Creating people's geographies
These two caught my eye, worth a read. Direct link here
Sir: For all the talk of a “war on terror” and rooting out Hizbollah, for more than 50 years Israeli policy regarding Lebanon has remained a constant. Lebanon should become a vassal state, in alliance with Israel, with the Muslims dispersed and powerless.
The personal diary of Moshe Sharett, Israel’s second prime minister, tells of the attempts of David Ben Gurion to exacerbate the sectarian divisions inherent in Lebanon’s constitution, to create a Maronite Christian state and effectively annex the south up to the Litani River. As Mr Sharett wrote on 27 February 1954, “I got tired of struggling against a whirlwind”. Only the alliance with France, which led to the Suez war, put paid to these schemes.
Moshe Dayan, then chief of staff, tried to hire a Lebanese army officer who would agree to serve as a puppet leader. In 1982, Ariel Sharon acted out this desire before being forced to resign in ignominy. Today, even this pretext is discarded as Israel attempts to fulfil General Dayan’s dream to “liberate Lebanon from its Muslim oppressors”.
In 1982, the pretext for invasion was the attempted assassination, by the renegade Abu Nidal group of Israel’s London ambassador, Shlomo Argov. Today the pretext is the capture of two Israeli soldiers, Hizbollah’s rockets and the influence of Iran and Syria. The pretexts change but the aim remains the same.
Everyone has a right to self-defence
Sir: Israel has a right to defend itself because everyone has a right to defend himself against injustice. Then do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves against the illegal occupation of the West Bank?
Do they have a right to defend themselves against illegal colonisation by Jewish immigrant settlers? Do they have a right to defend themselves from restrictions on their movements, their trade, the tilling of their land and tending of their olives?
Do they have a right to defend themselves against walls that encroach, and settler-only roads that segment their farms? Do they have a right to denounce the widespread Israeli vision of a “greater Israel” comprising all the Biblical “land of Canaan”?
And, against a state armed by the richest nation on earth, is it not deplorable, but also understandable, that the Palestinians have resorted to suicide bombs in crowded markets and cafés? Those atrocities are in the face of extensive abductions and imprisonments, “targeted assassinations”, and Israel’s willingness to cause Palestinian civilian deaths through “collateral damage”, a substantial multiple of the total of Israeli civilian deaths caused by terrorist action.
George Bush and Tony Blair have traced the present violence to the abduction of Israeli soldiers and to Hizbollah’s indiscriminate rockets. But before the Cairo summit, Mr Bush seemed to be saying that a lasting peace would require “negotiations that go to the root of the problem”.
Mr Bush and Mr Blair must look to the centuries-old persecution of the Jews, though most of that was at the hands of Christian Europeans rather than Muslim Arabs, which led to the creation of a Jewish state that has impinged exclusively on Palestinian Arabs to whom Israel and post-Christendom have so far acknowledged few obligations.
Israel was imposed by force on an unwilling people. But history and realism require that it should be secure. At the same time, the international community must recognise that Arabs, like Jews, cannot be expected to bear the whole burden. Surely, the United Nations that created Israel must make clear that its internationally guaranteed borders should be those of 1967, that the illegal Jewish settlements that colonise the present occupied territories must be removed, that aspirations for a “greater Israel” must be disavowed, and that the world will give every assistance to the establishment of an economically and politically viable Palestinian state.