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Looking at Lebanon
August 2nd, 2006

New York may pride itself for being a melting pot but, when it comes to the current conflict in the Middle East, public opinion seems to break down along religious lines. Or at least thats the finding of a very unscientific New York magazine poll of 100 passersby, identified by religion. For example, asked who is to blame for the crisis in Lebanon, 12 Muslims and only one Jew said Israel, while eight Jews and no Muslims said Hezbollah. Twenty-two Christians said all sides were equally to blame. Seventeen Muslims (3 Jews and 27 Christians) thought the U.S. is too pro-Israel, while 15 Jews and no Muslims said it was not.

The New York Sun apparently has only consulted some of those New Yorkers. In its editorial today it despairs, Concern is mounting by the hour in New York that the Bush administration is wavering on the diplomatic front… as Europeans step up pressure on Israel to stop prematurely its battle against Hezbollah.

And in the Huffington Post, Jonathan Tasini — who has mounted an anti Iraq war challenge to Hillary Clinton without quite the success Ned Lamont is enjoying in Connecticut — now turns to Clintons stand on the Middle East. Ive touched the third rail of politics in New York: the Israel-Palestine conflict, he writes, criticizing Clinton and other politicians for continuing to blindly pursue a one-sided policy in the Palestinian-Israel conflict, a policy that is causing more death and sorrow for civilians on all sides of the conflict.

By on August 2, 2006, 9:31 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Immigrants | 2 Comments »

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2 Responses to “Looking at Lebanon”

  1. Phil McNulty Says:
    August 2nd, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    Letter to Tony Blair,

    As members of the Labour Party we must write to you over the situation in Lebanon.

    We believe Israels response to the incursion by Hizbollah and to the hostage situation to be disproportionate, genocidal in character and indefensible.

    Your refusal to condemn Israels actions and your support for a USA lasting solution are deeply shaming, ignore humanitarian concerns and are not rooted in history or common sense.

    We cannot see how the welfare of Jews, Palestinians or Lebanese is served by this approach. The stability of the Middle East is being undermined and Britain itself can only become less secure.

    You need to know that your public comments, and those of Condoleeza Rice, appear neo-colonial and Islamophobic.

    What other interpretation can one place on a situation in which the lives of one group appear to have more value than the lives of another? In which the level of attrition on one side has always massively outweighed the other.

    The Israeli justification for perpetrating atrocities on Arabs has no rational or ethical basis nor is it strategically sound. Surely, no one in the international community believes that Hizbolah or Hamas are sheltering behind civilians. They live there. They are part of the Palestinian population of Gaza and the population of Southern Lebanon.

    Disconcerting as it may seem, Hamas were democratically elected in Gaza and Hizbollah MPs were elected to the Lebanese Parliament. Your assertion that we must support Israel as a democracy in the region is both partial and incredible. Israel may be fully democratic for Israeli Jews but it is hard to see how those privileges extend to the entire population. Which other democracies appropriate land from one ethnic group for the use of another, attempt to assassinate the democratically elected mayors of minority towns, make random arrests, bulldoze peoples property, hold suspects indefinitely without trial and restrict movement along ethnic lines.

    Having worked in both Israel and the wider Middle East in the late 1970s. We have followed developments in the region with particular interest. It is clear to us that the ordinary, decent and in many cases liberal minded people in these countries suffer from the behaviour of idealogues and fundamentalists.

    It was apparent in the eighties when Gush Emunim set up Eilon Moreh as a pioneering settlement on the West Bank that this form of land-grab barbarism would not be forgiven by history.

    The International media watched in despair at the Christian massacre of Palestinians in Sabra, Chatilla and Borg al Barijnay refugee camps while the Israeli military looked on shortly after their last invasion of the country.

    All but the most nave international observer would have challenged Menachim Begins 1981 pledge: Never again will Russian made rockets fall on Quiryat Shimona. It wasnt true then and Israeli chest beating and blitzkrieg will not make it true now. The problem for Israel does not lie outside Israel itself.

    Israel is both an internal and external aggressor. It is also a fractured society. This is manifest between Jews and Arabs, between Jews of different ethnic backgrounds, between the secular, the religious and the ultra orthodox. This does not justify acts of terrorism but requires recognition if there is to be any effective analysis of the situation.

    As readers of the Jerusalem Post, many years ago, it was clear that the dynamics of Israeli society were a source of abiding concern to any thinking citizen. There were clear threats to the future existence of the country from within Israeli Jewish society itself. Many Jewish contributors despaired over widespread intolerance, over a lack of societal concern for the vulnerable and the elderly, over the consequences of the settler movement and over the influence of the religious right wing on national political direction.

    It was apparent then that Israel was a bankrupt society, completely dependent on American and to a lesser extent South African funding. The flow of US military hardware has been unabated. The Israelis are consistently bullish and unapologetic over their actions because they can afford to be.

    In these circumstances, complaining about the provision of ordinance to people in Lebanon by Russia, Iran or Syria appears hypocritical and absurd.

    For our political leaders to claim to be working towards any form of equitable solution while tolerating the bombardment of Lebanon back to the stone age is offensive to the public and inexplicable in terms of our national interest. Recent history suggests that an open ground war may be kept at bay by such tactics but Israels international political capital is plummeting, we are seeing the successful creation of new generations of embittered Palestinians and Lebanese, stable Islamic societies are endangered and there is no improvement in real levels of security for Israelis.

    Oren Ben-Dor, from Nahariya in Northern Israel, and a lecturer in political philosophy at Southampton, questions what exactly is being defended by Israels actions. Is it the citizens of Israel or the nature of the Israeli state. He argues that Israels statehood is based on an unjust ideology which causes injustice to those classified as non-Jewish. The extreme examples of this were the ethnic cleansing of non Jewish peoples in 1948 and the internal displacement of the remainder for security reasons ever since. To hide this basic immorality Israel fosters an image of victim hood. An element in this is the provocation of violence against which the state must defend itself. Ben-Dor argues that by perpetuating such a tragic cycle Israel is a terrorist state like no other. He also argues against the fundamental wrong headedness of a Palestinian state as the corollary of the ill conceived and fundamentally flawed Jewish state.

    Citizens of any country deserve security and freedom. They deserve not to be targeted by terrorists. We expect the State to act defensively. For the sake of world peace Israel needs to be reigned in. Solutions do need to be found to the Israel/Palestine situation. This does not imply rolling back history but Palestinians have not been humiliated, bombed and assassinated back to a negotiating table and Israel may see no need to negotiate as long as it floats on a river of armaments and support from the richest power on earth.

    Britain needs to stand aside and take a more morally defensible position. Your present stance is part of the problem not part of the solution.

    Yours sincerely,

    Phil and Pauline McNulty

  2. Stop Chewing Dog Says:
    March 15th, 2010 at 12:49 am

    We wanted to get a discussion heading about this matter. Can anyone expand on just what exactly you published about the following?

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