Monday, July 24, 2006
The New Middle East
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 9:58 AM
By Frubious Bandersnatch

As the world watches open mouthed the escalation of violence in the Middle East, we are forced to wonder what is driving these events and to what end? Is it about three kidnapped soldiers?

One suspects that it is not. That there is a plan, a reason and a goal. There is evidence that this 'operation' in Lebanon has been on the cards for some time - (see Matthew Kalman article - Furthermore, Israel is receiving support from the USA, with emergency shipments of bunker busting bombs to drop on Lebanese and doubtless also Gazan targets. The links there are very strong. What are Israel and America planning? A region wide conflagration? An escalation that will draw Syria and Iran into the conflict? Would there be a war now, and on this scale, if Israel and by extension, America, did not want there to be a war? Can we define the bombing of Beirut as an act of self-defense?

We must ask ourselves these questions. And as our minds wonder the abstract paths of global geopolitics, it is of paramount importance never to lose sight of the human cost of these strategies, which are paid for in human blood and destroyed lives. If your stomach is feeling strong, follow the link below to see the true price of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East", as Condoleeza Rice recently described events in Lebanon.

It is not yet clear what this will mean for us in Bethlehem, or for Palestinians throughout the West Bank. Like the rest of the world, we can only look on in shock and awe as the tragedy unfolds, and hope the war does not come home to roost in our town, that the next victims are not our families and friends. They are already our neighbours. In Lebanon and Gaza. Just people like us, who would like to live their lives in peace. On Wednesday night alone, Israeli sources admitted dropping 23 tonnes of explosives on Beirut in an effort to penetrate what was believed to be a bunker used by senior Hezbollah officials. The damage wrought on the infrastructure of the city will take years to repair. The damage wrought on the people will never heal, and nobody can bring back the dead.

After this, can anyone expect the Lebanese to be good neighbours to Israel? Will the population support a government friendly to Israel? Or will young men flock to the resistance movements, eager for vengeance and with little to lose? Will this conflict escalate until every country in the region is involved and the blood spilt swells from a trickle to a raging torrent? And the bitterness of the people whose lives have been so brutally shattered hardens into implacable hatred?

What a price to pay. We owe it to those people to ask 'why?' What vision drives this? What is the 'new Middle East' referred to by Condoleeza Rice and what will it look like on the ground? What is the true scale of this operation, and what does it hope to achieve?

And if we do not find that it is worth it, we must strain every sinew to hold back this war in any way that we can. From Palestine to the USA and from Israel to Australia. Even if we cannot do much we must do something, even if something is small it is better than nothing. In recognition of the common humanity of all people, in recognition that it is not necessary to hate each other, in recognition that the shattered body of a child killed in a war that it will never understand shames us all, we must act to stop this.

From Bethlehem Ghetto we call for peace, and we hope you will join us.

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