“We must reduce to dust the villages of the south [ . . . ] I don’t understand why there is still electricity there.”1
With these words, Israeli Minister of Justice and former Labor Party leader, Haim Ramon, summarized his suggestions for the continuation of the military offensive in Lebanon, following the failure of the invasion of Bint Jbail. As for the Israeli military high command, supported in the cabinet by Labor minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer, the solution is to occupy a portion of South Lebanon after destroying all the villages. According to this plan, Israel will “ask” the local population to leave prior to the destruction of the villages by way of several dozens of SMS messages. Those who would decide to stay, or, more simply, don’t receive the “humanitarian” SMS call, would be considered terrorists.
Horrible? Indeed, but not unexpected. The Israeli war in Lebanon is the paradigm of war in the 21st century — wars of world re-colonization and the subjugation of the peoples of the earth to Empire.
In these wars, the lives of civilians are not only of very limited value — as in all wars — but considered as a legitimate target, actively or passively guilty of supporting terrorism: a terrorism which is, in fact, part of their very culture. In ten years, we witnessed a gradual evolution of the dominant discourse: from terrorist groups, to terrorist states, to terrorist peoples. The ultimate logic of the global war is full ethnicization of the conflicts, in which one is not fighting a policy, a government, or specific targets, but a “threat” identified with a community. Fear is the starting point of the new era, hatred is its finality. This is the reason why the neo-cons of the US administration are speaking of a non-ending war.
Using the pretext of the capturing of two Israeli soldiers, the Israeli government has decided to open a new front in the global, non-ending, preemptive war of re-colonization. They are ready to send their soldiers to open the way for the “new democracy in the Middle East” and to sacrifice its own population as collateral victims of this new kind of ethnic war. This is clearly expressed in an expensive advertisement published by the Israeli neo-cons on the front page of Ha’aretz:
Israel is at the forefront of the war against world Jihad. We have two options: either to strengthen the fanatics, through withdrawal and separation, through unilateral retreat, which will make of Israel the scene of the main struggle between fanatical Islam and the enlightened world, or to strengthen the moderates [ . . . ] and to transform Israel into the world center of justice and interfaith [sic] understanding. In the Middle East there are no short-cuts.
At the end of the advertisement, a short end note: “Remember: distorted philosophical sensitivity [sic] to human lives will make us pay the real price of the lives of many, and the blood of our sons.”2
While more and more voices among the Israeli public are challenging, if not the legitimacy, at least the scope of the present military operation, the US administration is demanding that Israel not surrender to the pressures of those who are working for a cease-fire:
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is the leading figure of the strategy aimed at changing the situation in Lebanon, and not PM Olmert or Defense Minister Peretz. She is the one who has succeeded, until now, in standing against international pressures in favor of a cease fire. [ . . . ] In order to be successful, she needs military cards, which, unfortunately, Israel has not yet been able to deliver. Except the punishment by fire of Hezbollah and Lebanon [sic], the military Israeli cards have been limited, until today, to the conquest of two Lebanese villages near the border. If Israel doesn’t improve its military cards in the fighting, we will feel the results in the political solution.”3
In these words, senior political and military analyst Ze’ev Schiff summarizes the nature of the US secretary of state’s visit to Jerusalem this weekend.
Sooner or later, however, the US administration will have to accept a political solution, based more or less on what was recently outlined in Rome. That is, until the next round in this non-ending preemptive war, in which Israel will continue playing its role as the armed vanguard of the so-called civilized world.
What the Israeli public fails to understand is the dramatic implications that their government’s policy has on the state’s very existence in the heart of the Arab and Muslim worlds. By its unlimited brutality and its civilizational rhetoric and strategy, the State of Israel is demonstrating to the peoples of the region that it is, and wants to remain, a foreign and hostile body in the Middle East: no more than an armed extension of the United States of America and its anti-Muslim crusade of the 21st century.
Everyone knows the fate of the Crusaders, ten centuries ago.
The hatred generated by the bombardment of Beirut — the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure, the hundreds of civilian deaths, the hundreds of thousands of refugees, the scorched earth policy in the south — is immense throughout the Muslim world. It may even rapidly contaminate the Muslim communities in the northern countries. Moreover, unlike in previous, apparently similar crises such as the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, this hatred is developing on the fertile ground of the global war of civilizational discourse and an ethnicization of the conflict. Consequently, it will be extremely difficult to eradicate this anger after the clouds of battle dissipate and the dead are buried.
Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz are the most dangerous and irresponsible leaders Israel has ever had, playing with a fire which may burn away our very national existence in the Middle East.
On the weak shoulders of the small Israeli anti-war movement stand not only the fate of the present Israeli citizenry and the moral decency of our society, but the very future of our children in this part of the world.
“We refuse to be enemies!” is one of the slogans of our demonstrations. Never before has such a slogan been so important, so urgent, and so existential.
1 Ha’aretz, 28 July 2006
2 Ha’aretz, 30 July 2006
3 Ha’aretz, 30 July 2006
Michael Warschawski is a co-founder and former director of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem and a well-known anti-Zionist activist. His books include Israel-Palestine: le défi binational, an award-winning memoir, Sur la frontière, and Toward an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society. This article was first published by the Alternative Information Center on 30 July 2006.