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Sam Smith's Undernews: The Middle East Crisis

Sam Smith's Undernews: The Middle East Crisis

Compiled By Editor Sam Smith


THALIF DEEN, INTER PRESS SERVICE - Israel is in violation of U.S. arms-control laws for deploying U.S.-made fighter planes, combat helicopters, and missiles to kill civilians and destroy Lebanon's infrastructure in the ongoing six-day devastation of that militarily weak country. . . "Section 4 of the [U.S.] Arms Export Control Act requires that military items transferred to foreign governments by the United States be used solely for internal security and legitimate self-defense," says Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco. "Since Israeli attacks against Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and population centers clearly go beyond legitimate self-defense, the United States is legally obliged to suspend arms transfers to Israel," Zunes told IPS. . .

Frida Berrigan, a senior research associate with the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute in New York, is equally outraged at the misuse by Israel of U.S.-supplied weapons. . . She pointed out that the U.S. Arms Export Control Act clear states that U.S. origin weapons should not be used for "non-defensive purposes.". . .

"The Israeli Air Force now flies only U.S.-origin fighters, a mix of F-15s and F-16s, and the rest of the service's fleet is almost completely of U.S. origin," says Tom Baranauskas, a senior Middle East analyst at Forecast International, a leading provider of defense market intelligence services in the United States.

He said the latest CRS survey shows a total of $8.4 billion of arms deliveries to Israel in the 1997-2004 period, with fully $7.1 billion or 84.5 percent coming from a single source: the United States. . .

From a historical perspective, he said, U.S. assistance to Israel during 1950-2005 has been staggeringly high: amounting to $59.5 billion.



YITZHAK LAOR, HA'ARETZ, ISRAEL - The current war not only cannot provide a real answer to Israel's problems, but also is being carried out by the same echelon of officers that was defeated in Lebanon, and with whom the accounts for that war have yet to be settled. Books were written, a protest movement arose, an investigative commission about one massacre was conducted, a defense minister who eventually became prime minister was convicted, and even though he is lying unconscious somewhere, his consciousness is apparently serving his pale shadows - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Justice Minister Haim Ramon and Co. - and another generation of impassioned youngsters is growing up around us and screaming over the Internet: "Stick it to them."

Afterward, as they sit in the burning vehicles, perhaps in Syria, and the phrase "land mine" returns to the erased dictionary of the past, when they cry out "We want to go home," they won't have the sense to bequeath the recoiling from war to the next generation. That's because on television there still will be the same generals, with the same conception, with the same short and limited range of strategic understanding, and they will win the same enthusiasm from the public that just wants to "stick it to them."

The director of the Middle East Department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Eran Lerman, is already recommending going to war against Syria. Anyone who is listening to talk about the need to attack Syria (in the name of "strategy") realizes that for those people, "strategy" means enlarging the circle of hostilities, including harming civilians. What Israel's "strategists" have to offer is the destruction of yet another country.

Let us set aside the generation that is growing up in front of the television. Let us set aside the horrors that are being carried out in the name of all of us. It is enough to see the destruction of Iraq and its results. The Americans do not intend to live in this region, but we do live here. . . Who can restrain the army? Only Israeli opposition. The heads of the army are even warning of such opposition. That is, it is not yet too late.



DAILY STAR, LEBANON - Bombs will not annihilate the desire for statehood, missiles will not force an acceptance of occupation, and shells will not wipe out the desire of refugees to have a place to call home. These are political sentiments that no amount of American-made weaponry can annihilate. In fact, over the last 58 years, Israel's use of strong-arm tactics has consistently had the adverse effect of stirring these sentiments into a frenzy.

When the dust from this latest round of conflict settles, Israel will likely revert to its decades-old pattern of demanding that the weak governments in Palestine and Lebanon crack down on the militants in their territory, while at the same time weakening those governments and denying them any means of meeting the imposed demands. This strategy has only dragged the region from conflict to conflict, fueling more and more calls for resistance.

The only way out of this cycle is through a genuine closure of a political conflict, via a comprehensive Middle East peace. Any peace deal would need to be followed up with a local version of the Marshall Plan, in which the governments tasked with keeping the peace would need to be strengthened. One could hardly think of a better time to start this process, given that the Arab world is currently awash with petrodollars that could be put to good use.

Failure to arrive at a political settlement will only ensure that this current conflict, which has been touted as a battle in a "war on terror," will end up nurturing the exact same forces of resistance that it aimed to destroy.



NICHOLAS BLANFORD, TIMES UK - As director of the Jabel Amel hospital in Tyre, Ahmad Mrowe is no stranger to the violence that has racked this area for decades. But as casualties soared and even ambulances and his own hospital were targeted by Israeli warplanes, the doctor said that the latest Israeli onslaught was the worst he had ever seen. "It is incomparable, much worse than anything before," he said, as he stood in a sweltering corridor packed with relatives of the victims.

A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in southern Lebanon where the Israeli war machine, determined to destroy Hezbollah once and for all, has been pounding the scruffy villages that dot these stony hills and valleys.

It has warned Lebanese civilians to leave the area, and tens of thousands have been streaming north in battered cars, eight, nine or ten to a vehicle, to escape the fighting. But the Israelis have also destroyed the main roads and all the bridges over the Litani river, forcing many of the refugees to abandon their cars and wade across.

Jan Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, spoke yesterday of an imminent humanitarian crisis and feared that the destruction of water, sewage and other infrastructure could compound the problem. The UN force in southern Lebanon said it could no longer deliver aid because the Israelis had failed to guarantee its convoys safe passage.

The Israeli offensive has been largely conducted away from the eyes of the foreign media, which have been stuck north of the Litani. To reach Tyre, normally an hour's drive from Beirut down the coastal highway, required a tortuous and tense five-hour ordeal via the Chouf mountains yesterday. The winding mountain roads were clogged with traffic coming the other way as refugees inched to the relative safety of Beirut, where commandeered schools were overflowing with the displaced.. . .

The bombing has generated fear and deep anger that the West has not intervened to halt the bloodshed. "Bush and Blair are breeding future generations of suicide bombers here. You will see. Is it right to destroy a country for just two soldiers?" asked Mustafa Safieddine.,,3-2274521,00.html


CLANCY CHASSAY, GUARDIAN, UK - At the hospital, small children were grouped in clusters throughout its corridors, many displaced by the strikes on their homes. In one room, a 50-year-old woman lay motionless in her hospital bed, burns covering much of her body. She had narrowly survived the attack on the building. She did not know it yet, but her son had died in the operating theatre earlier that morning.

Asked how it compared to 1996 when Israel launched an attack on the south, killing scores of civilians, Dr Mrouwe said: "It's incomparable, incomparable. In 1996 the majority [of casualties] were fighters. This time we have yet to receive any fighters." Drones circled overhead almost continuously throughout the day, interrupted by distant roar of fighter planes above. Dr Mrouwe said: "We only want one of the human rights, we don't need democracy - we just want to live.",,1822978,00.html



AL JAZEERA - Israeli aircraft have bombed the Palestinian foreign ministry building in Gaza City, the second attack on the building in a week, witnesses have said. An Associated Press reporter on the scene early on Monday saw clouds of smoke rising from the already damaged building after the strike. At least five people were injured, rescue workers said. The Israeli military refused to comment. The blast collapsed an eight-story wing of the building and damaged houses in a wide area around it. The wounded were taken to nearby houses. The ministry was thought to be empty at the time of the strike. Israel had bombed the same building on Thursday, saying it was used to plan terror attacks. The Palestinian foreign minister is Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader.



HAARETZ, ISRAEL - Speaking at a large demonstration in support of Israel in Manhattan on Monday, United States Senator Hillary Clinton expressed unreserved support for Israel and commended President George Bush for his stance in the present crisis. Clinton said on Monday that all Americans, whether Democrats or Republicans, stood behind Israel at this time. . .

CAROLE MIKITA, KSL, UTAH - The majority of Americans side with Israel in this conflict, but clearly do not want our government to get involved; that's according to the results of a Survey USA News Poll. . . Survey USA questioned 1200 adults about the Middle East. . . 54% said Israel does have the right to attack Lebanon, 34% said it does not. . . 44% of those questioned say U.S. diplomats should attempt to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and its neighbors. 52% say the United States should stay out of it. . . Only 12% of Americans believe the U.S. military should get involved. 84% say we should stay out of it.

And when asked which statement best decribed their feelings, 38% said the world is no more dangerous than usual. 42% believe we are headed for World War III. And 17% say World War III has already begun.


THERE IS, HOWEVER, PRECEDENT FOR HRC'S HYPERBOLE. In 2002 the Daily Times of Pakistan reported that "Former US President Bill Clinton who many Arab thoughts was more even-handed on the Palestine question than his predecessors shocked many when he asserted in Toronto last week that had Israel been attacked by Iraq or Iran during his presidency, he would have been ready to 'grab a rifle, get in a ditch and fight and die. . . The Israelis know that if the Iraqi or the Iranian army came across the Jordan River, I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die," Clinton told the crowd at a fund-raising event for a Toronto Jewish charity Monday.


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