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Their wretchedness is the poignant marker of the war


Siege notes.

I lived in Lebanon for the first four years of my life, after leaving New Orleans. My earliest memories are of Beirut and its wonderful people. We were evacuated and ended up in Greece in 1975.

My mom says I used to talk about guerrillas, monkeys and tigers. Things to do when you in a curfew- make up the news. Those were different times – or were they?

Today many many years have passed and I am a father of a young boy. That is the voice in which I speak. I am no longer a three year old blond kid. I am a father and I want other fathers to be able to look after their children, regardless of their religion or place of birth.

I realise that is asking rather a lot but I can’t remain silent any longer about the current situation in Lebanon. Please read the post I link to above.

When I saw a demonstration in Boston a couple of weeks ago I promised to speak out. Until now I have not kept the promise. Self-censorship is a very powerful thing.

Gaza and Lebanon used to be different wars. Not any more. We’re seemingly creating a caliphate from the ground up, whatever our intentions from the top down.

So what is Rasha saying? Some is poetic:

I keep having fantasies of a huge, huge civilian procession of human shields walking alongisde convoys of food, medicine, ambulances, that defy Israeli’s military superiority in the air. A similar mass of people that took to the street when it was aggrieved by former Prime Minister Hariri’s death that walks fearless and relentless to the south. A human convoy of hundreds and thousands of people just taking back the country and lending their bodies to rescue their brethren trapped in villages. Civility turning the tide on barbarism. A crazy dream that ought neither be crazy nor a dream. Perhaps one day…”

Civility turning the tide on barbarism. Is that enough dream rather than memory for you Mr Friedman?

Treat civlians as civilians and they will likely act like civilians. Treat them like terrorists…

Why have we abandoned those we applauded so vigorously last March? Why did the rules of engagement change?

I thought we were going to support the nascent Lebanese democracy, and try to encourage self-determination.

Self-determination… we need to stop confusing fear with facts on the ground.

Peace out.

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3 Responses

  1. Yes, the Jews in Israel seemed to behave rather better 2000 years ago under Roman occupation:

    “The main protests near the lifetime of Jesus were largely non-violent. Pilate had troops march through Jerusalem carrying their standards, and this offended Jewish sensibilities……a large number of people went to Caesarea to protest. When Pilate ordered his troops to surround them, they bared their necks and professed to be readier to die than see the law trampled. Pilate backed down….” (from The Historical Figure of Jesus by EP Saunders)

  2. You might have noticed that Hezbollah uses human shields. The “dream” you have above would translate to nothing more than enabling Hezbollah to launch more rockets into Israel, and then use the deaths of the human shields as a huge front page story in world press.

    Congratulations – your idea would actively help the bad guys.

    You might want to go back to some 1940′s literature – Orwell, specifically – where he explained that pacifists were objectively on the side of the enemy. We have the same problem now. You know what cease fires in that region do? They allow the terrorists to re-arm and refit, so that everyone can have another go in a few months.

    It would actually be far better – and, in the long run, more humane – to allow the war there to continue to completion, letting someone win. At least then we’d have closure, and fairly quickly. Additionally, the overall body count would likely be lower. Instead, we have the wailing of the “international community”, which generates endless cease fires – which in turn generate endless war.

  3. James R – if only it were that simple. I’m afraid I disagree with you on many points:

    - it’s nonsensical to say that a pacifist is ‘objectively on the side of the enemy’; a pacifist does not necessarily see either of two antagonists as ‘the enemy’.

    - the idea that a war can be ‘allowed to continue humanely to its conclusion so that someone wins’ is, and I apologise for stating it so bluntly – breathtakingly naive. I would have thought that, by August 2006, Korea, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, and Iraq, let alone the Levantine theatre, would have provided you with ample evidence to the contrary.

    I do agree with you that cease-fires *alone* are not the answer – but a political settlement without a cease-fire is not a realistic expectation either. Any cease-fire has to be accompanied by other measures to end the cycle of violence.

    Robin WiltonJanuary 14, 2008 @ 2:01 pmReply

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