Friday, August 04, 2006


Via (kindred soul) I have come across this oasis of sanity. Read Jewish Voice for Peace's:

- excellent in-depth analysis of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza

(i) making a clear legal distinction between the actions of Hamas and Hizballah:

The Palestinians are a people under occupation and they have the right to resist that occupation, even with force. One may argue over the advisability of their action, but it was permitted under international law. This is not the case with Hezbollah. Their act was a clear violation of international law, as was their subsequent attack on civilian targets within Israel. The Israeli occupation of Sheba'a farms doesn't justify Hezbollah's incursion into Israel in this manner.

(ii) demonstrating the strategic stupidity of Israel's actions:

Hezbollah, like Hamaas, had internal reasons as well as external ones for launching its attack. Hezbollah had come under significant pressure to disarm and allow the Lebanese to deploy in the south of the country. A UN Security Council resolution did demand this, and the new, more pro-Western government was also desirous of this. While Hezbollah had attained a heroic status for having fought Israel until it ended its 18-year occupation of Southern Lebanon, that was six years ago. It was a permanent fixture in Lebanon politically, but it was beginning to look like Hezbollah's days of being able to independently run its own military affairs in Lebanon were drawing to an end. Ironically, this is what Israel claims it wants, yet its invasion has united much more of Lebanon behind Hezbollah.

Hezbollah as a political party is deeply woven into Lebanese politics. As a militia, Hezbollah was losing its grip before the Israeli attack. But Israel's actions have reversed this. Now, the pro-Western Prime Minister of Lebanon tells the American Secretary of State that she is not welcome in Lebanon unless she brings a cease-fire with her and he openly thank Hezbollah, heretofore his bitter rival, for defending Lebanon.

In other words, Israel's disproportionate response (yes, it has to be said again and again) has been a Hizballah wet dream. Fouad Siniora (the Lebanese PM) was on BBC Newsnight this evening virtually echoing every single Hizballah demand - the return of Sheba'a Farms, prisoner exchange - in addition to demanding an immediate ceasefire (he probably won't get all of those things if he asks for them together).

(iii) not letting Iran off the hook - with pressure mounting on Iran on account of its nuclear programme and with Washington making no secret of its desire to see regime change in Tehran, it is in Iran's interest to act against the US and Israel. It has no need to do this overtly and by itself, given that it can act through proxies - Shia militant groups in Iraq against the US, and Hizballah in Lebanon against Israel. JVP thinks Syria is playing less of a role at the moment.

(iv) squarely blaming the US for - far from doing nothing - actually egging one side on to greater destruction.

- see also JVP's earlier excellent Q&A on Hamas' rise to power in Palestine - yes Hamas is a terrorist organisation (but so were the Irgun and Stern Group from whose ranks came Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir), yes Israel is justifiably concerned by the rise to power of a group that avowedly aims at its destruction (but Hamas has departed considerably from that position even without a formal amendment of its charter). This is a rare, brave and balanced analysis.

It really is a small world.

Btw, I used your photos from the peace rally in Tel Aviv, yet didn't mention your site. Sorry, I wasn't completely up-to-date with the etiquette, but will edit the post. Anyhow, nice of you to make mention of my site.

All best,

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