The War in Lebanon

Israeli schoolgirls writing messages on artillery shells destined to bomb Lebanon.
Sources to follow the attacks on Lebanon & Palestine :

via signandsight:

A survey of the German feuilletons and the European press

General sources:

BBC News is running a day-by-day chronology of the Lebanon crisis, now in its second week.

Memri, the Middle East Media Research Institute, observes and translates Arab and Iranian television broadcasts on a daily basis. Here you can view speeches by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, among many others.

Voices from the press:

July 21, 2006

In Die Welt, Israeli writer Meir Shalev finds the Israeli reaction to Hizbullah’s attacks justified, “but too many questions remain, raising suspicion and doubt. There are too many attacks against civilians, there is no definition of the war objectives, and there is no definition of what would constitute a victory – that is, the end of the operation. Is the point to secure the return of the captive soldiers? Or the withdrawal of Hizbullah from Southern Lebanon? And if yes – how far back do they have to pull back? Or is the point to kill Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah? Or the complete dissolution of Hizbullah? Or is this really all about the fight against worldwide terror and the struggle against Syria and Iran?”

July 20, 2006

In Le Monde, Olivier Roy, director of research at the French CNRS, looks at why Iran is seeking to raise the stakes in the region. “The key to the current situation is in Iran. It is the sole actor with a coherent strategy where short-term considerations dovetail with a long-term plan. In the short term, its goal is to prevent any airborne attacks against its nuclear installations. In the long term, Iran seeks to become the major regional power. In the first case its principle adversaries are the Americans and possibly the Europeans. In the second, its adversaries are its Arab neighbours. Denouncing Israel is here more a means than an end: it enables Iran to short-circuit and embarass the Arab regimes, while at the same time ‘externalising’ the crisis in the Middle Eastern countries.”

In The Guardian, writer Tariq Ali compares the number of prisoners taken on both sides of the conflict, voicing scepticism about the deployment of UN troops against Hizbullah: “There are 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli gulags. That is why Israeli soldiers are captured. Prisoner exchanges have occurred as a result. To blame Syria and Iran for Israel’s latest offensive is frivolous. Until the question of Palestine is resolved and Iraq’s occupation ended, there will be no peace in the region. A ‘UN’ force to deter Hizbullah, but not Israel, is a nonsensical notion.”

Die Tageszeitung publishes – along with a pathos-filled front page photo – an article by Peruvian writer Mario Vargas-Llosa which originally appeared in El Pais. Vargas-Llosa acknowledges he is a friend of Israel’s, and especially of Israeli critics of Israel, and himself criticises Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. “The superiority of Israel over its enemies in the Middle East used to be political and moral. Then it became based on cannons, aircraft and a highly modern army. But the extraordinary power that makes countries arrogant is also responsible for their own losses. And that tempts some leading politicians like Ariel Sharon to believe that the solution of the conflict with the Palestinians could consist of a unilateral dictate, imposed by force. That is simple-minded, and it causes suffering and war in the entire region to be prolonged endlessly.”

For Paris-based Syrian poet Adonis writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, only Lebanon can “prompt the development of a secular civilian society” in the Middle East. The Arab states “won’t stop being ‘theocracies’, despite superficially conforming to democratic norms, simply because their power is ‘naturally’ rooted, and also because of how they view non-Muslims. In addition, if Israel’s democracy were based on diversity and pluralism, this would contradict the exclusive self-understanding of the Jewish people, which sees itself as the chosen people, without diversity or pluralism. So in both human and cultural terms, a Lebanese democracy in this part of the world would be a radical and enduring transgression of the status quo, simply because it would be more open, richer, more persuasive and more enticing.”

In Die Zeit, Jerusalem-based author Jakob Hessing reports on the everyday state of emergency in Israel. “This is a moment to set the course for the future. Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz must not repeat the mistakes of the old Sharon. Their military action on both fronts must implement what the new Sharon left as his legacy: the knowledge that we have no business getting mixed up in the affairs of a neighbouring state, or in the affairs of a neighbouring people whose state has not yet come into being; the knowledge that a differentiation must be made between terrorism and the legitimate wish for freedom. We must strive for the end to an occupation that we would not tolerate ourselves, should a neighbour try to force it on us.”

Urs Gehrigher puts Hizbullah’s action in the context of the recent G8 summit in Die Weltwoche
: “The offensive strategy of the Tehran-Hizbullah axis wasn’t born overnight. It has clearly been forged over the last months. The timing of the escalation was perfect. President Bush wanted to use the G8 summit in St. Petersburg to clear the way for economic sanctions against Tehran. And for the first time there was something like an ‘unite de doctrine’ between Washington and the Europeans. Anything but a clear yes to the offer of Germany, France, Great Britain and the USA on the nuclear crisis would be seen as a rebuff. The pressure on the Mullahs grew each day. But the anticipated answer was not forthcoming, instead Hizbullah went into action. On the very day when the official message from Iran should have arrived to prevent action being taken by the UN Security Council, Iran’s henchmen in Lebanon kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Hizbullah knew as well as the Iranian government that escalation would be inevitable.”

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1 Response

  1. Splabman says:

    I can’t think of a more powerful gesture than to post such a picture and leave it stand without comment. How poignant Pierre. Thank you for emitting a deep field of peace and compassion.

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