Violence Begets Violence: a Peace Council Statement on the Mid East

By Ed Kinane and Andy Mager on behalf of the Syracuse Peace Council

The Syracuse Peace Council (SPC) 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.

In its August 3 report Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch says 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.” Human Rights Watch also cites attacks on fleeing civilians and destruction of infrastructure as further violations of international law.

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 US government’s weeks-long opposition to an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah exposes its bad faith and its callous disregard for human life.
The current war in Lebanon is intimately linked to the decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Accepting Israel’s devastation of Lebanon as a legitimate response to “terrorist” attacks ignores that history and further postpones any meaningful peace.

What — precisely — is “terrorism”? Terrorism is the use of violence to intimidate and coerce civilians. Today Israel is acting as a terrorist state in Lebanon and 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.

U.S. media focuses on the Syrian and Iranian weaponry provided Hezbollah, particularly the rockets targeting Israelis (90 killed). It ignores, however, the helicopters, fighter jets, missiles, cluster bombs, etc. which our government supplies Israel (900 killed).

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 with the fourth strongest military in the world, including a significant nuclear arsenal.Israeli Prime Minister Olmert claims this attack on Lebanon is to increase “Israeli security.” But the massive civilian casualties and pulverizing of Lebanon’s infrastructure will only sow seeds for future acts of violence — violence that will further decrease Israeli security.

Like that of his allies in Washington, Olmert’s view is steeped in anti-Arab racism. SPC fails to see how 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.

US military aid to Israel, and the diplomatic cover provided by the dozens of US vetoes in the UN Security Council, has 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. There must be an enduring ceasefire. 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, must be assured their safety. Their destroyed infrastructure must be restored. They must be awarded adequate reparation for their material and human loss.

In speaking out, we heed the call of Yonatan Shapira, a former Captain in the Israeli Air Force Reserves and one of the founders 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.”

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