Harvard Square Observer

Ernest Cassara

Reluctant Calls for a Cease-fire

If you suspected that the reluctance of President Bush and Secretary Rice to call for a cease fire in the war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon was because they wanted to give  Israeli forces more time to defeat the Lebanese militia, your suspicion has been confirmed by Seymour M. Hersh in the 21 August issue of The New Yorker: “According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah - and shared it with Bush Administration officials - well before the July 12th kidnappings. ‘It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,’  he said, ‘but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.’”

Further, Hersh writes:

“According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term - and who, in 2002, said that Hezbollah ‘may be the A team of terrorists’ - Israel’s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning to the White House about Iran. ‘If the most dominant military force in the region - the Israel Defense Forces - can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,’ Armitage said. ‘The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.’”

You may read Hersh’s article, “Watching Lebanon: Washington’s interests in Israel’s war,” online:

Because of the machinations of Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice, 1,000 Lebanese have been killed and countless wounded and the country is in a shambles.  And, it is clear that Hezbollah is widely admired in the Arab world, as it stood up to one of the most powerful military forces on earth, successfully, and is now leading in the rebuilding of Lebanon.

Israeli’s adventure in Lebanon pushed to the back pages its assaults against the Palestinians in Gaza.  Gaza is clearly a prison camp, with Israel controlling its coast, disallowing use of its airport, controlling its exports, in some cases thousands of dollars of farm goods rotting at the Israeli border.

Not all have forgotten, however.  The following letter was published in The Nation (double issue, August 28/September 4), as it had been in newspapers around the world:

“A Letter From 18 Writers, including three Nobel Prize recipients.”

The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza.  An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press.  The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis - there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.
     That this “kidnapping” was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources - most particularly that of water - by the Israeli Defense (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land allotted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.
     Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones.  The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice.  Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment? Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over.  But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.
     This has to be said loud and clear, for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognized for what it is and resisted.

P.S.: As Juliano Mer Khamis, director of the documentary film  Arna’s Children, asked: “Who is going to paint the ‘Guernica’ of Lebanon?”

John Berger
Harold Pinter
Eduardo Galeano
Naomi Klein
Charles Glass
Gore Vidal
Thomas Keneally
Carolyn Forché
Jessica Hagedorn
Noam Chomsky
José Saramago
Arundhati Roy
Howard Zinn
Richard Falk
Russell Banks
Chris Abani
Martin Espada
Toni Morrison

     This letter has been printed in newspapers throughout the world, including Le Monde, El País, The Independent and La Repubblica.

As Arnold Toynbee said: “What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offense and has turned a deaf ear to the victims.”

On the dual loyalty of certain American Zionists, I suggest you read Eric Alterman’s “Neocon Dreams, American Nightmares."  The Nation (double issue, August 28/September 4)

In Memoriam Edmund R. Hanauer

We were saddened to learn of the death of Ned Hanauer, a tireless campaigner for peace among the Israelis and Palestinians, as Executive Director of Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel.  His writings on the subject appeared in newspapers across the country for many years.  His voice will be greatly missed.

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Harvard Square Commentary, August 21, 2006