Politics & Policy

A Consensus on Lebanon

Even for the Lebanese, there should be no question Israelis are the good guys.

She opened a humanitarian corridor, allowing numerous ships to Lebanon with food and supplies, and is planning to open another humanitarian corridor within the Lebanese borders. She does not celebrate the loss of innocent civilian life in Lebanon. Rather she grieves it because to her, life is precious. Above all, she believes in freedom. She wants Lebanon to be a free and independent country. She’s Israel.

The Israeli government is probably the only government that drops leaflets warning civilians to evacuate before bombing. She is taking every precaution possible not to kill civilians. She intends only to target Hezbollah. This is not an easy task considering Hezbollah is using civilians as human shields by shooting missiles from their homes. Israel’s goal is survival, peace, and freedom. Unlike many Islamic extremists, Israel is not seeking to expand her territory, kill those with differing religious beliefs, or oppress those who are not like-minded. By contrast, Hezbollah admits that if the U.S. intervenes, it will “welcome World War III.” Hezbollah is not taking precautions to avoid the murder of innocent women and children. To say they are careless is an understatement. Indeed, they are targeting civilians and rejoicing in their deaths.

It is a lie that the goal of Hezbollah is to free the prisoners held in Israeli jails, (most of whom are there because they are terrorists). Not that kidnapping soldiers to manipulate the release of terrorists is an acceptable goal. But, the true goal of Hezbollah is the destruction of Israel. Hezbollah doesn’t deny this.

Yet the press in Europe and the Middle East presents a biased view of the Middle East conflict. They present it as though the two sides are moral equivalents. They make it sound as though Israel started firing missiles into Lebanon out of the blue. In truth, Hezbollah has been firing missiles into Israel since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in the year 2000. Thus far, Israel has not retaliated. Hezbollah’s recent kidnapping of Israeli soldiers appears to have been the last straw. Were this to happen in the U.S. or any other country, the world would not demand that we look the other way. Yet there is a double standard when it comes to Israel. Even worse, there is international Arab support for Hezbollah’s goal of destroying Israel.

Until recently, Hezbollah has used mostly katyusha rockets against the Israel. These are short-range missiles that hit approximately a mile within the Israeli border, and recently, they reached a few miles further. However, in the last few weeks, Hezbollah has been using rockets that have never before been used by individual terrorists or terrorist cells. These rockets, which have a reach of 100 miles have hitherto been employed only by terrorist states, enforcing the notion that Hezbollah’s efforts to destroy Israel are state-sponsored.

The world is beginning to take note that this war has broader implications than those merely for Israel and Lebanon. Syria sponsors Hamas, and Iran funds Hezbollah. Many have pointed out that the president of Iran, Amadinejad, must be ecstatic that attention has been diverted away from the Iranian nuclear threat, and onto the war between Israel and Lebanon.

Israel’s goals are to secure the return of the abducted soldiers and to weaken the military wing of Hezbollah (as opposed to the political wing, which holds seats in the Lebanese parliament). Politically, the solution already exists. It is U.N. Resolution 1559, which has never been fully implemented.

The Israeli government is open to diplomacy, but states that diplomacy must accompany a military strategy, rather than replace it. Israel cannot leave Lebanon in a position where a ceasefire might exist short-term, leaving Hezbollah situated such that it can start firing missiles again any time it desires. Israel has neither ruled out the possibility of an international peacekeeping force along the Lebanese border to replace Israel’s military force. However, obviously, this force cannot be the U.N. force, as UNIFIL (U.N. “peacekeeping forces”) is already there, and clearly has not been helpful in aiding the cause of peace. Yet, Europe is reluctant to get involved. According to Rafael Harpaz, director of public affairs for the Israeli embassy, the EU fears that employing European peacekeeping troupes would cause the war to spread to European territory. This, despite the fact that the EU has refused to place Hezbollah on their terrorist list.

Israel withdrew her occupying forces from the south of Lebanon in the year 2000, bringing it into compliance with U.N. resolution 1559. Then a little more than a year ago, after the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, widely believed to be murdered by Syria, two million Lebanese rallied against the Syrian occupation in the Cedar Revolution. They were successful in their goal, and within a year, Syria withdrew from Lebanon. The Lebanese had worked hard to rid themselves of foreign-state occupation, both Syrian and Israeli. The mistake Lebanon made was welcoming Hezbollah into its arms and into its parliament. Lebanon did not put its own military forces in southern Lebanon as required by U.N. Resolution 1559, leaving it open for terrorist occupation. Due to the influence of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, the Free Patriotic Movement, composed primarily of Christian Lebanese, recently formed an alliance with Hezbollah. The subsequent  memorandum of understanding between the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah led the Christians to believe that in exchange for a political alliance with Hezbollah, Hezbollah would eventually disarm, and it is widely agreed that the Christians played no role whatever in the current conflict. (Indeed, many of the Christians support Israel, but are afraid to admit it publicly.)

The Free Patriotic Movement, the two million members of the Cedar Revolution, the Lebanese Christians, and the people of Israel, all want a free and independent Lebanon. The protests worked to expel Syria. Perhaps if they had rallied to expel Hezbollah too, instead of inviting Hezbollah into their parliament and making a deal with the devil, Israel and Lebanon would not be at war today.


 – Deborah Weiss is an attorney and political consultant in Washington, DC 

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