lunes, julio 31, 2006

Barbarians on the loose

World community condemns Israeli massacre in Qana

Por: Pastor Valle-Garay
Senior Scholar, York University

Disingenuous, hypocritical and barbaric hardly describe Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s expressions of sorrow for the Israeli bombing of the village of Qana, Lebanon, which killed at least 50 villagers, including 37 children. Overkill would be just as appropriate, a brutal terror tactic deliberately delivered once again on innocent people as a murderous lesson of Israeli might and firing power to the Hezbollah militias.

Olmert’s claims that Qana was hit because Hezbollah militias operated from the village and used its population as a shield against Israeli attacks, does not wash. The wholesale massacre of civilians in the village of My Lai, Vietnam, by the US armed forces earned the United States world-wide condemnation. As a result, the US soldiers responsible for the massacre were eventually charged and found guilty of violating the Geneva Convention’s rules of engagement. It is unlikely that Israel will follow suit. Olmert’s claims that Hezbollah used to Qana as a human shield against attacks by the Israeli air force in effect concocts a built-in shield against the criminal prosecution of its armed forces.

Nevertheless, such wholesale slaughters always backfire. For Israel it already has. Any sympathy that Israel’s claims against Hezbollah may have hoped to gain vanished as quickly as the bombs rained on Qana. Olmert’s murderous war of attrition now finds the Prime Minister and his nation condemned and repudiated by many Israeli citizens, by the United Nations, Pope Benedict XVI, the Arab world, the Movement of Non-Aligned nations, the Europe community, Latin America and the rest of civilization.

As expected, Olmert’s sole, lukewarm support comes from Washington and Ottawa but three is a lonely, shameful number when attempting to justify the holocaust of innocent civilians in order to defend Israel’s undeniable right to survive.

Equally pathetic is Olmert’s political decision to suspend Israel’s aerial bombing of Lebanon for 48 hours while the perpetrators investigate themselves. What happens once the moratorium is over? Ephraim Halevy, director of the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, left no doubt of Israel’s intentions. “The government of Israel is determined not to halt the operations until it reaches a successful conclusion,” said Halevy. The former head of the Israeli intelligence services also put the White House on notice not to interfere with the slaughter as he clearly admonished Washington “I don’t expect a blatant demand by the United States calling on Israel to reach an immediate ceasefire.”

In other words, expect a continued repetition of My Lai and Qana in Lebanon. Israel’s final solution to the Middle East crisis can only contribute to escalate the violence. Unfortunately, the expected reaction to such criminal, irresponsible military decisions places the entire Middle East and the world at large in peril.

Had Olmert set out to write the ultimate blueprint on how to earn the contempt of civilization and unify the Arab world against Israel in one clean sweep, the Prime Minister would have never achieved the “success conclusion” the Israeli military has brutally accomplished thus far with the wanton destruction of Lebanon.

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