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captainccs
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« on: July 16, 2006, 05:55:38 PM »

Since my friend Craft Dog likes to talk about politics I think it is appropriate to post these thoughts about Lebanon. The post was originally a comment I made at a Venezuela blog to a totally unrelated post that got to talk about the war in the Middle East. The post features a curious video titled: "The Extremely Abridged History of Venezuela."

http://caracaschronicles.blogspot.com/2006/07/extremely-abridged-history-of.html


My comments:

Lebanon is not the problem for Israel. Iran, Syria and their proxies Hamas and Hezbollah are the problem.

If you take a good look at what is being targeted in Lebanon you will realize that it is an effort to isolate and destroy Hezbollah. The targets besides Hezbollah proper are communications: airports, bridges, oil storage, gas stations, cell phone towers, radar and such. Israel is trying to prevent Iran and Syria from resupplying Hezbollah.

Unfortunately for the Lebanese, they have not had an independent country for decades. They have been occupied by Palestinians, Israel and Syria in turn. Until Lebanon can regain its full independence and that includes getting rid of Hezbollah, it will suffer from foreign intervention, it will continue to have to live with surrogate wars started by Iran and Syria.

Jordan and Egypt have learned to live in peace with Israel. Why can't Lebanon? Because Iran and Syria don't want it to and Lebanon is too weak to have its own way. If Jordan can control its Palestinian citizens, why can't Lebanon? Same answer, they are too weak.

You might have noticed that there has been no great international outcry for Israel to stop. This would be very strange indeed if it didn't have a realistic explanation. Not even the Arab summit in Cairo managed to call for a ceasefire and for a condemnation of Israel. The reason, at least for me, is clear: everyone except Iran and Syria would be very happy if Hamas and Hezbollah were destroyed because they, along with al Qaeda, are destabilizing the whole world.

Please be clear about my position. When it comes to the actual fighting, I'm on the side of Israel, no doubt about it. When it comes to the international scene, I would like nothing better than peace in the Middle East. Egypt and Jordan have managed to make peace with Israel. Turkey is most happy to trade with Israel. I guess we have to look at the motivation of Iran and Syria to keep the flames of war alive. How do they profit from it? Let's face it, Iran is trying to face down the Great Satan via its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah. This is in part a distraction for the G8 meeting so they have something else to worry about besides Iran's nuclear ambitions. Clearly the Group of 8 is not buying it.

Coming back home (Venezuela), Chavez blames the Great Satan for all our ills and the Arabs blame Israel for all their ills. How is one different from the other? If Chavez is wrong then so are the Arabs. If the Arabs are right, then so is Chavez. We have to take responsibility for our actions and our destiny. We cannot blame others for everything and make progress at the same time. We make progress when we take responsibility for our lives and work to improve them.

Sorry about the long post but I had to get it off my chest. Thank you for listening.
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2006, 01:44:36 AM »

G8 Statement on the Middle East
July 16, 2006

Today, we the G8 Leaders express our deepening concern about the situation in the Middle East, in particular the rising civilian casualties on all sides and the damage to infrastructure. We are united in our determination to pursue efforts to restore peace. We offer our full support for the U.N. Secretary General's mission presently in the region.

The root cause of the problems in the region is the absence of a comprehensive Middle East peace.

The immediate crisis results from efforts by extremist forces to destabilize the region and to frustrate the aspirations of the Palestinian, Israeli and Lebanese people for democracy and peace. In Gaza, elements of Hamas launched rocket attacks against Israeli territory and abducted an Israeli soldier. In Lebanon, Hezbollah, in violation of the Blue Line, attacked Israel from Lebanese territory and killed and captured Israeli soldiers, reversing the positive trends that began with the Syrian withdrawal in 2005, and undermining the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

These extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos and provoke a wider conflict. The extremists must immediately halt their attacks.

It is also critical that Israel, while exercising the right to defend itself, be mindful of the strategic and humanitarian consequences of its actions. We call upon Israel to exercise utmost restraint, seeking to avoid casualties among innocent civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure and to refrain from acts that would destabilize the Lebanese government.

The most urgent priority is to create conditions for a cessation of violence that will be sustainable and lay the foundation for a more permanent solution. This, in our judgment, requires:
  • The return of the Israeli soldiers in Gaza and Lebanon unharmed;
  • An end to the shelling of Israeli territory;
  • An end to Israeli military operations and the early withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza;
  • The release of the arrested Palestinian ministers and parliamentarians.
  • The framework for resolving these disputes is already established by international consensus.[/list:u]In Lebanon, UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680 address the underlying conditions that gave rise to this crisis. We urge the U.N. Security Council to develop a plan for the full implementation of these resolutions.

    We extend to the Government of Lebanon our full support in asserting its sovereign authority over all its territory in fulfillment of UNSCR 1559. This includes the deployment of Lebanese Armed Forces to all parts of the country, in particular the South, and the disarming of militias. We would welcome an examination by the U.N. Security Council of the possibility of an international security/monitoring presence.

    We also support the initiation of a political dialogue between Lebanese and Israeli officials on all issues of concern to both parties. In addition, we will support the economic and humanitarian needs of the Lebanese people, including the convening at the right time of a donors conference.

    In Gaza, the disengagement of Israel provided an opportunity to move a further step toward a two state solution under the Road Map. All Palestinian parties should accept the existence of Israel, reject violence, and accept all previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map. For its part, Israel needs to refrain from unilateral acts that could prejudice a final settlement and agree to negotiate in good faith.

    Our goal is an immediate end to the current violence, a resumption of security cooperation and of a political engagement both among Palestinians and with Israel. This requires:
    • An end to terrorist attacks against Israel;
    • A resumption of the efforts of President Abbas to ensure that the Palestinian government complies with the Quartet principles;
    • Immediate expansion of the temporary international mechanism for donors established under the direction of the Quartet;
    • Israeli compliance with the Agreement on Movement and Access of November 2005 and action on other steps to ease the humanitarian plight of the people of Gaza and the West Bank;
    • Resumption of security cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis;
    • Action to ensure that the Palestinian security forces comply with Palestinian law and with the Road Map, so that they are unified and effective in providing security for the Palestinian people;
    • Resumption of dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli political officials.[/list:u]These proposals are our contribution to the international effort underway to restore calm to the Middle East and provide a basis for progress towards a sustainable peace, in accordance with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Quartet will continue to play a central role. The G8 welcomes the positive efforts of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan as well as other responsible regional actors to return the region to peace. We look forward to the report of the Secretary General's mission to the Security Council later this week which we believe could provide a framework for achieving our common objectives.
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2006, 10:55:41 AM »

MSNBC.com


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Israeli troops briefly enter southern Lebanon
Overnight incursion widened air assault; Israel denies aircraft downed
The Associated Press


Updated: 9:58 a.m. CT July 17, 2006
BEIRUT, Lebanon - Israeli ground troops entered southern Lebanon to attack Hezbollah bases on the border, a government spokesman said Monday, but rapidly returned to Israel after conducting their military operations.

Hezbollah, for its part, again fired rockets at the Israeli city of Haifa, destroying a three-story building and wounding at least two people, Israeli medics said.

The medics said other victims may be trapped in the rubble of the building in Israel?s third-largest city. The attacks came one day after a Hezbollah attack on the port city killed eight people.

Israel's six-day-old offensive against Hezbollah following the capture of two Israeli soldiers has been primarily an aerial campaign, but government spokesman, Asaf Shariv, said the Israeli army chief of staff confirmed that ground troops had gone into Lebanon, if only briefly.

A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said that a small group of Israeli troops had crossed into Lebanon overnight to attack a Hezbollah position, but then returned to Israel.

"There was a small operation in a very limited area overnight," the source said. "That is over."

Israel has been reluctant to send ground troops into southern Lebanon, an area that officials say has been heavily mined by Hezbollah and could lead to many Israeli casualties.

Meantime, Lebanese television stations reported an Israeli aircraft had been shot down over Lebanon and showed footage of burning debris falling from the sky. However, an Israeli security source denied the report to Reuters. "There was no such thing," the source said.

Earlier Friday, Israeli fighter bombers targeted Hezbollah's strongholds in southern Beirut and pummeled Lebanese infrastructure, firing missiles whose detonations shook the capital city.

But Hezbollah retaliated by firing rockets that flew further into Israel than ever before, with Katyusha rockets landing in the town of Atlit, six miles south of Haifa. Nobody was hurt in the Monday attack, but Hezbollah rockets had killed eight people in Haifa on Sunday.

G-8 summit
In Moscow, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called Monday for the deployment of international forces to stop the bombardment of Israel and to persuade the Jewish state to stop attacks on Hezbollah.

Speaking on the margin of the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, Blair said the fighting would not stop until the conditions for a cease-fire were created. "The only way is if we have a deployment of international forces that can stop bombardment coming into Israel," he said.

The European Union said it was considering the deployment of a peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

Annan appealed to Israel to spare civilian lives and infrastructure.

A senior European Union official returned Monday from the Middle East and said he is pessimistic about the chance of a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah militants.

Javier Solana, the EU?s foreign and security chief, said the best that could be hoped for was a ?de-escalation? of the fighting. He was to brief a meeting of EU foreign ministers on his weekend talks in Beirut.


Olmert: 'Far-reaching consequences'
In overnight raids, Israeli planes and artillery guns killed 17 people and wounded at least 53 others, Lebanese security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israel said its planes and artillery struck 60 targets overnight. Its military sought to punish Lebanon for the barrage of 20 rockets on Haifa, the country's third largest city and one that had not been hit before the current round of fighting began on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed "far-reaching consequences" for the Haifa attack, Hezbollah's deadliest strike ever on Israel.

Israel accused Syria and Iran of providing Lebanese guerrillas with sophisticated weapons. Israeli officials said the missiles that hit Haifa had greater range and heavier warheads than the previous rockets which Hezbollah has fired into northern Israel. Israeli military officials said four of the missiles were the Iranian-made Fajr-3, with a 22-mile range and 200-pound payload, and far more advanced than the Katyusha rockets the guerrillas rained on northern Israel in previous attacks.

In their raids on Beirut on Monday, Israeli planes killed two people in the harbor and started a large fire, that was later extinguished. A French ship was due to arrive in the port later Monday to evacuate Europeans.

The Israeli jets also set set fire to a gas storage tank in the northern neighborhood of Dawra, and another fuel storage tank at Beirut airport, sending plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. The airport has been closed since Thursday when Israeli jets blasted its runways.

Elsewhere in Lebanon, Israeli planes again hit the Beirut to Damascus highway, which has been targeted as part of a strategy of severing Lebanon's links to the outside world. Monday's attacks struck the highway in the eastern Bekaa Valley and killed two people.

In another attack, eight Lebanese soldiers who were killed when Israeli aircraft attacked a small fishing port at Abdeh in northern Lebanon near a highway leading to Syria. Witnesses and security officials said 12 Lebanese soldiers were wounded in the attack.

An Israeli army spokesman said his force was investigating the attack because, "in principle, the Israeli military does not target Lebanese soldiers."

Hezbollah: 'Stockpiles are still full'
Hezbollah is not known to operate in northern Lebanon, but the Israeli army said it had targeted radar stations there because they had been used by Hezbollah to hit a warship on Friday. It all but accused the Lebanese military of lending its support to Hezbollah.

"The attacks ... are against radar stations used, among other things, in the attack on the Israeli missile boat, by Hezbollah in cooperation with the Lebanese military," an Israeli army spokesman told The Associated Press.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday that despite Israel's attacks, the guerrillas were "in their full strength and power" and that their "missile stockpiles are still full."

"When the Zionists behave like there are no rules and no red lines and no limits to the confrontation, it is our right to behave in the same way," Nasrallah said in a televised address, looking tired. He said Hezbollah had hit Haifa because of Israel's strikes on Lebanese civilians.

The Israeli military warned residents of south Lebanon to flee, promising heavy retaliation after the Haifa assault.

In one airstrike on southern Lebanon early Monday, an Israeli missile missed its apparent target ? a Hezbollah site ? and hit a private house, killing two people, according to security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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captainccs
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2006, 01:14:25 PM »

Editorial: Israel's response is self-defence
The Australian
July 17, 2006

Lebanon should help disarm Hezbollah guerillas

IF there was ever any doubt that Israel's response to Hezbollah's hail of rockets was proportionate to the threat they pose to Israeli security, it has been dispelled by attacks launched from southern Lebanon deep into Israel. With Hezbollah guerillas apparently well-armed thanks to money and material from Iran and Syria, Israel has been obliged to strike back in self-defence and to protect its civilian population in the north, including Haifa and Tiberias, a city hitherto thought to have been beyond the range of Hezbollah's rockets. Reports that Hezbollah has an armoury of thousands of rockets capable of reaching Israel's heartlands - and conceivably its capital, Tel Aviv - leave it no option because, it's worth repeating, Israel is facing an implacable enemy that denies its right to exist and wants to wipe it from the map.

Hezbollah appears to have little sympathy for its host country, Lebanon. By attacking Israel - no doubt taking the opportunity to strike by snatching two Israeli troopers while Israel was preoccupied with its mission to free a kidnapped soldier in Gaza to the south - Hezbollah has invited a red-blooded reaction. No nation can sit back watching missiles rain down on its territory. Retaliation with a purpose has been Israel's modus operandi. It has hit key highways and Beirut airport to make it difficult for Syria to resupply or reinforce Hezbollah, while also attacking the source of the rockets and those who are launching them. If that includes the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah - reported yesterday to have been wounded in an Israeli air raid, reports denied by Hezbollah - then that's the brutal reality of what Israel must do to survive.

Moreover, Israel is doing Lebanon a favour by containing Hezbollah, a parasitic organisation that has outstayed its welcome in the new but fragile democracy that is Lebanon. Better late than never, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora says there can be no sovereign Lebanese state without disarming Hezbollah. Sadly, the Lebanese Government has been unwilling to take the hard steps necessary to achieve this end. Lebanon's army of about 70,000 soldiers is far superior to Hezbollah's guerilla force, estimated at about 6000, but does not appear to have the will to tackle the task of ridding Lebanon of its unwelcome guests. And given that the Lebanese army could spilt along sectarian lines if ordered to disarm Hezbollah, Mr Siniora should thank Israel further: he gets to keep a relatively unified army intact, while also watching Hezbollah arms and missile sites being destroyed, and its influence on Lebanese politics collaterally reduced.

Of course, disarming Hezbollah from within would be no easy task. With 12 MPs and two cabinet ministers, Hezbollah is a strong political entity. Nevertheless, if Lebanon is going to make progress and be embraced by the international community as a responsible and independent nation, it must face up to the malign influence of Hezbollah and take away the group's weapons - or at least help Israel to do so. Otherwise Lebanon will remain a hostage to the guerillas and their principal backers, Iran and Syria.

Israel's defensible military response coincides with yesterday's meeting of world leaders in St Petersburg for the annual G8 summit. As might be expected, US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have called for restraint, and the other six leaders will probably fall into line. Coupled with the European Union's routine condemnation of Israel's response to aggression from its enemies, the opinion of the G8 should not deflect Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Israeli Government, which has resolved to make it clear to Hamas, Hezbollah and other militant groups that there is a heavy price to pay for cross-border raids, rocket attacks and the taking of hostages.

Mr Bush's call for restraint - while making it clear Israel has the right to defend itself - is partly prompted by a desire to see Lebanon remain a friend of the West and his hopes the country can strengthen its democracy. But what Mr Bush and his G8 colleagues should be doing is calling for Lebanon to abide by UN Resolution 1559 to disarm Hezbollah. The G8 leaders could also reflect on comments from the most powerful Arab country, Saudi Arabia, which last week accused Hezbollah of "uncalculated adventures" that could bring destruction to Arab nations. Hezbollah elements should "shoulder the full responsibility for this irresponsible behaviour and that the burden of ending the crisis falls on them alone". Stern words, indeed, and a guide for the rest of the world's nations - especially those that jump at the opportunity to attack Israel's right to self-defence.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19809776-7583,00.html
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2006, 05:54:20 PM »

This is certainly refreshing to hear. That the UN recognizes that the Hezbollah is acting improperly by putting civilians in danger is a great step forward in the war against terrorism.


U.N. Chief Accuses Hezbollah of 'Cowardly Blending' Among Refugees
Monday, July 24, 2006

LARNACA, Cyprus ? The U.N. humanitarian chief accused Hezbollah on Monday of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel.

The U.N. humanitarian chief accused Hezbollah on Monday of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel.

The militant group has built bunkers and tunnels near the Israeli border to shelter weapons and fighters, and its members easily blend in among civilians.

Jan Egeland spoke with reporters at the Larnaca airport in Cyprus late Monday after a visit to Lebanon on his mission to coordinate an international aid effort. On Sunday he had toured the rubble of Beirut's southern suburbs, a once-teeming Shiite district where Hezbollah had its headquarters.

During that visit he condemned the killing and wounding of civilians by both sides, and called Israel's offensive "disproportionate" and "a violation of international humanitarian law."

On Monday he had strong words for Hezbollah, which crossed into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12, triggering fierce fighting from both sides.

"Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children," he said. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

"We need a cessation of hostilities because this is a war where civilians are paying the price," said Egeland, who was heading to Israel.

Hezbollah guerrillas crossed into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12, triggering fierce fighting from both sides.

At least 384 people have been killed in Lebanon, including 20 soldiers and 11 Hezbollah fighters, according to security officials. At least 600,000 Lebanese have fled their homes, according to the World Health Organization. One estimate by Lebanon's finance minister putting the number at 750,000, nearly 20 percent of the population.

Israel's death toll stands at 36, with 17 people killed by Hezbollah rockets and 19 soldiers killed in the fighting.

During his visit to Lebanon, Egeland issued an urgent call for US$150 million (euro118.74 million) to help Lebanon through the next three months.

He said the first large U.N. convoy of humanitarian aid is expected to depart Beirut on Wednesday for the southern city of Tyre. Similar convoys will be scheduled every second day after that.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,205352,00.html
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2006, 01:49:36 PM »

Can?t Stop
Still unserious about Syria.

By Michael Ledeen

I suppose if you live long enough you get to see everything at least twice, and in recent days I?ve seen replays of two old blunders that I?d hoped I wouldn?t have to endure again. The first is the Friend Who Has Gone Too Far, and the second is the Enemy Who Is Really Our Friend.

The first time I saw the Friend Who Has Gone Too Far was in December, 1981, a very long quarter-century ago. Reagan was finishing his first year in office, and the first signs of the fall of the Soviet Empire were bubbling to the surface in Poland, where the Solidarity trade union was challenging the Polish Communist regime. Pope John Paul II was using the word ?solidarity? in some very provocative ways, and you could feel the earth shifting beneath the feet of the Soviets. It was pretty clear, even then, that if the Kremlin did not find an effective way of breaking Solidarity, the entire structure of the Soviet empire might well crack wide open. And so, late in December as I recall, military rule was declared in Poland, Soviet military forces were moved to the borders, and Solidarity leaders were rounded up and arrested.

Shortly afterwards, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Charles Percy, was on one of the Sunday talk shows, and had a blood-chilling exchange with a journalist. Solidarity went too far, didn?t they, Senator? And Percy nodded gravely and agreed. Yes, he said, they just went too far.

This was back in the days when I watched television news and talk shows, and I threw something at the screen, disgusted that an American leader would condemn brave workers for the sin of openly challenging the evils of Communism. The nerve of the man! Solidarity was our ally, we were supposed to support them, and instead here was this lout of a Senator condemning them, for what? For loving freedom too much.

Israel is getting the same treatment these days, more or less unanimously from the Europeans (rather less so from the Arabs, which is a big story indeed), and much too much from some American pundits. Israel is just going too far for these folks, who trot out the silly idea that a country under attack is only entitled to a ?proportional response.? So if Israeli casualties are dramatically lower than those in Lebanon, it proves that the Israelis have gone too far. So they are condemned, for what? For defending themselves effectively and fighting too fiercely against those who want them dead.

Both Solidarity and the Israelis were fighting against our common foes; the Soviets wanted us tossed into history?s garbage can, and Hezbollah wants to slaughter us. Both had the potential to fatally weaken our common enemies. Yet in each case there was a curious reluctance to embrace the idea of victory.

The Enemy Who is Really Our Friend is, in both cases, Syria. Henry Kissinger once said that he found Hafez al Assad the most fascinating leader in the Middle East, which prompted me to wonder what it was about certain dictators that so fascinated intellectuals. Mussolini, for example, was lionized by Stefan Zweig, one of the leading intellectuals of the inter-war period, and both Lenin and Stalin had their share of admiring journalists, historians and other deep thinkers. In any event, the first time I encountered the notion that Syria is really our friend was in the mid-Eighties, when I was working on counterterrorism. The synagogue in Vienna had been savagely attacked by terrorists carrying hand grenades and a machine gun. We had learned that the terrorists had gone to Damascus, and then directly from Damascus to Vienna. They had not stopped between the Vienna airport and the synagogue.

I suggested that we might contemplate doing something mean to Syria.

Oh, no, the CIA representative objected, we have no evidence to suggest that the Syrian government had anything to do with this.

I couldn?t believe it. You?re saying, then, that if a naked man walks up a hill into a house, and then comes out of the house with guns and grenades, and then kills people, the occupants of the house have no responsibility?

Exactly right.

Syria?s been a major player in international terrorism for a long time, but the Syrians are clever in their malevolent way; every now and then they give the CIA some useful information, and toss the Agency a real terrorist if they need to curry even more favor than is usual. So even when, as in the case of Hezbollah, it should be obvious to a blind man that the Syrians and the Iranians are totally in cahoots, it is nonetheless possible for our Syrian ?experts? to gainsay the obvious and whisper to the New York Times that we can somehow separate the Syrians from the terror masters in Tehran, and have the son of Assad play a constructive role in ?the search for peace.?

Both times, we had the Syrians dead to rights. Both times, it was obvious that Syria was actively involved in the murder of innocents. And both times, people who should have known better insisted on denying the evidence.

Marx put it best. First it?s tragedy, then it?s farce.

? Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OGQxOTE5MTI1NzRiOTc0MTJkMjQ1OTFkMzEyODgyY2E=
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captainccs
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2006, 09:37:38 PM »

This admission by Hezbollah proves that the only language they understand is force, disproportionate force, overwhelming force. If that is the only language they understand then Israel should use that language. Clear communications are very important. Over the last few years, including the Camp David talks and the Oslo accords as well as the evacuation from Southern Lebanon and Gaza, have been interpreted by Hezbollah as weakness and lack of resolve, things they scorn.

There are valid arguments supporting the evacuation from Southern Lebanon and Gaza: defensible borders and fewer enemies within. But somehow these evacuations were not explained properly to Hezbollah who took them as visible signs of weakness. Unfortunately, it is always civilians who pay the price in blood and suffering for the militarist adventures.



Hezbollah: We Didn't Expect Such Strong Reaction From Israel
Tuesday, July 25, 2006


BEIRUT, Lebanon -- A senior Hezbollah official said Tuesday the guerrillas did not expect Israel to react so strongly to its capture of two Israeli soldiers.

Mahmoud Komati, deputy chief of the Hezbollah's political arm, also told The Associated Press that his group will not lay down arms.

His comments were the first time that a leader from the Shiite militant group has publicly suggested it miscalculated the consequences of the July 12 cross-border raid in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and three were killed.

"The truth is -- let me say this clearly -- we didn't even expect (this) response ... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati.

He said Hezbollah had expected "the usual, limited response" from Israel.

In the past, he said, Israeli responses to Hezbollah actions included sending commandos into Lebanon, seizing Hezbollah officials and briefly targeting specific Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon.

Komati said his group had anticipated negotiations to swap the Israeli soldiers for three Lebanese held in Israeli jails, with Germany acting as a mediator as it has in past prisoner exchanges.

He said Hezbollah captured the Israeli soldiers from a military area, but charged that Israelis had taken Hezbollah leaders from their homes at night.

"The response is unjustified," Komati said. He added that the Israeli offensive was planned in advance, and Israel was only "waiting for the right time" to carry it out.

Asked about reports that Hezbollah has been firing Iranian-made missiles on Israel, Komati said: "We don't deny nor confirm. We believe where the weapons come from is irrelevant."

Hezbollah leaders previously have denied that Iran was supplying them with weapons.

Komati said Hezbollah has weapons made in various countries, including the United States, France, China and Russia.

"Some of our fighters carry M16s. So you think we buy them from America?" he asked.

Komati said Hezbollah demanded an immediate end to Israeli attacks before agreeing to negotiate and rejected a plan proposed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Beirut.

The plan calls for the deployment of international and Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah attacks on Israel before a cease-fire.

"No one can talk about politics while the fire rages, and killings occur," Komati said.

He said he didn't want to talk about the issues to be negotiated ahead of a cease-fire, including the deployment of an international force.

But he was adamant about Hezbollah's refusal to disarm because of what he said was Israeli occupation of Lebanese land, the "threat of Israeli aggression" and the Lebanese held in Israeli jails.

More...
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2006, 04:37:46 PM »

Special Report: Behind the Israeli Cabinet's Decisions
After a long night of debate, the Israeli security Cabinet led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided the military campaign in south Lebanon would not be expanded, and that any modifications to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation, such as deploying more troops, would require Cabinet approval.

Israel is essentially broadcasting to the world that its political and military circles are severely divided over the current operation, and that it might have no choice but to cave in to diplomatic pressure to put an end to the fighting and draw up a cease-fire. This might not be true to Israeli thinking, but it is certainly a message they are trying to send to Hezbollah's chain of command. Which then raises the question: Why?

Israel is likely exaggerating the extent to which the military and Cabinet are divided over how to continue in this military campaign, but a real disagreement exists between those promoting a sustained air campaign and those pushing for a ground offensive because IDF forces are getting restive. A compromise might have been reached in the July 27 Cabinet meeting to bolster the air campaign but prepare ground forces for an invasion if it becomes apparent that the Israeli air force will be unable to deliver on its own.

There could be some faith within Israel's defense circles that an air campaign will eventually pan out and succeed in undermining Hezbollah's capabilities, but such an operation takes time and costs an exorbitant amount of money, since ground troops are standing by. As support for a continued air campaign is weakening by the day, something else must be factoring into Israel's war strategy.

The thought of Israel even considering scaling down its military operation at this point -- though golden news for Hezbollah -- carries devastating consequences for Israel. If the fighting were to come to a halt over the next few days, Hezbollah would claim victory and present itself as the only Arab force capable of standing up to Israeli aggression. Merely resisting and surviving a fight against Israel represents a major win for the Islamist militant movement and its sponsors in Iran and Syria -- something Israel, the United States and even the surrounding Arab regimes are unable to cope with. Moreover, an imminent cease-fire would allow Hezbollah to retain the capability to carry out attacks against Israel whenever the need arises.

Israel, therefore, cannot agree to a cease-fire. At the same time, the current operational tempo has not yet yielded a satisfactory outcome for Israel. Katyusha rockets continue to rain down over the northern part of the country as Israel continues its attempts to take out Hezbollah's rocket launch sites. Though Israel's massive air campaign could gradually wear down Hezbollah's offensive capabilities, it will take several weeks before any definitive results will come to light. Hezbollah, meanwhile, is locked in its own military strategy. Hezbollah commanders have long been preparing for this battle and are ready to stand their ground for an extended period of time and draw the Israelis into bloody insurgent combat.

And time does not appear to be on Israel's side. Israel has already incurred a steady barrage of rocket attacks over the past two weeks, and the IDF experienced one of its deadliest days in ground fighting July 26, when nine soldiers were killed in a battle against Hezbollah fighters in the village of Bent Jbail. The numbers of Lebanese civilian deaths are also escalating by the day, fueling worldwide criticism of the extensive Israeli air campaign. The United States is carefully buying Israel time to carry out its military objectives by postponing a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but political pressure on the U.S. government will mount over the next few days, following the argument that Israel cannot be given a blank check for a permanent air campaign against Lebanon. An end to the war in the next few weeks, without a dramatic improvement in effectiveness from the Israeli perspective, would leave Hezbollah in a prime position.

With this in mind, it strikes us as exceedingly peculiar that Israel, a country with a heavy track record of fighting experience despite its youth, is so intent on promoting the idea that its defense and political figures are running in circles trying to revise their military strategy while Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is brimming with confidence in his regular video appearances. It is simply not intelligent war strategy to expose your weaknesses in the midst of a major war campaign -- unless your objective is to spread disinformation to prepare for a larger surprise.

In making the decision to restrict the ground operation in southern Lebanon, the Israeli Cabinet carefully inserted a statement that said any future decisions regarding the IDF strategy would take into account "the need to prepare forces for possible developments." This nuance becomes especially critical in light of Israel's decision to call up three additional divisions of reservists July 27. The reservists are ostensibly being called up to "refresh" troops in Lebanon who have been on the battlefield for a short time, but will not be deployed until further notice. It is difficult to see how IDF troops on the front can be relieved if the additional forces have not even been deployed, unless Israel is quietly building up its ground forces for a major assault to clear Hezbollah positions south of the Litani River.

The Israeli Cabinet also agreed to send forces up to the Aouali River -- just north of Sidon in Lebanon -- as a necessary move to destroy Hezbollah's rocket-launching platforms, according to Israeli radio. This is an extensive reach into Lebanon that would place the IDF within striking distance of the Bekaa Valley -- Hezbollah's main base of operations. We also have received indications that reserves belonging to Israel's elite fighting force, the Golani Brigade, have already moved north up to the Bekaa Valley. Fighting on Hezbollah's turf in the Bekaa Valley will undoubtedly be the most difficult stage of Israel's military campaign. At the same time, moving ground forces into the Bekaa is also necessary for Israel to meet its objective of sterilizing Hezbollah's military capabilities.

Moving into the Bekaa Valley also complicates matters with Syria, which could very well view an Israeli push into the Bekaa as a trigger for a Syrian military response. Major smuggling routes for heroin and opium run through the Bekaa and provide a major source of income for Hezbollah forces and Alawite businessmen. Though Israel is not too worried about its ability to defeat Syrian forces, it is not interested in expanding its military campaign across Lebanon's western border into Syria for fear of the aftermath of such an attack. The crumbling of Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime would create a new set of problems that Israel is not prepared to deal with, especially while a major upset is occurring in Lebanon. At the same time, al Assad wants to get out of this conflict unscathed and in a prime negotiating position so he can demonstrate his worth in brokering a cease-fire with Hezbollah while putting the issue of the Golan Heights back on the table. With these considerations in mind, the issue of keeping Syria in check will heavily factor into the timing of Israel's push into the Bekaa.

The Bekaa is crucial to Israel's ground campaign, but will have to be dealt with carefully and will likely require more time for major ground combat. In the meantime, Israel is carefully regaining the element of tactical surprise by reducing the war to routine and strongly suggesting that its forces are getting bogged down. Each day Israel and Hezbollah exchange fire, but no developments have dramatically changed the course of the war. While Israel may be developing an atmosphere of complacency around Hezbollah, it will launch its ground offensive when everyone least expects it.

The fact that a major ground offensive is the last thing on anyone's mind does not necessarily decrease the possibility -- it increases it. The movement of troops, rather than the public statements, will only tell if we are right.

www.stratfor.com
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2006, 04:55:24 PM »

Quote from: Winston Churchill
In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2006, 09:42:01 PM »

BY JAMES TARANTO
Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:58 p.m. EDT

BB 'C' No Evil
When Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers two weeks ago, provoking the current conflagration, the Shiite terrorist outfit apparently intended to use them as bargaining chips to demand the release of prisoners. Press reports often discuss this as if there were an equivalence between the Israeli soldiers, who committed no crimes but were simply defending their own country within its borders, and Arab terrorists. So it's worth pointing out just who the "prisoners" in Israeli hands are.

According to the BBC "the prisoner Hezbollah wants most" is Samir Qantar. On April 22, 1979, Qantar murdered 28-year-old Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter and caused the death of another Haran daughter, age 2. Haran's widow, Smadar Haran Kaiser, describes the crime (she transliterates the murderer's name as "Kuntar"):

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border.

Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer.

As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat.

They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.

The BBC gives a rather more sanitized account of the crime: "Qantar . . . attacked a block of flats in Nahariha in 1979, killing a father and his daughter."
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2006, 11:21:42 PM »

E-Mail Casts Doubt on Claims of Israel Targeting U.N. Peacekeepers
Thursday, July 27, 2006


UNITED NATIONS ? An e-mail sent by a Canadian U.N. observer and obtained by FOX News casts doubt on claims by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the Israeli attack on a U.N. peacekeeper observation post along the Lebanese border was intentional.

The email from Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener warned that the post had come under "unintentional" artillery fire and aerial bombing several times in the previous weeks, and that several Hezbollah positions were in the area of the patrol base.

"It is not safe or prudent for us to conduct normal patrol activities," wrote Kruedener in the July 18th e-mail. "(The artillery and aerial bombing) has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity."

Kruedener was one of four unarmed U.N. military observers killed in Tuesday's bombing.

"I think that e-mail is very important, because unfortunately these are practically the last words of somebody who eventually paid with his life,? said Israel's U.N. ambassador Daniel Gillerman. ?He's telling his commander that Israel was not targeting them and that there is Hezbollah activity around there."

This comes as the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a statement on Thursday expressing shock and distress at Israel's bombing of the U.N. post, but fell short of condemnation.

After a day and night of wrangling over a response to Tuesday's attack, all 15 council members agreed on the watered-down statement, which was the first by the Security Council since fighting between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas began on July 12.

In the only reference to the wider conflict, the council expressed its "deep concern for Lebanese and Israeli civilian casualties and sufferings, the destruction of civil infrastructures and the rising number of internally displaced people."

The statement was read at a formal meeting by the current council president, France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere. Unlike press statements, presidential statements become part of the council's official record.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, insisted on dropping any condemnation or allusion to the possibility that Israel deliberately targeted the post in the town of Khiam near the eastern end of the border with Israel.

The initial draft proposed by China would have had the council express shock and distress at Israel's "apparently deliberate targeting" of the U.N. base and condemn "this coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long-established and clearly marked U.N. post."

In that draft, China was following Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement late Tuesday that Israel appeared to have struck the site deliberately ? an accusation Israel vehemently denies.

Gillerman called the statement "very fair and balanced" and said it was right for the council to adopt it in memory of the four peacekeepers. He expressed "deep regret for the tragic accident," repeated Israel's dismay at Annan's statement, and stressed that "Israel would never, ever target U.N. personnel."

In a Security Council briefing on Wednesday, Assistant Secretary-General Jane Lute said the base came under close Israeli fire 21 times, including 12 hits within 100 meters (109 yards) and four direct hits. U.N. officials in New York and Lebanon repeatedly protested to Israel in the hours before a bomb leveled the building and killed the four observers, she said.

A revised draft dropped the reference to the "apparently deliberate targeting" but kept in the condemnation. It said "the Security Council condemns any deliberate attack against U.N. personnel and emphasizes that any such attacks are unacceptable."

That was still unacceptable to the Americans ? as was a call for a joint Israeli-U.N. investigation into the incident, which Annan called for.

The final text said "the Security Council is deeply shocked and distressed by the firing by the Israeli Defense Forces on a United Nations Observer post in southern Lebanon..."

The condemnation of Israel was eliminated, as was the call for a joint investigation.

In the final statement, the council called on Israel "to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into this incident, taking into account any relevant material from U.N. authorities, and to make the results public as soon as possible."

The council expressed deep concern about the safety and security of U.N. personnel and stressed that Israel and all concerned parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law which include protecting U.N. personnel. It underlined "the importance of ensuring that U.N. personnel are not the object of attack."

The Security Council also extended condolences to the families of the victims and the governments of Austria, Canada, China and Finland whose peacekeepers were killed in the attack.

The widow of Maj. Kruedner, whose body has still not been recovered from the rubble, demanded an explanation from Israel. Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener, told reporters in Kingston, Ontario, that she believes the attack, which involved precision guided missiles, was intentional. She said her husband told her the base had been fired on for weeks, despite its clear U.N. markings.

Earlier Thursday, when it was unclear whether the council would agree on any statement, China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya warned that the council's failure to act could have an impact on other issues, including its current efforts to agree on a resolution that would make mandatory Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment.

"If we got stuck on this particular issue for political considerations, definitely I think that people will feel frustrated, and definitely I think it will affect smooth cooperation on other important issues, because I think this organization cannot discuss issues on a selective basis," he said.

"We feel that if the Security Council cannot send a strong political message supporting our guys on the ground, it will be very difficult for people to understand," Wang said. "If we do not do anything, I think that the message will be interpreted very negatively."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,205978,00.html
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« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2006, 02:20:26 AM »

Denny-- good find that!  Glad to know that the chattering classes at the UN were wide of the mark.

Here's an angle on target selection that I hadn't seen before:
====================

Hezbollah banks under attack in Lebanon
Israel seeks to destroy group?s financial infrastructure
By Adam Ciralsky, Lisa Myers & the NBC News Investigative Unit


Updated: 11:25 a.m. MT July 25, 2006
WASHINGTON - Fifteen hundred times in the past two weeks, an Israeli jet has taken off with a load of bombs. But as NBC News has learned, the targets have not just been military.

Israeli intelligence sources tell NBC News that among the targets hit in Lebanon are as many as a dozen financial institutions ? part of a previously secret campaign to destroy Hezbollah's financial infrastructure. Some banks were demolished, others deliberately damaged but not destroyed. In one case, Israel also took out a bank manager's home.

In an exclusive interview, Israel's top counter-terror official says these attacks are a warning.

"The message is for all the Lebanese banks,? says Brig. Gen. Dani Arditi, advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister for Counterterrorism. ?Assistance to Hezbollah is direct assistance to terrorist organizations."

Among the targets: Eight offices of Hezbollah's unofficial treasury, called Beit el Mal. The Israelis claim the attacks caught Hezbollah by surprise.

"We know that they are looking for money. They are very desperate to have some cash and they don?t have [it],? Arditi says.

The Israelis say they also struck branches of two major banks ? Al Baraka and Fransabank ? which they claim help Hezbollah receive and move money around the world. A senior bank official at Al Baraka confirms one of his branches was bombed, and says several other nearby banks were hit, too. Arditi tells NBC News that a third bank ? the Middle East and Africa Bank ? also is on Israel's hit list.

All three banks deny any ties to Hezbollah.

"We have no relation to any organization like Hezbollah," says the Al Baraka official. The Fransabank General Manager tells NBC "We have no relationship with Hezbollah or any other political party anywhere. We don't have any relation and we refuse to have one." And the Administrative Manager for the Middle East and Africa Bank says someone tried to open a suspicious account with the bank, but no money was accepted and the bank employee involved has been fired.

But a fundraising appeal that aired last week on the Hezbollah-connected Al Manar television station asks that money for the Hezbollah resistance be sent a specific account at the Middle East and Africa Bank.

An Arabic speaking NBC News producer called the number listed on the television ad, and was told to go to any U.S. bank and wire the money. Our producer was advised to not tell anyone the money was meant for Hezbollah.

The Middle East Africa Bank has a relationship with the U.S. bank Wachovia. After NBC News informed Wachovia of the Hezbollah fundraising appeal, Wachovia immediately terminated the relationship.

In a statement, a Wachovia spokesman said, "Wachovia confirms that it has very stringent procedures and policies in place to monitor accounts and ensure compliance with the Patriot Act, including not conducting business with any organization identified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization or supporting terrorism."


Later, NBC News called back the same number advertised on Al Manar and, this time, was provided with the name of a separate bank. Here's an edited transcript of that conversation:

NBC: I want to donate money to the Mujahideens [Hezbollah resistance], is this the right number?

Hezbollah Facilitator: You have to send to The Lebanese-French Bank.

NBC: Do you have the number?

Hezbollah Facilitator: There is an account number. You deposit the money and wire it to the Lebanese French Bank.

NBC: How can I know that this is accurate? I?m so worried to deposit the money, can you tell me and confirm that this money will be sent to the Mujahideen?

Hezbollah Facilitator: Yes, sure.

NBC: And where are you from? Are you from the bank or no?

Hezbollah Facilitator: No. I?m from the resistance.

NBC: How would we know? I?m so worried when I deposit the money it will reach Mujahideen.

Hezbollah Facilitator: You go to the bank and deposit the money, and they will wire it to the Lebanese French Bank. You have to go the bank. Where are you calling from?

NBC: I am from America.

Hezbollah Facilitator: You have to go to the bank ? any bank.

NBC: That for sure will reach the Mujahideen?

Hezbollah Facilitator: For sure. Do not mention resistance or anything like that. If you do, they won?t wire them.

NBC: Thank you - God be with you. Bye bye.

Hezbollah Facilitator: You are welcome. God be with you.

Tuesday, the head of the Corporate Banking Division of the Lebanese-French Bank (Banque Libano-Fran?aise) informed NBC News that it had closed the account that the Hezbollah facilitator had set up at his bank.

"With regard to the account referred to in your message, it appears that the said account belongs to an individual person and shows insignificant movements and balances. Following the information in your e-mail, our Compliance Unit has closed the said account," says Lebanese-French Bank official Maurice Iskandar.

He adds that the bank has strict anti-money-laundering policies and that the bank will not "open any account for, deal with, or transact on behalf of, any political or military organisation or their affiliated entities and/or known individuals."

The Lebanese-French Bank has a relationship with two prominent U.S. banks ? Citibank and the Bank of New York. A Bank of New York spokesman says: "We are aware of this situation and we have taken appropriate steps." A Citibank spokesman says, "Hezbollah has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization since 1995. If we received any payment from a correspondent bank that referenced Hezbollah it would be stopped and blocked."

U.S. intelligence officials confirm the Israeli bombing campaign against the banks. But how much difference can that really make?

"If they have a hard time moving money, they?ll have a hard time funding their operations,? says terrorism analyst Daniel Benjamin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

That means trouble paying fighters' salaries and providing services that engender support from the Lebanese people. The Israelis hope it also means more difficulty getting money from Iran.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14015377/

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Beirut bombshell
The assassination of a former Prime Minister may have been linked to the collapse of Lebanon's Bank al-Madina.
by Mitchell Prothero, FORTUNE Magazine
May 11, 2006: 12:00 PM EDT


(FORTUNE Magazine) - Last year, when Syrian intelligence operatives were implicated in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, their motive seemed clear: to neutralize a political opponent of Syria's three-decade occupation of Lebanon.

But United Nations investigators and other sources have told FORTUNE there may have been an additional reason for the hit. The February 2005 car bombing in Beirut, the sources say, may have been partly intended to cover up a corruption and bank fraud scandal that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars to top Syrian and Lebanese officials.

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Bank documents, court filings, and interviews with investigators and other sources show that some of the officials were deeply involved from the late 1990s until early 2003 in a kickback scheme that supplied them with cash, real estate, cars, and jewelry in exchange for protecting and facilitating a multibillion-dollar money-laundering operation at Lebanon's Bank al-Madina that allowed terrorist organizations, peddlers of West African "blood diamonds," Saddam Hussein, and Russian gangsters to hide income and convert hot money into legitimate bank accounts around the world.

Despite efforts to cover up the details surrounding the bank's collapse in early 2003, these sources say, the Syrian and Lebanese officials allegedly involved in the fraud feared that Hariri could return to power and reveal their role in one of the biggest illegal banking operations in the Middle East since the Bank of Credit & Commerce International scandal in the early 1990s.

"Was the scandal part of the reason Hariri was killed?" asks Marwan Hamade, Lebanon's Minister of Telecommunications and a Hariri confidant who was himself the target of a car-bomb assassination attempt. "Absolutely. It was certainly one of the cumulative reasons. If he had been reelected, Hariri would have reopened the file, which we know goes directly to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad through the [Lebanese] presidential palace in Baabda."

UN investigators looking into Hariri's death, led by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, became interested in the link to al-Madina on the suspicion that money stolen from the bank helped fund the plot, says a Lebanese security source who helped investigate the bank's collapse and later worked with the UN team.

After reviewing some of the banking records of suspects in both Syria and Lebanon, says the source, who asked not to be identified as he isn't authorized to talk about the matter, the UN team started looking into whether at least some of the plotters were motivated by a desire to obscure their roles in the al-Madina affair. "It goes all the way to the top people in Syria," the source says.

Mehlis's reports on the assassination make reference to financial fraud as a possible motive. "Fraud, corruption, and money laundering could have been motives for individuals to participate in the operation that ended with the assassination of Mr. Hariri," Mehlis wrote last December in his second report, referring specifically to the collapse of al-Madina.

Mehlis, who would not be interviewed, also mentioned in his report a taped conversation in which General Rustom Ghazali, Syria's top military official in Lebanon, accused Hariri of discussing Syrian corruption in a newspaper interview, apparently in violation of an agreement to remain quiet on the matter. In late April, noting UN findings, President George W. Bush ordered a freeze on assets held in the U.S. by anyone involved in the assassination, though the order did not cite names.

As part of the power struggle that ensued after Assad extended the term of Lebanese President and Syrian ally Emile Lahoud in 2004, Hariri resigned as Prime Minister with the intention of running for Parliament on an anti-Syrian platform. Hariri confidants say that, once returned to power, he planned to reopen the investigation into the bank's collapse. The case file and a trove of supporting documents were sealed in the vault of Lebanon's Central Bank in 2003 after threats by Ghazali, who appears to have made millions of dollars from the scheme himself.

The Syrian occupation of Lebanon from 1976 to 2005 has long been viewed as a geopolitical move designed to stabilize its smaller neighbor after decades of civil war and create a bargaining chip in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But over time, the occupation turned into a moneymaking operation for Syrian elites and their Lebanese allies.

"When the Syrians came to Lebanon," says Adnan Araki, a former Lebanese member of Parliament and Syrian loyalist, "they wanted the Golan Heights back and considered Lebanon and Hezbollah something to bargain with. We had to teach them how to steal."

Investigators looking into the looting at Bank al-Madina got a break in March, when Brazilian police arrested Rana Koleilat, al-Madina's former executive secretary. Koleilat, who jumped bail in Lebanon last year and eluded an international manhunt, is believed to have played a key role in the bank scandal.

She is alleged in lawsuits brought by the bank's owners to have used false withdrawals and bogus loans to enrich her family and pay off authorities. Even as al-Madina failed, she is said by investigators to have extracted millions of dollars from owner Adnan Abou Ayyash, a construction magnate who lives in Saudi Arabia, through a series of wire transfers and check exchanges. Koleilat denied the charges after her capture and said that the bank's owners had authorized all withdrawals and that Ghazali had blackmailed her into paying him for protection.

When the dust settled in the summer of 2003, after depositors were paid and assets liquidated, the Abou Ayyash family found itself about $1.5 billion poorer, a stunning turn of events for a Lebanese family that controlled a vast business empire. But as Koleilat and the Abou Ayyash brothers sued and countersued and the Central Bank grabbed whatever money was left to pay depositors, it became clear that no investigation would be forthcoming. The money was gone, and only questions remained, questions whose answers were locked away in a vault in the Central Bank.

In an interview last year, Central Bank governor Riad Salameh didn't deny reports that Ghazali had threatened him into closing the investigation. The general's family, records produced by the bank appear to show, got more than $32 million from al-Madina via transfers approved by Koleilat. But with a pro-Syrian Parliament and Justice Minister in place, then--Prime Minister Hariri was unable to force an investigation beyond the initial 2003 fraud claims.

It is only recently, a year after the departure of Syrian troops, that the bank files have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice for a proper investigation into how the money was stolen and who benefited from the bribes. Just a handful of bank documents have emerged, but they detail an impressive pattern of corruption and fraud on the part of Syrian political and security officials and their Lebanese allies.

Critical evidence of the extent of the money-laundering operation was unintentionally revealed during an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to ensnare an arms dealer with ties to the Islamic resistance movement Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, which the U.S. and several other governments consider a terrorist organization.

In 2004, U.S. prosecutors charged Naji Antoine Abi Khalil with attempting to purchase and ship night-vision goggles and other military equipment from the U.S. to Hezbollah. Khalil's ties to al-Madina's money-laundering operations came to light when he bragged to agents and informants that he traveled the world picking up cash to be delivered to the bank on behalf of Hezbollah and Russian mobsters. According to court papers, Khalil, who has since pleaded guilty, accepted $100,000 to launder from agents as part of a sting and told them the single biggest delivery he had made to the bank was $160 million in cash.

But those amounts pale when compared to the piles of cash laundered by Iraqi officials and their partners in illegally gaming the UN's oil-for-food program. Designed for humanitarian reasons to allow Iraq to sell oil through vouchers that could be used to purchase food and medicine, the program became a hotbed of corruption that Saddam and his loyalists used to earn illegal money.

By the late 1990s proceeds flooded the Middle East as favored allies of the regime received coupons good for oil purchases at lower-than-market prices. Investigations into the program found rampant corruption on the part of UN officials, Middle Eastern government officials, and oil companies. The son of Lebanese President Lahoud was implicated, as were other prominent Lebanese and Syrian officials and businessmen. And al-Madina served as a place for them to hide the proceeds.

Several sources, including one alleged conspirator in the oil-for-food scandal, who refuses to let his name be used for legal and safety reasons, put the amount transferred and laundered through al-Madina at more than $1 billion, with a 25% commission going to Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies. The source says that among the recipients of this money were Bashar Assad's brother Maher and the head of military intelligence in Lebanon at the time, Ghazi Kanaan. (Kanaan committed suicide last October after Mehlis questioned him about the plot to kill Hariri.)

To protect this operation, Koleilat had developed a network of graft that shocked even a Lebanese society comfortable with questionable business dealings. She threw dinners where guests received Rolex watches, and she gave luxury cars to friends and officials.

The graft was so widespread that one security official described the parking lot of his office during that era as a "Mercedes dealership." Some bank records point to 155 pieces of real estate--villas, apartments, hotels, and condos--purchased or distributed by Koleilat and her brothers. The Koleilats also had five luxury yachts and as many as 194 cars and motorcycles, not including the gifts to friends, associates, and greedy officials.

Koleilat and the al-Madina plotters needed protection and sought out high-level officials who could help them, says a former employee of the Koleilat family who witnessed many of their dealings. The source, who requested anonymity because the matter is still considered dangerous to discuss in Lebanon, says one of those was Jamil Sayeed, a former director of Lebanese internal security, since arrested on suspicion of plotting Hariri's murder. (Sayeed refused to comment.)

"Rustom Ghazali would receive money, cars, jewels, and hunting trips," the source says. "People used to come and wait in the office. The big shots would get checks; the lower people, like generals and officers, would get cash. This situation went much higher than Ghazali. It was a way for Maher Assad and others to profit from Lebanon and from the Iraq factor."

Several Syrian officials mentioned in the Mehlis reports can be tied to money from al-Madina by documents supplied to FORTUNE by the bank's owners. Ghazali's three brothers were issued four ATM cards linked to a fake account with a $2,000 daily limit for withdrawals, which they made each day from December 2002 to January 2003, according to one document. One of the four cards had a total yearly cash withdrawal of $8 million.

Ghazali's brother Mohammed also received a money transfer for $1,091,000 from the bank on Jan. 20, 2003. Investigators and lawyers for the bank's owners say that during these final months, Ghazali and other top officials decided that the bank's failure was inevitable and acted quickly to drain the remaining monies. One bank employee says that he witnessed Rustom Ghazali demanding a $300,000 payment just after the bank had been put under Central Bank management, a payment approved by regulators.

Among the 155 suspicious real estate transactions flagged by investigators is the transfer of an apartment valued at $2.5 million from the Koleilat family to a friend of Maher Assad's office manager--a transfer the bank's lawyers say they believe was intended to put it under Maher Assad's control. Lebanese political and security officials say that the sealed documents show far more money and property transferred to Maher.

"The entire file on Madina is now at the Ministry of Justice, except for the key parts that implicate Maher Assad, which are still being held in the Central Bank, because people are afraid of being killed over it," says Hamade, the Telecommunications Minister. "While there is not the same level of threats, the Syrian presence remains, and judges are very cautious about this case." (Efforts to reach Maher Assad and the Ghazalis for comment through several Syrian government agencies were unsuccessful.)

Other documents show transfers or transactions made by the bank to the benefit of Lahoud's son--allegations he refused to comment on--and to Lebanese security officials, including the four generals arrested last year on suspicion of participating in the plot to kill Hariri. Current Finance Minister Jihad Azour, a friend of Hariri's, insists that only today, with Syrian troops out of the country, can Lebanon commit to a full investigation. And he believes fear of such an investigation drove some of the murderers. "The risk of reopening the file could have led to this murder," Azour says. "Al-Madina reached the biggest people in Lebanon and Syria."

Azour says Hariri wanted to pursue an investigation into al-Madina and other cases of corruption and would have gone forward, even knowing the danger. "Hariri wanted this file to reach its conclusion," Azour says. "He was concerned about the scandal's ramifications. It has a very negative impact on the status of the Lebanese banking system. And it's important that the case be treated in an extreme way to fix this perception."

From the May 15, 2006 issue
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« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2006, 02:58:36 AM »

Crafty:

I found a Canadian site with the full text of the email:

Quote
What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.



A Canadian soldier's report from South Lebanon
Updated Wed. Jul. 26 2006 5:19 PM ET

After the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, and the subsequent bombing campaign began against Lebanon, CTV.ca received an email from Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, a Canadian Forces soldier serving with the UN in South Lebanon.

"If you are interested in a Canadian perspective on the events of yesterday and what is happening here in the area I am serving in, I can provide some concise info for you about the current situation," he wrote.

Major Hess-von Kruedener in South Lebanon in March, meeting with one of the Mouktars of a Druze village called Bourhoz.
With the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Major Hess-von Kruedener was the only Canadian serving as a United Nations Military Observer in Lebanon.  He was stationed at the UN base about 10 kilometres from where the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders meet. The UN's mission there is to report ceasefire violations.
On July 25, that base came under fire from Israeli artillery and was struck by a precision-guided aerial bomb. Four UN observers died. On July 26, the federal government said Hess-von Kruedener was missing and presumed dead.

Here is his full email, written July 18, with background on the mission and the current situation:



We have had a brief "tactical pause" in the action here, so I am taking this opportunity to provide you some information on the situation here in south Lebanon. At the outset, I will provide you with a brief background on who I am, What the Org and Mission is here and then answer some of the bank of questions you provided.

Background

My name is Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, and I am an Infantry Officer with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, of the Canadian Forces. I was sent to this Mission (United Nations Truce and Supervision Organization -UNTSO) last October 05, and am currently serving as an unarmed Military Observer. I have now been stationed here in south Lebanon for Approximately nine months.

I am currently writing to you from the UN Patrol Base Khiam, which is situated approximately 10 km from the nexus of the Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian Borders. I am serving with Observer Group Lebanon, or OGL, and I am on Team Sierra. The Patrol Base is named after the village it is situated in, El Khiam, which sits on one of four ridges which dominates both the Hasbani River valley, which then changes to the Houla Valley when it crosses the Lebanon-Israel border 10 km to our south.

A Canadian soldier mans a guard tower at Camp Ziouani, Golan Heights, in 2002. Thousands of Canadians have served in this border region since 1958. (Photo: MCpl Frank Hudec, Canadian Forces Combat Camera
The patrol base was initially an observation post and was built in 1972, but was later destroyed in 1976 during the fighting between the PLO and the South Lebanese Army (SLA). In 1978 it was rebuilt again and manned by elements of the Norwegian Battalion serving with UNIFIL. In 1980, Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) assumed responsibility for it. Historically, the area of the El Khiam and Hasbani valleys to the north and the Houla valley to the south have been the main axis for invasion in to Lebanon and Palestinian Territories.

Mission

The mission of Team Sierra and OGL within the greater context of UNTSO is to maintain the integrity of theWithdrawal Line (Blue Line), and report on any and all violations or activities that threaten the cease-fire and international peace and security here along the Lebanese/Israeli border, and Israeli Occupied Lebanon, and to support the UNSC resolution 1559, within our mission mandate.

Information Requested

(1) Currently, there are several nationalities that are here on the patrol base with me. I am serving with an Australian, Chinese, Finnish, Austrian, and Irish Officers. They come from various different backgrounds, levels of experience and services (Army, Navy and Air Force) from within their militaries.

(2) I have been here for nine months of a one-year tour of duty. Since I have arrived here in Lebanon, this current incident is the fourth I have seen and by far the most spectacular and intensive.
  • The first was 21 Nov 05, when the Hezbollah tried to capture IDF soldiers from an IDF observation position overlooking the Wazzani river near the town of Ghajjar on the Blue Line. This action was unsuccessful and resulted in the deaths of the Hezbollah raiding force.
  • On 01 Feb 06, a young shepherd boy was Killed by an IDF patrol near an abandon goat farm called Bastarra. Hassan Nasrallah (note: Hezbollah's leader) vowed that there would be consequences to this action. Team Sierra was tasked on 2 Feb 06, to assist in the investigation of the incident, and we sent one team to do so while the other team conducted its normal mobile patrolling activities.
  • On 03 Feb 06, a limited engagement took place initiated by the Hezbollah on several of the IDF defensive positions located in occupied Lebanon.
  • Then on 28 May, the Islamic Jihad (PLO) fired rockets from South Lebanon, into Israel, which elicited an immediate aerial bombardment of positions near our patrol base and in the Bekka valley.[/list:u]
    (3) Our Team's normal operational activities are to plan, and execute daily vehicle and foot patrols of the Blue Line area within our area of responsibility. Unfortunately, with the current artillery and aerial bombing campaign being carried out by the IDF/IAF, it is not safe or prudent for us to conduct normal patrol activities. Currently, we are observing and reporting on all activities in our area of responsibility, with specific attention to activities along the Blue Line, which is clearly visible from our hilltop position.

    (4) Team Sierra is currently observing both IDF/IAF and Hezbollah military clashes from our vantage point which has a commanding view of the IDF positions on the Golan mountains to our east and the IDF positions along the Blue Line to our south, as well as, most of the Hezbollah static positions in and around our patrol Base. It appears that the lion's share of fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah has taken place in our area. On the night of 16 July, at 2125 hrs, a large firefight broke out between the Hezbollah and the IDF near a village called Majidyye and lasted for one hour and 40 minutes.

    (5) Based on the intensity and volatility of this current situation and the unpredictability of both sides (Hezbollah and Israel), and given the operational tempo of the Hezbollah and the IDF, we are not safe to venture out to conduct our normal patrol activities. We have now switched to Observation Post Duties and are observing any and all violations as they occur.

    This is all the information of a non-tactical nature that I can provide you. I cannot give you any info on Hezbollah position, proximity or the amount of or types of sorties the IAF is currently flying. Suffice to say that the activity levels and operational tempo of both parties is currently very high and continuous, with short breaks or pauses. Please understand the nature of my job here is to be impartial and to report violations from both sides without bias. As an Unarmed Military Observer, this is my raison d'etre.

    What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.

    I thank you for the opportunity to provide you with some information from the front lines here in south Lebanon.

    Maj Hess-von Kruedener


    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060718/mideast_lebanon_UN_060716/20060718/
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2006, 12:00:04 PM »

The Vocabulary of Untruth
Words take on new meanings as Israel struggles to survive.

By Victor Davis Hanson

A ?ceasefire? would occur should Hezbollah give back kidnapped Israelis and stop launching missiles; it would never follow a unilateral cessation of Israeli bombing. In fact, we will hear international calls for one only when Hezbollah?s rockets are about exhausted.

?Civilians? in Lebanon have munitions in their basements and deliberately wish to draw fire; in Israel they are in bunkers to avoid it. Israel uses precision weapons to avoid hitting them; Hezbollah sends random missiles into Israel to ensure they are struck.

?Collateral damage? refers mostly to casualties among Hezbollah?s human shields; it can never be used to describe civilian deaths inside Israel, because everything there is by intent a target.

?Cycle of Violence? is used to denigrate those who are attacked, but are not supposed to win.

?Deliberate? reflects the accuracy of Israeli bombs hitting their targets; it never refers to Hezbollah rockets that are meant to destroy anything they can.

?Deplore? is usually evoked against Israel by those who themselves have slaughtered noncombatants or allowed them to perish ? such as the Russians in Grozny, the Syrians in Hama, or the U.N. in Rwanda and Dafur.

?Disproportionate? means that the Hezbollah aggressors whose primitive rockets can?t kill very many Israeli civilians are losing, while the Israelis? sophisticated response is deadly against the combatants themselves. See ?excessive.?

Anytime you hear the adjective ?excessive,? Hezbollah is losing. Anytime you don?t, it isn?t.

?Eyewitnesses? usually aren?t, and their testimony is cited only against Israel.

?Grave concern? is used by Europeans and Arabs who privately concede there is no future for Lebanon unless Hezbollah is destroyed ? and it should preferably be done by the ?Zionists? who can then be easily blamed for doing it.

?Innocent? often refers to Lebanese who aid the stockpiling of rockets or live next to those who do. It rarely refers to Israelis under attack.

The ?militants? of Hezbollah don?t wear uniforms, and their prime targets are not those Israelis who do.

?Multinational,? as in ?multinational force,? usually means ?third-world mercenaries who sympathize with Hezbollah.? See ?peacekeepers.?

?Peacekeepers? keep no peace, but always side with the less Western of the belligerents.

?Quarter-ton? is used to describe what in other, non-Israeli militaries are known as ?500-pound? bombs.

?Shocked? is used, first, by diplomats who really are not; and, second, only evoked against the response of Israel, never the attack of Hezbollah.

?United Nations Action? refers to an action that Russia or China would not veto. The organization?s operatives usually watch terrorists arm before their eyes. They are almost always guilty of what they accuse others of.

What explains this distortion of language? A lot.

First there is the need for Middle Eastern oil. Take that away, and the war would receive the same scant attention as bloodletting in central Africa.

Then there is the fear of Islamic terrorism. If the Middle East were Buddhist, the world would care about Lebanon as little as it does about occupied Tibet.

And don?t forget the old anti-Semitism. If Russia or France were shelled by neighbors, Putin and Chirac would be threatening nuclear retaliation.

Israel is the symbol of the hated West. Were it a client of China, no one would dare say a word.

Population and size count for a lot: When India threatened Pakistan with nukes for its support of terrorism a few years ago, no one uttered any serious rebuke.

Finally, there is the worry that Israel might upset things in Iraq. If we were not in Afghanistan and Iraq trying to win hearts and minds, we wouldn?t be pressuring Israel behind the scenes.

But most of all, the world deplores the Jewish state because it is strong, and can strike back rather than suffer. In fact, global onlookers would prefer either one of two scenarios for the long-suffering Jews to learn their lesson. The first is absolute symmetry and moral equivalence: when Israel is attacked, it kills only as many as it loses. For each rocket that lands, it drops only one bomb in retaliation ? as if any aggressor in the history of warfare has ever ceased its attacks on such insane logic.

The other desideratum is the destruction of Israel itself. Iran promised to wipe Israel off the map, and then gave Hezbollah thousands of missiles to fulfill that pledge. In response, the world snored. If tomorrow more powerful rockets hit Tel Aviv armed with Syrian chemicals or biological agents, or Iranian nukes, the ?international? community would urge ?restraint? ? and keep urging it until Israel disappeared altogether. And the day after its disappearance, the Europeans and Arabs would sigh relief, mumble a few pieties, and then smile, ?Life goes on.?

And for them, it would very well.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.



National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjI4MWIzODNlYjM3Yzg1M2FiNTEzMWMyNzg1ZDIzNzQ=
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2006, 07:12:59 PM »

TARGET: HEZBOLLAH
By RALPH PETERS

July 28, 2006 -- YESTERDAY, Israel's government overruled its generals and refused to expand the ground war in southern Lebanon. Given the difficulties encountered and the casualties suffered, the decision is understandable. And wrong.

In the War on Terror - combating Hezbollah's definitely part of it - you have to finish what you start. You can't permit the perception that the terrorists won. But that's where the current round of fighting is headed.

For the Israelis, the town of Bint Jbeil is an embarrassment, an objective that proved unexpectedly hard to take. But the town's a tactical issue to the Israeli Defense Force, not a strategic one.

For Hezbollah, it's Stalingrad, where the Red Army stopped the Germans. And that's how terrorist propagandists will mythologize it.

Considering only the military facts, the IDF's view is correct. But the Middle East has little use for facts. Perception is what counts. To the Arab masses, Hezbollah's resistance appears heroic, triumphant - and inspiring. We don't have to like it, but it's true.

So why is defeating Hezbollah such a challenge? Israel smashed one Arab military coalition after another, from 1948 through 1973. Arabs didn't seem to make good soldiers.

Now we see Arabs fighting tenaciously and effectively. What happened?

The answer's straightforward: Different cultures fight for different things. Arabs might jump up and down, wailing, "We will die for you Saddam!" But, in the clinch, they don't - they surrender. Conventional Arab armies fight badly because their conscripts and even the officers feel little loyalty to the states they serve - and even less to self-anointed national leaders.

But Arabs will fight to the bitter end for their religion, their families and the land their clan possesses. In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah exploits all three motivations. The Hezbollah guerrilla waiting to ambush an Israeli patrol believes he's fighting for his faith, his family and the earth beneath his feet. He'll kill anyone and give his own life to win.

We all need to stop making cartoon figures of such enemies. Hezbollah doesn't have tanks or jets, but it poses the toughest military problem Israel's ever faced. And Hezbollah may be the new model for Middle Eastern "armies."

The IDF's errors played into Hezbollah's hands. Initially relying on air power, the IDF ignored the basic military principles of surprise, mass and concentration of effort. Instead of aiming a shocking, concentrated blow at Hezbollah, the IDF dissipated its power by striking targets scattered throughout Lebanon - while failing to strike any of them decisively.

Even now, in the struggle for a handful of border villages, the IDF continues to commit its forces piecemeal - a lieutenant's mistake. Adding troops in increments allows the enemy to adjust to the increasing pressure - instead of being crushed by one mighty blow.

This is also an expensive fight for Israel in another way: financially. The precision weapons on which the IDF has relied so heavily - and to so little effect - cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to seven figures per round. Israel has expended thousands of such weapons in an effort to spare its ground forces.

Theoretically, that's smart. But we don't live in a theoretical world. Such weapons are so expensive that arsenals are small. The United States already has had to replenish Israel's limited stockpiles - and our own supplies would not support a long war. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, a relatively easy win, we were running low on some specialized munitions within three weeks.

Precision weapons also rely on precision intelligence. It doesn't matter how accurate the bomb is if you can't find the target. And Israel's targeting has been poor. It even appears that Hezbollah managed to feed the IDF phony intelligence, triggering attacks on civilian targets and giving the terrorists a series of media wins.

The precision-weapons cost/benefit trade-offs aren't impressive, either. Killing a terrorist leader with a million-dollar bomb is a sound investment, but using hundreds of them to attack cheap, antiquated rocket launchers gets expensive fast.

Just as the U.S. military learned painful lessons about technology's limits in Iraq, the IDF is getting an education now: There's still no replacement for the infantryman; wars can't be won nor terrorists defeated from the air; and war is ultimately a contest of wills.

Those of us who support Israel and wish its people well have to be alarmed. Jerusalem's talking tough - while backing off in the face of Hezbollah's resistance. Israel's on-stage in a starring role right now, and it's too late to call for a re-write.

As a minimum, the IDF has to pull off a hat trick (killing Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, would be nice) in order to prevent the perception of a Hezbollah victory - a perception that would strengthen the forces of terror immeasurably.

If this conflict ends with rockets still falling on Haifa, Israel's enemies will celebrate Hezbollah as the star of the Terrorist Broadway (Ayman al-Zawahiri's recent rap videos were an attempt to edge into Hezbollah's limelight). Israel - and the civilized world - can't afford that.

Yes, Israel's casualties are painful and, to the IDF, unexpected. But Hezbollah isn't counting its casualties - it's concentrating on fighting. In warfare, that's the only approach that works.

Israel and its armed forces are rightfully proud of all they have achieved in the last six decades. But they shouldn't be too proud to learn from their enemies: In warfare, strength of will is the greatest virtue.

Ralph Peters' new book is "Never Quit the Fight."
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« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2006, 10:46:22 PM »

American tourists in the middle east  rolleyes

 Can't you stick to toting cameras and coca cola. . . . you are leaving too much trash and not enough historic buildings.

 Damn you !

  smiley

-------------------------

Folks:

Opinions from across the spectrum are welcome here, but the general tenor of Bowser's posts this evening is not what we are looking for.

CD
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« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2006, 12:23:19 AM »

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5590257

An Arab commentator on NPR with some interesting things to say.
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« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2006, 05:03:12 PM »

Islamic Jihad: Israel killed militant head 1 hour, 12 minutes ago
 


Israeli troops killed two Islamic Jihad militants on Saturday, including the man the group described as the leader of its militant wing in the West Bank city of Nablus.

The group initially said in an announcement over mosque loudspeakers that the slain militant, Hani Awijan, 29, was the leader of its military wing in the West Bank. However, other members of the group later said Awijan headed gunmen in Nablus only.

Initial reports said Awijan was shot by Israeli undercover troops trying to arrest him while he played soccer with friends and relatives.

The army confirmed soldiers operated in Nablus and said a militant was killed in an exchange of gunfire.

Israel Radio said Awijan was responsible for a series of attacks on Israelis.

News of the arrest raid spread through Nablus, and large crowds gathered at the hospital. Militants burned tires in the streets and called for a general strike in the city. Shops were quickly closed.
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« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2006, 01:13:01 AM »

Thank You Israel
By Brigitte Gabriel

For the millions of Christian Lebanese, driven out of our homeland, "Thank you Israel," is the sentiment echoing from around the world. The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an international group of Lebanese Christians, made the following statement in a press release to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concerning the latest Israeli attacks against Hezbollah:

"We urge you to hit them hard and destroy their terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation."

Their statement continues, "On behalf of thousands of Lebanese, we ask you to open the doors of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport to thousands of volunteers in the Diaspora willing to bear arms and liberate their homeland from [Islamic] fundamentalism.

We ask you for support, facilitation and logistics in order to win this struggle and achieve together the same objectives: Peace and Security for Lebanon and Israel and our future generations to come."

The once dominate Lebanese Christians responsible for giving the world "the Paris of the Middle East" as Lebanon used to be known, have been killed, massacred, driven out of their homes and scattered around the world as radical Islam declared its holy war in the 70s and took hold of the country.

They voice an opinion that they and Israel have learned from personal experience, which is now belatedly being discovered by the rest of the world.

While the world protected the PLO withdrawing from Lebanon in 1983 with Israel hot on their heals, another more volatile and religiously idealistic organization was being born: Hezbollah, "the Party of God," founded by Ayatollah Khomeini and financed by Iran. It was Hezbollah who blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in October,1983 killing 241 Americans and 67 French paratroopers that same day. President Reagan ordered U.S. Multilateral Force units to withdraw and closed the books on the marine massacre and US involvement in Lebanon February 1984.

The civilized world, which erroneously vilified the Christians and Israel back then and continues to vilify Israel now, was not paying attention. While America and the rest of the world were concerned about the Israeli / PLO problem, terrorist regimes in Syria and Iran fanned Islamic radicalism in Lebanon and around the world.

Hezbollah's Shiite extremists began multiplying like proverbial rabbits out-producing moderate Sunnis and Christians. Twenty-five years later they have produced enough people to vote themselves into 24 seats in the Lebanese parliament. Since the Israeli pull out in 2000, Lebanon has become a terrorist base completely run and controlled by Syria with its puppet Lebanese President Lahood and the Hezbollah "state within a state."

The Lebanese army has less than 10,000 military troops. Hezbollah has over 4,000 trained militia forces and there are approximately 700 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. So why can't the army do the job? Because the majority of Lebanese Muslims making up the army will split and unite along religious lines with the Islamic forces just like what happened in 1976 at the start of the Lebanese civil war.

It all boils down to a war of Islamic Jihad ideology vs. Judeo Christian Westernism. Muslims who are now the majority of Lebanon's population, support Hezbollah because they are part of the Islamic Ummah-the nation. This is the taboo subject everyone is trying to avoid.

The latest attacks on Israel have been orchestrated by Iran and Syria driven by two different interests. Syria considers Lebanon a part of "greater" Syria. Young Syrian President Assad and his Ba'athist military intelligence henchmen in Damascus are using this latest eruption of violence to prove to the Lebanese that they need the Syrian presence to protect them from the Israeli aggression and to stabilize the country. Iran is conveniently using its Lebanese puppet army Hezbollah, to distract the attention of world leaders meeting at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Apocalyptic Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the ruling Mullah clerics in Tehran want to assert hegemony in the Islamic world under the banner of Shia Mahdist madness. Ahmadinejad wants to seal his place as top Jihadist for Allah by make good his promise to "wipe Israel off  the map.

No matter how much the west avoids facing the reality of Islamic extremism of the Middle East, the west cannot hide from the fact that the same Hamas and Hezbollah that Israel is fighting over there, are of the same radical Islamic ideology that has fomented carnage and death through terrorism that America and the world are fighting. This is the same Hezbollah that Iran is threatening to unleash in America with suicide bomb attacks if America tries to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapon. They have cells in over 10 cities in the United States. Hamas, has the largest terrorist infrastructure on American soil. This is what happens when you turn a blind eye to evil for decades, hoping it will go away.

Sheik Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, is an Iranian agent. He is not a free actor in this play. He has been involved in terrorism for over 25 years. Iran with its Islamic vision for a Shia Middle East now has its agents, troops and money in Gaza in the Palestinian territories,Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Behind this is this vision that drives the Iranian President Ahmadinejad who believes he is Allah's "tool and facilitator" bringing the end of the world as we know it and the ushering in of the era of the Mahdi. He has a blind messianic belief in the Shiite tradition of the 12th or "hidden" Islamic savior who will emerge from a well in the holy city of Qum in Iran after global chaos, catastrophes and mass deaths and establish the era of Islamic Justice and everlasting peace.

President Ahmadinejad has refused so far to respond to proposals from the U.S., EU, Russia and China on the UN Security Council to cease Iran's relentless quest for nuclear enrichment and weapons development program until August 22nd. Why August 22nd? Because August 22nd, coincides with the Islamic date of Rajab 28, the day the great Salah El-Din conquered Jerusalem.

Ahmadinejad's extremists ideology in triggering Armageddon gives great concerns to the intelligence community.

At this point the civilized world must unite in fighting the same enemies plaguing Israel and the world with terrorism. We need to stop analyzing the enemies' differences as Sunni-Hamas or Shiite-Hezbollah, and start understanding that their common bond in their fight against us is radical Islam.


http://www.free-lebanon.com/LFPNews/2006/July/July16/July16a/july16a.html
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« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2006, 09:47:42 AM »

Daily Analysis
Crisis Sparks Fears of Wider War

 
The punishing Israeli offensive continues. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)
Updated: July 27, 2006
Prepared by:  CFR.org Staff


After Israel suffers its bloodiest day since launching an offensive against Lebanon two weeks ago, the country's security cabinet decides not to expand its mission in Lebanon (Haaretz). The government does, however, call up thousands of reserve troops in preparation for a wider war (WashPost). The conflict could well spill into other regions; Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two leader, called July 27 for Muslims around the world to join in the fight against Israel (Guardian).

Talks in Rome between U.S., European, and Arab foreign ministers, joined by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, failed to find a formula for a ceasefire (MSNBC) between Israel and the Lebanon-based militia of Hezbollah. But a broad consensus emerged that a strong international peacekeeping force has to be part of the longer-term solution (al-Jazeera), and most argued over American objections that Syria and Iran had to be part of the discussion. CFR President Richard N. Haass tells cfr.org's Bernard Gwertzman in this interview that the United States should open talks with Syria and Iran, calling Washington's reluctance to deal with the two countries a major impediment to achieving U.S. objectives in the Middle East. This Washington Post analysis says the wide gap between the United States and Europe over how to deal with the ongoing crisis is yet another setback to President Bush?s foreign policy in a second term full of missteps and disappointments.

In Israel on Tuesday, Rice won conditional support from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the idea of a foreign peacekeeping force (LAT), possibly led by NATO, on the southern Lebanese border. But officials in Israel, and American officials in unattributed comments, underscored Washington's support (CSMonitor) for the Israeli aim of degrading Hezbollah militarily, even if there are disagreements on methods. Middle East expert Martin Indyk writes in the Financial Times that the United States should push for a UN-sanctioned ceasefire that forces Hezbollah to recognize the authority of the Lebanese government. But external forces have had a mixed history in the region. This Backgrounder examines the legacy of multinational intervention in the Middle East.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni tells Newsweek the military offensive is focused on weakening Hezbollah, and says Israel does not want a wider regional war. But the ferocity of the Israeli attack on Lebanon, which has driven more than 500,000 people from their homes and killed more than 400 civilians so far, is increasing support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and across the Middle East (CS Monitor).

Lebanese Foreign Minister Fouad Siniora has been desperately trying to get a ceasefire for his battered country. But his government is too weak to negotiate one on its own; the reasons behind that are examined in this Backgrounder. Lebanon's Daily Star points to increasing carnage in Iraq, as well as the continuing battering of Lebanon by Israel, as signs that George W. Bush's vision of democracy in the Middle East is being "engulfed in the flames of the current shortsighted American foreign policy." The Weekly Standard says Bush is just being consistent in his policy of support for Israel, but Judith Kipper writes in Newsday that Washington should use its clout to push not just for a resolution, but a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As many look to Iran and Syria?both of which are playing strong roles in the crisis?to help contain the violence, those two countries are facing problems of their own. TIME says many Iranians are angry at Hezbollah, rejecting the militia's attempts to turn the crisis into a regional conflict, and worrying that the violence is threatening Tehran's status in the world.
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« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2006, 10:44:31 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: A Cease-Fire and Possible Implications

Politics caught up with Israeli military operations in southern Lebanon on Sunday, where the U.S. State Department announced, and Israel later confirmed, a temporary halt to Israeli air operations. The 48-hour cease-fire, which appears to be unilateral, was a response to the deaths of 54 people -- including several dozen children -- who were killed when an apartment building collapsed in Qana following pre-dawn airstrikes.

News of the deaths emerged while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Israel for meetings with national leaders. She also had planned a trip to Beirut, but that trip was canceled -- with both the United States and Lebanon claiming to have been the first to call it off. Rice, and Washington, have been under growing international pressure to intervene in the Israeli actions in Lebanon, and the timing of the Qana strike left them with little choice. Israeli leaders once again said they could complete their operations in two weeks, but they acquiesced to the cease-fire and allowed the United States to announce it first -- and thus take credit for intervening.

Leaders in Washington perhaps have faced more pressure than those in Israel during the current conflict -- or at least felt domestic pressures to a greater degree. Israeli leaders have domestic support for an intensification of operations: If anything, their restraint over launching a larger ground campaign defies popular domestic sentiment. But for the United States, tacit or overt support for Israeli actions against Hezbollah in Lebanon -- whether through supplying additional bombs or delaying calls for a cease-fire -- impacts its relations around the globe. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, has stepped up his calls for U.S. intercession in Israel, thus giving voice to the pressures coming to bear on him from domestic and European audiences.

The temporary cease-fire brings an interesting dynamic to the conflict. In some sense, it is a cosmetic measure: It includes only Israeli air operations (not ground forces), does not appear to include Hezbollah, and does not preclude Israel from using its air assets if it sees Hezbollah forces even preparing to fire rockets or attack Israeli forces. It is, by and large, a political cease-fire more than a military one. But it could be used by Hezbollah to back Israel into a corner.

Israeli leaders are not expecting Hezbollah to abide by the cease-fire. Hezbollah forces have been firing ever-more numerous salvos of rockets over the past few days, despite Israeli claims that its air force had taken out key rocket command centers. If Hezbollah fires more rockets during the cease-fire or attacks Israeli forces in Lebanon, Israeli leaders will use the act as political leverage, seeking to escape some of the international pressures and to justify resumption of the air campaign.

On the other hand, if Hezbollah were to observe a cease-fire and refrain from rocket launches or engagements for 48 hours, Israel would find it politically more difficult to restart the campaign. During the lull, international discussions of ways to bring about a more permanent cease-fire would continue, new resolutions would be proffered and some progress perhaps could be made concerning the potential composition of an international peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah's silence and international diplomacy are not necessarily in Israel's interests at this point. The ground phase of Israel Defense Forces operations apparently was set in motion before the airstrike on Qana. If Israel should be stalemated now, the situation would be untenable for Israel's leaders: Hezbollah would have retained its command and control, communications and -- more significantly -- its weapons. Israeli forces would be sent back across the border from Lebanon, having failed to dislodge Hezbollah.

Even in the event that a peacekeeping force should move into southern Lebanon and act as a peacemaking force, actively confronting Hezbollah, the psychological damage to Israel's military image in the Middle East will have been complete. Israel's use of an air-dominant campaign to dislodge Hezbollah was bound to cause significant civilian casualties and, over time, lead to more controversies like the Qana attack and the recent strike against a U.N. post. Time and politics have now caught up with Israel, particularly as Rice was in the country when the Qana strike occurred.

In some sense, Hezbollah now holds the future of the conflict in its hands. If it can refrain from action during the Israeli cease-fire, it will gain a significant political boost and leave Israel to contend with more than just Hezbollah rockets and fighters. If this should occur, Israel would face stronger diplomatic pressures from the international community -- and the United States would find it more difficult to backstop Israel. An inconclusive withdrawal by Israeli forces following the cease-fire would spell political suicide for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and perhaps the end of the Kadima party as well.

For Hezbollah, restraint could prove the deadliest weapon in its arsenal.
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« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2006, 01:45:18 PM »

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,,19955774-5007220,00.html
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« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2006, 06:50:40 PM »

I can't vouch for this source, but it's the most complete report of several I've found questioning the "bombing" at Qana.

Hezbollywood? Evidence mounts that Qana collapse and deaths were staged
By Reuven Koret  July 31, 2006
 
It was to be a perfect Hollywood ending for Hezbollah. Just as the Israeli bombing of the village of Qana in 1996 brought a premature end to Israel's Operation "Grapes of Wrath," so too a sequel of Qana II could change, once and for all, the direction of Israel's current summer blockbuster, "Change of Direction." Ten years ago, world condemnation of an errant Israeli shell that hit a civilian compound forced then-PM Shimon Peres to curtail the offensive against terror bases.

The setting was also perfect: Kana was again being used as a primary site for launching rockets against Israeli cities. The IDF reported that more than 150 rockets had been launched from Qana and its vicinity at Israeli civilians, wreaking destruction in Kiryat Shmona, Maalot, Nahariya and Haifa. It was only a matter of time before the Israeli Air Force would come for a visit, using pinpoint targeting of the sites used to launch rockets, Hezbollah logistical centers and weapon storage facilities.

On the morning of July 30, according to the IDF, the air force came in three waves. In the first, between midnight and one in the morning, there was a strike at or near the building that eventually collapsed.

Brent Sadler of CNN reports that the Israeli ordnance did not even hit the building but landed "20 or 30 meters" from the structure.

There was a second strike at other targets far from the collapse building several hours later, and a third strike at around 7:30 in the morning. There too the nearest hit was some 460 meters away, according to the IDF. But first reports of a building collapse came only around 8 am.

Thus there was an unexplained 7 to 8 hour gap between the time of the helicopter strike and the building collapse. Brigadier General Amir Eshel, Head of the Air Force Headquarters, in a press briefing, told journalists that "the attack on the structure in the Qana village took place between midnight and one in the morning. The gap between the timing of the collapse of the building and the time of the strike on it is unclear."

Gen. Eshel appeared genuinely mystified by the gap in time. He "I'm saying this very carefully, because at this time I don't have a clue as to what the explanation could be for this gap," he added.

The army's only explanation was that somehow there was unexploded Hezbollah ordnance in the building that only detonated much later.

"It could be that inside the building, things that could eventually cause an explosion were being housed, things that we could not blow up in the attack, and maybe remained there, Brigadier General Eshel said.

Eshel reported that as recently as two days ago, military intelligence reported the building area had been used by the terrorists for storage or firing of weapons. It was a bad place to cram dozens of women and children.

There are other mysteries. The roof of the building was intact. Journalist Ben Wedeman of CNN noted that there was a larger crater next to the building, but observed that the building appeared not to have collapsed as a result of the Israeli strike.

Why would the civilians who had supposedly taken shelter in the basement of the building not leave after the post-midnight attack? They just went back to sleep and had the bad luck to wait for the building to collapse in the morning?

National Public Radio's correspondent reported that residents of that building had left and the victims were non-residents who chose to shelter in the building that night. They were "too poor" to leave the down, one resident told CNN's Wedeman. Who were these people?

What we do know is that sometime after dawn a call went hour to journalists and rescue workers to come to the scene. And come they did, in droves.

While Hezbollah and its apologists have been claiming that civilians could not freely flee the scene due to Israeli destruction of bridges and roads, the journalists and rescue teams from nearby Tyre had no problem getting there.

Lebanese rescue teams did not start evacuating the building until the morning and only after the camera crews came. The absence of a real rescue effort was explained by saying that equipment was lacking. There were no scenes of live or injured people being extracted.

There was little blood, CNN's Wedeman noted: all the victims, he concluded, appeared to have died while as they were sleeping -- sleeping, apparently, through thunderous Israeli air attacks. Rescue workers equipped with cameras were removing the bodies from the same opening in the collapsed structure. Journalists were not allowed near the collapsed building.

Rescue workers filmed as they went carried the victims on the stretchers, occasionally flipping up the blankets so that cameras could show the faces and bodies of the dead.

But Israelis steeled to scenes of carnage from Palestinian suicide bombings and Hezbollah rocket attack could not help but notice that these victims did not look like our victims. Their faces were ashen gray. While medical examination clearly is called for to arrive at a definitive dating and cause of their deaths, they do not appear to have died hours before. The bodies looked like they had been dead for days.

Viewers can judge for themselves. But the accumulating evidence suggests another explanation for what happened at Kana. The scenario would be a setup in which the time between the initial Israeli bombing near the building and morning reports of its collapse would have been used to "plant" bodies killed in previous fighting -- reports in previous days indicated that nearby Tyre was used as a temporary morgue -- place them in the basement, and then engineer a "controlled demolition" to fake another Israeli attack.

The well-documented use by Palestinians of this kind of faked footage -- from the alleged shooting of Mohammed Dura in Gaza, scenes from Jenin of "dead" victims falling off gurneys and then climbing back on -- have merited the creation of a new film genre called "Palliwood."

There is increasing evidence that the Kana sequel is another episode in this genre, a variety which might be called Hezbollywood. The Hezbollah have evidently learned their craft well.

The current suspension of Israeli military air activity is supposedly intended, among other things, to be used for the investigation of what really happened at Qana. It is to be hoped that there are real journalists on the scene, and unbiased medical examiners, who will have the courage and intelligence to sort out the anomalies and contradictions, and get to the buried truth of what happened.

There is no shortage of victims in Lebanon and Israel these days. From this vantage point, at this time, it looks like in the case of Qana, the world's media was duped in a cruel and colossal hoax by a terror organization that knows no moral bounds in its exploitation of suffering and anti-Israel hatred. But, as usual, the only party expected to pay the full price will be Israelis.

Yes, it would be a Hollywood ending for it all to end in Qana, exactly as it did a decade ago. But perfect endings, and perfect crimes, are rarely pulled off in real life.

Israelis will not be able to investigate this claim directly. The question remains whether honest men and women of other nationalities will let this likely lie stand or press for the revelation of the improbable and inconvenient truth.

http://web.israelinsider.com/articles/diplomacy/8997.htm
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captainccs
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« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2006, 08:24:13 PM »

I posted the link at a blog I frequent and someone posted two related links:

Note: If you are squeamish, don't go there, lots of dead bodies:

Who is this man?

If he had been a genuine rescue worker, he would deserve a medal. Mr "Green Helmet" is everywhere at Qana, rushing around pulling children out of the rubble, carting them to ambulances and even, on the front page of the Guardian, escorting "White Tee-shirt", who also performs his own cameo role, carting round the body of another unfortunate girl, emoting freely while he does so.

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2006/07/who-is-this-man.html


Milking it?

Certainly, the photographs are distressing, and indeed they are meant to be. As this piece tells us:

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2006/07/milking-it.html
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« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2006, 12:48:04 AM »

nation / world news | middle east crisis
Israelis' goal isn't clear, says strategy expert
Ex-Pentagon official says Jewish state now "has only one ally, and that's the United States"
By Bob Deans
Cox News Service
DenverPost.com
 
Washington - Former Pentagon official Anthony Cordesman, who also has held NATO and State Department security posts, is an expert on military strategy for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. He discussed the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict Tuesday.

Q. It seems Israel's goal is to essentially cleanse southern Lebanon of Hezbollah. How do you do that militarily?

Cordesman: It isn't clear that's the goal at all. So far this is a very limited set of military actions. But without being able to target virtually every element of the Hezbollah, all you can do is use the best intelligence you have, try to find clusters of fighters, hope they don't disperse, or hide or bury or move their weapons, and do the best you can.

Q. How much do you think Hezbollah has been weakened in southern Lebanon by these attacks?

Cordesman: We have absolutely no idea. Hezbollah, obviously, denies it. Israel has made surprisingly moderate claims. If you look at the casualties they've claimed, they'd probably be less than a tenth of Hezbollah's strength. It's almost impossible at times to know how much damage has been done.

Q. What about the price that Israel is paying for this offensive?

Cordesman: There is obviously a human cost. It's an extraordinarily expensive operation. It's often using weapons that cost close to $100,000 to hit weapons that cost $2,000 or $3,000 - and that's if it's successful. It's lost some aircraft. We're talking about very quickly things in excess of $100 million. And that, compared to the cost of maintaining Hezbollah forces or reconstituting them, is a very high price indeed. The political cost is not new to Israel, but certainly most of Europe sees this as excessive and unnecessary. Anger in the Arab world and a good part of the Muslim world as well as much of the rest of the world had been significantly increased. Israel at this point has only one ally, and that's the United States.

Q. Is there any chance that the Israeli incursion would result in new sympathy, new support, new recruits for Hezbollah?

Cordesman: Over time there is a very good chance that it will. Hezbollah had a core strength of anywhere from 300 to 1,200 full-time fighters and 3,000 to 12,000 reservists. It doesn't take many volunteers to make significant differences.

The real problem here is never how many fighters there are, it's how many skilled people actually can carry out ambushes, can use bombs, can conduct specialized raids. This isn't a matter of body counts or boots on the ground. That's largely irrelevant.

Q. What about an international peacekeeping force?

Cordesman: Sending in a peacekeeping force is easy in one sense. But if it actually has to fight, take casualties and kill people, it's going to be perceived as the enemy, not the liberator, and Hezbollah can attack it as well as conduct raids and sabotage and bombings.
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« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2006, 03:10:10 PM »

Carrying this over from the "dialogue with Muslims" thread.

buzwardo wrote:

Quote

BTW, do you feel Israel has a right to exist in peace?


I'd say they have a right to live in peace, but not unconditionally. As the saying goes, everybody wants peace on their terms. My issue with Israel is not that they're wrong and the Palestinians/Hezbollah are right, but that they take US support as meaning they don't have to negotiate or treat their adversaries with any respect, which they would have to do if left to deal with this on their own.

We constantly hear about how Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. deny "Israel's right to exist", that they want to "destroy Israel", or "exterminate all Jews". The source is a statement (in Arabic or Farsi) supposedly from the Hamas charter. It would be interesting to see a US news agency interview an actual Hamas leader, tell him how this statement is being interpreted in the US, and ask him directly if this is what they really mean.
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« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2006, 03:36:55 PM »

Quote from: rogt
We constantly hear about how Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. deny "Israel's right to exist", that they want to "destroy Israel", or "exterminate all Jews". The source is a statement (in Arabic or Farsi) supposedly from the Hamas charter. It would be interesting to see a US news agency interview an actual Hamas leader, tell him how this statement is being interpreted in the US, and ask him directly if this is what they really mean.

Right!

Ahmadinejad's call to destroy Israel draws French condemnation

By The Associated Press

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday the solution to the Middle East crisis was to destroy Israel, Iranian state media reported.

In a speech during an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Malaysia, Ahmadinejad also called for an immediate cease-fire to end the fighting between Israel and the Iranian-back group Hezbollah.

"Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented," Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television in a report posted on its Web site.

More...
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« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2006, 03:45:28 PM »

OK, "elimination of the Zionist regime" can mean a lot of things.  What I want to know is whether these Muslim leaders really mean "exterminate Jews" instead of just replacement of the current Israeli government.  Considering that 25,000 or so Jews still live in Iran, I'm especially skeptical of that interpretation coming from their president.

A discussion of people's views on this would be more interesting than a bunch of articles.
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« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2006, 03:54:46 PM »

Quote from: rogt
OK, "elimination of the Zionist regime" can mean a lot of things.  What I want to know is whether these Muslim leaders really mean "exterminate Jews" instead of just replacement of the current Israeli government.
Well, sum it up:

Suicide bombings
Kidnappings
Rocket attacks
Calls for boycotting Israel
Flying into the Twin Towers
The London bombing
The Madrid bombing
The Beirut US Embassy bombing
The Bali bombing
The USS Cole bombing
The Buenos Aires bombing

Does this sound like a love fest of some sort?

Some people just don't want to see reality. What proof do you want? The extermination of Israel?
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« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2006, 07:58:35 PM »

Chavez withdraws Venezuelan envoy citing Israeli 'genocide'

By The Associated Press

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday he has recalled his country's ambassador to Israel to show his "indignation" over the military offensive in Lebanon.

"We have ordered the withdrawal of our ambassador in Israel," Chavez said in a televised speech, calling Israeli attacks in Lebanon "genocide."

"It really causes indignation to see how the state of Israel continues bombing, killing ... with all of the power they have, with the support of the United States," Chavez said after a military parade in the northwestern state of Falcon.

The leftist Venezuelan leader has repeatedly criticized Israel's offensive aimed at Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, noting mounting civilian deaths and saying the United Nations should act to halt the violence.

"It's hard explain to oneself how nobody does anything to stop this horror," said Chavez, whose government has until recently said it had good relations with Israel.

Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington, also criticized what he called a relentless "campaign" by the U.S. government to keep Venezuela from obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council. U.S. officials have backed Guatemala for the seat, saying Venezuela would be a disruptive influence on the council.

The Venezuelan leader, a close ally and protege of Cuban President Fidel Castro, spoke after returning from an international tour that took him to Argentina, Belarus, Russia, Qatar, Iran, Vietnam, Mali and Benin. While in Iran, Chavez called the Israeli offensive in Lebanon a "fascist outrage."

"The Israeli elite repeatedly criticize Hitler's actions against the Jews, and indeed Hitler's actions must be criticized, not just against the Jews but against the world," Chavez said during his visit to Iran, adding: "It's also fascism what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people ... terrorism and fascism."

Venezuela has both Arab immigrant and Jewish communities, and officials have insisted the government will continue to fully respect the Jewish community despite its strong opposition to Israel's war in Lebanon.

Some in Venezuela have protested against the fighting in Lebanon, including one group that burned an Israeli flag outside the Israeli embassy last month.


http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/746265.html


But we also support coexistence:
http://captainccs.blogspot.com/2006/08/coexistence.html
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« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2006, 12:34:46 AM »

August 01, 2006

Iran's Strategy Is Crudely Obvious--So Why Can't We Fight It?

By Robert Tracinski

The new Lebanon War, like much of the War on Terrorism, has a strange character. It is a war in which everyone knows the enemy's strategy, in which it is child's play to see through all of his ruses and propaganda tricks--and yet our leaders, rather than devising their own counter-strategy, fall for every ruse and play along with the enemy's game.

You hear a lot of talk these days about the "clever" Iranians and what good "chess players" they are in the contest of international diplomacy. But the Iranian strategy is, in fact, crudely transparent and obviously morally bankrupt. Everyone can grasp this--yet our leaders keep falling into the Iranian traps.

Everyone knows that Iran is using Hezbollah's war in Lebanon to distract attention from its nuclear weapons program. The Iranians were given a July 5 deadline to suspend uranium enrichment or face "serious consequences." The contemptuous Iranians declared that they wouldn't reply for another six weeks, on August 22. Then Hezbollah--a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran's Revolutionary Guards--initiated their war in Lebanon, and no one has paid attention to the Iranian nuclear program for the past three weeks. Now, finally, we are sending a new resolution to the UN Security Council--giving Iran until August 31 to agree to talks or face another months-long debate about whether we will impose sanctions against them.


The Iranian strategy to buy time is utterly transparent and not especially clever. It is simple to defeat: declare that Hezbollah's aggression against Israel is proof of Iran's evil intentions and that we don't require any further diplomatic justification to bomb Iran's nuclear sites and bring down its regime.

Instead, Western leaders fell for the Iranian strategy, and the Iranians have pretty much gotten what they wanted.

Everyone knows that Syria is using Hezbollah's war as a way of propping up its security and influence after it was forced to retreat from Lebanon in disgrace last year. By initiating a new war against Israel, the Syrians hope to appeal to the venomous hatred of Israel on the "Arab street," regaining Arab support Syria had lost by assassinating pro-independence leaders in Lebanon. By initiating the war on Lebanese soil, Syria hoped to justify its former military presence there, "proving" that the Syrian withdrawal led only to anarchy and bloodshed--proving it, that is, by causing the bloodshed. Finally, Syria's Baathist regime is using its alliance with the Islamist fanatics of Hezbollah to replace its fading secular ideology with a new, religious foundation.

Again, this is all obvious, and the answer is obvious. By bringing the war home to its Syrian sponsor, we could make it clear that initiating this war will topple the Syrian regime, rather than propping it up.

Instead, American commentators and diplomats have fallen for the Syrian strategy, declaring that this conflict makes it necessary to re-establish negotiations with Syria, offer Syria territorial concessions, and even to compete with Iran for Syria's affections.

Everyone knows that Hezbollah initiated a war with Israel in order to justify its status as a military "state within a state," billing itself as a defender of Lebanon against Israel--even while, far from defending Lebanon, Hezbollah is causing Lebanon to be torn apart. And everyone knows that Hezbollah deliberately operates among Lebanon's civilian population, cynically exploiting the resulting civilian casualties as propaganda.

This has already been ruthlessly dissected by many American and Israeli commentators. See, for example, an excellent editorial in Monday's Washington Times on Hezbollah's use of "human shields," which includes a link to photos of Hezbollah guns and missile launchers positioned in residential apartment blocks. Even better, a hard-hitting column in an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, quotes an Israeli paratrooper who sums up Hezbollah's tactics: "They are a lousy army. They only win when they hide behind baby carriages."

Both of these articles identify the proper response: point out that Hezbollah is responsible for all civilian casualties in this war, and refuse to allow those casualties to hobble the war effort. Stop rewarding Hezbollah for using civilians as human shields.

Instead, faced with a gory new story about civilian casualties, our own Secretary of State panicked and pressured Israel to agree to a mini-cease-fire, suspending its air war for 48 hours (which Israel, thankfully, did not fully do). According to the New York Times when Condoleezza Rice heard about a new group of Lebanese civilians killed in an Israeli airstrike--with images of the corpses splashed across TV screens in Lebanon and across the Arab world--she "appeared shaken." She then immediately pushed for the Israeli cessation, while "American officials scrambled to try to counter the wrenching TV scenes of the devastation at Qana."

Secretary Rice has a reputation as an intelligent, hard-charging woman who doesn't scare easily. Over the past few months, she has blown that reputation, caving in to Iran and its European sympathizers--and now allowing herself to be panicked into appeasement by predictable images of Lebanese civilian casualties. The Iranians have not been playing a sophisticated diplomatic game--yet they have consistently outplayed Secretary Rice.

Just as obvious as the strategy of the Iranian Axis are the destructive consequences of America's diplomatic retreat in the face of Hezbollah's war.

The French government has taken advantage of Rice's abdication and stepped in to assert a leading role in the crisis--as a defender of Iran. The French foreign minister, speaking today in Beirut, hailed Iran as the potential savior of Lebanon, describing Iran as "a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region." If the French are to be part of a "multinational force" in Southern Lebanon, will they be there to disarm Hezbollah--or to protect it?

The joke going around all the blogs recently is that it's not a World War until France surrenders. But it's not really a World War until the French become collaborators.

Similarly, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who sat on the fence for the first few weeks of the war, complaining about Israel but also calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed, sensed the shift in the political winds and threw in with Hezbollah, thanking terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah for "all those who sacrifice their lives for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon.''

And remember that every charge made against the Israelis in Lebanon can be applied equally to the Americans in Iraq--which means that Secretary Rice has just given a green light for Iranian-backed firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr to emulate Hezbollah and orchestrate another uprising against the US in Iraq.

The tirades of the Angry Left to the contrary, our leaders are not stupid or incompetent. If the rest of us can figure out the Iranian strategy and see through Iran's tricks, so can they. But something is neutralizing their knowledge. Something is preventing them from turning that knowledge into corresponding action.

Part of what is crippling Western leaders is the sacrifice-worship of the altruist morality, which programs them, in response to human suffering, to suspend thinking and react emotionally. Natan Sharansky recounts a discussion he had with former president Jimmy Carter about why the Palestinian-Israeli "peace process" kept failing. Carter responded, "You know, you are right, but don't try to be too rational about these things. The moment you see people suffering, you should feel solidarity with them and try to help them without thinking too much about the reasons."

But even more insidious is a kind of cognitive altruism that tells men to sacrifice, not just their interests, but their judgment, subordinating their knowledge to the opinions and prejudices of others. That is what seems to be operating here. Whatever Secretary Rice knows about the Iranians' strategy is discarded the moment lurid images of civilian casualties are splashed across the front pages of European newspapers and the broadcasts of Arab television stations. Just as, in this self-abnegating morality, you have to consider the interests of everyone except yourself--so, in this morality of cognitive self-abnegation, you have to consider everyone's opinion except your own. Thus, faced with the united force of "world opinion," the formerly "tough-minded" Secretary of State was flustered into an ignominious surrender of American interests.

This is a strange kind of war, in which we have more than enough military capability to crush the enemy's "lousy army." Nor do we lack the intellectual power to understand and counteract the enemy's strategy. But we lack the moral confidence to use both our power and our knowledge.

But in the life-and-death struggle with totalitarian Islam, there is no room for Western self-abnegation. On the contrary, what we need is a proud, righteous self-assertion, the unapologetic pursuit of America's and Israel's vital interests, unbowed by appeals to pity or to "world opinion."

In recent months, there has been a rebellion brewing on the right in protest against the Bush administration's appeasement of Iran. Secretary Rice's recent capitulation, if it goes uncorrected, ought to be the event that brings that rebellion to the boiling point, threatening President Bush with the defection of his remaining political "base." It will be a bruising political rebellion, and it should probably require the firing of Condoleezza Rice--a crushing concession for George Bush to make--to satisfy a justified fury against the administration's recent policies.

But if our leaders won't provide an assertive American national defense on their own power, we will have to demand it of them. If they won't lead the way against our enemies, we will have to lead and force them to follow.

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily.com.


http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/08/irans_strategy_is_crudely_obvi.html
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« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2006, 08:19:29 AM »

Many good points there, but FWIW Stratfor.com says that overthrowing the Syrian regime will result in a worse one.
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rogt
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« Reply #32 on: August 04, 2006, 10:30:55 AM »

Quote from: captainccs
Quote from: rogt
OK, "elimination of the Zionist regime" can mean a lot of things.  What I want to know is whether these Muslim leaders really mean "exterminate Jews" instead of just replacement of the current Israeli government.
Well, sum it up:

Suicide bombings
Kidnappings
Rocket attacks
Calls for boycotting Israel
Flying into the Twin Towers
The London bombing
The Madrid bombing
The Beirut US Embassy bombing
The Bali bombing
The USS Cole bombing
The Buenos Aires bombing

Does this sound like a love fest of some sort?

Some people just don't want to see reality. What proof do you want? The extermination of Israel?


Above you list mostly stuff committed by AQ, which has nothing to do with whether or not "exterminate all Jews" is what is really, literally meant by "eliminate the Zionist regime".  Like I said, 25,000 or Jews (BTW, that's the largest concetration of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel) are still living in Iran, so it's unlikely that Iran's president is out to exterminate Jews.

"Calls for boycotting Israel" are to be lumped in with flying planes into buildings?  If so, then I guess people who called for boycotting apartheid South Africa were also guilty of terrorism.

Yes, Hezbollah did kidnap some Israeli soldiers, and under international law if it's done in the course of armed conflict, they are required to treat the soldiers humanely.  It's not a crime in the same league as kidnapping civilians.  When you consider the crimes Israel commits in Gaza on a daily basis (economic strangulation, military attacks on civilians, assassinations), kidnapping a soldier just doesn't rank very high on the atrocity scale.
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« Reply #33 on: August 04, 2006, 11:10:43 AM »

Hamas, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, radical Islam, it's all the same for me. They all have the same purpose vis a vis Israel so I need make no distinction among them. They attack, we strike back and, on occasion, we strike preemptively when the danger seems extraordinary.

There is nothing wrong with preemptively strikes. It's much the same as vaccinating babies so they don't get sick later. Radical Islam is a virus that needs to be combatted at every level before they can cause the mayhem they set out to cause.

What does that have to do with the exact meaning of "Exterminating Israel?" I don't worry about it. You do, so you explain it. Getting bogged down in hair splitting while people are dying is an absurdity. Stop the war and then we can split hairs.

Sorry, no apologies coming from me on this issue.
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rogt
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« Reply #34 on: August 04, 2006, 11:52:57 AM »

Quote from: captainccs
Hamas, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, radical Islam, it's all the same for me. They all have the same purpose vis a vis Israel so I need make no distinction among them.


Hamas and Hezbollah, at least, enjoy the status of legitimate political parties in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon, whereas AQ cannot make this claim.  So whether or not you consider it significant, the distinction has consequences in terms of international law.

Quote

What does that have to do with the exact meaning of "Exterminating Israel?"


No, I'm asking for the exact meaning of "eliminate the Zionist regime", which you see as clearly meaning "exterminate Jews".  It's not clear that it really means this, but it's a popular interpretation among people looking to justify a particular policy.

I've mentioned the Iranian Jews twice now and you've had no response.  How do you explain 25,000 Jews choosing to live in a country you claim wants their extermination?
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captainccs
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« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2006, 12:41:54 PM »

Quote from: rogt
I've mentioned the Iranian Jews twice now and you've had no response.  How do you explain 25,000 Jews choosing to live in a country you claim wants their extermination?

I think it's irrelevant to the issue, and I doubt very much that, given a choice, today they would choose to live in Iran. My family chose to live in Venezuela and for many years it was a good choice until the advent of Hugo Chavez. Today, given the choice, I would not pick Venezuela. Things change. At one time Jews were captives in Persia. Later they were an important part of Persian society. Same in Germany. My father was a German soldier under Bismarck. But under Adolph Hitler he was considered a non-human. Things go around in circles. When we left Germany in 1939 we lost our German citizenship based on a NAZI law that stripped German Jews living outside Germany of their birthright German citizenship. For years this made no difference to me because we were more than welcome in Venezuela. Then with Chavez things changed. He preaches class warfare, not just against Jews but against America, against landholders, against the rich, against anyone or anything that he perceives as an opportunity to vent his venom. As a consequence, I have reacquired my German citizenship. I now have dual citizenship. Germans went from the most advanced and most civilized people on earth who gave us Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, to the scum of the earth under Hitler. Now they have made a comeback into the fold of civilized nations.

The 25,000 Jews is Iran is what is left over from a much larger Jewish community. They have to conform to Sharia law in public. They have one member of parliament who must have a picture of a Mullah in his office. They are not treated as people, they are pets in a zoo for exhibition purposes, for the world to see how civilized the zoo keepers are. Humans are funny that way: we love elephants so we put them in a cage. We love birds so we put them in a cage. We love flowers so we cut them to put in a vase. We love to exhibit Jews so we put them in a virtual cage. Jews wanted out of the Soviet Union, they were not allowed to leave. How is Iran different?
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ppulatie
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« Reply #36 on: August 04, 2006, 12:57:44 PM »

Rogt,

Time for me to step in for a bit. You keep asking about what the "elimination of the Zionist regime" means?

Why not look to the words that are spoken by both the leaders and followers of Hezbollah, the Iranian President, Hamas, OBL and others.  They all state that the goal is the destruction of Israel, drive the Jews into the sea.

Why is this so hard for people to understand? Why must there be hidden meanings and the so called need to read between the lines for hidden messages. If a person or group of people keep repeating the same message time and again, doesn't it seem likely that they are saying what they desire?

Then, if the words are not good enough, look to the actions that the groups take. Suicide bombings targeting civilians. Mass rocket launches targeting anyone, not just military targets.

What are Arafat? He received 87% of everything he wanted with negeotiations with Israel the first time. He turned it down. The second time, he received 97%, and he turned it down. And the PLO gave him complete support. Does this sound like a group of people will to live with and co-exist with Israel?  I don't think so.

What about the recent pullout of troops and people from Gaza? This was what Hamas and the PLO wanted. One would expect that they would have settled down and worked to create their vision for the area. Instead, they still attack Israel. Does this sound like a desire for co-existence?

Again, hear their words, watch their actions. And accept that what they say is true.
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PPulatie
captainccs
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« Reply #37 on: August 04, 2006, 02:04:32 PM »

Chavez breaks up with Israel

Dear Israeli friend who might happen to read this blog

The title of this post means exactly what it means: it is Chavez that is breaking up with Israel, not Venezuela. The people of Venezuela are much smarter than that. Or ignorant as the case might be. But Venezuelans of good faith, of good name, of good will, do not break relations either with Israel, or Lebanon, or Iran, or Palestine, or Egypt.

See, Venezuelan people of good will know that the Middle East is a very complicated situation, and we know that we have no business involving ourselves in there, except for trying to help in any way we can, without taking sides, in reaching peace one way or the other. Just as Israel has no business meddling in border problems between Venezuela and Colombia over FARC crossing over as they please.

See, Venezuela is a gorgeous mosaic of people. We have plenty immigrants form diverse areas of the Middle East. But we also gave refuge to many Jews fleeing the horrors of Nazism, or the horrors of Europe diverse forms of intolerance. We know that we all get along, blacks and whites, natives and mestizos, Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Evangelical, commies and democrats. That is, until Chavez was elected president in 1998 and started forcing upon us divisions that were alien to our gentle tropical culture.

Since his election race has become an issue. Useless social warfare has become an issue. Civil rights have become an issue. And none for the good. Now anti semitism is becoming an issue. This blog has reported whenever it could about the creeping anti semitism in Venezuela these days. But do not take only my word: read yesterday's column from Milagros Socorro in El Nacional where she picks up the same disgusting add that appeared in El Nacional last week. Her words on how our beautiful country is torn apart by the vices of a few are only too eloquent.

Now Chavez in his megalomania has turned his gaze to the Middle East where he wants to become a player. I can assure you, dear Israeli leader, or even dear any Middle East reader, that it is a decision of Chavez alone with his camarilla. We, as a people, have never been consulted on what should be Venezuela's policy in the Middle East. And I can assure you that we will never be consulted on that topic by Chavez. In fact, he has long stopped consulting with anyone on anything except perhaps the soon to be corpse of Castro.

I can also assure you one thing: Chavez does not know much about the Middle East and its very complicated history. Nor does he care much about you. See, the only thing he wants is to screw the US in any which way he can, even if it means a close association with the Iran regime of fanatic and intolerant Ayatollahs who have no problem in subjecting women to all sorts of second class citizenship, hanging gay teenagers, persecuting Baahist faith, financing any pro Shia terrorist organization and what ever else uncivilized that one can come up with. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a country as opposed to Venezuelan values of freedom and carefree lifestyle as Iran is. That is why it is so objectionable of Chavez not to even notice that the only thing that Ahmedinejad has not yet said is "a good Jew is a dead Jew". Never in our history we have had a president that openly supported a country whose aim is the elimination of another country.

If you can read Spanish I will recommend an article on how the news was reported in Venezuela. First, he used the commemoration of some local independence event of 1806 to announce the withdrawal of our ambassador to Israel. Funny, because already Venezuela had only a "chag? d'affaires". But Chavez always needs to be bombastic and the charg? became ambassador for a few seconds before he was removed anyway. Then on the same protocol act he decided to change one of our national holydays by moving it from March 12 to August 3. Just like that, because he has decided to rewrite Venezuelan history in a way that satisfies him better, regardless of what really happened in a given date. See, he is like that, changing names, dates, places, at will, like any fascist of commie dictator. All of course duly surrounded by many generals in full drag.

It is important for you to understand that Chavez has long stopped being considered as someone sane. Nobody so obsessed about his glory, his safety, nobody so blindeded by his US hatred can long remain sane. Venezuela is now a military controled regime with someone cetifiable at the helm. You of all people know about these type of guys. So please, do not harbor ill will against the Venezuelan people, keep in mind that any ill advised move of Venezuela in the Middle East comes from Chavez feverish brain alone. We are trying our best to control him but he has too much money and too many amoral cowards getting rich around him, at home as well as abroad. But this shall pass and we will become friends again as we have been friends with all countries in the world. That is what we really are, a friendly people, not the hateful crowd that Chavez would like you to beleive he represents.

--- --- --- --- --- ---
The news is spreading fast. Fausta has a complete summary of Chavez recent eccentricities, break up included. Plus a great photo montage of Chavez and any dictator around, courtesy of Miguel.



http://daniel-venezuela.blogspot.com/2006/08/chavez-breaks-up-with-israel.html
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« Reply #38 on: August 04, 2006, 02:36:59 PM »

Iranian official admits Tehran supplied missiles to Hezbollah

By Amos Harel and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents

A senior Iranian official admitted for the first time Friday that Tehran did indeed supply long-range Zelzal-2 missiles to Hezbollah.

Mohtashami Pur, a one-time ambassador to Lebanon who currently holds the title of secretary-general of the "Intifada conference," told an Iranian newspaper that Iran transferred the missiles to the Shi'ite militia, adding that the organization has his country's blessing to use the weapons in defense of Lebanon.

Pur's statements are thought to be unusual given that Tehran has thus far been reluctant to comment on the extent of its aid which it has extended to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Thursday night in a televised broadcast that his organization would target Tel Aviv if Beirut was attacked by Israel.

"If our capital, Beirut, is attacked, we will attack your capital, Tel Aviv," Nasrallah threatened.

The Hezbollah leader issued his warning after Israel Air Force aircraft dropped leaflets over the Lebanese capital, calling on residents of three Shi'ite neighborhoods in southern Beirut to evacuate their homes.

Israeli security sources assessed that Nasrallah's threats are serious.

On Wednesday evening, the IAF attacked Beirut for the first time after a hiatus of nearly five days. The dropping of the leaflets yesterday is considered to be a precursor to new air strikes on the city.

Military Intelligence estimates that Nasrallah would like to end the war with a dramatic move, such as the firing of missiles against Tel Aviv.

The range of the Iranian-made Zelzal missiles is estimated to be 210 kilometers, enabling Hezbollah to target the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv and its environs. Last week, the IAF deployed Patriot anti-aircraft missiles near Netanya as part of the overall effort to foil a possible Zelzal attack.


http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/746631.html
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« Reply #39 on: August 04, 2006, 04:55:58 PM »

rogt,

I have to admit I for one do not understand your support of Hamas and Hezbollah.  Or maybe you have a personel dislike for the State of Israel.

Do you believe Israel has the right to defend itself? or is it you dislike the U.S.'s support of Israel.  If this is the case then you need to put the blame on the Kennedy admin.  It was he who set the policy that the U.S. what defend Israel since in his view Israel was seen as the only true "friend" in the region.

As for Iran's tolerance of Jew's.  What do you think would happen if the Terrorist President of Iran start slaughtering these Jew's.  Israel would not stand for it.  Then the S would hit the fan.

I my have missed it and if so I apoligize but could you flesh out your arguement against what Israel is doing and please do so without the leftist propaganda.

I have to admit I am old school when it comes to middle eastern fanatics.  Having been involed in a war against Hamas and Hezbollah as well as their forefathers.

I must have been asleep for some time who ever came up with the idea that terrorist are political parts.  Most recently the IRA, Arafat and now H and H.  

Sorry for the rambling.  Just want to understand your position.

Myke Willis
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rogt
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« Reply #40 on: August 04, 2006, 06:22:08 PM »

Quote from: xtremekali
rogt,
I have to admit I for one do not understand your support of Hamas and Hezbollah.  


What "support"?  I hear people saying "eliminate the Zionist regime" definitely means "exterminate Jews", and I'm saying why I think that may be a misinterpretation.  You'd certainly disagree with somebody who said our policy of "regime change" in Iraq meant "exterminate Arabs".

Quote

Do you believe Israel has the right to defend itself?


Yes, but it's not like history somehow gets reset anytime Israel gets attacked and the only issue is whether or not they have a right to self-defense.  

[edit]
Has Israel ever attacked anybody *not* in self-defense?  Or is pretty much anything they do considered self-defense?
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ppulatie
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« Reply #41 on: August 04, 2006, 09:13:09 PM »

Rogt,

Again, what about the words of Hezbollah and Hamas calling for the destruction of Israel? This can only mean one thing.

Perhaps the following quote from Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah  on 12-31-1999 should clarify things.  He said peace deals between Arabs and Israel would not bring stability to the Middle East or legitimacy to the Jewish state.

"There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel," he told the crowd. "Peace settlements will not change reality, which is that Israel is the enemy and that it will never be a neighbor or a nation.

Since 1948, every action that Israel has taken has been in self defense. They have been in a perpetual war since inception, with the arab world desiring their destruction.


From your comments, I surmise that you believe that Israel has taken actions not in its own self defense. Can you please name some such actions? I will be more than happy to refute them.

BTW, if you would like more quotes from H & H leadership calling for the destruction of Israel, then I will gladly provide them. Hopefully there will be enough bandwidth to hand all of them.

I also feel that your comments tend to be supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah.
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PPulatie
captainccs
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« Reply #42 on: August 04, 2006, 09:39:46 PM »

Quote from: ppulatie
Since 1948, every action that Israel has taken has been in self defense. They have been in a perpetual war since inception, with the arab world desiring their destruction.


From your comments, I surmise that you believe that Israel has taken actions not in its own self defense. Can you please name some such actions? I will be more than happy to refute them.

The Anglo-French-Isaeli attack on Suez:

Anthony Eden, the British prime minister, feared that Nasser intended to form an Arab Alliance that would cut off oil supplies to Europe. On 21st October Guy Mollet, Anthony Eden and David Ben-Gurion met in secret to discuss the problem. During these talks it was agreed to make a joint attack on Egypt.

On 29th October 1956, the Israeli Army, led by General Moshe Dayan, invaded Egypt. Two days later British and French bombed Egyptian airfields. British and French troops landed at Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal on 5th November. By this time the Israelis had captured the Sinai peninsula.

President Dwight Eisenhower grew increasingly concerned about these developments. On 30th October he decided to take action and announced he was going to suspend aid to Israel in protest against its invasion of Egypt. The following day Eisenhower's secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, criticised Britain and France for trying to take the Suez Canal by force.


http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDsuez.htm
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ppulatie
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« Reply #43 on: August 04, 2006, 10:58:38 PM »

You got me on that. However, that was in conjunction with the Brits and France.

By themselves, Israel has only responded to threats to their nation and people, whether it be the 7 Day War, excursions into Lebanon or Gaza, etc. Of course, these are often pre-emptive attacks which some may not consider as self defense.
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PPulatie
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #44 on: August 05, 2006, 12:31:00 AM »

Analysis

A week ago, Israeli foot patrols in Lebanon were spotted using llamas, an especially quiet beast of burden that can go several days without eating while carrying about as much weight as one Israeli soldier can carry. This, combined with an airstrike on a power station supplying an area of the southern Bekaa Valley, signals Israel is about to make a significant move.

At first glance, it appears like an odd role-reversal when Israeli reconnaissance units are leading pack animals into battle while Hezbollah fighters are wielding modern anti-tank weapons. But as U.S. special operations forces calling in airstrikes from horseback in Afghanistan showed, mountain and fourth-generation warfare present new challenges that must be met on the ground.

Sustained special operations deep inside enemy territory have always meant heavy loads of food and ammunition, now compounded by the need to haul modern communications and surveillance equipment. While raids based on intelligence can be inserted by helicopter, move to the target and pull out, pack animals indicate invaders plan an extended stay. This is generally indicative of long-range patrols and reconnaissance units setting up observation posts deep inside enemy territory. Even in the era of surveillance satellites, some of the best intelligence still comes from human observation. Israeli patrols fitting this description were spotted returning from Lebanon a week ago. We suspect many more are now well-positioned to observe much of the southern Bekaa Valley.

Elsewhere, on Aug. 4, the Israeli air force (IAF) knocked out a power station supplying the Kiraoun area at the southern end of the Bekaa. Every power plant in Lebanon has been available as a potential target for the IAF for more than three weeks now, yet Israel did not strike the Kiraoun station until now. In air campaigns, attacks on power infrastructure often signal impending ground assaults, since such attacks wreak havoc on command-and-control infrastructure -- but usually only temporarily, as those experiencing such attacks bring generators on line and make other adaptations. Thus, attacks on power-generating infrastructure are an excellent way to knock the enemy off-balance immediately before a major escalation.

Such a strike also forces generators into use. In order to run the most rudimentary command-and-control infrastructure (PCs, radios, satellite phones, etc.), Hezbollah will require power. No matter how briefly those generators are turned on, they create a detectable electromagnetic signature and thermal exhaust plume. And Hezbollah posts in the area now will be forced to burn through limited fuel supplies that cannot easily be replaced.

Of course, long-range patrols and an airstrike on a power station could mean many things. But we view these developments in the context of a massive IDF force waiting in northern Israel around Qiryat Shemona and Metulla, U.S. President George W. Bush's August vacation, an unprecedented raid and the importance of the Bekaa Valley itself. Israel is up to something significant in the Bekaa.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #45 on: August 05, 2006, 01:14:13 AM »

Rogt:

I view this forum as a place where the cerebral aspects of a warrior?s path can be honed in a manner similar to the way physical skills are honed on the training floor. Alas, no sharpening occurs when I deal with you. As such, I?m not going to engage in further debate. It?s as though some well armored beginner with an angle or two in his repertoire plods forward swinging a predictable stick, oblivious to being smacked dozens of ways from a dozen directions. ??Islamo Fascist? is a mean thing to say,? might make for a fine mantra, but it?s little more than repetitious twaddle when used as a lone talking point in a larger debate. I derive no value countering your two-dimensional snivels and hence plan no more exchanges.

Though I?ve no desire to engage the rhetorically inept in debate, standing mute when gross stupidity is spouted isn?t my end either. The training floor is a place where effective technique is modeled and poor technique exposed for what it is; this forum can serve a similar function where a warrior?s intellectual underpinnings are concerned. For instance, you posted the following astoundingly inane comment:

Quote
Like I said, 25,000 or Jews (BTW, that's the largest concetration (sic) of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel) are still living in Iran, so it's unlikely that Iran's president is out to exterminate Jews.


Iran has a population in excess of 66 million, Jews have lived in the Middle East for thousands of years, yet they only make up a miniscule proportion of the Iranian population and, according to you, that miniscule proportion is the highest ?in the Middle East outside of Israel,? a fact you brandish like a light saber when in reality not only does it undermine your argument, but reveals you are also wholly ignorant of the fact it does.

Tell me, Rogt, if 25,000 German Jews managed to evade the concentration camps in 1943, would that be a measure of Hitler?s magnanimity? There are some Cambodians still living in Cambodia so that Pol Pot must have really been a swell fellow, eh? Plenty of Jews left in Russia after the Czars? pogroms, and Stalin left a kulak or two so they are clearly humanitarians all. I?m curious though at what demographic point does a miniscule percentage of a dwindling population becomes an oppressed minority enduring genocide? After all, as long as there is one Jew in Iran the government can?t be bent on oppression to the point of extermination, right?

Though your simpleminded warblings provide more fodder than I have time to chew, I can?t let pass your comment that ?Yes, Hezbollah did kidnap some Israeli soldiers, and under international law if it's done in the course of armed conflict, they are required to treat the soldiers humanely.? I trust this is the glib and insipid standard you also apply to the prisoners being held at Guant?namo? Do you think the Israeli prisoners have been provided a Torah? Does the Red Cross have access to them? Think they spend any time in an exercise yard? Ever hear of Nachshon Wachsman, and do you understand how his sad tale applies here? Are you able to apply a standard consistently or are you so lost to the knee-jerk left that every ethic is a situational one focused toward a political end? It?s not like I don?t know the answer to these questions, but do they ever even occur to you?

I presume, in closing, you posses at least a modicum competence with a stick, and perhaps have even endured a training partner so ignorant of his ineptitude he can?t even identify his mistakes, much less learn from them. I?ve been there, and though I?ll try to prod a poor partner along, there comes a point where I cut my losses. I hope you become acquainted with the tenets of expository prose, learn how to identify logical fallacies, manage to remove the blinders ardent ideology imposes, and move toward enlightenment overall. Unless I sense movements towards those goals I won?t engage you in debate again, though I will point out your mistakes to the list in the hope others learn what you are clearly unable to.
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captainccs
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« Reply #46 on: August 05, 2006, 01:14:52 AM »

Quote from: Crafty_Dog
A week ago, Israeli foot patrols in Lebanon were spotted using llamas, an especially quiet beast of burden that can go several days without eating while carrying about as much weight as one Israeli soldier can carry.


Llamas on patrol
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« Reply #47 on: August 05, 2006, 08:34:20 AM »

A War Crime at Qana?

By ORDE F. KITTRIE
August 5, 2006; Page A11

The Qana tragedy has intensified accusations that Israel's actions in Lebanon violate international law. Every death of an innocent person is extremely regrettable; but there is no evidence Israel has committed any war crimes. In contrast, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria have clearly violated international law in this conflict. Moreover, Israel's conduct compares favorably to how its most powerful accusers have behaved when their own interests have been threatened.

International law has three major prohibitions relevant to the Qana incident. One forbids deliberate attacks on civilians. Another prohibits hiding forces in civilian areas, thereby turning civilians into "human shields." A third prohibition, the proportionality restriction that Israel is accused of violating, involves a complicated and controversial balancing test.

Geneva Convention Protocol I contains one version of the proportionality test, the International Criminal Court Statute another; neither is universally accepted. As a result, the proportionality test is governed by "customary international law," an amalgam of non-universal treaty law, court decisions, and how influential nations actually behave. It does not hinge on the relative number of casualties, or the force used, however, but on the intent of the combatant. Under customary international law, proportionality prohibits attacks expected to cause incidental death or injury to civilians if this harm would, on balance, be excessive in relation to the overall legitimate military accomplishment anticipated.

At Qana, Israeli aircraft fired toward a building to stop Hezbollah from shooting rockets at its cities. The aircraft did not deliberately target civilians; but Hezbollah rockets are targeted at civilians, a clear war crime. U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland last week called on Hezbollah to stop its "cowardly blending" among women and children: "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this." If Hezbollah used Lebanese civilians in Qana as "human shields," then Hezbollah, not Israel, is legally responsible for their deaths.

If Israel was mistaken and Hezbollah was not firing from or hiding amongst these civilians, the legality of its action is assessed by the proportionality test. Because the test is vague, there have been few, if any, cases since World War II in which a soldier, commander or country has been convicted of violating it. In the absence of guidance from the courts, determining whether Israel's military has failed the proportionality test depends on an assessment of what civilian casualties it expected, what its overall military goals are, the context in which the country is operating, and how the international community has in practice balanced civilian risk against military goals.

Israel did not expect civilian casualties; it warned civilians to leave Qana, and Israel's official investigation has concluded its military attacked based on "information that the building was not inhabited by civilians and was being used as a hiding place for terrorists." The law of war recognizes that mistakes are inevitable, and does not criminalize soldiers who seek in good faith seek to avoid them.

Israel's overall military goal is to survive attacks by enemies determined to annihilate it. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has stated: "Israel . . . is an aggressive, illegal and illegitimate entity, which has no future. . . . Its destiny is manifested in our motto: 'Death to Israel.'" Thus Israel is attempting to prevent Hezbollah from using its 10,000 remaining rockets, and to implement the requirement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 that Hezbollah be disarmed.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah and Iran -- which provides this terrorist group with arms, direction and over $100 million a year -- are in continual violation of international law. Their calls for Israel's destruction violate the international genocide treaty's prohibition of "direct and public incitement to commit genocide." Iran's effort to develop a nuclear arsenal that could obliterate Israel, or deter its responses to future Hezbollah attacks, violates the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iranian (and Syrian) support for Hezbollah violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, requiring states to "refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts." Hezbollah began the armed conflict with rocket attacks on Israeli towns and the abduction of Israeli soldiers: unprovoked acts of war violating an internationally recognized border.

Israel is acting in self-defense and avoided killing civilians, even giving advance notice by phone to the occupants of homes targeted for attack as Hezbollah hideouts. While Hezbollah deliberately maximizes harm to Israeli and Lebanese civilians, Israel puts its soldiers at risk to minimize Lebanese civilian casualties.

The track record of many of Israel's most powerful accusers -- including China, Russia and the European Union -- is not nearly as good at balancing civilian risk against military goals.

China killed hundreds of peaceful Tiananmen Square protestors in 1989. It has for five decades occupied Tibet, slaughtering tens of thousands; and it vows to invade Taiwan if it declares independence. Neither the Tiananmen protesters nor Tibet nor Taiwan has ever threatened to "wipe China off the map."

Russia has fought since 1994 to suppress Chechnya's independence movement. Out of a Chechen population of one million, as many as 200,000 have been killed as Russia has leveled the capital city of Grozny. Chechen rebels pose no threat to "wipe Russia off the map." All of the leading EU countries actively participated in NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. The military goal was to stop Yugoslavia from oppressing its Kosovar minority. NATO bombs and missiles hit Yugoslav bridges, power plants and a television station, killing hundreds of civilians. Yugoslavia posed no threat to the existence of any of the EU countries that bombed it.

Compared with how China, Russia, and the EU have dealt with non-existential threats -- and despite the law-flouting behavior of Hezbollah, Iran and Syria -- Israel's responses to the threats to its existence have been remarkably restrained rather than disproportionately violent.

Mr. Kittrie is professor of international law at Arizona State University and served in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department from 1993 to 2003
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rogt
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« Reply #48 on: August 05, 2006, 06:36:38 PM »

Quote from: buzwardo

??Islamo Fascist? is a mean thing to say,? might make for a fine mantra, but it?s little more than repetitious twaddle when used as a lone talking point in a larger debate.


Translation: I have the right to be as insulting as I want as long as I see the insult as an accurate description.  

Quote

I derive no value countering your two-dimensional snivels and hence plan no more exchanges.


Judging from your long-winded replies and patronizing tone, I too agree that any further discussion between us would be pointless.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #49 on: August 06, 2006, 12:34:53 PM »

Pondering, Discussing, Traveling Amid and Defending the Inevitable War
BERNARD-HENRI L?VY
Published: August 6, 2006
Today's NY Times

When I arrived in Israel, it was the anniversary of the day the Spanish Civil War began. It was 70 years ago that the Spanish generals set off the war ? civil, ideological and international ? that the fascist governments of the time wanted. And I could not help thinking about this as I landed in Tel Aviv. Syria in the wings. . .Ahmadinejad?s Iran maneuvering. . .Hezbollah, which everyone knows is a little Iran, or a little tyrant, taking Lebanon and its people hostage.. . .And behind the scenes, a fascism with an Islamist face, a third fascism, which is to our generation what the other fascism, and then communist totalitarianism, were to our elders?. As soon as I arrived; yes, from the very first moment I visited with my old friends in Tel Aviv, whom I had not seen so tense or so anxious since 1967; from my first conversation with Denis Charbit, an ardent peace activist who did not, it seemed to me, doubt the legitimacy of this war of self-defense; from my first discussion with Tzipi Livni, the young and talented Israeli foreign minister, whom I found strangely disoriented in this new geopolitics, I sensed that something new, something unprecedented in the history of Israeli wars, was being enacted. It was as if Israelis were no longer in the framework of Israel and the Arabs alone. It was as if the international context, the game of hide-and-seek between visible and invisible players, the role of Iran and its Hezbollah ally, gave the whole crisis a flavor, a look, a perspective that were entirely new.

 

Before I went to the northern front, near the border with Lebanon, I traveled to Sderot ? the martyred city of Sderot ? to the south, on the border with Gaza. Yes, the martyred city. Because the images that reach us from Lebanon are so terrible, and because the suffering of Lebanese civilian victims is so unbearable to the conscience and the heart, it is hard to imagine, I know, that an Israeli city could also be a martyred city. And yet. . .these empty streets. . .these gutted houses, riddled by shrapnel. . .this mountain of exploded rockets piled up in the courtyard of the police headquarters, all of which fell in the last few weeks.. . . Even that day (it was July 18), a rain of new bombs fell on the center of town and forced the few people who wanted to take advantage of the summer breeze to scurry back down into their basements.. . .

And then, finally, piously pinned on a black-cloth-covered board in the office of Mayor Eli Moyal, these photos of young people, some of them children, who have died under fire from Palestinian artillery. One thing obviously doesn?t erase the other. And I?m not one to play the dirty little game of counting corpses. But why shouldn?t what is due to some also be due to others? How come we hear so little, at least in the European press, of those Jewish victims who have died since Israel pulled out of Gaza? I have spent my life fighting against the idea that there are good deaths and bad deaths, deserving victims and privileged bombs. I have always agitated for the Israeli state to leave the occupied territories and, in exchange, win security and peace. For me, then, there is a question here of integrity and fairness: devastation, death, life in bomb shelters, existences broken by the death of a child, these are also the lot of Israel.


Haifa. My favorite Israeli city. The big cosmopolitan city where Jews and Arabs have lived together ever since the country was founded. It, too, is now a dead city. It, too, is a ghost city. And here, too, from the tree-covered heights of Mount Carmel down to the sea, the wailing of sirens forces the rare cars to stop and the last passers-by to rush into the subway entrances. Here, too, it is clear that this is the worst nightmare in 40 years for Israelis.

Zivit Seri is a tiny woman, a mother, who speaks with clumsy, defenseless gestures as she guides me through the destroyed buildings of Bat Galim ? literally ?daughter of the waves,? the Haifa neighborhood that has suffered most from the shellings. The problem, she explains, is not just the people killed: Israel is used to that. It?s not even the fact that here the enemy is aiming not at military objectives but deliberately at civilian targets ? that, too, is no surprise. No, 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. The conjunction, for the first time, of a clearly annihilating will with the weapons to go with it created a new situation. We should listen to the Israelis when they tell us they had no other choice anymore. We should listen to Zivit Seri tell us, in front of a crushed building whose concrete slabs are balancing on tips of twisted metal, that, for Israel, it was five minutes to midnight.

We should also listen to the bitterness of Sheik Muhammad Sharif Ouda, the leader in Haifa of the little Ahmadi community, a Muslim sect; his family has lived here for six generations, and he welcomes me into his home, in the hilly Kababir neighborhood, dressed in a Pakistani turban and shalwar kameez. Hezbollah?s crime, he says, was its decision to strike indiscriminately. It was to kill Jews and Arabs alike ? consider the massacre at Haifa?s train depot, where there were 8 dead and more than 20 wounded. And it was also to establish a climate of terror, of anxiety every instant, as in Sarajevo, where people used to speculate about the fact that all it took was a stroke of luck, a change of plans at the last minute, a meeting that went on longer than expected, or that was cut short, or that miraculously changed its venue, to escape being at the point of impact when a rocket landed. Creating such conditions is a crime.

Ouda insists, however, that there is another crime: Hezbollah has in effect relegated the Palestinian question to the background. As indifferent as the traditional Arab leaders may have been, in their innermost selves, to the fate of the inhabitants of Gaza and Nablus, at least they still pretended they cared. Whereas the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, doesn?t even try to pretend. The suffering and rights of the Palestinians are no longer, in his own Islamo-fascist geopolitics, either a cause to fight for or even an alibi. You just have to read the very charter of his movement, or listen to his proclamations on Al Manar, the Hezbollah TV channel, to see that he has little concern with that relic from ancient eras that is Arab nationalism in general and Palestinian nationalism in particular. (Only the naked hatred remains.) Instead, he dreams of a reconciled Islamic community, a new umma, with Iran as the base, Syria the armed branch and Hezbollah the invading spear tip. He will employ the means of war without the usual practical goals of war. There remain the three neglected casualties of this new Iranian-style jihad: Israel, Lebanon and Palestine.

ore rockets. I have traveled from Haifa to Acre and then, along the Lebanese border, to a succession of villages and kibbutzes and other cooperatives that have lived, for 10 days by this point, under Hezbollah fire. There?s a veritable rain of fire today over these biblical landscapes of Upper Galilee, not to speak of a storm of steel. ?I?ve never really known what you should do in these cases,? Lt. Col. Olivier Rafovitch says to me, forcing himself to laugh, as we approach the border town of Avivim and as the noise of the explosions seems also to be coming closer. ?You tend to speed up, don?t you? You tend to think that the only thing to do is get away as fast as possible from this hell.But that?s stupid, really. For who can tell if it isn?t exactly by speeding up that you come right to where it?s. . .?? In response, we speed up all the same. We rumble through a deserted Druze village, then a big farming town and a completely open zone where a Katyusha rocket has just smashed up the highway.



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The damage these rockets can do, when you see them up close, is insane. And insane, too, is the racket you hear when you?ve stopped talking and are just waiting for the sound they make to blend with the noise of the car?s engine. A rocket that falls in the distance leaves a dull thud; when it goes over your head, it creates a shrill, almost whining detonation; and when it bursts nearby, it shakes everything and leaves a long vibration, which is sustained like a bass note. Maybe we shouldn?t say ?rocket? anymore. In French, at least, the word seems to belittle the thing, and implies an entire biased vision of this war. In Franglais, for example, we call a yapping dog a rocket, roquet; the word conjures a little dog whose bark is worse than his bite and who nibbles at your ankles.. . .So why not say ?bomb?? Or ?missile?? Why not try, using the right word, to restore the barbaric, fanatical violence to this war that was desired by Hezbollah and by it alone? The politics of words. The geopolitics of metaphor. Semantics, in this region, is now more than ever a matter of morality.

 

The Israelis aren?t saints. Obviously they are capable in war of Machiavellian stratagems, operations, even denials. In this war, though, there is a sign that they did not want it and that it landed on them like an evil fate. And this sign is the Israeli government?s choice of Amir Peretz as defense minister: a former activist for Peace Now, long committed to the cause of sharing the land with the Palestinians, Peretz was head of the trade union Histadrut and was in principle much better prepared to organize strikes than to wage war. ?I didn?t sleep a wink all night,? he tells me, very pale, his eyes red, in the little office in Tel Aviv where he welcomes me, along with Daniel Ben-Simon, a writer for the Israeli paper Haaretz. This office is not at the ministry but at the headquarters of the Labor Party. ?I haven?t slept because I spent all night waiting for news of a unit of our boys who were caught in an ambush yesterday afternoon in Lebanese territory.? Then a young aide-de-camp who also looks like a union activist holds out to him a field telephone. Without a word, his eyes lowered, his big mustache trembling with ill-contained emotion, Peretz receives the news he has been dreading. He looks up at us and says: ?Don?t spread the news right away, please, since the families don?t know yet ? but three of them died, and we still haven?t heard about the fourth one. It?s terrible.. . .?

I have known many of Israel?s defense ministers over the past 40 years. From Moshe Dayan to Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon and others, I have seen heroes, demi-heroes, tacticians of genius and talent, skillful or poor or mediocre men succeed one another. What I have never seen before is a minister who was so ? I won?t say ?human? (the sanctification of the life of every soldier fallen in combat is a constant in the country?s history), or even ?civilian? (Shimon Peres, after all, didn?t really have a military past either), but one so apparently unprepared to command an army in wartime (wasn?t his first decision, unique in the annals of Israeli history, to cut the budget of his own ministry by 5 percent?). What I have never seen before is a defense minister answering so exactly to the famous saying by Malraux about those miraculous commanders who ?wage war without loving it? and who, for this very reason, always end up winning.

Amir Peretz, like Malraux?s commanders, will probably win. He?s facing a tougher enemy than expected; he will experience heavier casualties as well; there will be growing doubts, throughout the country, about the wisdom of his strategy; but he will probably win. And in any case, the point is here: the very fact that he was appointed to the post shows that Israel believed that after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza it was entering a new era when it would have to wage not war but peace.


I met another war leader, also a member of the Labor Party and a supporter, like Peretz, of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians. It was in the field that I met him, near the Lebanese border, in a place called Koah Junction, which means ?junction of the force? and is for the kabbalists one of the places where, when the day comes, the Messiah will become manifest and pass through. His name is Ephraim Sneh. In his youth he was a medical officer with the paratroopers, the commander of an elite army unit and then commander of the Southern Lebanon Military Zone from 1981 until 1983. And he has the air of a calm father, at once friendly and gruff, that reserve generals often have in Israel when they come back to the service ? which in the present circumstances takes the form of a kind of inspection mission for the defense committee of the Knesset. Why this meeting? Why here, in this landscape of dry stone, brought to a white heat by the sun, to which he has invited me but where I can?t see a living soul aside from ourselves? Does he want to show me something? Explain to me some detail of army strategy that would be visible to me only here? Will he take me to Avivim, less than a mile north of here, where a battle is taking place? Does he want to talk to me about politics? Will he, like Peretz, like Livni, like almost everyone in fact, tell me about Israel?s disappointment with France, which could have played a great role in the region by pushing for the refoundation of the Land of the Cedars and for the disarmament of Hezbollah, as demanded by United Nations Resolution 1559, but which prefers, alas, to confine itself to opening up humanitarian corridors?

Yes, he does tell me that. A little of it. In passing. But I quickly see that he had me come here to talk, first of all, about a matter that is not related, at least apparently, to the present war: nothing other than my book about the kidnapping, captivity and decapitation of Daniel Pearl.. . .A conversation about Danny Pearl at a stone?s throw from a battlefield.. . .An officer with a literary bent deciding that, with our two cars immobilized in the blazing scree, nothing is more urgent than discussing jihad, enlightenment Islam, the trouble with Huntington?s theory of the clash of civilizations, Karachi and its terrorist mosques.. . .I had never seen anything like this before ? for it to be conceivable, it took this expedition to the front lines of a war in which Israel and the world are entangled as never before.


At the same time.. . .It would seem that history has, sometimes, less imagination than we would like, and that old generals don?t have such bad reflexes after all. For the fact is that a few miles to the south, in the commune of Mitzpe Hila, near Maalot, I will not long after experience a deeply moving reminder of the Pearl affair. I visit the home of the parents of the soldier Gilad Shalit, whose capture by Hamas near the town of Kerem Shalom, along the border with Gaza, on June 25, was one of the things that brought about this war. I wonder about the irony of history, which has placed this young man, without any special distinctions, just an ordinary individual, at the origin of this enormous affair. We are sitting now in the sun on the lawn where Shalit played as a child and where you can hear, very close, a few hundred yards away maybe, Katyusha rockets falling, to which his parents seem to have stopped paying attention. We are sitting outside around a garden table, discussing the latest news brought by the U.N. envoy who visited the Shalits just before me, and I find myself thinking that if this war has to last ? if the Iranian factor will, as I have sensed since the instant I arrived, give it new scope and duration ? then this modest army corporal will be the new Franz Ferdinand of a Sarajevo that will bear the name Kerem Shalom.. . .

What is happening, then? Is it his mother Aviva?s expression when I ask her about what she knows of her son?s captivity? Or his father Noam?s look when he tries to explain to me, a faint gleam of hope in his eyes, that the young man has a French grandmother, Jacqueline, who was born in Marseille, and that he hopes my government ? that of France ?will link its efforts with Israel?s? Is it the debate, which I can guess is raging inside Noam, between the father who is prepared for any kind of bargaining to get his son back and the former army soldier who, out of principle, will not give in to blackmail by terrorists? Is it my visit to the corporal?s childhood bedroom? Is it the house itself, so similar, all of a sudden, to Danny Pearl?s house, in Encino, Calif.? Whatever the reason, I am overcome by a feeling of d?j? vu; over the faces of this man and this woman it seems to me as if the faces of Ruth and Judea Pearl, my friends, have been superimposed, the courageous mother and father of another young man, like this one, kidnapped by religious fanatics whose ideological program wasn?t very different, either, from that of Hamas.. .



Published: August 6, 2006
(Page 3 of 3)



Up north again, near the Lebanese border, I travel from Avivim to Manara, where the Israelis have set up, in a crater 200 yards in diameter, an artillery field where two enormous batteries mounted on caterpillar treads bombard the command post and rocket launchers and arsenals in Marun al-Ras on the other side of the border. Three things here strike me. First, the extreme youth of the artillerymen: they are 20 years old, maybe 18. I notice their stunned look at each discharge, as if every time were the first time; their childlike teasing when their comrade hasn?t had time to block his ears and the detonation deafens him; and then at the same time their serious, earnest side, the sobriety of people who know they?re participating in an immense drama that surpasses them ? and know, too, they may soon pay a steep price in blood and life. Second, I note the relaxed ? I was about to say unrestrained and even carefree ? aspect of the little troop. It reminds me of reading about the joyful scramble of those battalions of young republicans in Spain described, once again, by Malraux: an army that is more friendly than it is martial; more democratic than self-assured and dominating; an army that, here, in any case, in Manara, seems to me the exact opposite of those battalions of brutes or unprincipled pitiless terminators that are so often described in media portraits of Israel. And then, finally, I note a strange vehicle. It resembles the two self-propelled cannons, but it is stationed far behind them and doesn?t shoot: this is a mobile command post that you enter, as in a submarine, through a central turret and down a ladder; there are six men in it, seven on some days, and they are busy working with a battery of computers, radar screens and other transmission devices. Their role is to determine the parameters of the firing by collecting information that will be transmitted to the artillerymen. Here, at the root of Israeli firepower, is a veritable laboratory of war where soldier-scholars deploy their intelligence, noses glued to the screens, trying to integrate even the most imponderable facts about the terrain into their calculations. Their goal is to establish the distance to the target and how fast the target moves, as well as to consider the proximity of the civilians, whom they want to avoid at all cost.

 
Does it work? And are these soldier-scholars infallible? Of course not! There is no way, everybody knows, to wage a clean war. And the fact that Hezbollah long ago made the strategic choice to establish its fighters in the most populated areas and thus to transform Lebanese civilians into human shields obviously doesn?t help matters. The fact remains that at least an effort is being made to avoid civilian targets. Here at least, in Manara, that is the Israeli approach. And, as distressed as we may be by the suffering of the Lebanese civilian population, the terrible deaths of hundreds, you cannot conclude that the Israelis have the strategic intention or the will to harm civilians.


hen I met David Grossman, it was in an open-air restaurant in the Arab village of Abu Gosh, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which seems like a garden of Eden after the hell of the last few days ? bright sunshine, the buzz of insects rather than airplanes or tanks, a casualness in the air, a light breeze.. . .We talk about his latest book, which is a retelling of the myth of Samson. We talk about his son, who was just called up for duty in a tank unit, and about whom he trembles with anxiety. We talk about a statistic he has just read, which worries him: almost a third of young Israelis have lost faith in Zionism and have found tricks to try to get themselves exempted from military service.

And then of course we discuss the war and the huge distress it seems to have plunged him into, along with other progressive intellectuals in the country.. . .For on one hand, he explains to me, there is the terrible extent of the destruction, women and children killed, the humanitarian catastrophe under way, the risk of civil war and of Lebanon burning ? and the government?s mistake of, at first, setting the bar so high (destroy Hezbollah, render its infrastructure and its army incapable of doing any more harm) that even a semi-victory, when it comes, risks having a whiff of defeat. But, on the other hand, there is Israel?s right, like any other state in the world, not to sit by in the face of such crazy, groundless, gratuitous aggression; there is the fact, he adds, that Lebanon plays host to Hezbollah and permits it to participate in its government: where could an Israeli counterattack have taken place but on Lebanese soil?. . .I observe David Grossman. I examine his handsome face, the face of the former enfant terrible of Israeli literature, who has aged too quickly and is devoured by melancholy. He is not just one of the greatest Israeli novelists today. He is also, along with Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and a few others, one of the country?s moral consciences. And I think that his testimony, his firmness, his way of not yielding, despite everything, on the essential soundness of Israel?s cause, ought to convince even the most hesitant.


And then, finally, Shimon Peres. More than ever I did not want to end this journey without going, as I do each time, to visit Peres ? the country?s elder statesman. I met him in the company of Daniel Saada, an old friend and founding member of the French progressive organization SOS Racisme, who has now settled in Israel and become a diplomat as well as a friend of Peres. Shimon, as everyone here calls him, is now 82 years old. But he hasn?t lost any of his handsomeness. Or the look of a prince-priest of Zionism. He still has the same face, all forehead and mouth, that emphasizes the melodious authority of his voice. And I even have the impression, at times, that he has adopted a few of the mannerisms of his old rival Yitzhak Rabin: a slight bitterness in his smile, a gleam in his eyes, a way of carrying himself and, sometimes, of shading his words.. . .

?The whole problem,? he begins, ?is the failure of what one of your great writers called the strategy of the general staff. No one, today, controls anyone else. No one has the power to stop or overpower anyone else. So that we, Israel, have never had so many friends, but never in our history have they been so useless. Except.. . .?

He asks his daughter, who is present as we talk, to go to the neighboring office and find two letters, one from Mahmoud Abbas and one from Bill Clinton. ?Yes, except for the fact that you have them,? he then continues. ?The men of good will. My friends. The friends of enlightenment and peace. The ones who will never renounce peace because of terrorism, or nihilism, or defeatism. We have a plan, you know.Still the same plan for prosperity, for shared development, which will end up triumphing.Listen.. . .?

Shimon, a young man who is 82 years old, has had a dream. His invincible dream has lasted, in fact, for 30 years; the present impasse, far from discouraging him, seems mysteriously to stimulate him. So I listen to him. I listen to this Wise Man of Israel explain to me that his country must simultaneously ?win this war,? foil this ?quartet of evil? made up by Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah and clear the way for ?paths of speech and dialogue? that will, one day, lead the Middle East somewhere. And as I listen to him, and let myself be lulled by his oft-repeated, indefinite prophecies, I find that, today, for some reason, those prophecies have a new coefficient of obviousness and force. I, too, catch myself imagining the glory of a Jewish state that would dare, at the same time, almost in the same gesture and with the same movement, to deliver two things at once: to some, alas, war; to others, a real declaration of peace that would be recognized as such and accepted.


Bernard-Henri L?vy, a French philosopher and writer, is the author, most recently, of ?American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville.? This article was translated by Charlotte Mandell from the French.
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