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Lebanon War Question and Answer

How much more do we have to know before calling it a crime?

When discussing the invasion, killing and destruction of Lebanon by Israel, those who wouldn’t agree with me calling it a crime often ask: do you know enough to have an opinion on the issue? My answer has to be no, I don’t know enough. However, how much more do you have to know before calling it a crime?

I know that Saddam Hussein was condemned by the international community for invading a neighboring country. Not only Iraq was forced to withdraw from Kuwait, but they had to endure a decade of sanctions and a final deadly attack on their country by the US and allies, which have plunged Iraq further into chaos and now civil war. If invasions are so repugnant, why hasn’t the same rule been applied to Israel for its violent attack and invasion of Lebanon?

I know a bit, and in my own regard for knowledge, this will never be enough. However, it is important, in the light of this assessment, to know that there is a many times superior army invading a sovereign country who is unable to defend itself and that international rules of engagement have not been followed at all. It is enough for me to know that civilians are being killed - sacrificed to the arrogance of those who employ tactics of collective punishment. This I find repulsive, because it is inhuman, because is based on the worst feelings that humankind can ever produce.

So destructive and decadent are this wars and the power that supports them that we, citizens in the rest of the world are powerless, not only because we see it pointless to oppose, as this will not change the outcome, but because too many have already given in to this state of global affairs and in a twisted manner, we are also victims.


>> For more about the historical background, the article below by Stephen R. Shalom, gives and excellent summary of the situation.
Lebanon War Question and Answer

by Stephen R. Shalom, ZNET, August 07, 2006

One has the right to self-defense if one is not oneself guilty of aggression. So, for example, the Soviet Union could not invoke self-defense when its occupation troops in Afghanistan were attacked by Afghan mujahideen. Instead, it ought to have withdrawn its troops. Likewise, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is illegal and unjust and Israel can't claim self-defense when Palestinians struggle by legitimate means to end the occupation. The proper Israeli response to such Palestinian actions is not self-defense, but full withdrawal from the occupied territories.

The situation with Lebanon is different; whereas in Palestine, Israel was engaged in an ongoing aggression, in Lebanon the Israeli violations of Lebanese rights prior to July 12, 2006, were far less substantial, and less immediate.

But even when a country's own prior acts aren't contributory causes of an attack, international law places various limitations on the right of self-defense to that attack.

One limitation is that the right of self-defense is meant to give nations the right to take measures to repel an armed attack until the UN Security Council can act to stop the aggression. If an enemy's tanks are hurtling toward your capital city, any delay in responding would mean further losses and further harm. In the case of the Hezbollah raid across the Israeli border on July 12, 2006, the act of aggression took place and was over; it was not an ongoing aggression to which any delay in responding would have meant additional harm to Israel. Once the immediate danger is over, international law requires that victims of aggression bring their cases to the Security Council for action. (....)

But, to quote Representative Jerrold L. Nadler of New York, 'Since when should a response to aggression and murder be proportionate?'[1] Or, since when does the side which starts a war get to decide how it will be fought?

Wouldn't we consider it disproportionate if the police bombed an apartment building in an effort to catch a murderer? Or to carpet bomb the area of a city which we thought (or knew) to be harboring the person or persons responsible for a murder? The requirement of proportionality makes good moral sense even when dealing with murderers. (....)

Continue reading: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=10721
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