Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Green Light

As Tim notes (with comment and linkage), the Guardian is reporting that the US and UK government's are blocking calls for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.
The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.
Sadly, even the Guardian cannot bring itself to accurately reflect what's happening. Try this:
The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on the Lebanese people before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.
That is the reality. No amount of "sincere regret" on the part of the Israeli government changes the fact that it is Lebanese civilians who are squarely in the sights of the Israeli military when they pull the trigger.

From Reuters:
Israel unleashed fierce air strikes on Lebanon on Wednesday, killing 41 civilians and a Hizbollah fighter, as boats and buses left Beirut laden with thousands of foreigners fleeing the eight-day-old conflict.
Forty one civilians and one Hizbollah fighter.

If you know that the bomb you're about to drop or the shell you're about to fire is almost certain to kill innocent civilians and you do it anyway, and you have no intention of changing that behaviour in the future, your platitudes of regret are utterly meaningless. If you regret something, you are usually expected to prove the point by doing your absolute best never to do it again.

Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself. But it does not have the right to impose violent collective punishment on the Lebanese people as a whole. No state has the right to behave in such a way as it is, rightly, illegal under international law.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
International law is a complex thing and it may well be possible to argue that Article 33 doesn't apply in the present circumstances. But what sort of morals must a person have to argue that this sort of collective punishment is justifiable? Let's not beat about the bush here; those are the morals of the terrorist. The belief that it is justifiable to direct lethal violence against the many for the actions of the few is the bedrock of terrorist activity. Can we really go down that route without losing our humanity, our decency, our claim to be civilised people?

I call for the British government to demand the immediate cessation of Israeli collective punishment of the Lebanese people. The right of self defence cannot justify the current disproportionate actions of the Israeli government.

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7 comments:

mintymiller said...

I think a little more balance is required here. So I'll take 10 minutes out of writing a boring report on a union consultation exercise to write a response. First and foremost can I state that I am not an active supporter of Israel, but I think Israelis have a legitimate grievance this time around! If you will forgive the indulgence of some imaginative speculation, let's imagine that at some future juncture in history, England exists in a world where it is constantly being threatened and harassed by the French to the south, the Scots to the north and the Welsh to the west (who have established their own troublesome little State). The SNP has a Welsh-French-sponsored military wing that populates the border between Scotland and England with ground to ground missiles capable of hitting Carlisle or even (God forbid) Leeds. Furthermore, let us assume that the legitimate Government in Glasgow (it's the future man, so anything's possible!) allowed the military wing of the SNP to plant its weapons' stores within civilian areas in their full knowledge and in complete disregard of the risks that such a strategy poses to innocent bystanders. They might allow this because if they didn't, the SNP and its heinous backers in France would have some sharp words with them!

Now, let us pretend that an English border post is caught with its pants down and gets blasted to smithereens, killing 8 of its number with two snatched across the border into Scotland to await who knows what. This coming on top of numerous cross-border missile and other attacks may make even the English think of straws and camels' backs! So are we really to believe that the Government in London would do nothing about it? Of course they would unless they decided to abrogate all responsibility for their own people's welfare. There's no rights or wrongs here; in these circumstances, it is the solemn duty of your country's armed forces to do everything in its power to defend its civilian population from further attacks.

If faced with similar circumstances, there's not a country I can think of that wouldn't pursue a legitimate armed response. Why should Israel be expected to behave any differently in that regard?

MatGB said...

If faced with similar circumstances, there's not a country I can think of that wouldn't pursue a legitimate armed response. Why should Israel be expected to behave any differently in that regard?

It shouldn't. Thing is, it isn't.

this isn't a legitimate armed response. It's overkill and then some. The Lebanese Govt is new, barely established and far too weak to control the militants directly. Israel knows that.

Legitimate reponse fine. Disproportionate overkil?

No way.

Anonymous said...

The video shows how UN ambulance is picking up armed Hamas terrorists in Gaza. I wonder what is Kofi Annan's explanation..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqGjz7iJTns&search=UN%20Ambulance

mintymiller said...

'this isn't a legitimate armed response. It's overkill and then some. The Lebanese Govt is new, barely established and far too weak to control the militants directly. Israel knows that.'

Hmmm....the Lebanese Government is certainly weak, otherise Hezbollah would have been disarmed following Israel's withdrawl in 2000. As for overkill, how would you deal with a missile equipped militia, financed and supported by Iran that is hell bent on your destruction? Blow them a kiss?

mintymiller said...

Did I omit to mention that Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese Government and holds cabinet posts there? You have to ask why an independently armed militia is tolerated in a Government that has its own armed forces and why those forces are just stranding back and letting Hezbollah do their own thing!

Seeker said...

Are you aware that the Israelis have abducted close on 10,000 arabs over the last 20 years and i,000 of them are in administrative detention and will never face a trial and the rest have been sentenced by militaty tribunal which accepts confessions obtained under torture. Hezbollah and Hamas have not abandoned these people but as we can see the israelis cannot tolerate arabs doing to them as they themselves do to others and have used this pretext to assert their military authority over their neighbours regardless of civilian casualties the current exchange rate in lives is about 10 to 1 in Israels favour.

Osama Saeed said...

mintymiller, you forgot the bit about millions of people coming over from Arabia to establish a state in England, creating millions of refugees from the inhabitants, and then going on to later occupy Wales.

In the current crisis with Scotland it bombed the hell out of Glasgow and Edinburgh killing hundreds and making their people flee up to Aberdeen.