Dr. Khaled Batarfi
Arabnews.com (30 July 2006)
My pro-Israel reader was giving me a history lesson. He had most of his facts right but, like many of Israel's defenders, he was putting the events of the current Middle Eastern crisis in the historical order that fits his biased position.
Hamas and Hezbollah, according to him, started this war by capturing three Israeli soldiers. "Hamas" he asserts, "conducted a cross-border raid which resulted in the death of three soldiers and the capture of one. Israel then responded to them and only them. Then Hezbollah conducted a cross-border raid that resulted in the deaths of eight soldiers and the capture of two. Are these not acts of war?"
In my response I said: This is exactly our problem with Israel's allies and supporters. They choose the most convenient point of history to start from. No, please, let us start from the beginning of the episode.
In the case of Hezbollah, there are more than ten thousand Arab abductees rotting in Israeli prisons, most without trial for twenty-seven years. Five hundred of them are women. Some were born in prison.
In the case of Hamas, thousands of Palestinians have been killed, not to count the injured; all of them, except a few are civilians. More are imprisoned, many without trial, including ministers and legislators in the Palestinian government. All this is forgotten history, thank you very much, what is remembered is one Israeli hostage in Gaza and two in Lebanon. For them millions in Lebanon and Palestine had to be collectively punished. How much cheaper could we go before we could respond in kind?
Another reader asked me if I have Jewish friends, and went on to declare: "A basic assumption these days is that it is preventable to have civilian casualties. This is stupid and inane, especially when Hezbollah chooses to use their populace as shields. You should be writing an article on the restraint the Israelis have had so far."
I e-mailed him back assuring him that I do have Jewish friends. Some are writers and journalists; others are teachers and classmates during my graduate studies in America. Many are against Israeli aggression and ashamed of its recent actions.
Israel is targeting civilians after failing to find soldiers in the hope of using the tragedy to force a political solution. Hezbollah's soldiers are underground on the border area, not in children's schools, hospitals, mosques and refugee buses heeding Israeli warning to leave. To find soldiers, Israel must invade with ground troops. Now that they have done, they are finally finding Arab soldiers - the hard way.
A third reader wrote: "I think you have been caught up in the Al-Jazeera hype. Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist organizations. They have been condemned by just about every civilized country in the world. The UN has called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, but Lebanon has been unable to do this. After weeks of random missile attacks and armed incursions into undisputed Israeli territory, Israel was forced to respond. Israel has no territorial ambitions in this conflict, but they are risking their citizens' lives and security to clean up a mess that other Arab countries are powerless to address - terrorism.
"Granted, there have been civilian casualties. When Hezbollah hides in residential areas and launches missiles from apartment complexes, those are the consequences. Israeli bombs and shells have been carefully aimed at known hide-outs and launching sites of Hezbollah, but I don't think the same can be said of the missiles launched by Hezbollah. Rather than condemn Israel, we should compliment them for doing what is right under the circumstances. Chris."
I wrote back: Chris, I believe you are caught up in the Zionist hype. No civilization in the world regards freedom fighters as terrorists except Israel and its allies. Strange enough, your buddy, Britain, once regarded the American freedom fighters as terrorists. According to your standards, which I don't agree with, they were right and we now have a terrorist "civilization".
Please, check the latest count on who is with and against an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon. Only the "civilizations" of US, UK and Israel are against. The rest of the world "civilizations" are for an immediate stop of the killing machine.
Four hundred were killed in Lebanon - only a handful are soldiers. The clearly marked and isolated UN base was shelled fourteen times, four observers were killed. Then their rescuers were shelled. All calls to Israeli Army didn't help.
Inside Israel, those killed by Hezbollah's primitive rockets number less than 20 - half were soldiers. No hospitals, schools or refugee buses were hit. How come a guerrilla group with no smart weapons or super intelligence can be more accurate than the world's best-equipped army and the third best intelligence agency? Go figure.
Another problem with most comments I received so far is the lack of sympathy for Arab victims - like we don't count - so much for civility and civilization, Chris.