5 thoughts on “Civilian Shields

  • http://www.btselem.org/english/Human_Shields/20060720_Human_Shields_in_Beit_Hanun.asp

    kind of hard for israel to argue from the moral high ground when their army has been documented doing the same thing

    again, the impression from reading zumwalt’s article is that the lebanese hezbollah guerillas are barbaric and the israelis are noble

    perhaps both groups are barbaric, and with a little digging, you can discover which side is more barbaric

    as far as krauthammer, i have read his articles before, and you can get the same take on things by reading pro-israel right wing ideological publications

    but he is an objective journalist !

    yeah, and i am a bowling ball

  • “The Evil That Men Do”
    By Ian Williams

    A U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL ) observation post following Israel’s July 26 bombing, which killed four military observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland (AFP Photo/Ho).

    MARC ANTONY, in his funeral speech for Julius Caesar, said, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.” In the case of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, however, the evil lives on even before he is interred, and, if and when he is, there is precious little good to accompany his capacious cadaver. Who would have thought that Israel would be implementing Sharon’s brain-dead policies so thoroughly and murderously half a year after he lapsed into a coma?

    We have come a long way from Sabra and Shatila. In 1982, even the Israelis were horrified at what Sharon had done. A government commission almost whitewashed the massacre when it lamely concluded that Sharon was unfit for government office—any objective body would have declared him fit for prosecution as a war criminal—but it at least reprimanded him. Who would have thought that, 20 years later, the British, Canadian, Australian and many European governments would be lionizing Sharon as a statesman and applauding his policies?

    Like the neocons in Washington with whom he shares so much, Sharon’s stroke of genius was to see the potential that the World Trade Center killings offered as cover for murderous enterprises from Iraq to Lebanon. He immediately announced that Israel would fight terrorists as well—and immediately identified his old enemy Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority as such.

    At the time, I was too sophisticated and thought, “He’ll never get away with that.” But he did, and found a ready audience in George W. Bush, not to mention little Sir Echo, Tony “Yo” Blair.

    In the past, Washington would have gently reprimanded Israel—publicly at least—for what it is now doing, while discretely encouraging it, in the face of a world united in horror. Now the U.S. is actually exhorting Israel to greater efforts, refusing to call for a cease-fire. In London, meanwhile, ever since a pro-Israel magnate bankrolled his leadership campaign Blair has taken an increasingly pro-Israel attitude—despite the fact that his inspiration, chief fund-raiser and unofficial Mideast envoy, Lord Levy, ennobled by a grateful Blair, now faces arrest for selling other peerages.

    The damage can be seen in the international reaction. Doubtless influenced by Blair’s defection to the microcephalous (in single syllables, bird-brained) Bush camp, the Australian and Canadian governments have been supporting Israel’s assault, while Britain has managed to blunt the traditional European opposition to the Jewish state’s disregard for international law. In each case, the magic word is “terrorism”—well proven to shut down the higher mental faculties of any politician mouthing it.

    Even so, the Israeli attack on the U.N. post at Khiam and the 10th anniversary massacre at Qana have gone too far—even, it would seem, for Condoleezza Rice. She insisted on a 48-hour halt to the air attacks, which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised. Like most Israeli promises, however, it was hedged around so much as to be meaningless: the so-called halt still allowed Israeli operations in support of ground offensives, and retaliation against alleged Hezbollah rocket launch sites. Since Israel has consistently used that excuse for most of its bombing of civilian targets, one wonders whether Rice realized they were making a fool of her.

    Then, in New York, Sen. Charles Schumer announced that he was considering supporting the confirmation of the recess-appointed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton—because he was a strong supporter of Israel. In one phrase, the Democratic senator totally vindicated John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s thesis on the Israel Lobby and its power—reinforced, one may add, by the Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Dan Gillerman, who a few days earlier had described Bolton as one of the Israeli delegation!

    For a U.S. senator to praise an American ambassador for representing another country while on the government payroll is breathtaking. One wonders whether Bolton has registered as a foreign agent with the State Department, which pays his salary.

    Schumer is entirely correct in his appreciation, however. Bolton, presumably with the full support of the White House, not only has sat on resolutions calling for a cease-fire, he managed to stonewall and then attenuate a resolution condemning the bombing attack on the U.N. camp at Khiam, which killed four U.N. observers.

    Of course, the man who wants to take out 10 floors of the U.N. building doubtless would be happy to subcontract the job to the Israeli air force. Nor was Bolton ambassador to the U.N. when the U.S. supported Resolution 1502, passed unanimously in the wake of the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, which declares attacks on U.N. personnel on mission to be a war crime. But he was there when the Security Council, by refusing to condemn the Israeli attack in the face of a U.S. veto, in effect specified that nothing in 1502 applied in the case of Israel.

    And of course, given his well-known disdain for international law, Bolton was equally unconcerned by the new massacre in Qana. This despite the fact that, in a desperate attempt to portray Israel’s bogged-down offensive in Lebanon as a success to domestic audiences, Olmert announced that “All the population which is the power base of the Hezbollah in Lebanon was displaced”—once again confirming that, far from being collateral damage, the civilians in south Lebanon are the actual targets of the Israeli offensive.
    What Can the U.N. Do?

    So what can the U.N. do? It is almost touching that global scofflaws like Israel and the U.S. now show such a deep regard for Resolution 1559, which barely passed in 2004 with nine votes for and six abstentions, and which calls for Lebanese sovereignty over its own territory, and the disarming of the militias. One could, for example, usefully contrast Syria’s prompt withdrawal from Lebanon with the several decades it took Israel to abide by similar exhortations from the Security Council—not to mention the 39 years and counting that Israel has procrastinated and haggled about Resolution 242 ordering it out of the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights.

    Even more bemusingly, while Washington talks of new democracies in the region, it blithely ignores the unanimous votes of the newly elected parliaments of Iraq and Lebanon condemning Israel. In the case of Lebanon, the paradoxes become even more puzzling. If the purpose of 1559 is to restore sovereignty to Lebanon, then how is that process served by disarming Hezbollah against the wishes of the Lebanese people and parliament?

    Diplomatically, any solution must allow all sides to declare victory and back down. Hezbollah, by holding out for far longer than any recent Arab armies, has already won its victory politically in the Arab world. Once again it has emerged stronger as a result of Israeli stupidity.

    A payoff that may persuade the Lebanese and Hezbollah could be the handover of the Shabaa farms area to Lebanon, or to a multinational force. The question here—and one certainly not helped by Damascus’ reticence about Lebanese borders in general—is whether the Israelis are occupying Syrian or Lebanese territory. One thing is sure, however: these are not Israeli territories. In fact, like the Golan and the Palestinian territories, they come under long-outstanding Resolution 242, which says the Israelis should get out of them anyway. It would certainly be anomalous to have a U.N. force protecting Israeli control of illegally annexed territories.

    Because the proposal most implicating the U.N. is for a multinational force on the Israeli-Lebanese border, it does not require an excess of paranoia to assume that the bombing of the U.N. post at Khiam was a typically subtle Israeli hint to potential troop contributors as to what they can expect. Certainly there are some in the Israeli army, who may not have taken Olmert into their confidence, who do not want a U.N. force with teeth.

    Hezbollah, however, may even welcome such a force as part of a package—as long as it is genuinely impartial. And while Olmert might hope at the moment that such a force could help pull his chestnuts out of the fire, those in the Israeli military who cherish the ghost of Ariel Sharon would like to retrace his steps toward Beirut. The ever-ready American veto will reinforce those elements, of course, but one can presume—or at least hope—that their faulty judgment in starting the whole bloody affair has weakened their influence.

    If the international force robustly defended the border area against Hezbollah, which does after all have the support of most of the people living there, it will find itself on the receiving end of the attention that drove out Israel—unless it demonstrates evenhandedness by resisting Israeli incursions into Lebanon, which are in fact much more frequent than those going the other way.

    Any countries joining a multinational force should get cast-iron guarantees from NATO and the U.S. on protection for the force—including anti-aircraft capability. The French, the most enthusiastic proponents of such a force, seem to be implying that it will be strongly armed, which raises the interesting question: in the event of shooting between Israeli and U.N./multinational forces, which side will the United States be on?

    But that returns us to first principles. A Middle East peace does not depend on Resolution 1559, which barely scraped by, but on 242, and that clearly involves pressure—financial, logistical and diplo­matic—on the Israeli government. With significant portions of the Democratic Party seeming to agree with the White House that no matter what Israel does, no matter how unspeakable, it can count on their unqualified support, that does not seem to be in the cards.

    The other members of the Security Council should be making it plain that there will be no concessions to U.S. policies on Iran, Korea, or anywhere else until the U.S. shows signs of recognizing that international law applies not only to others, but to itself and Israel as well, and that Israel and the U.S. cannot go cherry picking which resolutions they deem applicable and which disposable.

    Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations.

  • Apologies if this isn’t the part of the article I’m supposed to respond to.

    “in the event of shooting between Israeli and U.N./multinational forces, which side will the United States be on?”

    Israel…because it’s Israel. Isn’t the point of UN/Multinational forces making sure that US forces don’t have to be present at all?

    I mean the only two purposes of UN forces after all are:

    1) “Well the US isn’t going to do it (shame on them), so we have to.

    2) “The US obviously can’t be neutral here, so we should do it.

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