Monday, July 24, 2006

Save Lebanon

“Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand.” Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9:4

As is well known, the Israeli war against the people of South Lebanon was apparently begun in retaliation of Hezbollah’s crossing of the "blue line" in an attack on Israeli troops. Hezbollah’s actions, apparently, were committed both in solidarity with the people of Gaza (who were under Israeli military attack) and the holding of Lebanese in prison in perpetuity (thus, Hezbollah demanded a prisoner exchange).

So, from the start of hostilities Israel has digressed to the following report:

“At least 381 people have been killed in Lebanon, including 20 soldiers and 11 Hezbollah fighters, according to security officials. At least 600,000 Lebanese have fled their homes, according to the World Health Organization. Lebanon's finance minister put the number at 750,000, nearly 20 percent of the population...Israel's death toll stands at 36, with 17 people killed by Hezbollah rockets and 19 soldiers killed in the fighting, which began when the guerrillas snatched two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in a brazen cross-border raid July 12.” Click here for the full story.

Meanwhile, the Israeli disregard for civilian life has increased. "They have been hitting civilian cars all over the place," said Peter Bouckart of Human Rights Watch, who had just returned to Beirut from Tyre. "I have been in many war zones, but this is one of the most dangerous places I have seen." Click here for the full story.

The Rose Crescent House of Peace appeals to all Israelis to immediately and unilaterally cease-fire.

Many analysts claim that Israel, who underestimated Hezbollah’s fighting ability, has been following a strategy designed to inflict maximum punishment against the people of Lebanon to turn them against Hezbollah. We believe the policy is both misguided and a violation of human rights.

If Hezbollah were to be utterly destroyed through a long bloody and costly war, the result would be new groups of men bent on avenging the bloodshed (and near genocide) that such a protracted war would inflict. These new groups would probably carryout terrorist operations beyond the immediate zone of conflict. A second, and serious consequence of a protracted “scorched earth” war, we believe, is the collapse of a central Lebanese authority, and the creation of a Lebanese failed state (a “black hole”) of extreme circumstances, suffering and extremist politics.

The best strategy to save Lebanon, we believe, is for Muslim countries, Israel, the USA and the EU to pursue is as follows:

(1) Assist the Lebanese central authority to continue to grow;
(2) Assist the economy of Lebanon to grow
(3) Guarantee the security and integrity of the Lebanese borders
(4) Recognize Hezbollah as it currently is (a state within a state)
(5) Dialogue with Hezbollah (and encourage them to join a broader Lebanese democratic framework) while encouraging it to become a charitable organization only

In addition, we encourage prisoner exchanges and non-partisan international troops along the border (as well as in Gaza and the West Bank).

The logic is simple: if there is no perceived threat to southern Lebanon, than there will be no justification for Hezbollah’s militia. Hezbollah would then slowly disarm within the framework of a democratic Lebanon, and become solely a charitable organization. (In fact, prior to the outbreak of hostitilities Lebanon's parliament was in the process of discussing the disarming of Hezbollah).

In summary, we believe the current war against Hezbollah will probably: (a) strengthen extremists in south Lebanon; (b) undermine the central authority of Lebanon; (c) wreak economic havoc on Lebanon for decades to come; and (d) create far more dangerous terrorist splinter groups, who will break away from Hezbollah.

The Rose Crescent calls on the international community to save Lebanon and to follow a path of sanity. In addition, we call on Hezbollah to follow a path of non-violence. We also endorse the Brussels-headquartered International Crisis Group call for an immediate cease-fire (click here).

What can you do? First, send a letter to your government representative; second, donate to a humanitarian organization of your choice (such as the International Red Crescent), working to assist the people of Lebanon.

(For an ongoing report on the situation visit Juan Cole's blog).

Related news: Lebanon Timeline

The following is updated regularly. Please check in for links.

"Watching Lebanon" by Seymour M. Hersch (click here)

India has condemned Israeli actions (click here )

Qatar warns against UN Mideast Draft (click here)

U.S. Media bias in the Lebanon War (click here)

Israel responded to an unprovoked attack by Hizbullah, right? Wrong Commentary by George Monbiot claiming Israel's attack was premeditated and offering a proposal for Israel to secure peace in the Middle East. (click here for complete commentary)

"Three of Israel's most successful authors and intellectuals — Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua — on Thursday urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to focus on diplomatic rather than military initiatives." (Click here for full story)

Hezbollah "The Best Guerrilla Force in the World" (Click here)

Many Israeli Soldiers are Angry and Critical (click here)

Ex-CIA Senior Official: " landscape...Hezbollah clear winner" (click here)

U.N. Official Condemns Israeli use of Cluster Bombs (many of which were dropped in the last 72 hours - with peace on the horizon) on civilian areas (which are now killing innocent children). (click here)


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