Friday, August 25, 2006

Hugo Chavez Says Israel "Worse Than Hitler"

This is outrageous.

Visiting Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has denounced Israel's recent attacks on Lebanon as "genocide," likening its action to war crimes committed by Germany's Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

"Israel often criticizes Hitler ... but they have done the same thing, perhaps even worse," Chavez told reporters Friday in a briefing during his six-day visit to China.

Denouncing the "fascist attitudes" of Israel, he said: "What has happened was a genocide. They must be brought in front of an international tribunal."

"Nobody should stay muted," he said.

The 34-day conflict in the Middle East came to an end on August 14 after a UN-brokered agreement for a cessation of hostilities in line with Security Council Resolution 1701.

Israel killed huge numbers of innocent civilians in Lebanon, quite possibly deliberately, and unquestionably violated international law in doing so. The ferocity of Israel's attack on Lebanon was wholly out of proportion to what triggered it (the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers), and I have no problem with saying that Israel committed war crimes in Lebanon.

However, it was not genocide. Genocide has a meaning, and indiscriminate, reckless bombing of residential neighborhoods, although utterly inexcusable and unjustifiable, is not genocide.

To say that Hitler committed "war crimes" is to totally obscure what the Holocaust was. "War crimes" are individual actions committed in the context of a larger armed conflict, which violate the laws of war. The armed conflict itself is not necessarily illegal or illegitimate. But Hitler's entire regime was illegitimate. From the moment he invaded Poland, the aggression he started was a crime. His entire raison d'etre was one vast war crime.

I admire and respect what Chavez has accomplished for Venezuela, but clearly, the man has no clue what he's saying when he tells the world that Israel committed genocide in Lebanon, or that Israel's actions are the same as Hitler's, or worse.

No comments: