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Published 8/9/2006

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If anyone wonders why the UN has rendered itself worse than irrelevant in the Arab-Israeli conflict, all he or she need do is read UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s July 20 statement. Annan goes to great pains to suggest equal fault and moral equivalence between the rockets of Hezbollah and Hamas that specifically target innocent civilians and the self-defense efforts by Israel, which tries desperately, though not always successfully, to avoid causing civilian casualties. In his statement, Annan never condemns, or even mentions, terrorism, which is a root cause and precipitator of the conflict. … Annan knows better than to suggest a moral equivalence. He is fully aware of the tactic employed by terrorists of launching their rockets from, and hiding behind, civilian shields, so as to make democracies have to kill some civilians to get at the terrorists.

… If a space alien from a distant planet were to land at the UN, he would come away with the impression that Israel is not only the sole offender in the Middle East, but the worst offender in the entire world. He would single out Israel for condemnation and exclude it from membership on many UN bodies, on which Syria, Lebanon and Iran serve in positions of honor.

—Alan M. Dershowitz,,

Harvard Law School professor, defense attorney and author,

JewishWorldReview.com

It is inarguable that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens, but it is inhumane and counterproductive to punish civilian populations in the illogical hope that somehow they will blame Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking the devastating response. The result instead has been that broad Arab and worldwide support has been rallied for these groups, while condemnation of both Israel and the United States has intensified.

—Jimmy Carter,

former U.S. president,

The Washington Post op-ed

This could produce a thousand new bin Ladens. The level of anger and frustration in the Arab world is extremely dangerous. It could easily turn toward the United States, which is blindly supporting Israel.

—Diaa Rashwan,

a leading expert on militants at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo,

quoted in Newsday

Before he launched his democracy project, Bush was warned that free elections would advance the fortunes of Islamic militants. At his insistence, the elections were held. Results:

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won 60 percent of the seats it contested. Hezbollah swept south Lebanon. Hamas recorded a stunning victory on the West Bank and Gaza. These were the freest and fairest elections ever held in those nations. But Bush refused to engage the winners.

The painful truth is that, in the Middle East, democracy will produce, as it does in the West, two dominant parties. One will be a state party, and the other is going to be a party rooted in the Islamic faith.

Time to recognize reality — and stop isolating America.

—Pat Buchanan,

syndicated conservative newspaper columnist, former Nixon speechwriter

The Israeli government’s brutal retaliation against Palestinian civilians constitutes a form of collective punishment specifically prohibited by several international treaties and regulations. As Marjorie Cohn, president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild and U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists, has indicated, collective punishment violates Article 50 of the Hague Regulations and is also prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Is there a way out of this present escalation of violence that threatens to engulf the whole Middle East? There is, but it requires a balanced outside intervention that is presently lacking, particularly by the U.S., which has maintained its unwavering support for the actions carried out by the Israeli government.

Peace now is as elusive as ever in the Middle East. And it will continue to be so as long as innocent civilians, on both sides, are made to be pawns in a larger political game.

—Dr. César Chelal,

international public-health consultant who writes extensively on public health and human-rights issues,

The Seattle Times

What is most extraordinary in this story is that the Israelis, although the best informed in their region, should have made the same error in Lebanon as the Americans in Iraq: underestimating the terrorist tactics of their adversaries and planning to replace a bad government with men to their liking, thanks to handy opponents.

Especially, especially, like the Americans at the time of the war in Iraq, they didn’t bother with the Lebanese because they thought that they, out of fear of Hezbollah and respect for strength, would want only to unite with a victorious Israel.

Some Israelis fear today, rightly, that Hezbollah will appear to emerge victorious from no matter what international arrangement. You would have to be blind, in fact, not to recognize that a certain Hezbollah victory is already gained and that the threat today is the tipping over of the entire moderate Arab world: the Sunni rallying to the Shiite Hezbollah fight heralds the promotion of its Iranian sponsor to the status of a great regional power.

—Jean Daniel,

co-founder and director of the Nouvel Observateur, a Paris-based newsweekly that covers political, business and economic issues

It’s an amazing figure: Almost 15,000 shells were fired by the Israeli armed forces in the last six weeks. Not on Lebanon, but in the Gaza strip. The number of Palestinians killed in that period is close to 300. No wonder Palestinian leaders are screaming for a halt to the "aggression" and feeling forgotten by the world as the war in Lebanon keeps moving from one "worst attack thus far" to yet another even worse assault.

But the Palestinians will have one thing to celebrate as the Lebanon war nears its final act of violence. On the diplomatic front, they might be the winners of this war, or, at least, the main beneficiary. And this achievement, more than many others, reflects Israel’s failure to win the propaganda battle with its enemies.

—Shmuel Rosner

chief U.S. correspondent for the Israeli paper Haaretz,

Slate

Hizbullah is proving to be something altogether new, an Arab guerrilla army with sophisticated weaponry and remarkable discipline. Its soldiers have the jihadist rhetoric of fighting to the death, but wear body armor and use satcoms to coordinate their attacks. Their tactics may be from Che, but their arms are from Iran, and not just AK-47s and RPGs. They’ve reportedly destroyed three of Israel’s advanced Merkava tanks with wire-guided missiles and powerful mines, crippled an Israeli warship with a surface-to-sea missile, sent up drones on reconnaissance missions, implanted listening devices along the border and set up their ambushes using night-vision goggles.

Newsweek has learned from a source briefed in recent weeks by Israel’s top leaders and military brass that Hizbullah even managed to eavesdrop successfully on Israel’s military communications as its Lebanese incursion began.

—Kevin Peraino, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Christopher Dickey,

staff writers in Newsweek

The invasion itself is a serious breach of international law, and major war crimes are being committed as it proceeds. There is no legal justification.

The "moral justification" is supposed to be that capturing soldiers in a cross-border raid, and killing others, is an outrageous crime. We know, for certain, that Israel, the United States and other Western governments, as well as the mainstream of articulate Western opinion, do not believe a word of that. Sufficient evidence is their tolerance for many years of U.S.-backed Israeli crimes in Lebanon, including four invasions before this one, occupation in violation of Security Council orders for 22 years, and regular killings and abductions.

To mention just one question that every journal should be answering: When did [Hizballah leader. Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah assume a leadership role? Answer: When the Rabin government escalated its crimes in Lebanon, murdering Sheikh Abbas Mussawi and his wife and child with missiles fired from a U.S. helicopter. Nasrallah was chosen as his successor. Only one of innumerable cases. There is, after all, a good reason why last February, 70 percent of Lebanese called for the capture of Israeli soldiers for prisoner exchange.

—Noam Chomsky

MIT linguistics professors and leftist intellectual,

interview with Global Interfaith Peace

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