Tuesday, 25 July 2006

The Salient Condition

Amos Oz, longtime Israeli peace activist, whose 2003 account of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations brought a human face to both sides of that debate, last week defended Israel's recent incursions into Lebanon "as long as this operation targets mostly Hezbollah, and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians". Israel Hezbollah Lebanon

I must ask Mr. Oz if his salient condition has been met when I read reports from Human Rights Watch such as this account of Israel's use of cluster bombs corroborated elsewhere in the media and not denied by Israel. I find less, but some recent corroboration for the Lebanese President's accusation that Israel is employing white phosphorus as a weapon. The characterization of Israel's recent military operations as targeting mostly Hezbollah, certainly seems well off the mark.

I'm more than a little troubled by Oz's phrase "targets mostly" anyway. I would have opted for "strictly targets, with an emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties." If a significant minority of the targets are not demonstrably Hezbollah or terrorist, and the munitions used against those that are are prone to inflicting indiscriminate civilian casualties as well, then I find this action indefensible. Certainly Amy Goodman's daily broadcast summarizing events in Lebanon on Democracy Now leaves this listener horrified, even as others are appropriately horrified by the indiscriminate shelling of Haifa by Hezbollah.

Here is an interview Amy conducted with Noam Chomsky and others in the early days of the conflict. I know Goodman and Chomsky will be dismissed by right leaning pundits as extreme or "far left", but while I'll not take every word they say at face value, I cannot dismiss so easily the voices they bring to us which the mainstream media so easily ignores.

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