As it stands right now, I’m pleased by Prime Minister Harper’s stance on the Israel/Lebanon conflict. “Israel has the right to defend itself,” he said. You might not consider bombing Beirut a defence, but Hezbollah militants entered Israel, kidnapped two soldiers and killed seven or eight others. It a no-brainer to see this is an act of war. Of course Hezbollah is not the Lebanese government (though a they have members in Lebanon’s parliament) or armed forces, but surely the government is giving them sanction, even if it’s by looking the other way. I haven’t read anything about Lebanese forces in conflict with Hezbollah.
So you’ve got a terrorist force holding two of your citizens hostage. What do you do? Nothing? Wait? Consider this organization is partly sponsored by Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has publicly stated Israel should be wiped from the map. Combine this with who started the aggression this time, and I have no problem with what Israel’s done. Sure you could say attacks against civilians are not right, but there are two things about this simple statement that make it not quite so simple. First, Hezbollah enjoys widespread support within Lebanon. Who voted those Hezbollah parliamentarians into office? Second, I do not believe Israel is dropping bombs at random. Hezbollah isn’t the army, so you can bet if an Israeli bomb kills a dozen of them, the Lebanese media reports twelve dead civilians. This is not to say there won’t be collateral damage, but if you don’t want bombs raining down on your home, you don’t go into another country to kill and kidnap … or you don’t support those who do.
Bringing this home is a Canadian/Lebanese family who were vacationing in Lebanon when this all erupted. Eight members of the family were killed when the building they were in collapsed during an Israeli attack yesterday. At a press conference family members used the word “massacres” when describing the Israeli attacks. They accuse Israel of not distinguishing between civilians and soldiers when directing their attacks. Lebanese soldiers weren’t the ones who kidnapped the soldiers though. How do you attack terrorists who enjoy public support and surround themselves with the public? If you’re determined to get them, members of the public will die.
Meyssoun el-Akhras, another family member who spoke at the press conference, said, “Everybody blames Hezbollah. Hezbollah is our protector. It’s they who try to protect my family.” I heard snippets of audio from the press conference on my way home this evening and I’m very displeased the press seems to have left out the harshest (and therefore most interesting) parts. I could have sworn a male family member said we need more terrorists because they see things clearly where we close our eyes. Great, we’re to take moral guidance from terrorists.
Sure the family members were upset. I understand. If the media caught family members unawares and started grilling them with questions I could perhaps understand why they might say these things, but this was a press conference they arranged themselves. Do they endorse Hezbollah’s kidnappings and really believe we need more terrorists in this world?
Yes I know the region is a disaster and the train-wreck has roots going back a long way. The thing is though, Israel and Lebanon weren’t best pals two weeks ago, but they also weren’t shooting at each other. Why’d they start? Hezbollah crossed the border, killed eight soldiers, and kidnapped two others. If they hadn’t done this, there would be no rockets or bombings going on right now.
The solution is for Hezbollah to quit telling anyone who will listen that Israel is the boogie man, send those two people back, and everyone can go back to what they were doing. But of course this is not going to happen. It’s too simple and easy … and you can bet they’re up to something.
We’ll see if Hezbollah is the protector Meyssoun el-Akhras would have us believe. Canada has arranged with Cypress to use a number of cruise ships to transport those Canadians who want to leave Lebanon. A Hezbollah rocket has damaged a Israeli corvette 16 kilometres from shore, so cruise ships would make easy targets. Canadian officials are now trying to get assurances of safe passage for those ships. Will Hezbollah and the Lebanese government give their word? Not so far.
Even if they don’t give their assurance, as I expect, I can’t imagine they’d fire on the ships. Right now they’re playing the victim. If they struck out at an uninvolved country’s rescue mission, they wouldn’t be able to garner sympathy any longer.