Uncivilized Relations: Israel confronts its neighbours

by Brenda Heard

The turmoil that has beleaguered the Middle East for decades has been described many ways.  On the 5th of June, however, the terminology turned vulgar.  This enduring conflict was publically characterised as a ‘war between the civilized man and the savage’.  Boldly announced with a plea to ‘support Israel/defeat Jihad’, the full page advertisement ran in the New York Post’s special section covering the city’s ‘Celebrate Israel’ parade.

Declaring the Muslim people ‘savage’ is, of course, just a school-yard taunt from Islamaphobe Pamela Geller, who gleefully takes credit for the advertisement.  Had her rant been limited to her own blog, we might easily dismiss it.  The problem lies in its acceptance into mainstream discourse.  The Post may be tabloid journalism, but its paper edition remains the seventh most popular paper in America.  And this sort of crude advertisement for a political cause panders to a public comfortable with the mind-set of ‘don’t bore me with the details’.

But the details are critical if we are to consider a conflict that has taken thousands of lives.  How can we, for instance, reconcile the concept of ‘civilized’ with the reality of shooting unarmed protesters?  The advertisement asks us to accept Israel as ‘civilized’; yet as these very words were first read, Israeli soldiers were shooting into a crowd of Syrian-Palestinians, killing 24 and injuring another 350.

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Under Control: the Arms of the Lebanese Resistance

by Brenda Heard

The arms of the Resistance, it has been suggested, should be abandoned as a matter of principle.  ‘From now on’, explains Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, ‘the possession of weapons, decision of war and peace, and defending the country should only be under the state’s control’.  Political principles, it would seem, can be slippery.  ‘From now on’?  Perhaps this disclaimer is meant to ease the turnabout from the Hariri-Ministerial Cabinet Statement issued just over a year ago:

Based on the Cabinet’s responsibility to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty, its independence, unity and the safety of its land, the government underscores Lebanon’s right through its people, army and resistance to liberate or regain authority of Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba hills and the occupied part of Ghajar village and defend the country against any aggression’.

For the sake of argument, however, let us set aside the dictates of political expediency.  Let us look at the reality of what this stance entails.

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