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The brutal truth

Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran and Syria — not Israel — are to blame for the unexpected war in the Middle East
By EDITORIAL  |  July 28, 2006

SYRIAN AND IRANIAN MISSILES have caused Israel to act justifiably in self-defense.
Like people of goodwill everywhere, we shudder at the images of death and destruction ravaging civilians in Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza.

But while our heart is engaged, our mind is clear: the carnage is due to the aggression — the terror — of Hamas and Hezbollah, groups that at best are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and at worst want to kill as many Jews in the Middle East as they can.

For some bizarre reason, in thoughtful company, in advanced intellectual circles, it is considered impolite and impolitic to recognize this reality.

By some perversion of even-handedness, Hamas and Hezbollah, because they are militarily weaker than the state of Israel, are given the benefit of the doubt — an emotional “get out of jail free” card — when it comes to assessing their responsibility for the blood that stains a sliver of the planet that is politically unstable beyond imagination.

It would be irresponsible folly to deny the historical complexities of the situation. But the tortuous big-picture realities should in no way obscure the facts.

If, in late June, Canadian forces had tunneled into the United States, killed two American soldiers, and kidnapped a third, what would this nation do? What would we think? If, in mid July, Mexican commandos kidnapped two more GIs, then killed eight others trying to rescue their comrades, what would we do?

The analogy is as improbable as the reality is impossible. But that’s what Hamas and Hezbollah did. They didn’t cry “fire” in a crowded theater; they threw lit matches into pools of gasoline. And then they had the nerve to cry “enough” when engulfed by the subsequent explosion of self-defense and the fury of retribution.

To those who understandably shudder at the havoc wreaked by Israeli air strikes and artillery bombardment in Lebanon, ask yourself this: how would you expect the US government to respond if Canada and Mexico, after stockpiling as many as 15,000 missiles supplied by hostile nations and secreted among civilian populations, launched them by the thousands into, say, Corpus Christi, Texas, or Buffalo, New York?

Again, that is improbable and impossible. But that is what Hezbollah has done and is doing. Hezbollah is a militarily weak — as well as morally bankrupt — terrorist militia that has for decades corroded all attempts to bring peace and democracy to Lebanon. For that reason, it chooses to sacrifice innocents on the altar of international public opinion in hopes of gaining in political backrooms what it cannot achieve on the battlefield. This is another truth too impolitic and too impolite for some to stomach.

At the moment, Hezbollah is a far greater danger than Hamas. Its terror is sponsored by Iran and sanctioned by Syria. Too many in the US — and beyond — seem to have forgotten that it was Hezbollah that introduced the modern world to suicide bombings and, in 1983, killed hundreds of US Marines trying to maintain a semblance of peace in the Reagan-era Levant.

Hezbollah’s blood lust knows few bounds, which is why our often fair-weather (though seemingly commonsensical, of late) allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, caution their fellow Muslims against allowing this to develop into a protracted war. This demonstration of prudence, a commodity never in great supply in the Middle East, is particularly welcome at this fraught and dangerous moment.

The fundamental imprudence, the overreaching hubris, of President Bush’s war on Iraq has never been so clear. The stateless forces of international terror as represented by Hezbollah and the irresponsible factions of Hamas have been emboldened by the regional instability Bush’s Iraqi adventure has visited on the Middle East. Thus, the irony that Bush’s war on terror begets even more terror now becomes painfully and tragically apparent.

Still, it is the craven stupidity of Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s miscalculation that is responsible for the blood that flows in Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza.

As we went to press, Israeli forces mistakenly hit a United Nations bunker, killing four observers from Finland, Austria, Canada, and China. Unsurprisingly, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the personification of polite and politically correct international opinion, immediately blamed Israel for a deliberate, murderous attack. Although Anan subsequently modified his statement, the fact that he initially made the accusation demonstrates that mendacity knows few boundaries. It is also worth noting that, according to CNN, a Hezbollah strafing just days before seriously wounded a UN observer. Where was the secretary general’s expression of outrage then?

Tragic and unacceptable as that action may be, America should not forget that in the fog of war that was Kosovo, the US mistakenly perpetrated an outrage of our own by bombing the Chinese embassy.

All of this underscores the peril of today’s situation in the Middle East, which threatens to spiral into a larger conflagration.

Our counsel to Israel is this: years ago you let your invasion of Lebanon turn into your own version of Vietnam. This time, don’t allow your understandable defense of your homeland and your people turn into your version of Iraq.

  • The face of war
    Hezbollah’s agenda is single-minded: destroy any hope for peace
  • What democracy wrought
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    Letters to the Boston editor: August 11, 2006
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  Topics: The Editorial Page , Hamas , Hezbollah , George W. Bush ,  More more >
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The brutal truth
At last, someone has cleared the muddy water of American discourse on the Israeli defensive mission currently in place. Americans want purity without understanding the murkiness of Middle Eastern realities.
By divastudies on 07/27/2006 at 3:10:33
The brutal truth
I am not defending the action of terrorist organizations like Hamas, but if the US wants a true lasting peace, they will look at justice for the region as a whole. Sitting back and comparing the situation now to hypothetical situations involving the US, Canada, and Mexico is irresponsible and demeaning to the people who have suffered through Israeli aggression before.
By Veector on 07/27/2006 at 10:44:11
The brutal truth
Divide and conquer....that is the name of the game. At the top there is no division. It's how the top maintains their position. The right vs. left, us vs. them dialectic... It's a global absolute capitalist hierarchial food powered make work enterprise... It keeps all below busy/entertained...
By greenmountainboy on 07/27/2006 at 2:14:38
The brutal truth
Just to point out a couple of inaccuracies in the above article: Firstly, it wasn't Hezbollah who introduced the modern world to Suicide bombers, it was the Japanese. Both in World War Two and through the Japanese Red Army. Secondly, the analogies about Canada and Mexican forces kidnapping US soldiers do not hold true as it was not Lebanese forces that kidnapped the Israeli soldiers. Maybe a more accurate statement would be "An extremist Canadian force representative of a small proportion of the Canadian people, had tunnelled into the United States, killed two American soldiers, and kidnapped a third, what would this nation do?"
By a robert on 07/28/2006 at 8:40:24
The brutal truth
Ho Hum. The Phoenix has joined the who’s-to-blame game. A childlike game of justifying oneself by pointing out how wrong the other guy is. I had hoped better of the Phoenix. This game divers attention from meaningful questions such as What is the relationship between the blitz of Beirut and the blitz of Gaza? What is the connection between the invasion of Lebanon and the contemplated invasion of Iran? and analysis of other pertinent questions I usually find in the Phoenix.
By billhimelhoch on 07/29/2006 at 6:36:54
The brutal truth
Did anyone notice? 1. The man parading around with dead children dressed as "rescue workers" in the video is the same man, photographed again and again? He's the main actor. 2. The same man was caught in similar photos in 1996 parading around with a dead child, which means that he is a professional dead-child parader, a very prestigious job that has been created by terrorists concerned about CNN's ratings. 3. A Lebanese blog says that Hezbollah filled the house in Qana with crippled children who couldn't run away. It then placed a rocket launcher above them, and waited. Here's the sentence in French if you can read it, taken from the website document: Le Liban s’est réveillé sur un nouveau massacre d’innocents, les victimes sont des enfants handicapés qui étaient réfugiés dans un immeuble qui a été attaqué par l’aviation israélienne 4. If these things don't sound possible to you, that no one could be that callous or horrible, then let me remind you of Beslan, where hundreds of children were held hostage on the first day of school, the little girls raped, and then the building exploded. Might I remind you of the terrorist massacre of Israeli children in Maalot? Might I remind you of the flying of several passenger planes filled with women and children into skyscrapers? Terrorists are not nice people. 5. How did that building alone have so many people when other buildings had none? 6. Why so many children but not a single man? 7. And why, dafka, the building in which they stored the rocket launchers? Why would people have chosen to huddle there against the bombs instead of somewhere else unless they were forced to? 8.And what about the gap of eight hours between the bombing and the actual explosion? Inquiring minds want to know. Isn't that what journalists used to do, dig beneath the obvious to get the truth instead of guzzling down and regurgitating staged propaganda? A final question: If the deaths of children is being deliberately staged for the benefit and acceptance of CNN and the leftists of the world, then aren’t CNN and their leftist sympathizers at least partially responsible for the deaths of the innocents?
By Justine Thyme on 08/02/2006 at 2:30:38
The brutal truth
Secondly, the analogies about Canada and Mexican forces kidnapping US soldiers do not hold true . . . . An extremist Canadian force representative of a small proportion of the Canadian people, . . . what would this nation do?" Just to follow up on greenmountainboy's comments: Israel's response to Hamas and Hezbollah IS exactly what the United States would do in a similar situation: we tolerate NO missile capacity (much less actual shelling) near any of our borders (Cuban Missile Crisis, anyone?) AND we are fighting in Iraq without actual provocation on that country's part. Israel has justification. As for the small fringe groups of terrorists(Hamas and Hezbollah) that don't represent the entire country: both Lebanese and Palestinian majorities support their respective terrorist organizations. If you coddle and house terrorists and amongst your peoples, do not act surprise or angered when innocents die. The larger groups and governments share the blame.
By divastudies on 08/02/2006 at 4:46:32
The brutal truth
Comparing what is happening in Lebanon to a hypothetical attack by Canada on the U.S. is not only irrepsonisible, but extremely inaccurate. It plays on the fear and ignorance of the American people, so often done these days. In addition, one cannot view the recent actions of Hezbollah and Hamas in a vacuum. Last time I checked, the U.S. was not occupying, isolating, or collectively punishing any part of Canada. This war did not start when Hamas and Hezbollah captured three Israeli soldiers. If the U.S. wants to address the "root causes" of this conflict, we must address the continuing occupation of the West Bank and the brutal isolation of Gaza.
By ratchjp on 08/02/2006 at 8:48:36
The brutal truth
Israel's murder of UN observers was no accident. Twelve times Israel was asked to stop shelling around the outpost before it was hit with a precision guided bomb. Kofi Annan is justifiably outraged. The Israeli attack was as premeditated as that on TV journalists in Lebanon and the USS Liberty - all so Israel's actions are not monitored. Read BBC news reports.
By Mark K on 08/04/2006 at 4:49:26
The brutal truth
The brutal truth is that Israel attacked civilians first in this latest conflict. Hamas detained an Israeli soldier to bargain for release of Palestinian school girls while Israel was terrorizing the citizens of Gaza with hundreds of rounds of shells. Israel responded by bombing roads, bridges, buildings, and the power plant to punish civilians. Without power to freeze, refrigerate, and cook food, civilians do suffer. Hezbollah reacted in support by detaining two soldiers who were trespassing in Lebanon. Then Israel exponentially responded again with punishment against the people of Lebanon, bombing roads, bridges, airports, sea ports, apartment buildings, homes, power plants, TV stations, ambulances, refugees, homes, businesses, and the Lebanese army. Israel has precision guided bombs from the US, able to hit the intended targets. There is no mistake when Israel targets civilians. Its no mistake when they use imprecise artillery shells - they are intended to terrorize an entire area. Hezbollah only has crude rockets unable to pinpoint military targets and thus terrorizes like Israeli artillery. Israel doesn't like democracy in Lebanon and Palestine because the "wrong" party got seats - the risk of fair elections (unlike US presidential ones). Israel should have negotiated with moderates in Palestine winning them favor with voters. Instead Israel gave more power to the militant Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel doesn't compromise, so Palestine's only option is violence to achieve justice. I hope Israel changes its ways, a cease-fire is declared, and Hezbollah disarms as soon as possible. Israel, like the war in Iraq has world opinion against it. The world proved right in Iraq and I think its right about Israel over-reacting. Israel has only one friend and ally not because the world is anti-Semitic as Zionists wish to accuse, but because Israel is not a reasonable country. It lacks diplomacy, negotiation, and compromise skills. Its people are generally more obnoxious and rude than the French, even! Rabid American jews are just as bad - more should move to Israel because they have more allegence to Israel than the US. Oh, and what would the US do? Negotiate. What would Israel do if a dozen or so ledgislative members were kidnapped in their homes at gunpoint in front of their children? My guess is nuke Gaza, though Hamas only complained when Israel did this to Gaza.
By Mark K on 08/04/2006 at 5:03:26
The brutal truth
shall we take a reality check here? the differences between tunneling between mexico/canada and the united states and the kidnap of two israeli soldiers in desputed terroreries in lebonan is completely different.the us for example threatened extreme violence agaist communist Cuba and its allies.this world threatening situation was diffused by a series of high level discussions and only by the same process can the middle east problems be resolved
By ricky1971 on 08/11/2006 at 7:09:04
The brutal truth
i dont think i made myself clear enough in my last posting. as a citizen of the UK i find the so called superpowers attempts to control Isreali forces at best innadequate. perhaps im being naive here but it is not obvious that the isreali state is not immediately threatened by hezzbollah/hamas military action and the whole situation as far as western governments may decide is crucial to overall control of the region
By ricky1971 on 08/11/2006 at 7:21:44
The brutal truth
remove israel from the middle eastern map and there is nothing worth fighting for the us has always used certain countries as poitical chess pieces and here we have the queen. without israel the us and its allies have absolutely no political leverage in the region which explains its undying and unchallenging devotion to its cause
By ricky1971 on 08/11/2006 at 7:34:29
The brutal truth
It is painfully apparent that most of you have your own opinion on the matter of the middle east. As for removing Isreal from the map of the middle east that would do nothing but shift the dying to either the shi'a or sunni's lets not kid ourselves these religious nuts need something to fight over. Hezbollah and Hamas are TERRORISTS plain and simple the murder innocent people in the name of "GOD"??? I would certainly hate to meet this "GOD". Isreal is in a sea of hate surrounded on all sides by people that want to destroy them, just like Nazi Germany tried as much as Iran wants to deny history it happened. To be sure Isreal will survive. After the '67 war Isreal controled so much of the arab lands justified I might add since they were attacked. But they gave most if not all back. Most of the governments in the Arab world are at most irrelavent when it comes to groups such as hezbollah and hamas they not the governments of Lebanon and Palestine are to blame for the most current conflict. But the masses still cheer them on for what I ask? When the Palestinians were refugees NO country wanted them, not Syria, not Jordan none of them. For the delusional who support groups such as they eventually they will be seen for what they are a criminal religious cult of nuts. As for the US current administration not withstanding sure we've made mistakes and will make some more but it is the US most of all that has made freedom a reality for most of the world anyone who studies history would know this if in WWII the US stayed out of it like some wanted we would all be speaking German or Italian at this point. Simply because you don't like the way something is going in the world you don't hate someone for sticking up for the underdog which Isreal surely is. These people deserve to have their ancestral homeland and they also deserve to live in peace as well as the Palestinians how many times has Isreal agreed to relinquis control over the Gaza strip and the West Bank only to have it come back and bite them in the ass? And please stop whining about some "Lebenese school girls in Isreali jails" I'm sure Isreal goes around arresting little school girls simply to put them in prison, probably more like they were throwing rocks or some other disruptive act. I feel nothing for the people of Lebanon except comtempt for allowing their government and freedom to be hijacked by a group of religious nuts bent on causing as much turmoil in the region.
By snappa45 on 08/25/2006 at 5:52:00

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