Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stay in Jerusalem, Condi

In one single bloody blow, Israel killed upwards of 54 civilians in Qana, Lebanon, today. 37 of them were children. None of the victims were Hezbollah. Ten years ago, during an infamous operation known as Grapes of Wrath, Israel had killed around 100 civilians in the bombing of a UN refugee camp in the same city. The symbolism of the place, sadly, has been deepened. In blood.

The fact that Israel claims it had dropped leaflets instructing Lebanese residents to leave certainly does not excuse the massacre. If we were to follow that logic, then Osama bin Laden, who broadcast numerous public warnings years before September 11, 2001, could claim that he, too, had distributed leaflets of his own and thereby be exonerated of all responsibility for the deaths of civilians. This is absurd, of course, but so are Israel’s pleas of guiltlessness.

As a result of this new atrocity, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, currently in Jerusalem on a euphemistically-called “peace mission,” that she was not welcome in Beirut. As she shouldn’t, for which declaration I commend Mr. Siniora, who by now must have realized that no just peace will ever result from a U.S.-negotiated ceasefire. Even a ten year old knows that with enough pressure Washington could make Israel stop piling up the crimes of war. A mere threat of a canceled shipment of the more than 100 brand new F-16Is ordered by Israel, or skipping a $5 billion assistance package, should suffice. But no; what Israel wants, the White House wants. With sheer disrespect for history current and old, Washington and Jerusalem have coupled their battles. Israel’s regional war of occupation and Washington’s so-called war on terrorism are now seen through the same prism—that of a battle for survival against insane, nihilistic enemies bent on their extermination. Consequently, expect no pressure from the latter onto the former.

Israel continues to push into and bomb Lebanon, thinking that it will eventually be able to weaken Hezbollah enough so that it will no longer represent a threat. This is militarily impossible, and the more innocent children it kills, the more enemies Israel generates. This is a failure tactically, and even more so, it is a failure strategically.

Sadly, peace doesn’t run through Washington on this one. Nor will it ever emanate out of Jerusalem, which is marching to the beat of martial drums, with strong support of the public. No; this time round, peace will come from somewhere else—it has to. We need strong leadership in the Arab world, in Europe, Asia, Canada. An embattled Prime Minister with a diminutive army that doesn’t even dare oppose the superior Israeli forces was able to tell Washington that it wasn’t welcome in his country today. The time has arrived for other leaders to stand up and say that the U.S.-Israel complicity in the murder of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians cannot be allowed to continue. China, Japan, India, France and Germany, all with powerful economies, can pressure Israel. So could Great Britain, should redemption still be within reach. Smaller states like Canada could play a role, too. Mere words won’t suffice anymore. We cannot stand by and just wag a finger at Israel without doing anything to prevent it from spilling more blood and bringing the collective ever closer to the abyss of a Middle East going up in flames.

Condi, stay in Jerusalem, where I’m sure you’re made to feel just like home. Meanwhile, the rest of the world should wake up and force Israel to behave like the rest of us.

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