To protect Lebanon, Sue Israel for war crimes
By Ahmed Amr
Against all odds, Ehud Olmert and Hassan Nasrallah are finally on the same page. On the one hand, we have Nasrallah admitting that he never would have ordered the detention of two Israeli soldiers if he knew that it would lead to a major outbreak of hostilities. The Hezbollah leader had no intention of igniting a war - he simply wanted to arrange a prisoner exchange. And from Olmert, we have a pretty clear statement that the war had nothing to do with releasing the two Israeli captives. In fact, the invasion was a pre-planned event with very specific goals and a battle plan ready to go at the slightest provocation.
To justify his decision to go to war before the Israeli cabinet, Olmert made a startling confession. "If someone would have told me a month and a half ago that there would be a multinational force and Lebanese army presence in the south, that UN Security Council resolution 1559 would begin to be implemented, that the UN secretary-general would says that the multinational force could disarm Hezbollah, that there would be an arms embargo in Lebanon, observation of crossings, and all this while the IDF sat in Lebanon without being dragged into combat, despite a continued aerial and naval blockade - I would have said he was dreaming and that he shouldn't try to set unrealistic objectives. These are, at least in part, the objectives that we set at the beginning of the war. There are additional factors that supplement these objectives."
If you examine the above quote, you might notice that Olmert didn't even bother to mention the abduction that took place on July 12, 2006. The very next day, Israel launched 'total war' against Lebanon with a 'shock and awe' air campaign that systematically targeted the basic infrastructure of Lebanon. Without issuing ultimatums or giving third parties an opportunity for intervention, the Israeli air force launched massive raids that indiscriminately and intentionally inflicted 'collateral damage' by leveling entire villages.
What exactly were the 'additional factors' omitted from Olmert's confession? Was the Israeli Prime minister referring to the hidden American-Israeli agenda to rearrange the political map of Lebanon and conduct a proxy war against Iran? Did he expect to ignite a civil war to clear a path to the 'New Middle East' over the mutilated bodies of Lebanese children?
Olmert's well-articulated goals are in sharp contrast to the canard that this latest Israeli invasion of Lebanon was merely a spontaneous response to effect the release of two IDF soldiers. A month before Olmert revealed the real reason for launching attacks on Lebanon, the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni cautioned that "Israel's bombing of Qana on Sunday should not distract attention from the main goal - implementation of Resolution 1559."
The absurdity of Israel assuming the role of a regional policeman assigned to enforce UN resolutions would be comic if it hadn't come at such an apocalyptic price. From its founding in 1948, the Jewish State has held the world championship for ignoring the decisions of the Security Council.
When all is said and done, there can be little argument that the murderous assault on Lebanon was nothing more than another Israeli war of choice - a repeat of the 1982 invasion. The only new twist is that this particular Israeli campaign depended entirely on the exclusive use of air power. Much of the post-war finger pointing in Israel is directed at the failures of General Dan Halutz. As the first Israeli chief of Staff to be recruited from the ranks of the Air Force, he is being criticized for his arrogance in believing that Olmert's goals could be achieved by incessant bombardment from the air.
Regardless of the sequence of well-documented events from this latest episode of premeditated Israeli aggression, the canard that this war was a spontaneous Israeli reaction to a significant threat has been etched in stone as the first draft of history. It's difficult to find a mainstream article that doesn't include the canned message that "Israel's devastating 34-day offensive on Lebanon was triggered when Hezbollah guerrillas snatched two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid July 12." Variations of this kind of misleading reporting litter the archives of the mass media titans. A Google search will reveal that these exact words appeared in dozens of Associated Press articles that were republished unedited in virtually every major paper in the United States and beyond. Unfortunately, once the wire services start cooking the history books, their polluted archives become a permanent part of the historical record.
The systematic and willful deception of media consumers by the lords of the press has become standard operating procedure - especially when the subject matter is Israeli. Olmert and his colleagues have such confidence in the ability of their American media allies to "massage a story," that they have developed a strange habit of publicly broadcasting their intentions to commit war crimes. As they pounded Lebanon with missiles and cluster bombs, Israeli politicians were not exactly bashful about making public declarations of their plans to set the country back twenty years by demolishing vital infrastructure.
When the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon was long over, Jacobo Timmerman published "The longest war" and George Ball wrote a compelling analysis titled "Error and Betrayal in Lebanon." Both accounts are still worth reading - if only as a contrast to the pulp fiction routinely published in the New York Times about "Israel's right to defend itself." Timmerman and Ball did what they could to set the record straight - but such attempts are always too little and too late to reverse the systematic crucifixion of the truth by Israel's willing media collaborators.
Likudnik public relations squads are now an integral part of the fabric of every major media outlet in the United States. Their operatives have saturated the ranks of FOX and CNN. Invariably, they bill themselves as neo-conservatives when they can't posture as neo-liberals.
The jury is still out on whether America's attention span is three days or three weeks and Israel's media savvy wizards know exactly how to take advantage of the unfortunate reality that the average media consumer doesn't pay much attention to foreign affairs.
Historically, Israel's media arsenal has encountered few obstacles in depicting every Israeli war as a battle for survival by a small Jewish state against its 'nasty' Arab neighbors. Although there are enough verifiable second drafts of Middle Eastern history that reveal an entirely different story, disciplined Likudnik media operatives have never let the facts get in the way of the message.
Take the 1948 war. It actually started in 1947 with an ethnic cleansing campaign by the newly arrived immigrant European Jewish minority against the indigenous Palestinian population. The Zionist death squads were led by men who eventually became Israeli prime ministers- including Ben Gurion, Shamir, Begin and Rabin. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had already been expelled from their native villages by the time Arab armies entered the fray.
Or consider the 1956 war - a coordinated attack by France, Britain and Israel against Egypt to punish Nasser for nationalizing the Suez Canal. Let the record show that, prior to the conflict, representatives of the three conspirators gathered in a French Chateau and drew up a secret agreement known as The Protocol of Severes. The agreement choreographed the entire campaign and assigned the specific roles to be performed by Israel, France and Britain in implementing a unilateral act of aggression against Egypt.
By leveraging their media muscle, the Israelis have managed to erase from our collective memory the incriminating document drawn up in Severes. This allows pro-Israeli partisans the luxury of propagating the scandalous myth that the 1956 war was an assault by Arab armies intent on vanquishing the young Jewish State.
The Protocols of Severes are no longer secret because the Israelis 'leaked' the agreement to embarrass Charles De Gaulle and France for opposing the 1967 war and suspending arm sales to Tel Aviv. At the time, the IDF arsenal was composed almost entirely of French weapon systems - including Mirage jets. You would never know it by reading American papers, but that six-day war was another conflict that Israel initiated as part of a long planned border expansion project. Within months of the 'pre-emptive' war, exclusive Jewish settlements were sprouting up all over the occupied territories for 'security reasons.'
Israel's next 'war of survival' was in 1973. It was fought entirely on occupied Arab lands in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Under international law, Israel's belligerent occupation of its neighbors' property constituted an act of permanent aggression that fully entitled Egypt and Syria to exercise their right to retrieve their expropriated native soil.
As for the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, it was perhaps the first Israeli war that Tel Aviv failed to market as a 'war for survival.' Even the Lobby's legendary media brigades encountered a serious challenge in masking the blatant attempt to reshape the political map of Lebanon. And now we have Olmert's confession that the most recent Israeli war of choice was a pre-planned assault to implement UN Resolution 1559 as part of an undeclared American-Israeli agenda to enforce new political realities on the lesser people of the region.
Virtually every major American media outlet routinely propagates fictional accounts of Israel's wars of aggression against its neighbors. Although Egypt and Jordan have consistently honored their commitment to the peace agreements with Israel, the media continues to portray the region's only nuclear power as a besieged Jewish state surrounded by crazed and violence prone Arab hordes. It's also worth noting that Syria, which still suffers from the humiliating occupation of the Golan Heights, has never once broken the cease-fire agreement of 1973.
The vicious assault against Lebanon is just the most recent example of Israel's habit of launching unilateral wars of choice with the explicit intent of inflicting catastrophic losses on its weakest neighbor.
There is yet another file of verifiable facts that is consistently ignored. Its contents concern America's secret and not so secret role in the last four Israeli wars. How many Americans are aware that President Johnson gave a green light for the 1967 Israeli land grab of Arab lands? Or that Nixon and Kissinger intervened in the 1973 war - in effect solidifying the Israeli occupation of stolen Arab real estate? It's hardly an official secret that Alexander Haig was a key sponsor of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. In fact, Haig is the kind of psycho who continues to publicly boast about his role in promoting Sharon's siege of Beirut.
Predictably, Bush insists on setting new precedents in supporting Israeli aggression. His neo-con cabal at the Pentagon actually helped design the battle plans for this latest episode of serial Israeli war crimes and prolonged the war by obstructing efforts to bring an end to the hostilities. Despite the international outcry, the more militant factions in the administration championed expanding the war to Syria.
With mid-term elections on the horizon, Congress and the White House competed with each other to issue endorsements of the criminal assault on Lebanon. Bush brazenly backed Tel Aviv with lethal and illicit munitions and unlimited diplomatic support. Ironically, some Israelis are actually complaining that Washington goaded Olmert into launching a proxy war to divert attention from Iraq and put the heat on Iran. At a time when many Israelis are openly skeptical about the results and the cost of the operation, why does Bush insist on declaring Israel the victor? The simple answer is that he shared ownership of this war with Olmert.
Another thing that distinguishes this conflict is that Washington made no attempts to cover up its collusion in orchestrating the entire bloody affair. It would be a serious mistake to ignore the timing of the hallucinatory birth pangs that gave Condi Rice the delusion that she was on the verge of delivering a 'New Middle East.' The State Department obviously had the policy ready long before the first Israeli missile hit the first Lebanese Bridge. Rice and Bolton didn't even have the decency to mask their glee as entire families were being slaughtered.
Perhaps the most important file ignored by the mass media is Israel's long history of committing war crimes during the course of its military campaigns. Every student of the region is familiar with Qibya, Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, Deir Yassin, Qana 1996 and Qana 2006, the siege of Beirut in 1982 and the ongoing siege of Gaza. With the possible exception of the 1973 war, the Israeli Defense forces have systematically targeted civilians. There is also plenty of well-documented evidence of the mass murder of Egyptian prisoners of war in 1956 and 1967. The only thing that restrained Israel from conducting atrocities in the October war was the fact that the Egyptian army held hundreds of Israeli POWs.
Israel's war crime file would be a lot shorter if the perpetrators had been held to account. The residents of Qana might have been spared from mass murder in 2006 if Shimon Peres had been indicted for the massacre of their kin in 1996. If Ariel Sharon had been prosecuted for his atrocities in Qibya in 1953, he might have been deprived of the opportunity to become a repeat offender in Sabra and Shatila. If Begin had been locked up for Deir el Yassin, Olmert would have probably taken that into consideration before carpet bombing Lebanon. Immunity from war crimes perpetuates war crimes.
The carnage in Lebanon was not inevitable. It was a man made catastrophe that could have easily been avoided. The individuals responsible for these atrocities are easily identifiable and can readily be rounded up from their luxurious abodes in Washington and Tel Aviv. The only thing that will protect Lebanon and the Palestinians is a concerted effort to investigate each and every incidence of premeditated Israeli violence that resulted in the death and injury of a civilian or the murder of a POW. A permanent international body should be set up to review Israeli war crimes going back to the pre-independence Zionist terrorist organizations.
The Lebanese government has already signaled its intention to file lawsuits against the Israelis responsible for committing war crimes against its citizens. If these efforts lead to a few successful prosecutions, Israeli generals and politicians will think twice before launching additional wars of choice. To protect the Lebanese from future Israeli inflicted traumas, it would help if the second draft of the history of this conflict included a chapter documenting the names of every Israeli politician and general indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. For additional protection, it would be very beneficial to have George Bush and Condi Rice included on the list.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com
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