In the days that followed, [Schellenberg] also did not see anyone paying any special attention to the war. While he did see new Hezbollah flags and numerous pictures of Nasrallah, he did not encounter organized or popular rallies in support of the movement, or any signs that the Syrian people were preparing for war. In one or two places he saw signs reading, "We identify with our people holding fast in Lebanon," and two or three times, following dramatic events such as the first missile strikes in Haifa, he saw young people driving, honking their horns and leaning halfway out the car windows, waving Hezbollah flags.
Monday, August 28, 2006
As you have probably all heard by now, Nasrallah recently apologized for being an idiot and having his organization kidnap two IDF reservists in a cross-border raid. This is Nasrallah sounding contrite instead of smug and self-righteous:
I want to be clear in my response, and I hope that people are listening to me now. We did not think even one per cent that the capture of the two Israelis would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude, and if someone asked me why we didn't consider this one per cent, I would say that since 1982 and our relationships with the Israelis and the experience of our resistance with Israel, the operation wouldn't lead to such a result (ABC).Who knows what kind of game the Hizbullah head is playing here. It looks like he has realized that it is important to at least pay lip service to the idea that he has some kind of responsibility for all of Lebanon's citizens. Furthermore, he seems to be acknowledging some culpability in what transpired. Of course, he pleads ignorance, but like it or not, Nasrallah has admitted that if it hadn't been for Hizbullah's wonderful kidnapping mission, all those Lebanese houses would still be standing today.
Given this admission by Nasrallah, it seems that a "disproportionate" response really was needed to deter Hizbullah.
There was an interesting report on Israel's Channel 2 Television News last night. In the report, an embedded Israeli journalist accompanied an IDF reconnaissance unit across the border into Lebanon. The troops did not encounter any resistance or Hizbullah fighters. Their mission was to destroy an elaborate Hizbullah tunnel that had been located earlier. Before mining the tunnel and blowing it up, the troops gave the reporter a tour. The footage I saw showed a very sophisticated tunnel with a ventilation system, concrete-lined walls, provisions, explosives and ammunition. The commander of the unit remarked, with more than a hint of sarcasm, that is was "amazing what can be achieved in six years" (the time that has passed since the Israeli withdrawal). The reporter followed the soldiers, who were under pressure to finish their mission soon because of the fear of mines or an attack by Hizbullah, through the tunnel and to another exit. As they emerged from the other exit, the cameraman panned the surrounding area. Looming no more than 100 metres behind the tunnel exit was a tall, white UNIFIL observation post.
Can one blame Israelis for being suspicious of UNIFIL and for not trusting the European troops that are now being deployed in Lebanon? This was the same force that stood idly by and looked on as Hizbullah prepared to kidnap IDF soldiers in 2000 and then ambushed them. As of now, there is no reason to believe that the Franco-Italian led force will be any more effective. They don't even have clearly defined goals and it is clear that the French and Italian leaders lack the political will to involve their forces in more dangerous missions that might bring them into confrontation with Hizbullah.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
The English-language edition of Ha'aretz reports that the IDF has uncovered a network of tunnels and arms depots used by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. According to Ha'aretz, military intelligence revealed that
The tunnels had housed Hezbollah Gorillas [sic] and had been used to launch attacks against IDF forces.
Friday, August 25, 2006
The Israeli people must establish leadership with the fortitude and will to stand up for their principles and to lead those who look to them for guidance. They must preserve Israel's strengths and unabashedly pursue its historic rights.But the "principles" that Raskas wants Israel to defend include retaining control over the West Bank...forever! Not a word about what this actually entails for most of the people living there. But I guess those of us who advocate a withdrawal from the West Bank, similar to the one carried out from Gaza, do not really count. At least Raskas claims that
Since June 1967, there has been rigorous debate about the wisdom of retaining the territories that came into Israel's hands in the Six-Day War. Yet, almost no individual with a whit of appreciation for Jewish history would deny the essential right of the Jewish people to return and repopulate these territories that already millennia ago served as the cradle of the Jewish people.To argue that his lunatic vision represents the aspirations of American Jews is an unbelievable lie. It is also incredibly out of touch with the reality on the ground in Israel and the West Bank.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
After the war inThis trend, Rubin argues, goes back to the Palestinian leadership's rejection of the Barak offer (whether you think it was generous or not). A consensus has emerged that Israel and the West are weak, and that now a
Lebanon, the Middle Eastentered a new era, which was already on the way for a half-dozen years and in which radical Islamism sets the ideological and political agenda. It marks the end of hope for peace or democracy.
violent struggle in pursuit of total victory rather than pragmatism, democracy, compromise, and economic constructioncan cure all the problems afflicting the Arabs and the Muslim world more generally.
For Rubin, appeasing this new "resistance axis," is the biggest mistake that that West could make (and is making):
If only Iran, Syria, or Hizballah is offered concessions, [those who favor appeasement] argue, the threat will go away. This view actually feeds the problem. The radicals have far-reaching goals (including genocide in Israel) and powerful ideologies that make them not so eager to make any deal.It is often argued that Israeli actions weaken moderate forces. Thus, the bombing of Beirut rallied the entire Lebanese population to fight Israel and to support Hizbullah. Likewise, many argue that Israel's actions in the territories incite Arabs in Egypt and Jordan against the West and democracy. But few of these critics consider the effects of appeasement on local pro-democracy forces who see the incitement against Israel for what it is. Appeasement bolsters the most intransigent and fundamentalis forces, because
they [the extremists] think they are winning. Western efforts to achieve understandings are consistently viewed as weakness inviting escalation. This is clear in any reading of the radical leaders' speeches. Why should Arab governments, reformers, or Lebanese factions oppose the extremists if they believe--correctly in general--that the West will not help them?Apologies for not writing earlier. Temporary time pressures conspired against us, and someone on Kishkushim got married this week (it wasn't me).
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I spent part of last week in the Arab village of Kofer Musmus, located near Umm al-Fahm, the second largest Arab town in Israel. During my stay there, I had the chance to get a good look at the Hizbullah TV news station, al-Manar, courtesty of my host's satellite dish. The broadcasts were quite professional, something that has already been noted by a number of Israeli and other commentators. Some of the station’s broadcasts certainly have the veneer of credible journalism. There is plenty of commentary and analysis, uninterrupted by commercials or the visual diversions that we’ve come to associate with television. I don’t know if what I saw was representative of their regular programming, but al-Manar’s editors don’t seem overly concerned about scaring off viewers with short attention spans. I was also impressed by their translations of broadcasts from Israeli television which always include Arabic subtitles. However, one only needs to watch the station’s broadcasts for several hours to realize that it’s an incredibly crude propaganda outlet hiding behind the veneer of a respectable news station. In one “news” clip of Olmert addressing the Israeli public, the Prime Minister suddenly morphed into Hitler, complete with a swastika armband and a moustache. This was not some satirical show but a serious news show with some creative AV editors. Instead of commercials, al-Manar runs stirring clips of Hizbullah fighters chanting war songs and engaged in combat with corny battle music playing in the background and captions celebrating the “victory” over Israel. Watching al-Manar pretty much affirmed to me what I’ve been telling critics of the war all along. People in the Arab world are attracted to Hizbullah, because they view it as a winner and because they are attracted by its displays of “heroism”. I think it’s quite similar to the support that Gamal ‘abd al-Nasir attracted in his days.
Visiting Carmia in Haifa, I got the chance to watch Israeli television over the weekend. I don’t have a TV at home for various reasons, so I used this chance to get my dose of news. Anyone who accuses Israeli television of being a propaganda outlet (and there were many who did so during the war) doesn’t know what they are talking about. One trend that I saw on all the major channels (Channel 1, Channel 2 and Channel 10) was the use of live footage shot by soldiers on reserve duty. A lot of this footage was quite genuine – there was one short “film” shot by a reservist about his experience in the war: boredom, contradictory orders, and a lot of wisecracks. Another news segment focussed on the home front and about different people who went out to feed or retrieve abandoned pets or who baked pizzas for returning soldiers. Meanwhile, just as they did at the beginning of the war, different Israeli satirical programs were busy lampooning Israel’s leaders. In one show, two child-like grown-up’s held up stickers (one in blue, one in yellow) declaring “We won” and “No, we did”. I did not get to see Eretz Nehederet, Israel’s leading Friday-night satirical show, but I recall that they had a field day lampooning everyone, from over-patriotic reporters and Israelis trying to get on TV by posing as bombing victims to Nasrallah, the IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and IDF spokesperson Miri Regev. In one awesome segment, the stand-in character “Margol”, who is played by a male actor, but who represents the well-known Israeli (Yemenite) singer Margalit Tzan‘ani, is presented as the IDF’s new secret weapon for winning the war against Hizbullah.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
The focus in the north is now on repairing the damage. One of the apartments we looked at today on our apartment hunt was located within a block between two buildings (one of which can be seen below) that had been hit by a missile.
The force of the missiles, which fell both north and south of the apartment, had broken all of its windows. But the landlord was already busy making repairs (he will receive compensation for the damage and must submit receipts). We're not taking the apartment.
But the damage obviously isn't limited to private property. The post office below also suffered a direct hit. The yellow signs warn, roughly, "Danger - Collapse - Entry Prohibited," and a makeshift fence has been erected to make sure the instructions are followed.
The same can be seen at this site, a building that used to house an Arabic-language newspaper. Three people were killed in that day's attack.
Thank G-d that the nearest missile to my apartment landed a good 200 metres away and not any closer.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Thanks to Carmia for passing on the photograph.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Now comes yet more proof that the man who was seen cheek-to-cheek with the President after the last State of the Union is just as hardnosed as his hawkish friendships with men like Donald Rumsfeld would suggest. Here's the new Jewish angle to Joe's take-no-prisoners approach to holding his seat. Talkingpointsmemo posted this ad from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has appeared in Jewish weeklies from St. Louis and D.C.:
It sounds as if Ned Lamont has actually been saying the "right" things about Israel, so you might wonder how much traction the Lieberman campaign can get from this. But since polls consistently show that Republicans are more staunchly supportive of Israel than Democrats, Lieberman and his supporters, who only need to pick off a certain portion of the Republican electorate for the "Independent Democrat" to win, are perhaps not unwisely pandering.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
bottle (one of several amazing photographs taken by Lisa)
Lisa Goldman of On the Face has put up the best-written piece about the war ("Welcome to the shooting gallery") that I have seen until now. It is an account of her stay in the North over the last week before the cease fire and includes a number of stunning photographs.
He didn't lunch with Rep. Pete Stark at Thai Satay in San Leandro, CA, this weekend, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched his own blog, and it's translated into English, French, and Arabic. Make sure you click on the appropriate language icon in the top right corner of the page. However, at the time of this post, the French version wasn't up. For those of you who know Jennie, she'll be bidding for the contract.
I promise a more thorough review of Ahmadinejad's site, but for now, suffice it to say that this blog ain't bad. The top man in Iran has an RSS feed and a poll ("Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word war [sic]?").
Ahmadinejad invites his readers to post comments -- and this, from a country that is known to take the gloves off when it deals with bloggers. Though I've boldly and uniquely set forth my birth name on Kishkushim, I'm giving some serious thought as to what my nickname is going to be on homeboy's site.
In his latest piece in the New Yorker, "Watching Lebanon:
Hersh’s thesis is buried in paragraph five behind an opaque screen of pseudo-authority:
According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”
An unnamed “
Although the expert’s judgment is preceded by a number of opinions disputing his claims of a premeditated attack hatched out by Big and Little Satan, it is clear that Hersh is betting on this horse. Thankfully, he does not go so far as to endorse the claims by various other conspiracy theorists that
A bit later in Hersh’s article we read the following paragraphs in quick succession:
Uzi Arad, who served for more than two decades in the Mossad, told me that to the best of his knowledge the contacts between the Israeli and
governments were routine, and that, "in all my meetings and conversations with government officials, never once did I hear anyone refer to prior coördination with the U.S. ." He was troubled by one issue - the speed with which the Olmert government went to war. "For the life of me, I've never seen a decision to go to war taken so speedily," he said. "We usually go through long analyses." United States
In the next paragraph, Hersh reinforces his dubious claims that
The key military planner was Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, the I.D.F. chief of staff, who, during a career in the Israeli Air Force, worked on contingency planning for an air war with
. Olmert, a former mayor of Iran , and Peretz, a former labor leader, could not match his experience and expertise. Jerusalem
He is, of course, really pushing it. According to Hersh, Halutz, the
Of course, the Iranians never appear in Hersh’s story except as people reacting to nefarious American plans; same goes for Hizbullah vis-à-vis
BBC News rushed to turn Hersh’s story into an article in its own right. The piece ran under the title “US 'knew of
Israeland the United Stateswere in close contact about Israel's war on Hezbollah long before it began, a investigative journalist has claimed. US
Are they blogging or reporting?
Props to Big Pharaoh who, as usual, hits the right tone with his spoof of Hersh.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss and welcomes 's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties Israel
supports Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it, which is in accordance with international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter;
I was most impressed by his long fight for Americans’ rights to education and health care (see an article by Stark on the latter). Unlike many other Americans with whom I have talked, who reflexively dismiss the Canadian system (he called this a result of propaganda here), Stark had actually toured Canadian hospitals and had a great deal of praise for Canuck health care. Nevertheless, he emphasized that “socialism will not sneak across the border” and that such a system would not work in the
That was confusing because the last news I had heard claimed there would be a cease-fire at 7:00 AM. So much for that. Then again, why am I confused? Yesterday, while talking about a cease-fire, 250 rockets hit Northern Israel. And on Haaretz, I just read that the cease-fire has been pushed back to 8 AM. Why not. Another, extra hour to squeeze in some more alarms.
Back to bed.
There was a bus parked in front of my apartment. When the previous sirens went off, the bus stopped and the few passengers and the driver went down to the public bomb shelter here. After almost waiting out the mandatory 15 minutes, they're getting back on the bus.
My roommate is okay.
It turns out my computer clock was an hour behind, so all my posts are off.
6:28 PM and another siren.
I don't know what's worse, the sound of the siren or of the missiles hitting.
Okay, I've just heard a REALLY loud explosion. After that some car alarms went off. I'm sure it's in my neighbourhood. But I'm not going out to check...
6:33 PM: the ambulances are arriving. I tried to call my roommate who might be on his way home right now, but he doesn't answer. I'm going to keep trying. Our landline was working. Now I'm trying to call him from my cellphone, but the network crashed.
My evening lesson has just been cancelled. Another work day lost.
I just got off the phone with my friend. He's in the army and has been stationed in the north. He really didn't sound well - he just lost two of his friends and two other guys from the unit. He also doesn't feel very optimistic about this cease-fire for several reasons: Israel will not get the kidnapped soldiers back (Ehud Goldwasser, 31, Eldad Regev, 26, and Gilad Shalit, 19, who has been kidnapped by the Hamas), which triggered this whole crisis; Haifa and other northern cities in Israel are still being hit by missiles; and support of Hezbollah has risen all over the world. Some family friends of ours are also desperately waiting for the return of the kidnapped soldiers. They are close friends of Ehud Goldwasser and his family.
10:56 AM: another siren.
11:00 AM: ambulances
11:01 AM: another siren
11:04 AM: another siren
11:12 AM: another siren
I'm back in Haifa after spending Friday and Saturday in southern Israel. The highway leading out of Haifa towards the south was hit by a missile on Friday morning. We passed by the spot on our way out of the city, going to Ashdod. The place my roommate works at was also hit that morning. So was the next neighbourhood over.
Friday, August 11, 2006
So, today morning, 10:07 AM, we had a siren with lots of missiles landing. Based on the sound and past experience, I estimate that one of them landed about 300 metres from our apartment (the news still haven't reported it).
Oh, there's another alarm now at 10:22 and more missiles dropping on Haifa.
My roommate Avinoam, my boyfriend, and I are sitting in our hallway.
We planned to visit my boyfriend's family in Ashdod today (the weekend has started in Israel) but I don't know if it's safe to go outside today.
10:30: Another siren. More missiles.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Moderate reformers across the Arab world say American support for Israel’s battle with Hezbollah has put them on the defensive, tarring them by association and boosting Islamist parties.As they have many times before, these moderates are urging the US to stop supporting Israel because it undermines American standing in the region:
“Those calling for democratic reform in Egypt have discovered that once Israeli interests are in conflict with political reform in the Middle East, then the United States will immediately favor Israel’s interests,” said Ibrahim Issa, the editor of the weekly Al Dustour, who faces a jail sentence on charges of insulting President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.The problem is that very few of these reformers have ever had the courage to challenge the dogmatic policies of their governments with regard to Israel. Only a handful of them were at all positively inclined toward Israel in the first place. And few of them have spoken out against the rampant antisemitism in their societies. With a few notable exceptions, these reformers too accepted Israel as a sort of litmus test. You can criticize everything else, but you have to pledge allegiance to the cause of fighting Israel (though by different means).
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Something else I noticed on the way home was that the coffee shops have started to fill up again - not like before the war, but better than in weeks.
I also thought I saw my friend walking across the street. I was about to call out his name when I realized that it couldn't be him - he has been called up to reserve duty. So have four of my other friends.
Yesterday, they have started evacuating some the remaining residents of the border town, Kiryat Shmona. This is obviously not going to happen in Haifa - we don't have it nearly as bad here. Our instructions in Haifa are not to go out unnecessarily and to always be in promixity to a protected space (bomb shelter or "mamad," a safe room) in case the sirens come on. Many of the people of Kiryat Shmona, however, have been spending almost one month sitting in bomb shelters, relying on food to be delivered to them. Also, Kiryat Shmona gets shelled at all hours, while we in Haifa get shelled (usually) only during daylight, and less frequently. I have had this explained to me: since Kiryat Shmona is closer, it can be shelled using portable rocket launchers and Hizbollah can quickly scurry back to safety. Haifa though, being further north, requires heavier rockets and launchers, loaded onto trucks, which can clearly be tracked in the night sky (with the flames that shoot out) and eliminated almost immediately by the Israeli Air Force.
I had to interrupt my posting at 11:45 and change the headlines to "Three" instead of "Two Sirens Sound in Haifa." I didn't take my laptop with me to the hallway as I often do because I have it set up in my room and the cable doesn't reach that far.
Update: There was another, final siren of the day at 13:10 PM.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
Whether or not a cease fire is announced next week (my money is on the latter possibility), the war between Israel and a coalition currently made up of Hizbullah, Iran, Syria, and elements of the Lebanese state, is far from over. Even if there is a cessation of hostilities, Hizbullah has unleashed a monster that will rear its head again and again.
At the moment,
The IDF, to its credit, has been able to wipe out a number of rocket-launchers and crews, especially those firing the long-range missiles that have hit Afula and Hadera. But so far this has not really deterred the attacks. According to DebkaFile, Hizbullah
no longer bothers to conceal the launch sites of its heavy missiles. Their crews are under orders to execute “suicide launchings,” accepting that the moment they let their rockets fly they will be exposed to reprisal.
Hizbullah still has many rockets left, and given the status quo the Iranians and Syrians will continue to supply these to enable the terrorist organization to strike Israeli civilians. Likewise they will continue passing on advanced weapons (made by them or bought from
There is no easy solution to the problem of the rockets. Sometimes we forget that
Those who recommend Israeli concessions, such as an immediate withdrawal from the West Bank, should remember that the Qassams began in earnest after
Elsewhere on this blog, Ariel has cited Gideon Levy, suggesting that this whole conflict could have been avoided if only
The genie is out of the bottle, and so far
For those who need a more concrete illustration of this threat, I recommend Carmia’s excellent documentation, “The Aftermath of One Katyusha” on this blog. Just imagine that a missile like that loaded with thousands of ball bearings, somewhere down the line during a lull in fighting, during a period of calm, strikes Haifa's Moriah or Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street without warning.
This war will not be over until
« Le Hezbollah, coincé par les 7 points proposés par le premier ministre Fouad Siniora [...] a voulu faire échouer ces négociations. Il a mis en pace un plan machiavélique [...] Sachant très bien qu’Israël n’aura pas d’état d’âme pour bombarder des cibles civiles, des militants du Hezbollah ont installé une base de lancement de roquettes sur le toit d’un immeuble à Cana et y ont entassé des enfants infirmes... »I should emphasize here that I am in no way endorsing this theory. For all I know, it is as credible as some of the 9/11 conspiracy theories. I have no doubt that HA is capable of mounting this kind of a deception if they felt themselves to be in a desperate situation. However, it seems unlikely that HA would take this kind of risk at this stage. I guess the most important indicator that this is probably a concocted story is that the Israeli government would have adopted it if it were at all credible. As a result, I see fit to label this another attempt to feed the rumour mill.
Thanks to our good friend Elie from Toronto for raising some of these issues.
On our way to a friend's house, I told her about the eyes. When I was in Tel Aviv, I could tell apart the locals from displaced Northerners because their faces had on such different expressions. The Northerners have sad eyes. People in Haifa don't smile as much as they did before. There is tension, depression, anxiety, and fear in our faces.
Shortly after we arrived at my friend's house, the air raid warning sounded once again, around 8:00 PM. This is the first time I actually ran to a bomb shelter during an alarm. Usually I stay in my apartment. I don't think I could make it to the local, public bomb shelter on time so I don't bother. It's safer to stay at home than to go out running into the street after a siren has sounded. But my friend's apartment building actually has a bomb shelter on the bottom floor. Her dog already knows the drill - upon hearing the siren, he went to stand beside the door so that she could take him downstairs. In the shelter, we met some of her neighbours: a young couple with three little girls. They're all used to meeting up in the shelter. We think we heard a boom or two.
Since there usually aren't any more missiles after sunset, I'm hoping that this was the last alarm of the day.
French intellectual Bernard-Henry Levy recently travelled through Israel. A translation of an essay he wrote appeared in the New York Times today. Levy makes the point that those who rush to condemn Israel for waging its war against Hizbullah tend to overlook. This war is about the future strategic threat (I dare call it an existential threat) posed to Israel by Hizbullah. It is not inconceivable that Hizbullah will one day be armed with precision rockets and chemical weapons supplied by Iran. Syria and Iran already possess those kinds of weapons, but their leaders are still deterred from using them by the prospect of massive Israeli retaliation. They are, after all, responsible for entire countries. My fear is that Hizbullah, goaded on by its patrons and its ideology, will not operate according to the same calculus that has so far prevented Syria or Iran from launching direct attacks against Israel. Here is an excerpt of the Levy article:
the problem, the real one, is that these incoming rockets make us see what will happen on the day — not necessarily far off — when the rockets are ones with new capabilities: first, they will become more accurate and be able to threaten, for example, the petrochemical facilities you see there, on the harbor, down below; second, they may come equipped with chemical weapons that can create a desolation compared with which Chernobyl and Sept. 11 together will seem like a mild prelude. For that, in fact, is the situation. As seen from Haifa, this is what is at stake in the operation in southern Lebanon. Israel did not go to war because its borders had been violated. It did not send its planes over southern Lebanon for the pleasure of punishing a country that permitted Hezbollah to construct its state-within-a-state. It reacted with such vigor because the Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped off the map and his drive for a nuclear weapon came simultaneously with the provocations of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Until now, I have been hesitant about casting doubt on reported death tolls of Lebanese civilians. As I mentioned in a previous post on the Qana numbers, there is something very unpleasant about such debates. Earlier today, Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora announced that 40 civilians had been killed in IAF bombing of Houla. His tear-filled opening address at a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers received a great deal of coverage. It turns out that only one person died in the bombing, as Siniora, to his credit, admitted a few hours later upon receiving further information. But, as the New York Times reports, Siniora felt compelled, in the same breath, to accuse Israel of deliberately targeting civilians:
Speaking to Arab diplomats who had gathered here in a show of support, Mr. Siniora said that the earlier reports he had cited about the attack in Houla, of 40 deaths, were incorrect. "It turns out there was one person killed," he said. "Thank God they have been saved. But those who shoot to kill innocent people proved they have the intention to kill."After these episodes, I find it hard to give the benefit of the doubt to those reporting Lebanese civilian casualties.
Update: My boyfriend just called, the sirens sounded in the Jezreel Valley as well. He gets into the bathroom every time he hears them - he thinks that's the safest room in the apartment.
The katyusha landed some metres away from this home and all of its windows were blown out. Luckily, the katyusha landed in a garden and most of the force was absorbed by a large tree (which is no longer standing).
This is part of the bottom floor of the building.
But the scariest sight might actually be that of the cars parked along the street.
This little girl is crouching along one of the many cars which had its windows blown out.
She showed me what she was doing -
collecting the little metal balls from the katyusha's head, which scatter in all directions when it explodes. There are 40,000 of these metal balls per katyusha. The hood of this car has absorbed dozens...
Which is what makes the katyushas so deadly. These balls are designed to act like bullets and to maximize the destruction - especially of human lives. And this was just one of the many katyushas which landed in Haifa yesterday (killing three people).
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Okay, her boyfriend just called - he saw the katyusha fall - it's a couple of blocks away from our apartment. We're hearing a lot of ambulances.
We're going down to the bomb shelter now.
The siren came on a few minutes ago - I was sweeping and my roommate cooking - when we dropped everything to sit in our hallway. We heard a lot of katyushas landing in Haifa - some closer, and some further from our apartment. I stopped counting, but on the news which we're watching now, they reported that more than 10 katyushas fell in the Haifa area.
I think that was the fourth siren in Haifa today.
People keep saying that "hard times are ahead". I'm not really sure why. But I guess one of the reasons is that a katyusha has already reached the town of Hadera, which is an escalation since it's even further south of Haifa.
Here are a few excerpts from the preamble and the operative clauses:
PP2. Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hezbollah's attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons,For Israel, too, this is an occasion to rejoice, provided that the resolution is actually implemented. With this resolution, the Security Council acknowledges that Hizbullah is to blame for the hostilities and the escalation. It also demands the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers,
PP4: Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel,
OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;
OP2. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;
OP3. Also reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;
OP6. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:For the Lebanese, this is an affirmation of the country's sovereignty and international recognition of its state's right to disarm foreign-backed militias such as Hizbullah. Furthermore, the resolution urges Israel to work on a settlement regarding Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails - once the soldiers are released - and also seems to promise some negotiations about the Sheeba Farms.
- strict respect by all parties for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Israel and Lebanon;
- full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;
- delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shebaa farms area;
- security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed and security forces and of UN mandated international forces deployed in this area;
- full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;
- deployment of an international force in Lebanon, consistent with paragraph 10 below;
- establishment of an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;
- elimination of foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;
- provision to the United Nations of remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession;
Friday, August 04, 2006
appeared in a Norwegian daily. See the Jerusalem Post for coverage.
Tom Gross of the National Post has written a detailed piece, "The media war against Israel," uncovering Hizbullah's successful manipulation of the international press and TV networks. He also documents some of the distasteful cartoons that have appeared again this time around in the world press. As usual, comparisons of Israel to the Nazis abound (see the cartoon above). Here are some excerpts from Gross's feature:
While the slanted comments and interviews are bad enough, the degree of pictorial distortion is even worse. From the way many TV stations worldwide are portraying it, you would think Beirut has begun to resemble Dresden and Hamburg in the aftermath of Second World War air raids. International television channels have used the same footage of Beirut over and over, showing the destruction of a few individual buildings in a manner which suggests half the city has been razed.
A careful look at aerial satellite photos of the areas targeted by Israel in Beirut shows that certain specific buildings housing Hezbollah command centres in the city's southern suburbs have been singled out. Most of the rest of Beirut, apart from strategic sites such as airport runways used to ferry Hezbollah weapons in and out of Lebanon, has been left pretty much untouched.
Another journalist let the cat out of the bag last week. Writing on his blog while reporting from southern Lebanon, Time magazine contributor Christopher Allbritton casually mentioned in the middle of a posting: "To the south, along the curve of the coast, Hezbollah is launching Katyushas, but I'm loath to say too much about them. The Party of God has a copy of every journalist's passport, and they've already hassled a number of us and threatened one."See also Tom Gross's website.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
How embarrassing. Two days after the French FM Philippe Douste-Blazy praised Iran for playing "an important stabilizing role in the region" (not a joke!), Ahmadinejad tells the world what this means. At the Organization of Islamic Countries Conference the Iranian President said that the solution to the Middle East crisis is to destroy Israel.
That paper caused a stir, and for good reason, because it bore more than superficial resemblance to antisemitic theories that conceive of Jews as the "string pullers" of government. (To be fair, W&M's Jewish string-pullers are public, not secretive, but still.) But after much ado, critics were able to point out the numerous errors in factual documentation and analysis of which W&M were guilty, to the extent that "The Israel Lobby" lost all pretention to being a respectable piece of scholarly literature.
However, the relevance of their question is in the process of being resurrected by subsequent political events, namely, the unequivocal and uncritical support that the United States - and only the United States - has lent to Israel's counter-aggression. Condy and W.'s lone championing of the cause has made us examine, once again, why the U.S. has chosen to become what many perceive to be the rubber stamp for Israeli decisions. I'd like to direct our readers to two interesting articles, one that sheds light and another that makes an argument.
The first, revealing, piece, in the New York Times today, shows that Bush Senior took a much more even-handed stance in Middle Eastern affairs than his son has, and that our own Bush Junior consciously reacted against that neutrality when he took office in March 2001. (Nor has the structural similarity between W.'s pledge to support Israel and his pledge to finish the job that his father refused during the Gulf War been lost on commentators.) The article suggests that, far from it being the influence of the "Israel lobby," it is the personal attachment that W. and his 70 million evangelical zionists friends in the U.S. that initially signalled the shift from neutrality to unequivocal support. Obviously, 9/11 solidified the relationship, as Israel was seen as an ally against the war on terrorism.
The second article, in Ha'aretz, written by the left-wing journalist Tom Segev (and one of my role models), regards the role of Europe in all this business. Despite tinges of sexism in the first line of the piece - calling Miri Regev and Condy "annoying starlets"?! - he makes an argument I have been pointing toward (though not expressing as well!) in previous posts.
[As a side note, Mearsheimer came off as a real loony bin in this interview. Asked by Lehrer if the Israel lobby was more decisive than the oil lobby in influencing the U.S. to invade Iraq, he basically said yes - at least, he weaseled his way out of the question by denying the significance of the oil lobby.]
Oh, there's another siren now: it's 5:02 PM. I got off the couch (we were watching the news report about the Israelis from Acre and Ma'alot-Tarshicha who were killed by the katyusha attacks today) and headed to the hallway.
I didn't hear any booms, so I guess it's a false alarm this time.
Update: Now they're saying on TV that it's six killed in the North.
Another update: It's 8 civilians killed - the number keeps rising.
"This war must stop, or it will radicalize the Muslim world, even those of us who are moderate today," said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who leads the world's most populous Muslim country.I am curious. Why don't the deaths in Darfur, where a genocide is being perpetrated by Muslims against other Muslims, radicalize the Islamic world? What about the 100 deaths per diem in Iraq, courtesy of other believers?
Strangely enough, it is not only Muslims who become "radicalized" when Israeli military operations lead to Muslim deaths. Has Kofi Annan, for example, devoted even a quarter of the amount of time he spends condemning Israel to the crisis in Darfur? How much time has he spent in efforts to stop the thousands of deaths every month caused by various wars in Africa?
Ze’ev Sternhell’s piece in Ha’aretz, “The most unsuccessful war,” has been recommended to me by several people who oppose
One of the discussions we have been having here revolves around the civilian casualties of this war, by which all of us are deeply saddened. For example, in response to a comment by Noah S. and an earlier post by yours truly, Asaf wrote that:
You're assuming again that
is innocently "targeting combatants", whereas Israel in fact has chosen to conduct its war in such a way that enormous civilian casualties were inevitable. Israel has not only been killing hundreds of civilians but also destroying the entire fabric of life for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of others.” Israel
I still cannot accept Asaf’s position. There is no war that does not destroy the fabric of civilian life. Yes, the air force bombings have led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians. But given the circumstances, it is clear that
I also strongly disagree with arguments to the effect that
The solutions proposed by Asaf and others are problematic for another reason. It is hard to deny that negotiations with the kidnappers encourage more kidnappings. I think anyone who pooh-poohs this is being dishonest. Given the recent kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in the south by the Palestinians,
An additional factor dictating the response was of a more tactical nature.
So far I have talked only about the spark. Even if we concede that
You might argue that the Lebanese civilian too lives in constant mortal danger. At the moment this is true. But, if Hizbullah stopped firing missiles, if Hizbullah were disarmed, all the inhabitants of
All this is not to say that I reject the utopian calls by people like my friend Asaf to put an end to violence and to seek political solutions instead. I think the Western Europeans peoples and states deserve praise for one thing: they have managed to stop killing each other, although it took them several World Wars and the intervention of the