August 2, 2006
It should be quite obvious by now that Israel’s latest invasion of Gaza and Lebanon had very little to do with rescuing her fallen soldiers. As I write, Israel has killed some 750 unarmed Lebanese civilians - mostly women and children, destroyed mosques, bridges, roads, houses, schools, hospitals and much of the infra-structure of southern half of Lebanon. As in 1996, she has massacred scores of civilians in Qana this past weekend (July 30, 2006).
Israel has bombed Red Cross center and ambulances, and a UN observation post killing 4 observers. She has displaced a million people inside the country, some of whom are forced to take shelters in even prisons. Infants have been forcibly separated from their parents, and the elderly from their care-taking children. Relief supplies are difficult to get to the internally displaced refugees. Nothing is immune from Israel’s bombing campaign.
If a small fraction of these crimes were to be committed by any invading state, in contravention to international laws, Bush and Blair and their European allies in the NATO would be screaming aloud demanding cease-fire, failing which they would threaten the invading nation with all kinds of actions - UN sanctions, embargo and war. But when it comes to crimes of Israel, they are her greatest cheer-leaders. They want to see more Muslim blood, more destruction, literally hell on earth and not cease-fire, because to them Muslim lives and properties are cheap and expendable.
As Michael Schure, an ex-CIA analyst and the foremost expert on al-Qaeda, has said, Bush and Blair through their naked support of such monumental crimes against Muslims have repeatedly given credence to everything that their adversaries have been saying about the West. No bones about it. Truly, it is not OBL and al-Zawahiri who are radicalizing Muslims throughout the world, but these two world leaders. With world leaders like these, who needs OBL to bring the Armageddon on earth?
Exchange of prisoners between contending parties is not new. It takes place all the time. Even Israel has, in the past, negotiated such exchanges. Moreover, the demand of Hizbullah and Hamas to exchange captured Israeli soldiers for Muslims prisoners held by Israel is justified given the fact that it is Israel that for decades has been holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners and hundreds of Lebanese citizens -- many of whom are women, children and (even) infants -- some literally kidnapped.
Remember that although Israel was forced to withdraw from southern Lebanon in 2000, some 22 years after its invasion, she continued to hold onto the Sheba Farms in defiance of UN Security Council resolution 425, and refused the release of 300 Lebanese prisoners including a number of Hizbullah leaders. Israel also refused to hand d over to the Lebanese government the map of land mines planted in south Lebanon. She continued to violate the air, water and land sovereignty of Lebanon. Even the plea of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora with the Bush Administration did not produce any result. So, when all the options for a peaceful resolution of these legitimate concerns were balked at by the Zionist regime, Hizbullah captured two Israeli soldiers when they violated Lebanese sovereignty on July 12.
Hizbullah promptly called for the exchange of prisoners. Unfortunately, Israel does not care about the fate of those soldiers. She used the event as a pretext for something more sinister, something that remained unfulfilled from the Zionist blueprint for six-decade long history of annexation and annihilation, massacre and manipulation. The current murderous campaign of Israel inside Lebanon cannot, therefore, be grasped without an understanding of the Zionist dream that includes annexing the southern part of Lebanon to the Litani River, the Syrian Golan Heights, and the West and East banks of the Jordan River.
It is, therefore, not difficult to fathom why Israeli Prime Minister Olmert preferred invasion of Lebanon over negotiation to exchange prisoners. Israel has always been a colonial enterprise that thrives on opportunities for practicing state-run terrorism and colonization against Arabs. The capture of Israeli soldiers provides that criminal justification to destroy and slaughter, let alone an opportunity to set up a client state in the plundered territory that would safeguard Israel’s so-called inalienable rights to intervene. Invasion comes rather easy with Israeli warlords. To these hawks, Barak’s 2000 pullout from the 'Security zone’ was a mistake and needed to be corrected. They want a 'Buffer zone.’
One should not forget that it was Israeli atrocities and western betrayals that brought about the emergence of resistance fighters of Hizbullah, born in families of the Shi’ite victims and out of the ashes of south Lebanon. During the Lebanese Civil War, when the USA and France acted more like proxies to pro-Israel forces in the region, the U.S. Embassy (April 1983), and French and U.S. Army barracks (October 23, 1983) were attacked by these resistance fighters killing nearly 300. By the time the Civil War ended, Hizbullah, with its militia, refused to disarm in fighting the Israeli presence in the security zone.
The Lebanese government with a weak military was in no position to contest IDF and found it prudent to overlook Hizbullah’s efforts to securing the southern border. Thus, the latter had a de facto approval from its constituency. [A poll conducted by the Arab-American Institute as recently as April of 2006 showed widespread support for Hizbullah. Only 6% of Lebanese people agreed to a disarmament of the group.]
Hizbullah also did a superb job building clinics, hospitals and schools, paving roads and constructing homes, and rebuilding houses and other infrastructure in war-torn Lebanon. These activities earned them immense popularity in the south and made them a major political and social force to be reckoned with.
The presence of the IDF and its surrogate SLA in the south was a source of constant irritation for Lebanon and her people, and led to hostilities with Hizbullah and the Lebanese forces. In April 1996, during Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" campaign to destroy Hizbullah guerrillas, Israeli artillery gunners shelled a United Nations base in Qana, east of the port city of Tyre, killing more than 100 civilians sheltering there. That massacre at Qana galvanized the western leaders to arrange a ceasefire.
Fighting between the Hizbullah and the IDF resumed again in June of 1999. In May 2000, under the new Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the IDF started to gradually withdraw from southern Lebanon turning over its positions to its ally - the SLA. However, amidst incessant pressure from the Hizbullah, SLA collapsed, leading Israel to accelerate its withdrawal, which it accomplished by late May. Nonetheless, she held on to the Sheba Farms.
On Sunday, July 30, 2006, under new Prime Minister Olmert, the IDF repeated the war crimes of 1996 through missile strikes in the village of Qana. Villagers had gathered in a shelter in one of Qana's buildings, probably thinking that the massacre of 1996 would not be repeated by savage Israelis. But they were wrong. Lebanese Red Cross officials said that 58 people died in the Israeli assault on the village, including 34 children. Rescuers dug through the debris to remove dozens of bodies.
In 1996, Qana was the price Lebanon had to pay for world leaders to end the killing. But this time, with the US and its leadership firmly behind Israel’s war-crimes, no such ceasefire is in the making. So, when the rest of the world cries out foul and is saddened with savagery of Israel, and demonstrates for ceasefire, leaders like Bush, Blair and Condi Rice show that they are devoid of human traits. Their behavior is immoral, demented, sadistic and criminal. Truly, if we are looking for a modern-day Nero, we have it in these world leaders.
In their delirious mindset, they have forgotten that when the doors of negotiation, seeking fairness and justice, are shut down, radical elements -- prone to seek alternative ways to redress their grievances -- always emerge. If that happens, don’t mumble 'why they hate us?’ It is events like Qana that produces recruits for 9/11, 7/11 and 7/7.
The current events in the Occupied Palestine and Lebanon once again have shown the utter moral bankruptcy of the West and its leadership, especially of the USA and the UK. Hypocrisy is its hallmark. The West can preach equality, liberty, democracy and human rights, but they truly don’t mean them when it comes to vast majority of non-whites. So, when Israel commits monumental crimes against Arabs, violating scores of international laws and UN charters, the USA and her western allies have consistently cheered and supported her criminal activities.
It is said that when criminals and demons rule our world, it is better for human beings to be dead than alive. How long will humanity let these modern-day Neroes to rule our world?
[Dr. Siddiqui is an anti-war and human rights activist.]