Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Value of Arab Lives

Alan Dershowitz has been holding forth
on the morality of Israel butchering Lebanese civilians. Those killed “…also include civilians who were warned to leave, but chose to remain, sometimes with their children, to serve as human shields. The deaths of these "civilians" are the responsibility of Hezbollah and the Lebanese government, which has done very little to protect its civilians” (note the decorous use of inverted commas around the word "civilians"). Further: “Lebanon has chosen sides--not all Lebanese, but the democratically chosen Lebanese government. When a nation chooses sides in a war, especially when it chooses the side of terrorism, its civilians pay a price for that choice. This has been true of every war”. So Hezbollah is to blame for the deaths of children blown to pieces by Israeli bombs. Dershowitz – who is not the smartest tool in the box – appears to be unaware that this argument is capable of being generalised (I myself would not wish to do so). The sheer inhumanity of these comments are shocking but entirely typical (John Bolton has been saying much the same thing at the UN): these people simply do not value the lives of Arabs very highly. Meanwhile Israel has been targeting economic “infrastructural” targets and residential areas, and it well attested by reporters on the ground that they are refusing access to humanitarian aid to the displaced civilian population, and refuse to give safe passage to the International Red Cross. They have targeted UN observers killing four (not by any means the first time they have done this). They attack convoys of refugees. They bomb apartment buildings. According to Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: “The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians. Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare”. Dershowitz concludes: “People make choices and they bear the consequences of choosing to collaborate with terrorism. Lebanon has chosen the wrong side and its citizens are paying the price. Maybe next time a democracy must choose between collaborating with terrorism or resisting terrorism, it will choose the right side”. This makes one wonder what he thinks terrorism is? I thought it was deliberately killing civilians for a political purpose. But, no, the rules don't apply to Israel. Killing civilians is not terrorism if Israel does it. It's all a question of being on the "right side". If you are on the "right side" anything is permitted: and the right side is the US/Israel/UK axis (or "arc"). Dershowitz is at least honest: others persist in the ludicrous pretence that the Israeli "Defence" Force (I can use inverted commas too) does try to distinguish between combatant and civilian, despite all the evidence of its utter disregard for civilian life.


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