My Fellow Targets

There are two proposals for a cease-fire in Lebanon. One is French and is backed by the European Union and most of the Muslim world. The other is Israeli-American and backed only by Israel and the United States.

There is one main difference. The French proposal is for an immediate cease-fire followed by negotiations on the points in the American plan, including deployment of an international force. The Israeli-American proposal is that there shall be no cease-fire until all the other points – disarmament of Hezbollah, return of Israeli prisoners, deployment of an international force – are all done.

The kernel of the nut is this: Under the French proposal, the killing on both sides stops while the politicians and diplomats wrangle. Under the Israeli-American proposal, the killing goes on for weeks, if not months.

The difference is mighty important if you are one of those people destined to die. According to the Lebanese government, 1,000 civilians have already been killed, more than 3,000 wounded, and $2.5 billion worth of damage has been inflicted on the Lebanese infrastructure. In Israel, about 27 civilians have been killed, along with 30 or so Israeli soldiers. The imbalance is so lopsided, one almost flinches at the use of the words “on both sides.”

Nevertheless, every single life is precious – especially the lives of children, and children are dying on both sides. I realize many Americans don’t give a hoot about the Middle East one way or the other. Some Americans have a blind devotion to Israel. Well, I do not wish to argue with either. I want only to talk about our selfish interests.

To the rest of the world, it is plain as a Cape buffalo at a bridge party that the Bush administration has given the green light to Israel to make war on Lebanon. It is plain that the only reason the United Nations has not passed a cease-fire resolution is because the U.S. threatens to veto it. You should remember, in this age of propaganda, that the definition of an “ineffective U.N.” is a U.N. that won’t do what our government tells it to do.

Therefore, people in the Muslim street correctly hold us accountable for the killing and destruction done by Israel. You can forget about any talk of “winning hearts and minds.” We’ve lost that already. You should realize, too, what additional danger we are putting our own troops in by backing Israel’s war against Hezbollah. Many of those troops are trying to survive in a sea of Iraqi Shi’ites.

That’s point one. Point two is that the rationalization peddled by the Bush administration for holding up a cease-fire is patently false. The Bush administration claims it wants a permanent solution, meaning the disarmament of Hezbollah and the stationing of an international force. What is permanent about that? First, you can’t disarm Hezbollah, or at least not keep its members disarmed. Secondly, what international force, parked on foreign soil, is going to be permanent? Thirdly, Bush is avoiding addressing the root cause of the Middle East conflict.

That goes back to 1947, when the newly established state of Israel – established on Palestinian land by the U.S. and Europe – forced out of their homes, farms and businesses some 700,000 Palestinians. More were forced out in the 1967 war. Israel today occupies Palestinian territory, Lebanese territory and Syrian territory. Every war and conflict involving Israel since then has been over the issue of Israeli occupation and the Israeli refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return or even to file claims for lost property. It’s strange that Jewish refugees from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s can file claims for lost property, but Palestinian refugees cannot.

All Israel has to do to get peace treaties with every Arab country in the region is to return to its 1967 borders, as a United Nations Security Council resolution ordered it to do. I laugh out loud every time an Israeli or American talks about enforcing U.N. Resolution 1559. No country on Earth has ignored more U.N. resolutions than Israel, and no country in the world has vetoed more U.N. resolutions to protect Israel than the United States.

Slavish devotion to Israel will make Americans the target of hatred and violence for generations. So stay alert, my fellow targets.

Author: Charley Reese

Charley Reese is a journalist.