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I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Israel is NOT the aggressor

At The Nation, Palestinian writer and editorialist Marwan Bishara unilaterally blames Israel for the latest escalation of tension and violence in the Middle East,

The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has exploited the capture of Army Corporal Gilad Shalit to restore the country's diminished deterrence against militant Palestinian factions, to break the elected Hamas government and to impose its unilateral territorial solution on the West Bank. But when the dust finally settles, Israel's offensive against the besieged territories--and now Lebanon--will have left the region with more destruction and death and the Israeli government with the same strategic deadlock. That's why instead of lashing out against their neighbors, Israelis must end the vicious cycle of provocations and retaliations, and pursue meaningful negotiations to end the occupation.

The Olmert government bases its campaign against Palestinian civilian infrastructure on three fallacies: that Israel does not initiate violence but retaliates to protect its citizens--in this case a captured soldier; that its response is measured and not meant to harm the broader population; and that it does not negotiate with those it deems terrorists.

But Israel's offensive did not start last week. The three-month-old Israeli government is responsible for the killing eighty or more Palestinians, some of whom were children, in attacks aimed at carrying out illegal extrajudicial assassinations and other punishments. Hamas has maintained a one-sided cease-fire for the past sixteen months, but continued Israeli attacks made Palestinian retaliation only a question of time. (Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period--almost always with little or no damage or casualties--but these factions maintained that the attacks were in response to Israeli provocations.)

Precisely. Pity Bishara does not see the answers in his own words.

Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period ... from Hamas controlled territory.

Israel has every legitimate right to demand both Hamas and Lebanon take responsibility for acts committed against Israel from within their borders. The ability to control one's territory is a necessary precursor to sovereignty. Israel has every right to take necessary actions to protect its citizens, including its armed forces, from harm.

Are governments in exile responsible for acts committed within their country? Of course not. They have no control, no authority to prevent it. Lebanon and Hamas can claim neither authority nor sovereignty over territory they cannot nor will not control.

"Meaningful negotiations" require at least two sincere participants.

(The editors at The New Republic take a similar stance in defense of Israel and make a larger observation between the Hamas and Hezbollah kidnappings, and Syria and Iran.)


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