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WHAT WE THINK
U.S. bankrolls and supplies Israel's destruction of Lebanon
Stand up against this war of terror

August 11, 2006 | Page 3

ISRAEL'S BOMBS, made in the USA, have killed 1,000 people in Lebanon, and nearly a quarter of the population has been made refugees in their own land.

But the worst may be yet to come. As Israel showed signs of escalating ground operations at the beginning of August, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon issued the chilling threat that "all those in South Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah."

In other words, anyone left in the southern one-third of Lebanon--whether too poor to afford a way out, too old or sick to go, or too scared to travel by the roads that Israel bombs relentlessly--is now considered a legitimate target.

That is the reality of the Israel-U.S. war of terror on Lebanon. Meanwhile, Israeli forces have continued their deadly siege of Gaza, staging raids and assassinations while enforcing a blockade that restricts the flow of desperately needed food and medicine. And on the other side of the region, in Iraq, U.S. occupation troops continue to repress and terrorize the population--with the recent revelations of rapes and massacres carried out by U.S. troops just a hint of what the occupation has caused.

These are three fronts in the same war, all justified by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the necessary "birth pangs of the new Middle East."

The vast anger and bitterness in the Middle East against Israel and the U.S. is growing deeper. In Jordan, 1,000 marched on the United Nations (UN) offices, denouncing U.S. support for Israel's war. In Egypt and Saudi Arabia, thousands defied the threat of police repression to protest. And in Baghdad, 100,000 people choked the streets of the Sadr City neighborhood, carrying signs showing Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iraqi cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

But the boiling anger at Israel's state-sponsored terrorism and its U.S. backers hasn't budged the Bush administration from standing by Israel's justification that it is acting in "self-defense" against Hezbollah "terrorism."

As Socialist Worker went to press, the U.S. and France announced a "ceasefire" plan that they hoped to push through the UN Security Council.

The resolution called on Hezbollah to halt all military operations--while Israel would be required only to stop its "offensive" operations, leaving it free to carry out operations it deems defensive. Since Israel has described its bombing blitz throughout Lebanon as a "defensive" response, it is little wonder the Lebanese government flatly refused the terms of the ceasefire.

The proposal also called on Hezbollah to be disarmed and withdraw from Southern Lebanon--without requiring Israel to withdraw its troops from Lebanese territory. In essence, the UN is asking Lebanon and Hezbollah to give Israel at the negotiating table everything that Israel had tried to achieve militarily.

As usual, mainstream media outlets have taken their story lines from administration press releases and rarely deviate from them. For example, the current conflict in Gaza, according to the typical media timeline, is supposed to have begun on June 25, with the capture of an Israeli soldier in Gaza by Hamas militants--followed later by Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers.

Never mind that on June 24, Israel mounted its first raid into Gaza since Israel's "disengagement" a year ago, seizing two Palestinians it claimed were "Hamas militants." Never mind the thousands of Arab prisoners that Israel holds, the Palestinian land it has taken or occupied, the many times it has violated Lebanese sovereignty.

By maintaining the fiction that Hamas and Hezbollah "started it," the U.S. and Israel hope to avoid any discussion of the long history of oppression that their power and influence in the Middle East have relies on.

Israel and the U.S. also claim that Hezbollah and Hamas are pawns of Syria and Iran, which supply their weapons. But Hamas and Hezbollah represent the legitimate and inevitable resistance to attempts by Israel and the U.S. to capture land and resources and extend their domination of the Middle East.

As a consequence of their unwillingness to accept American and Israeli dictates, Hamas and Hezbollah sometimes find that their interests converge with Syria and Iran, but they are not proxy armies by any means.

And if the U.S. claims the right to supply Israel with the world's most sophisticated and deadly weapons, why shouldn't Iran and Syria have the right to supply their allies with weapons? If the U.S. can work with Britain and other countries to invade and occupy Iraq, why shouldn't organizations that want to defend the Middle East from aggression also collaborate?

Before Israel's attack, Hezbollah already enjoyed significant support among Lebanon's Shia Muslim population--for leading the struggle to oust Israel from Southern Lebanon in 2000.

But Israel's ruthless attack--and Hezbollah's success in hampering the Israeli military's plans for a ground offensive--have greatly enhanced Hezbollah's popularity, even among Christians and Druze in Lebanon, and won it admiration throughout the Arab world. By late July, opinion polls showed that 87 percent of Lebanese supported Hezbollah's resistance to Israel.

"At the end, the resilience of Hamas, Hezbollah and other similar groups does not rest on their ability to organize powerful military wings," Assaf Kfoury, a professor at Boston University, wrote on the ZNet Web site. "Tiny as they are compared to the Israeli armed forces, they cannot prevent an occupation of their own lands, but only make the price of an occupation prohibitively high.

"Their power rests on their ability to draw the sympathy of the surrounding populations, sustained by their vast networks of social services and charity, especially among the poor, which the Palestinian Authority (in the case of Hamas) and the Lebanese government (in the case of Hezbollah) have not been able to provide."

The U.S. and Israel are the source of the violence in the Middle East. The successful resistance to their plans by organizations that stand for national liberation represents an important setback to imperialism in the Middle East.

Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are horrified by the images of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon. But because of the lack of the slightest sign of dissent in mainstream U.S. politics, many people will feel isolated in their outrage.

That makes the demonstrations called to protest the Israeli-U.S. war all the more important. Demonstrations in New York, San Francisco, the Detroit suburb of Dearborn and other cities have drawn hundreds and sometimes thousands of people--most importantly, Arabs and Muslims, who most directly feel the effects of the war.

The next step is August 12, a day of national mobilization for protests in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

After the lies that the Bush administration used to justify the war on Iraq, many in this country are suspicious of White House attempts to sell them another. We have the best opportunity in many years to expose the U.S.-Israeli alliance for what it is--the cornerstone of the imperialist domination of the Middle East.

It's time to stand up against the U.S.-Israeli war of terror.

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