Monday, August 28, 2006

Letter to Editor RE: Opposing Hezbollah

Letter writer Wendy D. Ruby (Opposing Hezbollah worthy of our support, August 28) claims Israel was justified in attacking the civilian population and infrastructure of Lebanon because Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, was hiding amongst the populace. However, that completely ignores international law and the facts.

Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon acts independently of the government. Before the July conflict, the U.S., in assessing Lebanon's trouble, determined that Lebanon required aid to get control of Hezbollah and intended to give the government with training and equipment. So the attacks on Israel were out of the control of the Lebanese people and their government, which already had the intent and plan to get the south under control.

Areas far in the north of Lebanon, areas which were not controlled or occupied by Hezbollah, were targeted as were civilian infrastructure such as the airport in Beirut. As the Israeli Cabinet openly admitted, the tactic and goal of attacking civilians in the north was to inflict "severe and harsh" retaliation on Lebanon to force the population and government to deal with Hezbollah themselves. Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, Israel’s chief of staff, admitted that the intention was to "turn back Lebanon's clocks 20 years" if the kidnapped soldiers weren't returned.

Since international law forbids the purposeful targeting of civilians and requires military action to be proportional to the threat, Israel openly and purposely acted illegally.

As Ms. Ruby wrote, we should oppose Hezbollah. But Hezbollah and Lebanon are two different entities. If Ms. Ruby is truly in opposition to Hezbollah, she should know that Israel's self-indulgence in over-the-top, indiscriminate retaliation was a failure (Israel achieved neither objective of forcing the return of its soldiers or crippling Hezbollah). Even more damaging, the conflict seems to have actually bolstered Hezbollah's standing while further degrading Israel's (63% of Israel's own population supported the resignation of Prime Minister Olmert for his handling of the conflict). It also seems to have degraded relations between the U.S. and normally pro-American Lebanon.

We should take a lesson from Israel's dealings with Hezbollah. Moral outrage and overwhelming violence actually helps terrorists and makes many more victims; intelligence, cooperation and, as in the London liquid bombing case, police work are what significantly cripple terrorist organizations.

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