...as in the imperative (i.e. you, youth, progress). This blog is updated by politically active young people. Issues that will be discussed are those which concern young voters and are of concern to young voters.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Weighing in on Israel/Hezbollah

In case you haven't heard, a crisis looms in the Middle East which threatens regional and global stability. In response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and the constant rocket bombardment of Northern Israel (one which targeted civilians, not Israeli forces), the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been engaged in widespread attacks against Hezbollah guerrillas, as well as its supporting civilian infrastructure. The Bush Administration has been quick to support the Israelis, arguing that "Israel has a right to defend herself against terrorism." At the same time, many have alleged that Israel has used excessive force, leading to unacceptable collateral damage and civilian deaths.

The Historical Roots of Hezbollah:

I will begin my explanation of the current conflict in 1979, when a revolution overthrew a pro-Western, secular, constitutional monarchy in Iran, and placed the Iranian government in the hands of the Islamic extremist, Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini wished to see the Iranian Revolution exported into a broader war to rid the Middle East of Western and secular influence. This policy quickly swept Iran into conflict with its neighbor Iraq - and its secular, US-backed leader Saddam Hussein - in 1980. There were other obstacles to Khomeini's vision, such as the Jewish state of Israel, and the half-Christian state of Lebanon, which was at the time engulfed in an ethnic civil war. In 1982, Khomeini would find an opportunity to gain regional support in Lebanon against Israel.

In that year, a war began between Israel and the South Lebanon Army, an Israeli proxy force largely made up of Lebanese Christians, against the Islamic forces of Lebanon, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and Syria. The 1982 Israeli-Lebanese War was the direct result of rocket attacks from the PLO in Southern Lebanon against civilians in Northern Israel, which had been occurring with varying intensity since 1968, and the attempted assassination and parylization of the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov, by Fatah, a rival terrorist organization to the PLO that was also operating in Lebanon. (Today, Hamas, an off-shoot of the PLO, and Fatah are the two mainstream political parties in the Palestinian Territories. Fatah is the more moderate group, the party of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, which supports a two-state solution.) IDF responded with a land invasion and occupation of parts of Southern Lebanon. In response to the Israeli invasion, Khomeini helped form, funded, and armed Hezbollah in an effort to further destabilize the Lebanese government in the hopes of creating another fundamentalist regime and to wage a proxy war on Israel. A peace agreement was reached between all sides after the Israelis pushed north to Beirut, and threatened to invade the capital. The PLO and Syria agreed to withdraw, and Israel agreed to return to a 40-kilometer security buffer zone (SBZ) in Southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah Continues to Terrorize, Lebanese Govt. Looks the Other Way:

After the peace accords, Hezbollah's official mission changed to fighting the Israeli forces occupying the SBZ. Hezbollah went about their mission both by attacking IDF forces, as well as civilians. In 1989, the Lebanese Civil War officially ended with the signing of the Taif Agreement, which established a representational parliament in Beirut, mandated that all Syrian forces be withdrawn from Lebanon (Syria supported and still supports Hezbollah and other guerilla groups), that all militant groups, such as Hezbollah, disarm, and that the Lebanese military be deployed to Southern Lebanon to prevent violations of the agreement to prevent militants from attacking Israel, thus starting another war. The last clause mentioned did not come to fruition, and Hezbollah ignored the Taif Agreement and continued to attack Israeli forces and civilians, even after the complete withdrawal from Lebanon by Israel in 2000. At no time between the Taif Agreement and today did the Lebanese government attempt to stop the attacks from Hezbollah against Israel.

In 2000, Israel was forced to withdraw from the SBZ after continued attacks from Hezbollah. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (Labor Party) had hoped the complete withdrawal from Lebanon would help ease tensions between the two states. But Hezbollah terror campaigns continued, in fact from the very same territory from which Israel withdrew "in an effort for peace."

The 2006 War:

The purpose of the current Israeli invasion of Lebanon is to destroy Hezbollah, thus stopping its rocket attacks on Northern Israeli cities, and to rescue the two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah.

Given the facts, I agree that military actions must be taken by the Israelis to defend themselves against Hezbollah. What I may strongly disagree with in hindsight is the way the Israelis are conducting their operations. I disagree with one step taken so far: Israel should have gone to the UN. The UN General Assembly would likely not have endorsed the military actions of Israel because of oil interests, anti-1st world country sentiments, etc. but it would have stirred some international outrage against Hezbollah, therefore stopping some of the anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli ugliness that is sure to come out of this whole ordeal.

However, there is grave danger lurking ahead. The first is that Israel would drag the US into WWIII with Iran and Syria. This could be instigated by a Syrian or Iranian invasion of Israel or vise versa. The second is that Israel could destabilize major oil suppliers, crashing the US Glass-House economy. The third (and most likely) is that Israel will conduct this war with inadequate discretion, cause massive loss of civilian life, and explode anti-Semitism world-wide. Israel must conduct itself with the utmost discretion, and from all evidence, it does not appear to be doing this.

The Elements of a Cease-Fire:

Of course, we would like an end to the violence. But if a cease-fire were to be called now, Hezbollah would continue to terrorize Israel, while the IDF would be powerless to stop it. Thus, in order for a cease-fire to occur, a third-party force must be deployed to the border to ensure Hezbollah guerrillas cease their attacks on Israeli cities. The Israelis should also demand that Iran and Syria stop supplying Hezbollah with funding and arms.

This article will not be hyperlinked, as I am working on another and it would take up too much time. For more information, check Wikipedia.

Update: I encourage the Israeli government and Jews world-wide to not stoop down to the level of our enemies by using phosphorous bombs, per se. (That's not to say that you are using phosphorous bombs, but if you are, STOP IMMEDIATLY!)

Update #2: If the aforementioned Israeli government would please stop bombing Lebanese ambulances, us Jews would be very much obliged.

Update #3: I lied about the hyperlinks, check out this fascinating article in Ha'aretz. (Thanks TPM)

Update #4: It now unfortunatley appears to be the matter of fact that Israel is conducting this just war with inadequate discretion, and many allege, total disregard for human life. I expect more out of my fellow Jews than to stoop down to the level of our enemies.


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