Monday, July 17, 2006

Lebanon and Israel in conflict

It is almost a given fact that Israel should address its complaints about terror groups in Lebanon to Syria and Iran. Yet, Israel is not entirely wrong to expect, in principal, that Lebanon have charge of its own regions and people. Lebanon has been defacto occupied for so many years (in part by Syria and in part by Israel) that it is understandable that it would take time for the national government to gain control over all the regions of the country. Israel used to be the authority governing southern Lebanon.

When Israel backed out of Lebanon, it seemed to be part of a strategy to seek a peaceful status quo in the region. Israel backed out of Gaza as well and might eventually have gradually stepped back from occupation of the larger West Bank region. Sadly, the illegitimate terror group called hezbollah believed their assaults actually led to the Israeli withdrawal. Lebanon, though only emerging from Syrian occupation in the past year, has the moral responsibility to govern its own lands and to disallow such terror groups to exist. Such groups should be eradicated at best or at least prevented from importing weapons and holding political power. Lebanon's government seems not only to have been inactive in disarming the terror group, but entirely complicit in allowing hezbollah to continue to exist in a militant form. Weapons and equipment were imported right through the national airport.

As a westerner, I feel a kinship of culture with many Lebanese people. I understand it must feel horrifying to endure being bombed. I know there are peaceful people in Lebanon who feel disengaged from the terror groups within the land which are foreign backed groups anyway. The death of innocent civillians is awfully tragic and sad. However, The shocking fact of civillian deaths is precisely by design of the terrorist groups who situate their infrastructure near innocent civillians. Lebanon's quiet tolerance and inaction against these extra-legal parts of their own country is at the root of the latest conflict. Israel has every right to dismantle a terror group for attacking and bombing its citizens. The international community has every right to expect that Lebanon would not tolerate such groups within their borders. The government of Lebanon has not made any plea for international assistance to reign in these groups.

The claim of so called "resistance" by hezbollah, and also of the Palestinian terror groups, is a mask for the wish to eliminate Israel, an internationally recognized, legitimate country. Syrian's and others who oppose Israel refer to "the occupation". In the west, it is sometimes assumed they are talking about occupation of Gaza or Lebanon or the West Bank. It is, however, most likely they are talking about the existence of Israel, the occupation of what they perceive to be their land, all the way to the Mediterranean sea.

While Arab countries and the terrorist groups they support keep believing they should eradicate Israel, the conflict will exist. One simple solution is for Arab countries to recognize Israel and accept the will of many nations and of the Israelis themselves that there should be a Jewish homeland in a place of ancient Jewish presence. The Arab's have enough land from Morocco to Indonesia to be calm about this once and for all. Perhaps the persistence of this conflict is related to the way in which many Arab families educate their children, repressing them with ignorance so that they may be recruited to give their lives for this hopeless cause. Rather they should teach them math, science, economics and most of all history so that they can understand the reason and need for a Jewish sliver of land among endless Arab horizons.

In any case, No nation can continue to allow terror groups to thrive within their borders and do so without eventual reprisals and consequences. If Lebanon finds Israel's attacks horrifying, let them recognize that Israel has no cause to attack Lebanon other than the illegitimate group Lebanon complicitly harbors. If senseless bombing is truly wrong, let the Lebanese people be angry with hezbollah, Syria and Iran for carrying out and supporting such senseless attacks on Israel's innocent civillians for so long. Arab countries continue to cling to the dream that Israel will one day be gone and they can own the entire land for themselves. It may just be that clinging to this dream will cause them to lose more and more of what they now have. The Arab neighbors of Israel may do well to see reason and support Palestinians in living a prosperous life with all that they do have instead of grinding them to grist against the state of Israel.

Thinking of Israel as occupied Arab land is an outmoded and irrational point of view. If the claim to territory because of past authority were a legitimate argument, then the whole region could just be British land again...British land occupied by Arabs. That idea IS ridiculous, of course, just as ridiculous as the idea that Palestinians must own all of Israel. The Arab's can prevent this question from being decided by an all out war, like the 1948 or 1967 wars. How many more wars will it take to make the point?

There was a time when Palestinians went to work each day in Israel, ate bread baked in Israeli bakeries and drank milk from Israeli dairies. They lived together as one people, perhaps with varying political or religious views, and a few check-points, but one people in one land. Jews and Arabs are brothers anyway. Besides, nothing is more sacred than human life, not a belief system, not a temple site, not a spit of land.

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