A Letter To Robert Fisk
The second Kana massacre and the New Middle East
By Noureddine Ait Messaoudene
08/05/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- Thank you Mr Robert Fisk for putting a name on the bodies of our dead (“The Independent” 31-07-2006). Can you imagine that even this action that would seem so trivial in other circumstances takes out a great significance with regards to the tragic events of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. No! The women, the elderly, the children, the “civilian casualties”, the torn out bodies, the smashed limbs and the burnt corpses are not those of dummies or some lifeless beings.
Yes! They have names like any human being, they have a history… they had a life, souvenirs, moments of joy and moments of sadness. But then, look at their names: Hussein, Abbas, Ali, Mehdi, Zeinab, Fatima Zohra… All of this sounds very Shiite for those who know the region. Hezballah supporters or at least would be supporters. Enough of a reason for making them a target of the mighty Israeli Air Force.
I look at the horrible pictures of the Kana second massacre (we still have in mind the 1996 massacre), read different articles and comments and try to make a sense out of all this chaos. I try my best to hold my tears as stare again and again at the dusty faces of all these innocent children who were buried alive as what they thought was shelter was directly and deliberately hit by an American made missile fired from an American made warplane piloted by an Israeli obeying the instructions of the Israeli Defence Forces. But I go back to your article and read the names of these little dusty bodies; my tears cannot be held anymore. Mehdi Hashem aged seven, Abbas Al Shalhoub aged one… and so many others. Was Mehdi asleep when the missile struck the house and turned it in a collective tomb? The little Abbas might have been crying for milk, milk is rather rare due to the Israeli embargo on South Lebanon. By the way, the IDF even bombarded a milk factory near Beyrouth.
This time, the crime is so ugly and at such a great scale of horror that even the most conciliatory media could not “asepticize” the images. Many Algerian newspapers, for example, used a terribly moving picture of the petrified body of a small baby with a pacifier still hanging on his clothes. Surrealistic world in such circumstances: “pacifier”. After all, this is all part of the “pacification” work of Israel. Condemnations are fusing from everywhere and from every part, even close allies to Israel and from within Israel itself Israel.
The response of the Israeli officials? Just take a look at the attitude of Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, stating with incredible cynicisms that the victims were told to leave prior to the attack, that it is Hizballah who is to blame because he used the victims, his own people and supposedly supporters, as human shields and that at least Israel “regrets” the death of innocent children, which Hizballah never did. Wrong Mrs Gillerman! Hizballah did express his deepest regrets to the death of Israeli Arab children and convey his condolences to their parents. But this only confirms that these children were not considered as fully Israelis.
What’s even more terrible about this now well known Israeli rhetoric, the same which is used for the situation in Gaza and the Palestinian territories, is this vicious attempt to make the victim guilty of its own death. According to the Israelis, the 37 children of Kana and the other 750 or so civilians killed in Lebanon are guilty at least on three levels. They did not comply with the Israeli orders of leaving their homes and villages. They supported and backed Hizballah. They were part, willingly or unwillingly, of Hizballah strategy of an “asymmetrical” warfare where they served as “predictable collateral losses to be shown as proof of the inhuman behaviour of Israel”. No, I am not kidding or “pushing the cork too far”. We have already heard this kind of insanity in the mouth of a very high ranking American military officer when an inmate of Guantanamo committed suicide.
Amidst all this mayhem, the strongest and most lucid political statement that was made came in the worlds of Nejwah Shelhub, a survivor of the Kana massacre: “Why does the world do this to us?”(Reported in R. Fisk’s article in “The Independent” 31-07-2006).
It summarizes the whole situation of despair and distress of Lebanon because it points out the bottom line: Lebanon is facing the whole world and there is no acceptable explanation or justification to the mortification it is enduring!
Indeed, when the sole superpower of the world, the United States, is so blindly backing Israel in its criminal actions against the whole people and the whole land of Lebanon then it’s the whole world that Lebanon is facing.
When the European Union is either completely aligned with or completely powerless in front of the United States, then it’s the whole world that Lebanon is facing.
When the United Nations cannot even issue a resolution condemning Israel for such a horrible war crime as the Kana massacre, let aside imposing a truce or a ceasefire, when it is incapable of condemning Israel for the killing of its own peacekeeping men, then it’s the whole world that Lebanon is facing.
When even some of the Arab governments take Hizballah as the sole responsible of the whole situation because of his so called “adventurous” action and are not capable of issuing a simple common statement in support of Lebanon and against the Israeli methodical destruction of Lebanon, then it’s the whole world that Lebanon is facing.
When it goes to the point where some so called Muslim scholars –thank God that it is from one single country- issue a fatwa forbidding any support to the resistance in Lebanon because it is Shiite, then it’s the whole world that Lebanon is facing.
Who can answer Nedjwa Shelhub and all the Lebanese people who feel so lonely these days? Let us not be fooled by the 48 hours suspension of the bombing announced by Israel. As I am writing these lines, news are coming about Israeli warplanes striking a civilian vehicle in Dors. Incidentally, these are among the civilians who obeyed the Israeli orders of fleeing their homes. The urgency is to call for an immediate ceasefire NOW!! It is the responsibility of every one of us. Nobody can claim that he did not see the dozens of civilians killed every day, the blown out houses, the destroyed bridges, the desolation, the despair. Following a ceasefire and only after the madness of the killing is stopped, all issues can be discussed.
At this point, I must express my deepest conviction about some of the numerous aspects of the situation in the Middle East. Because we have to keep in mind that what is going on in Lebanon cannot be isolated from what is going in Gaza where almost the same situation is endured by the battered Palestinians and in the whole region.
The awesome and disproportionate military superiority of Israel at the regional scale, doubled with the blind and unconditional support of the United States is one of the key problems of the Middle East crisis. There has to be some kind of a balance of power. It is very unfortunate to express it this way but one has to have the frankness to express it: the very logic and strategy followed until now by Israel needs a “balance of terror”, a “deterrence” capacity against the systematic resort to “disproportionate” aggressions or retaliations. This is the only way left for bringing Israel to an acceptable compromise with all the Arabs, especially the Palestinians, and that does not leave it freehanded in destroying its neighbours every time a problem arises.
The West, in general but particularly meaning western governments, has to abandon the dogma of the moral superiority of Israel over the Arabs altogether, the myth of the only democracy in the Middle East that stands as the ultimate barrier of the “Civilized World” against the threat of “Muslim Terror”. The Western powers have to come back to a more balanced view where the different protagonists are treated as equally “valued” parties in a conflict that has to be resolved through negotiation and compromise. But a compromise that does not wipe out the whole history of the conflict and try to impose an “accomplished fact” achieved solely through military superiority and so called moral superiority in the name of an eternal “divine right of Israel to unilaterally define its borders and then defend them”.
In the end, I would also like to add that we might be witnessing the painful birth of a New Middle East, but it surely not the one that Mrs Condoleezza Rice and all the neoconservatives have foreseen and are thinking about. My feeling is that all these people and their very sophisticated think-tanks are missing a lot of essential questions. What is more dramatic about this New Middle East that we see shaping out right now is that its contours are drawn with real blood. But blood can never be a resilient kind of ink. As it dries, the drawing might come out very different from what was intended.
Noureddine Ait Messaoudene, is a Member of the Movement of the Society of Peace (Algerian Political Party) and Professor at the University of Blida (Algeria)