Friday, July 28, 2006

Israel to World: There Are No Civilians in Lebanon

Israel today announced that it has the world's support for its actions in Lebanon. Why? Because world leaders have refused to call for Israel to end the bombing and withdraw from Lebanon.

Israel says Wednesday's decision by key world powers not to call for a halt to its Lebanon offensive has given it the green light to continue.

Israel apparently feels so sure that it has been given tacit permission to do whatever it likes to Lebanon that Israeli leaders are abandoning all pretensions to civilized behavior. The Israeli "Justice" Minister, Haim Ramon, announced today that there are no civilians left in Lebanon anymore, and that Israel will accordingly proceed with a campaign to "flatten" every village in the southern part of the country:

"We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world... to continue the operation," Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said.

Mr Ramon -- a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - said "everyone understands that a victory for Hezbollah is a victory for world terror".

He said that in order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops moved in.

He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there could be considered a Hezbollah supporter.

"All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," Mr Ramon said.
[Emphasis added.]

Got that? Tens of thousands of civilians have been trying to flee Lebanon since the bombing campaign began on July 13; why shouldn't all of them be out by now? It's not as if choked roads; towns and cities strewn with the rubble of bombed buildings and infrastructure; dire shortages of medicine, food, and drinkable water; the presence of about 200,000 Palestinian refugees who have been in Lebanon since 1948; concurrent efforts by other countries to evacuate their own thousands of foreign nationals; poverty and lack of resources; the danger of being killed by Israeli bombers in the very act of trying to flee; and the general chaos and confusion of war would be impeding the speedy and orderly flight of Lebanon's entire civilian population out of the country.

But not to worry, because John Bolton tells us there is no moral equivalence between the deaths of Lebanese civilians as the result of Israeli bombing raids, and the deaths of Israeli civilians as the result of bombing raids carried out by Hezbollah. (Note that the figure of 195 Lebanese civilians killed is from July 17, and thus a very old number. Ha'aretz and other news outlets are reporting that, as of today, the number of civilians killed by the Israeli military is up to about 600, including at least 200 who are still buried under the rubble of buildings destroyed by the bombing.)

Steven D. at Booman Tribune offers a different perspective on the value of human life, from a long-dead writer and cleric who still is known to many -- although, sad to say, not to Our Man at the UN.

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

John Donne, from his Meditation XVII

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