Middle East

The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

A retrospective of a war-torn summer

, by Gerard Said

The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

Many people are getting information from various different media about the Israel Lebanon conflict. Images of shattered buildings dominate our imagination. The ruins of Beirut haunt the collective consciousness. Pictures of destroyed bridges festoon the BBC News website. Reuters runs headlines describing the latest round of awful casualties from yet another attack by the heartless Israelis driving their Merkavas pell-mell into various quiet little hamlets on the Southern border of Lebanon.

So is this really an airborne massacre on an epic scale? A re-run of Sabra and Shatlia on a larger scale? It’s an interesting question. The wars of the 21st century have so far been fought on rather more complex, multiple levels than was previously imagined. One of the most important aspects of any war these days is the manipulation of the masses by the media.

Whatever the facts happen to be on the ground, on the media manipulation front, the conflict is a massive victory for Hizbullah, especially for its constituency. The BBC news website recently ran an ‘in-pictures’ description of the devastation in Beirut. The place seems to be in complete ruins, but what impressed me the most were the slickly designed signs denouncing Israel on the ruins, complete with a rather snazzy logo describing it as ‘The Divine Victory’.

The logo was repeated in another shot on the yellow ‘restricted area’ tape surrounding another destroyed building. There are several very intriguing lessons to be learnt here. If I have to examine my impressions of Israel having looked at the overall media picture, I would have to say that my sympathy for the Israeli civilian is very low, whereas the Lebanese civilian is depicted as the helpless victim of aggression. Public opinion, at least on the international media front, would appear to be firmly against Israel.

Whatever the facts happen to be on the ground, on the media manipulation front, the conflict is a massive victory for Hizbullah

However, the facts are that thousands of mother’s sons are buried under tons of reinforced concrete and plaster on both sides of the war. Thousands of people have been murdered. Should this happen in the 21st century? Should we accept this? What right do we have, living in the so called civilized west, to form glib opinions on issues that have caused so many people to die? Are we so caught up in our own interests that we’ve forgotten to care? The UN, right now, is trying to enforce a fragile truce, to keep the violent criminals that are Hizbullah away from the Israeli army. Who is suffering?

The Lebanese civilian huddled in a building that might get hit at any minute by an air-strike. Or the Israeli man, sitting in his home, waiting for the Katyushas to come in and explode into a shower of ball bearings. And here is the major defeat of the 20th and 21st century. We have been desensitized to the word ‘casualty’. The huge monolith of the West, this oasis of calm and safety, is populated by people who care about their careers, pay their taxes, and get their news in easily digestible chunks.

No wonder they manipulate our opinions so easily.

I cannot glibly wade into this argument and say ‘Israel is right’. Both sides are using violence to make their point, and that is the one thing that I choose to ignore. Handing out the blame based on historical precedent is also a rather senseless tactic, because history is past, and there is not much that can be said for the history of both Lebanon and Israel.

My contribution to the argument? Stop killing each other, and start talking, because you’ll never wipe each other out.


* Protesting against the war in Lebanon. Tel-Aviv 05/08/2006; source: Flickr

Your comments
  • On 8 December 2006 at 00:40, by Emmanuel Vallens Replying to: The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

    A great conclusion.

    I’m sure this never came up to the mind of people over there.

    Let’s all be friends, and the world will be a better place

    I am against war and for peace.

    I am for love and against hatred.

    "See, Nature, rejoicing, has shown us the way

    With innocent revels to welcome the day.

    The tuneful grove and talking rill,

    The laughing vale, the replying hill,

    With charming harmony unite

    This happy season to invite." What a patronising European view!

    How nice. How pointless.

    Just reflect on what Lord Lothian, one of the greatest federalists of the thirtees, had to say: “Pacifism is not enough” So be federalist, be blunt, bring solutions, but stop this mellow-hearted naffing rubbish.

    and take that stupid hat off your head.

  • On 8 December 2006 at 20:26, by TheGer Replying to: The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

    I like that hat, it’s pretty cool.

    On the subject of hats, I’d like to point out that

    1. It’s a symbol of finland

    2. I bought it to impress the ladies in the street of stockholm

    3. my tastes weren’t full on, considering that I’d just been cycling for the ten days before, and I was a little worn out

    About your little diatribe against pacifism, I’d like to hear your ’blunt solutions’. By putting them up on this forum, you’re being a true federalist, in the vein of Lord Lothian, a great federalist of the ’thirtees’, whose bleak visage probably adorns quite a few oak panelled staterooms.

    In the meantime let us pacifists speak out in emotional terms against events that cause suffering.

  • On 9 December 2006 at 23:36, by Azrael Replying to: The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

    You’ve blighted palestine with your garbage. The holocaust is europe’s crime, not just nazi germany, but all of continental europe. And who must atone for this crime? who is forced to pay for this crime? The palestinians. What other nation is delivered from colonialism only to be subjected to conquest and occupation. Their dispossesion is institutionalized by the current political world system.

    Soon the u.s. hegemony will no longer be able to hold together this fractured world system. When the barriers of entry to weapons of mass destruction become so low that non-state actors can start killing entire cities, that is when europe will be made to atone for it’s sins. You’ve destroyed so much, plundered so much, enslaved so many, soon that will all come back to you. This action-reaction karma is a fundamental principle of physics just as valid as nuclear fission. May allah have mercy on your souls when your cities burn as you allowed lebanon to burn under the onslaught of american and european weapons.

  • On 10 December 2006 at 12:01, by Peter Matjašič Replying to: The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

    Dear Azrael,

    there’s no need to have such an offensive tone. I could’ve deleted your message (am the moderater of this forum) but I like to have open discussions, and for the sake of freeedom of speech prefer to publish even comments that some might consider inappopriate - and yours fits into this category.

    I am very much aware of the historic injustice made to the Palestinian people. We should also remind ourselves that plenty historical injustices were made to the Jews in the past. But that’s a completely different topic than the one tackled in the present article.

    But I will briefly make a few comments of my own on the topic you mention: having been in Palestine (West Bank and Gaza), Israel as well as the Golan Heights in 1999 it’s difficult to stay objective. But even though my heart and logic and historical injustice goes out to my Palestinian friends I have to acknowlidge the need for a democratic and peaceful Israeli state next to democratic and peaceful Palestinian state. Let’s rather focus on how to achieve this and move away from hatred and eternal debates about the past. It’s all written down in UN resolutions and international law - black on white.

    In your comment you do make a valid point about the danger and problematics of the selling of weapons (not just WMD). Something we should talk about and tackle on the global level.

    So, maybe you can give also some concrete proposals on how to tackle these issues and not just fall into the trap of criticizing the ’West’.

  • On 10 December 2006 at 22:58, by ? Replying to: The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

    @Peter : I don’t see the point to publish a comment from somebody who supports terrorism

    @Azrael : Israël has the right to defends itself. Palestinians’ fate has been caused by their neighboring arab states that manipulated them in order to fight Israël and to terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. As long as those organisations have support the Palestinian people will not have the support they should deserve from the civilized world. BTW there is no such thing as Allah. If you believe in a god, it’s your right but please do not bother the rest of the world with this.

  • On 11 December 2006 at 10:58, by Peter Matjašič Replying to: The Israel-Lebanon Conflict in so many words

    Dear WHOEVER (next time please use a nickname at least),

    The point was clearly stressed - to give equal treatment to all opinions aka freedom of speech. There was no reference to terrorism whatsoever in Azrael’s comment or any calling for such measures or express of support. And I published it with the same legitimacy as I did yours, which is BTW more offensive, with your assumptions and comment about Allah.

    I know I was walking on thin ice here with allowing these comments and in case this commenting gets truly offensive, this was the last post I will approve.

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