Palestine’s gain is Lebanon’s pain

The greatest effects of the Cast Lead massacre and the murders aboard the aid ship Mavi Marmara have been the confirmation of Israel as a criminal state, and the outpouring of overwhelming support for Palestinians as victims of Jewish fascism.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement has become so successful that its effects have been felt in the Jewish colonies and the foreign companies that trade with Israel. Perhaps most important is the BDS cultural component. Most recently, 150 Irish artists announced a boycott of Israel; 53 Israeli actors, playwrights and directors pledged not to perform in Ariel, the largest illegal Jewish colony; and more than 150 U.S. actors and actresses endorsed the Ariel boycott.

Because of the massive political damage “Cast Lead” and the Mavi Marmara attack have done to Israel and its hasbara industry, large-scale violence against Palestine is off the table, as shown by Israel’s resort to more phony “peace” talks as a form of damage control.

All of this should be great news for Palestine, but the civilized world’s crippling, irrational fear of Israel and The Lobby inhibits it from helping Palestinians translate these victories into the defeat of the zionist entity (best case) or a single ‘bi-national’ state (slim possibility). (The idea of a two-state peace treaty is a moral obscenity.)

World support is vital not just because it’s the legally and morally right thing to do, but it is needed to prevent Israel’s aggression against Palestine from spilling over into neighbouring countries.

If history is any guide, the next war to sabotage peace efforts will take place in Southern Lebanon, which today plays unwilling host to 400,000 Palestinian refugees.

In early August, Israel and the Lebanese army got into a shooting match over a tree along “the technical fence,” which forms an ill-defined unofficial border near the village of Adaisseh. The UN demarcated Blue Line forms the de facto border, but it was never breached. BDS poster

Who started the shooting depends on the source. According to Robert Fisk, Israel brought a crane to rip out a spruce tree because its foliage was blocking a security camera, but where the tree stood is a matter of conjecture:

“No one is exactly sure where the Israeli-Lebanese border is,” wrote Fisk. “The moment the crane’s arm crossed the ‘technical fence’–”and here one must explain that the ‘Blue Line’ does not necessarily run along the ‘fence’–”Lebanese soldiers opened fire into the air. The Israelis, according to the Lebanese, did not shoot in the air. They shot at the Lebanese soldiers.”

In all, three Lebanese soldiers were killed as well as a Lebanese journalist and an Israeli lieutenant-colonel. Fighting briefly escalated, but died down quickly, though it could easily have sparked another war.

Fisk makes the point that the border has been tense and potentially explosive since the end of the 2006 war against Hizbullah, the guerrilla militia that has become the de facto political power in the region. Because it is Shi’a Muslim with ties to Syria and Iran, it is easily misrepresented as a threat to be used as a pretext to launch a large scale bombardment.

The first attempt to use Hizbullah to start a war occurred in July and August when Israel inflicted gratuitously disproportionate suffering and destruction on Lebanon in a failed aggression against Hizbullah. The war was a standard Israeli provocation.

Israel claims it began when Hizbullah crossed into Israel and captured two soldiers, but the area where they were captured, Ayta al-Chaab, lies within Lebanon. To add credence to the provocation, media reports were altered to conform to Israeli propaganda.

Hizbullah fought Israel to a standstill, and inflicted significant damage on one of the world’s most modern militaries. Israel was humilliated, and sought a UN ceasefire after only 33 days of fighting.

Hizbullah is a direct product of Israel’s first anti-peace proxy attack on Lebanon in June 1982. The similarities with Cast Lead almost 26 years later are unmistakable, as can be seen from Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s summary of events:

“In August 1981, Saudi Arabia unveiled, and the Arab League subsequently approved, a peace plan based on the two-state settlement. Israel reacted in September 1981 by stepping up preparations to destroy the PLO….Israeli strategic analyst Avner Yaniv reported that Yasser Arafat was contemplating a historic compromise with the ‘Zionist state,’ whereas ‘all Israeli cabinets since 1967’ as well as ‘leading mainstream doves’ opposed a Palestinian state.

“Fearing diplomatic pressures, Israel…conducted punitive military raids ‘deliberately out of proportion’ against ‘Palestinian and Lebanese civilians’ in order to weaken ‘PLO moderates,’ strengthen the hand of Arafat’s ‘radical rivals,’ and guarantee the PLO’s ‘inflexibility.’… To fend off Arafat’s ‘peace offensive’–”Yaniv’s telling phrase–”Israel embarked on military action in June 1982. The Israeli invasion ‘had been preceded by more than a year of effective ceasefire with the PLO,’ but after murderous Israeli provocations, the last of which left as many as 200 civilians dead (including 60 occupants of a Palestinian children’s hospital), the PLO finally retaliated, causing a single Israeli casualty.

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“Although Israel used the PLO’s resumption of attacks as the pretext for its invasion, Yaniv concluded that the ‘raison d’être of the entire operation’ was ‘destroying the PLO as a political force capable of claiming a Palestinian state on the West Bank.'”

In early March this year, Lebanon’s Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Elias Murr told Press TV that Israel conducts near daily violations of Lebanon’s airspace, and has committed more than 6,500 overflights in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war.

Another diversionary war is inevitable because Israel cannot long affford to cede the moral and political high ground to Palestine and the world anti-fascist movement, especially concerning illegal colony expansion. Even though Hizbullah is more of a match for the mighty IDF than unarmed villagers are, it’s the most convenient and politically sellable target. The fact that such an attack would constitute yet another war crime is a lesser risk for an illegitimate political entity that must kill to exist.