Wright from Washington City
August 14, 2006


The new Nazis



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"9 Israelis die in Lebanon" screamed the Washington Times, America's Völkischer Beobachter, in a July 27 headline extending all across the front page. Meanwhile, the more sedate (but only slightly more even-handed) Washington Post's page one headline, confined to a single column, also called attention to the tragic deaths of Israeli soldiers fighting in southern Lebanon against the vicious terrorist group, Hezbollah.

Neither paper headlined a story on the front page about the deaths of Lebanese civilians, even though they were dying at a rate many times that of Israeli combatants. That fits a pattern. An unguided Katyusha [1] rocket hits a train station in Haifa and kills eight Israeli workers, and it's a front-page headline, dominating the evening news. But when the Israelis kill Arabs, it takes a massacre of more than 50, most of them children, to make a similar splash.

The massacre occurred at Cana (also rendered as "Qana"), a village that the locals say is the same Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. Many of the inhabitants, unable or too afraid to flee the Israeli onslaught on south Lebanon, were sheltering in a basement when it was hit by an Israeli precision-guided bomb, supplied by the United State and paid for by U.S. taxpayers. [2]

The Israelis originally said that Cana was hit because Hezbollah was firing rockets from it. But under pressure, the Israeli Defense Forces later admitted that there were no rockets and no sign of Hezbollah activity in the village. That makes sense. As one source quoted by Dahr Jamail of the Inter Press Service points out, if rockets were fired from your village, the sensible thing to do would be to get out fast, before the inevitable massive Israeli retaliation:

Masen Hashen, a 30-year-old construction worker from Qana who lost several family members in the air strike on the shelter, said there were no Hezbollah rockets fired from his village. "Because if they had done that now, or in the past, all of us would have left. Because we know we would be bombed."

Qana had been a shelter because no rockets were being fired from there, survivors said. "When Hezbollah fires their rockets, everyone runs away because they know an Israeli bombardment will come soon," Abdel said. "That is why everyone stayed in the shelter and nearby homes, because we all thought we'd be all right since there were no Hezbollah fighters in Qana." ("No Hezbollah Rockets Fired from Qana," Hard News, August 1, 2006)

Israel and its numerous American apologists often claim that civilian casualties are so high in their attacks on Arabs because their "terrorist" at adversaries use civilians as "human shields." Let us leave aside the moral difficulty of killing civilians in order to reach combatants hiding among them. [3] It seems that Hezbollah actually eschews "human shields," and for good reasons of operational security. That's according to Salon's Mitch Prothero:
My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters — as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers — avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators — as so many Palestinian militants have been. ("The 'hiding among civilians' myth," July 28, 2006)

The Cana slaughter made enough of an impression on world (and more importantly, American) opinion that the Israelis felt obliged to do some damage control. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert managed to squeeze out a few crocodile tears: "I express great sorrow over the deaths of Lebanese civilians in Cana. There is nothing further from our thoughts and our interests than striking civilians. When we strike civilians, the world understands this is an exceptional case that does not represent how we act."

Unfortunately, that just isn't true. Killing Arab civilians is something about which the Israelis have little compunction. In the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has been shooting little kids in the head, assassinating Arab politicians, bombing apartment buildings, and so on, for years. (See my Thornwalker.com commentary, "Israel is committing retail genocide, part 2," and my "Israel and the lessons of empire," The Last Ditch, November 15, 2000.) Then there was the massacre of Sabra and Chatila in Lebanon in 1982, in which the Israeli army stood guard while its Lebanese Falangist allies butchered at least 600 — and possibly 2,000 — inhabitants of two refugee camps. [4]

The Israeli state has perpetrated a series of massacres of Arab civilians, going back to the state's founding in 1948 — and before, if one counts the activities of such terrorist Israel-precursor organizations as the Haganah, Irgun, and Stern Gang. In 1948 the Stern Gang and Irgun, under future prime minister Menachem Begin, massacred from 120 to 254 Arabs in the village of Deir Yassin, driving away the surviving inhabitants. The depopulated village, like many others, was taken over, renamed, and settled by Jews.

Another notorious massacre occurred in 1953 at Qibya, in which the Israeli army attacked a Jordanian village in retaliation for a Palestinian terrorist attack that killed an Israeli mother and two children. A commando unit led by future prime minister Ariel Sharon murdered 69 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children, by machine-gunning and blowing up their houses. [5] More recently, in September 2005, the Israelis fired rockets into a peaceful demonstration in the Gaza refugee camp of Jabalya, killing 19.

In fact, this is the second time the Israelis have massacred civilians in Cana. The first was ten years ago, when they shelled a United Nations outpost in which about 500 people were seeking protection during a previous Israeli rampage. That atrocity, killing more than 100 people, was described by veteran Middle East reporter Robert Fisk in his piece "Massacre in Sanctuary; Eyewitness," originally published in The Independent on April 19, 1996.

One must understand that Lebanese civilians, especially those in the south, are caught in a trap. At the beginning of their current terror offensive, the Israelis made a point of dropping leaflets all over southern Lebanon ordering the inhabitants to leave. But people trying to flee find the highways destroyed and the bridges bombed; and those who manage to overcome those obstacles are often hit by Israeli air strikes. In some cases, it appears that the Israelis warned the inhabitants of villages to leave — and then deliberately strafed them as they did. Examples of attacks on civilian vehicles attempting to flee, and even flying white flags, may be found in these stories:

"Family tragedy heightens fear of trip to safety," by Deirdre Healey, The Hamilton Spectator, July 25, 2006

"Frightened, Hungry, Penniless OFWs back from Lebanon," by Mike Banos, AmericanChronicle.com, July 26, 2006 ("OFW" — "overseas Filipino worker")

"ALP urges diplomatic pressure on Israel," The Sydney Morning Herald, July 29, 2006 (ALP — Australian Labor Party)

A New York Times story by Hassan M. Fattah, "To Flee or to Stay? Family Chooses Too Late and Pays Dearly," suggests that the Israelis have been shooting at anything that moves on the roads — cars, trucks, even motorcycles. (Found in the Gadsden, Ala., Times, July 24, 2006.)

The Israelis have been infamous for targeting ambulances for years, in places such as the West Bank, Gaza, and previously in southern Lebanon, where an attack helicopter gratuitously machine-gunned an ambulance a few years ago. The helicopter's videotape of the incident somehow became public, revealing that, despite Israeli denials, the crew undoubtedly knew what they were shooting at. In the current offensive, the Israelis have remained true to tradition, already destroying two ambulances attempting to evacuate victims of their air strikes. Suzanne Goldenberg, writing in The Guardian, reports:

The ambulance headlamps were on, the blue light overhead was flashing, and another light illuminated the Red Cross flag when the first Israeli missile hit, shearing off the right leg of the man on the stretcher inside. As he lay screaming beneath fire and smoke, patients and ambulance workers scrambled for safety, crawling over glass in the dark. Then another missile hit the second ambulance. ("Red Cross ambulances destroyed in Israeli air strike on rescue mission," July 25, 2006)
Photos of the aftermath may be found at Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches. Note that one projectile hit the exact center of the big red cross painted on the top of one of the vehicles. It seems clear that the cross itself — a well-known non-combatant symbol — was actually used as the aiming point for a guided munition of some kind. That doesn't fit well with the protestations of Israelis and their apologists that civilian deaths in Lebanon are accidental — nor does a report by Jamail that the first attempts by ambulances to reach Cana after the horrific massacre there were prevented by Israeli air attacks. In his dispatch "Lebanese Red Cross Repeatedly Targeted," Jamail reports what he was told by Red Cross worker Kassem Shaulan:
Shaulan said his headquarters had received calls from Qana pleading for rescue assistance at 5 a.m. on the morning of the Israeli strike. The shelter was bombed at 1 a.m.

"Immediately after we got the call we took three ambulances and headed to Qana," he said. "But three bombs nearly hit our first ambulance, so we turned back."

They attempted to head out to Qana a second time, but again their ambulances were attacked, and they returned to base. "They were keeping us away," Shaulan said. They succeeded a third time, just before 9 a.m.

"You can see here that everyone the Israelis are attacking are civilians and the Red Cross," Shaulan said. "And now we are having trouble reaching villages to collect bodies because they've bombed most of the roads and bridges before they told people to leave their homes." (Inter Press Service, August 1, 2006)

Here's an excerpt from another report, by Margaret Zaknoen of the San Jose Mercury News, alleging yet another attack against ambulances:
I spoke with a friend recently, a poet in Beirut. It was almost nightfall there, and she dreads the nighttime because that is when the bombs really fall. Another friend, a professor at the American University of Beirut, was abroad with his wife when the bombing started, their young children still in Beirut with their grandparents.

While most fled to safety, they struggled to cross the Syrian border back into Lebanon. Along the way, they pulled over to let a convoy of ambulances pass, only to watch the ambulances annihilated by Israeli missiles. ("Carnage haunts an American with family in Lebanon," August 1, 2006)

According to the Lebanese Red Cross, ambulances have been hit or fired upon at least five times during the Israeli offensive. See the July 31 report by Red Cross official Ayad el-Mounzer, posted at ReliefWeb: "Red Cross volunteers in Lebanon: from dusk to dawn — a journey of misery."

The deconstruction of Lebanon seems to have less to do with fighting Hezbollah, and more to do with destruction and killing for its own sake. How, for instance, does bombing the Beirut airport, smashing fuel tanks and polluting beaches, destroying hospitals, or devastating Christian neighborhoods in the north advance the goal of hurting the Muslim Hezbollah in the south? The Israelis seem intent on punishing the Lebanese people for Israel's defeat by Hezbollah in 2000, when they were forced to withdraw from southern Lebanon after a reign of terror lasting 22 years. [6]

Obviously, this kind of ruthlessness is possible only if the perpetrator regards his victims as beneath him. That certainly seems to be the case with Israel. Writing at The Telegraph, Harry de Quetteville quotes Israel's "justice" minister, Haim Ramon: "Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist and is connected to Hezbollah." ("You're all targets, Israel tells Lebanese in South," July 28, 2006)

So take that, all you terrorist mothers and children! Such sentiments are not confined to members of the regime, either, as is evident in this dispatch by Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy Newspapers:

"I am prepared to hail down hellfire on the Hezbollah terrorists, their aides, their collaborators, all those who turn a blind eye to them, and everyone who so much as smells of Hezbollah — and their innocent bystanders can die instead of ours," Rafi Ginat, the editor of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest newspaper, wrote in Friday's [July 28] edition. "... We have to strike hard — and we can allow ourselves to feel good about it." ("Israelis continue to back strong military response," July 28, 2006)
According to Nissenbaum and other reporters, 80 percent of the Israeli public supports the continuing devastation of Lebanon. And we mustn't forget the continuing Israeli policy of turning the West Bank and Gaza into giant concentration camps, creating a living hell for the Arabs, with the obvious goal of driving all of them out so that their remaining land can be seized and the dream of Eretz Israel — "greater Israel" — can be realized at their expense. (See my "News & Commentary" installment posted at Thornwalker.com in January 2002.)

Indeed, the current hyperviolence began when an Arab family enjoying a holiday on the beach at Beit Lahia, on the Gaza coast, was massacred, apparently by Israeli 155mm artillery shells, in the kind of arbitrary attack for which the Israelis are notorious. [7] The Guardian's Chris McGreal investigates that crime in "The battle of Huda Ghalia — who really killed girl's family on Gaza beach?" (June 17, 2006).

So how should we regard "our gallant ally"?

Israel is, to put it bluntly, a racial state. It exists solely for the advantage of Jews, and has utter contempt for everyone else. Non-Jews in Israel proper are second-class citizens: by law, ownership or even leasing of 93 percent of the land is restricted to Jews or Jewish institutions, and there are numerous government subsidies and goodies available only to Jews.

Non-Jews, and especially Arabs, are openly regarded in Israel as subhuman. Most notorious is a statement by Rabbi Yaacov Perrin that "one million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail," but there are numerous other examples. Menachem Begin referred to Arabs as "beasts walking on two legs." Theodore Herzl, the founder of the World Zionist Organization, wrote in 1895: "Spirit the penniless [Arab] population across the frontier by denying it employment.... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."

The Israeli state is irredentist. Members of the regime, including prime ministers, have openly and repeatedly advocated the concept of Eretz Israel — which is said by some to extend to the banks of the Tigris in Mesopotamia. David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, wanted to take over Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt as far as Port Said. He is quoted as saying about the Arabs: "Drive them out!"

Israel is militaristic. In fact, it is probably the most militarized regime currently on the face of the earth, with the possible exception of North Korea. Though but a fraction of the size of the United State, it has an air force and army second only to those of the United State, and those services are just as well equipped and probably better trained. Per capita, Israel spends more money on the military by far than any other country — much of it supplied by U.S. taxpayers. Former military officers dominate Israeli politics, and the armed forces often openly ignore rulings by the judiciary and orders by the civilian government.

The Israeli economy is corporatist: heavily socialized and centrally directed by the state. There is substantial government ownership of businesses, and those businesses that are nominally private have little actual freedom. Taxation is extremely heavy.

In short, Israel is the closest modern equivalent to Nazi Germany — although George Bush's administration seems determined to catch up. I've no doubt that the state of Israel — and many if not most of its subjects — would have no problem with herding Arabs into gas chambers and burning their bodies in ovens, if it were expedient.

And to top it off, the Jewish state has achieved a propaganda victory in the United State of which the little club-footed twerp Goebbels could only dream. As the rest of the world recoils in horror from Israel's bloody rampage through Lebanon, most Americans remain unruffled — perhaps grateful for having their attention drawn away from their own ongoing catastrophe in Iraq. Israel "has a right to defend itself," after all.

Sieg heil.

August 14, 2006

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