winrock — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

    Interesting Article written by Uri Avnery is an Israel writer and peace activist.

    Uri Avnery: The Real Aim in Lebanon

  120. Winrock — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

    Interesting Article written by Uri Avnery. He is an Israel writer and peace activist.

    Uri Avnery: The Real Aim in Lebanon

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