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August 9, 2006
Column #1,302
Advance for August 12, 2006
Israel's Retaliation Is Dangerous
by Mike McManus

"Put your sword back into its place for all who draw the sword
will die by the sword."  Jesus in Matthew 26:52

In early July I wrote a column criticizing Israel's reaction to the capturing of an Israeli corporal as "extreme - a massive overreaction that dwarfs the scale of the original incident."

Some readers criticized me for not taking into account the fact that Hamas militants were firing rockets into Israel. However, even a week later, not one Israeli had been killed by the ineffectually aimed rockets. Israel's excessive response was to blow up a Palestinian power plant built with U.S. funds, key roads, bridges and government offices, and to kidnap dozens of democratically elected Palestinian officials, Cabinet members and a Deputy Prime Minister.

Now we are into a month of a similar provocation by Hezbollah militants who captured two Israeli soldiers and killed several others.  They have also fired 100 - 225 rockets a day for 24 days  into Israel. However, the poorly aimed rockets killed only 38 civilians and 12 soldiers.

Certainly, it was appropriate for Israel to retaliate by bombing Hezbollah targets.

But Israel's response has been to destroy the airport, every road and bridge into the nation, blockade the port so that ships with fuel oil can not deliver it, resulting in the shutdown of power generators and gas stations. Three-quarters of a million people are homeless after Israeli bombing destroyed entire neighborhoods of apartments with a death toll approaching 1,000.  Billions of dollars of infrastructure has been decimated.

"As the world watches, Israel has besieged and ravaged our country, creating a humanitarian and environmental disaster, and shattered our infrastructure and economy, putting an intolerable strain on our social and economic systems," says Fouad Siniora, Prime Minister of Lebanon.  "Fuel, food and medical supplies are in short supply; homes, factories and warehouses have been destroyed, roads severed, bridges smashed and airports disabled."

The humanitarian crisis enveloping Lebanon stems from the fact that without roads, nothing can be shipped in. Leaflets dropped near Tyre warning that "every vehicle will be bombed on suspicion of transporting rockets." The only way medical supplies can reach the beleaguered nation is with volunteers handing boxes along a fallen log across a river.

How does Israel justify this wholesale destruction?

The roads to Syria, used by hundreds of thousands to flee until they were destroyed, might be used by Hezbollah to bring in rockets. The airport was destroyed the first day because rockets might be shipped in by air. 

Yet critics of Israel are hard to find. Quite the opposite. An evangelical church near Washington D.C. proclaims on a sign out front, "Go Israel!"  Politicians of both parties explain that "Israel has to defend itself."

By destroying a nation? How outrageous.

America has covered itself with dishonor in handling this crisis, by giving Israel a green light.  For weeks no attempt was made to work out a cease-fire.  Belatedly, Secretary of State Rice went to the region, and developed a UN proposal with France that was quickly denounced by Lebanon and all Arab states because it would have permitted Israel to continue to occupy southern Lebanon.  The U.S. Israeli bias has rendered America utterly inept.

The alleged long-term goal of Israel was initially to destroy Hezbollah, and when that proved impossible, to "degrade" its ability to be a terrorist threat to Israel. However, Hezbollah is not just a terrorist organization, but a political party in Lebanon with two seats in the Cabinet.

While Hezbollah was initially criticized in Lebanon and across the Arab world for provoking Israel's retaliation, that response has become so massive that Hezbollah's political standing in Lebanon has never been higher.

What's truly dangerous about Israel's destruction of Lebanon is that it is fueling a new generation of terrorists who want to destroy Israel, and who dream of 9/11 attacks against the United States for its backing of Israel.  Islamic youth see Hezbollah as David fighting Goliath.

It is time for our supposedly Christian nation to heed Jesus's warning that those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

"Enough destruction, dispossession, desperation, displacement and death" writes Siniora in the Washington Post.

America must insist on a cease-fire and the replacement of Israeli troops with Lebanese troops bolstered by an international force.  And Israel should be required to pay for the rebuilding of Lebanon.

END TXT Copyright 2006 Michael J. McManus

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