TCS Daily

All Politics Is Local - Even in Lebanon

By Stephen Schwartz - July 28, 2006 12:00 AM

Why has Hassan Nasrallah launched the legions of Hezbollah against the state of Israel? Because he hates Jews? Because the Iranians told him to? Because the Syrians wanted it? Because he believes in a Shia Muslim doomsday scenario in which the end is near and the destruction of earth precedes the coming of hellfire?

These are the main explanations coursing through the veins of Western media, and much of the religious and journalistic output among Sunni Muslims. It has become common to hear from representatives of Saudi Arabia -- as well as other Sunni exponents and their apologists -- that Iran conceives of a "Shia axis" from Tehran through Iraq to Lebanon, which will reorganize the Arab world under radical Shia leadership.

There are many things wrong with such a construct. It is reminiscent of the propaganda of Slobodan Milosevic, whose indoctrination experts claimed that Bosnian Muslims constituted part of a "green axis" from Istanbul, pointing toward Vienna. In addition, it is based on a whole universe of misapprehension. Those who do not spend time with Shia Muslims, as I have done intensively for many years, do not comprehend that:

  • Lebanese and Iraqi Shias resent, are contemptuous of, and will not take dictation from Iranians;

  • Arab Shias never accepted the Khomeini scheme for clerical rule;

  • There are no significant numbers of Shia Muslims among Palestinians.

Iran and Syria, the latter ruled by Alawites, an extreme offshoot of Shiism, assist Hezbollah. Iran helps logistically, and Syria provides political backup in a country neighboring tormented Lebanon. But neither Iranians nor Syrians determine the provocative tactics of Nasrallah. Rather, Nasrallah and Hezbollah embarked on their criminal course on the southern Lebanon border in a gambit to take full control of -- and reinforce the political clout of -- the Lebanese Shias.

Lebanese Shias have a specific complaint. The country is ruled under a constitutional arrangement based on a census taken in 1932. At that time, Lebanon was 55 percent Christian. In the political share-out based on that count, it was decreed the country would always have a Maronite Christian president, a Sunni Muslim prime minister, and a Shia president of the National Assembly. The parliament was based on a 6 to 5 ratio of Christians to Muslims. Political reforms introduced with Saudi backing, in the Arabian Peninsula city of Ta'if in 1989, promised proportional representation for Lebanese religious groups, which was never put into effect. Ta'if did establish parity of Christians and Muslims but today even that concept is challenged.

The derisory character of the Ta'if agreement is illustrated by its also including, 17 years ago, disbanding of militias and non-interference by Syria in Lebanese affairs. If those promises had been fulfilled, the present Lebanon crisis might have been avoided. It is something more than ironic that Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, which will accept no written constitution in the kingdom, apart from the text of Qur'an, played a crucial role in creating one for Lebanon.

Above all, however, in the 74 years since the census that became the foundation of Lebanese constitutional arrangements, Shia Muslims have increased to where they now make up as much as 50 percent of the population, depending on who is asked; and they want more political power. The ceremonial post of national assembly president is no longer enough to satisfy their need for political representation. Under Ta'if, Shias hold only a quarter of parliamentary seats. The present Lebanese government includes about the same proportion of Shia ministers, three from Hezbollah and its milieu, and two from the Shia movement Amal, which was long the preferred client of Syria.

Nasrallah led Hezbollah into a disastrous contest with Israel, to establish himself as the champion of Lebanese Shias, as that constituency seeks a revision of the country's politics. Nobody can say whether his destructive adventure will reinforce or undermine the political power of Hezbollah. Worldwide Shia opinion, even in Iran, is divided. More Shia Muslims around the world may see Nasrallah as a terrorist than as a hero.

If there is a single political principle that is significant for the future of Hezbollah, it is that the 19th and 20th century phenomena of armed political and nationalist militias are disappearing from the world. The Irish Republican Army and the Basque ETA were never permitted to run for elections in their original forms. Britain and Spain responded to IRA and ETA terrorism with the same methods Israel has employed, including political sanctions, censorship of nationalist media, and targeted assassinations. And even in countries with endemic political gangsterism like Colombia, and in other Latin American countries with leftist nostalgia, militaristic "resistance" movements are no longer attractive to the discontented masses. In repudiating Syrian control, Lebanese also rejected the habits of the paramilitary Ba'ath party.

The specter of a "Shia axis" has been conjured up by interests and individuals who, more than anything, would like to see the U.S. abandon the project for democracy in Shia-majority Iraq. It is doubtful such an effort will succeed with George W. Bush. The Lebanese crisis, as horrifying as it is, has to do with Lebanese issues, not with broader problems. It can and should be contained to Lebanon. Meanwhile, it is strange that the world has temporarily forgotten neither the Iranian nuclear project, nor the Syrian dictatorship, but Saudi Wahhabism, al-Qaida, and, for Israel, the threat of Hamas.

Stephen Schwartz is a TCS Daily contributing writer and co-founder for the Center for Islamic Pluralism.



Is that so?
>"But neither Iranians nor Syrians determine the provocative tactics of Nasrallah. Rather, Nasrallah and Hezbollah embarked on their criminal course on the southern Lebanon border in a gambit to take full control of -- and reinforce the political clout of -- the Lebanese Shias."

I hate to point out to staff Sufi but Nasrallah is currently in Damascus. He was taken to Damascus by Syrian intelligence to meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani and perhaps with Syrian President Assad. I know the current rave is to denounce any real connections between the leadership of Iran and Syria with Hezbollah but it just doesn't stand in the face of evidence and fact.

Although one has to wonder what Hezbollah's commander is doing meeting with Iran's nuclear negotiator, Hezbollah troops have to question the timing of this field trip. Suddenly Nasrallah has to attend meetings hundreds of miles from the fighting? That certainly doesn't help morale.

Perhaps it is just the common syndrome of a Jihad preacher who suddenly finds himself losing his passion when faced with glorious matyrdom. Cowards.

Colluding with Syria and Iran
It's no more surprising that Sheik Nasralla should be in Damascus conferring with Larijani and others, should that be so, than that Condi Rice should have conferred recently with Olmert. They are associates who find themselves on the same side of the fence. In neither case is this prima facie proof that Nasralla answers to the command of Tehran, or that Rice dances to the Israeli drummer.

I would assume also that Nasralla might be there for reasons of personal protection. It's kind of hot in Lebanon for him at the moment, being target number one.

There are certainly manifold connections between Damascus, Tehran and Hezbollah. There's a history that goes all the way back. But what a preponderance of intelligence analysts who actually know something about the matter agree on, is that it's unlikely that either Damascus or Tehran actually call the Hezbollah shots. Here I think Schwartz is pretty much on the money.

You might also look for an AP report put out today by Charles J Hanley, which gives an excellent analysis of why Hezbollah chose to attack that IDF outpost two weeks ago. I think you would have to agree with most of it. Unfortunately I can't cite it here as it appears to be restricted content. You may have to actually go out and buy a newspaper. Here's a clip:


Two weeks into the latest bout of blood and ruin in the Middle East, a question still reverberates from Jerusalem to Beirut and beyond: Why? Why did Hezbollah provoke an Israel already under pressure elsewhere? Why did Israel hit back a thousand-fold, risking condemnation and untold consequences?

Veteran observers see miscalculation, hidden motives, a military blunder.

Hezbollah itself says it didn't expect the furious backlash of Israeli bombs and artillery barrages that have battered Labanon since July 12, when the group killed three Israeli soldiers and seized two others in a cross-border raid.

"Hezbollah miscalculated" said political scientist Farid Khazen, a Christian member of Lebanon's parliament. They expected pinprick return fire, and then backroom dealing to swap three Lebanese prisoners for the Israelis, he said.


The article goes on to examine Hezbollah's need to maintain a high profile in the face of their having been so long away from center stage, and to promote what has been a big issue for them-- prisoner exchanges with Israel. It's worth buying and reading.

Further developments...
Washington Times is stating that Israel believes Nasrallah is in the Iranian Embassy in Beirut while the US intelligence merely has him in an Embassy without naming which one. It also gives reference to the Kuwaiti reports that he is in Damascus.

I am in disagreement with you and Schwartz on the pressures that Syria and Iran have over Hezbollah. These two governments give training, money, resources, armaments, and political backing in exchange for... what? Good references?

Those two governments control all the resources and thus have a pretty strong measure of control or you would no longer see such support.

As for Hezbollah miscalculating the Israeli reaction, Nasrallah admitted as much himself. In the past, such exchanges have certainly netted them rewards. Obviously, Olmert is no longer playing that game.

All this being said, I would hope that Israel would not attack the Iranian Embassy. I think we can all agree on what the reaction to that would be.

>"It's no more surprising that Sheik Nasralla should be in Damascus conferring with Larijani"

You don't find this surprising that the head of a major terrorist faction is meeting with the spokesman for the Iranian nuclear program?

Islam always think global
Stephen Schwartz always try to explain that Islamic terrorists and radical Muslims have nothing to do with the real Islam.
But Mr Schwartz perfectly knows that Mohamed was a fierce and bloodthirsty warrior and that the Koran is full of passages exhorting the believers (Muslims) to exterminate the infidels (the non-Muslims).
So as long as the Muslims will not rewrite their book, Muslims will make war to all non Muslims and especially Westerners and Jews.
The problem is not local. It is global. We are in a world war. Mr Schwartz should stop dreaming and get out of his schizophrenia...

A good post roy
You are very good, when you get off the rhetoric and go with the flow of facts. My thoughts from the start were that this was a real miscalculation on the part of both Hezbollah and Hamas. the only difference was I fully expected this kind of response.

Also, if the Israelis could guarantee a dead Nasarella, I wouldn't be surprised if they bombed the Iranian embassy or a location in Damascus; though I don't advise it. So far this little war is pretty well contained and further escallation is neither advised nor wanted by anyone in the world. However, I would add, this isn't for Israeli security but for maintaining the flow of oil.

It's all in the perspective you employ
Your argument is equally appropriate to Israel's relationship with the United States, its patron. We give the Israelis "training, money, resources, armaments, and political backing in exchange for... what?"

So does it follow that Israel in every case is just marching to American orders? That would be a ridiculous assertion. As is the one you make about Hezbollah. The overwhelming preponderance of experts agree with Stephen on this one.

Olmert is obviously pressured to show bellicosity, being a new leader from a new party, and in the eyes of the public a heretofore untested quantity. Hezbollah might profitably have factored that into their equation before they attacked the IDF outpost.

As for Nasralla's meeting with Larijani, that should surprise us no more than Condi's meeting with Olmert. Those are both meetings of strategic partners. You are demonizing the leader of a political party for normal diplomatic behavior.

My take on things
I would be utterly flabbergasted if Olmert decided to bomb Damascus, or an Iranian embassy. He was forced to conduct a rampant offensive in Lebanon as he was a new PM representing a new party. He had to show the public what he was made of.

But it's one thing to rough up a little country with an all but nonexistent government and military. Quite another to gratuitously declare war on Syria.

Plus, the whole thing about bombing embassies... I don't even think the Germans did that. Considered a big no-no.

No conceivable oil connection. Don't conflate this Arab-Israeli business with the GWOT.

bombing embasies
You mention that even the ***** respected diplomatic immunity of embassies therefore so should israel. But if that terrorist leader really is the the IRANIAN embassy, it's different because we know that iran doesn not believe in diplomatic immunity, viz. them violating the US emabassy some years ago. So if they don't respect embassies, how could they complain of their own embassy being wiped out? But in fact, the esraelis could just 'accidently' drop a daisy cutter on that embassy if they determine he's really there. The UN and europe could just keep being shocked and appaled at all the destructiveness of war, but not do anything at all, as is their normal modus operandi.

Blowing up embassies
I suspect Israel would not be very upset if the Iranians complained of a bombed embassy. But they might be more concerned over becoming an international outcast. The civilized countries of the world consider such breaches to place a nation beyond the pale, so to speak. If Israel wants to court any kind of international support, she would be wise to respect the custom of allowing embassies to exist unharmed.

Otherwise she would risk being put in a category with revolutionary Iran.

I would recall to you the flap over the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade a few years back. The US got off the hook, sort of, by saying it was a mistake. But if Israel were to "mistakenly" drop a daisy cutter on Tehran's embassy in Damascus at this time, such an explanation just wouldn't "cut" it.

However she should feel free to try, so she can then gauge the depth of world condemnation.

I wouldn't be "flabbergasted" but I do agreeā€¦
Bombing the embassy, in particular, would be a mistake. As for Syria, that is a lot more open an issue.

The oil connection is in pi ssing off Iran.

Islam want to control the world
Arthur is correct. If anyone studies Islam, they will find the religion is intolerant, agreesive and cruel to outsiders. The studies are there about the Quran and Hadith's instructions on infidels. If you spend any time on it, and I did over about a 3 year period, it is shocking. See if you can find out how the Quran was compiled, how the Hadith was put together, and see if there is archeology to back it up. Its a secret. Still as Arthur stated, this is a world war with an elite using primitive followers of Islam. People must get out of the politically correct tripe and say it like it is.

Mr. Schwartz is ignoring vital information and, at best, distorting the truth.
While a large portion of the violence in Lebanon may be motivated by local disputes, pretending that there are not larger forces at work and providing direction, funding and support to Hezbollah forces is, at best, willful ignorance.

The rockets that Hezbollah is firing were built in Iran and set up in Lebanon by Iranian soldiers. Iran is also resupplying the Hezbollah guerillas on a regular basis. (1) One particular rocket, the C-802 (also known as the "Fajr-5") had to have been fired at an Israeili ship by Iranian soldiers because of the special training and equipment required to do so. (2) Nasrallah himself is said to be hiding in the Iranian embassy. (3)

To suggest that Iran and Syria would provide all of this money and support to Hezbollah and not attach any strings in return is silly. People may be motivated to join Hezbollah by local issues, but they are dancing to Syria and Iran's tune.

I have provided just a few examples of Iranian support for worldwide terrorists backing the idea that they intend to seize control of the Islamofascist movement and form, as Milosevic put it, a "Green Axis":

- Iran shipped large quantities of high-tech weapons to Bosnian Muslims during the recent conflict in the former Yugoslavia. (3)
- Iran and Syria instigated riots and attacks on Danish interests during the cartoon scandal. (4)
- Iran is sending both money and guns to terrorist groups in Iraq and Afganistan, as well as harboring escaped Al Qaeda operatives from both countries. (5)
- The Khobar Towers bombing, which killed 88 American Marines was executed by Saudi Hezbollah, a group trained and funded by Iran. A member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard told the Saudis where to strike. (5)
- Iran loaded a ship callled the Karine-A down with weapons and sent it off to Palestinean territory. Luckily, it was intercepted by Israeili commandos. Who cares if there are few Palestinian Shi'a if theya re accepting aid? (5)
- Iran helped to fund and organize the Muslim youths who rioted in Paris during 2002. (6)

The list could go on for pages and pages. Chechnya, Buenos Aires, all parts of Africa. Iran is arming, training and funding any terrorist organization that will accept their aid, and their conditions. Local politics may motivate people to join one of these groups, but it is lunacy to suggest that Iranian and Syrian puppetmasters do not control what is happening, and do not intend to seize control of the global Jihad.






The Shiite Axis
It's hard to make any comment in the face of such rapidly changing events that may not become instantly outdated. One such is that the Shiite Axis is in danger of falling apart,

Just a few days ago it looked as though Lebanese public opinion could turn against Hezbollah, and that the Syrians could be intimidated against backing Hezbollah. Sunni autocracies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan initially condemned Hezbollah for "adventurism against the IDF. Now all that is changing.

The Lebanese are solidly behind Hezbollah and against Israel and the US, with the sole exception of the Druse community. Public opinion in the Sunni Arab states is likely to join in solidarity with the Shia in the face of Israeli atrocities-- let's watch the papers this coming week to see how that's going, as their governments rush to get in step with their own people.

The US is coming under blanket condemnation for offering nothing in the way of moral leadership. And the wall of anti-Israeli governments now stretches through Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.

It's one thing to warn everyone to get out of south Lebanon. It's quite another to bomb the cars of retreating villagers as they attempt to flee.

Then there's Qana, site of an earlier outrage ten years ago that's almost identical to the one that took place this morning.

It would appear as though Israel will be losing the war of world opinion. One obvious consequence would be an increased sense of Arab solidarity. The Shiite Axis may end up being replaced by a Sunni-Shiite Axis.

Correct me if I'm wrong...
...but all this Iranian and Syrian arming of a group of supposed Hezbollah terrorists has resulted in a casualty list of only 19 Israeli civilians killed. Meanwhile, how many Lebanese, some of them fleeing from Israeli bombs, have been killed to date? Be sure you count the fifty more this morning.

Isn't it apparent that the better part of the problem is that state terrorists have been killing hundreds of ordinary Lebanese, and that they are having fresh supplies of precision guided weaponry funneled to them by the world's mightiest superpower?

You may disagree. But that's how its going down in the court of world opinion.

A message that is written to bias towards Muslims
Mr. Bean writes his slighted message to try an influence us that somehow Israel is not fighting morally. This is nonsense. First, Hezbollah infilters the Lebanon villages and fights behind children and women. They fire their rockets from outside civilian homes and some inside homes. They know that condemnation will come from liberals/pacifists zombies, who only look at one side of the story. If we had fought using this philosophy (we will not fire rockets at our enemies because there may be civilian casualties) in World War II, Europe would now be Nazi occupied. I find the method of fighting by Hezbolla simply cowardly, noncaring and immoral. They could care less about anyone except for their Jihad to obtain their virgins (the leaders don't commit sucide because they are truly cowards. Simply send the dummies.). Second, in the last explosion that killed women and childen today, it was interesting to note that nearly all of the men had left the area. It was also noted that the road to leave the area was not blocked as Bean said, as reporters with TV equipment used the rode and reported it was clear. Lastly, this war is all about Islam and its goal to take the world. The supposed Axis is simply more Muslims coming to help their Islam pals to continue to fight and one day to hopefully rule the World. Of course that will not happen, as when America finally recieves more than just a 9/11 from these nuts, it then may become survival of the fittest. Then we shall see who wins. Of course those who walk up and try to solve the problem with reasoned talk will simply have their heads cut off. We will let liberals/pacifists do the negotiating. They won't be around very long. This is a World War of the high tech against the primitive, yet the primitive will continue to blow themselves up and fight behind children. If you cannot reason with people, maybe they just have to go. How sad. There is one thing we could do, however, send all the left thinkers to the Middle East to live and influence the Muslims to change their way of thinking. Good Luck.

Here is your correction:
None of what you have said actually contradicts anything in my post. I have not commented on the size of casualties, only the past activities and intentions of the Iranian government.

As to the balance of casualties, the number of people who have been killed this time around is less relevant than the fact that a terrorist group that has been actively seeking the destruction of the nation of Israel for decades has launched a massive artillery barrage against Israeili civillian targets and kidnapped members of the Israeili armed forces. This is a long-term issue, not just a balance of 19 dead Israeilis versus the number of dead Lebanese. Was our war in Afganistan wrong because we killed more than the 3,000 people that died on September 11th? Was our war against Hitler or Hirohito wrong because more of their civillians died than our civillians? You and the rest of the "proportional response/sustainable cease fire" crowd seemed to have missed the point: Israel is dealing with a threat to their nation that has been attacking them for decades, and will continue to do so if they do not solve the problem once and for all. If they succeed, there will not be any need for them to bomb Lebanon every ten years or so, and many lives will be saved as a result.

I say good luck to them. If we had half the balls the Israeilis have, the war on terror would almost be won by now. Instead, America has to putter along trying to convince the misguided fools of the worldwide left that people who have vowed to destroy Western Civilization at all costs are a threat to Western Civilization.

How do we count casualties and to whom do we assign blame?
Furthermore, how do we determine terrorist versus civillian dead? Hezbollah militants do not wear uniforms. When one of these posts is hit, it has to be nearly impossible to determine how many of the people were willing "martyrs" and how many really were innocent civillians.

Finally, to whose butcher's bill do we assign civillian deaths? These millitants ride around in ambulances, are attacked, and then trumpet the fact that the Israeilis are bombing ambulances. They fire rockets from next to homes, schools, mosques, UN observation posts, and then suggest that the Israeilis are intentionally targeting these locations. Well of course they are, terrorist spokesperson, because you and your lunatic friends were launching rockets from around the building and building bunkers under it.

When someone takes a hostage, and the hostage does not survive the police rescue-attempt, the responsibility for the death of the hostage lies squarely at the feet of the hostage-taker, not the police who did their best to save that person's life. Hezbollah is the hostage taker here, not Israel.

The very fact that the Israeilis are using precision-guided munitions and not nuking Lebanon or bombing indiscriminately should tell you that they are the ones who are trying to preserve the most life while accomplishing their mission. Hezbollah is firing wildly innaccurate rockets at northern Israel and holding citizens hostage in southern Lebanon with the same intent in both cases: The death of civillians.

Get your moral compass re-magnetized.

We can both, however, agree on one thing: The greatness of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. GO HAWKS!

Eloquently written
It would be much more to out benefit if we left the fate of the Middle East in the hands of those who live there. By interfering, we bring down on our heads retribution such as happened on 9/11. It is not for the West to try to influence their thinking, nor to infiltrate and convert them. We will find it much more to our benefit to leave them to their own beliefs, and only cling to our own.

I don't know, nor did I allege, whether the roads around Qana had been bombed. However it has been widely reported that most roads out of south Lebanon have been bombed. Thus the ability of refugees to move is severely restricted. And convoys are in jeopardy.

I note in passing that the lens through which you view this war do not permit you to see that a single bombing by Israel this morning has killed three times the number of civilians that have been killed by Hezbollah during the past three weeks. Yet they, in your mind, are the terrorists. The actual killers are without blemish.

Change their way of thinking? You're not even changing my way of thinking.

Supplying terrorists with weapons
Let's put this into context. How much of the carnage has been from American state of the art weapons in Israeli hands, and how much has been from the dribs and drabs of Iranian and Syrian supplied unguided rockets fired by Hezbollah? (Note: to date these have killed a total of 18 Israeli noncombatants.)

Hezbollah initiated the current flare-up by attacking an IDF outpost, killing some three soldiers and capturing two more. It was a purely military action.

The proportionate response you speak of has been to bomb helpless civilians across the southern half of the country. There is no recognition of civilian neutrality, and UN observer stations have not been honored. There appears to be no law of war significant enough to actually modify the nehavior of the IDF. Thus the label of state terrorist properly belongs on them.

BTW it has not been Lebanon attacking Israel for decades. You will recall the situation in 1982, when Sharon invaded that country. Your grasp of the history is totally screwed up.

America should go home. Eventually the tribes of the Middle East can come to their own conclusions about who should live and who should die. To continue arming one tiny tribe against the others is to invite many more 9/11's.

On internalizing propaganda
Pardon me, but these are preposterous assertions. You've seen, or should have, the grieving fathers screaming and shaking their fists at the camera. Were their wives and children Hezbollah cadre? And the stretchers taking tiny bodies out of the rubble? I guess you've missed all that.

Unguidable rockets being fired off willy nilly in the general direction of Israel have in fact killed, to date, 18 civilians. This in no way equates to the satellite and laser guided missiles and the 500 pounders we give to Israel to enable their slaughter of innocents.

The one thing you can rely on is that our complicity in this is winning the United States valuable public relations points in the war for hearts and minds.

Those Hezbollah troops that ride around in UN or in Red Crescent ambulances in your mind have never been seen in reality. So far I think Israel has a single picture of a rolled stretcher being loaded into an ambulance, which they maintain is a missile. You are very gullible when it comes to such stories.

Your being a sports jock should, I suppose, cause me to forgive everything.

You mean you actually think?
First, when they come here and destroy, it is our business. It is persons like yourself, however, they are not afraid of. As a former Marine, I would hate to have you at my back.

Second, the number killed by Israel has nothing to do with anything. We also killed numerous more in World War II, so what. When Hezbollah wants to go to war with people and in a cowardly manner, be prepared to pay the consequences. The number of persons killed have absolutely nothing to do with whether you are a terrorist or not. Of course persons such as yourself cannot understand the price of freedom. For your information, it cost lives and blood, and you are the beneficiary of that, which gives you the right to say and do just about anything you want too in this great Country. Simply move to Iran and check out your freedom Bean. I have a feeling you want like it.

I also have a feeling you know absolutely nothing about the Islam religion. Wanna discuss it? When you say we should not convert them, you are obviously do not know what you are talking about. I am simply wasting my time with you, as you gave away your knowledge bank.

So you didn't like my idea of accidently blowing up the embassy either, nor did you like my idea of killing all male famil members of every know hizbolah terrorist. But I find it odd that you worry about the Israelis risking international condemnation; most of the world in already anti-israel. But here's another original idea. Instead of placing a UN force on the border(there already has been such a normally useless force there for decades), you put all the arab population of Israel(about 1 million) up there on the border? Then if all those, what is it now, up to 2k rockets, fall on them, the world could continue to be shocked and appalled.

head count?
Why would we even consider a headcount? The enemies of Israel(and all of us) keep claiming that they are happy to die for their cause(killing infidels), and that they will be martyrs for it, and get all those 72 cherry girls in heaven(it's never been explained what the the girl martyrs get, except possible redemption for their honour crimes). Or could it be that they are hypocrites and are not really happy to die for the cause? I wish their spokesmen would expain these points for us, because as it stands, the israelis are just obliging them in their death wish.

A moral comparison of Israel and Hezbollah, along with sources for the ambulance story.
First and foremost, I apologize for the Iowa reference. I got you confused with bobjones. He made a comment about being an Iowa fan earlier. My mistake, all liberals sound the same to me.

Israel was attacked by a terrorist millitia from southern Lebanon. Some of their soldiers were kidnapped and rockets began pounding their country. They responded in an aggressive manner. America would do the same if the Canadians started shelling Buffalo, and kidnapped American soldiers. Israel has used guided bombs and missiles for most of their strikes, the purpose of doing so was to MINIMIZE civillian casualties. They also dropped fliers warning people that their area was about to be bombed. This was another effort to MINIMIZE civillian casualties.

Hezbollah forces do not wear uniforms. They are not a component of the military forces of any nation. Therefore, the normal rules do not apply to them. They are terrorists. They are deliberately using residential areas as launch sites for their rockets, in order to MAXIMIZE civillian deaths. They are forcing civillians to stay in areas that are about to be bombed in order to MAXIMIZE civillian deaths. The purpose of all of this carnage that they are inflicting upon the people of southern Lebanon is to create media spectacles to show to people like yourself. (See below, the Anderson Cooper article on how Hezbollah is managing the media spectacle.) For similar reasons, they are launching articles near UN outposts and using ambulances as transports.

Who is in the wrong here? The soverign nation that is defending itself against attack by a terrorist organization in a manner designed to kill as few people as possible, or the terrorist group that is holding the people of southern Lebanon hostage and trying to get as many of them killed as possible?

Terror apologists can say what they like about the size of Israel's army, or how many innocents die on either side, but the simple fact is that Hezbollah is putting the people of southern Lebanon in danger, not Israel.

A few sources for the ambulance story:,20867,19915049-2703,00.html

Palestinian Islamofascists use the same tactic, lending credence to the Israeili's story:

A piece from Anderson Cooper (CNN) detailing Hezbollah's manipulation of the media:

The best thing about a suicide bomber is...
You never have to fight the same guy twice.

Right on, Dietmar.

And kudos to Israel for being so kind and obliging to all the little Islamofascists who want their virgins.

Stirring words
When they come here to destroy, that becomes our business. But the last nineteen people to do that are all dead. This is not something that happens very often, but we should certainly be vigilant-- as we are about earthquakes in California.

So if as a former Marine you're ready to go out there and kill people in their own homes, you won't have me at your back. I'll be at your front. Your attitude may feel noble and brave, but it does not promote a peaceful resolution.

There is far more suffering. Hostility and ill will in the world now as a consequence of American meddling in the affairs of others than there would be if we had just chosen to stay home and heeded George Washington's advice, to avoid foreign entanglements. Israel, for instance, would have been forced to come to terms with the people she has alienated on a basis of mutual understanding, since she would not have had the instruments of death she now pounds both Lebanon and Gaza with. You really don't think what goes around comes around?

The problems we have made so much worse through our intervention aren't going away. Across the world, people are not making the connection that seems so simple in your mind, that we're just out there fighting for our freedoms. They're making the connection that the Americans are again giving weapons to a proxy army so they can bomb ordinary people. And if we do not stop, eventually the world will decide we have to be stopped.

The idea that you understand Islam is preposterous. Find someone of the faith and get into this conversation with them, not me. I don't understand religion of any sort. Try to convert me and you'll get a fight. I assume you'll find it to be the same with them.

A wealth of material here
Dear Iowa fan: no problem. Some of the ditto heads run together for me too.

I will note at the outset that the IDF has the best precision guided weaponry on earth. So we must assume they have been aiming at those targets they've hit. On the other hand Hezbollah is just randomly firing off rockets in the direction of Israel, i.e. south. Presumably anything they happen to hit is accidental.

As for the order of events, I think you can stop with the fact that an IDF post on the border was attacked by a small military force. The immediate response was to begin targeting towns and villages across southern Lebanon, plus crowded neighborhoods in Tyre and Beirut. So the response was disproportionate to the provocation of a military raid.

Find me the reference that says Hezbollah started killing Israeli citizens before there was a massive response by the IDF. Or, for that matter, that the IDF dropped flyers prior to the initial few days of bombings in Beirut and Tyre.

Your Australian page, "Citizens killed as Israel Targets Ambulances" is damaged, and I can't read much of it. What I can read says just that Lebanese are dying because Israel targets ambulances.

On to the Dershowitz article. This fellow is rabidly pro-Jewish, and has written much in this vein. He gives us two instances of ambulances being used as car bombs in Iraq, where pretty much anything goes. And he alleges "In several other instances, ambulances carrying explosives were stopped by Israeli officials before they could do any damage."

It is the sources for those allegations I would like to see. You have to understand the difference between actual reporting and just some extremist putting stuff out that he believes is true. So far this is in the same category as the blood libels, that many people used to believe implicitly about Jews because they'd heard them so many times.

The WorldNetDaily story contains a lot more information, and I can check on all those leads. It seems plausible that gunmen might have carjacked an ambulance on one occasion, and that a Hamas activist might have gotten a job as an ambulance driver on another occasion. This kind of thing does not provide a smoking gun that the UN, the Red Cross or the Red Crescent is in on the plot, and that it's all being guided from the top.

What it's on a par with is the idea that any car could contain a terrorist, and that any individual might be a terrorist. Therefore it becomes acceptable to target all cars and all people. It's people who think like this, IMO, who must be forcibly stopped from setting the tone.

The allegations of UNRWA involvement in Jihadist training and weapons storage are much more provocative. It will take some time to run all this down, so I will send this response first, than return to the subject later.

I will note in the breathless piece about Anderson Cooper's visit to Lebanon, that it is normal in a war zone to be there at the sufferance of the local military force. If you're on the Israeli side you're subject to restrictions by the IDF. If you're on the Lebanese side the guidelines are set by Hezbollah. In either case there will be things they want you to see, and other thigns they don't want you to see. Finding what YOU want to see is the difference between good reporting and just shilling for the group conducting the tour.

One good rule: if the bombs are still going off, the ambulance sirens are probably real. If the attack was yesterday, they're probably staged.

Had Anderson Cooper said he saw a Hezbollah "bunker" in a residential area I would take that seriously, even if he wasn't permitted to film it. But the fact is that Hezbollah is not just a fighting force, it's the government of south Lebanon. Members of the organization have ordinary lives and live in ordinary neighborhoods, and work in ordinary offices that are right in the middle of town as though they were actual people. Targeting these people is not the same as targeting places where missiles are fired. That's something he could have looked into.

The implication we're left with is that the citizens of Lebanon are so damned ornery that even though Israel thoughfully drops leaflets to them, to urge them to leave, they capriciously insist on being blown up instead. Those Muslim monsters!

Anyhow you've given me a lot to read, and I'll continue checking it all out to see whether there is any substance to it all. Thank you.

Real world decision making
First let me comment on how pleasant it is to be debating all this death and destruction with someone who's trying to find out the truth of it. I don't always get comments as elevated in content as yours have been.

But let's go on with the process of making command decisions. Our assumption will be that while most ambulances are being used for legitimate purposes, there have been known instances where they were used as ruses, to conduct men and materiel past checkpoints.

So in the first instance you are conducting document and vehicle checks at a checkpoint that is backed up fifty deep. An ambulance with siren going cuts past the waiting line and approaches your checkpoint as though he's in a big hurry. Do you

A: Draw your gun and motion him back to the end of the hour-long line without discussing it with the driver?

B: Shoot the thing full of holes? Or

C: Stop him with rifle drawn and cocked, then examine him and his load on a priority basis?

I would go with C. But if you have another answer, try me. (A has been the approach commonly used in the OT's.)

Second scenario. A report came in yesterday that weapons had been found in an ambulance operated by the Red Cross. You are a forward spotter, and see a similar ambulance exiting an area that has just been bombed. Do you

A: Tell the pilot you're guiding to zero in on the big red cross on the roof? Or

B: Just let it go?

In this instance, you have to just let it go. Anything else would make you a war criminal. And that is something one lives with for the rest of his life.

UNRWA refugee camps
I've found a lot of material, beginning with this pretty good overview:

The quick gist of what I'm reading is this:

Is there terrorist activity in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon?

Yes, of course there is.

Is UNRWA assisting this activity in any way?

No, that would be ridiculous of them.

Are they doing anything to stop it?

Probably not. They could always quintuple their staff, so as to interject themselves into the lives and homes of all the people crowded into these camps. But I think they just busy themselves with needs: food, clothing, education, health, etc. That's their mission, not mind control.

Should the camps be shut down?

Well, only if you want to uproot a large and angry population with no place to live. They have no homes anywhere any more except in the camps. Will letting them loose be a step forward? Or should they continue being contained?

Note that there is an Option Three. Ariel Sharon found this one preferable in Sabra and Shatila, so he set the stage for a massacre, then retired discreetly behind the curtain.

How would you deal with the refugee camps?

The hearts and minds thing
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since you made this comment. But I think it's useful to note that the result so far of the IDF bombing campaign has been a bit of negative coverage in the court of world public opinion. It wouldn't serve Israel's purposes now to widen the war by rekindling old enmities with Syria-- or even by resuming raids against Lebanon after the current cooling off period.

Hezbollah's best strategy of course would be to refrain from firing a single rocket for the next 48 hours. Let Israel start the war again. Naturally, neither of us have much confidence in their making the smart move.

Let's see how world opinion is coming along. Read this link fast-- it only takes a day or two to become subscriber limited, like the NYT's premium archival material:

I particularly note this: several days ago everyone was crowing that the Arab authoritarian states were condemning Hezbollah for starting this war. Now we read of a change of heart.

"French President Jacques Chirac, Jordan's King Abdullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the European Commission and the Arab League were among those who condemned the Qana raid."

Re the "Oil Connection". There is none with Lebanon. But I do note that the US has gone out of its way to alienate and anger places like Venezuela and Iran, to the point where they are making arrangements to serve other customers. It would probably be in our best interest not to **** off the Mexicans and Canadians. Then we'd be putting mazola in our tanks for sure.

A simpleton with only words to to try and impress
You are absolutely amusing.

You said: "So if as a former Marine you're ready to go out there and kill people in their own homes, you won't have me at your back. I'll be at your front. Your attitude may feel noble and brave, but it does not promote a peaceful resolution."

Comment: How old are you? This is a silly statement. It shows exactly what I said. I suppose you have made peace with Tojo and Hitler so they could plan again to exterminate you. There are times there is not a peaceful solution especially when the enemy hides behind women and children to win at all costs. You would be out front? What a laugh. Good grief.

You said: "Israel, for instance, would have been forced to come to terms with the people she has alienated on a basis of mutual understanding, since she would not have had the instruments of death she now pounds both Lebanon and Gaza with."

Comment: Again you must be in your eary 20's and still very idealistically naive. This statement shows you have no idea about the attempts to exterinate the Jews nor their history beginning in about 4000 BC. How naive.

You said: "The problems we have made so much worse through our intervention aren't going away. Across the world, people are not making the connection that seems so simple in your mind, that we're just out there fighting for our freedoms. They're making the connection that the Americans are again giving weapons to a proxy army so they can bomb ordinary people. And if we do not stop, eventually the world will decide we have to be stopped."

Comment: I really do not care what they think. I do not support facists, communists, or theocracies. They only lead to no peace Bean. Do you catch on? I am not sure you do, as it is easy to see your views are immature.

You said: "The idea that you understand Islam is preposterous. Find someone of the faith and get into this conversation with them, not me. I don't understand religion of any sort. Try to convert me and you'll get a fight. I assume you'll find it to be the same with them."

Comment: A complete copout. My above statements are proven about you by this last inane contradictory statement of yours. You tell me you do not understand religion of any sort. I knew that by your posts. Then, you tell me that I do not understand Islam. If you do not understand religion of any sort, how do you know I do not understand Islam and on what basis? And you would fight against conversion to what? You must be an agnostic or atheists or just a simple simon in this area. Do you know what anti-religion means? Duh. If you do not understand religion, what would you fight with? This has got to be the most inane statement I have read in a long time. I am now beginning to wonder if you are even in your 20's.

It really depends on the twist in your perspective...
>"So does it follow that Israel in every case is just marching to American orders? That would be a ridiculous assertion. As is the one you make about Hezbollah. The overwhelming preponderance of experts agree with Stephen on this one."

Let us do a comparison:

1. Israel: created by UN resolution. Hezbollah: created by Iran and told to get out of Lebanon by UN resolution.
2. Israel: a democracy with a vibrant economy to pay for its military. Hezbollah: a terrorist organization that generates no income and is reliant on Iran and Syria for all finances.
3. Israel: member of UN. Hezbollah: not.
4. Israel: not created and funded by US. Hezbollah: created and funded by Iran and Syria.

As usual Roy your equivalencies fall short as do your arguments. If you don't see the difference between a terrorist organization created and funded by two terrorist-supporting states and diplomatic pleasantries then there is not much I can say to convince you.

Perhaps you would like to read this article from Warren Christopher:

>"In June 1993, Israel responded to Hezbollah rocket attacks along its northern border by launching Operation Accountability, resulting in the expulsion of 250,000 civilians from the southern part of Lebanon. After the Israeli bombardment had continued for several days, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin asked me to use my contacts in Syria to seek their help in containing the hostilities. I contacted Foreign Minister Farouk Shara, who, of course, consulted with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. After several days of urgent negotiations, an agreement was reached committing the parties to stop targeting one another's civilian populations. We never knew exactly what the Syrians did, but clearly Hezbollah responded to their direction."

Apparently the former Secretary of State knew who pulled the strings with Hezbollah. I doubt that situation has changed since then.

Here is the link to his op-ed piece:

>"As for Nasralla's meeting with Larijani, that should surprise us no more than Condi's meeting with Olmert. Those are both meetings of strategic partners. You are demonizing the leader of a political party for normal diplomatic behavior."

Always amazing. Here you equate Hezbollah's leader meeting with the nuclear negotiator of Iran as "normal diplomatic behaviour". Perhaps you if see them as "strategic partners" you should perhaps give some thought as to what the strategy is?

I got it-- you don't care what anyone thinks
I'm 63, not in great shape and don't own a gun. However if someone like you were to come to my home and attempt to do what the IDF is doing in Lebanon, I would figure out a way to kill people. Because it would need doing.

Again, this whole thing started with a purely military raid on a border outpost. The resulting slaughter of civilians has been entirely the inspiration of Israel.

I'd enjoy your comments on what insights the date 4000BC has to offer. I would note that in 1000BC, the Israelis and the Palestinians (Philistines) were already duking it out over possession of Canaan. Some things never change.

Prior to then, of course, both Sons of Abraham lived in Iraq, not in Palestine. You can look this up.

As for the court of world opinion, I'm not referring to the fascists, the communists or the atheists. I'm talking about everyone who's not American or Israeli. This is not a good corner to get painted into, when the European community sides with Arab opinion as to which side is in the wrong.

There is a basic fallacy in the view that only armed might matters, and that one never has to explain one's actions. Why not list for me all the empires founded on miltary strength that are still in existence?

What I would fight against is anyone's attepts to forcibly convert me to anything. Militarism is the enemy of anything productive or worthwhile. It matters little whether the product they're peddling is Christianity, Islam, Communism or any other ism. Your comment "If you do not understand religion, what would you fight with?" shows that we have no fundamental understanding of one another. Let's leave it at that.

Amusing Again
I am having fun with you, but truly am saddened by your ignorance.

You said: "I'd enjoy your comments on what insights the date 4000BC has to offer. I would note that in 1000BC, the Israelis and the Palestinians (Philistines) were already duking it out over possession of Canaan. Some things never change. Prior to then, of course, both Sons of Abraham lived in Iraq, not in Palestine. You can look this up."

The date 4000 BC starts the Godly line from Adam to Jesus Christ. Abraham enters the line in about 2000 BC after leaving Ur in Mespotamia (Iraq) to claim Canaan that God gave him. The two sons of Abraham who buried him after death was Isaac and Ishmael. This burial was in the land of Canaan (Israel). Ishmael settled in Havilah which is located in Arabia north of modern Yemen. Isaac stayed in Canaan to raise his family, which included Jacob and Esau. Secondly, Philistines are not Palestinians. Actually the name "Palestine" was coined by the Romans after banishing the Jews from Israel in about 70 A.D. In addition, Islam was not in existence until the sixth century A.D. You are completley confused. You may be 63, I am 69 and in good shape, but you know little or nothing about Judeo/Christian history. You also know little about the treatment of the Jews after the Diaspora in 70 A.D. including Mohammed's (Islam) slaughter of them in Arabia in the sixth century. You are right though, we have not much of nothing to say to each other, simply because you argue with no background, except emotions. You are definitly not familiar with Judaism or Islam, and until you become familar, you will never understand this War. Apparently you are not a Christian either.

Debates on the details can be interesting, but there are two real questions to answer...
The real issues are these: Does Hezbollah constitute a legitimate military force? Is Israel engaging in a "proportional" response? I will only address the first one in this post.

As to the first question, Hezbollah fighters are not uniformed combatants. They might qualify as a millitia if they were organized by the Lebenese government, but since this is not the case, they do not. In fact, these terrorists are dressed in civillian clothes specifically to avoid detection and so as to be mistaken for civilians when killed. (1) Hezbollah millitants qualify as spies and saboteurs, not a legitimate military force.

Hezbollah may have members of their non-military wing in the Lebanese Parliament, but that does not make their military wing a legitimate armed force. The fact tthat the Lebanese government is unwilling and unable to control Hezbollah means that the actions of this group against other nations are the Lebanese government's responsiblity, as well as that of Hezbollah.

(1) (,,19955774-5007220,00.html.)

Ancient history
The thing that distinguishes the authoritarian view from the rational view is that the authoritarian has unexamined assumptions-- unquestioned eternal truths that have been learned from parents or guardians. These are never ever amenable to being examined or questioned. Thus the world was created, for some, in 4004BC. And Adam was the first man, etc etc.

In that other world, where truths are all carefully examined, both Philistines and Palestinians are cognate with the Peleset-- the Sea People first described in writing by the Egyptian historians who wrote the dynastic annals (circa Ramses III). They enter history roughly about 2200 BC and make Palestine their home, conquering it and mingling with earlier peoples in much the same way that the Normans conquered England.

Archeological, philologic and historical evidence are all in agreement on this.

You should be aware that bloodlines in the world's ancient mixing bowl are completely confused. The Jews of the First Temple period are ethnically the same as the Phoenicians. They differ only (and profoundly) in their religious views.

But as for who is related to whom, conquerors have added their blood to the mix for thousands of years. No one is pure, as has been illustrated by recent x-chromosomal analysis. So you could readily find Lebanese, for instance, similar in every physical feature to the Palestinians of today, yet descended on their male line from Norman crusaders.

Thus the modern Palestinians, or inhabitants of Palestine, are a mix of the original people who preceded the Peleset, everyone who came after them and the modern Arabic fellahin living between Egypt and Arabia. About all you can say about them, and the oriental Jews for that matter, is that they have always lived there.

Interestingly the European Jewish line seems in large part to descend from the Khazars of south Russia. This is a very different ethnicity than any of those of the Levant, but the same religion.

Abraham was an old folk tale, imaagined by ancient storytellers to explain the brotherly nature of the Semitic peoples. His two offspring became the Arab and the Jew. If you think for a moment you'll come to see that in a world that already had many millions of individuals, it would appear to be unlikely that two major ethnic groups would both be descended from a single male. Was Abraham alone in the wilderness, like the earlier Adam?

Did I question that Islam dates from 622AD, the date of the Hegira? If so, show me the offending passage and I will pluck it out.

There were a lot of slaughters back in the old days. Let's not conveniently forget the Romans and the Crusaders, while holding up the Arabs in eternal infamy. Custer slaughtered the Sioux. Does that make all Americans evil?

I'll be glad to discuss more history with you at your pleasure. But please allow some leeway for Biblical accounts, as they may differ with scientific inquiry on the timeline prior to 4000BC.

Question #2 and some more sources.
Is the response by Israel proportional?

I believe that it is. The initial bombing raids had the primary goal of stopping efforts to resupply Hezbollah terrorists in the south. Given the inability or unwillingness of the Lebanese government to stop Hezbollah this seems to me like a legitimate set of targets. Airports and highways are the chief route to both Syria and Iran, their main suppliers. After this early attack, Israel has focused on bombing launch sites, many of which are intentionally located in civillian areas. (1) The Israeilis have done their best to warn innocents that they need to leave. (2) Each one of these launch sites represents a direct attack on Israel. Israel is simply responding in a rational way to an impermissible provocation.

Ask yourself this: If I had a number of my neighbors standing outside of my house, each firing a wildly innaccurate rifle at my home in an effort to kill my family members, what would my response be? I would shoot to kill each and every one of those neighbors, and be glad that I did so. I would do that even if they only grazed my cat, because the amount of damage they do is irrelevant, the fact is that they are attacking you and you have to respond.

Now imagine that they have surrounded themselves with their families. They are shooting from behind their sons or daughters. Perhaps they have an infant sitting in their lap. They are still, however, shooting at you. Now I happen to be a pretty good shot, and so I will do my darnedest to warn my neighbor's families that I am going to start shooting, and I will try not to shoot them, but I am still going to kill them even if their families are in the way.

(1) This is a pretty in-depth report on the recent occurences. This website as a whole has information from numerous sources across the world:

(2) The earliest documented case of leaflet dropping I could find took place on the 18th, about four days after the soldiers were kidnapped:

A few sources for information on ambulance attacks, etc.:

Ambulances used as smuggling vehicles in Jenin, and an explanation for why they are shot at: They don't inform the combatants where they will be, and are assumed to be car bombers.

A pretty comprehensive report containing information from numerous sources verifying Palestinian use of ambulances as car bombs/for the purposes of smuggling.

Hey PJ!
Why did you let Roy off the hook? He should have been able to find your sources about the ambulances by himself.

Oh well. Nice job on the posts though. Now sit back and watch Roy disregard everything you have provided. Roy believe in only one thing: numbers. If you don't have a larger number of casualties then it is quite obvious, to someone of his intelligence, that you are the aggressor.

Roy and his ilk will only be happy when Israel just sits back and allows rocket attacks and suicide bombings to happen without retribution.

Anyway, as I said, great posts.

Lawful combatants
Wow, you can come up with the damnedest stuff!

I think what you're saying is that when the Americans began moving west and started taking the Cherokee lands, there would be nothing the Cherokee could do. Because there would have been no one in a position to designate them a lawful military authority. And because they didn't wear uniforms.

This is the way the kings of England took the land from the people who worked it. They had the sheriff come to ask them to show him their titles. And when they could not, title was awarded to powerful friends of the king.

That's the purest of crapola. If someone is trespassing on your land you pick up arms from whoever will sell or give them to you, and you fight the invader. Lebanon itself is just an idea the British and the French cobbled together when they were splitting up the Middle East. It used to just be the Alaouite Dependency, along with Syria.

My neighbors like me more than theirs do
Using precisely the same criteria, you could say that using the technique of suicide bombing was proportional to the goal of creating a free Palestine. They have a noble goal that must be achieved. They have a method that may gain them advantage. And best of all, the technique is more humane than Israeli methods of warfare because it kills far fewer noncombatants.

But we'll see what this approach gains Israel. Backed by their great patron they intend to continue along the path they've chosen. So we will see the result of the strategy.

As for your hypothetical, I've never made my neighbors that mad at me. Israel should have thought this out in advance of chasing the Palestinians from their homes.

My ilk can beat your ilk, every time
Hasn't the basic argument against the Palestinians always been not the rightness of their cause but the means they've used to achieve it?

So if you depend on the argument there that they are immoral because they kill civilians, you must consider the argument that the Israelis are in fact worse. They've always killed more civilians in the OT's than have Palestinians, and are now killing more civilians in Lebanon than are Hezbollah.

BTW if you follow my comments elsewhere you'll find I treat the issue of sambulances being used for military pruposes very seriously. I actually use the citations I request.

I can't disagree with any of this
Besides, everyone knew Israel was going to lose in the court of world opinion no matter what action they took. Short of sitting on their hands and doing nothing, they never have really won that battle. There are too many anti-semites out there looking for a reason to slam the Jews.

That is a big reason for a lot of this negative world opinion stuff, like it or not. That is also why a very large majority of the Jewish people I've known, regardless of what country they call home, consider anti-Israeli sentiment anti-sematic.

In a post below you say the knock against the Palestinians is that they kill civilians and, considering the scale, that makes the Israelis an even bigger monster.

But you are very, very wrong.

The knock against the Palestinians, and other terrorists, is that they purposely target civilians directly. You don't suicide bomb a disco to kill soldiers. You don't fire rockets directly at civilian populations, when all military equipment and installations and government buildings are in an entirely different location.

This is very different than what the Israelis do. Hezbollah has been proven to be in residential neighborhoods, photo imaging has shown them firing rockets from this type of area. Israel has responded by trying to hit the areas where they have some information rockets and Hezbollah fighters and leaders are located. They target those people, though they are among the civilian population.

Even in a court of law, intent matters. If I get into an altercation with someone and throw them off the roof it is going to be intially charged as second degree murder. If we are dancing and goofing around and I bump into him it is neglegent homicide and could even be ruled an accident with no charges.

Yet you, and world opinion equivalizes and then some. By making it out to be worse for Israel to kill civilians, in an act of national defense, then for Hezbollah to kill and wound civilians in several attacks over many years and then committing an act of war in a cross border raid, even if the target on this one occasion was military.

You then say it is because of the magnitude of response. Excuse me? How many rockets has Hezbollah lobbed across the border since this began? Do you think they only killed a few on purpose or because they are ill-equipped. (not to mention cowardly and ill-trained) I would say Hezbollah would have been thrilled to have a much better kill raito and wouldn't flinch a bit if 10,000 Israeli civilians were killed. Just because they fired a couple thousand rockets and didn't get much done doesn't mean they didn't try.

Another thing I find interesting roy; Israeli Military units are right on, and even across, the border. Hezbollah is getting bloodied pretty bad, though I will give them credit for holding up well, in the face to face fighting. Wouldn't it be much better to try and take out some of that Israeli arty, troops and trucks? Why waste rockets on civilian populations you aren't really hitting when a much closer target is available?

In Israel's case, civilian deaths are colateral damage, in Hezbollah case they are the target. It is that simple.

It goes both ways then...
If someone trespassing on your land means that you can take up arms against them and fight, why can't Israel fight the terrorists of Hezbollah who trespassed on their land and kidnapped their soldiers? Israel was granted the land by the previously recognized owners (the British.) As the new rightful owners, they should be entitled to shoot the trespassers on their land, and those who facilitate the trespassing.

The concept of a "lawful combatant" applies in cases where there are two, recognized state entities engaged in combat. The Cherokee nation was, and still is (I believe,) a recognized state entity. At almost no time throughout history has a group that masquerades as civillians and hides amongst them been recognized as a group of lawful combatants. They have generally been called guerillas or terrorists, and treated to the same fate: a swift execution.

Those are not the criteria I applied...
First of all, thank you Tlaloc. It is nice to know that the work I have done is appreciated.

Second, the criteria I applied to the Israel-Lebanon conflict differs from the one that roy_bean applied in two key ways:

1) All of the attacks launched by the Israeilis were responses to aggressive actions on the part of terrorists, not responses to some imaginary oppression or in the service of some "noble" goal. Self-defense is recognized not-only by the vast majority of the international community, but by almost every system of moral thought and major religion as a legitimate justification for aggressive action against another.

2) I specifically mentioned at every point in the post that the purposeful killing of civilians is not justified unless it is a necessary outgrowth of accomplishing a legitimate military goal as described in point #1. Hezbollah is engaged in an aggressive assault on the nation of Israel without any justification other than that they believe it is illigitmate. This does not qualify. The same is true of the Palestinians. They are murdering civilians en masse not for the purpose of defending themselves from aggression, but for the purpose of aggression.

As a preemptive response, I offer two points:

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both major Japanese naval and manufacturing centers during World War II. Given that the Japanese attacked the United States, and they needed to be stopped from doing so again, attacking these two cities was entirely justified. Furthermore, by shocking the Japanese with the destructive power we could bring to bear, we prevented the invasion of Japan, which would have killed far more civilians than nuking those two cities.

I justify Iraq by the same set of criteria. Saddam Hussein not only attacked American interests on a regular basis, he tried to kill a President of the United States (George H.W. Bush, not W.) and engaged in attacks on two of his neighbors. Every major intelligence service in the world believed Saddam was developing WMD's. The Iraq/al-Qaeda Connection is extensively detailed in Stephen Hayes's series of articles in The Weekly Standard beginning with the one entitled "Case Closed." (Hayes, Stephen F. "Case Closed." The Weekly Standard. 24 Nov. 2003. Vol. 9, Iss. 11.) He makes a pretty clear case based on American and Iraqi intelligence documents released to the public that Saddam Hussein was not only cooperating with and funding al-Qaeda, but that he facillitated the September 11th attacks. Those are all aggressive actions against the United States. Those justify the Iraq war by these criteria.

The number of dead innocents is not a critical factor in the criteria I presented. If you want to argue that it should be, feel free.

Such is the nature of your delusions
>"Hasn't the basic argument against the Palestinians always been not the rightness of their cause but the means they've used to achieve it?"

I guess so if you discount their stated desire to wipe out all the Jews and Israel. There election of Hamas is quite telling in this respect. So if you consider that cause to be acceptable in its "rightness" then we can move on to their methods.

Perhaps if they pursued a righteous cause they would be living in their own state right now. The history of the Palestinians is one of knowingly missing good opportunities. When given land, they use it to lauch rockets and dig tunnels into Israel. When given the opportunity to elect a new government, they chose terrorists.

>"So if you depend on the argument there that they are immoral because they kill civilians, you must consider the argument that the Israelis are in fact worse. They've always killed more civilians in the OT's than have Palestinians, and are now killing more civilians in Lebanon than are Hezbollah."

They are immoral because they DELIBERATELY target civilians while the Israelis do not. They are immoral because they make human bombs out of their children. They are immoral because they desire the extermination of an entire country. They are immoral because they elect terrorist organizations that intend to carry out those desires. They are immoral for hiding behind children and women and then parading the bodies before the international media when their human shields are hit.

The Israelis have the moral high ground because they do not DELIBERATELY target civilians. No matter what propaganda you choose to listen to. They are attempting to protect their children from the random suicide bombers and missiles that have been flying into their country. They drop leaflets informing civilians to leave the area before bombing. In Gaza they even call the phone numbers of the houses they are going to hit and tell the occupants to get out before it blows.

If you wish to wallow in your moral ambiguity and swallow every little piece of propaganda shoved down your throat by the MSM and Pallywood then so be it.

If it is mere numbers to you then I am certain that the methods, and the goals and morality of those methods, are quite meaningless to you.

622 AD
was the seventh century, not the sixth. However, dating the Hegira as the foundation of Islam is correct. Freeman needs to learn which century is which.

With respect to Biblical dating, Bishop Ussher went somewhat out of style, oh about 100 years ago, about when the Millerites had their slight embarrassment.

Actually Mohammed was born 570 A.D. in the sixth century and He died in 632 A.D. the seventh century Colin needs to get his history together. I am so glad you are watching after us Colin to keep us correct. By the way are you Muslim?

A fair deal
I need to correct you on one basic point. The Palestinian position is that Israel, as a Jewish, exclusionist state, has to go. They say nothing about the continuing existence of Jewish citizens of a pluralist democracy.

The main sticking point at Camp David was the Right of Return. If all the Jews of the world have it, while Palestinians from the diaspora do not, it's not a society based on equality. Offer them an actual good faith deal where no race has the advantage over the other, and they'll take it in a New York minute.

Israel doesn't think they have to do that, so it'll never happen. That's the reason people are still dying. They have been missing "good opportunities" because none of the deals offered have ever been a fair shake. They've all been weighted toward Israel's advantage.

You can save any further bla bla about the moral justification for killing civilians. I know the rationale. All they have to do is to imagine they are being forced to do so by a cruel enemy. Then it's OK. I understand that very well.

Return to sender
I will take the liberty of answering this one as it was addressed to me and not to Tlaloc.

1. The original aggression was on the part of European Zionists, who entered the land not to coexist with its inhabitants but to intimidate them and by guile and force, push them off the land. So it is immorally occupied land, and ownership has been continuously contested since before there was an Israel.

If you have the option of deciding some date in the recent past is the starting point, you will be able to show that as of that date, Hezbollah or Hamas initiated some action. But in terms of original sin, the plain fact is that they were all there first, while Israel wasn't. No amount of backdated proof can change that basic fact.

2. "I specifically mentioned at every point in the post that the purposeful killing of civilians is not justified unless it is a necessary outgrowth of accomplishing a legitimate military goal as described in point #1."

Do you know what a carefully formulated justification for the killing of civilians is? It's a carefully formulated justification for killing civilians.

As for the business about Saddam, suffice it to say that we tried to kill Castro. That makes us better than whom? And as it happens, no serious body of thought was convinced that Saddam had WMD's. Everyone was open to the possibility, but the investigations of the Blix team were highly convincing to all but a sliver of world opinion. Further, Saddam was abetted by his American patrons in attacking Iran. We provided both weaponry and satellite intel to him in this, while at the same time we were arming Iran against him. Do we bear no culpability?

As for Kuwait, Iraq was punished.

I acknowledge that numbers of dead innocents present no moral problem for you. Send this out again to Tlaloc if you'd like more agreement with your points.

I can't place the Millerites. Did they come after the Amorites, or the Budlites?

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