Cry for Lebanon, while Portland Sits and Stares
Hezbollah unquestionably is the world's toughest guerrilla army in this sweltering summer of 2006, sure to become a lot hotter before the fall's cooling Mediterranean breezes again course through the ruined cedars of Baalbek, Tyre, Beirut and the Bekaa Valley.
The Israeli invasion of Lebanon, recognized worldwide by repeated IDF attacks on civilian targets, is an appalling war crime. There is absolutely no justification for air strikes on and artillery shelling of population centers, apartment buildings, homes, and even passenger vehicles. These hellish attacks are nothing but horrific examples of collective punishment, pure and simple.
That's why it's so heartening -- that's right, heartening -- to see Hezbollah stand up to the IDF and give back a little mayhem in return. It's been three weeks since the madness began, yet Hezbollah is fighting Israel toe-to-toe and so far holding its own. Hezbollah unquestionably is the world's toughest guerrilla army in this sweltering summer of 2006, sure to become a lot hotter before the fall's cooling Mediterranean breezes again course through the ruined cedars of Baalbek, Tyre, Beirut and the Bekaa Valley.
For all those people ready to claim Israel as victim, responding to continued terrorist attacks and provocations, let's be clear about something. As a result of Israeli actions, Lebanon now has 1 million refugees, at least 1,000 dead and many times that number injured. The nation's economy is shattered and its infrastructure - roads, bridges, water and electrical systems - lay in ruins. By comparison, fewer than 75 Israelis have been killed and the folks in Tel Aviv are still sipping coffee in sidewalk cafes.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, has made a terrific blunder. His attacks on Lebanon have strengthened Hezbollah both militarily and politically. Unless Israel decides to attempt an occupation of everything south of Beirut, which remains a possibility, it has already lost this fight. Tel Aviv has no support for its actions outside of its own population and the fanatic right wing in America, which incredibly views this awful conflict as a precursor to the Second Coming. And polls already show that support starting to falter. Olmert's wild overreaction to those first border altercations will prove to be his government's unraveling.
Every day Hezbollah holds out, every day those pitiful rockets rain down on land Israel has occupied since 1948, every day the IDF remains tied down with no endgame in sight continues to expose a weakened state that cannot indefinitely support a protracted offensive action financially, militarily or politically.
Equally appalling is the clear and outright support George W. Bush, standard bearer of the US right wing, has offered Israel in this criminal action. He and Secretary of State Rice are especially flagrant in their open support to drive on Israel's invasion and foolhardy efforts at destroying the military capabilities of Hezbollah. Israel's continued violent oppression of Gaza and the democratically elected Hamas government of Palestine also qualifies as out and out war crimes.
For now, the US-backed Israeli invasion has overshadowed the unending quagmire of the American occupation in Iraq. For this, Bush undoubtedly is grateful to Israel. Just imagine that.
But for all the horrors of the past few weeks, one of the most depressing aspects has been the lack of local and vocal support for an immediate cease-fire. For a city whose progressive community once proudly claimed the title of "Little Beirut," Portland has scandalously failed to turn out decent numbers who are willing to publicly decry the Israeli war machine.
For a city that has regularly turned out tens of thousands of anti-war protesters in recent years, the People's Republic of Portland could barely muster 1,000 demonstrators at last Sunday's pro-peace rally in Pioneer Square. For a city, and by extension the nation, cowed by pro-Israeli propaganda, that lack of visible outrage is another awful crime.
(Text/photo by Lawrence J. Maushard, a 46-year-old author and journalist in SE Portland. His travels abroad include the Middle East, most recently to the Islamic Republic of Iran.)
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