Monday, July 17, 2006
Israel's action threatens to reopen moral vacuum of war years
In response to Israel's relentless attacks in Lebanon, Hizbullah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Sunday showed only cool nerve, determined commitment and unwavering resolve. This only goes to show that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's handling of what could have been a confined crisis is doing nothing to deter Hizbullah, and has only succeeded in pushing the entire region closer to an all-out war. Instead of addressing the root causes of the regional conflict, the Israeli premier is responding to a crisis with unprecedented escalation. Olmert's - and Washington's - line is that Israel is defending itself in Gaza and in Lebanon, but we have seen that each disproportionate act of "self-defense" amounts to a provocation that only puts more and more Arab - and Israeli - lives at risk.
The people of the region have been glued to their television screens, watching the horror of Israel's bombs and missiles raining down on Gaza and Lebanon, destroying our infrastructure, our homes and our civilians' lives and livelihoods. Although these American-made weapons do nothing to diminish the resolve of militants, they steadily chip away our entire region's sense of compassion and morality. The moral vacuum left behind is filled with a palpable hatred, rage and desire for limitless revenge. Lest we forget, it was during Israel's bloody invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that a young Osama bin Laden watched the destruction of high-rises in Beirut and first resolved to take down the towers of the World Trade Center.
Israel's actions in Gaza and Lebanon are now creating a new generation of militants who will stop at nothing to wreak revenge against America and Israel. If the current pattern holds, this next generation of militants will outdo their predecessors, just as Hizbullah, Hamas and Al-Qaeda have surpassed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestine Liberation Organization. They will take the current global conflict to even more uncompromising and terrifying levels.
The Israelis do have a right to "defend themselves," but defense cannot be achieved through indiscriminate warfare. Surely, there must be a more effective way to protect the lives of Israeli citizens, one that will guarantee a long-term peace instead of a short-term victory. The best way would be to cut this region's Gordian Knot and conclude Arab-Israeli conflicts through comprehensive peace deals. But instead of doing that, the Israelis are drawing the knot even tighter through escalation. In doing so, they are leaving the entire world entangled in a cyclical pattern of violence in which no city - from Gaza and Beirut to Haifa, Washington, New York and beyond- will be safe from retribution.