Creating people's geographies
Excerpted from article in Counterpunch – see here for full article
Israeli propaganda, except in the United States where there isn’t any other kind, doesn’t work its old magic. In 1982, a few people may have believed that Ariel Sharon sent his troops into Lebanon to avenge the wounding of Israel’s ambassador to Britain, but no one is falling for the ruse that the current devastation is an operation to rescue two captured Israeli solders. The planners are having such problems with that slender pretext that, unusually, they have yet to give this mission a name. The operation that dare not speak its name has yet to join its immediate predecessors, Operation Accountability in 1993 and Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996, in the list of creatively branded onslaughts. How about calling this one Operation Infinite Repetition?
Operation Cover-Up might do, given that the soldiers scurrying into Lebanon and being shot by Hizballah today are trying to make up for the incompetence of officers who let three men under their command be captured by Hamas and Hizballah. Where is the American taxpayer’s money going if officers cannot keep their troops from abduction by young guerrillas whom they watch day and night with the most sophisticated technological eavesdropping devices that American-Israeli genius can produce? If the army had not been so careless, they would not now be bombing the hell out of Gaza and Lebanon–unless, of course, the politicians wanted to bomb the hell out of Gaza and Lebanon anyway. If so, what better excuse than a few missing in action?
The prescient Mideast scholar Patrick Seale wrote in the Saudi-owned newspaper Al Hayat on July 21, “By their cross-border raids and the capture of three Israeli soldiers, Hizballah and Hamas humiliated the Israeli army and dented its deterrent capacity. In Israeli eyes, this cannot go unpunished.” But who should be punished and who should be approached with an offer to save the soldiers’ lives? Perhaps punish the high command for its negligence. Maybe approach Hamas and Hizballah for a trade of the kind Israel and its adversaries have made often–the last time in 2004, when a foolish, allegedly retired Israeli army major allowed himself to be taken in Beirut and Israel freed 400 prisoners to get him back. Israel knows it can pick up another 400 anytime it wants, so what’s the problem? At the moment, it holds almost 10,000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners and detainees. Using the 2004 ratio as a guide, the quick release of 1,200 detainees would do the trick without costing a single life.
Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert has come clean with added objectives for Operation Untitled. On July 15, his spokeswoman Miri Eisen told Agence France Presse, “The Prime Minister is prepared to finish our operations in Lebanon if Hezbollah releases our two soldiers, stops its rocket fire and if the Lebanese Government decides to implement UN Security Council resolution 1559.” The resolution requires the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. That means Hizballah, because the other militias disarmed under Syrian pressure years ago. Hizballah claimed however that its armed wing was a resistance movement–the only one capable of protecting south Lebanon from Israeli attack–and not a militia. On July 21, another spokesman added a new Israeli shopping item, “One of the conditions for a ceasefire is that Hezbollah no longer receives arms supplies from Iran and Syria once it is enforced.” As Operation Save the High Command annihilated Lebanon’s post-war infrastructure–the airport, roads, bridges, army bases, clinics, telecommunications networks and lots of houses–without achieving anything, Ohlmert added a new condition: a NATO force in south Lebanon to stop Hizballah from hitting Israel. How about a force in north Israel to protect Lebanon?
This will go on and on. When Operation Get-Even ends, the respite may last a year or so. There will be other crises, other kidnappings by both sides, other murders, other wars. And it will not stop until Israel makes peace on terms that the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors have said they will accept: enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and the end of Israeli land confiscations in the West Bank. If you think the land grab is over, ask the Palestinians whose property is fenced off and seized for the Israeli settlers almost daily. If you think Israel is content to leave the natives alone to get along with it, ask the Bedouin of the Negev desert (who serve in the Israeli army and have been loyal citizens) about the creative deployment of the Monsanto-manufactured herbicide Roundup Ready to destroy their crops so they will abandon their ancestral lands once and for all. Goat by goat, dunum by dunum, the old Zionist adage went, the settlers redeem the land. As the Arabs lost their goats and their dunums of land, they got bullets and bombs.
Charles Glass lived in Lebanon from 1972 to 1976 and from 1983 to 1995. He was ABC News Chief Middle East Correspondent from 1983 to 1993 and was kidnapped by Hizballah in 1987. His new books on the Middle East are The Tribes Triumphant (Harper Collins) and The Northern Front (Saqi Books). His website is www.charlesglass.net. ]
© Charles Glass 2006