Magazine article The Christian Century

War Plan

Magazine article The Christian Century

War Plan

Article excerpt

ON JULY 12, Hezbollah fighters crossed the border separating Israel from Lebanon. They killed several Israeli soldiers and captured two others, spiriting them across the border into Lebanon. Those who want to believe the best about Israel will say that that this single action started this summer's war between Hezbollah and Israel.

But a closer look reveals that it is not that simple. After the border incursion by Hezbollah there was still time to negotiate for the return of the prisoners, something that Israel had done in the past (1996, 1998, 2004). Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah held a press conference shortly after his unit returned from its incursion into Israel to say he was ready to negotiate a prisoner exchange.

But Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert had a different plan. In an emergency meeting, Olmert told his cabinet: "This morning's events are not a terror attack, but the act of a sovereign state that attacked Israel for no reason and without provocation.... The Lebanese government, of which Hezbollah is a part; is trying to undermine regional stability. Lebanon is responsible, and Lebanon will bear the consequences."

By 9 p.m. Ha'aretz was reporting that Israel had bombed bridges in central Lebanon and attacked "Hezbollah's posts" in southern Lebanon. The next day, Amnesty International reported that 40 Lebanese civilians had been killed, including several families, with 60 other civilians injured.

In the Palestine Chronicle, Tanya Reinhart reported: "Israel launched its first attack on Beirut.... Israeli warplanes bombed Beirut's international airport and killed at least 27 Lebanese civilians in a series of raids." It was not until after those initial Israeli attacks inside Lebanon that Hezbollah began to fire rockets into northern Israel. Israel said it was attacking Lebanon to recover its soldiers; instead, it was launching a massive air attack, not just against Hezbollah, but against the entire country with no effort at diplomacy or negotiations. The word disproportionate began to emerge in media coverage.

In the U.S., both Congress and the White House embraced Israel's preemptive strike. There was no pretense that the U.S. would act as an honest broker. The Senate unanimously condemned Hamas and Hezbollah and their state sponsors and supported Israel's exercise of its right to self-defense. A House version passed 410 to 8.

According to Ari Berman, writing for the Nation, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) not only lobbied for the resolution, but wrote it. …

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