Israel’s war against Lebanon

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The devastation and occupation of Lebanon shows once again that the historic dilemmas of one oppressed people cannot be resolved at the expense of another oppressed people. For Lebanon is an integral part of that six-decades-long Arab Israeli conflict designed to serve Empire U.S.A. at whatever cost.

Outrage over Israel’s July 12 assault propelled people into the streets —hundreds of thousands in Baghdad, several thousand in both Beirut and Tel Aviv, and in places far beyond. This fury and furor is directed at the unabated terror and suffering that Israel and its boss, the United States, continue to inflict on the Middle East.

Israel the aggressor. This conflict did not start because Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, as the U.S. corporate media insists. It has not ended with the fragile ceasefire. Israeli troops remain in southern Lebanon, only to be replaced at some point by U.N. “peacekeeping” troops who will predictably act on behalf of imperialist forces, including Israel.

U.N. soldiers always play this role. This time they are guided by a U.N. resolution that calls for disarming Hezbollah, one of the primary reasons Israel attacked Lebanon in the first place.

It is now known that a plan to attack Lebanon was in the making for years. And Bush gave the go-ahead at his May 23 summit with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert. Israel immediately started provocations to goad Hezbollah into a military response. It shelled a crowded beach, and twice fired missiles to assassinate opponents. Finally, the day after Israel crossed the border and kidnapped two civilians, Hezbollah reacted and captured the two Israeli soldiers.

Israel responded with planned ferocity. While claiming to target Hezbollah, the bombs also sought civilians and key infrastructure — a collective punishment that is not a new tactic for Israel, and is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Much of the country now lies in ruins. An estimated 1,200 Lebanese were killed, most of them civilians and a third, children under twelve. In contrast, 160 Israelis died, most of them soldiers. One million people, a quarter of Lebanon’s population, were displaced by the relentless bombing.

Israel’s paralyzing embargo of Lebanon by land, air and sea went on long after the ceasefire.

Who is Hezbollah? Israel occupied southern Lebanon in 1978 (never withdrawing completely), and from 1982-2000. Hezbollah is the Lebanese resistance movement that formed in response to the second invasion. It has no history of attacking Lebanese civilians and became a respected guerilla force that finally forced Israel to withdraw after 18 years of occupation. It is one of the many resistance groups in the world that the U.S. has condemned as “terrorist.”

Hezbollah’s name means, “party of God” and its ideology is Islamic fundamentalist. Hezbollah has proclaimed Iran as its model; but today it acknowledges that Lebanon is a secular and religiously pluralistic society and will remain so. Probably because of Lebanon’s cosmopolitan culture, Hezbollah calls for equal participation of women in public life. Its strongest support is among Shi’a Muslims in the south.

The party is also a social service organization and political mass movement. It has elected representatives in the Lebanese parliament and ministers in the current government. It has strong support throughout Lebanon and the Middle East as a whole, a popularity that has soared since Israel’s latest invasion into this small Arab country.

Militarily, of course, Hezbollah is no match for the fourth largest army in the world and a 21st-century air power. Its rocket capability doesn’t come close to Israel’s sophisticated weaponry and targeting capacity.

And still, Hezbollah guerillas have proved once again that bullies cannot eliminate indigenous resistance forces. The reason the U.S. and Israel finally agreed to a ceasefire was that air power alone could not defeat the guerilla forces, and Israeli ground troops were suffering significant casualties.

The Palestine connection. From its inception, Hezbollah has been a supporter of the Palestinians and opponent of Zionism, Jewish nationalism. Initially, most Jews didn’t advocate Zionism. Not until the Nazi, anti-Semitic genocide in World War II, when the imperialist countries refused to open their doors to fleeing Jews, did the Zionist movement get support from Jewish workers. In the horror of the Holocaust, the mirage of a safe, all Jewish homeland turned the trickle of immigrants into a flood.

They flooded a land already peopled by someone else — the Palestinians.

U.S. mainstream media never mention a defining characteristic of Israel — Jewish exclusivity. Zionist terror organizations forced over 800,000 Arab Palestinian inhabitants (Muslim and Christian) to flee from Palestine in the late 1940s. Israel then annexed their lands. Today, Israel is an apartheid society – Arabs there are third class citizens; dark-skinned Jews from Africa and immigrant workers are second class. Palestinian refugees cannot return, but Jews of any nationality automatically receive Israeli citizenship.

Israel is also aggressively expansionist. In 1967, it seized land that included the Gaza strip, West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights, and has systematically stolen more and more Palestinian land – and water access – ever since. Palestinian refugees constitute ten percent of the population of Lebanon.

Israel’s murderous attacks on Gaza — a deadly wave begun on June 29 that continues still — was an immediate cause of Hezbollah firing rockets into Northern Israel, after a decade of not attacking Israeli civilians. So too was Israel’s kidnapping of several elected Hamas representatives to the Palestinian government.

This excruciating tale of suffering confirms that as long as there is no justice for the Palestinians, Israel will never be at peace with its neighbors. Israeli anti-war groups and civil rights organizations know this and are making a determined fight to win over their compatriots. Women in particular are raising the cry against the impact of war on women and children and denouncing the militarization of Israeli society.

The only road to real peace is through a just solution of the Palestine question – and an Israeli divorce from the U.S.

Israel – the U.S.’s junior partner. As the British Empire receded after WWII, and the American Empire rose, Israel’s ruling class was eager to take on the job of garrison state for this new master. The entire Israeli economy and huge military rely on massive funds from the U.S.

Not only was Israel’s war against Lebanon blessed by the U.S., but it’s been widely exposed in the press that the U.S. saw the Lebanon war as a template for its own future attack on Iran.

This can’t be good news for anybody, including Israel.

Relying on U.S. loyalty and help is a perilous game. Already, Israel’s actions are turning it into the most dangerous place on earth for Jews, exposing the myth of Israel as a safe haven. When the U.S. decides that underwriting Israel is not profitable, it will drop its junior partner in a minute.

Only socialist justice and equality can bring peace. For the beleaguered peoples of the entire region, neither Israeli proxy bullies working for the U.S., nor homegrown U.S.-backed Arab dictators are the solution. It is up to workers and peace activists in the U.S. and Israel to foil their governments’ despotic plans. We must call for:

Unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon by Israeli and U.N. forces!

• No more U.S. aid to Israel!
• Stop all attacks on Gaza and Lebanon and end the blockades!

Religion is not at the root of misery in the Middle East. The insatiable profit needs of international capitalism are the cause. What is urgently needed is one secular, socialist state in Palestine for both Arabs and Jews, in which the natural resources — and rich cultural diversity — are shared, enriched by economic and political democracy.
Ultimately, nothing less will allow this land and its peoples to flourish.

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