Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ah, the sweet smell of ignorance

From the Toronto Star Letters, August 9, 2006:

"Hezbollah wants to destroy Israel

Re: Mideast often trips up our politicians

"In addressing the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Jim Travers has argued in some of his recent columns that Canada's policy on the Middle East should focus on the resolution of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians and on encouraging democracy with 'more carrot, less stick and relying on collective international pressure, not brinkmanship, to discipline rogue states.'

"However, how does encouraging a settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians settle the conflict in Lebanon today? Despite Travers's insistence, 'occupation' is certainly not the cause of the recent conflict given Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and Lebanon and its express desire to withdraw from the West Bank as soon as possible. Hezbollah's stated goal is the destruction of Israel and has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hezbollah, along with Hamas in Gaza, the two instigators of the recent conflict, are not rogue states but are militant groups who share the goal of eliminating Israel and the presence of any other non-Muslim entities in the Middle East.

"As for international pressure, I am sure Travers is not advocating yet another disastrous United Nations contingency plan. Hezbollah managed to militarize southern Lebanon and attack Israeli soldiers on Israeli soil on at least two occasions, all under the 'supervision' of United Nations troops. The presence of these troops was mandated by the UN following Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon which withdrawal was made in full compliance with UN resolutions.

"What does Travers realistically expect that international pressure would comprise of, short of having a robust force of international troops manning the border and demilitarizing Hezbollah as demanded by the U.S. and Israel?

--Joseph Y. Adler, Toronto"

Now, this whole letter smacks of ignorance, and the bitter, acrid taste of irony; I've bolded the part that really made me simultaneously grit my teeth and nearly shoot a smoothie out of my nasal passage.

To suggest that Israel's occupation of Palestine has nothing to do with the current bloodshed in Lebanon is purely ludicrous, but, unfortunately, an all too widely held belief in the West. Israel-Palestine and Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Anybody are not mutually exclusive events. Hezbollah's mission may be to destroy Israel, but it's not just because they're mean; the conflicts in the Middle East are all viewed through the same lens.

Travers was right to "insist" that "occupation" is the cause of the conflict, and has been a mitigating factor in every conflict before, and will continue to be one until a mutually beneficial agreement can be found to divide up the land and the occupation stops.

I know this post is long, and I know it's my second today, so let me leave you with a little analogy. Suggesting that the occupation of Palestine by Israel is not a factor in the current conflict in Lebanon is akin to suggesting that Germany invading Poland was not a factor in bringing about World War II. You can't play the "He Started It" card when you've got 40 years of history to trump it.

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