Sunday, July 30, 2006
Israel has, as predicted, begun to flatten towns and villages in the south of Lebanon. Is it significant at all that they killed fifty sleeping residents in the village of Qana, site of the infamous massacre of refugees in 1996? Before that massacre, similar rhetoric was used. The State Department said at the time, "Hezbollah [is] using civilians as cover. That's a despicable thing to do, an evil thing." Shimon Peres feigned innocence, saying "They used them as a shield, they used the UN as a shield — the UN admitted it." The UN actually found that Israel had intentionally targeted the compound, using shells designed to maximise damage to bodies sleeping or moving around where the bombs fell. This time they are saying that Hezbollah has been firing rockets from the area. In fact, Israel has repeatedly attacked Qana recently, not least by shelling red cross ambulances.
Israel's inability to beat Hezbollah directly leads it to retreat to its enduring strengths - long range destruction. I do not say indiscriminate destruction, since it is clear that they are extremely discriminating - when they kill civilians, they do so with precision-guided rockets and missiles. They've also continued to destroy the routes of escape for civilians, and appear to be readying themselves for war with Syria. Oh, and they're continuing the killing in Gaza despite rumours of a peace deal.
Of course, this is all going on because Bush and Blair have authorised it. The stupendous callousness of the Prime Minister in publicly declaring that he does not wish Israel to cease its murder has led even some of his loyalists to question what he's doing. I've seen footage of usually pliant media commentators looking stunned and asking Blair if he really really means it. 'Say isn't so', their eyes plead. 'Say there's some plan afoot to bring peace to these benighted people'. I mentioned before that the government appeared to be in a state of panic over this - a crisis is now brewing and threatens to split the cabinet. The Prime Minister is now even claiming that he does want a ceasefire after all, but only fears that Hezbollah may not stick to it (despite the fact that Hezbollah is the one calling for a ceasefire and Israel is the one refusing to give it). And he is ever so eager to get an "international" force into the south, to relieve military pressure on the UK's formidable ally in the Levant - something that probably unites the cabinet and would win over those liberals shocked by Israeli aggression but eager to be told that the problem of imperialism can be solved through further and better imperialism.
We can intensify the pressure on the government, of course. Further protests are afoot. Today, there is a Voices for Lebanon and Palestine event in Trafalgar Square between 1pm and 3pm, and of course this coming Saturday there will be a national demonstration starting from Hyde Park near Speakers' Corner at 12 noon. There are protests scheduled outside Prestwick against the use of this airport to transport bombs to Israel.
PS: What's with rumours of a coup in Iraq?