Politics in Israel, Iraq, and America

On the situations in Israel, Iraq, and other news.
In his book Politics, the philosopher Aristotle stated that "At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst." I can think of no more apt description of the current state of world affairs.

The past week has seen an increasing spiral of inhumanity that can be, at best, described as troubling to even the passing consumer of news. Recent events in and , along with continuing situations that revolve around the , are lending creedence to Aristotle's prolific words.

The most basic truism of elementary physics is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The surge of violent conflict in recent years is likely to continue to have repercussions for many years to come, and that is not going to turn out well for any of us. The separation of law and justice from actions taken on behalf of the voting- or non-voting- publics of major world powers has already started taking its toll on general safety and security, and the prospects for the situation improving anytime in the near future look quite grim.

In the news

I constantly mention how violence only brings more violence, and often point to the tenuous relationship between Israel and Palestine as an example. This kind of cycle of violence can only be put to an end when both sides stop with their attacks, but that is far from likely to happen anytime in the near future with the recent happenings in the Occupied Territories and Lebanon.

The past week has seen Israel pursue actions that all but ensure that the current violent Intifada will last for many years to come. Killing civilians at an alarming rate, and being tacitly encouraged to do so by the most powerful regime in the world, is going to bring about a surge in recruitment for organised groups that wish to take up arms against those responsible for these deplorable actions. In its bid to crush militant groups, Israel has committed acts that instigate additional attacks, and the cycle of violence is assured to continue. Seeing that Israel can act with impunity in their slaughter of civilians, many in the region will doubtlessly be driven to take it into their own hands to bring justice to (punish) those responsible.

Even those that support Israel have said of late that their response to the recent kidnappings has been "overkill". Their choice of targets is, to put it one way, a bit vindictive.

By way of example, pictured below you can see what Beirut International Airport normally looks like.

This is how it looked thursday.

In the middle of the tourist season for the beautiful tourist haven that is western Beirut, the IDF has bombed the international airport as part of their retaliation for the kidnapping of 2 Israeli soldiers by the militant group Hezbollah, which is based in southern Lebanon. It was part of a larger military operation that has seen all Israeli military reserve personnel called up, and has seen Israel mount a full scale invasion of Lebanon for the first time since 1982.

In the process, at least 55 civilians and countless "suspected militants" have been killed in Lebanon. The Guardian reports on the attacks:

Israeli air force planes ranged freely across Lebanon, bombing villages, army bases, bridges and a television station as the Jewish state intensified its campaign to win the release of two soldiers captured by Hizbullah on the border on Wednesday.

The air raids also severed the main road between Beirut and the Syrian capital, Damascus. Israeli gunboats turned ships away from Lebanese ports and last night flames were billowing from fuel tanks after a second attack on the capital's crippled airport. At least 50 Lebanese were killed in the assault, including 17 members of two families.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the dead included at least 10 children. It continues:

"Among the civilian Lebanese deaths were a Shiite Muslim sheikh, his wife and eight children who were killed when an Israeli missile struck an olive grove near their home in the southern village of Dweir, police said.

Another family of seven, including a 10-month-old baby, was killed in the village of Baflay near the coast.

Israel have also destroyed the main highway that leads into and out of the city of Beirut, and bombed the fuel stores of the city's power plant. Hezbollah has been making retaliatory rocket attacks against positions inside Israel, and the Lebanese army was reported firing anti-aircraft weapons at the attacking Israeli planes.

Similarly, in Gaza, Israel has destroyed every major bridge that leads into and out of the occupied territories. That, along with the fact that the UN reports that Gaza is likely to run out of fresh water supplies within 2 weeks, does not bode well for an area that is already a humanitarian danger zone.

The Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, was in Jordan to meet with King Abdullah. During his visit, the AFP quotes that Abdullah told Koizumi "It may be exaggeration, but (the current situation) appears close to the one on the eve of the 1967 Middle East war," The prime minister of Japan also visited Palestinian President Abbas, and Japan has promised $30 million worth of aid to Palestine. According to the Mainichi Daily: "Abbas told reporters that he agreed with Koizumi on the need for continued efforts to end a critical situation in the Palestinian territories as soon as possible in order to establish peace in the region." Abbas also called upon "concerned international powers for an immediate intervention to halt the dangerous deterioration in the Middle East." according toWAFA news.

Right around the same time as that visit, the Israeli Air Force bombed the head offices of the Foreign Ministry of Palestine.

Ha'aretz reports that even Condeleeza Rice urged the Israeli government to "exercise restraint," but the response by Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon was that "what we are doing is the most effective (way) to stop [Hezbollah]," and he also said "I think they (Hezbollah) misinterpreted our restraint for the last six years." The AFP reports: In an indication the offensive was far from over, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert authorised the army "to press on with its operation in Lebanon and hit more targets".

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has dispatched a team of 3 "veteran negotiators" to the region to try and calm the situation. In response to Israel's invasion and subsequent "disproportionate use of force" in attacking civilian areas, France negotiated a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's actions, and also condemning militant attacks against Israel. The UN News Center reports:

Denmark, Peru, Slovakia and United Kingdom abstained from voting on the draft, which also called for the release of all Palestinian officials detained by Israel and called on the Palestinian Authority to take “immediate and sustained” action to bring and end the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

The text would have explicitly condemned Israel’s current “military assault” in Gaza, which, it said, “has caused the killing and injury of dozens of Palestinian civilians” and destroyed Gaza’s main power station.

In addition, the draft called on the international community to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people to help alleviate the dire humanitarian situation, and on the Israeli Government to restore and maintain the continuous and uninterrupted supply of fuel to Gaza, and to “act expeditiously” to replace destroyed equipment at the power plant.

The resolution was vetoed by the U.S.

In doing so, they have shown to the international community, and to the victims of this violence against civilians, that they endorse and support such violence. As the U.S. government is meant to represent the people of America, it is to be assumed in the international community that Americans support murderous attacks on civilians. That is a shameful way for "the home of the brave" to be portraying themselves in the international community.

In only a few days, the israeli "seige" of Palestine and Lebanon has cost the lives of over one hundred civilians. That is alot of berieved and angry family members and friends. The fact that the international community is not stepping in to put an end to the violence is going to lead people to, feeling that justice is not being served, take up arms against those they feel are responsible. The assertion that murderous attacks against civilians are somehow going to put an end to terror attacks against israel is the most illogical conclusion one could possibly come up with. The reality is that these attacks are only going to increase the amplitude of this cycle of violence, and it is growing so rapidly at the moment that it threatens peace throughout the whole region.

The past week has also seen spiraling violence in Iraq. Additional sectarian attacks yesterday claimed the lives of 14 innocent civilians.

While this has been discussed fairly openly in the western media, it has been marginalised in the Iraqi media, out of fear of contributing to a public fear of what seems to be emerging as a civil war. As such, not many Iraqi bloggers have discussed this latest wave of violence.

However, such attacks have become so commonplace of late, it is also possible that the only difference between this string of attacks and previous similar attacks in Iraq is that this is receiving more western press coverage.

Blogger Riverbend discusses the attacks on her most recent blog post, dated Tuesday, 11 July. The post begins:

It promises to be a long summer. We're almost at the mid-way point, but it feels like the days are just crawling by. It's a combination of the heat, the flies, the hours upon hours of no electricity and the corpses which keep appearing everywhere.

The day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there, black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were executed right there in the area. The media is playing it down and claiming 37 dead but the people in the area say the number is nearer 60.

The horrific thing about the killings is that...

...Riverbend's Post Continues...

Yesterday there were more sectarian attacks, reported to have taken the lives of between 15 and 20 civilians.

Iraq has become, even with large numbers of military and "police" forces around, a lawless country. Without law and justice, man is the worst of all creatures.

and then some
Meanwhile, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, reported to the U.S. Congress that:
"Americans should be strategically optimistic about Iraq, even as the continuing difficulties in Iraq will require tactical patience," ...and also claimed that there were many... "positive developments which give the Iraqi government and friends of Iraq real hope,"

The thing is, what takes away much hope is the fact that the U.S., meant to be leading (by example?), is setting the worst possible example for others to follow. With military attacks as the first option, tacit support for, and being responsible for, the slaughter of countless civilians. With soldiers and mercenaries on the ground that are, quite literally out of control. What kind of a world is the U.S. regime making for us these days?

As I'm sure many of you were aware, recently 5 U.S. soldiers, while on duty manning a checkpoint in Iraq, were able to slip away from their posts, change clothes, find alcohol, get drunk, then hunt down a 14 year old girl they had seen in the area. They proceeded to rape her, then to cover up their crime they murdered her entire family, her, and then burned her corpse to cover the evidence.

These actions are another in a string of unholy cases of U.S. soldiers or mercenaries (a.k.a. defence contractors) committing unspeakable acts in Iraq. The reason for this is a little known stipulation of Iraqi Law, signed by former U.S. "administrator" (self-appointed dictator doesn't sound as nice) Paul Bremer in 2004, called "Order 17," which grants full legal immunity to all U.S. personnel in Iraq. The U.S. was also able to negotiate into a U.N. mandate (the one that said it was O.K for the U.S. to stay in Iraq) international legal immunity for its soldiers and employees.
The current "President" of Iraq recently called on the UN to do away with that particular stipulation, saying "the immunity given to members of coalition forces encouraged them to commit crimes in cold blood."

What an example to set. Quite similarly, after a few years of being in office, Adolf Hitler signed a decree making the Gestapo above the law and immune from prosecution.

The Japan Times published an editorial today about American policies. It is entitled "Guantanamo: Shame On U.S."

Still, in the final analysis, the robustness and resilience of the U.S. commitment to human rights laws and norms will be judged not by the breaches in the aftermath of 9/11, but by their reversal and attenuation through domestic judicial and political processes. The unlawfulness of trials by military commissions for Guantanamo prisoners, and the applicability of the Geneva Conventions, were confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision on June 29.

Guantanamo flouts not just due process, but also common decency and basic morality. The rise and diffusion of human rights norms and conventions and international humanitarian law were among the great achievements of the last century. Guantanamo represents a serious setback to this progressive development.

A human right, owed to every person simply as a human being, is inherently universal. Held only by human beings, but equally by all, it does not flow from any office, rank or relationship. The language of human rights embodies the intuition that the human species is one and every individual is entitled to equal moral consideration.

...the rest of the editorial...


misneach said...

For many years, and especially since the famed "National Security Strategy" of 2002, the U.S. has legitimised excessive use of force and marginalisation of the concept of law and order.

We are now beginning to reap the glorious benefits of these policies, with other countries and groups intensifying their violent campaigns, following the U.S.'s lead.

misneach said...

CNN's coverage of the story is so one-sided as to ignore the 50 civilians killed by the IDF but focus on the 2 Israeli civilians killed in retaliatory attacks.

I've sent a letter to CNN regarding their coverage. It's posted on my Misneach Letters Blog under the title CNN Supports Murderous Israeli Policies.

They have a poll on that news report I was responding to, and the nearly 100,000 votes are skewed greatly in favor of Israel. The only explanation I can think of is that it is due to either a) the 50 Lebanese civilians being worth less than the 2 Israeli civilians, or b)CNN's blatantly one-sided and appalling coverage of the situation.

Anonymous said...

Great Post! The media here in the US is very much one sided. They don't tell the whole story for fear the tide will turn against Israel. I don't know this for a fact, but believe it. There are some like me who happen to see through the reports they give us.

The Missing Link said...

hey there - just wanted to let you know ive switched my site address... and thanks so much for your comment re: that weirdo's letter that I posted. it means the world to me when others take the time to read & comment such supportive and kind words. hope you continue to do so :)


misneach said...

Related Websites/News Stories/Blogs

From My Window, I Saw What "War on Terror" Meant.

Are you Condoning Israel or Palestine? And does it Matter?

Rise (an angry, angry reaction to the attacks)

This was from a blog by Shaykhspeara Sha'ira

"la qad karramna bani Adam"

"And we have honoured the sons of Adam"
- The Koran 17:70

Where is the honour? Sons of Adam is an arabic term (bani Adam) synonym to the term "the human race". It does not say Sons of Adam who are Muslim. Or Palestinian. Or Jewish.

And a letter to the editor of The Independent (U.K.)

Persecution and oppression are the breeding grounds for terror

Sir: Every act of revenge ("Israel launches ferocious assault on Lebanon", 13 July) is a time-bomb thrown into the future, one which reverberates through history, unless dealt with through modern psychological and effective methods of reconciliation and peace building.

In l978, after the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon, to "root out and destroy" Palestinian "terrorists", I saw, as Coordinator for International Aid in Lebanon, the Hizbollah take root in the rubble of the destroyed villages of South Lebanon and in the slums they fled to. The indiscriminate violence of the Israeli invasion of 1982 dug even deeper roots for freedom fighters and fundamentalists. The Palestinian "terrorist" movements had, of course, themselves taken root in the rubble of homes in Palestine and in the refugee camps of Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza.

The Zionist "terrorist" movements Irgun and Haganah took root in the pogroms and ghettos of Europe and years of oppression and persecution.

How is it, then, that in the name of lasting peace, Mr Olmert, Mr Bush, Mr Blair or anyone else can still believe in the effectiveness of crushing "terrorism" by terrorising whole populations.

Even if Hizbollah and Hamas are "crushed" and the Iranian and Syrian sponsors brought to heel, what new "terrorist" movement is presently taking root in the massacre of innocents, the destroyed homes, and the overcrowded, war-weary buildings to which thousands of refugees have fled in Gaza and Lebanon? History has always provided sponsors.

"Terrorism" is kept alive by fear, oppression and humiliation. A just and lasting peace is one in which all people can be heard and retain dignity.



Avedon said...

OK, explain to me why your permalink is copy-protected so that I can't just use "Copy shortcut" for it. You want people to link to you, right? Recommend your posts? So, why would you deliberately stop them from copying your link? It makes no sense.

misneach said...

Avedon, I'm actually really sorry about that. It was unintentional, I added a bit of javascript from a site called "who links to me" and it somehow disallowed right clicks. I'll get rid of that now actually.