Bombing People Creates More Terrorism - a Peace Council Statement on the Mid East
The Syracuse Peace Council (SPC) is relieved that the international community has developed a ceasefire agreement for the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Unfortunately, the ceasefire was deliberately delayed by our government. In the process over 1200 Lebanese were killed along over a hundred Israelis.
We hope that this fragile agreement holds and that the international community seizes this opportunity to renew concerted efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (at the root of the recent violence).
The Peace Council opposes all military attacks on civilians -- including Israel's air and ground war against Lebanon and Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel.
We condemn the invasions of Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. We likewise condemn the occupations -- vigorously resisted -- of those bloodied lands.
Israel/Lebanon/Palestine and US/Iraq are battles in the same war. Both are funded by US taxpayers. Both reflect the agenda of the United States power structure -- global hegemony and control of the world's resources, especially the oil fields of the Mid East.
SPC singles out Bush Inc. and the Pentagon for their lead role in the current mega-violence. Their corporate backers in the oil and weapons industries profit handsomely from the bloodletting.
The Bush administration's position that Israel's devastation of Lebanon was a legitimate response to "terrorist" attacks ignores the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further postpones any meaningful peace.
What -- precisely -- is "terrorism"? Terrorism is the use of violence to intimidate and coerce civilians. Israel acted as a terrorist state in Lebanon and continues to do so in Gaza, just as the US is acting as a terrorist state in Iraq.
Hezbollah and Hamas are routinely described as "terrorist"…and, when they target civilians, terrorist they are. But by any notion of proportionality, they are small fry compared to the Pentagon and its Israeli ally. Even so, Hezbollah and Hamas have broad legitimacy among their populations because of the social services they provide and their role in resisting Israeli aggression.
U.S. media has focused on the Syrian and Iranian weaponry provided Hezbollah, particularly the rockets targeting Israelis. The helicopters, fighter jets, missiles, cluster bombs, etc. our government supplies Israel are ignored.
The US must stop violating international law. The US must stop financing other nations violating international law. The US must stop providing military aid to Israel (over $2.5 billion each year). Such a cutoff would still leave Israel a nuclear power with the fourth strongest military in the world.
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert claims the Israeli attack on Lebanon was to increase "Israeli security." But the massive civilian casualties and pulverizing of Lebanon's infrastructure only sow seeds for future acts of violence -- violence that will further decrease Israeli security. In an August 3 report, Human Rights Watch said Israel's actions in Lebanon "indicate the commission of war crimes….In many cases, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians."
The international community must investigate the commission of war crimes by all parties.
Like that of his allies in Washington, Olmert's view is steeped in anti-Arab racism. SPC fails to see how the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the killing of hundreds of Lebanese children is acceptable "collateral damage."
Without diplomatic and financial pressure from the United States, Israeli aggression and its attempts to humiliate its neighbors will continue. The creation of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state will remain a distant dream.
Years of US military aid to Israel and dozens of US vetoes in the UN Security Council have fostered Israeli exceptionalism: the illusion that Israel doesn't -- like every other country -- have to get along with its neighbors.
The invasions and occupations must end. The current ceasefire must be sustained. But that first essential step only scratches the surface. A ceasefire doesn't begin to provide justice -- the only basis for sustainable peace.
The Iraqis, the Palestinians, the Lebanese must be assured their sovereignty. They, along with Israelis civilians, must be assured their safety. Their destroyed infrastructure must be restored. They must be provided adequate reparation for their material and human loss. Future US aid earmarked for Israel could instead help the Lebanese rebuild their nation.
In speaking out, we heed the call of Yonatan Shapira, former captain in the Israeli Air Force Reserves and a founder of the organization Combatants for Peace. Shapira declared, "If you care about my country, if you care about the Israeli people, as well as the Palestinian and the Lebanese who are now suffering, you must put massive pressure on the Israeli government, and putting pressure on the Israeli government means putting pressure on your government."
Kinane is a former, and Mager is a current, SPC staffmember.