Archives for category: Israel

In a more boring turn of events, it turns out that the Israeli fence does not actually demarcate the Blue Line between what was once the French Mandate of Lebanon and the British Mandate of Palestine, the historical border that continues to separate the two modern nations of Lebanon and Israel. This meshes with what I have read recently in other sources on the topic. So yes, for those of you waiting to hear: it was in fact “all just a silly misunderstanding.”

I of course retract my theories about Israeli provocation and about the New York Times article’s complicity therein. I do, however, voice my respect for the LAF for actually taking a stand on what they thought was a violation of their country’s sovereignty. I think most Lebanese actually felt proud of the army for the first time in a while. Still, if the border is so tense that a misunderstanding like this could leave half a dozen dead, maybe we should fix the problem and put a real line, as some are suggesting.


Lebanese soldiers guard the border as Israeli shells continue to strike inside Lebanon.

It has been a hot, quiet day in the Beqaa Valley today – not so much in the Lebanese South. While I spent several hours waiting on work-related email replies, the village of Adeisseh witnessed clashes between the Lebanese and Israeli armies. I found out right before lunch, which naturally made for some strange conversation.

An Israeli cherrypicker reaching over the border fence into Lebanese territory.

Already the violence on the ground is being superseded by the battle over narrative; the Lebanese claim that their sovereignty was completely violated, while the Israelis insist that its forces were conducting “routine activity.” There is, of course, photographic evidence of an Israeli cherry-picker reaching comically over the border fence to start uprooting some conifers it viewed as blocking the sacred Israeli line of site. For those of you who have seen The Lemon Tree, this is not overly surprising, but just as patently ridiculous.

Reports fly everywhere. Aljazeera is finally covering it, the BBC has an alright article; other sources are already analyzing the potential for the issue to inflate. But it’s the New York Times whose insistence on protecting the Israeli image in the media war that once again struck me as typical.

While lengthy, the Times report refused to allot any blame to the Israelis. Rather than acknowledge that its own photo (taken from the Associated Press) proves that the Israelis entered Lebanese territory, it takes care to use language making it perfectly natural that the Israelis bombed a Lebanese military outpost using artillery and helicopters, and continued shelling two hours after the UN peacekeepers came to calm everyone down. More significantly (in my eyes) is one photo in the slideshow on the site’s front page, showing Israeli soldiers “looking through the sites of their weapons.” Anyone who knows a little about guns can see that those are not typical assault rifles, they are sniper rifles, which they were using to continue shooting at Lebanese soldiers and others from across the border. The caption, however, makes it sound as if they were standing ready, waiting for some sort of Lebanese aggression.

It’s a bit nitpicky, but this is what the image battle is all about. Media documentation is the real aim, and the role of social media is almost considered key in this process today – this post from Beirut Spring. The New York Times isn’t helping with its shoddy, gray-area reporting. It can’t keep the Israelis hands clean forever, but it’s certainly trying.

Now, concerning the tree they were uprooting, it seems odd to me that they should choose now to test the Lebanese army, given the increasingly tense situation in the region: rockets in Eilat/Aqaba, the STL, Hassan Nasrallah’s speech tonight. You could keep on listing.

The more I contemplate, the more it seems like a deliberate provocation on behalf of the Israeli army to continue destabilizing Lebanon. The closer the country gets to anarchy, the more opportunity for Israel to invade and uproot Hezbollah. Except that they continue to forget that when they operate in Lebanon in recent history, they have always united the Lebanese, rather than driven them apart. Will they ever learn? Also, the US gov’t has been oddly silent. Where is its condemnation?

So the Lebanese state has to safeguard its sovereignty from Hezbollah – but not Israel?

Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi of the Israeli Northern Army confirmed today that he was OK with striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, even in densely-populated areas. This begs a few questions: is it true that Hezbollah is using human shields? Are the people OK with the arrangement (because sometimes they actually are)? And what exactly is Ashkenazi’s great PR plan for the sudden rise in civilian death toll if he goes through with it? Sounds like operation Iron Dome has got him a little cocky.

I am hardly OK with the idea of Hezbollah camping out among civilians, but it seems unlikely that they would do so in places where they are blatantly unwanted. Still, it raises a few doubts and questions, which in all fairness should be posed to Hezbollah – except they would not be well-received. Based on Nasrallah’s reactions to the possibility of having Israeli agents working inside the Party, his brisk comment of “Our organization cannot be infiltrated” (see my earlier post) seemed a little unfriendly. Hezbollah enjoys the legitimacy of much of the Lebanese population, but not all of it – it should not be above all scrutiny.

In addition to this, more tensions with the Party of God seem to be mounting. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (tasked with investigating Rafiq Hariri’s assassination in 2005) has indicated that several Party members were likely involved – and not Syria.

Mix dry ingredients separately from wet ingredients, then combine. Mix well, add to heat. The flavors will taste better after they have stewed.

Settlers offering their children advice on how to handle an Uzi.

The Foreign Policy website’s Middle East Channel has this blissfully simple article today about how American tax money directly finances Israeli persecution and settlement activity, and just how counterproductive this works out to be. This money is often funneled through American or Israeli charities – Christian and Jewish – that goes directly to support settlers in the occupied West Bank. From your checkbook, straight to the frontlines of American foreign policy. Or as the Middle East Channel puts it: “Hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars in deductible contributions are funneled into occupied territory through American charities to fund the enterprise that is killing the very peace process the United States aims to champion.”

I don’t know about you, but that stirs up strong associations with the US government’s dogged pursuit of Islamic charities that fund organizations like, say, Hamas or Hezbollah. The New York Times even had an article a week or so ago that I found piquant (GRE word, that one) and horrifying. So what, when it comes down to it, is the real difference? We know, of course, that there are charities giving to fundamentalist groups. But can you really call Hezbollah or Hamas fundamentalist? What about Israeli settlers and their fundamentalist Judaism? In the bigger picture, Israel’s terrorism against Palestinians is more of a threat to our homeland security than what Hezbollah does on Lebanese soil.

As always, there seems to be some kind of imbalanced reckoning going on. A deadly, flawed kind of reckoning.

Hard to give this any sort of credibility, but Nasrallah’s reaction is more than a little frustrating.

Read it at Ya Lubnan.

Mori Rothman, fellow Middlebury student (not sure I can use that term much longer), recently contributed this video he made to Middblog endorsing J-street, the new political movement among Jews worldwide (though mostly in the US) positioned in the awkward space between being mindlessly pro-Israel and mindlessly anti-Israel which, as we all know, is politically useful to no one. Their home page can be found here.

I have followed them somewhat out of the corner of my eye, but based on geopolitical developments in Israel and in the United States of late, it seems clear to me that everyone is trying hard to ignore them. It has been difficult to be supportive, but that has its roots in an inborn reluctance to deal directly with Israeli political movements. I myself cannot say that I have ever harbored a positive thought about Israel. That said, I am also aware that they are humans, and an appropriate solution needs to be found to the crisis in Palestine (I don’t feel like developing this right now, so please don’t ask me to do so).

…if only Benjamin Netanyahu weren’t such an ass. Definitely something that’s been curiously absent from the American mainstream media.

There is just so much wrong in this article from Sabbah Report that it’s not worth commenting. Just read it.