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AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER

By Dan Fleshler | October 2, 2007

Ameinu's web site AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER, has some informative pieces on Syria that stand in stark contrast to the don't-trust-Assad-under-any-circumstances pablum that is available from most American Jewish groups.

What follows is a tidbit from Gershon Baskin, a very wise Israeli Jew who for decades has carried out "Track 2" dialogue on the toughest issues with Arab counterparts, AUGMENTIN from canada, including Syrian politicians, AUGMENTIN interactions, diplomats and academics. He wrote this in mid-September, before Sec, AUGMENTIN reviews. of State Rice extended an invitation to Syria to attend the peace conference in November, Where can i buy AUGMENTIN online, a decision that reportedly made Dick Cheney furious. At the end of this excerpt is a quote from a Bush Administration official, almost certainly someone from the Cheney wing, AUGMENTIN overnight. I wonder whose information and insights deserve to be taken more seriously, Baskin and Track 2 diplomats who've been dealing with Syria for years, or the very same people whose information and insights got us into Iraq?, AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER. Hmmm.... No prescription AUGMENTIN online, I really can't decide, can you?:

From all indications that I have from talks with Syrian officials and from people who have met with the highest officials in Syria in the most recent past, Syria is quite anxious to be invited to the Washington meeting, buy cheap AUGMENTIN no rx. Senior Syrian officials and people close to the regime have told me and others that Syria is also ready to meet US demands as part and parcel of the peace deal with Israel and a promise of open and positive relations with the United States... Online AUGMENTIN without a prescription, ...Even Israeli intelligence reports assert that Syria is prepared to pick up formal direct negotiations with Israel. AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER, Everyone involved knows the contours of the potential agreement - the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for full and genuine peace with Israel.

Some Israelis and Americans who have been involved in Track II meetings that have been held with the agreement of senior officials in Damascus have noted more flexibility on Syria's positions concerning meeting Israel's security needs and on other strategic issues such as water.

According to people who speak regularly with Syrian officials, AUGMENTIN dose, Syria is not only willing, AUGMENTIN pics, but is in fact keen to be drawn away from their alliance with Iran. From the information that we have, Syria would be sincerely willing to take real steps to limit the power of Hizbullah and Hamas, AUGMENTIN from canadian pharmacy. But all of that can only be possible as part of a deal with Israel and with the inclusion and involvement of the United States.

Syria would be ready to replace its Iranian alliance with a new alliance with the United States, as long as it also includes a renewal of the Israeli-Syrian track and progress toward an agreement on the return of the Golan, AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER. Order AUGMENTIN online c.o.d, It is clear that if the US and Israel do not engage Syria, Damascus has the power to sabotage any Israeli-Palestinian progress, and is very likely to if its isolation is continued, AUGMENTIN used for. From its point of view, Where can i cheapest AUGMENTIN online, there is almost no reason why it shouldn't. The continued isolation of Syria by the US and Israel puts the entire potential success of the renewed Israeli-Palestinian track in question....

...I believe the Syrians would be responsive to quiet US diplomacy in the way of creating the mechanism for them to participate in November, about AUGMENTIN. AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER, I am sure that if the Syrians had an indication from the administration that a positive change in US-Syrian relations was on the way, they could also be quite helpful on the issue of the Israeli hostages in Lebanon and Gaza. There is so much more to be gained from Syrian engagement than from their isolation. Cheap AUGMENTIN, Regrettably, in a recent communication with a very senior policy-maker in the White House, I received the following response to the above ideas:

"I appreciate having your views, AUGMENTIN wiki, but you are right: I am not persuaded. AUGMENTIN long term, This (Syria) is a vicious brutal regime allied to Iran strategically, not tactically, engaged in helping kill Americans in Iraq, online buy AUGMENTIN without a prescription, helping the worst Palestinian terrorist forces, AUGMENTIN without a prescription, desperate to reassert its rule over Lebanon, and sponsoring not simply anti-Zionist but the most barbaric anti-Semitic views."

Similarly, contrast the quote from that Cheney acolyte with information imparted by David Lesch, buy AUGMENTIN without prescription, a Syria scholar who spoke at a recent Century Foundation lunch in NYC (an event I missed because I have to work for a living. AUGMENTIN online cod, Anyone have any ideas on how to solve that problem???). Lesch is well-connected to the Syrian intelligencia, AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER. His talk was summarized by Gidon Remba, Ameinu's Executive Director:

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been telling visiting scholars and diplomats that Syria's alliance with Iran, AUGMENTIN trusted pharmacy reviews, Hezbollah and Hamas is essentially tactical, Buy AUGMENTIN from canada, and largely expendable in exchange for the right incentives from the U.S. and Israel. Syria is a weak country, AUGMENTIN recreational, economically distressed and running out of oil; it is always seeking leverage, Australia, uk, us, usa, bargaining chips, and in need of Western and Sunni Arab aid. It will trade away its strategic assets with the Islamists in exchange for dividends of greater value from the West, discount AUGMENTIN. AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER, But it won't surrender its booty in advance of a negotiation, as the Bush Administration has demanded, before confirming that American and Israeli benefits will truly be forthcoming.

Bashar told Lesch in May 2007: "Whoever works more for our [Syria's] interests, Order AUGMENTIN online overnight delivery no prescription, I will be their friend. It is about interests, not ideology, AUGMENTIN mg, and if the United States works for my interests, AUGMENTIN dangers, I will be their friend." When one has few friends, Bashar intimated, one cannot be choosy, ordering AUGMENTIN online, implying that "Damascus has had no choice but to draw closer to Iran." But if "given a legitimate option in another direction, Comprar en línea AUGMENTIN, comprar AUGMENTIN baratos, it might loosen its ties to Teheran."

Bashar has also told Lesch that he would be a "hero" if he could bring about the return of the Golan to Syria through negotiations. If the U.S. continues down the path of isolation and confrontation with Syria, AUGMENTIN price, a largely Sunni state, Is AUGMENTIN safe, we will push it even more into the arms of Shia Iran and Hezbollah. The U.S. and Israel must now work towards an American-backed Israeli-Syrian peace treaty and arms control pact enabling Syria to join the U.S.-allied coalition of Sunni Arab states and Israel against Shia extremists—before the next, doses AUGMENTIN work, far more devastating war.

For decades, I thought this country was run by the kinds of people who used to try to beat me up in junior high. Now, I have come to realize that this country is being run by the kinds of people I used to pity in junior high, because they were a bit slow, they could not quite keep up...

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Topics: American foreign policy, Bush Administration, Dick Cheney, Israel, Middle East peace process | 71 Comments »

71 Responses to “AUGMENTIN OVER THE COUNTER”

  1. Shmuel Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    I havent commented here for a long time. I see you are still making the case for being nice and sweet to Israel’s enemies. So explain somehing to me, Mr. Realist:

    Assad was isolated in the late 1990s also. Maybe things weren’t as bad for him then as they are now, but Syria was not exactly given a boost by the Clinton Administration. I read that Assad had an offer on the table in which Barak would have given him almost the entire Golan Heights. But he wouldn’t take it because he insisted Syria had to have a little finger of land at the edge of the Kinneret (what you call Lake Tiberias in the States). If he had so many motives to switch his alliances and get help from the U.S. instead of Iran, why didn’t he jump at the chance then?

    And why is he building up a chemical arms capacity? Israel is not going to attack him unless it is provoked.

  2. Richard Witty Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    What creates confidence?

    Words? Probably not.

    We’re all in the dark about what happened with the IAF raid in Syria a couple weeks ago. Even Yossi Beilin asserted that he trusted the IDF to its purposes, and did NOT want to inquire publicly as to the mission of the raid.

    I don’t know if that makes Yossi Beilin naive in his ignorance, or wise in his knowledge.

    I’m not convinced that Syria MEANS to make peace. Recent events in Lebanon (escalations in rhetoric and resumptions of political assassinations with Syria’s fingerprints nearby) convince that Syria is NOT on an active peace track.

    More like, “make me an offer” status, waiting for the best deal.

    The Golan is difficult for Israel to give up. I visited the Golan in 68, with a reactionary taxi driver guide. He just about through my parents and I out of the car for questioning is vehemence.

    But, he did describe a pattern of Syria mortaring civilians in the Galilee periodically from 48 – 67. Sure, that is 40 years ago.

    Who knows if it would repeat.

    Israel though is waiting for confidence that it would not repeat, not a gamble.

    Assad is isolated because there are no more Baathists. No Nassers, no Saddams, no more.

    Shia in Lebanon and Iran have to be allies that they are reluctant to endear. Same with Hamas and other groups centered in Damascus.

    I would think that it would be far far more useful for Syria to be at peace with Israel and vice-versa. Damascus is only 130 miles from Jerusalem.

  3. Dan Fleshler Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Richard,

    It is certainly worth talking seriously to Assad, rather than FORCING him to be part of the “Axis of Evil.”

  4. Tom Mitchell Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Dan,
    Since I first read about the secret contacts with Syria in Ha’Aretz, if not before, I have believed that Israel has a much better chance of a peace agreement with Damascus than with Ramallah. I don’t think that the chances are necessarily good. But I think that both Assad and Olmert are strong enough to make concessions on the Syrian front. If Olmert is willing to learn the lessons from the last round when Barak blew his chance at Geneva in 2000, there might be a chance for a peace. But it is probably more likely that Syria just wants to end its isolation and figures that negotiations with Israel, but no deal, is the route to better ties with Washington.

    Neither Olmert nor Abu Mazen can afford to make the necessary compromises for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The situation may be ripe for peace with Syria; it certainly is not ripe for peace with the Palestinians.

  5. Richard Witty Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 5:46 am

    Talk to him yes. Be gullible no.

    Its neighbors. You have to make the best of what you got. They are not going away.

    Syria knows that. Israel knows that.

    Syria wants the Golan. Are they willing to PERMANENTLY renounce aggression on Israel? Its high ground, strategic ground.

    Its not holy land they are talking about, but safety.

    When Syria is ready to make that commitment in fact, and show it, then there is a prospect of peace and return of that territory.

    The construction of “Syria must be in relationship with somebody” is accurate. They need to trade. They need to function.

    And, a peace that is an advantage primarily is not really a peace.

  6. Richard Witty Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 5:55 am

    Holy land has always struck me as odd.

    For a religion, its very odd, as it makes the land the thing (idolatry) that is worshipped.

    Not God, not the relationships that constitute a holy community.

    Land, and particularly exclusive rights to land, strikes me as at best a means to an end, a means to the end of a vibrant whole Jewish community.

    Politics too. They seem to me to be a means to health, not the substance of it, though I am attracted to the slogan “the means are the ends”, meaning when we get to a respectful means of communicating, collaborating and resolving conflicts, we’ve made holy land.

    So, I don’t get those that are willing to die and harm for possession of the land, rather than those that are willing to work for the vibrancy of the people.

  7. John Sigler Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Syria has really been an over inflated threat since the Camp David Accords made peace between Israel and Egypt. Since that time, Syria has not posed a viable threat to the existence of Israel and, of course, still does not.

    In 1991 Syria joined with the anti-Iraq coalition, led by the US, and has, since that time been actively trying to improve relations with the West in general; an effort that has largely succeeded with everyone except the US. [See, for example: http://www.delsyr.ec.europa.eu/ & all the EU/Syrian projects: http://www.delsyr.ec.europa.eu/en/eu_and_syria/euro_projects.htm ]

    Syria made more progress with building relations with the US after 9/11 as they both shared the same enemy – Sunni fundamentalists, of whom Syria has butchered vastly more than the US has – in fact, I saved the immediate Syrian response to 9/11 on my “International Islamic Response” website http://iir.internetactivist.org/ [For the Syrian response and US reaction, see: http://iir.internetactivist.org/044.html ] and, of course, they’ve also opened the door to Iraqi refugees, which will be enough to keep them busy for quite sometime. However, it has primarily been the influence of the Israel lobby in the US that has prevented a warming of relations as is meticulously documented by Mearsheimer & Walt (“The Israel Lobby” pp. 263-279). US animosity toward Syria makes no sense whatsoever outside of this context.

    As for Israeli-Syrian relations, in the end – as was just reaffirmed by the Syrians, http://www.metimes.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20071001-090911-4034r – it all boils down to the Golan Heights as far as Syria is concerned. What you have to keep in mind is that for Syria, the issue is more than one of land, but also the close to 200,000 Syrian internal displaced (de facto refugees, but officially “displaced persons”) that is still a pressing problem for the country: http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/062000/0006010.html

    Syria can – and does – support anti-Israeli terrorist groups (e.g. Hamas) as well as legitimate resistance movements (e.g. Hizb-ut-Allah) and it has significant irritation value, but does not represent a viable threat to Israel’s existence or to its control of the Golan. As your Gershon Baskin excerpt argues, all Syrian hostility to Israel today (and this was certainly NOT always the case, but times and attitudes change) is based on the continued Israeli occupation of the Golan. In the end, it isn’t all that difficult: no compromise on the Golan, no peace with Syria. And compromise is possible, for example turning the Golan into a jointly administered demilitarized zone (Israel administrating Israeli residents; Syria administering Syrian returnees) has often been suggested.

    However, although Syria poses no serious threat to Israel’s existence, it does have a “doomsday” option that provides adequate deterrence against any full Israeli attack. Namely, it has massive stockpiles of chemical weapons – http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/syria/cw.htm – as well as basic ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons – http://www.fas.org/irp/nic/bmthreat-2015.htm . While the bulk of the Syrian missile arsenal is crude Scud missiles with limited directional control, Syria is close enough to Israel that a great deal of precision isn’t necessary, as if they lob them at Israel they’ll hit something. Of course a few Scuds full of sarin in Tel Aviv or other major population centers brings the whole Zionist experiment to an end within a decade (demographics) so it isn’t something Israel wants to risk. Nevertheless, no one – not the Syrians or anyone else – questions that should Syria attack Israel in such a way Israel would utterly and completely destroy Syria, so it is a deterrence situation, not an active threat. Syria will only use this option if it firmly believes it has absolutely nothing to lose, i.e. a full blown Israeli attack. This also means that Israel knows it is relatively safe in the occasional air strike or the like.

    Anyway, I think it is fairly obvious to any objective observer that the Israeli/Pro-Israeli demonization campaign against Syria is just because Israel has no intention whatsoever of putting the Golan Heights on the negotiating table, and that is the only thing that Syria seriously wants. So, I believe Israel has decided that the Golan Heights are a fair exchange for eternal enmity with Syria as Syria is no real threat. This is part of the reason why I believe the Saudi Initiative will never get off the ground as the Israelis won’t negotiate the point and this is the only point the Syrians wants to negotiate and this is an integral element of the Saudi plan. If Syria were to be removed from the Saudi proposal it would be much more likely to advance.

  8. John Sigler Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Dan – I just posted a rather lengthy comment on this thread, but it did include a number of URLs (to substantiate my contentions) so it may have went into your spam blocker. Please check & release. – Thanks, John S.

  9. Dan Fleshler Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Did as you suggested, John. Thanks for the comment.

  10. Tom Mitchell Says:
    October 4th, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    John,
    In 2000 Barak offered Assad the return of all but a small sliver of the Golan, around the Kinneret, and offered a swop for it. Part of the problem with the Syrian demands is that the Syrian demands violate the logic of the Arab demands. The Arabs demand the return of all territory they lost in June 1967 due to “the inadmissability of acquisition by force.” Yet some of the territory that Israel acquired from Syria had earlier been conquered by Syria after 1949 when the armistice agreement was signed. That is why the Israeli offer of a return to the 1949 armistice line or the 1923 international border between mandatory Syria and mandatory Palestine seems to me to be fairer.

    In reality I think that Hafiz al-Assad determined that he could not accept less than Sadat received from Israel. Bashir can’t accept less than what his father was willing to accept, so in reality if Israel wants a peace agreement it will probably have to return to the 1967 border–as much as the border can be determined 40 years later.

    No one can really know whether or not the Ba’athist regime in Damascus has given up on its old dream of a Greater Syria encompassing Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. They haven’t seemed to have given up on their dream of controlling Lebanon.

  11. John Sigler Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Dan: Thanks for finding & releasing my earlier post.

    Tom: “In 2000 Barak offered Assad the return of all but a small sliver of the Golan, around the Kinneret, and offered a swop for it. Part of the problem with the Syrian demands is that the Syrian demands violate the logic of the Arab demands.”

    The implication of your comments is that Barak offered and Syria refused, which is completely mistaken; Barak offered and then Barak backed out, the Syrians were willing to accept his offer and all observers – including the U.S. – firmly recognized that it was Barak, not Syria, that prevented the deal from going through. By the time the issue was being taken seriously, Barak was desperate to show how “tough” he could be in response to Sharon’s challenge to the prime ministership and further polling had shown that there was very little support among the Israeli public for returning the Golan. It was Barak, not the Syrians, who prevented a deal from happening to the chagrin of both the Syrians and the Clinton administration. Barak offered and Barak reneged, don’t blame the Syrians.

    “No one can really know whether or not the Ba’athist regime in Damascus has given up on its old dream of a Greater Syria encompassing Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. They haven’t seemed to have given up on their dream of controlling Lebanon.”

    This is, of course, total rubbish based on something that hasn’t been true since at the latest the 1960′s (prior to the Six Day War). Syria has a myriad of interests in Lebanon – just as Israel does – and therefore its operations there (like Israel’s) are not surprising, but they do not equate a “dream of controlling” the country. Do they want their allies to be in strong position? Yes, but then again, so does the US (and thus, by extension Israel) and such meddling can certainly be condemned on its own merits, but that hardly amounts to a dream for “Greater Syria.” Keep in mind, no resistance movement on par with Hizbollah developed in reaction to the alleged “Syrian occupation” and it was ended through primarily non-violent popular protest and diplomatic pressure (re: the “Cedar Revolution” such as it was); not exactly the response to be expected by people seeking to permanently control parts of Lebanon (e.g. the Lebanese perception of the former Israeli “security zone”). Further, even the pro-Western government of Lebanon condemned Israel’s recent air raid against Syria, not exactly the reaction one would expect from a government fearing Syrian occupation.

    As for the Palestinians, the Syrians have full diplomatic relations with the PLO, which would not be the case if they were making demands on Palestinian territory, instead they would establish a rival faction among their own Palestinian population to support their demands (this was the case back in the 1970′s and early 1980′s). With respect to Israel, I don’t believe Syria – like anyone else in the region – harbors any fantasies that Israel is going to vanish or that conquest is an option. Syria in particular has no doubt about Israel’s military prowess and if it weren’t for the Golan I’m sure they would rush to sign a peace treaty with Israel today.

  12. Richard Witty Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Desiring to “conquer” isn’t the appropriate yardstick.

    Although Syria joined trying to conquer in 1948, 1967, and 1973, prior to 1967 it “merely” shelled primarily civilians.

    Shelling civilians is bad enough, worthy to prevent.

    Also prior to 1967, there were strong words over the rights to the water in the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), which are still a prospective conflict if Syria sought its pre-1967 border on the Sea. (Was it Dan that described the 1949 border as more attractive to Israel?)

    I find it ironic that John S uses the term “legitimate resistance movement” to describe Hezbollah.

    When Israel was in Lebanon, that description might have been appropriate. The only resistance however that Hezbollah is currently engaged in is relative to Lebanon itself.

    The war last year was initiated by Hezbollah shelling civilian towns. They might have thought of it as “merely” a minor abduction.

    Israel clearly didn’t. Israel thought of it as the initiation of a third front in a war. Syria would have constituted a fourth front.

    Peace is made of different stuff.

  13. John Sigler Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Richard,

    ”Also prior to 1967, there were strong words over the rights to the water in the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), which are still a prospective conflict if Syria sought its pre-1967 border on the Sea. (Was it Dan that described the 1949 border as more attractive to Israel?)”

    True, but as was noted compromise on this point is not impossible. For example, the Barak compromise that Tom alluded to addressed this concern and Syria was willing to accept this until Barak changed his mind. It is an issue, but not a real impediment to peace.

    ”When Israel was in Lebanon, that description might have been appropriate. The only resistance however that Hezbollah is currently engaged in is relative to Lebanon itself.”

    Actually, you’re mistaken, they are still resisting the Israeli occupation of the Shebaa Farms district (http://www.shebaafarms.org/ ). In fact, the 2006 Hizbollah raid into Israeli territory (the “Zar’it-Shtula incident” or “Operation Truthful Promise”) was done specifically to capture “bargaining chips” to trade for the release of Hizbollah hostages still held by Israel (e.g. http://www.samirkuntar.org/ ).

    ”The war last year was initiated by Hezbollah shelling civilian towns. They might have thought of it as “merely” a minor abduction.”

    Again you’re mistaken. Hostilities were initiated when Hizbollah hit an IDF patrol between Zar’it and Shtula in northern Israel, killing three IDF soldiers and capturing two. In making their escape they got into a fire fight with other IDF forces, killing five more IDF soldiers that pursued them into Lebanon. Prior to the actual raid on the IDF patrol, there were some diversionary strikes at IDF positions at Zar’it and Shelomi (Israeli towns), but they were purely diversionary, composed of one Katyusha rocket and several mortars and no one was hurt in the process.

    “Israel clearly didn’t. Israel thought of it as the initiation of a third front in a war.”

    As is well documented, Israel responded to this raid with a full blown systematic massacre of civilians across Lebanon. To quote Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of the Northern Command at the time: “Once it is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate — not just southern Lebanon, not just the line of Hezbollah posts.” (CNN, 12 July 2006) And this is precisely how Israel responded; murdering civilians across the country on a vastly larger scale than anything Hizbollah could ever imagine doing. ALL human rights organizations that examined the situation in Lebanon – while condemning Hizbollah for illegally attacking Israeli civilian targets – flatly condemned Israel for not only attacking civilian targets and using cluster munitions to increase the slaughter of civilians. While some Hizbollah and Lebanese Army posts were hit, these were a very small fraction of the targets bombed by Israel, graphically illustrating that the systematic massacre of civilians was precisely what Israel intended.

    Hizbollah isn’t “nice” when it comes to Israel and I firmly agree that the deliberate targeting of civilian communities in northern Israel constitutes a criminal act; but there is absolutely no pretense to parity with the IDF, no equivalence whatsoever. No matter how bad Hizbollah has behaved, its worst actions are not comparable with the average Israeli murder spree, much less the campaign in July 2006. The proof is in the body counts, when it comes to butchering the innocent Hizbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and so on don’t even come close Israel’s record.

  14. Richard Witty Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    “Actually, you’re mistaken, they are still resisting the Israeli occupation of the Shebaa Farms district”

    Except for the 2002 UN certification that Israel had entirely removed its troops from Lebanese soil.

    Hezbollah is NO resistance movement. It is a militant movement that gets is validity only in an environment of struggle, not in an environment of acceptance.

    “Again you’re mistaken. Hostilities were initiated when Hizbollah hit an IDF patrol between Zar’it and Shtula in northern Israel, killing three IDF soldiers and capturing two. In making their escape they got into a fire fight with other IDF forces, killing five more IDF soldiers that pursued them into Lebanon. Prior to the actual raid on the IDF patrol, there were some diversionary strikes at IDF positions at Zar’it and Shelomi (Israeli towns), but they were purely diversionary, composed of one Katyusha rocket and several mortars and no one was hurt in the process.”

    Again, the UN account of the event was that Hezbollah initiated the conflict by shelling two towns for three hours, THEN conducting the abduction after Israeli forces moved from their protective positions to defend the towns.

    Israel lost control of its objective in the war and then therefore lost both its focus and discipline. That is the shared understanding of left and right regarding the operation in Lebanon. But, BOTH left and right regarded the operation as an intentional initiation of a third front during a revival of violence in both Gaza and the West Bank. Iran was at least indirectly involved in the Hezbollah initiated event, and threatened a larger escalation.

    Israel rightly perceived it as an indirectly (or directly) coordinated war.

    The body counts are no proof of anything, as Hezbollah built its rocket launchers IN civilian communities, in schools, hospitals, etc. Genuinely human shields. But, they themselves were conducting a military operation, NOT a resistance one.

    “Shabaa Farms”.

    “resistance movement”.

    You reveal your prejudice John.

  15. Richard Witty Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    The prejudice is revealed in the rhetoric.

    And you somehow expect common Israelis that are subject to shelling to trust your gamble of a single-state?

  16. John Sigler Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    “Except for the 2002 UN certification that Israel had entirely removed its troops from Lebanese soil.”

    What I find interesting about the UN certification is that it completely discards both the Lebanese and Syrian position – that the district is Lebanese – in favor of the Israeli position, that it is Syrian. However, the point is rather immaterial either way, in that whether the district is Lebanese or Syrian it is still illegally occupied by Israel (no one, not even Israel, claims that it is Israeli land) and of course Hizbollah is both pro-Lebanese and pro-Syrian, so it views its resistance as justified.

    “Hezbollah is NO resistance movement. It is a militant movement that gets is validity only in an environment of struggle, not in an environment of acceptance.”

    This too is factually incorrect as is undeniably attested to by Hizbollah’s transition into a political party – with plenty of Sunni and Christian allies (in fact several Christians even ran for parliament on the Hizbollah ticket) – a role that has not ended. Right now, Hizbollah’s primary activity is political, not militant at all and their protests against the undemocratic pro-US government has primarily been legal and peaceful using the EXACT same tactics used by the pro-US faction in the “Cedar Revolution.” Of course they don’t get the same level of diplomatic support as the pro-US faction did, so it hasn’t really worked, but even at that they haven’t resorted to militant insurrection. Believe it or not, all Lebanese, of all factions, are absolutely terrified of reactivating the civil war that utterly tore the country apart. No one, including Hizbollah, has any interest whatsoever in that happening.

    “Again, the UN account of the event was that Hezbollah initiated the conflict by shelling two towns for three hours, THEN conducting the abduction after Israeli forces moved from their protective positions to defend the towns.”

    Really? Do me a favor and back up this contention. Post a link to the UN document you are citing. If my understanding is wrong, I’ll take the UN’s word for it and revise this subsidiary point of my argument accordingly.

    “Israel lost control of its objective in the war and then therefore lost both its focus and discipline. That is the shared understanding of left and right regarding the operation in Lebanon.”

    Well of course this is the “party line” today, after all, you can’t really expect most Israelis – right or left – to freely admit that they engaged in a deliberate campaign of mass murder against defenseless civilians. However, the quote by Maj. Gen. Udi Adam cited in my last post came on July 12, so they must of “lost control of its objective” within 24 hours of the beginning of the conflict. In which case, it’s rather difficult to argue that the objective was something other than the wholesale slaughter of defenseless civilians.

    “But, BOTH left and right regarded the operation as an intentional initiation of a third front during a revival of violence in both Gaza and the West Bank.”

    Frankly, I agree with this basic assessment. I do agree that Hizbollah saw the situation as “ripe” for raid into Israel. Further, if Israel had responded with some vague semblance of proportionality I doubt most people – my self included – would have been near as critical of the campaign. Hizbollah certainly provoked the incident and Israel had every right to reply, even with overwhelming force against Hizbollah, but the wholesale slaughter against civilians that it unleashed was completely and utterly unjustified and remains so.

    “Iran was at least indirectly involved in the Hezbollah initiated event, and threatened a larger escalation.”

    Insofar as Iran arms and supports Hizbollah this might be a legitimate statement, but there was no possibility of a major escalation involving Iran and everyone knows it.

    “Israel rightly perceived it as an indirectly (or directly) coordinated war.”

    Coordinated by Hizbollah? Certainly. Coordinated by Iran? Prove it. You won’t because you can’t, its nothing more than completely unsubstantiated speculation.

    “The body counts are no proof of anything, as Hezbollah built its rocket launchers IN civilian communities, in schools, hospitals, etc. Genuinely human shields.”

    That is an absolute lie that was firmly discredited by human rights workers on the ground (UN, AI, & HRW) at the time dodging Israeli bombs and missiles. There is absolutely no proof – none – to substantiate this completely and utterly discredited bit of propaganda and the HR workers were under pressure to find evidence of this (they all mention looking for this and NOT finding any evidence of it at all). Hizbollah exists on the sufferance of those civilians that Israel massacred (which is one argument I saw from the Israeli Right defending the slaughter, I think it was at Gamla) and they have NEVER (neither during the Israeli occupation nor after it) deliberately endangered their own communities (where their wives and parents and children live) by using their own families as “human shields.” Not only is this a lie, but it is an effort at dehumanization by showing what “monsters” they are, that is, it’s a blood libel.

  17. John Sigler Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    And Richard…

    As for my rhetoric and the tone of my replies since topic moved from the general geo-political significance of Syria to the Summer War of last year, this doesn’t express prejudice, it expresses outrage.

    At the time, three friends of mine were on the ground in Lebanon working with a small NGO in the Palestinian refugee camps. They had access to all the material coming out of Lebanon at the time, the video, the photos, and so on providing absolute undeniable proof of what Israel was doing. Much more comprehensive information than most of the world was getting graphically showing what Israel was doing across the country. It was all completely outrageous by any conceivable stretch of the imagination, and when this topic comes up I can’t help but express this outrage.

    This completely eradicated any lingering belief that I might have had that the Israeli credo of “purity of arms” was anything more than an empty propaganda slogan or that there was any lingering pretense to humane behavior among the IDF. It made the raids of the Janjawid Militia in Darfur look like a bad joke. And the fact that this slaughter was done in the name of the state of the “Jewish people” is such a obscenity as to make Holocaust deniers and Neo-Nazis look like an insignificant nuisance compared to the IDF in the effort to vilify the Jewish people.

    Frankly, if you want to get me all fired up, defending the slaughter in Lebanon of last year is one very effective way of doing that.

  18. Richard Witty Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 7:28 am

    John,
    It expresses BOTH outrage and prejudice.

    You select what you consider truth. “They had access to all the material coming out of Lebanon at the time, the video, the photos, and so on providing absolute undeniable proof of what Israel was doing.”

    Your key word was the word “all”. That is an exageration.

    If you heard me “defending the slaughter in Lebanon of last year is one very effective way of doing that”.

    The significance of maintaining a clear objective and strategy, IS that it focuses on that objective and does NOT degrade into wholesale slaughter.

    I’ll find the UN reference. I’m not making it up. I read it on a UN website during the week of the war.

    That historical tidbit of the sequence was lost to the left.

    You call Hezbollah a “legitimate resistance movement”, and that prejudice defines your description.

    You shift to actually defending Hezbollah, imagining that somehow it does NOT intentionally agitate as its means of “organizing”, does not intentionally shell civilians.

    And, that its agitation is somehow morally superior to Israel’s.

    Shall we both get fired up?

    Hezbollah and human shields. The siting of their rockets, their weapons caches, IS in villages, in towns. It is not separate, not distinctly military.

    That might be relevant for self-defense. (Certainly Israeli outpost has weapons caches.) And, at the same time, when a conflict escalates to the status of war, those weapons caches become a target, and if they are located near schools/hospitals function rhetorically for the left as human shields.

    If it was NOT a military objective to attack them.

    Was it a war?

    YES. It was a third and prospectively fourth front in a campaign, intentionally and opportunistically encouraged, with the fantasy of seeking advantage.

    Shabaa Farms, as a justification for shelling civilians.

    ODD.

  19. Richard Witty Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 7:41 am

    At least we agree that Israel was right in responding militarily, and we are also in agreement that the Israeli response was unfocused and therefore cruel and unnecessary.

    We disagree about the nature and veracity of Hezbollah. At the time I read Hezbollah press statements, by Nasrallah directly, that the abduction occurred deep within Lebanon, later discovered to be entirely and intentionally false (though never acknowledged by Hezbollah as intentionally false).

    While many, I assume John, distrust Israeli official statements, I utterly distrust Hezbollah public statements.

    I am not gullible in the slightest.

    Israel is guilty of not understanding the significance of many of their military actions on the ground, how it is perceived, and perceivable.

    Hezbollah is similarly utterly ignorant (and John S is in defending them as “legitimate resistance movement”) as to the significance of the timing of adding a third active front.

    Syria was NOT that stupid. In the same context, they restrained from making war. They knew, rightfully, that in a time of assault, a military response is more likely to be excessive than to be insufficient.

    It is a principle of the shift in logic during war, that success in achieving the mission trumps the ethics to achieve the mission. That is the distinction between a state of war and a petty agitation.

    Hezbollah erred enormously in making war, not agitating, in this case.

    It is a consequence of its militancy, its failure to act in ways that enable communications so as to diffuse potential conflicts and actually get some reality check on likely consequences.

    While Syria is in a state of conflict with Israel, it does have those channels.

    It takes recognition of Israel to make that happen (which Syria does not have formally).

  20. Richard Witty Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Hezbollah’s means of making war.

    In Lebanon it was a bait and entrap process. They wanted Israeli military deaths. They wanted that “victory”.

    In Israel it was to shell civilian cities with innaccurate but still deadly missiles.

    Nothing strategic about it. Perhaps conceived of as a deterrence.

    Used though.

    And, the left regards that as “valid resistance”.

  21. Richard Witty Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 9:08 am

    “New Crisis Erupts

    New hostilities on the Israeli-Lebanese border started on 12 July 2006 when Hizbollah launched several rockets from Lebanese territory across the Blue Line towards IDF positions near the coast and in the area of the Israeli town of Zarit. In parallel, Hizbollah fighters crossed the Blue Line into Israel, attacked an Israeli patrol and captured two Israeli soldiers, killed three others and wounded two more. The captured soldiers were taken into Lebanon.

    Subsequent to the attack on the patrol, a heavy exchange of fire ensued across the Blue Line between Hizbollah and the IDF. While the exchange of fire stretched over the entire length of the Line, it was heaviest in the areas west of Bint Jubayl and in the Shabaa farms area. Hizbollah targeted IDF positions and Israeli towns south of the Blue Line. Israel retaliated by ground, air and sea attacks. In addition to air strikes on Hizbollah positions, the IDF targeted numerous roads and bridges in southern Lebanon, within and outside the UNIFIL area of operations”

    “http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/background.html”

    This report used different wording for the incident from an earlier draft siting more dense shelling of two Israeli towns, not “near one”.

    Nevertheless, it does describe the abduction as intentional and coordinated, and a much larger and more intentional operation than the left selects.

    The United Nations report of the history differs radically in interpretation.

    It does NOT name Hezbollah as a “legitimate resistance organization”, but more accurately describes what I interpret as a deferred civil war in which Hezbollah is primarily seeking advantage and credibility for its effort to dominate Lebanese politics.

  22. John Sigler Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Richard,

    It expresses BOTH outrage and prejudice.

    No, it does not. Since you apparently have no idea what the word “prejudice” means, let me cite the Miriam-Webster Dictionary Online to you:

    Prejudice: “1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especially : detriment to one’s legal rights or claims
    2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics”

    None of this applicable to my comments in any way. The outrages of Israel’s assault on Lebanon was photographed, videoed, and witnessed beyond any rational dispute. There is no prejudice in my comment, just outrage.

    “Your key word was the word “all”. That is an exageration.

    This, for example, is a statement of prejudice in that you’re just “pre judging” that my contention is an exaggeration; you have no idea how much material I was getting from these people at all.

    ”You call Hezbollah a “legitimate resistance movement”, and that prejudice defines your description.”

    Of course this is inaccurate as well. Hizbollah was initially a terrorist organization, but it turned itself into a legitimate resistance movement and remains one to this day. They haven’t engaged in any action that could be considered “terrorist” unless you’re willing to apply the same label to the IDF, who similarly abducted enemy combatants and shelled defenseless civilians. You can’t have it both ways, either Hizbollah AND the IDF are terrorist formations, or neither of them are as Hizbollah engages in no militant activity that the IDF does not.

    ”You shift to actually defending Hezbollah, imagining that somehow it does NOT intentionally agitate as its means of “organizing”, does not intentionally shell civilians. And, that its agitation is somehow morally superior to Israel’s.”

    Perhaps you should go back and re-read what I wrote. If you do so, you’ll notice I said nothing of the sort.

    ”Hezbollah and human shields. The siting of their rockets, their weapons caches, IS in villages, in towns. It is not separate, not distinctly military.”

    I’ll repeat my previous challenge yet again, prove this contention with documentation from an impartial source. You won’t because you can’t; it’s just an Israeli blood libel out to demonize the civilians being slaughtered. There were some towns with arms caches and the like, but that isn’t good enough to justify bombing the communities into oblivion (the legal standard being “military necessity”), which is precisely why the hasbaraniks opted to make up the lie that Hizbollah was actively firing from these communities (which would thereby reach the “military necessity” threshold), a charge that has been completely discredited by third party observers on the ground. So, am I wrong? Prove it.

    ”At the time I read Hezbollah press statements, by Nasrallah directly, that the abduction occurred deep within Lebanon, later discovered to be entirely and intentionally false (though never acknowledged by Hezbollah as intentionally false).”

    That much is true and I’ve never said otherwise.

    ”While many, I assume John, distrust Israeli official statements, I utterly distrust Hezbollah public statements.”

    Fair enough. This is why the third party observers were so important. By the end of the first week, there were third party observers EVERYWHERE which is why what Israel did was so well documented. It is also why Israel is so opposed to official peacekeepers or other third party observers on the ground in the OPTs.

    ”Israel is guilty of not understanding the significance of many of their military actions on the ground, how it is perceived, and perceivable.”

    This is a matter of opinion both ways, but I don’t agree with this at all. Just as the general said on the first day of the conflict, I believe they knew exactly what they were doing and did it deliberately. It was one of those occasions where the official statements and the actions on the ground coincided perfectly. Just as importantly, in the beginning, Israel didn’t even seem to deny that widespread mass murder was their intention, it was only once so much uncontestable documentation of what was happening became readily available (something my friends on the ground played a direct role in) that the Israeli government changed its tune. Worse, Israel kept it up long after everyone knew exactly what was going on, again arguing that they both knew what they were doing and were doing it deliberately.

    ”Hezbollah is similarly utterly ignorant (and John S is in defending them as ‘legitimate resistance movement’) as to the significance of the timing of adding a third active front.”

    Rubbish. I think we both agree that Hizbollah knew what it was doing and timed it appropriately by their lights; I think it is fairly undeniable that they were trying to take advantage of Israel’s situation vis-à-vis the Palestinians. And again this in no way justifies Israel’s response.

    ”It is a principle of the shift in logic during war, that success in achieving the mission trumps the ethics to achieve the mission. That is the distinction between a state of war and a petty agitation.”

    Maybe if you’re a Nazi, or in a Darfurian militia, but realistically the reason there are laws of war and thus “war crimes” or “Crimes Against Humanity” is specifically because this “shift in logic” that “the ends justifies the means” (re: “that success in achieving the mission trumps the ethics to achieve the mission”) IS NOT acceptable among civilized nations. In fact, following the rules of war is one of the defining characteristics of civilized nations. Those who adopt this “shift in logic” are war criminals and deserve to be strung up in Nuremburg or imprisoned for life via the Hague as surely as any Nazi, Serbian militiaman, or Rwandian butcher. The “ends never justify the means” when the means are illegal indiscriminate mass murder.

    “Hezbollah erred enormously in making war, not agitating, in this case.”

    I agree and disagree. Hizbollah was certainly not expecting the Israeli response that came about; nor, frankly, was anyone else except those that just automatically assume the very worst about Israel (and no, that doesn’t include me). No one expected that particular reaction from what realistically amounted to a minor border raid; it would be as though Syria decided to launch all out war on Israel because of the recent bombing raid; grossly out of proportion to the provocation. However, in the end, Hizbollah emerged much stronger and in much higher popular estimation than they had prior to the conflict.

    ”And, the left regards that as ‘valid resistance’.”

    Yet again, go back and re-read what I actually wrote as opposed to falsely putting words in my mouth. All the same third party observers that condemned Israel’s onslaught in Lebanon just as surely condemned Hizbollah’s attacks on the civilian communities of Israel as well. Yes, there were lots of third party observers on the Israeli side of the Blue Line as well. These attacks were condemned as “Crimes Against Humanity” and I completely concur. Nevertheless, if you want to talk about equivalency, there is none as Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity were on a vastly larger scale if only because they had better weapons and range.

    “New hostilities on the Israeli-Lebanese border started on 12 July 2006 when Hizbollah launched several rockets from Lebanese territory across the Blue Line towards IDF positions near the coast and in the area of the Israeli town of Zarit. In parallel, Hizbollah fighters crossed the Blue Line into Israel, attacked an Israeli patrol and captured two Israeli soldiers, killed three others and wounded two more. The captured soldiers were taken into Lebanon.”

    This completely agrees with what I said previously. Your contention – and the one I want you to document – is that ”the UN account of the event was that Hezbollah initiated the conflict by shelling two towns for three hours, THEN conducting the abduction after Israeli forces moved from their protective positions to defend the towns.” This account does not substantiate your contention at all, it substantiates the narrative I provided previously.

    ”Nevertheless, it does describe the abduction as intentional and coordinated, and a much larger and more intentional operation than the left selects.”

    This wasn’t what I disputed. In fact, I even agreed with you on this particular aspect of the question.

  23. Richard Witty Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    I’m not going into an exegesis of your comments, John.

    I contest ANY inference that Hezbollah is a “legitimate resistance movement”.

    It is an opportunist party, at least partially a proxy of Iran, that is trying to take over Lebanon.

    According to multiple UN resolutions, Hezbollah has been declared to be an extra-legal militia. The latest UN resolution required the demilitarization of the region between the current border and the Litani, which Hezbollah has violated.

    It is an extra-legal militia in Lebanon, an army pretending to be political. They should choose.

    The UNIFIL report sited was vague. The original citation that I read at the time did describe the shelling of Israeli towns (plural) for between two and three hours prior to the abduction, as an intentional tactic.

    Notables often cited by the left, Noam Chomsky and Juan Cole, repeated the original Hezbollah assertion that Israel initiated the raid inside Lebanon, and that Hezbollah conducted a “heroic” defensive action. (Pretty gullible if you ask me.)

    Even your comment of Hezbollah’s intent at the time sounded horrendously gullible to me, John. My understanding of your description was that they sought bargaining chips to trade for Hezbollah prisoners in Israeli jails. EXCEPT that there were only 4 at the time, and that they demanded instead the release of hundreds of Palestinian women as justification.

    You can paint Hezbollah as a “legitimate resistance movement” if you like, but it smells.

    The “shift in logic” during wartime from an emphasis on restraint to an emphasis on accomplishment of mission, occurs in EVERY war, and by every party. The tactitions are given the power.

    Those that start wars should be accountable for the unleashing of the violence.

    Hezbollah was naive to the point of criminality to think that in an environment of already existing near-war, that Israel would allow further warring/opportunism on a third front.

    Shelling Haifa is a war crime. Thanks for the acknowledgement.

    Taking out an electrical grid, or a transportation system, is not.

    In Israel, the responsibility for the failure to define a mission rests at the top. The consequences of that failure were that tactitions were given vague but rhetorical instructions. The Sharonists assumed that the orders were to occupy again and executed that strategy. The absence of consistent guidelines as to how to deal with civilians, was a serious negligence, a violation of both international norms, AND Israeli norms.

    The failure resulted in two poor consequences: unnecessary abuses of many Lebanese civilians, and also importantly, the failure of the IDF to remove Hezbollah as a militia in the region. (The UN had already failed at that.)

  24. Richard Witty Says:
    October 6th, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    ” preconceived judgment or opinion”

    This is the definition of “prejudice” that I consider relevant.

  25. John Sigler Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 12:41 am

    I contest ANY inference that Hezbollah is a “legitimate resistance movement”. … You can paint Hezbollah as a “legitimate resistance movement” if you like, but it smells.

    I suspected as much as soon as I pointed out that Hizbollah does not use any tactics today (this wasn’t always true, but certainly has been for the last 20 years or more) that the IDF does not. However, it is a matter of opinion and, of course, you’re as welcome to yours as I am to mine.

    The UNIFIL report sited was vague. The original citation that I read at the time did describe the shelling of Israeli towns (plural) for between two and three hours prior to the abduction, as an intentional tactic.

    Nevertheless, I notice that you can’t seem to produce a link. Keep in mind that virtually ALL UN documents relating to Israel/Palestine, as well as great many related to Lebanon and Syria can be found at the UNISPAL site: http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf

    Notables often cited by the left, Noam Chomsky and Juan Cole, repeated the original Hezbollah assertion that Israel initiated the raid inside Lebanon, and that Hezbollah conducted a “heroic” defensive action.

    I didn’t follow Chomsky’s comments on it very closely, but I believe you are right about Juan Cole in this instance. However, what precisely is your point?

    Even your comment of Hezbollah’s intent at the time sounded horrendously gullible to me, John. My understanding of your description was that they sought bargaining chips to trade for Hezbollah prisoners in Israeli jails. EXCEPT that there were only 4 at the time, and that they demanded instead the release of hundreds of Palestinian women as justification.

    Odd, that Israel can be so upset about its three hostages (one in Gaza, two in Lebanon) but you automatically assume that Hizbollah couldn’t possibly be as passionate about its four hostages held by Israel. For the record, before Israel’s grossly disproportionate response, the Hizbollah operation was called “Freedom for Samir Al-Quntar and his brothers” (via Dr Mohamad Jawad Khalifeh, on Hizbollah’s Al Manar TV, see also related: BBC “Nasrallah Demands Militant Freed” 09/12/2006 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5340364.stm) and was only later renamed “Operation Truthful Promise.” As for the demands for the release of hundreds of Palestinian women hostages held by Israel, this came much later, when Hizbollah was worried that the Lebanese might hold them responsible for the Israeli onslaught. Luckily, for them at least, Israel’s grossly disproportionate response as well as Hizbollah’s quick and effective humanitarian relief completely vindicated them in the eyes of most Lebanese.

    The “shift in logic” during wartime from an emphasis on restraint to an emphasis on accomplishment of mission, occurs in EVERY war, and by every party. The tactitions are given the power.

    I cited the Israeli general saying, quite clearly I think, that everything and everyone was fair game in Lebanon and that is exactly how Israel responded. Using your own argument, the only possible conclusion is that Israel set out with full knowledge and intent on a deliberate mass murder campaign, and of course that is exactly what they did.

    Those that start wars should be accountable for the unleashing of the violence.

    I guess you have no concept of proportionality. I could go into the legal definitions in international law and alternate opinions (the International Law Commission has written extensively on the issue in working to formulate a definition of the “Crime of Aggression” used during Nuremberg). However, that would be rather boring and you’re plainly no lawyer, so let’s look at it a bit differently. Do you have children?

    If a two year old child throws his dinner across the table (provides a provocation), there are many different ways you can respond. If you respond with “perfect proportionality” you would just throw some food back at him, but this does nothing to accomplish the goal of teaching the child that this is unacceptable behavior and would likely just result in a food fight. You could also respond “proportionately with overwhelming force,” which would be taking the child from the table and giving him a good spanking. This drives home the message that this behavior is unacceptable and very few would condemn you for taking this action. However, if you decide to beat the hell of the child with a baseball bat and then shoot him to death, this would be grossly disproportionate regardless of the initial provocation. No matter what the two year old child did (the provocation), the latter disproportionate response is not justified by any conceivable stretch of the imagination and responsiblility falls on you, not the child.

    After the Hizbollah raid into Israel (the provocation), a “perfectly proportionate” response would have been to raid a Hizbollah convoy or checkpoint and kill a few fighters and abduct a few more. However this would not have taught Hizbollah that its initial raid was unacceptable and would likely have resulted in an increase in cross border raids. A response using “proportionality with overwhelming force” would have been a deliberate campaign striking Hizbollah targets throughout south Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, transport routes between Hizbollah-controlled territory and Syria, and so on and so forth. If this had been Israel’s response, I don’t think the criticism – and certainly MY criticism – would have been anywhere near as fierce. Hizbollah certainly provoked the conflict and Israel had every right to respond. However, Israel chose to respond with gross – and criminal – disproportionality to the Hizbollah provocation and in doing so – like the father who kills his child for throwing food – the accountability falls on Israel regardless of the provocation.

    Hezbollah was naive to the point of criminality to think that in an environment of already existing near-war, that Israel would allow further warring/opportunism on a third front.

    Hizbollah itself freely admitted that it misjudged the Israeli response, but that still doesn’t justify the Israeli response.

    Shelling Haifa is a war crime. Thanks for the acknowledgement.

    I never said otherwise, after all the exact same sources that documented Israel’s massive war crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Lebanon also concluded that the Hizbollah strikes on Israeli communities constituted the same (just on a much smaller scale).

    Taking out an electrical grid, or a transportation system, is not.

    Actually, you’re mistaken again. Taking out the civilian infrastructure is only a legal action IF the “military necessity” threshold is met. So, striking at the infrastructure in Hizbollah-controlled territory might have been justified, but that of the whole country was certainly not. Causing unnecessary suffering for civilians in war that does not meet the “military necessity” threshold constitutes a war crime in its own right (without even talking about actually killing civilians) and can be prosecuted as such.

    And, of course, your implication that this was all that Israel did is grossly misleading. Like it or not, in that particular conflict, when it comes to the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians, Hizbollah doesn’t even come close to Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity.

    The failure resulted in two poor consequences: unnecessary abuses of many Lebanese civilians, and also importantly, the failure of the IDF to remove Hezbollah as a militia in the region. (The UN had already failed at that.)

    Not to mention they didn’t get the two soldiers back either. That is, despite the massive onslaught Israel released on Lebanon – against both legitimate combatants as well as vastly more completely defenseless civilians – Israel failed to accomplish anything at all, except strengthening Hizbollah.

    ”preconceived judgment or opinion” – This is the definition of “prejudice” that I consider relevant.

    Such was my suspicion and as I said, it is completely inapplicable to any of my comments. Israel’s behavior during the Summer War are far too well documented, no preconception is needed at all to justify my expressions of outrage at this incident.

  26. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 6:25 am

    We both agree that Israel failed to accomplish what it legitimately sought to, and in a cruel manner. (I guess you selected not to read that phrase in my posts.)

    It would be more useful if you avoided the tit for tat, and at least for a moment address my contention that you expressed an odd bias to defend Hezbollah.

    Hezbollah is NOT a “legitimate resistance movement”.

    It is more importantly an opportunist party actively seeking control of Lebanon (by any means), and a client of Iran and Syria.

    The question of how to respond to that reality is a good one. But, the fantasy that Hezbollah is an innocent (by any implication) is ridiculous.

    You also never engaged the significance of joining a war on Israel, as joining a war. You quote proportionality only relative the abduction of two.

    Further, you ignore proportionality as a measure of Hezbollah. Proportionality would be asking for the release of two Hezbollah prisoners, not 800 Palestinians.

    “Its well-documented”. So show us the specifics, and in context.

    Israel did not knock out the roads of all of Lebanon, nor the electrical infrastructure in all of Lebanon. It did attack a couple targets on the coast and central Lebanon and near the Syrian border. Specific ones in most cases.

    There were exceptions, abusive ones.

    Human shields. Hezbollah does necessarily site arms and rockets in civilian areas, probably not only.

    Your vehemence at objecting to the idea that Hezbollah operates where it lives is odd. It is either a popular army or it is a professional one.

    Nevertheless as a militia in a civilian state, it is operating in an extra-legal manner.

    It consistently rejected folding its staff into the chain of command of the Lebanese state army. It prefers to remain an extra-legal militia.

    It needs to CHOOSE. And you probably need to choose to cease being an “enabler”.

    Of course, like all militancies, it chooses to join only when it thinks it can win. The logic of a democratic nation-state in which it merely participates is rejected.

    To my mind, militancy as a means is a wasted life.

    “The means are the ends”

    I would never defend it.

    I do defend Israel’s right to defend itself, and as I am not privy to the information necessary to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate means and decisions, I am somewhat powerless to judge.

    I can judge what I do see, as the Israelis can as well.

    In the case of the Hezbollah war, Israeli leadership demonstrated a great deal of negligence.

    The principle of specific objective with consistent and legal rules of engagement are what facilitates a legitimate defense in contrast to an ineffective AND disproportionate one.

    As the objective was not specified, and then that the rules of engagement could not then possibly be identified, there were poor (and occassionally) cruel tactical choices and behaviors.

    In contrast, Hezbollah shelled cities. The ONLY impact of that is random violence intentionally directed only at civilians.

    That is why they are called a terrorist group. No specific objective. No rules of engagement, either general or specific to the context.

    You should actually attempt to judge behavior, identify norms, identify exceptions.

  27. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 6:30 am

    For what its worth, citing UNISPAL rather than UNIFIL when the subject is Lebanon, is a little misleading.

    ” According to Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, UNIFIL was established to:

    * Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon;
    * Restore international peace and security;
    * Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.

    According to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) of 11 August 2006, UNIFIL, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426, shall:

    * Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
    * Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon;
    * Coordinate its activities referred to in the preceding paragraph (above) with the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel;
    * Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
    * Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area;
    * Assist the Government of Lebanon, at its request, in securing its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.

    By this resolution, the Council also authorized UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council; and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.”

    Is the Lebanese army in control? Is the area de-militarized?

  28. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 6:33 am

    Lots of negligence going around.

    Is the Lebanese government negligent in not securing its borders and allowing arms to be shipped through Syria to Hezbollah?

    Every day it occurs. Where is the UN? Where is the sovereign Lebanese state?

  29. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 8:01 am

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Israel-Lebanon_conflict

    “The conflict began when Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns, wounding several civilians, as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence.[21] Of the seven Israeli soldiers in the two jeeps, two were wounded, three were killed, and two were seized and taken to Lebanon.[21] Five more were killed in a failed Israeli rescue attempt. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon, which damaged Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport which Israel said Hezbollah used to import weapons, an air and naval blockade,[22] and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions.[23]”

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/13/africa/web.0712mideast.php

    “The fighting on the Lebanese border erupted around 9 a.m., when Hezbollah attacked several Israeli towns with rocket fire, wounding several civilians, the Israeli military said. Israeli civilians rushed into their bomb shelters and many remained there through the day.

    But that attack was a diversion for the main operation, several miles to the east, where Hezbollah militants fired antitank missiles at two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence, the military said. Of the seven soldiers in the two jeeps, three were killed, two were wounded and two were abducted, the military said.”

    “The operation had been planned for months, he said, though he added, “The timing, no doubt, provides support for our brothers in Palestine.”"
    (referring to a Nasrallah statement).

    I note that the article states “according to Israeli military”.

  30. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 8:05 am

    “From the inception of Hezbollah to the present[9][8][56][57][58] the elimination of the State of Israel has been one of Hezbollah’s primary goals. Its 1985 manifesto reportedly states “our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no ceasefire, and no peace agreements .”

    Also from wikipedia.

  31. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 8:06 am

    “Hezbollah’s spokesperson Hassan Ezzedin, however, had this to say about an Israeli withdrawal from Sheba Farms: “If they go from Shebaa, we won’t stop fighting them. … Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine, … The Jews who survive this war of liberation can go back to Germany or wherever they came from.”"

    Also from wikipedia.

  32. John Sigler Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    It would be more useful if you avoided the tit for tat, and at least for a moment address my contention that you expressed an odd bias to defend Hezbollah.

    There is no “odd bias” to defend to Hizbollah. My position reflects that of the international human rights community: Hizbollah certainly provoked the incident and Hizbollah committed Crimes against Humanity just as surely as Israel did. However, Hizbollah is a legitimate resistance movement (primarily seeking an end to the Shebaa occupation and return of its hostages held by Israel) as well as a fully legitimate Lebanese political party (and no, the idea of an organization being both an armed resistance movement as well as a political party is not unique to Hizbollah, even inside Lebanon itself). The idea that just because they are undeniably hostile to Israel does not make them illegitimate in any respect; there are perfectly sound reasons for their hostility.

    You also never engaged the significance of joining a war on Israel, as joining a war. You quote proportionality only relative the abduction of two.

    Because there is nothing to address here. We’ve already agreed that Hizbollah sought to take advantage of the upsurge in Palestinian resistance in timing its raid. However, if I didn’t know better, it would almost appear that you’re arguing that thousands of Lebanese civilians should be held responsible for the Palestinian resistance in Gaza? I certainly hope this is not what you’re arguing, and assuming this is not your argument then trying to connect the Israeli onslaught against the Lebanese to the situation in the OPTs has no merit at all.

    Further, you ignore proportionality as a measure of Hezbollah. Proportionality would be asking for the release of two Hezbollah prisoners, not 800 Palestinians.

    That would be “perfect proportionality” although one can’t really be surprised if Hizbollah attempted to use its leverage for the release of all its members currently held by Israel (officially four people, although there are claims that Israel holds more). However, when it comes to the demands for the hundreds of Palestinian women hostages, your view reflects the perspective of the UN Secretary-General who “urged Hizbullah leaders to avoid disproportionate demands and protracted bargaining that cannot be considered adequate in the face of the humanitarian urgency of the cases and the clear message of resolution 1701 (2006).”

    The proportionality I was discussing was that of actions taken, not current negotiating positions. Frankly, I think agree with the Secretary-General and you that Hizbollah’s demands are disproportionate and unreasonable, so the net result is there is no basis for a deal at this time. This is an unreasonable bargaining stance, so the reasonable response is no bargain. This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Israel’s onslaught against Lebanon last year.

    “Its well-documented”. So show us the specifics, and in context.

    LOL, just Google it, there is an enormous amount of material detailing every aspect of the Israeli campaign specifically because within a few days there were third party observers as well as free lance photographers and camera men all over Lebanon. However, here are just a few:
    - HRW: Israel/Lebanon: Israeli Indiscriminate Attacks Killed Most Civilians
    No Evidence of Widespread Hezbollah ‘Shielding’

    - HRW: Why They Died, Civilian Casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 War
    - HRW:
    Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon

    - AI: Israel / Lebanon: End immediately attacks against civilians
    - AI: Israel/Lebanon: Out of all proportion – civilians bear the brunt of the war
    - AI: Israel/Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or “collateral damage”?
    - ICRC: Contextualizing proportionality: jus ad bellum and jus in bello in the Lebanese war
    - ICRC: [VIDEO] Lebanon: a summer under the bombs
    - ICRC: 2006 Annual Report: Lebanon

    For photos (many of which my friends were involved in getting out of Lebanon): Here; Here; Here; Here and so on and so forth.

    The Summer War was probably one of the best documented conflicts in recent memory. All you have to do is actually look for the information to see what Israel did.

    The rest of your line of apologies and excuses for Israeli behavior fall completely flat in the face of the evidence, including of course, Israel’s own statements. Your continued insistence that only Hizbollah deliberately shelled civilian towns and cities is not only patently false in every conceivable respect but also appears to reflect a “see no evil” attitude, as though if you just close your eyes and refuse to look at the reality, your blindness somehow reflects reality. It does not. Not only did Israel deliberately bomb civilian towns and cities throughout Lebanon – even in the far north where Hizbollah had no support, or at least didn’t until the Israeli bombing – but it did so on a much larger, and much deadlier scale than Hizbollah’s complimenting war crimes against the Israeli towns and cities.

    When I come across people (and I do) who try to excuse, justify, or minimize Palestinian suicide bombers attacking completely civilian targets inside the Green Line, I find this obscene because there is no excuse for such actions whatsoever. In the exact same vein, I find your attempts to excuse, justify, and minimize the Israeli onslaught against Lebanese civilians in July-August of 2006 just as obscene because again there is no excuse for such actions whatsoever. Your arguments, justifications, and excuses are the EXACT parallel to those who tried to defend the Netanya suicide attacks and just as vile. If you’re unwilling to admit the very simple – and incredibly well documented – truth that Israel engaged in a grossly disproportionate and indiscriminate massacre of civilians in this particular instance, then you are personally validating the exact same arguments put forward by those who defend the indiscriminate massacre of civilians conducted by Palestinian suicide bombers. I’m no “enabler” of terrorism or an apologist for it, however you certainly are at least an apologist when the terrorism is conducted by Israel.

    That is why they are called a terrorist group. No specific objective. No rules of engagement, either general or specific to the context.

    As I’ve already argued – and documented – the Hizbollah raid had a well defined and rational objective, to acquire “bargaining chips” to achieve the release of its hostages held by Israel. I also notice you didn’t bother to contest this assertion.

    For what its worth, citing UNISPAL rather than UNIFIL when the subject is Lebanon, is a little misleading.

    Not really. I was just providing you with a link to a very large repository of UN documents, many of which discuss the situation in Palestine as well as elsewhere (Lebanon, Syria, et. al.) in the same document and are therefore included. If what you were looking for isn’t there, that’s fine. Just trying to help you prove your contention.

    Is the Lebanese government negligent in not securing its borders and allowing arms to be shipped through Syria to Hezbollah? Every day it occurs. Where is the UN? Where is the sovereign Lebanese state?

    It is a valid question, but it has nothing whatsoever with defending Israel’s behavior in the Summer War.

    As for your citations regarding the initial diversionary strikes that began the Hizbollah operation, although I don’t trust Wikipedia at all as anyone can go in and modify it, I did go to the trouble of looking at its citations and the contention that “The fighting on the Lebanese border erupted around 9 a.m., when Hezbollah attacked several Israeli towns with rocket fire, wounding several civilians, the Israeli military said,” is at odds with what I originally wrote. Fair enough and I’ll concede the point as it in no way undermines my primary argument that there was no excuse for Israel’s extremely disproportionate response. Thanks for that, I’ll keep that in mind next time I argue this. Believe it or not, if you legitimately find some contention of mine in error and can prove it, I’m more than happy to accept this and amend my arguments accordingly. Although in general I don’t trust politicized Israeli sources, I don’t find the “according to Israeli military” caveat unreasonable in this instance as who else would be there at that stage to report? Point taken.

    Regardless, this is just a subsidiary point and certainly doesn’t justify or excuse Israel’s behavior during the Summer War in any way.

  33. John Sigler Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Dan & Richard – I just posted a response to Richard’s last four posts, but as it included a number of URLs, I believe it went into the spam filter again. It would be appreciated if you could release this. – Thanks, John S.

  34. John Sigler Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Sorry, I meant Richard’s last six posts…

  35. Tom Mitchell Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    John,
    Actually your account of the 2000 Geneva negotiation did not contradict mine–except for your willingness to lay all blame on Israel. Barak changed his mind on the complete return, not wanting to return areas on the border that Syria captured between 1949 and 1967 and territory that never belonged to Syria in the past (the eastern shore of the Kinneret) and he offered compensation for this elsewhere. Not everyone blames Jerusalem and Barak completely for this. Ross thought that Assad was focused on his son’s succession and was weak from his advanced cancer. But the problem is still that the Arabs want to be able to profit from war but not let the Israelis do the same, a double standard but not the one that Israel’s critics are always talking about.

    As far as Lebanon goes, those politicians and public figures who vigorously oppose Syria and are visible and important tend to end up dead, usually from car bombs. Plus, Damascus doesn’t have an embassy in Beirut but sees fit to summon Lebanese politicians to Damascus for consultations like vassals.

    As far as Palestine goes, Damascus may have official relations with the PA, but has traditionally supported its own Palestinian client organizations, initially al-Saika and then the various Front organizations. Hamas was up until recently an extension of this. Hamas was the first Islamist Palestinian organization that Damascus supported, but after Hezbollah, this was easier.

  36. John Sigler Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    Hi Dan – despite how you may take my views, you have to admit that I keep it a bit interesting… :) Anyway, please be so kind as to remove my previous post to Richard from the spam filter so I can respond to Tom. Yours, John S.

  37. Dan Fleshler Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    John,

    Done. It’s #32. Sorry it took me so long to get to it. I actually don’t know enough about Syria or Lebanon to feel comfortable commenting. Quite a rare admission for a blog concerned with the Middle East, huh?

  38. John Sigler Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks Dan, I appreciate it. The spam blocker doesn’t like too many URLs…

    As for Syria, it isn’t all that hard to learn the basics as they are really not all that complex. Conversely, Lebanese politics and the factions are a nightmare to understand, and if the discussion was related to the diverse Christian factions and the like, like you, I’d have to claim ignorance. However, since there has been such a passionate opposition to Hizb-ut-Allah, I’ve actually gone to the trouble to see where they stand on things, both within Lebanon and elsewhere. They are certainly not “nice” guys and pro-Israel advocates have more than just cause to hate them, but at the same time – contrary to Richard’s contentions – they are not utterly irrational psychopaths lusting after Jewish blood (I can give you the contact info for quite a few Jews who have gone and met with them personally, including Richard’s own citation of Jeffery Goldberg from the “New Yorker” via Wikipedia), but a rational resistance movement, at least by their own lights. Their positions aren’t all that bizarre or crazy, but they are – beyond any doubt – very much hostile to Israel.

    Anyway…

    Tom, please allow me to get back to you in the morning.

    Shalom/Salaam

    John S.

  39. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    “and no, the idea of an organization being both an armed resistance movement as well as a political party is not unique to Hizbollah, even inside Lebanon itself”

    Its what defines Lebanon as well as Palestine as being in a state of deferred civil war. Palestine has an excuse, as it is a state in development, not yet a fully sovereign state. Lebanon has none. It is sovereign, but allows the fascistic relationship of political parties maintaining militias.

    The phalange gave up its arms. Its time for Hezbollah.

    The Lebanese army is the military of the state of Lebanon, not Hezbollah.

    I can’t believe that you distract from the reality of Hezbollah shelling civilian cities, with NO pretext of objective, or rules of engagement. Entirely random and entirely directed at civilians.

    The litany of HRW abuses and AI citations include MANY that are ambiguous relative to your standard, particularly the selective interpretation of what is a direct military target.

    And your comments on the rearming of Hezbollah in violation of the UN resolution?

    And your comments on the relationship between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah?

    “legitimate resistance movement”.

    The purpose of civil disobedience is to evoke a response. The purpose of Hezbollah violent efforts was similarly.

    The BIG shift, which you failed to engage, is whether the event was a skirmish or a war.

    When Hezbollah escalated to attack Israeli cities, even after their first unilateral attacks on civilian towns, they confirmed their understanding of the event as a war.

    You select citations that contest that Israel conducted its WAR improperly, but then compare that to ONLY the initial Hezbollah abduction (although also accompanied by war crimes, initiating the shelling of civilian towns).

    That is intellectually disproportionate. How do you conduct your conflicts?

    You also neglected (selectively) to consider the context of a three front war. It wasn’t Hezbollah solidarity for the Palestinian cause.

    Israel erred in giving Hezbollah what it wanted. Although in the first three days of the fighting, Hezbollah was entirely discredited as opportunistic and thuggish in the Arab press and by statements from nearly all governments in the Islamic region (excepting Iran and Syria).

    In response to the fiasco, Israel – a democratic state, undertook a very public criticism of the conduct of the war. They emphasized the failure to defend effectively and professionally, and only incidentally focused on the human rights issues.

    Hezbollah has not been subject to the same public scrutiny to be seen by the world, although its objective failures and opportunism is evident and enormous.

    There was near concensus in Israel that the events was of the nature of war, a third front, and NOT of the nature of a skirmish as the left conveniently revises.

    In the press, it was a war of propaganda, a war of perception.

    Propaganda is ALWAYS a selective process.

    “Crazy Miranda, lives on propaganda.
    She believes everything she reads.”

  40. Richard Witty Says:
    October 7th, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    “However, if I didn’t know better, it would almost appear that you’re arguing that thousands of Lebanese civilians should be held responsible for the Palestinian resistance in Gaza?”

    Clearly, I am arguing for the illegitimacy of Hezbollah as a militia, that Hezbollah is largely responsible for the suffering of the Southern Lebanese by initiating aggressions so flagrantly and lying so amateurishly.

    And, also, I am clealry condemning the gullibility of the ideological left in apologizing for Hezbollah as a “legitimate resistance movement”.

    You are insulting when you attribute callousness to Lebanese in my comments.

  41. Richard Witty Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 7:00 am

    To summarize,
    My understanding of the Israel/Hezbollah war as far as Israel’s role was that Israel’s goal of defending was just, but a large portion of the means taken were not.

    John and I could agree on that I believe, except for his statement that “Hezbollah is a legitimate resistance movement”, and his implication that Hezbollah as a militia and simultaneously an electoral political party is a just combination.

    I would acknowledge that many in Southern Lebanon regard Hezbollah, and not the state of Lebanon as their protectors from both Israel and from the Phalange.

    But, I would contest that Hezbollah is currently and for a long time seeking advantage, not representation, in Lebanon and relative to Israel. Hezbollah had militant precursors in Southern Lebanon that have been fighting Israel since 1948.

  42. Richard Witty Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 10:42 am

    The reason that I question the validity of “outrage”, is that in reviewing what the outrage is about, a large proportion is ambiguously describable as war crimes.

    For example, in reading the HRW accounts, they did note that Hezbollah personnel do not wear uniforms, but wear civilian clothing. It moderates the contention that an attack on a car for example, was a war crime, both in effect and in intention.

    In contrast, there is NO AMBIGUITY about ANY of the civilian targets that Hezbollah shelled. There is no humanity at all, entirely anomymous.

    As the wording of the law on human rights does not clearly address the role of non-state militias, Hezbollah gets the cover of ambiguity.

    It gets the cover of ambiguity on its siting of arms and weaponry. It gets the cover of ambiguity on its public statements. It gets the cover of ambiguity on its identification of combatants. It gets the cover of ambiguity on its role as an representative vs resistance. It gets the cover of not being a state, and never having to decide one way or another if it subscribes to rules of international law, whether multi-lateral or bilateral.

    It gets to stay the two-year old child of John’s example. (Did you mean to compare Hezbollah to a two-year old by analogy. I doubt that they would be excited by that.)

    In contrast, Israel is largely accountable. Legally accountable to its populace in the form of court system, elections. Responsible to the public in the form of a genuinely free press. Responsible to bi-lateral and multilateral international institutions.

    Israel’s violations are exceptions, some of incidents, some of policies, that are required to and are corrected.

    Even the use of bomblets are ambiguous according to international law. If one assumed that the area was cleared of non-combatants, then the use of otherwise cruel means, would not be.

    Granted, that HRW concluded that Israel erred in not clarifying that the area was cleared of non-combatants, shifting the norm legally.

    According to many, the reality that ONLY slightly over a thousand Lebanese died in an all-out war, was evidence that Israel’s military DID have general rules of engagement which were applied and enforced at least partially.

    You do understand the reasoning that Israel either ambiguously, rationally or opportunistically regarded Lebanon as the party undertaking war on Israel, was due to the ambiguous status of Hezbollah.

    As a part of the government, Hezbollah can either be understood as part of the Lebanese military, or not.

    The ambiguity is not really an option as to their status. (Sometimes, maybe, possibly).

  43. John Sigler Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Hi Tom,

    I think most observers grant that it was the Israeli side that ended the negotiations and prevented a settlement on the Golan. In Clinton’s autobiography he basically says as much and Dennis Ross agreed more or less. For a good article on the Ross view, see Joshua Landis, “Golan Talks according to Dennis Ross” and though he is more critical of the Syrians, the net result is that it was Barak that killed the deal. Of course this wasn’t just a matter of Barak as an individual changing his mind, but was brought about in reaction to a general lack of support for surrendering the Golan (even in part) by his own governing coalition as well as the general public. The Israeli Right basically knew they had Barak under control on this one and Barak chose not to fight them; it was easier to maintain the status quo than to try to maintain his coalition against popular opinion to make a deal. For a good synopsis of Israeli opposition, see the very right-wing Middle East Intelligence Bulletin: Barak Faces Obstacles in Road to “Peace” with Assad. The end result being that Barak just didn’t have enough domestic support to press forward and therefore opted not to. There were some minor points of contention between the Syrian and Israeli positions (something staunchly anti-Syrian writers like Daniel Pipes has focused on), but nothing that couldn’t be overcome had Barak expressed a willingness to continue negotiations.

    As far as Lebanon goes, those politicians and public figures who vigorously oppose Syria and are visible and important tend to end up dead, usually from car bombs.

    Are you implying that Syria is behind these bombings? I grant that Syria – or its proxies – may have been responsible for the Hariri assassination, but this developed into a complete disaster for Syria in every possible respect. After that disaster for Syria, I find it very dubious to suggest that the later assassinations were committed by, or endorsed by, Syria as these actions have certainly not been of any benefit whatsoever to the Syrians or in their interests. Who is responsible? No one really knows and Lebanon is so incredibly factionalized its anyone’s guess; however, every one of these post-Hariri assassinations has hurt Syria’s standing – both inside Lebanon and elsewhere – so I don’t think its too much to suggest that it may very well be the work of some anti-Syrian faction (there are many and they fight among themselves as well). The Syrian regime may not be the most savvy in the world, but they’re not complete idiots either and plainly these post-Hariri assassinations are not serving Syrian interests.

    As for the rest of your comments, there is no secret that Syria has a vested interest in maintaining its relationships with allied factions in neighboring states (and territories) and it is no secret that Syrian patronage can be heavy-handed as well. However, this does not translate into an effort at creating a “Greater Syria.” Syria is simply too weak and too flooded with internal problems (increased pro-democratic and pro-Islamist agitation, renewed vigor among Kurdish separatists, more then a million Iraqi refugees, limited efforts at economic reform, and so on and so forth) to be seriously expansionist in any meaningful way. In fact, Fred H. Lawson, in his “Why Syria Goes to War: Thirty Years of Confrontation” makes a compelling argument that virtually all of Syria’s external conflicts since 1967 were more the product of the Syrian government trying to deal with domestic problems than the product of a cohesive foreign policy, like the theoretical “Greater Syria” agenda. The supposition that Syria is driven by a “Greater Syria” agenda is neither supported by what Syria says or what Syria does; and even if this were not the case, Syria is simply too weak (militarily, economically, and in every other way) and facing too many internal challenges to make anything of it.

    As I said before, I strongly believe that if Israel were to make an offer that the Syrian government could live with, I believe they would jump at the opportunity to sign a peace treaty with Israel, not necessarily out of any love of Israel, but out of a desire to end its last serious military threat and to enter the good graces of the United States.

  44. Richard Witty Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Syria was reportedly offered (publicly) return of the entire Golan (not the contested strip on the Kinneret) in exchange for severing alliances with Iran, renunciation of intervention in Lebanese politics, and renouncing the permission of Palestinian and other militant groups from headquartering in Damascus.

    He rejected that proposal.

    That is what it would take to get “into the good graces of the United States”, practically.

    Thankfully, the US is still a close ally of Israel.

    There is an either/or element to this mess. I contest that the either/or characteristic is founded on the rejectionism of Israel by the more militant Arab and Islamic states and powers in the region.

    “I’m pissed, but it will pass” compared to “I’m pissed, and I will never seek my own happiness until you are dead.”

    Are the conflicts conditional (and therefore resolvable) or are they unconditional (and therefore unresolvable)?

    If unresolvable, then strong military responses are NEEDED. If resolvable, then sincere olive branches are NEEDED.

    Hezbollah describes an unconditional hatred. Hamas describes an unconditional hatred. Iran describes an unconditional hatred. Institutionalized in their formative documents, and stated in definitively negative terms.

  45. John Sigler Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Richard,

    Like it or not, Hizbollah will not be disarmed against its will. It has a very effective command and control structure and its armed forces have parity with the official Lebanese Army. Further – and more importantly – Hizbollah is popular, and not just among the southern Shia, but throughout Lebanon and the larger Arab world. Regardless of how we (you & I) may view it, the popular perception is that Hizbollah has militarily defeated Israel twice (once in forcing an end to the Israeli occupation and second in the Summer War) and they are very effective (much more so then the official Lebanese government) at providing humanitarian relief as well as providing basic social services (schools, hospitals, &c.). At the same time, they do not discriminate between their own Shia base and others in Lebanon, a fact that resulted in them being viewed positively by “the man on the street” throughout Lebanon as well as the number of Sunni Muslims and Christians that even ran for election on the Hizbollah ticket.

    If all the Lebanese beside the southern Shia communities hated Hizbollah, they could be forcibly disarmed, though with difficulty; however this just isn’t the case. In fact, Israel’s onslaught last year and Hizbollah’s reaction (both responding in kind to the Israelis as best they could and the immediate humanitarian relief it provided inside Lebanon) just reinforced Hizbollah’s position and standing. While there are Lebanese factions, including factions in the government, that would like to see Hizbollah disarmed, they are a distinct minority with little popular support.

    You may not like this, but that is completely immaterial. This is the reality of the situation. Hizbollah is an integral element of Lebanon, it sits in the government, and it has a lot of popularity even outside of its Shia base. Like Hamas, this is a creature of Israel’s own creation (Hizbollah developed as a direct reaction to the Israeli invasion and occupation that began in 1982) and it is there to stay. It does not automatically follow that non-violent co-existence is impossible, but it does mean that as long as Israel remains perceived as a threat to Lebanon, Hizbollah will be viewed as a necessary counter-measure. The Summer War reinforced this perception to an extreme degree. You’ll note that since then even the anti-Hizbollah factions have gone quiet about disarming them for the most part.

    And your comments on the rearming of Hezbollah in violation of the UN resolution?

    I agree that Hizbollah remaining armed is in violation of the relevant UN resolutions, but as noted above, there is nothing to be done about it, largely thanks to Israel’s own actions that just reaffirmed Hizbollah’s importance.

    And your comments on the relationship between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah?

    What about it precisely do you want me to comment on? There is no secret about the relationships between the three.

    The purpose of civil disobedience is to evoke a response. The purpose of Hezbollah violent efforts was similarly.

    Actually, if you’ve been following events in Beirut, Hizbollah has been using peaceful protest and civil disobedience, in an exact emulation of the “Cedar Revolution,” for many months now. Of course without the same diplomatic support and external pressure the tactic hasn’t been very effective. Nevertheless, as noted previously, neither Hizbollah nor most other Lebanese have any interest in seeing the civil war return and almost all factions – including Hizbollah – are doing everything they can to prevent that from happening without surrendering their political positions and interests.

    The BIG shift, which you failed to engage, is whether the event was a skirmish or a war. … When Hezbollah escalated to attack Israeli cities, even after their first unilateral attacks on civilian towns, they confirmed their understanding of the event as a war.

    I really don’t see the significance here. The initial raid was certainly a skirmish, but it quickly developed into a state of active warfare. In either case it doesn’t justify the various war crimes and Crimes against Humanity committed.

    You select citations that contest that Israel conducted its WAR improperly, but then compare that to ONLY the initial Hezbollah abduction (although also accompanied by war crimes, initiating the shelling of civilian towns).

    Obviously you’re not reading anything that I’ve written, please go back and do so. As for “Israel conducted its WAR improperly,” I think EVERYONE is in agreement on that point, even the Israeli government and the Winograd Commission.

    You also neglected (selectively) to consider the context of a three front war. It wasn’t Hezbollah solidarity for the Palestinian cause.

    I’ve addressed this almost every time you’ve mentioned it, and as far as I can tell it has no bearing on anything at all. I didn’t say Hizbollah was acting in solidarity with the Palestinians and yet, as we’ve agreed, Hizbollah certainly took advantage of the upsurge of Palestinian resistance to determine its timing. You mention this over and over again as though it somehow justifies or excuses something: it does not. If you have point in bringing this up, would you please get around to making it?

    Israel erred in giving Hezbollah what it wanted. Although in the first three days of the fighting, Hezbollah was entirely discredited as opportunistic and thuggish in the Arab press and by statements from nearly all governments in the Islamic region (excepting Iran and Syria).

    That is true, that is also when Hizbollah decided to connect the release of the Palestinian women to its demands as something of a “popular” measure. Regardless, Israel’s grossly disproportionate response quickly overshadowed the initial provocation.

    In response to the fiasco, Israel – a democratic state, undertook a very public criticism of the conduct of the war. They emphasized the failure to defend effectively and professionally, and only incidentally focused on the human rights issues.

    Very true.

    Hezbollah has not been subject to the same public scrutiny to be seen by the world, although its objective failures and opportunism is evident and enormous.

    I don’t think this is true at all; Hizbollah has been subject to extremely harsh criticism from a myriad of perspectives and in a myriad of places. Nevertheless, as repeatedly noted, Israel’s obscenely disproportionate response completely overshadowed Hizbollah’s many failures with respect to the Summer War. Just like the father who murders his child, the murder completely overshadows the initial provocation because it is so much worse, so too with Israel’s killing spree across Lebanon.

    There was near concensus in Israel that the events was of the nature of war, a third front, and NOT of the nature of a skirmish as the left conveniently revises.

    This still justifies and excuses absolutely nothing.

    Clearly, I am arguing for the illegitimacy of Hezbollah as a militia, that Hezbollah is largely responsible for the suffering of the Southern Lebanese by initiating aggressions so flagrantly and lying so amateurishly.

    You’re more than welcome to your opinion; however, opinions being subjective, you can’t be all that surprised to see that many people – including many Lebanese – completely disagree.

    My understanding of the Israel/Hezbollah war as far as Israel’s role was that Israel’s goal of defending was just, but a large portion of the means taken were not. John and I could agree on that I believe,…

    True.

    But, I would contest that Hezbollah is currently and for a long time seeking advantage, not representation, in Lebanon and relative to Israel.

    You act as though there is something odd or unusual about this. Of course Hizbollah – like any other political faction anywhere in the world – seeks its own advantage.

    The reason that I question the validity of “outrage”, is that in reviewing what the outrage is about, a large proportion is ambiguously describable as war crimes.

    As mentioned previously, if you just refuse to face the facts there isn’t much to be said. Your strategy of sitting there with your hands over your eyes doesn’t change anything at all. If you just want to ignore the extremely well documented reality of the Summer War, your ignorance is your problem not mine. It is just as bad as those who flatly refuse to look at the photographs of the aftermath of suicide bombings as they would rather not deal with the reality of it.

    (Did you mean to compare Hezbollah to a two-year old by analogy. I doubt that they would be excited by that.)

    Probably not.

    As for the rest of this, quite obviously you have no understanding of international humanitarian (as distinct from human rights) law at all, even the basic principles, much less a working knowledge related to applicability. Further, explaining/teaching the basics of international humanitarian law is well beyond the scope of this discussion thread. Just a word of friendly advice, you should really not try to argue legal points when it is patently obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about. You’re pretty good at these online discussions, sometimes you make new or interesting points or at least force me to go back and check my sources, however legal issues are not your forte.

  46. Richard Witty Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    “Like Hamas, this is a creature of Israel’s own creation (Hizbollah developed as a direct reaction to the Israeli invasion and occupation that began in 1982) and it is there to stay. ”

    Another fantasy/exageration.

    I read the HRW and AI reports. Your citation of them describes them as a slam-dunk. My read of them describes a portion that are clear, and a much larger portion that are ambiguous.

    The experience of the Lebanese was of overwhelming assault, and often without apparent cause.

    The experience of Israelis was similarly of unilateral assault and often without apparent cause.

    That communication disconnect creates the condition for future war.

    I agree that Hezbollah is there. But, you site it as a “legitimate resistance movement”, with the implication that you believe it should be, rather than the meaning that it just is by virtue of popular support.

    I don’t have any means to corroborate nor dispute your assertion about the degree of popularity of Hezbollah.

    I do think you hit on one fantasy of the IDF, which is that it could possibly remove Hezbollah from the borders.

    One of the conditions that described the failure of the Hezbollah war in Israeli’s eyes, is that the hope implied in the UN resolutions were shattered by both the failure of the Lebanese military to assume national sovereignty over the region rather than factional, and the failure of the UN to factually demilitarize the region.

    The fact of unilateral assault on civilian towns remains in the minds of Israelis, and tends to effect their voting patterns most likely to a conservative defensive emphasis moreso than a liberal one.

    Hezbollah’s unconditional stance towards Israel as an entity, cements that relationship, so that the best it can get is deferred war, but never even sustained quiet.

    I personally do not want to influence Israel or American politicians towards relaxation of defense relative to Hezbollah for that reason, nor do most Jews and the many rational politicians (predominately liberal).

    I am proud that sovereign Israel in 1949 forced the neo-fascist Stern Gang and Irgun to give up their arms, and fold their chain of command into the IDF under more liberal command.

    To retain the militias would devolve Israel into fascist mode. The only peace then comes through victory, which as we all know is a fantasy of a peace.

    The parallel exists today in Lebanon.

    The Hezbollah/Syria alliance is an unholy one. The saber-rattling (“Israel is responsible for the killing of moderate anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon” – paraphraising Nasrallah) and (“we reserve the right to reclaim the Golan by any means necessary” by the Syrian foreign minister) is odd.

  47. John Sigler Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Well Richard, it looks as though you’ve run out of things to discuss. You have every right to your opinions and you’ve made them quite clear.

    As for the factual circumstances of the case, virtually no one denies what happened today, it was all just too well documented, virtually in “real time” to be debatable. The only question is whether Israel’s onslaught against the civilian population was deliberate and intentional or not. The statements of a number of Israeli leaders at the time – Udi Adam (Commander of the Northern Command), Dan Halutz (Israeli Chief of Staff at the time), Dan Gillerman (Israeli ambassador to Washington), and others – strongly suggests that Israel both knew what it was doing and was doing it intentionally. Further, after the second week, once it became crystal clear to the entire world what was going on, Israel kept it up nonstop, even expanding its attacks on civilians; again strongly suggesting that the Israeli campaign and war crimes were deliberate. The finale was of course the utterly irrational saturation bombing of southern Lebanon with cluster munitions for no apparent reason at all except spite; in what even IDF soldiers described as “insane and monstrous.” The counter-view that it was all accidental lacks any substantiation at all, except through a belief that the IDF simply can do no wrong.

    I’ve repeatedly reaffirmed my acceptance of your right to hold your own opinions, now I’m going to share one of my opinions: specifically that I find your efforts to excuse and justify Israel’s behavior in the Summer War completely disgusting. Exactly like suicide bombing, there is never – under no circumstances whatsoever – any justification for the deliberate murdering of defenseless civilians, be it dozens in an Israeli dance club or hundreds in Beirut. Regardless of where you stand politically or religiously or what side of the fence or the isle you choose to affiliate with, there should never be any tolerance for the deliberate murder of the innocent and/or defenseless. When Palestine advocates come out and defend the use of suicide bombs against defenseless civilians they shame and undermine their own cause and the exact same holds true for those on the Israeli side. The issue of mass murdering the innocent is NOT a political issue, but a human one, and if you can’t bring yourself to condemn it, then you call your own humanity into question. Or, at least, such is my opinion.

    Shalom / Salaam,

    John S.

  48. kevin Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Nice work, John… altogether some very clear argumentation to back up a simple point that is widely accepted almost everywhere but in parts of the US: the war on Lebanon by Israel in summer 2006 involved widespread, significant war crimes.

    (Hizbullah’s actions also constituted war crimes at a much much lower and less significant level – but I think it’s fair to accept this point while insisting that there is no comparison between the destruction and death resulting from Hizbullah rockets and the absolute devastation of Lebanese infrastructure and the targeted bombing of civilian areas.)

    Sadly, as you find, the un-Witty among us will claw together any combination of words to try to keep standing their baseless defense of Israel’s reprehensible conduct in this war within the guise of ‘liberal’ discourse. My advice: you’ve made the point effectively, now ignore the apologists for war crimes.

  49. Richard Witty Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Your mistaken about “clawing”.

    The results of the Hezbollah action were less deadly, but the intent was more deadly and more terroristic.

    They just failed at it.

    Israel also failed, but what they failed at would have been an otherwise prospectively valid military objective.

  50. Richard Witty Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Shelling of civilians is not something that you just “accept”.

  51. John Sigler Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks Kevin, and yes, of course you’re right; this is why my last post to Richard on this thread adopted the tone of a summation. I agree with you that the argument – and its supporting documentation – makes a reasonable case that most unprejudiced observers would grant is sufficient. The links to the external documentation really lays the issue out rather bare, but it takes time to read and digest. The HRW report alone is 249 pages long, which rather makes me question Richard’s contention that he read all the material I presented to him in the few short hours that lapsed between my posting the links and Richard’s sudden attempt to become a legal analyst. This was what convinced me that Richard wasn’t even looking at the evidence or interested in doing so, in which case there really isn’t anything else to be said. Imitating the little stereotypical “see no evil” monkey is not an effective counterargument.

    Anyway, thanks again for the kind words and I hope you found something useful in the exchange.

    John S.

  52. John Sigler Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Shelling of civilians is not something that you just “accept”. – Unless of course the civilians being shelled are Arabs, right Richard? As long as the victims are Arabs and the perpetrators are Israelis, shelling civilians is great, right? And how dare Hizbollah be so uppity as to be hostile to Israel, after all, when Israel butchers babies, only an anti-Semite could object, right Richard?

    How dare you suddenly get so self-righteous about shelling civilians since you’ve been actively defending, excusing, and justifying exactly this through half this thread. Talk about chutzpah…

  53. Tom Mitchell Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    John,
    I’m quite aware that Barak changed his mind at the last minute (or late in the process), but that still doesn’t change the point I made that the Syrian demand is logically inconsistent. It amounts to saying that only the Arabs can benefit from benefit from conquest in war. But I suppose if was assured of a majority in the UN General Assembly I would feel comfortable with asserting this double standard. I still think that Israel can make a good case for withdrawing to the 1923 international border. The demand to return to the June 4, 1967 border is also problematic because no one knows for sure exactly where the border ran in every instance. South of the Kinneret the territory was contested between Israel and Syria and the border would have to be reconstructed using old maps from the two sides and the UN. So in reality it is likely to be a reconstructed border than a restored border.

    As far as the murders in Lebanon: of course no one knows who was responsible for them. Lebanese governments are even more unstable than Israeli coalitions, and Iran and Syria have a joint client in Lebanon that can be used to prevent investigations or prevent democracy.

    Syria hasn’t spoken about “Greater Syria” for a few decades, but it used to be a staple of the Syrian press. It was quite clear that Hafiz al-Assad believed in it. Whether or not his son inherited this belief from his father I don’t know.

  54. John Sigler Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Tom,

    After reading your last note, I believe we are more or less in agreement with respect to the factual matters we’ve discussed, although obviously our subjective views of these facts are different.

    However, (and no, I’m not being deliberately obtuse here) I really do not understanding this:

    … but that still doesn’t change the point I made that the Syrian demand is logically inconsistent. It amounts to saying that only the Arabs can benefit from benefit from conquest in war.

    I did notice that you made a similar contention previously, but I really don’t see what you’re trying to say here. The Golan Heights is Syrian territory by any definition, so precisely how does some sort of compromise regarding the actual control of the Golan amount to benefiting from “conquest in war?” Syria isn’t demanding the acquisition of non-Syrian territory, so I’m really not following you.

    Would you mind clarifying your argument here? If so, I’d be more than willing to discuss it with you, but as it stands, I really don’t see how Syrian demands for the return of Syrian territory amounts to some “logically inconsistent … benefit from conquest in war.”

  55. Richard Witty Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 4:58 am

    Your chutzpah.

    You apologize for the desirability of attacking the state and citizens of Israel from all sides.

    You FAIL to address the statements of Hezbollah leadership committing to “remove Israel from the map” (paraphrased) regardless of Shabaa Farms, but call Hezbollah a “legitimate resistance movement”.

    You FAIL to distinguish between an analysis of Israeli practise that prospectively results in a CHANGE, and the negligence of self-inquiry on the part of Hezbollah to review its means of war-making.

    The difference in accountability, and means of accountability of Israel to public, electorate, international institutions, and the lack of accountability of Hezbollah to public, electorate, international institutions, is stark.

    Qualitative in scope.

    What would you recommend that Israel do relative to Hezbollah? If Hezbollah is sincere in its assertions that its goal is to see Israel removed, how should Israel respond to shelling or abductions? How should Israel respond, given that it is responsible as a legitimate state for the defense of its civilians?

    Should it respond with diplomacy (rejected on principle by Hezbollah)? Should it respond with insufficient force (regarded by Hezbollah and other victory-seeking militants as encouragement)? Should it respond with proportional force (regarded by Hezbollah as a retained status quo, enabling them to use Israel as a convenient ploy for their internal Lebanese posturing). Or should Israel respond with disproportionate force, incurring losses of life and property for their own, and for Lebanese, and playing into the hands of propagandistic opportunists?

    Which of those inadequate responses should Israel take?

    Inadequate because of the rejectionism of Hezbollah.

    And sadly of your rejectionism and others that state similarly selectively applying “principles” of law and humanity.

  56. Richard Witty Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 5:03 am

    The art of peacemaking is to make that dilemma of “what can we possibly do?” morph into “we can do … that will result in stability, security and even kindness”.

    Currently, Hezbollah is playing the same trivial propaganda games of blaming Israel for political assassinations of Lebanese moderates. I don’t know how many are gullible enough to buy it, but from my historical read of the statements of too many “thoroughly researched” writers on the left, I expect many.

    I wonder how many times the left will get burned before it starts to be skeptical rather than gullible.

  57. Richard Witty Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Did you read the repititions in the HRW and AI reports? 247 pages, divided by 5 repititions = 50 pages.

    I didn’t read all of the references. I read enough to conclude that many of the direct assertions of specific actions were reliable to my mind, but a large(r) portion were interpretations relative to the definition of the scope of the mission.

    The question is whether the mission was a legitimate mission, what constituted the actual definition of defense of Israeli civilians in the scope of the mission.

    You interpret that the offense was merely an abduction. Whereas Israel interpreted that the offense was joining a three-front war.

    They are qualitatively different assumptions, leading to substantively different consequences.

    That you, and too much of the left, were not aware of the original action by Hezbollah, and failed to consider the context and timing of the Hezbollah action, is a failing.

    A failing in perception, thereby creating a prejudice.

    It is possible to criticize the Israeli behavior during the war without the selectivity of “it was only a petty abduction”. But, you didn’t do that.

    I take great pride that Israel DOES hold its leaders, officers, soldiers accountable, even if it is not complete, and even embarrassing at times.

    I expect great shame from those that pretend to be principled, in apologizing for the lack of depth and breadth of accountability on the part of Hezbollah.

  58. david friedlander - law Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 11:49 am

    John Sigler writes as if its the norm that land won in a defensive war is always returned ( even if the aggressors initiated the war). He further suggests that there is no statute of limitations on these claims.
    Basically according to Sigler’s line of (or lack of) reasoning a Native American has a right to come to my home and uproot me as a perceived solution to his plight – and this even considering the maximalist Palestinian narrative that Sigler embraces like a kid with a teddy bear ( narrative of 1948 as to the constellation of events).

  59. John Sigler Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Hi David,

    Completely ignoring the debunked myth that Israel’s attacks on its neighbors in June 1967 were somehow “defensive,” it is more relevant to simply point out that the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force (or the threat thereof) has been the legal norm since 1948 and this principle makes no distinction relating to the nature of the war or conflict (defensive, offensive, accidental, it doesn’t matter). Quite simply, the old-fashioned notion of the “Right of Conquest” does not exist today and has not existed for almost 60 years now; no country can achieve legal sovereignty over territory by simply invading it and occupying it. Further, Security Council Resolution 242, passed in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s conquests in 1967 specifically reaffirmed this principle in relation to the situation in the Middle East (para. 2: “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war…”) Further, to substantiate your contention, you are correct, there is no “statute of limitations” on the occupation of foreign territories.

    Just as importantly, in practical terms, if Israel wants peace with Syria it will have to compromise over the Golan. My contention made previously is that since Syria presents no real threat to Israel, the Israeli public considers permanent Syrian enmity an acceptable price to pay for keeping the Golan. And, of course, Syria is in no position to force a compromise, so there is no deal. Fair enough, Israel is within its rights to refuse to negotiate terms and maintain its occupation; but neither you nor Israel can really expect Syria to agree.

    As for this silliness:

    Basically according to Sigler’s line of (or lack of) reasoning a Native American has a right to come to my home and uproot me as a perceived solution to his plight…

    Discarding the supposition that your home was probably acquired from the Native Americans before 1948 (when the “Right of Conquest” lost its legal standing in the wake of WWII) as well as the supposition that the Native Americans did not generally hold private real estate and chances are (and here there are some exceptions) the Native American tribe that formerly owned your property was probably not recognized as a de jure sovereign state with recourse to international law; believe it or not, there have been – and remain – some Native American challenges to current land ownership. Usually this is more the tribe vs. the Department of the Interior as opposed to individual home owners, but either way there have been both successful and unsuccessful challenges to land ownership between Native Americans and current owners. Out here in the western United States, where there are still cohesive tribal governments and lots of individual Native Americans, such things are not even all that rare.

    If you want to hop into the conversation I’d certainly suggest you come up with something better – and more interesting – than this tired regurgitation of Israeli “talking points”….

  60. Richard Witty Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    “Completely ignoring the debunked myth that Israel’s attacks on its neighbors in June 1967 were somehow “defensive,” ”

    The “myth” is certainly not debunked. Israel used air force preemptively, but Egypt blockaded first.

  61. Tom Mitchell Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    John,
    Are you being deliberately obtuse? Twice I’ve mentioned the 1923 border between mandatory Palestine and mandatory Syria as the international border applicable to the Golan Heights. Syrian insistence on the June 4, 1967 line is so that it can get back territory from Israel that it captured between July 1949 and June 1967 and also so that it can make claims about the border that aren’t factual i.e. regarding the border along the eastern shore of the Kinneret.

    And on 1967 I have to agree with Mr. Witty: Egypt committed the first act of war.

  62. John Sigler Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 12:13 am

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the clarification; I see what you mean now. Frankly, it is something of a tricky issue, as I can see some merit to both cases, esp. since Syria’s borders were legalized when it joined the UN in 1945. However, realistically, when or if Israel and Syria resolve the issue, I doubt they’ll focus on such nuances (a supposition that is backed by the Ross accounts of the negotiations). Once Barak modified the original Rabin position away from a full withdrawal in favor of a compromise settlement (and with the death of Hafez, who would never have accepted anything other than full Israeli withdrawal), I think it pretty much opened the field to all manner of negotiation. Syria’s position isn’t getting stronger so I believe they are – and will remain – reasonably amendable to a compromise that does not result in a full 100% Israeli withdrawal from the territories conquered in 1967. The primary issue for the Syrians will be the bulk of the land (with related water issues), so that the Syrian displaced persons can return to the Golan.

    As for this: And on 1967 I have to agree with Mr. Witty: Egypt committed the first act of war.

    Of course you’re welcome to believe as you will, but with the release of the Israeli archival information in the late 1990’s, the old propaganda argument completely fell apart to substantiate Menachem Begin’s statement that: “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

    Specifically, the flood of Egyptian troops into the Sinai appeared to Israeli intelligence to be a repeat of the “Rotem” (this is actually the name of the Israeli counter-operation, but I don’t have a proper Egyptian name for the it) incident of February 1960, when Egypt also flooded the Sinai with troops in a like fashion, in a show of force trying to convince Israel not to invade Syria after the al-Tawfiq incident. The “Rotem” incident in the Sinai did not result in war. Further, the fact that the Egyptian forces were being rushed in without any pretense to a supply train (in some cases without even having their uniforms) and were being deployed DEFENSIVELY, served to affirm the assessment of Israeli intelligence. [see, for example, Black & Morris, “Israel’s Secret Wars: A History of Israel’s Intelligence Services”] This was also coupled with the fact that the Syrians were not mobilized at all or even on alert until the very last minute, much to the chagrin of the Egyptian Chief of Staff (Parker, ”The June War: Whose Conspiracy?”]

    Israeli intelligence was – by their own accounts in declassified documents – quite sure that neither Egypt nor Syria were planning to attack, however then came the “blockade.” This was the official casus belli for the June war, however, Israeli intelligence had every reason to believe that this was just more Nasserite bluster. Knowing that neither the Egyptians nor the Syrians were deployed in a position to attack, Meir Amit, then head of the Mossad, suggested that Israel call Nasser’s bluff with regard to the blockade. Specifically he suggested that Israel send a small flotilla through the Straits of Tiran. If the Egyptians attacked it, then there would be a clear and utterly undeniable casus belli, not merely resting on legalities but on first blood drawn. Conversely, if – as Amit clearly suspected was the case based on the intelligence – the Egyptians let the Israeli vessels through without harm, then Nasser would suffer a major blow to his prestige (a win for Israel) without actually having to go to war. A complete “win-win” scenario for Israel. The Israeli cabinet turned down this proposal as the decision to attack had already been made.

    Other Israeli writers also affirm the basic facts of the incident, though of course everyone is welcome to make their own subjective determinations as to whether it was right or justified (Begin certainly did, the rest of his quote cited above reads: “This was a war of self-defense in the noblest sense of the term. The Government of National Unity then established decided unanimously: we will take the initiative and attack the enemy, drive him back, and thus assure the security of Israel and the future of the nation.”) But as to the actual facts, Israel was not forced to attack and in fact they had every reason to believe that Nasser would not attack, but they made a conscious decision to attack anyway, which utterly negates the contention that the war was “defensive,” at least in any direct sense (though you might be able to argue about a theoretical “existential threat” or what have you).

    The myth is long dead, by Israel’s own admission (particularly with release of its own documents regarding the build up to the war as well as some of the memoirs of those directly involved, in particular Rabin). Arguments about whether the attack was justified, especially in view of how well it turned out, are fine, but to argue that it was “defensive” is simply false. I will concede that there is a lot of ignorance out there, people who swallowed the propaganda “hook, line, and sinker” and honestly don’t know any better, so I am not saying that those advancing this view are necessarily being deliberately dishonest, but they are factually wrong.

  63. Richard Witty Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 5:01 am

    What happened to the last few posts here?

  64. Dan Fleshler Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Richard,
    I don’t know. A few comments disappeared on the thread for the post on the neocons…Will try to figure it out but if anyone knows what the problem might be, please email me at dfleshler@yahoomail.com.

  65. Richard Witty Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 7:17 am

    To fill in what was lost.

    The myth that Israel initiated the 1967 war unilaterally is also debunked.

    The truth is that the contending parties escalated incrementally over a period of six months or so. Both groups (Egypt, Syria, Jordan less so, Iraq and other allied vs Israel) moved troups around to ambiguously offensive/defensive positions. Both incrementally increased rhetoric in internal justification.

    The first act of war however, was the blockade of the Gulf of Tiran, which Egypt initiated.

    To say that the blockade “should have been tested” is opportunistic and prejudicial.

    The blockade occurred. Egypt KNEW that that increment of escalation was of a qualitative shift, and overtly offensive (as distinct from troup movements).

    Its hard to know what pressures bore on Nasser to make that qualitative shift. Its been described that his power internally was waning and that he needed heat to retain validity. Also, that the Russians exerted pressure in the form of conditional support. (“If he notched up, they would help.”)

    As Tom described, the status of borders prior to 1967, resulted from non-direct cease-fires that conflicted with the 1949 direct cease-fire.

    I’m saddened by John’s rejection to consider the impact of an extra-legal militia, bound in its charter to never negotiate directly with its neighbor.

    In that case, fundamental ambiguity as to its rights and responsibilities ALWAYS remains, providing cover for continued opportunism and negligence.

  66. Tom Mitchell Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 12:05 am

    John,
    Israel did try the flotilla plan. The idea was to organize an international flotilla with American and European ships. Abba Eban, the Israeli foreign minister at the time, was sent to Washington to organize it. But Johnson was occupied with Vietnam and too obsessed with losing the war to act in the Middle East, so he basically gave Israel the green light to go ahead and act on its own. So if you want to blame someone blame Johnson. Although, I can’t really see France sending ships on behalf of Israel even though they were nominally allies at the time. You can find an account of this in Eban’s memoirs (take your pick as to which version of his memoirs you read).

  67. John Sigler Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Tom, yes, I’m aware of that flotilla plan as well and I have no doubt that the Amit flotilla proposal was inspired by it. The point stands though, Israel had many choices and options and the attacks of June 1967 were in no way “defensive.”

  68. Richard Witty Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    “in no way”.

    Why do you think Egypt initiated the blockade in the first place?

    Or, are their actions of no consequence?

  69. Tom Mitchell Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Tom,
    But they were certainly legal under customary international law. Although I realize that the fashion since 1967 has been to fashion high-minded treaties reminiscent of the Kellog-Bryant treaty that contradict customary law and tend to be aimed at countries like Israel that have to have the option of force in order to survive.

  70. John Sigler Says:
    October 14th, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Tom,

    But they were certainly legal under customary international law.

    I agree, I didn’t question the legality of the attacks per se, just the contention that it was “defensive” which Israel’s own documents illustrate was not the case at all. Israel had plenty of options – and very good intelligence – and made the voluntary decision that an attack would serve it interests.

  71. Richard Witty Says:
    October 15th, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    “and made the voluntary decision that an attack would serve it interests”.

    The interest of sovereignty over their ports, and nation as a whole.

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