Disaster in the Making

You can observe three important things simultaneously in the Middle East: One, Israel’s total disregard for the lives and property of the Arab people; two, the effectiveness of the Israeli propaganda machine; and three, the utterly craven support for Israel by the U.S. government.

A fourth thing, if you can stand to watch television news, is how casually the talking faces dispense falsehoods because of their ignorance, which is understandable. Middle East history is too complex for a fly-in TV star to avoid the trap of failing to separate fact from propaganda.

Hezbollah, for example, raided an Israeli military outpost on what Hezbollah considers the Lebanese side of the border. Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers. It did not fire any rockets at Israel as several television people have said – mimicking, of course, Israeli propaganda.

Instead of sending a special-forces team or setting up negotiations for a prisoner exchange, Israel launched an all-out attack, knocking out bridges, roads, airports and fuel facilities, and doing enormous damage to civilians. Only then did Hezbollah respond with rockets, as it certainly had a right to do. Israeli journalists have pointed out that Israel has been planning for years to destroy Hezbollah and is using the raid as an excuse.

The Israelis did the same thing in Gaza. When a handful of militants kidnapped one soldier, what did the Israelis do? They destroyed the power plant, bridges and all the government facilities in Gaza. Once again, they are using the kidnapping as an excuse to do what they had planned to do anyway – destroy Hamas and the ability of the Palestinian people to govern themselves. It takes an enormous amount of chutzpah to destroy the Palestinian government and then demand that it control the militants. “With what?” American reporters ought to be asking the Israelis.

By the way, the Israelis never ended their occupation of Gaza. They forced settlers to withdraw because it was too much trouble to guard them. But they retained control of Gaza. Nobody can go in or out without Israeli permission. The airport is closed. They cut off the tax money that is paid by Palestinians and rightfully should have gone to the Palestinian Authority. In other words, they turned Gaza, already one of the most densely populated areas in the world, into a Middle East version of the Warsaw Ghetto. And they regularly bombed it or sprayed it with artillery.

Yet, so effective is Israeli propaganda and so ineffective is American news coverage, Israel is once again playing the poor victim. Gee, the Israelis tell the American media, we hate to destroy Lebanon – even as their planes and artillery continue to do just that – but we can’t stand living under a rain of terrorist rockets.

Well, obviously, they have not been. Hezbollah only fires its Katyusha rockets (a short-range, unguided missile with a 50-pound conventional warhead) in response to Israel’s violation of Lebanon’s borders, which it routinely does with its fighter planes. Even now, what Hezbollah is firing can hardly be called a “rain.” It’s more like a scattered shower. As for the “thousands” of rockets Hezbollah allegedly has, that number comes from the Israeli government. It may or may not be accurate.

Like President Bush, the Israelis offer no evidence. Bush, who revealed himself inadvertently in St. Petersburg, Russia, as the arrogant, foul-mouthed slob he is, blames Syria and Iran for Hezbollah but offers no evidence whatsoever. If Hezbollah had thousands of rockets, you’d think it wouldn’t be so sparing in the use of them.

One reason Lebanon never disarmed Hezbollah is because its members are considered heroes by the Lebanese Shi’ites. They were the ones who made Israel’s occupation of Lebanon so costly that the Israeli people demanded that it be ended. They also provide a wide range of welfare services to the Lebanese people, and they are not terrorists. The largest terrorist organization in the Middle East is the state of Israel, which kills civilians by the hundreds.

What you are witnessing is a disaster in the making – not only for Lebanon, which will require 50 years to recover, but for the United States, which stands exposed once again as a prejudiced hypocrite and an accessory to Israel’s war crimes.