Nevertheless, I feel it important to quote some sections of Amnesty's summary; if for no other reason, than to point it out to some self-righteous Israeli commenters who visit this blog. The real victim of this war was and remains Lebanon.
Israel's destruction of thousands of homes, and strikes on numerous bridges and roads as well as water and fuel storage plants, was an integral part of Israel's military strategy in Lebanon, rather than “collateral damage” resulting from the lawful targeting of military objectives.I have heard Israelis counter that if their Army faced a conventional adversary in an open battlefield similar to the wars fought in the Suez and Golan Heights, Lebanese would have been spared the civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure. I have also heard arguments, which contend that Hizballah is inherently immoral because it is an organization that is intimately intertwined with the general (i.e. Shi'a) population. Therefore, placing its own constituents directly in harms way during times of war....The Israeli government has argued that they were targeting Hizbullah positions and support facilities and that other damage done to civilian infrastructure was a result of Hizbullah using the civilian population as a "human shield"...."The pattern, scope and scale of the attacks makes Israel's claim that this was 'collateral damage', simply not credible..."..."Civilian victims on both sides of this conflict deserve justice. The serious nature of violations committed makes an investigation into the conduct of both parties urgent. There must be accountability for the perpetrators of war crimes and reparation for the victims.”
What? Am I supposed to take sides in this useless debate over the morality of the actions of either side of this conflict? No! To me, Both sides are equally immoral. Therefore, self righteousness from either is the worst kind of denial of reality that I can place a finger on.
Politically though, no such equivalence exists. Increasing numbers of articles published by writers much more credible and articulate than I am say so. The latest, published in the Washington Post was written by, Egyptian Democracy advocate, Saad Eddine Ibrahim, who was arrested by Mubarak for his activities. Ibrahim writes,
According to the preliminary results of a recent public opinion survey of 1,700 Egyptians by the Cairo-based Ibn Khaldun Center, Hezbollah's action garnered 75 percent approval, and Nasrallah led a list of 30 regional public figures ranked by perceived importance. He appears on 82 percent of responses, followed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (73 percent), Khaled Meshal of Hamas (60 percent), Osama bin Laden (52 percent) and Mohammed Mahdi Akef of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (45 percent).It is becoming increasingly clear that the legitimacy of not only the current Arab political elite, but also the very secular states that they lead are being strained to the limit. The Israeli war on Lebanon, and the pathetic reaction of the Lebanese state to the calamity (compared to Hizballah's response) only serve to increase that strain. Two weeks ago, I wrote the following in an e-mail, concerning Hizballah in the regional context,
The pattern here is clear, and it is Islamic. And among the few secular public figures who made it into the top 10 are Palestinian Marwan Barghouti (31 percent) and Egypt's Ayman Nour (29 percent), both of whom are prisoners of conscience in Israeli and Egyptian jails, respectively.
None of the current heads of Arab states made the list of the 10 most popular public figures.
I think Hizballah is an organization that is very conscious that it is being watched by the Arab world and the world in general. They seek to present themselves to that audience as an Islamic organization capable of standing up the "American-Zionist" behemoth. But, I also think, that they wish to present themselves simply as an "effective Islamic organization" - as a viable alternative to the status-quo (i.e. a counter-elite). They wish to show everyone that an Islamic political system is not only feasible, but more capable than the secular political elite in not only a military but also a political and social sense.
Unfortunately, I think that they have succeeded, and are winning over the Arab public. Countries like Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia may have effective secular political elites and states, but the Arab world, has some of the most useless, limp, pathetic governments out there. Anything compared to the existing Arab political elite will shine in comparison. Hizballah knows that. Therefore, it presents itself as the alternative - and there is no better way to strut your stuff in the Middle East than to effectively challenge Israel (it's like proving your "manhood" when you enter a new school by challenging the bully - you do it to gain respect).
Something tells me I shouldn't hold my breath!