Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Masterpiece of Deceit!

Below is A Washington Post opinion piece by the prime minister of Lebanon in full, with my fisking in italics.

End This Tragedy Now
© Washington Post
Israel Must Be Made to Respect International Law
By Fouad Siniora
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; Page A17
A military solution to Israel's savage war on Lebanon and the Lebanese people is both morally unacceptable and totally unrealistic. Israel's attack on Hiz'b'allah in self defence is neither against Lebanon and the Lebanese people, nor is it savage, morally unacceptable or unrealistic. Hiz'b'allah crossed an internationally recognized frontier, murdered eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two more, which it continues to hold for ransom. Self-defence is always morally defensible; it is the only realistic option to wars of aggression. Time and again, Israel has sent leaflets warning civilians to get out of the way of attempts to destroy Hiz'b'allah rocket launchers which are being used to send thousands of missiles into Israel, a favour Hiz'b'allah does not extend to its victims in Israeli cities and towns which it targets mercilessly. Mr. Siniora is confused about who is being savage. Hiz'b'allah purposefully places its missiles and missile launchers on and in apartment buildings and other residential neighbourhoods because it knows Israel doesn't take life with pleasure: it is Hiz'b'allah who is guilty of savagery, both to Israel and to their own people who they hold hostage. We in Lebanon call upon the international community and citizens everywhere to support my country's sovereignty and end this folly now. Lebanon has two armies with two commanders: the only threat to Lebanese sovereignty is Hiz'b'allah and its commander Nasrallah: this terrorist militia, which precipitated the present war, is never mentioned in the following (except in its alternate role as one political faction among many) in this long article. We also insist that Israel be made to respect international humanitarian law, including the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, which it has repeatedly and willfully violated. Crossing international frontiers to kidnap and hold soldiers for ranson is undoubtedly a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Mr. Siniora has not named a single instance of Israel's violations though that should be easy for him since he claims that they have been repeated and willful.
As the world watches, Israel has besieged and ravaged our country, created a humanitarian and environmental disaster, and shattered our infrastructure and economy, putting an intolerable strain on our social and economic systems. Israel has not beseiged Lebanon: Hezbollah has! Israel's sole purpose is to get their kidnapped soldiers back and to disarm Hiz'b'allah so they can’t attack Israel again. The Lebanese government had plenty of opportunity to disarm this terrorist group but it didn’t. Claims of damage are wildly overstated and made to look deliberate. In Beirut, water flows and lights go on precisely because Israel has gone out of its way to spare Lebanese infrastructure Fuel, food and medical equipment are in short supply; homes, factories and warehouses have been destroyed; roads severed, bridges smashed and airports disabled.
This is indeed unfortunate and we all feel for the people suffering in this war on both sides of the border. One million people have been displaced in Israel and many more have been shut into bomb shelters for a month. No mention of Israeli suffering is ever mentioned in what follows.
The damage to infrastructure alone is running into the billions of dollars, as are the losses to owners of private property, and the long-term direct and indirect costs due to lost revenue in tourism, agriculture and industrial sectors are expected to be many more billions. This ought to be a lesson to all states: look at what happens when any state allows a challenge to their rightful monopoly of men under arms! Lebanon's well-known achievements in 15 years of postwar development have been wiped out in a matter of days by Israel's deadly military might. A nation unable to
disarm a terrorist organization that holds its country hostage has no achievements worth talking about. Wisely, he hasn't.
For all this carnage and death, and on behalf of all Lebanese, we demand an international inquiry into Israel's criminal actions in Lebanon and insist that Israel pay compensation for its wanton destruction.
The destruction has not been wanton but defensive. Is Hiz'b'allah not responsible for the much larger bill for its destruction in Israel?
Israel seems to think that its attacks will sow discord among the Lebanese. One nation, two armies and two commanders: no, there’s no discord in Lebanon and only the evil Jewish empire is attempting to create it; if you believe this, you’ll believe anything. This will never happen. It already has. Israel should know that the Lebanese people will remain steadfast and united in the face of this latest Israeli aggression -- its seventh invasion -- just as they were during nearly two decades of brutal occupation. The Lebanese people are not united and have been wracked by inter-religious civil war for decades. Israel's response, I must repeat since the lie is repeated, is defensive and not aggressive: it is a response to Hiz'b'allah’s aggression. Each and every Israeli invasion has been precipitated by attacks on Israeli towns from south Lebanon. The people's will to resist grows ever stronger with each village demolished and each massacre committed.
There has not been a single village "demolished" (though some have been damaged) and not a single massacre: not one civilian has been targetted, in contradistinction to the Hiz'b'allah attacks on Israeli cities and its people: a purposefully murderous attack. The Lebanese are in a state of civil war. The army is unable to disarm Hiz'b'allah because half the army is on Hiz'b'allah's side and half are against, divided on religious lines. The announcement last night on CTV news by Emile Lahoud that the Lebanese army will fight alongside Hiz'b'allah is proof of a coup d'etat by Islamist forces. The Lebanese people have never been more divided or more brutally abused by their warring leaders.
On July 25, at the international conference for Lebanon in Rome, I proposed a comprehensive seven-point plan to end the war. It was well received by the conference and got the unanimous and full backing of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, in which Hezbollah is represented, as well as of the speaker of parliament and a majority of parliamentary blocs. This is the only mention of Hiz'b'allah in the entire essay: there is not even a hint of its military power. Representatives of diverse segments of Lebanese civil society have come out strongly in favor, as has the Islamic-Christian Summit, representing all the religious confessions, ensuring a broad national consensus and preserving our delicate social equilibrium. If it had a broad national consensus there wouldn't be two Lebanese armies run by two different men.
The plan, which also received the full support of the 56 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, included an immediate, unconditional and comprehensive cease-fire and called for:
· The release of Lebanese and Israeli prisoners and detainees through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
thus rewarding the murder and kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers.
The withdrawal of the Israeli army behind the "blue line."
That was done in 2000. It was Hiz'b'allah which crossed that line.
· A commitment from the U.N. Security Council to place the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hills areas under U.N. jurisdiction until border delineation and Lebanese sovereignty over them are fully settled.
The blue line has already been decided and Israel withdrew beyond it in 2000. Shebaa Farms has never been Lebanese territory: the dispute is between Israel and Syria. Note that the author doesn't entertain any other possibility except Lebanese sovereignty over the dispute areas. Is the UN therefore to act as Lebanon's proxy army?
Further, Israel must surrender all maps of remaining land mines in southern Lebanon to the United Nations.
· Extension of the Lebanese government's authority over its territory through its legitimate armed forces, with no weapons or authority other than that of the Lebanese state, as stipulated in the Taif accord. Rubbish! "The extension of the Lebanese government's authority over its territory through its legitimate armed forces, with no weapons or authority other than that of the Lebanese state, as stipulated in the Taif accord" has only one power of opposition: Hiz'b'allah, which the Lebanese government has refused to disarm, leading to the present crisis. We have indicated that the Lebanese armed forces are ready and able to deploy to southern Lebanon, alongside the U.N. forces there, the moment Israel pulls back to the international border.
Oh! They are ready and able, are they? This is a bald-faced lie. A successful coupt d’etat has occurred and Hiz'b'allah now rules Lebanon.
We in Lebanon call upon the international community and citizens everywhere to support my country's sovereignty and end this folly now.
You needn't call so far! Why not just place a call to Nasrallah and ask Hiz'b'allah's commander to support your country's sovereignty? Is it possible to have a sovereign state with two armies led by two different men? The disarming of the terrorist Hiz'b'allah militia is the only item on Lebanon's agenda if it is truly interested in recapturing its sovereignty.
· The supplementing of the U.N. international force operating in southern Lebanon and its enhancement in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operation, as needed, to undertake urgent humanitarian and relief work and guarantee stability and security in the south so that those who fled their homes can return.
The only stability the UN force guaranteed was the buildup of Hiz'b'allah arms, leading to the present war. As for its "mandate and scope of operations," this is all mud: what is clear is that the UNIFIL force didn't even make a move to fulfill their present obligation under Security Council Resolution 1559. Could it be that the author means, by a new mandate, one that strikes down 1559?
· Action by the United Nations on the necessary measures to once again put into effect the 1949 armistice agreement signed by Lebanon and Israel and to ensure adherence to its provisions, as well as to explore possible amendments to or development of those provisions as necessary.
By changes in the 1949 armistice, does he mean, perchance, the diplomatic elimination of the state of Israel?
· The commitment of the international community to support Lebanon on all levels, including relief, reconstruction and development needs.
Get Iran to pay the bill. They bought the missiles that Hiz'b'allah sent into Israeli towns and cities. Not one word in this whole essay of destruction wrought against Israel.
As part of this comprehensive plan, and empowered by strong domestic political support and the unanimous backing of the cabinet, the Lebanese government decided to deploy the Lebanese armed forces in southern Lebanon as the sole domestic military force in the area, alongside U.N. forces there, the moment Israel pulls back to the international border.
Nonsense! If Lebanon had been interested in (or capable of) "deploy[ing] the Lebanese armed forces in southern Lebanon as the sole domestic military force in the area," why on earth haven't they done so? It is not Israel who prevented the Lebanese army to be the sole military force in the area -- or any area of Lebanon -- it is Hiz'b'allah and only Hiz'b'allah.
Israel responded by slaughtering more civilians in the biblical town of Qana. Such horrible scenes have been repeated daily for nearly four weeks and continue even as I write these words.
Israel responded, not to the "deci[sion] to deploy the Lebanese armed forces as the sole domestic military force in the area" but to missiles send from the "biblical town of Qana," from where dozens of rocket attacks were initiated against Israel. Israel attacked the rocket launchers and allegedly killed a number of people in the act. There is nothing illegitimate about self-defence. (Note the "biblical" crack: a typical sideswipe at the Christ-killers, like Arafat's Norma Desmond impersonation in 2002: "They're crucifying [H]im again!" in response to Israel's attempt to end the Palestinian siege of the Church of the Nativity.)
The resolution to this war must respect international law and U.N. resolutions, not just those selected by Israel, a state that deserves its reputation as a pariah because of its consistent disdain for and rejection of international law and the wishes of the international community for over half a century.
There is a UN resolution that calls for the disarming of Hiz'b'allah, isn't there? Since this is the greatest threat to Lebanese sovereignty, the absence of the mention of the militia is glaring. Israel's pariah status comes from its insistence on survival against half a century of attempts to destroy it.

Lebanon calls, once again, on the United Nations to bring about an immediate cease-fire to relieve the beleaguered people of Lebanon. Only then can the root causes of this war -- Israeli occupation of Lebanese territories and its perennial threat to Lebanon's security, as well as Lebanon's struggle to regain full sovereignty over all its territory -- be addressed.
Israel left in 2000: it was not in possession of a single inch of Lebanese territory before this unwarranted attack on Israel. It is tiresome to repeat this but since he repeats the lie, I must repeat the truth: sovereignty depends on one nation having one army and a single authority. None of this is Israel's fault. As to Israel's perennial threat, every single incursion of Israel's has been defensive: the Arab states have been trying to destroy Israel for about 60 years now.

I believe that a political resolution rooted in international law and based on these seven points will lead to long-term stability. If Israel would realize that the peoples of the Middle East cannot be cowed into submission, that they aspire only to live in freedom and dignity, it could also be a stepping stone to a final solution of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, which has plagued our region for 60 years.
"[A] stepping stone to a final solution". Yes, no doubt. They aspire to live in dignity and live instead under governments that afford them neither. This is really a hard swallow. In the end, all people are responsible for their governments and probably get the leadership they deserve. It is the Arab world that has tried to beat Israel into submission. The word "Islam" in fact, means "submission." The state of Israel always has been violently opposed for one reason only: it's Jewish.
The 2002 Arab summit in Beirut, which called for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace based on the principle of land for peace, showed the way forward. (The "All the land or we kill you all" principle.). A political solution cannot, however, be implemented as long as Israel continues to occupy Arab land in Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights and as long as it wages war on innocent people in Lebanon and Palestine. As Jawaharlal Nehru said, the only alternative to coexistence is co-destruction."
Israel, for the umpteenth time, left in 2000. It also completely withdrew from Gaza. All these lands were occupied in a defensive war against a dozen Arab nations who waged wars of annihilation against Israel in 1948-9, 1967 and 1973. The author reveals the deep racism inherent in all his arguments by characterizing all these lands, not as Syrian, Jordanian or Lebanese but as "Arab land."
Enough destruction, dispossession, desperation, displacement and death! Lebanon must be allowed to reclaim its position in this troubled region as a beacon of freedom and democracy where justice and the rule of law prevail, and as a refuge for the oppressed where moderation, tolerance and enlightenment triumph.
Amen to the first part: disarm Hiz'b'allah and stop trying to destroy Israel and there will be peace. "[A] beacon of freedom and democracy where justice and the rule of law prevail, and as a refuge for the oppressed where moderation, tolerance and enlightenment triumph?" Full marks for an excellent description of Israel!

The writer is prime minister of Lebanon, now ruled by Nasrallah's Hiz'b'allah.

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