For thousands of years, we Jews have been nourished and sustained by a yearning for our historic land. I, like many others, was raised with a deep conviction that the day would never come when we would have to relinquish parts of the land of our forefathers. I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land.
But I also believe that dreams alone will not quiet the guns that have fired unceasingly for nearly a hundred years. Dreams alone will not enable us to preserve a secure democratic Jewish state.
—- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 24, 2006. ("Address by PM Olmert to Joint Meeting of U.S. Congress," Prime Minister's Office, May 24, 2006.)
Whatever else they betray, Olmert's remarks here—and he may as well have been quoting Pope Urban II—have the virtue of candor. Precisely as do the Israeli state's current military campaigns. Behind Operation Summer Rain (against the Israeli Occupied Palestinian Territories) and Operation Change of Direction (against Lebanon—now advertised to be on the verge of serious escalation) lie the long-term objective of Greater Israel. And this remains the case, whether today. Or this coming weekend. Or years from now.
"Israel Okays Deeper Push into Lebanon," Charles A. Radin, Boston Globe, August 10, 2006
"Israel vows to expand its ground offensive," Ilene R. Prusher, Christian Science Monitor, August 10, 2006
"Israel to triple force on Lebanon front line," Tim Butcher et al., Daily Telegraph, August 10, 2006
"Israel to escalate Lebanon conflict with big push north," Harvey Morris et al., Financial Times, August 10, 2006
"Pessimism on deal amid clashes at UN," Oliver Burkman et al., The Guardian, August 10, 2006
"General sacked as Israel plans invasion," Julian Borger and Oliver Burkman, The Guardian, August 10, 2006
"'We thought Gaza was pretty tough…'," Conal Urquhart, The Guardian, August 10, 2006
"It is Lebanon, not Israel, that faces a threat to its existence in this war," Ahmad Samih Khalidi, The Guardian, August 10, 2006
"Israel set to invade Lebanon despite lessons of 1982 war," Donald McIntyre, The Independent, August 10, 2006
"Israel Readies Broader Push as Losses Rise," Henry Chu and Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2006
"Arc of extremism," Neil Clark, Morning Star, August 10, 2006 [$$$$$ -- See below]
"Israel, Seeking Rocket Buffer, Sets Expansion," Steven Erlanger, New York Times, August 10, 2006 (as posted to the IHT)
"Israel orders new attack on Hezbollah as UN squabbles," Stephen Farrell and Ian MacKinnon, The Times, August 10, 2006
"Israelis Authorize Expansion Of Combat," Molly Moore and Jonathan Finer, Washington Post, August 10, 2006
"violations of Lebanese sovereignty committed by Israel," ZNet Blogs, August 7, 2006
"Greater Israel," ZNet Blogs, August 10, 2006
Update (August 11, 2006):
UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (S/RES/1701), August 11, 2006
"The situation in the Middle East" (S/PV.5511), Meeting Record, UN Security Council, August 11, 2006. (Also see the brief Corrigendum to this meeting record: S/PV.5511/Corr.1.)
"Security Council Calls for End to Hostilities between Hizbollah, Israel, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1701" (SC 8808), Press Release, UN Department of Public Information, August 11, 2006
An important compilation of documents would assemble in one place hyperlinks to copies of every single one of these “meeting records” on the “situation in the Middle East” (i.e., it is standard usage at the UN to use this phrase to refer to all aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict) extending back through June (let us say—or however far back would be relevant to the current issues). I believe that since June 1, there have been no fewer than 18 different Security Council sessions devoted to the subject.
FYA ("For your archives"): Too important to let subscription fees and copyrights let it slip through our fingers.
August 10, 2006
HEADLINE: Feature – Arc of extremism;
BYLINE: Neil Clark urges us to all come together to stop Damascus and Tehran going the same way as Beirut
Spot the difference. Country A has its citizens kidnapped and killed by a "terrorist" group supported by Country B. Country A reacts by taking action to free the hostages and defeat the terrorists which Country B denounces as "disproportionate" and uses its influence to gain support from other countries for 78 days of air strikes on Country A.
Country C also has its citizens kidnapped and killed by a "terrorist" group. But, this time, Country B supports the measures Country C takes in response – even though, unlike in the first example, they involve attacking another sovereign state and killing hundreds of innocent civilians.
The double standards that Country B (the US) showed towards Country A (Yugoslavia) in 1998-9 during its battle with the Kosovan Liberation Army and Country C (Israel) today could not be more glaring, particularly when one considers that the trigger for the renewal of hostilities between the KLA and Yugoslav forces in October 1998 was the kidnapping by the KLA of two Yugoslav journalists.
No-one on the Sky News bulletin which I recently watched thought fit to ask James Rubin, the ubiquitous former press officer to Secretary of State Madeline Albright, why Yugoslavia had no right to carry out "anti-terrorist" action on its own soil in 1998-9, but Israel has the right to carry out its "anti-terrorist" action on another's soil.
An estimated 900 Lebanese civilians have been killed in the Israeli offensive, a third of them children under the age of 12. A million Lebanese have become refugees in their own country.
Don't, however, hold your breath for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to be indicted for war crimes or be sent, with his hands tied behind his back, on an RAF plane to stand trial at The Hague, the fate which befell Slobodan Milosevic.
Olmert knows that he can literally get away with murder, because he is supported by the most powerful and malevolent political grouping on this planet, Washington's neoconservatives, the very same people who championed the cause of radical Islamists in the Balkans in order to destroy Yugoslavia, now defend the killing of innocent Muslims and Christians in Gaza and Lebanon as a necessary part of the "war on terror."
It is revealing to compare the way the Western media has portrayed both conflicts.
Back in 1998-9, the KLA was depicted as a bunch of heroic freedom fighters battling to free its people from Serb oppression.
"The United States and the KLA stand for the same human values and principles," declared US Senator Joe Lieberman. Little mention was made of the group's links to organised crime and drug smuggling and the fact that, in the lead-up to war, the KLA had killed more ethnic Albanians in Kosovo than Yugoslav forces.
KLA links with hardline fundamentalist groups, including al-Qaida, were also glossed over. Yugoslavia, by contrast, was portrayed as a genocidal nazi-style dictatorship, even though its leader was a committed socialist and lifelong anti-racist who had won three successive elections held in a multi-party system.
All rather different to the way that Israel is depicted today. Although there has been criticism of Israel's actions, the country still benefits from favourable press coverage, especially in the United States and Britain.
Israel, we are repeatedly informed, is a modern, forward-looking democracy under constant attack from backward, fanatical neighbours hell-bent on its destruction.
Israel is an integral part of the West and an example for its virtues, declares the journalist and Tory MP Michael Gove, while fellow Tory Boris Johnson claims that Israel has moral superiority over its opponents on the grounds that, "when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets and that when Hezbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit."
Nowhere in this dominant version of events is mention made of Israel's huge military arsenal and the fact that it is the only country in the region to possess nuclear weapons or that the jails of the Middle East's "model democracy" contain over 4,000 Palestinians held without trial.
Despite's Israel's blatant aggression against Lebanon and their denial of rights to the Palestinians, it is the governments of Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria who are denounced as the instigators of the latest Middle East conflict.
Yet Iran and Syria have far more reason to fear the US and Israel than vice versa. Prominent neoconservatives close to the Bush administration have made no secret of their desire to achieve "regime change" in both Damascus and Tehran.
To openly call for a nuclear first strike on Iran, as leading neoconservative Richard Perle has done, is considered perfectly acceptable, yet, when the Iranian president makes a speech condemning Western policy towards his country, there is a huge outcry.
Unfortunately for Milosevic and the citizens of Yugoslavia, international resistance to US-led imperialism was weak and unco-ordinated in 1999 and Yugoslavia's attempt to defend its territorial integrity was defeated.
Seven years on, though, things are different. As Israel's bombs were pounding Lebanon, President Chavez of Venezuela was completing a tour of sovereign states that still retain their independence. Closer co-operation, not just in trade matters but on defence and military issues too, is essential for these countries if they are to avoid the fate of others who refused to pay Danegeld. The pattern is clear. In 1999, Yugoslavia. In 2003, Iraq. In 2006, Lebanon.
If we don't want to see Damascus and Tehran go the way of Belgrade, Baghdad and Beirut, it's time for all humane, decent people to come together to stop the real "arc of extremism" – the one which stretches from Washington across to London and Tel Aviv.