Benny's World

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Israel: Same Playbook, 24 Years Later

As BW readers know, I try my best to write more about upbeat topics, such as the positive activism of One America Committee, most especially by John and Elizabeth Edwards. But some one posted on OAC blog about the Conflict in Lebanon. I had been reticent to say any thing because I'm fully aware that JRE met with members of the Israeli cabinet in early June. Let me be very clear: JRE has not spoken about this issue (doesn't have to either at this juncture) and what I'm about to blog is in no way connected to him.

Yesterday, I listened to C-SPAN on XM Radio and heard a group of panelists speak about the conflict in Lebanon. None of them were Jewish, and none of them took Israel's side. But none of them took Hizbollah's side either. They stated what the net causes were concerning Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

James Zogby, President of Arab American Institute and Amr Hamzawy, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and expert on Middle Eastern affairs, were the first two panelists. They laid out astute analysis of the situation and some of their perspectives were similar. These were my takeaways:

1) This is a replay of what happened in 1982 when Israel felt threatened and destroyed the infrastrure in Lebanon. Reagan did nothing about Israel's invasion for 3 months and after 18,000 were dead, and the Israelis had destroyed a US marine barracks, killing some our men as well.

2) The Shi'as have not been invited to the political table and feel ignored. These are the same people who support Hizbollah.

3) Syria and Iran do financially support Hizbollah, but Zogby's polls show that the Lebanese do not wish the US or Syria to meddle in their affairs. The UN is favored the most to be the mediators. The US is heavily unfavored because of their support to Israel.

4) Because 40% of the Lebanese Army is Shi'a, the Army is not going to make Hizbollah disarm without a political solution.

5) Unemployment is around 75% because businesses had to shut down. There are so many poor people.

6) All panelists said a cease fire needs to happen first, then bring in humanitarian aid. There are thousands of people trapped without food, water, and are without any transportation because the infrastructure (roads, power plants, airport) have been destroyed. This has been echoed by Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem. (hat-tip to Iddybud)

7) Also, there needs to be a political solution, not a military solution because no one wins. As Dr. Zogby posted on the Huffington Post Thursday (another hat-tip to Iddybud):

While Hizbullah's provocation and the horrific toll exacted by Israel's assault have only complicated matters, Lebanon remains a remarkable and resilient country in need of internal renewal. The wounds of this war will take a long time to heal. Lebanon needs today what it needed in 1990, at the end of its civil war: a representative political system, that opens new opportunities for the disenfranchised Shi'a community of the south, and that retains the special character of Lebanon, i.e., the protection and freedom of all confessional groups.

I've been following Juan Cole's blog about this horrible tragedy, in order to get a more objective opinion. And my bottom line, I agree with the panelists I heard yesterday. I feel for the Israelis to defend themselves, but not to exercise diplomacy and resort to war was just repeating the old play book. Now it's a mess again.

War in this instance will not bring peace. It will harden the hearts of the Lebanese and other Arabs, and we are no safer than before 9/11. The New York Times reports that 6 people were shot at Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.

Moreover, we will have to fork over more money we don't have (or needed to spend on Katrina, which is still a mess too). Condi has already carried $30M with her as a peace pipe, yet in our own country, the Congress bitches about giving $25 more million to restore the Gulf Coast area. Granted there was fraud, but it happened, and we still need to help our people.


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