Bulletin N° 247


28 July 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
As new categories of people are being murdered because of Israel's foreign policy and because of  indispensable aid from the United States of America, a wider coalition of opposition is forming which may lead to irreversible changes in the Middle East and beyond. Four classic variables in the global context of political power remain, of course, (a)expanding centers of financial power, (b)securing strategically located military bases with nuclear capabilities, (c)controlling fossil energy reserves, as well as regions with fresh water and fertile soil, and (d)repressing democratic movements which challenge the status quo. These capabilities are by no means reliable today. We seem to be witnessing major shifts away from post-Second-World-War stability.

The very effective organizing principle of "Anti-Communism" has vanished, and an equally effective principle to stabilize world capitalism has not yet been invented. It is axiomatic that the destruction of an organizing principle is counter productive to its objectives, but it is too late to tell this to Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Meanwhile, the "winners" are only imaginary, and we see the real spiral downward in all areas of the world, where leisure time activities have turned into a hellish market place scramble for survival, where a banal consumerism has all but destroyed community activities and creativity, where war and genocide are permanent dangers. In a word, Greed is God in a matrix of alienation and termoil.

Of the many articles CEIMSA has received over the past couple of days, the seven articles below carry information that is by far the most foreboding we have read in recent months. One way of looking at this grim body of information is simply to conclude that the world has gone crazy. A more productive perspective is that the ruling classes, which control most investment capital in the world, have been pushed by real constraints to use the powerful instruments of capitalism --with its private profit motive aiming relentlessly toward the private accumulation of capital-- to destroy economic activities which are essential  for the survival of human society. We are living a paradox, if this is true: namely that the free market economy is expanding exponentially in directions which, if "successful," will destroy itself and most of mankind. This economic system must fail if markets are to continue to serve essential human needs.

The present necessity for wars in order to maximize immediate capital gains is certainly part of the context for understanding military aggressions in the Middle East.

In item A. Lawrence McGuire points out the contradictory reports on the purported "cause" of Israeli aggressions in Lebanon.

Item B. is an article from CounterPunch on Israeli tactics which are linked with a self-defeating strategy, blind to realities other than Zionist public opinion.

Item C. is a confirmation from Zmag that Israel is on the wrong path, and has been for many years.

Item D., a BBC radio broadcast, by Mike Thomson, is a vivid investigative report on Israeli assassination squads sent to London 60 years ago to kill Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Earnest Bevin. "A Date with Bevin" was broadcast in London on 24 July 2006.

Item E. is an article by Israeli journalist, Uri Avnery on the dire consequences of the Israeli military defeat in Lebanon.

Item F. is a Petition against Israeli aggression sent to us by Dr. James Cohen.

And finally, item G. is a report by Agence France-Presse, Wednesday 26 July 2006, describing the "shock" among UN officials that Israel was "apparently deliberately targeting" a UN post in Lebanon, where at least  four UN observers were killed today.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal - Grenoble 3

from Lawrence McGuire :
Subject: clear example of israeli censorship of original pretext
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006

In these two AP accounts by the SAME author, the location of the capture of the two Israeli soldiers, which in early stories was the Lebanese side of the border, changes to the Israeli side.
     with sources
     see also http://www.antiwar.com/frank/?articleid=9401
     and http://www.newspress.com/Top/Article/article.jsp?Section=NATIONAL&ID=564775508064470520

     Hezbollah Captures 2 Israeli Soldiers, Associated Press
     By JOSEPH PANOSSIAN , 07.12.2006, 05:41 AM
The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them.

     The Israeli military would not confirm the report.

     By JOSEPH PANOSSIAN, Associated Press Writer
     Wed Jul 12, 4:13 PM ET
     BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said eight of its soldiers had been killed in the violence.

from Alexander Cockburn :
July 25, 2006

Why Israel is Losing

The world is witnessing what could be a critical turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Israel is now engaged in a war that could permanently undermine the efficacy of its much-vaunted military apparatus.

Ironically, there are several reasons for believing that Israel’s destruction of southern Lebanon and  southern Beirut will weaken its bargaining position relative to its adversaries, and will strengthen its adversaries’ hands.

First, Israel has no clearly defined tactical or strategic objective, and so the Israeli offensive fails the first test of military logic: there is no way that Israel's actions can improve its position relative to Hamas or Hizballah, much less Syria or Iran.

The logic of power politics also implies that a no-win situation for Israel is a definite loss, because Israel is the stronger party and thus has the most to lose.  In an asymmetric war, the stronger party always has the most to lose, in terms of reputation and in terms of its ability to project its will through the instruments of force.

The lack of any clearly defined objective is a major miscalculation by Israel and its American patron.

Second, Israel cannot eliminate Hizballah, since Hizballah is a grassroots organization that represents a plurality of Lebanese society. Neither can Hamas be eliminated for the same reason.  By targeting Hizballah however, Israel is strengthening Hizballah's hand against its domestic rivals, such as the Maronite Christians, because  any open Christian opposition makes them look like traitors and Israeli collaborators.

Consequently, while Hizballah will obviously pay a short-term tactical cost  that is very high, in the long run, this conflict demonstrates that it is Hizballah, and not the Lebanese government, that has the most power in Lebanon.

The Shia represent an estimated 35-40 per cent of  Lebanese  society, while Lebanese Christians are thought to constitute no more than 25-30per cent of the entire population.  Furthermore, the Shia community’s fertility rate is thought to be far higher than that of the other religious components  within Lebanon.

Thus, the current confessional division of power in Lebanon, which grants Christians a political position that goes far beyond their minority status, is ultimately unsustainable, which means that the Maronite Christians will lose even more power, and the Shia and Hizballah will inevitably gain more power.

Third, Israel's failure to achieve anything at all greatly enhances Syria's influence over Lebanon and  its bargaining position relative to the U.S. and Israel itself.  No solution in Lebanon can exclude Syria, and so now the U.S. and Israelis need Syria's approval, which certainly weakens both the U.S. and Israel.

And  even Israel's accusations against Iran, although largely baseless, greatly enhance  Iran's prestige in the region, and may bring about exactly what the Israelis are trying to prevent.  While the Arab states look like traitors, Iran looks like a champion of the most celebrated of all Muslim causes.

Fourth, Bush's impotence is a clear demonstration that America has lost a great deal of global power over the last three years.  If Bush cannot control Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, or Israel, then what real power does  the world's "hyper-power" possess?  America’s inability to influence any of the actors that are relevant to the current crisis is yet more evidence that America's foreign policy is a form of global suicide.

Fifth, the age of great power warfare has been replaced by a world in which great powers must live and compete with non-state actors who possess considerable military capabilities.  William Lind calls this transformation “4th generation warfare.”

Consequently, the  age  of  Bismarckian warfare, or what William Lind refers to as "3rd generation warfare,” is effectively over.  “Bismarckian warfare” is a term that describes large-scale wars fought by large-scale armies, which require national systems of military conscription, a significant population base, and enormous military budgets.

Bismarckian warfare seems to have become ineffective in the Arab-Israeli context, because Israel no longer poses the threat that it once did to the Arab regimes, and the Arab regimes much prefer Israel to the rising non-state actors growing within their own borders.

William Lind has also argued that non-state actors such as Hamas and Hizballah can checkmate the Israelis as long as these Muslim parties never formally assume power.  If Muslim parties were to assume the power of states, then they would immediately become targets for traditional Bismarckian warfare.  However, as long as Muslim movements retain theirnon-state identity, they are strategically unconquerable.

Sixth, we must more carefully study the reasons why Bismarckian warfare is no longer effective.

The global diffusion of the news outlets is obviously important for understanding why Bismarckian warfare has become so ineffective.  For instance, Hizballah has its own media network, and can draw upon the global satellite network to get its message out, and can also use the global media to take advantage  of  Israel's targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Further, the competition between Arab and Muslim satellite channels is also important, because  each station wants to demonstrate its sincerity by spreading news that is not only critical of Israel and the U.S., but ultimately undermines people's trust in the Arab regimes and thereby lends legitimacy to non-state actors.

And although the American media largely supports Israel, the information about the Americans stranded in Lebanon limits Israel's freedom of action, and makes Israel look like it cares nothing for the lives of American citizens.

At an even deeper level, the rate and density of global information transfer, and lack of any centralized control over the global distribution of information, is causing the fabric of space  and time to contract, and so Israel's crimes can much more quickly create a global backlash.

Time and space, as we experience them, are contracting because the global diffusion of technical and scientific knowledge is permitting events in one part of the world to increasingly influence events in other parts of the world, and events that once took years or even decades to unfold can now occur within mere months or weeks.

As a consequence, the disenfranchised peoples of the world are developing the ability to affect the lives of the more privileged members of humanity, which means that anything that Israel does to the Palestinians or Lebanese will have effects upon Israel that are more direct and more negative than ever before, and that further, these effects will occur in an accelerated time scale.

Thus, as it becomes self evident that Israeli military power is no longer as effective as it once was, this will surely accelerate the flow of Jewish settlers out of Israel.  Information regarding emigration of Jews out of Israel is a closely guarded secret, but using Israeli government statistics, we can infer that immigration to Israel has rapidly declined over the last several years, and that Israel may even be experiencing a net outflow of Jewish migrants. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of Jewish immigrants to Israel declined to 21,000 in 2004, which is a 15-year low.  In 2005, the number of immigrants rose slightly to 23,000, which is still dramatically lower than the 60,000 that immigrated in 2000. Furthermore, Israel became a net exporter of its citizens in 2003, when9,000 more Israelis left the country than entered, and in the first two months of 2004, this figure rose to 13,000.

The global micro-diffusion of military technology is also critical, and so military innovation and its global diffusion will only strengthen grassroots rebellions and allow them to more effectively resist the instruments of Bismarckian control, as well as the depredations of the military hippopotami that are the ultimate guarantors of statism and statist regimes.

For all of these reasons, Israeli attempts to impose terms on Lebanon, or to redraw the political map of Lebanon, or even to impose a NATO  force upon Southern Lebanon, are not militarily feasible nor politically achievable, and if attempted, will prove ultimately unsustainable.

As will soon be demonstrated  by events on the ground, Israel will not be able to destroy or even disarm Hizballah.  Neither will Hamas, Hizballah, Lebanon, or Syria permit Israel or America to dictate terms to them. Consequently, if Israel lingers too long in Southern Lebanon, its presence will be paid for at such a high cost, that it will be forced to withdraw in ignominy, as it has so many times in the past.

In the end however, Israel's loss of power will make it even more dangerous, because  the more threatened the Israelis feel, the more likely they will launch destructive wars against the Palestinians and Israel's other adversaries.

Finally, the same can be said of the U.S., with respect to its loss of global power.  Instead of becoming more careful with its use of force, the erosion of America’s global dominance will likely make the U.S. government more aggressive, as it attempts to re-assert its former position relative to its adversaries and competitors.

And it is precisely because America and Israel are losing influence over global events, that an American attack  upon Iran in 2007 becomes more likely.

God help us all.

Ashraf Isma’il is an academic whose interests range from international relations, international economics and international finance, to global history and mathematical models of geo-strategy.

from Michael Albert :
23 July 2006

Israel's Air and Artillery War Against Hezbollah
Something Old, Something New, Everything Hopeless

by Daniel Douek

The current mini-war between Israel and Hezbollah inspires a serious case of deja vu. It bears striking similarities to the Israel Defense Forces' spring 1996 "Operation Grapes of Wrath," and carrying important lessons for today. The 1996 operation, while ostensibly aiming to paralyze Hezbollah's operational capacity, claimed hundreds of Lebanese civilian lives while gaining precious little relief for Israel's beleagured northern population, which was then, as now, the target of incessant Hezbollah rocket attacks. Today, of course, the major difference is that Hezbollah is bolder and possesses an array of new long-range rocketry capable of hitting more distant and populous Israeli targets, as well as guided missiles of the sort used to hit a state-of-the-art Israeli corvette-class missile boat last week, killing four sailors and striking perhaps the greatest blow to Israel's image of military supremacy since Hezbollah ambushed an Israeli commando raiding team on the Lebanese coast in 1998, killing fifteen. As Israel invests ever-greater military resources in its pursuit of Hezbollah, the potential for unprecedented escalation grows ever greater. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has warned of "new surprises" awaiting Israel; the IDF, meanwhile, has destroyed his home and headquarters in Beirut and has made public its intention to kill him, while bombing targets throughout Lebanon, including along the Syrian border. Yet the most striking parallel of all between the current episode and the 1996 mini-war is that Israel, for all its military might, cannot "win," where victory is defined as a serious crippling of Hezbollah's striking capacity, and an emerging regional context in which Hezbollah and Islamic extremism as a whole are marginalized.
Of course, two general rules of modern warfare have already stacked the odds against Israel's success: first, escalating violence against religious extremism tends to beget more extremism, especially when massive (and seemingly avoidable) civilian casualties are inflicted. Second, a conventional army has rarely been able to dislodge a highly motivated and well-equipped guerilla army, with Israel's 1982 ill-fated Lebanese invasion serving as a prime example. But there are deeper reasons why this operation may well serve to weaken Israel's position vis-a-vis Hezbollah, and for these I turn again to the lessons of 1996.
Living in on Kibbutz Grofit in southern Israel at the time, I happened to become close with the family of then-Major General Moshe Ya'alon, at the time the chief of Israeli military intelligence (he would later be appointed chief of staff, to be replaced last year by the current chief of staff, Dan Halutz). The general would come home most Friday nights to spend some time with his family before departing the following day for headquarters. During these visits we spoke repeatedly about political and military matters, and in the midst of the 1996 bombing campaign I asked him why, despite Israel's stated goal of crippling Hezbollah, the IDF avoided hitting its top leadership, going so far as to strike Hezbollah offices on the fourth floor of a Beirut high-rise at 7 AM, when the Israelis knew the offices would be empty. He replied that on previous occasions when Israel had struck serious blows at Hezbollah- a 1992 aerial attack on a training camp in which dozens of guerillas were killed, and the 1994 assassination of commander Sheikh Abbas Musawi by Israeli helicopters- Hezbollah had retaliated with strikes against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad. These were the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing over thirty, and the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community centre, in which 85 were killed. Both these bombings, the general told me, were assisted by the Iranian secret services. Escalation against Hezbollah, Israel had learned, could carry a terrible price.
Thus evolved the Israeli strategy of holding the Lebanese government- and by extension, Syria- accountable for Hezbollah attacks by bombing Lebanese civilian infrastructure, a form of collective punishment on a grand scale that forces all Lebanese to suffer for Hezbollah's actions. Indeed, a 1993 bombing campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon was codenamed "Operation Accountability." Since its inception, this policy has been a charade; Israel knows full well that the Lebanese government is unable- and Syria unwilling- to rein in Hezbollah. Instead of turning Lebanese public opinion against Hezbollah, these policies tend chiefly to embitter Lebanese civilians against Israel, quite understandably. Presumably, then, the strategy is calibrated to satisfy Israeli public opinion, which tends to demand some form of retaliation for strikes by Hamas, Hezbollah, or other guerilla/terrorist organizations. It does little if anything to weaken the organizations responsible for attacking Israel, and serves to greatly tarnish Israel's international standing (the fallout from the deaths of seven vacationing Canadians in an Israeli airstrike yesterday in Aitaroun has yet to reach its crescendo).
Indeed, the 1996 operation came in the wake of the assassination by a Jewish extremist of Israel's popular PM Yitzhak Rabin and his replacement by perennial political loser Shimon Peres, who sought to shore up his military credentials with elections looming; he lost anyways to the right-wing Likud candidate, Bibi Netanyahu. Today, an unproven coalition of politicians with no military background- Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz- similarly need to prove themselves to the security-craving Israeli public, although the response of previous PM and former general Ariel Sharon to a similar crisis would hardly have been less severe. My point here is not to insinuate that Israeli politicians have launched this campaign against Hezbollah primarily for personal political gain, but simply to underscore that the strategy they have adopted makes little strategic sense, has never succeeded in weakening Hezbollah in the past, and is unlikely to succeed now. Even when Israel has devoted considerable military resources to hunting Hezbollah operatives by air throughout Lebanon, as it eventually did in 1996, it has not succeeded in substantially reducing the number of rockets fired across the border. The guerillas and their rockets are too numerous, too mobile, and too difficult to detect from the air. Meanwhile, the cost of an Israeli ground assault would be prohibitive, as illustrated last week at the outset of the fighting when an Israeli tank in pursuit of Hezbollah attackers struck a mine, killing five Israeli soldiers. For all its technological sophistication, then, Israel's hands are tied.
Ironically, if any government could truly be held accountable for aiding and abbetting Hezbollah, it would not be hapless and fragmented Lebanon but rather Hezbollah's ideological and material benefactor, the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran's emergent nuclear weapons program and increasingly sophisticated military, however, guarantee against Israeli strikes while enabling its leadership to taunt Israel with impunity. Meanwhile, if past history is any indication, the "surprises" promised by Hezbollah chief Nasrallah may well come in the form of new strikes against Israeli and/or Jewish targets around the world, which Israel would be relatively powerless to prevent. Other possiblities involve the deployment of weaponry as yet unseen in the history of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, such as Iranian-made rockets capable of hitting the outskirts of Tel Aviv, rockets that, unlike larger SCUDs or cruise missiles, cannot be shot down be Israel's antimissile missile systems, and already exist in Hezbollah arsenals. In the absence of a negotiated settlement, Hezbollah is also likely to deploy more Iranian-made guided missiles of the sort already used to hit the Israeli naval ship, and may also acquire antiaircraft missiles to defend against Israeli warplanes- the loss of even one or two Israeli aircraft would represent another psychological blow to Israel, if not a tactical one, and would also represent a victory for Iran and the hundred or so military advisors from the elite Republican Guard that Israel insists are guiding Hezbollah's moves from Lebanon (Iran denies any such presence). Meanwhile Hezbollah's rockets have already claimed a toll in Israeli lives significantly greater than any previous rocket barrage, and have demonstrated a brand-new ability to strike deep into Israeli territory with a boldness seldom seen even in the midst of conventional Arab-Israeli wars.
For its part, in order to strike a substantive blow to Hezbollah, Israel must either kill Hassan Nasrallah and several of his chief advisors, which it has vowed to do, or kill a number of Hezbollah's Iranian advisors. Both options dramatically increase the likelihood of escalation by Hezbollah and Iran, especially including strikes against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad, and neither threatens to significantly weaken Hezbollah's political or military capacity. First, these leaders could easily be replaced; second, any such blows would be compensated for by a tremendous surge in Hezbollah popularity and recruitment, and likely a stronger military link with Iran. Like in 1996, Israel, for all its might, cannot protect its citizens against Hezbollah rockets- this time an even more abundant supply of longer-range rockets with larger warheads. Meanwhile, the world is made to understand yet again the power of religiously-driven, low-tech, well-organized militant organizations against states and their standing armies, and the ability of the Arab-Israeli conflict to unite unlikely allies- this time, Sunni Hamas and Shi'a Hezbollah- against their common Jewish enemy.         

from Information Clearing House :
24 July 2006

A Date With Bevin

Mike Thomson investigates Jewish insurgency in Palestine after WWll and a plot to assassinate Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Earnest Bevin

Broadcast by BBC Radio 4  - 07/24/06

In 1946, not long after the Second World War was won, Britain was again under threat. Jewish insurgents, who had long been fighting a bloody insurgency campaign against British troops in Palestine, were about to take their war to London. Previously top secret documents reveal that assassination squads were being sent to the capital armed with a hit list. On it were the names of several top government figures. These included Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Earnest Bevin.



More pictures from this documentary

Extremist groups like The Stern Gang (or Lehi) and Irgun, were determined to end the British mandate in Palestine and replace it with a Jewish homeland. Hundreds of their fighters, along with many British soldiers, were killed or injured in a struggle that escalated after the end of the war. Desperate to achieve a breakthrough after the arrest or deaths of many of their members, the two groups set up underground cells in Britain. It wasn’t long before British security services got wind of what was happening and in early 1946 they issued this top secret internal warning:

“Members of the Stern group are now being organised and are under training. It is expected that they will be sent to the United Kingdom to assassinate important members of his majesty’s government, particularly, Mr Bevin.” 

In the months that followed a number of bombs exploded in London and an attempt was made to drop on a bomb on the House of Commons from a hired plane. This last effort was only stopped after French Police discovered Stern Gang members preparing to cross the channel in a plane containing a large bomb.

Mike Thomson and the Document team track down the assassin sent to kill Earnest Bevin and the man who gave him the explosives to do it.

from Uri Avnery :
July 26, 2006

Is Beirut Burning?
by Uri Avnery

Tel Aviv - "IT SEEMS that Nasrallah survived," Israeli newspapers announced, after 23 tons of bombs were dropped on a site in Beirut, where the Hizbullah leader was supposedly hiding in a bunker.

An interesting formulation. A few hours after the bombing, Nazrallah had given an interview to Aljazeera television. Not only did he look alive, but even composed and confident. He spoke about the bombardment - proof that the interview was recorded on the same day.

So what does "it seems that" mean? Very simple: Nasrallah pretends to be alive, but you can't believe an Arab. Everyone knows that Arabs always lie. That's in their very nature, as Ehud Barak once pronounced.

The killing of the man is a national aim, almost the main aim of the war. This is, perhaps, the first war in history waged by a state in order to kill one person. Until now, only the Mafia thought along those lines. Even the British in World War II did not proclaim that their aim was to kill Hitler. On the contrary, they wanted to catch him alive, in order to put him on trial. Probably that's what the Americans wanted, too, in their war against Saddam Hussein.

But our ministers have officially decided that that is the aim. There is not much novelty in that: successive Israeli governments have adopted a policy of killing the leaders of opposing groups. Our army has killed, among others, Hizbullah leader Abbas Mussawi, PLO no. 2 Abu Jihad, as well as Sheik Ahmad Yassin and other Hamas leaders. Almost all Palestinians, and not only they, are convinced that Yassir Arafat was also murdered.

And the results? The place of Mussawi was filled by Nasrallah, who is far more able. Sheik Yassin was succeeded by far more radical leaders. Instead of Arafat we got Hamas.

As in other political matters, a primitive military mindset governs this reasoning too.

A person returning here after a long absence and seeing our TV screens might get the impression that a military junta is governing Israel, in the (former) South American manner.

On all TV channels, every evening, one sees a parade of military brass in uniform. They explain not only the day's military actions, but also comment on political matters and lay down the political and propaganda line.
During all the other hours of broadcasting time, a dozen or so have-been generals repeat again and again the message of the army commanders. (Some of them don't look particularly intelligent - not to say downright stupid. It is frightening to think that these people were once in a position to decide who would live and who would die.)
True, we are a democracy. The army is completely subject to the civilian establishment. According to the law, the cabinet is the "supreme commander" of the army (which in Israel includes the navy and air force). But in practice, today it is the top brass who decide all political and military matters. When Dan Halutz tells the ministers that the military command has decided on this or that operation, no minister dares to express opposition. Certainly not the hapless Labor Party ministers.

Ehud Olmert presents himself as the heir to Churchill ("blood, sweat and tears"). That's quite pathetic enough. Then Amir Peretz puffs up his chest and shoots threats in all directions, and that's even more pathetic, if that's possible. He resembles nothing so much as a fly standing on the ear of an ox and proclaiming: "we are ploughing!"

The Chief-of-Staff announced last week with satisfaction: "The army enjoys the full backing of the government!" That is also an interesting formulation. It implies that the army decides what to do, and the government provides "backing". And that's how it is, of course.

Now it is not a secret anymore: this war has been planned for a long time. The military correspondents proudly reported this week that the army has been exercising for this war in all its details for several years. Only a month ago, there was a large war game to rehearse the entrance of land forces into South Lebanon - at a time when both the politicians and the generals were declaring that "we shall never again get into the Lebanon quagmire. We shall never again introduce land forces there." Now we are in the quagmire, and large land forces are operating in the area.

The other side, too, has been preparing this war for years. Not only did they build caches of thousands of missiles, but they have also prepared an elaborate system of Vietnam-style bunkers, tunnels and caves. Our soldiers are now encountering this system and paying a high price. As always, our army has treated "the Arabs" with disdain and discounted their military capabilities.

That is one of the problems of the military mentality. Talleyrand was not wrong when he said that "war is much too serious a thing to be left to military men." The mentality of the generals, resulting from their education and profession, is by nature force-oriented, simplistic, one-dimensional, not to say primitive. It is based on the belief that all problems can be solved by force, and if that does not work - then by more force.

That is well illustrated by the planning and execution of the current war. This was based on the assumption that if we cause terrible suffering to the population, they will rise up and demand the removal of Hizbullah. A minimal understanding of mass psychology would suggest the opposite. The killing of hundreds of Lebanese civilians, belonging to all the ethno-religious communities, the turning of the lives of the others into hell, and the destruction of the life-supporting infrastructure of Lebanese society will arouse a groundswell of fury and hatred - against Israel, and not against the heroes, as they see them, who sacrifice their lives in their defense.

The result will be a strengthening of Hizbullah, not only today, but for years to come. Perhaps that will be the main outcome of the war, more important than all the military achievements, if any. And not only in Lebanon, but throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Faced with the horrors that are shown on all television and many computer screens, world opinion is also changing. What was seen at the beginning as a justified response to the capture of the two soldiers now looks like the barbaric actions of a brutal war-machine. The elephant in a china shop.

Thousands of e-mail distribution lists have circulated a horrible series of photos of mutilated babies and children. At the end, there is a macabre photo: jolly Israeli children writing "greetings" on the artillery shells that are about to be fired. Then there appears a message: "Thanks to the children of Israel for this nice gift. Thanks to the world that does nothing. Signed: the children of Lebanon and Palestine."

The woman who heads the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has already defined these acts as war crimes - something that may in future mean trouble for Israeli army officers.

In general, when army officers are determining the policy of a nation, serious moral problems arise.

In war, a commander is obliged to take hard decisions. He sends soldiers into battle, knowing that many will not return and others will be maimed for life. He hardens his heart. As General Amos Yaron told his officers after the Sabra and Shatila massacre: "Our senses have been blunted!"

Years of the occupation regime in the Palestinian territories have caused a terrible callousness as far as human lives are concerned. The killing of ten to twenty Palestinians every day, including women and children, as happens now in Gaza, does not agitate anyone. It doesn't even make the headlines. Gradually, even routine expressions like "We regret…we had no intention…the most moral army in the world…" and all the other trite phrases are not heard anymore.

Now this numbness is revealing itself in Lebanon. Air Force officers, calm and comfortable, sit in front of the cameras and speak about "bundles of targets", as if they were talking about a technical problem, and not about living human beings. They speak about driving hundreds of thousands of human beings from their homes as an imposing military achievement, and do not hide their satisfaction in face of human beings whose whole life has been destroyed. The word that is most popular with the generals at this time is "pulverize" - we pulverize, they are being pulverized, neighborhoods are pulverized, buildings are pulverized, people are pulverized.

Even the launching of rockets at our towns and villages does not justify this ignoring of moral considerations in fighting the war. There were other ways of responding to the Hizbullah provocation, without turning Lebanon into rubble. The moral numbness will be transformed into grievous political damage, both immediate and long term. Only a fool or worse ignores moral values - in the end, they always take revenge.

IT IS almost banal to say that it is easier to start a war than to finish it. One knows how it starts, it is impossible to know how it will end.

Wars take place in the realm of uncertainty. Unforeseen things happen. Even the greatest captains in history could not control the wars they started. War has its own laws.
We started a war of days. It turned into a war of weeks. Now they are speaking of a war of months. Our army started a "surgical" action of the Air Force, afterwards it sent small units into Lebanon, now whole brigades are fighting there, and reservists are being called up in large numbers for a wholesale 1982-style invasion. Some people already foresee that the war may roll towards a confrontation with Syria.

All this time, the United States has been using all its might in order to prevent the cessation of hostilities. All signs indicate that it is pushing Israel towards a war with Syria - a country that has ballistic missiles with chemical and biological warheads.

Only one thing is already certain on the 11th day of the war: Nothing good will come of it. Whatever happens - Hizbullah will emerge strengthened. If there had been hopes in the past that Lebanon would slowly become a normal country, where Hizbullah would be deprived of a pretext for maintaining a military force of its own, we have now provided the organization with the perfect justification: Israel is destroying Lebanon, only Hizbullah is fighting to defend the country.

As for deterrence: a war in which our huge military machine cannot overcome a small guerilla organization in 11 days of total war certainly has not rehabilitated its deterrent power. In this respect, it is not important how long this war will last and what will be its results - the fact that a few thousand fighters have withstood the Israeli army for 11 days and more, has already been imprinted in the consciousness of hundred of millions of Arabs and Muslims.

From this war nothing good will come - not for Israel, not for Lebanon and not for Palestine. The "New Middle East" that will be its result will be a worse place to live in.

from Jim Cohen :
Subject: Petition of Academics Against Israeli Aggression.
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006

Une pétition à lire, à signer si vous le souhaitez, et à faire passer à tous vos collègues.

Here's a petition to read, sign if you wish, and pass on to all your colleagues.

Sign here if you so choose / cliquez ici pour signer si vous le souhaitez :


 **    **    **

To:  Academics who condemn Israel's aggression against Lebanon and Gaza

While the United States government applauds the collective punishment of already vulnerable populations, we U.S.-based academics stand together to condemn the atrocities being committed by the U.S.-funded and armed Israeli military against the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine. Scholars based outside of the United States are also welcome to sign this letter as an expression of their support.

The brutal bombing and invasion of Gaza (whose people have never escaped the torment of Israeli occupation despite official Israeli ³withdrawal²) and of Lebanon and are acts of Israeli state terrorism. Along with the devastating U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current U.S.-Israeli threat to Syria and Iran, Israel¹s escalation indicates another terrifying example of the heightened reliance on military force by both these powers in their ongoing struggle for hegemony in the Middle East.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Lebanon. Scores are missing. Latest reports put the number of refugees at half a million. The attacks on Lebanon¹s infrastructure ­ power stations, factories, bridges, and ports ­ will take decades to rebuild. The people of Lebanon are already weary from reconstructing their country after years of civil war and the last ruinous Israeli invasion in 1982.

In Gaza the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen. Hundreds have been killed. Water treatment plants, greenhouses, bridges, and homes have been the major targets of Israeli bombs in ³Operation Summer Rain,² the code name for the latest Israeli military invasion of Gaza that began on 27 June 2006.

There is no military solution to the current crisis. War and occupation threaten all life in the region and around the world security to anyone. We  call for an immediate cease-fire against Lebanon, an end to the occupation of Palestine, and the release of Palestinian and Lebanese political prisoners in Israeli jails.

Given the vacuum of political leadership from the governments of the world in the face of U.S. and Israeli intransigence, we feel it is incumbent on ordinary citizens to organize and support peaceful means for bringing economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories. It is urgent that individuals and non-governmental groups apply such means until Israel fully complies with international law and respects the fundamental human rights of all people.

While we unequivocally condemn the killing of civilians in Israel, it must be recognized that Israel's destructive and expansionist policies are primarily to blame for the seemingly perpetual "Middle East crisis.² To call Israeli atrocities in Gaza and Lebanon simply a ³disproportionate response² helps justify Israeli war crimes by making Israel the victim and obscuring both the short and long-term sources of this catastrophic violence.

Silence is a form of complicity with the war crimes being committed by the state of Israel. Business as usual should not continue ­ in the U.S. academy or elsewhere ­ while people experience the emotional, physical, and psychic terror of the Israeli military campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon.

Josiane Olff-Nathan
7, rue de l'Université
67000 Strasbourg
Tél : +33 (0)3 90 24 06 02
Fax : +33 (0)3 90 24 05 84

from Agence France-Presse :
26 July 2006

UN Attack Looks Deliberate: Annan
    Agence France-Presse

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today said he was "shocked" at Israel's "apparently deliberate targeting" of a UN post in Lebanon, in which up to four UN observers were killed.

Mr Annan described the strike as a "co-ordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long established and clearly marked UN post."

He said it took place "despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared Israeli fire."
"Furthermore, General Alain Pelligrini, the UN Force Commander in south Lebanon, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to protect that particular UN position from attack.

"I call on the Government of Israel to conduct a full investigation into this very disturbing incident and demand that any further attack on UN positions and personnel must stop.

"The names and nationalities of those killed are being withheld pending notification of their families. I extend sincere condolences to the families of our fallen peacekeepers."

    Go to Original
    Four UN Observers Die in Israeli Air Strike as Heavy Fighting Continues in Lebanon
    By Donald Macintyre

The Independent UK
Wednesday 26 July 2006
    Four United Nations observers were killed last night in an Israeli raid on their post at the border town of Khiam in south Lebanon. The UN secretary general suggested last night that it had been deliberately targeted.
    The observers, said by Lebanese officials to have been an Austrian, a Canadian, a Chinese and a Finn, were killed when the post's building and shelter were bombed.
    Milos Struger, the spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), the 28-year old-year old peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, said rescue workers had to dig through the rubble but that Israeli fire " continued even during the rescue operation".
    In Rome, where he had been discussing the 14-day-old conflict with Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, and Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese Prime Minister Mr Annan protested at what he called the "apparently deliberate targeting" by the Israel Defence Forces of the post and demanded a full investigation. There was no immediate comment from the IDF.
    Israel has long criticised Unifil for being "innefective" and not standing up to Hizbollah. Beside triggering a probable wave of international protest, the deaths of the four observers may complicate further the search for a ceaefire agreement under which a multinational force would take over control of the southern border areas of Lebanon.
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, also warned that the conflict between Lebanon and Israel could trigger "a hurricane" of broader fighting in the Middle East. Iran is a major backer of Hizbollah and a sworn enemy of Israel. In his comments, he referred to a proverb that says: "He who raises the wind will get a hurricane." He added: "That proverb fully relates to the Middle East, which is a very volatile region. And it will be a strong hurricane which will strike really hard."
    Egypt and Saudi Arabia, facing popular anger over Israel's offensive, toughened their stance yesterday warning the US that Israeli militarism could lead to a wider conflict in the region.
    Meanwhile, Da'aa Abbas, 15, became the fourth Arab Israeli to die in the conflict - killed in the Galilee village of Maghar as Hizbollah launched 90 to 100 rockets at northern Israel.
    Amir Peretz, the Israeli Defence Minister, said Israel will enforce a "security zone" in southern Lebanon until such time as a multinational force moves in to control the Lebanese border area. The remarks by Mr Peretz appeared to set the seal on Israel's conversion to the idea of a Western-led international military deployment to keep Hizbollah guerrillas from threatening Israel, if and when the still slow-moving diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire succeed.
    Beirut was heavily bombarded from the air yesterday after Israeli military aircraft killed six people in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh, and Israeli troops sealed off the town of Bint Jbeil, 15 miles farther south, which it regards as a Hizbollah stronghold.
    Ms Rice said yesterday, after meeting Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, in Israel that any Lebanon ceasefire would have to be " enduring" as well as urgent, and that the US was seeking a "new Middle East".
    Ms Rice, who arrived in Rome last night to meet European and Arab leaders, supposedly to thrash out terms of a putative ceasefire, said there was " no desire" on the part of US officials to come back weeks or months after a ceasefire because, she implied, Hizbollah had again found a way to undermine it.
    Her remarks came as Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign affairs envoy, said he would be calling for a "ceasefire process" at the summit, and added that European countries would have to take part. " Without European, without some Europeans, the force will not exist," he said.
    There have been suggestions in Israel that such a force, which it would prefer to be under the aegis of Nato, would require 20,000 troops - twice as many as the deployment being talked about in Western capitals. While Mr Solana did not say so, France has been seen as a potential contributor.
    Mr Solana refrained from saying he would call for an "immediate ceasefire" - apparently out of deference to Britain, which has joined the US in refraining from such a demand.
    Israeli officials have suggested that the US has informally given licence to Israel to maintain its assault in Lebanon until at least the beginning of next week.
    The death of the Arab Israel girl came amid continuing indications from Israeli officers, and troops at the border, of the stiff resistance put up by Hizbollah to the tank and infantry incursions into southern Lebanon over the past few days. Heavy fighting around the village of Maroun ar-Ras cost the lives of seven Israeli soldiers at the end of last week.
    Brigadier General Shuki Shachar, the deputy head of the Israeli Defence Forces northern command, said the army had taken the "high positions" around Beit Jbeil to pursue its operations against Hizbollah rather than occupying the town itself after persuading most of its 20,000 civilians to leave. He said the civilians would not be allowed back as long as Hizbollah threatened Israel. Major Eran Carraso, who served in Lebanon before the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, said the effectiveness of Hizbollah forces had notably improved.
    A 21-year-old tank commander who had just spent 80 hours in Lebanon and gave only his first name, Erez, said the operation had been very different from his service in the West Bank. But he insisted that Hizbollah fighters were " cowards" because they fired missiles and then went into hiding.
    One of the more remarkable sights on the border yesterday was the return of a foot patrol with llamas, which the Israeli army recently decided were especially suitable beasts of burden for operations inside the hilly terrain of southern Lebanon.
    The Mounting Toll
Number of Lebanese people killed in the two-week conflict: 422, of whom 375 were civilians.
A further 27 Hizbollah guerrillas have been killed and 20 Lebanese soldiers.
Number of Israeli dead since the conflict began: 42, of whom 18 were civilians and 24 soldiers.
Number of Palestinians killed by Israel in the Gaza Strip since the capture of Cpl Gilad Shalit: 121.
Number of Israeli air strikes on Lebanon yesterday: 100.

Hizbollah rockets fired yesterday: 80.
The Israel Defence Force claimed yesterday to have hit 10 Hizbollah buildings.
That adds up to an estimated $1bn ($600m) in damage to infrastructure.
Number of Lebanese bridges destroyed: 105
The number of Israeli bridges destroyed: 0.
Number of Lebanese ports bombed: 3.
Estimate of the number of Lebanese people displaced in the fighting: 750,000.
Lebanon has 2,000 UN troops who have been in the south since 1978.
The value of arms exported to Israel from the UK in the past 18 months: £25m.
The number of Britons evacuated from Lebanon by yesterday evening: 2,526.
Israel's military spending: $9.45bn (in 1995); Lebanon: $540

    Go to Original
    Annan: Israel Bombed UN Base for Hours

The Guardian UK
Wednesday 26 July 2006

UN chief proposes joint investigation
No sign of ceasefire agreement
Aid agencies criticise Blair

    The UN general secretary, Kofi Annan, today accused the Israeli military of carrying out a sustained bombing of the UN base on the Lebanon-Israel border that culminated in the killing of four unarmed monitors.
    Mr Annan said he had suggested to the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, that they carry out a joint investigation into the events that led to the shelling of the "well-established and well marked" Unifil (UN interim force in Lebanon) post in the town of Khiyam.
    "I spoke to Mr Olmert and he definitely believes it was a mistake and has expressed his deep sorrow, " Mr Annan told a press conference in Rome.
    "But the shelling started in the morning and went on until after 7pm. You cannot imagine the anguish of the unarmed men and women peacekeepers who were there."
    According to a detailed timeline of the incident provided by an unidentified UN officer and reported by CNN, the first bomb exploded around 200 metres from the post at 1.20pm (11.20am BST) yesterday.
    Unifil observers then telephoned their designated contact with the Israeli military, who assured them the attacks would stop. In the following hours, nine more bombs fell close to the post, each one followed by a call to the Israeli military, the UN officer said.
    The main Unifil base in the town of Naqoura lost contact with the post at 7.40pm, seemingly the time when the post received a direct hit.
    The UN office in Naqoura could not be contacted today.
    The four monitors came from Austria, Canada, China and Finland. The Chinese foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, said today he was saddened by the news and that it showed "we should try harder to call on the parties to be restrained and to be calm and restore the peace process of the Middle East immediately".
    The 2,000-strong Unifil force, which sits on the Israel-Lebanon border, has suffered dozens of attacks and direct hits in two weeks of conflict. Israel is suspicious of the force and wants it beefed up with an international stabilisation force involving up to 20,000 troops.
    Earlier Mr Olmert telephoned Mr Annan to express his "deep regrets" over the deaths of the UN monitors, the Israeli prime minister's office said.
    Mr Annan said last night the air strike was "apparently deliberate" and other UN officials said the attacks on the UN bunker had continued during a rescue effort. Dan Gillerman, Israel's UN ambassador, reacted furiously to Mr Annan's comments last night, describing them as "premature and erroneous".
    The deaths of the monitors cast a shadow over today's meeting in Rome, where foreign ministers gathered to discuss the two-week-old Israeli-Lebanese crisis.
    The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, were among the ministers attending the talks in Rome, which ended with no clear indication of when a ceasefire would be achieved.
    Meanwhile, at least nine Israeli soldiers were killed in heavy fighting with Hizbullah guerrillas in south Lebanon today, Arab television stations said.
    Al-Jazeera said nine soldiers were killed in Bint Jbeil, while Al Arabiya television said at least 12 soldiers were killed there.
    Israeli forces encircled the southern Lebanese town yesterday, with one commander describing it as the "capital of Hizbullah". The Israeli army said yesterday that it had killed up to 30 Hizbullah fighters as it aimed to dismantle Hizbullah command posts there and destroy rocket launchers.
    The prime minister was today facing mounting pressure to endorse calls for an immediate ceasefire amid claims that his position and that of the Bush administration were putting civilian lives at risk.
    Aid agencies, religious groups and the public sector union, Unison, wrote an open letter to Tony Blair condemning his refusal to back the UN's demands for a ceasefire.
    The letter - signed by 14 organisations including Amnesty International, Christian Aid and the Muslim Council of Britain - warns that the UK government is diluting calls for peace. "
    By failing to back the UN and call for an immediate ceasefire, the UK government has reduced the impact of international calls for an immediate halt to the violence," the letter says.
    Mr Blair's official spokesman said the prime minister was engaged "almost on an hourly basis" in trying to secure support for a stabilisation force and was ready to take "heat" from critics. The government hoped to secure "broad agreement in principle" in Rome to the idea of a stabilisation force, the spokesman told reporters.
    Israeli warplanes bombed 100 targets in southern Lebanon yesterday and one family of seven civilians was killed. More than 400 Lebanese have been killed in total.
    Hizbullah yesterday fired some 70 rockets into northern Israel, killing a 15-year-old girl. More than 40 Israelis have died in the violence, including 18 who have been killed by rockets.
    This morning, more Hizbullah rockets hit three areas of northern Israel, seriously injuring one person, medics said. The rockets fell in Haifa, Carmiel and Kiryat Bialik, where one person was seriously wounded, the medics said. It was not immediately clear if there were more injuries.
    Meanwhile, a Jordanian military plane landed at Beirut's international airport this morning to evacuate people seriously wounded in the conflict.
    Airport officials said the aircraft was the first jet to land at Beirut's airport since July 13, when Israeli warplanes bombed its runways and forced it to close. Israel said yesterday it would allow planes carrying humanitarian aid to land in Beirut. Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel.