Friday, July 21, 2006

Proportionate Response?

I don't normally talk about current news events in my posts, but the latest developments in the Middle East have hit a raw nerve with me. A raid by Hezbollah on an Israeli army post, killing 8 and capturing 2, precipitated a response from the Israelis whereby they have, in 10 days, killed over 300 civilians (of which over 100 were children), completely isolated the country and destroyed much of its civilian infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, power stations, etc.) in almost indiscriminate bombing raids and made half a million people refugees in their own country. Now this has made me angry on several levels. Firstly the loss of innocent, civilian life on both sides of the border. But the number is far greater amongst the Lebanese, which brings me onto the complete lack of proportion of this military response. And although I do not condone the Hezbollah action that started this whole thing off, it was an attack against a military position, which can, in a way be justified. But by retaliating against an country and punishing the entire population is not only wrong, but against international law (not to mention the bounds of basic human compassion). Perhaps worse, however, is the response from the international community. The Americans just sit back and blithely trot out that Israel is "justified in defending itself", whilst the other major powers exert considerable resources to the evacuation of their own citizens they are weak in their condemnation of the brutal and overwhelming force used, as if the lives of the Lebanese were worth a pittance compared to their own nationals. This complete lack of care is demonstrated by the international media (such as, but not limited to, the BBC) who devote far more airtime to the evacuation rather than the plight of Lebanon. The media here in Iran, on the other hand, are having a field day, repeatedly showing images of burning houses, bloodied survivors, rows of coffins and pounding jets and tanks. And for once they don't even need to twist or exaggerate the truth to suit their agenda (ironically, one radio programme was even quoting from the Torah to demonstrate Israeli hypocrisy). Which shows that such forceful, unilateral measures are ultimately counterproductive for the Israelis themselves as it feeds the anti-Zionist propaganda and recruits thousands of willing volunteers to fight them (and the Americans in Iraq, for all the conflicts in the Middle East are inevitably linked to this one issue) and to continue this never-ending spiral of hate. Unfortunately it seems to be a prerequisite that politicians throughout the world lack the moral rectitude needed to resolve such conflicts by facing up to facts, admitting shameful truths and making painful concessions. This is especially true of Western politicians who fail to realise that, since we are in a position of power and privilege, we need to be the ones to give way first and lead by example. Sadly they (and by extension, we) are far too short-sighted and can only see as far as tomorrow's gains instead of understanding that a loss now is doubly rewarded later.

P.S. I am also deeply annoyed for purely selfish reasons as I was planning on travelling back home via Lebanon and Syria, which is looking less and less likely every day.

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