Friday, August 04, 2006

Harper and Others Ought to Listen to Chavez

Whether you like him or not, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez does, on occasion, put his flamboyant rhetoric to good use. After expressing his indignation at Israel's violent occupation of Lebanon and the world's inability to stop the "horror," Chavez made an interesting and refreshingly balanced point. "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. It's also fascism what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people ... terrorism and fascism." Once you look past his hyperbolic reference to Israel committing genocide in Lebanon (which it is not, in spite of all the pain inflicted), it is nice to see a world leader put his mouth where his heart is, and to see him act on his beliefs. Since then, Venezuela has recalled its ambassador to Israel.

A massive recall of ambassadors, combined with the expulsion of Israeli ambassadors to various countries, would make Jerusalem pause. In a world where a rogue state, with the backing of the only superpower, can fire at will and displace one quarter of a country's population with impunity, it may seem like one cannot do much. Isolating Israel diplomatically and economically could nevertheless generate some of the pressure that is so urgently needed.

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