Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The Blogosphere and the Hizbullah-Israeli War

A friend of mine a few days back over a glass or two of wine was dismissive of the 'power' of UK blogging, suggesting that, apart from breaking trivial bits of new gossip, it was mostly merely comment or 'cyber-noise'. I mentioned the blogs recently(see my post for 7th July and comments thereon) which claimed the recent Lebanon war was started, not by Hizbullah, as is the received wisdom, but by Israel who allegedly first seized two hostages from the Lebanon thus prompting the revenge hostage-taking plus the deaths of several Israeli soldiers. He dismissed these claims also, making the point that such 'news', if true would have been picked up eagerly by the mainstream media. I had to admit this was probably the case.

Then I read the article yesterday by George Monbiot who made claims similar to those made in the blogosphere that the technical 'aggressor' was as likely to be Israel as Hizbullah and that, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle that 'more than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving Powerpoint presentations, on an off the record basis' setting out the plan for a three week attack on the Lebanon based outfit beginning with bombing and ending in a ground invasion. Gerald Steinberg, Professor of Politics at Bar-Ilan University, was quoted as saying this planned three week war was the one-of all the wars since 1948- for which it was best prepared. In other words, Israel had planned the war and was just looking for a pretext.

Does this prove my friend was wrong and that the blogospere was able to provide information denied the mainstream media? Not really as: it was a US newspaper from which the claims were cited; and additional verification is needed for the alleged Israeli officer's presentations. The blogospere is still on the periphery of the mainstream but it is getting closer to the heart of it. Sending tips to Guido is one thing, but it is when he starts receiving leaked government documents or when blogs have the resources to sponsor or particpate in investigative reporting that bloggers will have truly arrived.

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The allegations against Israel sound like straw clutching. Even if it were true, Israel has a right to arrest people who are committing crimes against its citizens(just like Adolf Eichmann). I doubt they arrested(for it doesn't come close to kidnap) civilians, rather specific terrorists. And even if the theory were true, it doesn't explain why Hezbollah has been firing rockets at Israeli cities for months on end. The fact that they are murderers who deny the right of resistance to Israel does however shine light on the matter.
Oakenshott, It seems to me that Israel is a great deal more efficient at slaughtering civilians than Hezbollah. Yesterday's Guardian estimated 998 Lebanese civilians have been killed as against 35 Israeli civilians (a grim calculus, I know). Further, if Israel has a "right to resistance" don't Lebanese and Palestinians also have this right?
OAKESHOTT(at least get the name right).

Yes and the Guardian can always be relied upon to report the facts about the Middle East(!). Does that count the bodies dumped at explosion sites by mask wearing Hezbollah gunmen after the event? Israel is indeed far more effective at killing its enemies, but I have seen no evidence to suggest they are targetting civilians. Have you got any evidence?(no). And I doubt civilians are being affected as much as people think. The technology being used is very accurate(we should know, us and the Americans gave it to them!), and the people responsible for reporting the numbers have all got reason to lie(ie the anti-Israel press, the Lebanese Govt and the Hezbollah murderers).

As for the final point - well you might have noticed that Israel is a liberal democracy and Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation. Thus Israel has the right and more importantly the ability to tackle the murder gangs. Good luck to them.
The argument that, since Israel is a "liberal democracy" (really? says who?), it is morally justified in quashing south Lebanon is, I think, devoid of logic.

Analogies are always dubious in this context, but the same "logic" could be applied to the American war of independence: Britain was (possibly) the most "democratic" of countries in the world at that point, and probably saw the American "freedom fighters" in the lexicon of "terrorism" in the same way that Israel sees Hezbollah.

I am not looking at Hezbollah through rose-tinted spectacles - I realise that this organisation has and is firing rockets into Israeli towns indiscriminantly - I'm simply arguing against the notion that, since Israel is a sovereign state which generally conforms to the western model, it is somehow justified in operating on a higher moral plane.
Nice to see you back. I agree with your point that democratic or indeed any other legitimacy of a country's political system, does not automatically legitimise its actions. In this conflict Israel has clearly wielded a stick which is disproportionately big, reflected clearly in the respective death and casualty figures for the protagonists.
Yes, SPL, just because Israel is a liberal-democracy (if it is) it does not follow that it can do no wrong vis-a-vis other countries or peoples: think of the US in Vietnam and Cambodia, among many other examples. Oakeshott, you seam to think it is a fabrication of the "anti-Israeli press" that civilians are dying in Lebanon. I can only suggest that you look at the numerous reports by respectable journalists on the ground. Are you really saying that the dead at Qana were all Hezbollah guerrillas? Here is what Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch says: “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”.
Anybody comparing the American War of Independence to the current wave of Islamic terrorism is just wrong. There is no comparison. I don't remember George Washington issuing orders to slaughter innocent civilians. Your point seems to be that people might make this comparison. My point would be that just because they make the comparison doesn't make it valid, accurate or even worthwhile.

Who says Israel is a liberal democracy? I do. Israel is a liberal democracy for the following reasons. The people get to elect their leaders freely. If only the people of Iran and Syria had such a right(please don't message back saying that have elections, they are a charade and most Governments know it). Their citizens are free to choose their religion. Freedom House classifies the country as "free" and gives it a rating of 1 for political rights and 2 for civil liberties(1 being the most free, 7 being the most tyrannical). Compare to: Iran(6 for both), Egypt(6 and 5), Lebanon(5 and 4), Libya(7 for both), Saudi Arabia(7 and 6), Syria(7 for both). None of these states were considered "free". A cynic might say that Muslim states don't seem to be able to grasp this democracy thing. So yes I do consider Israel free, and I support them absolutely. Israel is better and I rejoiced in their destruction of the murderers.
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