Thursday, August 24, 2006

We do not Negotiate with Terrorists.

One can understand the point of view of the Israeli citizenry, who have plunged their heads into a noose and are desperate for a way out. Unfortunately everything they have done under their past two governments have dragged them further in. What will it take before they realize that when you are in a hole – the first requirement is to stop digging?

The first line of defence when protecting an injustice that benefits one's self is to deny the existence of the injustice. When you have taken over someone's country and are bent upon destroying their way of life, the last thing you can do is acknowledge they might have a legitimate grievance. Hence, you look for the first pretext you can find to marginalize them and their concerns.

When the dominant group in any society declares they will not recognize a particular group or enter into discussions with them – declaring they consider them to be outside the bounds of the rules they themselves have drawn up – they slam the door of exclusion even harder. This is the act of the powerful against the helpless. The arrogant refusal to consider the grievances of others as even legitimate can only lead to confrontation and violence.

When you have taken away all acceptable means for satisfying your opponent's concerns he has very few options left open. The only choices inevitably lie outside of the rules you have declared to be acceptable. Either your opponent caves in and becomes your slave, or he chooses to strike back – perforce in the only way you have left to him.

When you take over the best parts of a land that the initial diplomatic covenant said you must share, as the Zionists did in Israel, you have created the basis for war. The Balfour Declaration is often cited as the legal ground for the creation of the Jewish state, but it set out the provision that, ". . . it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine . . .". To most of the population of the world, that condition does not appear satisfied. It also seems self-evident that if a genuine attempt had been made to avoid prejudicing the rights of the displaced Palestinians, a great deal of war and bloodshed could have been avoided.

But the Israeli governments described the Arabs as intransigent and unappeasable. They systematically deprived them of the grounds for presenting their case, in the United Nations and elsewhere. So, when the Israeli state undertook to claim and protect the proceeds of this marginalizing of the Palestinians, it was faced with the problem of keeping the ill-gotten gains out of the equation. The first requirement was to deny the displaced persons their right to plead as equals. It was necessary to label them as terrorists.

Israeli governments should be experts on recognizing terrorists. Menachem Begin, Prime Minister in the 70s and 80s, was leader of the Irgun from February 1943 – a declared terrorist group by the British government, whose subjects they were murdering. What, the Brits don't count? Then how is it that they do count when the circumstances please you? (To be fair, the older and wiser Begin was responsible for some good in those administrations.) Without getting into a pointless argument about who did what first, and who was worst – I think we can accept that neither the Jews nor the Arabs have any claim to innocence in the line of terrorism. (And for a more recent example one need only look at the IAF's recent attacks on the civil infrastructure of Lebanon, and on the Lebanese population. Many World groups consider their actions to constitute State Terrorism.)

The recent war against Hezbollah and the Lebanese population has been an unmitigated disaster for Israel. Not only were none of their declared war aims realized, but the residual sympathy the World had for the plight of Israeli civil society has been diminished. (Here, I have to add that the main Israeli war aim – to destroy the long ranged missiles provided to Hezbollah by Iran was largely successful. But we mustn't take the cover off that can of worms – it reveals the stated cause of Israeli actions to have been no more than a pretext.) Without descending into name calling, I think the biggest issue is to forestall any resumption of the fighting and any resumption of the murder of civilians on both sides.

To do that, one has to talk. While it's evident that some talks are ongoing, carried out by proxies and under cover, at some point – in order to legitimize those discussions – one must necessarily talk openly. Face to face. One must negotiate. No more marginalizing one group as terrorists or the other as Zionists. No preposterous denial of the historical sufferings of either. It is going to be necessary for the one to stand down the terrorist cadres, and for the others to take the parameters of the discussions out of the hands of Zionists. We can surely have faith that together the Jews and the Arabs could make the region flower and be fruitful – both have the demonstrated ability. Come on, guys – get at it. The World has no patience for anyone's covenant with the past – the World wants to see a covenant for the future.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Move over Pyrrhus

So George – you know the one; lies, muddles words, and makes a Hereford cow look clever – is stridently claiming victory in Lebanon for his henchmen, the Israelis. Doesn't he know that no amount of wishing makes unpleasant truths go away?

The Israelis succeeded in driving away friends and supporters they had relied upon for years. No need to quote numbers here, the reaction around the world says it all.

Hezbollah increased its own ranks of friends and supporters in even greater proportion. Even non- Shiite Lebanese are grudgingly supportive – and the Arab world has found their first heroes since 1949.

The Israeli Army proved incapable of defeating the Jihadists. When it came down to man against man, they proved – once more, for Crissake – that morale and determination count for more than smart weapons.

Far from being destroyed, Hezbollah is the first force into the destroyed areas helping the civilian population rebuild. Disarm them? Who is going to have the guts?

Once again, the U.S. axis has demonstrated that hi-tech weaponry and massive aerial bombardment only makes their enemies more resolute and more intransigent. Shock and Awe lasts for hours – anger and hate last for millennia.

The purchase of airforce jets looks more and more like a losing proposition when their every action results in losing the important PR contest. "What did you do in the war, Daddy?" "I bombed Lebanese civilians, dear." Didn't these arrogant Israelis ever hear of Guernica?

The Israeli Army found their hugely expensive Merkava tanks could only usefully serve as ambulances. Wait till the U.S. Forces in Iraq learn the same thing about the Abrams when the civil war there really heats up. Pity it doesn't have the compartment capable of carrying stretchers.

An eye opener for America's friends in the region who have imagined that U.S. promises of support meant something. The Americans' client government in Beirut was assured it had the support of the U.S. when it took over from the Syrian backed regime. Where did it go when the Israelis turned on them? Hello Riyadh. Hello Amman. Hello Cairo. Hello Baghdad. Are you reading me?

Some readers may be discounting my words as those of some fanatical supporter of extremist Islam. Not me. I worked in an Arab country for more than four years, and the intimate contact with their mule-like orneryness made me an ardent supporter of Israel in 1967, and 1973. I long to see the Jihadists lose their resolve and their fanaticism, but the Cheney/Bush regime is the least likely administration in the whole world able to bring that about. George, Dick, and Rummy and their policies have to be worth more than half a dozen armored divisions – to Al-Qaida.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Whose Murder is Worse?

How many Lebanese and Palestinian children have to die before Israel considers itself secure?

All our government and corporate media propaganda attempts to describe the Arab side as a force of murderous strangers hiding themselves among a civilian population. That is a lie. The people and the fighters are one and the same, and the Israelis have made them so by their continual acts of state-run military violence against them for two decades.

The most tragic thing is that every imagined success in their supposed war on terror merely increases the level of hatred against them. When every bomb kills a dozen, and creates two dozen new enemies, it is evident that continuing this evil policy will ultimately end in their own destruction. The Jewish people need friends who can save them from themselves. It's quite evident that the failed regime in Washington is not that friend. It's becoming equally evident that the uncaring clique in Ottawa who have turned their backs on Canada's role to stand up for a just and lasting peace in the region are no better.

You must remember how powerful a symbol the image was of a single man against a tank in Tien An Min Square. That symbol is now being renewed in Lebanon a thousand times, and is before the eyes of the whole world. When will these leaders bent on killing see that every dead Hezbollah fighter has a million mourners? Their policy is now, and will always be, self-defeating.

Before Canada loses every bit of respect the free world has for it, these Tories, so arrogant in their profound ignorance, must listen to the voices of people wiser than themselves and retract their words of support for war and military might. Before they take Canada marching in lockstep with the Bush administration's rush into a new disaster and the magnification of destruction wherever it meddles, we need to have a lengthy parliamentary debate on our foreign policy. An honest debate.

We need the Common's Foreign Affairs Committee given the power to call unaligned witnesses and listen to the words of all those who have evidence to give – not just hand-picked toadies who will parrot the Government's sympathies. It's easy to see why Harper chose to represent a constituency in Calgary, these are the tactics which have been perfected by the Klein autocrats over the past fourteen years.

This new cycle of hatred will only engender another, greater cycle to come. At least let us take Canada out of this never-ending path to disaster – not to turn our backs on either side, but to win ourselves the right to take a persuasive stance between them. Both sides in this conflict seem to want to rain down destruction until there is no civilization, no humanity left to save. But out of this wreckage will come new children, and a new tomorrow. Let Canada be there with the moral right to teach a better future than its present leaders envision.