Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hizbullah Responsible for Death of UN Observers

A news article published in the Ottawa Citizen has some concrete proof that Hizbullah fighters used the area close to the UN Observer post that was eventually bombed by Israel. Four unarmed UN Observers, including one Canadian, who should never have been in such a dangerous combat zone were killed by the air strike. The article published in the Citizen quotes an e-mail sent by Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener in which he basically says that Israeli fire was coming ever closer to the UN observation post because Hizbullah was firing from its vicinity:
The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.

Those words, written in an e-mail dated just nine days ago, offer a possible explanation as to why the post -- which according to UN officials was clearly marked and known to Israeli forces -- was hit by Israel on Tuesday night, said retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie yesterday.

The strike hit the UN observation post in the southern Lebanese village of El Khiam, killing Canadian Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener and three others serving as unarmed UN military observers in the area.

Just last week, Maj. Hess-von Kruedener wrote an e-mail about his experiences after nine months in the area, words Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie said are an obvious allusion to Hezbollah tactics.

"What I can tell you is this," he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. "We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.

"The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."

Those words, particularly the last sentence, are not-so-veiled language indicating Israeli strikes were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the post, said Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie.

"What that means is, in plain English, 'We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces)," he said.

That would mean Hezbollah was purposely setting up near the UN post, he added. It's a tactic Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie, who was the first UN commander in Sarajevo during the Bosnia civil war, said he's seen in past international missions: Aside from UN posts, fighters would set up near hospitals, mosques and orphanages.
I recall MacKenzie being one of the few people during the Bosnian civil war to give detailed accounts of how BOTH Serb and Bosnian militias were using dirty tactics. He made his comments at a time when Sarajevo was under siege so that they were quite unpopular. People misunderstood him as trying to somehow justify the actions of Serb militias against Sarajevo's civilian population and it seems that he was silenced pretty quickly.

23 comments:

Halla said...

John,
Nothing has been mentioned about that in the US press and the US press is pro-Israel!
I do have a question for you, do you think everything Israel does is always right?? As much as I want Hizbulla to be done with I don't think you can white wash everything to justify killing innocent people. By the way, I also think that way about suicide bombers, its wrong either way. It just breeds hate!

Proletariat said...

Shocked with the killing of ONU Watchers...
Even more shocked with the answers of Israel government. And about the internal investigation they want to made whithout ONU...incredible!

Amos said...

Halla, thanks for your comments here and elsewhere on the blog. You are right to alert us to the dangers inherent in justifying whatever the Israeli government and army do. But I think John would be the last person trying to "white wash" anything. This is quite apparent if you look at his posts on Kishkushim over the past half year. The article, by the way, is from the Ottawa Citizen, which is not exactly an AIPAC bastion.

Halla said...

I am sorry I didn't mean that as a personal attack! I was trying to point out that I have not heard it anywhere else & believe me the US media would have picked that item of the wires in a heartbeat!

John said...

No offense taken, don't worry :) Looking forward to your feedback in the future.

Thomas said...

Interesting how you say the UN observers should never have been there. As far as I'm aware of, that is exactly the purpose of a UN observer: to be in the zone of combat and try to determine what is happening. Your country's fascist tendencies and propaganda have, judging by the posts on your blog, obviously managed to render your opinions so slanted that you cannot even bring clarity to the most elementary of issues.

John said...

Thomas, chill out: even the UN soldiers on the ground and their superiors know by know that they should not have been in a war zone. Observing occasional cease fire infractions is fine and dandy. But being in the middle of an intense conflict without the necessary means to protect oneself is foolishness. Not to mention that the UN troops in southern Lebanon were always at the mercy of Hizbullah and were completely powerless to do anything against its infractions.

Thomas said...

My friend, the only reason why UN observers and their superiors know that they should never have been there, and the reason why they have left, is not because they suddenly realized that they made a mistake in being there. The reason is that they realized the extent of Israel's contempt for international law and lack of respect for human life (not that we needed any more proof). This does not mean that they should never have been there. As far as I'm aware of, correct me if I'm wrong, they repeatedly informed the IDF of their locations. Should you choose to believe that the bombing was a mistake, then why was the target hit repeatedly (I believe three times)? The chances of the same mistake over and over in such a way is in the millions. This is what brought UN secretary Kofi Annan to announce that the attack was deliberate.

Amos said...

Okay, Thomas, so the IDF delibertately killed the UN peacekeepers - just because Israelis are genocidal Nazis? Sorry, but that explanation only works if you believe that Israelis are inherently evil murderers. You can believe whatever you want, but at least make your reasoning transparent. There is simply no evidence that the the Israeli military aimed to kill the UN soldiers.

Thomas said...

See, your presumption is based on opinion, not evidence. What evidence do you have that Israel did not deliberately kill UN observers? At least I am offering a logical conclusion. If the UN repeatedly told the IDF of their location, and if the location was hit numerous times, you cannot claim that this is a mistake. That has nothing to do with the genocidal nature of any nation. I don't believe Israelis have any more genocical tendencies than anyone else really. But were German soldiers in WWII all maniacs? There is a great book by an Israeli author, Hannah Arendt, entitled "Eichmann in Jerusalem - A Report on the Banality of Evil." You see, the point of the book is that regular people can behave in despicable ways because they are under pressure from their commanders. If you need further evidence of this thesis, please read up on the Milgram experiment, which proves the exact same point through a "scientific" experiment in social psychology. Of course, you can choose to believe that his conclusions are wrong, but if you consider it, you may find he is not off the mark. In the end, my point is not that Israeli soldiers are by nature genocidal or murderers, but that they simply "follow orders", a claim that is in the end not acceptable. Was it acceptable when German, Italian, or Japanese fascist soldiers made that claim? The answer, clearly, is a resounding NO. Further, let me add that I don't believe Israeli people in general are more cold-hearted than anybody else. The thing is that their government has been dishonest with them, and that the propaganda to which they are constantly exposed leads them to think in ways that are sometimes ludicrous. One example, is when you people lay the blame on Hezbollah, or worse yet on the UN, for the death of observers who were there as eyewitnesses to protect civillians, and who were crushed by Israeli fire.

Amos said...

Forgive me, Thomas, but I had to laugh out loud when I read your ridiculous response. First of all, I am not really sure that you understand the meaning of the word “presumption” – please consult a dictionary. Second, your question reveals just how constipated your brain is. You are challenging me to prove that Israel DID NOT deliberately kill UN observers. As if the intuitive option is that Israel shelled the outpost on purpose., seeking the deaths of those blue-helmets. In so doing, you are not only reversing the most basic assumptions of jurisprudence but are also eliminating yourself as someone worth engaging. Imagine you found yourself accidentally spilling a glass of water on someone and then having that person coming up to you and demanding that you prove that you did not deliberately spill the water on him. In any case, I fail to see what is logical about your conclusion. Even if it were somehow “logical,” in the sense that it follows syllogistically from a series of statements, you do not give any EVIDENCE or sources for those statements.

As for your attempt to invoke Hannah Arendt to support your bizarre theories; I suggest you read some books. First of all, Arendt was not Israeli, but a German Jew who fled Hitler and settled in America. The book in question has absolutely nothing to do with “people behaving in despicable ways due to pressure from their commanders.” Quite the opposite, actually. You seem to be confusing Arendt’s work with a much later book by Christopher Browning on the reserve police battalion 101 (Ordinary Men). He refers to the Milgram experiment.

The rest of your comment is equally ludicrous, and I fail to see how it is supposed to add up to a coherent argument. Yes, soldiers tend to follow orders. This is only a problem when the orders are illegal.

As for your last bit of nonsense about propaganda – I am curious how exactly you came to your ("logical") conclusion. Have you ever visited Israel? Do you understand the languages spoken in this country? Do you even know where Israel is on a map?

Thomas said...

Though I find it somewhat astonishment that you cannot keep to the debate in a civilized manner, I will respond. Apart from the fact that I am no expert neither on Israel nor on jurisprudence, I will take your analogy (which, in my opinion, is idiotic) on the spilling a glass of water. If someone accidentally spilled a glass of water on me, I would give him/her the benefit of doubt. If someone spilled a glass of water on me three times in a roll, I may, if you consent, have the right to suspect that it may not have been an accident. Indeed, I would assume it was not an accident and that the person did it deliberately. The person would have to prove to me that they did not do it on purpose, maybe tell me they have some sort of disease or malfunction. In Israel's case, the disease would be, as I already stated, the IDF's utter contempt for international law or even simple respect for human life.

The part on the soldiers, I simply wanted to show that I am not some anti-semitic nazi by showing how all soldiers (from all over the world and not only Israel, as you suggested I implied) throughout history behave in despicable ways. Your attack that this was the case, shows how Israelis enjoy pulling out that card whenever someone is critical of Israel's policies.

Your suggestion that I must be incredibly unfamiliar with your country and its political system has no basis (though I admit I am no expert), as far as I know we haven't discussed anything other than this particular incident, so I will allow you to go on debating other people in the manner you choose, hopefully not recurring to vulgar tones all the time. The tactic of slandering, in my opinion, seems to indicate that you cannot simply stick to the issue, which in turn shows that you probably fear being shown another perspective/angle.

John said...

Thomas, there's no need for you to try to prove that you're not an "anti-semitic nazi". No one ever accused you of being one. We're against that kind of hyperbole. No one here suggests that you are anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel. What I do take objection with is your demagogic rhetoric. Let me remind you here that you began this debate on very uncivil terms. Let me quote your first comment: "Your country's fascist tendencies and propaganda have, judging by the posts on your blog, obviously managed to render your opinions so slanted that you cannot even bring clarity to the most elementary of issues." Your use of the word fascist indicates to me that your understanding of that term is as non-existent as your familiarity with the writings of Hanna Arendt. What makes Israel fascistic?

I'm troubled by the way you toss around terms and references whose real meaning seems to elude you. I cannot help but come to the conclusion that you're on some kind of auto-pilot and that you instinctively label anything Israel does "evil" or "fascistic". Let me ask you a question: would you use the same type of rhetoric in analyzing other conflicts around the world? Is it so wrong for a country to attempt to defend its citizens against a militia that chooses to paralyze it whenever its patrons give it permission to do so? Why do you denounce Israel for allegedly violating international law, when Hizbullah is guilty of provoking this conflict and using the vicinity of the UN base to fire at Israeli forces?

Thomas said...

John,

Allow me to respond in order to some of your points. Nobody ever explicitly said I was a Nazi, but if I don’t go wrong, in a post above Amos did state: “Thomas, so the IDF delibertately killed the UN peacekeepers - just because Israelis are genocidal Nazis? Sorry, but that explanation only works if you believe that Israelis are inherently evil murderers. You can believe whatever you want, but at least make your reasoning transparent.” In other words, I am allowed to think that the IDF deliberately committed this crime, but at the peril of being considered an anti-semite, for what other kind of person would think that Israelis are inherently evil murderers? Therefore, your first point is not valid, at least not for everyone in the blog. Perhaps you are not easily brought to hyperbolic statements, but others such as Amos are.

Point number two, you say that “Your use of the word fascist indicates to me that your understanding of that term is as non-existent as your familiarity with the writings of Hanna Arendt. What makes Israel fascistic?” Let me first say that I am not extremely familiar with Hanna Arendt, though since I brought her into this I want to clarify why. On the website of Wikipedia (is it an acceptable source? Let me know what you think), it says that: “In her reporting of the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker, which evolved into the book Eichmann in Jerusalem, she raised the question whether evil is radical or simply a function of banality—the tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without critically thinking about the results of their action or inaction. This work created a great deal of controversy and animousity for Arendt from fellow Jews.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Arendt)

This is, essentially, what I meant, when I stated that “…the point of the book is that regular people can behave in despicable ways because they are under pressure from their commanders.” Perhaps not exactly the same, I guess mass opinion is not a commander, but it seems to elucidate the point I was trying to make rather well. So, granted I am not familiar with her work, but I don’t think I completely took her work and applied it in a way that is way off the mark.

Regarding my personal familiarity with fascism, I agree it is fairly poor, as I have had the luck to live in more or less “democratic” countries. However, I have lived in a country where the historical implications of this political doctrine are still felt. Let me also add that fascism is not necessarily only a form of government. As far as I know it can also be understood as the abuse of power by authority. In this sense, Israel is certainly a fascist state. I’m referring primarily to the way in which the IDF behaves in the Occupied Territories, but I heard/read Israeli-Arabs are also not considered entirely equal within Israel proper. Please enlighten me on this point.

Thirdly, to my knowledge, there are few conflicts around the world that would compare to that between Israel and the Palestinians, and now the Lebanese people. Perhaps, the American invasion of Iraq, or in the late nineties that of Serbia in the Balkans. If there are other ones, I would certainly equate these with fascism as well, as a minimum in the sense mentioned above (abuse of power by authority). It goes without saying that Hezbollah is guilty for having kidnapped two soldiers, though this wrongdoing is minute in comparison to the reaction Israel had. This is why Israel now stands virtually alone in the international community, aside perhaps from the U.S., not surprisingly I might add, given its geo-political and economic interests in the region. The international community is of course hypocritical, since they don’t do much besides making rhetorical statements about the suffering of the Lebanese people. I think the point makes itself felt particularly strongly with the Arab countries. Please, refrain from trying to make me look stupid with your comments, either directly or in other ways, and let’s discuss the issues, if you think it’s worth your time and effort. My initial comment may have been heated, but it was said at a time of great frustration with what was happening.

Amos said...

Thomas,

I think your comment that "there are few conflicts around the world that would compare to that between Israel and the Palestinians" is astounding. I am sure you are familiar with the genocide in Darfur, the genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda, the ongoing ethnic conflict all over Africa, and China's occupation of Tibet, to pick just a hanful of recent or ongoing examples. All of these dwarf the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in numbers of victims and by any other measure you want to employ. In the Arab world itself, far more Arabs have died at the hands of other Arabs than Palestinians due to Israeli actions. When I use the word "astounding," I do not mean to belittle you or make you look stupid. I know that many people think as you do. I am simply amazed at the extent of the obsession with Israel as the greatest malefactor in the world. Maybe I misinterpreted you; if I did, please explain. What exactly did you mean when you said that few conflicts could "compare" to this one?

John said...

Thomas, I agree that we should strive to keep this debate civil and I appreciate your desire to continue the discussion.

I'm afraid that your definition of Fascism ("abuse of authority") completely trivializes the term. Notwithstanding the fact that it is unclear to me how you define "abuse" and what kind of "authority" we are talking about, there are few states that would be innocent of your charge. Is Britain guilty of Fascism for occupying North Ireland, or for imposing martial law on North Ireland? Was Syria's occupation of Lebanon Fascist? What about Morocco's occupation of the western Sahara? What about NATO's current presence in Afghanistan? or in Kosovo? I'm throwing out these examples, and there are plenty more, because you seem to equate the occupation of a territory with an abuse of power. There is in fact no fundamental difference between the military mission of NATO in Afghanistan and the presence of the IDF in the West Bank or Lebanon. I even question the term "occupation" for the IDF presence in the West Bank. Legally speaking, a real occupation is when a state takes control of another state or territorial entity and governs that area. That is no longer the case with the West Bank. But let's save that for another discussion...

I think you highlight the main problem with your understanding of the Israeli-Arab or Israeli-Palestinian conflict when you say that "there are few conflicts around the world that would compare to that between Israel and the Palestinians." You are absolutely mistaken and I do not know where you get that impression. What makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unique other than the intense media coverage that it attracts? The bloodshed or brutality? Try again. More people were killed in four years of fighting in Yugoslavia than in the past 50 years of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. More people are dying every day as a result of the conflicts in Darfur or Congo (former Zaire) than the number of people killed in the past 6 years of fighting between Palestinians and Israelis.

In any case, because I really get the sense that you'd like to engage in thoughtful dialogue, rather than polemicism, I'd like you to first clarify what makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unique. If you like, we can also tackle the issue of Israel's Arabs later on - I happen to have some insight on that issue, having been a teacher in an Arab Bedouin village in Israel and having written my thesis about that segment of the population.

Amos said...

Thomas,

I also wanted to weigh in very briefly on your use of Arendt's work to support your thesis. The Wikipedia article appears to me to be entirely unreliable. In general, I am sure you would agree, it is a good idea to read the book itself rather than a summary of it by a questionable source, before claiming that the book argues or proves certain things. I suggest especially that you consult someone (a professor, for example) who could explain to you what Arendt meant by the phrase "banality of evil" and how it applies to Eichmann. As for the bit about the animosity for Arendt that the book generated among "fellow Jews" - this is a different topic altogether and not directly related to her thesis about the nature of evil. A number of American Jewish and Israeli intellectuals took exception to the manner in which Arendt portrayed the entire trial of Eichmann.

Thomas said...

Amos and John,

Let me address what I believe were the main points of your replies. First, both of you are astounded that I should think that the Arab-Israeli conflict, and in particular its manifestations in the Occupied Territories, have few parallels. Let me then, briefly, explain why I said this. Obviously, I am aware that there are many other conflicts that in scope of casualties not only compare, but exceed that between Israel and the Palestinians, and now one of its neighbours. Some of the examples you cited are valid, but perhaps you forgot another major one, namely the invasion of Iraq by the United States. Naturally, all relationships of power, in particular those that involve state terrorism and war, conquerors and conquered, will bear similarities. And here I can answer to one of John’s concerns, and say that all these would equate to forms of fascism (including NATO’s presence in Afghanistan, NATO’s bombing of Kosovo and so on). That is, the aggressor, the party which abuses its power, behaves in a way that can be said to be fascistic. Obviously, differences in scope are important, but the dynamics are the same. At the same time, let us not underestimate the number of casualties that Israel has caused to both the Palestinians and now Lebanon, which far outweigh those that Palestinians and Hezbollah have caused to Israel.

However, it is not in this sense that the Arab-Israeli conflict, and in particular this latest chapter against Lebanon, is unique. What is unique about it, is the degree of unanimity within the international community on how to come to a conclusion to the conflict, namely by a complete and immediate ceasefire in the case of Lebanon, and the withdrawal to pre-1967 borders in the case of the Occupied Territories (UN Resolution 242, continuously vetoed by the U.S. Israel and on occasion some insignificant state), and the simultaneous inability to do so because the world’s superpower continuously blocks any such attempt in practice, despite wonderful rhetoric of its willingness to do so. Therefore, Serbia, Rwanda, Darfour etc. don’t compare because the aggressor never had uncompromising U.S. backing, whereas Israel, no matter the degree of its atrocities, does. Of course, there is great difficulty in ending any conflict, but in Israel’s case this is virtually impossible. The reason for this is obvious: geo-political and strategic interests in the region, and the U.S.’ need of a proxy state to ensure these. Or are you to tell me that the amount of economic/military aid which Israel receives and has received after WWII (and in particular after 1967) from the U.S., and which far outweighs that of any other state in the world, indeed that of the entire sub-Saharan region, is due to the U.S.’ love for democracy or peace? This amount of support by the world’s superpower, both in legal and economic terms, shows how the Arab-Israeli conflict is unique.

Finally, I agree with Amos that in general you should read a book before mentioning it. However, I don’t agree that I am taking Arendt’s work completely out of context, since one of the points of her book seems to be exactly that evil behaviour is often found in average people who follow orders (either out of fear from superiors or because of pressure from the social context). Let’s take Abu Gharib as an example, where regular American soldiers, who grew up in a “democracy”, were able to perpetrate torture in a pretty casual way. I also don’t agree with Amos that the Wikipedia article is entirely unreliable, since that would mean that everything is unreliable, including this very discussion we are having. You should check your facts, question them, read the book, but not consider everything that is not scholarly as unreliable.

Amos said...

Let me begin by saying that as a historian I am shocked by your trivializing use of the term “fascism.” I suggest you consult some of the literature on this subject, such as the works by Stanley Payne or even the more recent book by Michael Mann. Reading the examples of fascism that you cite, such as the NATO operations in Afghanistan and in the former Yugoslavia, it seems that you have a very easy definition of fascism – it is whatever the US or Israel do. Did you perhaps grow up in a former Soviet-bloc state? They had a very similar definition of the term.

In any case, your statement that “all of these would equate to forms of fascism … That is, the aggressor … behaves in a way that can be said to be fascistic” veers on the tautological. Likewise, your argument about what makes the Arab-Israeli conflicts unique is slightly circular. The unanimity to which you refer only proves that extraordinary attention has been devoted to this conflict, despite the fact that other conflicts claim far more casualties. The question we asked at the beginning is why you consider this conflict unique. To respond that it is unique because it is treated by the world in a unique manner is begging the question. You are in fact saying that you regard it as unique because it is regarded as unique. In fact, there is nothing inherently peculiar about the Arab-Israeli conflict, other than the enormous and one-sided attention devoted to it by various states and non-governmental actors.

I think it is very telling that you cite the invasion of Iraq as another conflict with high casualties. Of course, you neglect to mention the killing by Iraqis of other Iraqis that is claiming, on average, a hundred lives every day. Where is the uproar about this?

I am sorry, Thomas, but you are obviously not listening to me about Arendt. You keep saying that her work “seems” to be about X or Y. I am telling you that it is not, because I have actually read the book. The Abu Ghraib criminals simply don’t fit here – just think for a moment about the type of work that Eichmann did. The book that does argue something along the lines of what you are saying is Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men.

More than anything, however, I am troubled by your penultimate sentence. . You write that you “don’t agree with Amos that the Wikipedia article is entirely unreliable, since that would mean that everything is unreliable, including this very discussion we are having.” Let me explain again that I called the Wikipedia article on Hannah Arendt unreliable because it contradicts and/or does not accurately describe her work. I fail to see how that would make “everything” unreliable, and I am wondering in what kind of epistemological universe you are living.

John said...

Thomas,

It is absolutely vital that you think more carefully before you write. Otherwise, we are left no choice but to dismiss everything you say as vacuous rhetoric. Take your comment on UN Security Council Resolution 242, which according to you has been "continuously vetoed by the U.S. Israel and on occasion some insignificant state." Resolution 242 was never vetoed by anyone, especially not Israel, which has no veto power anywhere in the UN and has never even sat on the Security Council. Israel accepted resolution 242. In 1967, the PLO actually rejected resolution 242 (the Palestinians only accepted it in 1988). If you read up on UN institutions, you will find that until 2000, Israel did not belong to any of the regional blocs at the UN of which it is necessary to be a member in order to be elected to the Security Council. The reason for this is institutional discrimination against Israel at the UN.

For your information, the United States also did not veto resolution 242, although it, unlike Israel, does have veto power. In fact, the United States government was very much involved in drafting 242. The biggest problem in your post is that you misinterpret and distort the content of that resolution. I don't blame you for that, Thomas, because misperceptions of the resolution abound. Read the legally-binding English version of the resolution. There is NO explicit call for Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 armistice lines. The pre-1967 "borders" that you are referring to are in fact armistice lines. In the case of the West Bank, these are the lines agreed upon in the ceasefire agreements that were signed between Jordan and Israel in 1949. They are not legally recognized by the international community as the borders of a Palestinian state, because such a state never existed. Remember, Thomas: from 1948 until 1967, the Hashemite Kingdom was in occupation of the West Bank, while Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip.

But, I digress. Let us return to the content of UN Security Council Resolution 242. You will note that Clause 1 of the resolution reads:


Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
i. Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict
ii. Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;


There is a reason why paragraph (i) does not specify the exact territories in question and does not call for a withdrawal from "all" territories occupied. UN Resolution 242 was intended as the basis for a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You see, in 1967 and thereafter, none of Israel's Arab neighbours recognized its right to exist. Some of them continue to refuse to do so, and continue to be in violation of paragraph (ii) of Clause 1 (see above). The reason why the main architects of resolution 242 did not call on Israel to withdraw from territories captured in the Six-Day War of 1967 was that they recognized at that time that the pre-1967 lines were not legally binding borders. In the words of British UN representative Lord Caradon, whom I quote here from another website on the topic, "It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948…" If you look at a map of Israel with the "Green Line" (the pre-1967 armistice lines) marked in, you will see what Lord Caradon meant when he declared them "undesirable". Look at the Israeli town of Natanyah and try to gauge its distance from the West Bank. At the time that resolution 242 was drafted, most of the international community (except for the Arab states) was interested in laying the basis for a realistic diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict. There was no consensus, as you suggest, that a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines would solve the conflict and there is no such consensus among people knowledgeable about the situation today. Does the Hamas charter, which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, signal a willingness to comply with paragraph 2 of clause 1 of resolution 242?

Don't get me wrong here. I agree that a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians could one day serve as the basis for a final peace agreement. But for now, the onus is on the Palestinians to demonstrate that they are able to exercise control over the armed groups that operate from their territory and that they are willing to live in peace with Israel. Hizbullah's operations will only serve to make Israelis more cautious about the prospect of ceding territory. I'm not sure how much you know about life in Israel, but since the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, Palestinian groups have yet to cease firing rockets into nearby towns. Any peace agreement and any solution to the conflict must address those issues. Is that really so unreasonable? Does it not make sense that Israelis should also be able to gain from a so-called solution to any conflict?

Contrary to what you claim, many world leaders, including Canadian PM Stephen Harper and Australian PM John Howard, fully recognize this reality. Both have stated forcefully that an immediate ceasefire will accomplish nothing, other than granting a victory to Hizbullah. That kind of a "ceasefire" will only sow the seeds of another future war, because Hizbullah will find some other pretext to do Iran's and Syria's bidding and to instigate another crisis. That is why world leaders at the Rome Conference did NOT conclude by calling for an immediate ceasefire and why they called for a sustainable plan to be formulated. I'm sure you will agree with me that handing a victory to Hizbullah and allowing it continue operating with impunity in southern Lebanon is not a recipe for peace.

Allowing Hizbullah to continue operating in the south would in fact allow the continued violation of another UN Security Council Resolution 1559 (passed in September 2004), which calls for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non- Lebanese militias."

moe said...

John and amos,

Try not to run away from the point by going into specifics that disguise the truth of the issue. I don’t care if an article on wikipedia is reliable or not, what I do know is that the IDF continue to, as they have done in the past, commit crimes against humanity, showing their lack of respect for human life, and anyone who doesn’t object to the brutality of the IDF, shares that same lack of respect for human life. I will quote one of your own, Ze'ev Maoz, a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University on an article from Haaretz online.

Morality is not on our side

There's practically a holy consensus right now that the war in the North is a just war and that morality is on our side. The bitter truth must be said: this holy consensus is based on short-range selective memory, an introverted worldview, and double standards.

This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion. That is not to say that morality and justice are on Hezbollah's side. Most certainly not. But the fact that Hezbollah "started it" when it kidnapped soldiers from across an international border does not even begin to tilt the scales of justice toward our side.

Let's start with a few facts. We invaded a sovereign state, and occupied its capital in 1982. In the process of this occupation, we dropped several tons
of bombs from the air, ground and sea, while wounding and killing thousands of civilians. Approximately 14,000 civilians were killed between June and September of 1982, according to a conservative estimate. The majority of these civilians had nothing to do with the PLO, which provided the official pretext for the war.

In Operations Accountability and Grapes of Wrath, we caused the mass flight of about 500,000 refugees from southern Lebanon on each occasion. There are no exact data on the number of casualties in these operations, but one can recall that in Operation Grapes of Wrath, we bombed a shelter in the village of Kafr Kana which killed 103 civilians. The bombing may have been accidental, but that did not make the operation any more moral.

On July 28, 1989, we kidnapped Sheikh Obeid, and on May 12, 1994, we kidnapped Mustafa Dirani, who had captured Ron Arad. Israel held these two people and another 20-odd Lebanese detainees without trial, as "negotiating chips." That which is permissible to us is, of course, forbidden to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah crossed a border that is
recognized by the international community. That is true. What we are forgetting is that ever since our withdrawal from Lebanon, the Israel Air Force has conducted photo-surveillance sorties on a daily basis in Lebanese airspace. While these flights caused no casualties, border violations are border violations. Here too, morality is not on our side.

So much for the history of morality. Now, let's consider current affairs. What exactly is the difference between launching Katyushas into civilian population centers in Israel and the Israel Air Force bombing population centers in south Beirut, Tyre, Sidon and Tripoli? The IDF has fired thousands of shells into south Lebanon villages, alleging that Hezbollah men are concealed among the civilian population. Approximately 25 Israeli civilians have been killed as a result of Katyusha missiles to date. The number of dead in Lebanon, the
vast majority comprised of civilians who have nothing to do with Hezbollah, is more than 300.

Worse yet, bombing infrastructure targets such as power stations, bridges and other civil facilities turns the entire Lebanese civilian population into a victim and hostage, even if we are not physically harming civilians. The use of bombings to achieve a diplomatic goal - namely, coercing the Lebanese government into implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1559 - is an attempt at political blackmail, and no less than the kidnapping of IDF soldiers by Hezbollah is the aim of bringing about a prisoner exchange.

There is a propaganda aspect to this war, and it involves a competition as to who is more miserable. Each side tries to persuade the world that it is more miserable. As in every propaganda campaign, the use of information is selective, distorted and self-righteous. If
we want to base our information (or shall we call it propaganda?) policy on the assumption that the international environment is going to buy the dubious merchandise that we are selling, be it out of ignorance or hypocrisy, then fine. But in terms of our own national soul searching, we owe ourselves to confront the bitter truth - maybe we will win this conflict on the military field, maybe we will make some diplomatic gains, but on the moral plane, we have no advantage, and we have no special status.

Thomas said...

Amos,

Again, this is getting somewhat tiresome. Fascism is not what Israel and the United States do, it is any abuse of power by authority. Secondly, my argument is hardly circular, but your understanding of it shows either your lack of basic comprehension or the purposeful twisting of my argument. Either way, you should be ashamed of yourself for claiming to be a historian. I very clearly stated that the reason why the Arab-Israeli conflict is different is due to the uncompromising backing by the world's only superpower, something which all the other aggressors you mentioned lack. This is not like saying that it is unique because the world considers it to be unique. As far as the Iraqi on Iraqi violence, interesting to note how you don't mention that this violence began with the U.S. Invasion. Let's drop the Arendt thing, although given your level of response I won't take your argument for granted.

John,

You will note that article 1 of the resolution we're talking about clearly calls for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”, something which Israel still has to comply with. It is true that UN Resolution was drafted in part with U.S. Initiative, but after Sadat endorsed it in 1971, and above all after the Camp David Accords of 1978, things changed. Resolutions taking 242 as their basis, were annually rejected by the U.S., Israel and at times one or two smaller states, because they began to call for Palestinian rights. Also, no principle in international law, as far as I'm aware of, requires a state to recognize another state's right to exist, as you say. There is the principle of recognition of another's state existence, not however it's “right” to. I never said anything about Hamas, but since you mention them, all I will say is that Israel's behavior in the Occupied Territories speaks volumes to Israel's willingness to destroy the Palestinian people, so that the Hamas charter is no different than Israel's actions. It's ludicrous how you say that the onus is on the Palestinians to control armed groups, but at the same time, Israel continuously destroys any infrastructure or possibility to create the apparatus that could control those groups. I agree that Israel and Israelis have the right to live in peace, but your actions have up until now not indicated that this is your aim. If you constantly brutalize a people, render their life miserable, prevent them from having an opportunity for creating a state, what exactly do you expect to happen? Regarding Lebanon and Hezbollah, we all know that they do not pose an existential threat, and certainly did not before Israel went on an all-out war. All terrorist groups are dangerous, and should be dealt with by the political forces of the country in which they reside, and possibly, with the help of the international community, but they practically never pose an existential threat. Having said this, I want to thank Moe for his input, and I really hope you do read the article he has posted on here.

moe said...

This is an interview by a reporter in Jerusalem with George Galloway on Sky News. It is a must see

http://news.sky.com/skynews/videoplayer/0,,31200-galloway_060806,00.html