Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

More items on Israel, Lebanon, Gaza & Us

Click here for a list of more links to reports, views and assessments on this issue.

If you want to make any comment, you can do so at the end of this previous post.

SUNDAY 16th:

.* This opinion piece in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, by Yossi Sarid, is definitely worth a read. It wrestles with the dilemma that the people in the region face, but in doing so tries to take a view beyond the immediate moment “when blood boils and eyes are blind“:

I am not ideologically opposed to the use of force when needed, and woe to us if our force fails us. I do not represent pacifists, not even individuals who refuse to do army service, and I have never represented them. I am still trying to represent acquired skepticism and to speak in favor of perplexity and in condemnation of whitewash. We have too many whitewashers in the government and in the General Staff.

Amid all the militant machismo, the voice of moderation must also be raised and heard, and it says now that force alone will simply not cut it. It is better for the ministers and officers to remember what Gaza did to us in the past 40 years and what Beirut did to us, and what Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia did and are doing to powerful America – and to calm down. It is best to arrive at the crucial meetings calm and sober-eyed.

Only once in history did America manage not only to win, but also to rehabilitate. The outcome of World War II was dictated not only by Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, but also by Harry Truman and George Marshall. Since then America has only been winning, continually winning and losing. And so it is with us, too – winning and winning, yet we have had no quiet for 40 years or even 40 days.

Iraq is destroyed, Afghanistan is destroyed, the Gaza Strip is destroyed and soon Beirut will be destroyed for the umpteenth time, and hundreds of billions of dollars are being invested solely in the vain war against the side that always loses and therefore has nothing more to lose. And hundreds of billions more go down the tubes of corruption.

Maybe the time has come to put the pistol into safety mode for a moment, back into the holster, and at high noon declare a worldwide Marshall Plan, so that the eternal losers will finally have something to lose. Only then will it be possible to isolate the viruses of violence and terrorism, for which quiet is quagmire and which in our eyes are themselves quagmire. And once isolated, it will be possible to eradicate them one day.

.* It is worth following the stories on Lebanon’s Daily Star. This editorial demonstrates the terrible bind Lebanon has been in from so long:

even now, as Israel is laying waste to our country with guns and missiles paid for with US tax dollars, and as American-made bombs are raining down on our cities, we are still clinging to the same values and ideals that the Bush administration has promoted: We want life, liberty and happiness; we want democracy, sovereignty, freedom and independence.

No one is calling for the return of Syrian occupation, even though one could argue that Syria’s presence served as a deterrent to this kind of Israeli onslaught. No one is asking whether the US government only asked the Syrians to step out only so that the Israelis could step in to replace them. We are holding out hope that the Americans will be faithful to the values that they have championed and protect us from further harm.

The Americans now need to choose sides, not between warring parties, but between right and wrong. They must now demonstrate their commitment to freedom, human rights and international law and speak out loudly and firmly against the killing of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure and the brutal collective punishment that all of us are now enduring.

.* Also from the Daily Star, a report that saysSaudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have indirectly accused Hizbullah on Friday of harming Arab interests,” an article that summarises some very different views from different world leaders, while this report details some of the key Lebanese infrastructure still being targetted by Israel.

.* Israeli paper Haaretz also provides plenty of insights of the Israeli perspectives. This recent story details civilians killed by Hezbollah rockets fired into the city of Hafia. The blog by the paper’s chief US correspondent says this is Israel’s ‘don’t mess with us’ moment.

.* An editorial in Haaretz saysit would not be a sign of weakness for Israel to declare a time-out in its military assault in order to allow the Lebanese to reach their own conclusions.”

.* BBC News starts what it calls an online debate between a Lebanese man from Beirut and an Israeli man in the border town of Shlomi. Their initial contribution certainly start a long way removed from each other.

.* Some more comments on Australian blogs. Gary Sauer-Thompson at Public Opinion, Saint at Dogfight at Bankstown does not see Israel’s response as disproportionate, and Week by Week has a few different entries on the issue.

SATURDAY 15th

*. BBC news reports on
an Israeli air raid that has killed at least 13 Lebanese civilians who were fleeing southern border areas. Women and children were among those killed when the convoy was hit.

*. NeoConservative commentator William Kristol in the (US) Weekly Standard provides a clear example of the point I was making in this post, where Israel is portrayed and seen more and more as entwined with the West. Kristol says “It’s Our War”, and that “the right response is renewed strength–in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities“. The Weekly Standard is influential in political debate in the USA, although perhaps less than it used to be as it becomes clearer what a disaster the Iraq invasion is.

*. An article on ABC (US) about Hezbollah hitting an Israeli warship with an unmanned aircraft rigged with explosives, plus updates on further attacks by Israel, including news that “Israel was gradually escalating the damage to (Lebanon’s) infrastructure, painstakingly rebuilt since the civil war ended in 1990.”

*. The latest dispatch from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), containing reaction in Iran, Lebanon and Syria. Earlier dispatches are here and here.

*. The latest editorial in the New York Times says that “Israel needs to be careful that its far-reaching military responses, however legally and morally justified, do not end up advancing the political agenda of Hamas and Hezbollah hard-liners.”

*. An opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post.

*. Reactions from two more Australian bloggers: by Willy Bach – “My concerns in no way condone violence by Hamas, Hizbulah or other armed groups. It is the disproportional nature of the Israeli military attacks;” and by Elequity – “It’s time for Australians to wake up and start to take action”.

*. Comments from Andrew Sandlin, an Evangelical preacher in the USA, on “why Christians should support Israel, now more than ever”.

*. The Daily Kos, which is the major anti-Republican blog in the USA, writes of “Isreal’s unjust and unnecessary response.”

*. Pajamas Media has lots of regular updates, albeit with their own ideological slant. (found through Tim Blair)

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