Friday, July 21, 2006

Under Israeli assault, every day in Lebanon is equivalent to 9/11

Center for Democracy & the Rule of Law Press Release

Under Israeli assault, every day in Lebanon is equivalent to 9/11

Beirut, July 21: The ongoing military offensive of the Israeli army against Lebanon, through the use of superior air and sea power and long range artillery, constitutes an unacceptable assault on the international rule of law and must be brought to an end immediately, said the Beirut-based Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law ("CDRL") in a statement issued today. Following is the full statement.

Clearly, Lebanon is suffering, and will continue to suffer in the form of grave losses of lives and property. The Israeli military response to the imprisonment of its two soldiers is both morally and legally unjustified and, in all events, totally disproportionate. The average number of Lebanese civilians killed by Israel during the past days is nearly forty human beings a day. On a per capita basis, with the Lebanese population being nearly one percent of that of the USA, this exceeds the number of persons killed in New York on 9/11. Hence every day for Lebanon under Israeli attack is 9/11.

CDRL is amazed that the United States of America, that suffered from 9/11 only a few years ago, has not officially spoken a single world against the equivalent atrocity that Israel inflicts on the people of Lebanon on a daily basis. CDRL is also amazed that Israel, in mass murdering the people of Lebanon and destroying their property, private and public, disregards the moral lessons of the Holocaust. The moral betrayal, either in the USA and Israel, cannot be either ignored or brushed aside.

The Israeli Government, openly and strongly backed by the American Administration, had said that it held the Lebanese Government responsible for Hizbullah's action in taking two Israeli soldiers prisoners after a military engagement on Lebanon's southern border. It declared that the Israeli military objective is to cut Hizbullah down to size and bring the Lebanese side of the Blue Line on the Southern Lebanese border under the control of the Lebanese government by deploying the Lebanese army. Another declared Israeli objective is the implementation of UNSCR 1559, which has a propaganda value. Ironically, the ultimate Israeli objective is to beef-up the influence of the same Lebanese government Israel so holds responsible and to place it in control of a post-war Lebanon free of Hizbullah.

To achieve these objectives, Israel has maliciously treated most of Lebanon's civilian infra structure as belonging to Hizbullah and proceeded with a campaign of destruction that has so far included airports, sea ports, fuel depots, roads, overpasses and bridges. Then its planes attacked Lebanese army posts and barracks and killed or wounded over a hundred soldiers who have nothing to do with Hizbullah. Following that Israel escalated its campaign to include privately owned Lebanese industry such as dairy factories, paper towel factories, plastic factories and pharmaceutical factories, and their warehouses of finished products. In the meantime, hundreds of innocent civilians were being killed and hundreds more wounded. Israel openly threatened and continues to threaten civilians in South Lebanon, by leaflets and phone calls, ordering them to leave their homes or causing them enough fear to make them do so. As a result of all this deliberate Israeli action, hundreds of thousands of civilians were suddenly displaced. The ability of the country to feed itself or to import food and medical products has been sharply reduced and almost eliminated because all trucks are being targeted on the suspicion of working for Hizbullah and Israel imposes on Lebanon a tight air and sea embargo. Israeli spokesmen and apologists for Israel are willing to acknowledge flatly that Israel seeks to inflict a harsh measure of pain on Lebanon's civilians in order to make them turn against Hizbullah. What is happening is just the opposite, as the Lebanese are putting the blame squarely on Israel.

Lebanon's destiny can not be dictated by the Israeli Army, even if backed by the entire Western Alliance led by the mightiest power on earth, the USA. The future of Lebanon can only be made by the Lebanese in a true democracy that upholds the constitution, the rule of law and human rights, based on full equality and the strict separation of state and church. This task becomes so much more difficult when Israel so openly and grossly violates the international rule of law, to the cheers of its chorus of backers who otherwise profess support for democracy and the rule of law.

All parties concerned should learn lessons from contemporary history. In 1982 Israel launched a full scale invasion of Lebanon after a series of more limited incursions. The major achievement of that invasion was the forced eviction from Beirut of the Syrian Army and PLO forces of the late Mr. Arafat. Furthermore, Israel, with close American tutoring, succeeded in installing a new Lebanese government under Amine Gemayel, the brother of the slain leader of the Lebanese Forces militia financed and equipped by Israel. Gemayel's government was as impotent and corrupt as its predecessor or successor Lebanese governments. The events of 1982-1983 gave the impetus for the birth of Hizbullah. The end result was a big fiasco that cost Lebanon dearly ending in Israel's own eviction from most Lebanese territory at the hands of Hizbullah. Most of Hizbullah's fighters today were born after the Israeli invasion of 1982. When an Israeli spokesman recently threatened that Lebanon will be pushed back twenty years, his statement could only be understood as a reference to the1982 experience. Recalling that experience with the intent to duplicate it in one form of another will lead to an even bigger fiasco. The children of the Lebanese civilians killed, wounded or displaced by Israel over the past days will grow up to become potential recruits of Hizbullah or the other guerilla organizations that will be born out of the current events and perhaps succeed Hizbullah.

It would be sad indeed if Israel and the USA see a future for Lebanon under a government similar to the one they helped install in 1982, and consisting of elements of the same corrupt and impotent political class that dominate the present Siniora cabinet, and openly wish to invest in such an insignificant creature through the illusory capital of Israel's military might. They would be making a big mistake, much bigger than the one they made in 1982 that led the country to unforgettable catastrophes.

Any credible wish by the international community to help a weary Lebanese republic revitalize itself and achieve true independence, democracy and the rule of law, must first recognize the need to desist from any attempt to re-empower the defunct, corrupt and impotent political class. Lebanon can only be helped by an international demonstration, in deeds more than in words, of the fullest respect for, and upholding of, the rule of law on every level, nationally, regionally and internationally. Hizbullah could not be contained except as a result of a credible democratic process in a revitalized republic of Lebanon under the rule of law and integrity, benefiting from a credible international rule of law equally applied to, and respected by, all parties in the Region, and after Lebanon shall have been supplied by such defensive weapons as would enable its army to defend the country against the likes of today's Israeli invasion.

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