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Hezbollah Warns Arabs to Leave Haifa



August 9, 2006

Just as the diplomatic overtures between Hezbollah and Israel are sinking on the rotten (pro-Israel) foundations they were planted on, and just as the Israeli cabinet decided to broaden the already broad offensive in Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned all Israeli Arabs to leave the port city of Haifa so the militant group could step up attacks without fear of shedding the blood of fellow Muslims.

Haifa, the third-largest city in Israel, was already by Hezbollah's rocket attacks. The damage was nothing compared to Israel's in Lebanon of course. Some estimate that up to 85% of Lebanon's infrastructure is gone.

Nasrallah told the Palestinian citizens of Haifa:

I have a special message to the Arabs of Haifa, to your martyrs and to your wounded. I call on you to leave this city. I hope you do this. ... Please leave so we don't shed your blood, which is our blood.
The greatest tragedy of this measure is that Haifa was long a symbol of Jewish-Arab coexistence. Before Israel's birth, it was a model in many ways (one severely tarnished by Zionism's success, of course). Still, the city stood out in Israel as a place for both people, albeit the Palestinian citizens there still had secondary status. At least it wasn;t as badly segregated there.

Nasrallah's announcement that the Arabs there should leave also harkens back to the 1948 war. Some Arab leaders insisted the civilians leave in order to defeat the Zionist forces. The Zionists prevailed and kept the civilians from coming back, an inherently immoral taking, regardless of who left and why. Still, the idea of leaving your city opens up this collective memory.

As one who hopes for coexistence between Israeli Jews and the Palestinians based on legal equality, a universal definition of citizenship, I find this symbolic of all that is wrong in the modern Middle East. It is much easier for Israel to undertake a military campaign aimed at ethnic cleansing and collective punishment, then it is to face the crimes of the past.

It is easier for resistance fighters to use the tools of the colonizers than it is to imagine progress based on new ideals and methods. Emptying Haifa is not better than clearing out South Lebanon. Hezbollah is clearly responding to Israeli provocation; but that does not make right. It is clearly acting in self-defense since Israel is and always has been the most aggressive and imposing force in the region.

However, such an exchange -- war -- only keeps this language going. No one will wipe the other out. The killing is futile. Tragically, the international community sits on its hands; and the United States maintains this destructive path. This all plays into Israel's agenda, which has proven to be one of the most destructive and divisive forces in the region. We need an organic solution, a ground-up solution, to these post-colonial woes. Israel's path, which is also America's, is towards more disaster. Hezbollah is beginning to go in that path.

However, in the same speech, Nasrallah put his support behind the Lebanese government's proposal to send its forces to the South. This gives the proposal much more legitimacy. Will the international community have what it takes to get Israel to agree to ending its offensive? How many war crimes and broken international laws does it take?

:: Article nr. 25621 sent on 10-aug-2006 06:19 ECT


Link: kabobfest.blogspot.com/2006/08/hezbollah-warns-arabs-to-leave-haifa.html#links

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