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Why Israel stopped the war

In theory the war in Lebanon is over. But it isn’t really. The Israelis had to stop do to international pressure. Perhaps the greatest pressure was that the assault on Lebanon was virtually indistinguishable from Germany’s attacks on its neighbours before World War II:

A jingoistic regional power using trumped up border incidents as an excuse to annihilate and annex territory.

The comparison between the Nazi regimes early World War II accomplishments and the civilian terror that Israel was raining down upon Lebanon ever day was so stark and obvious, that Israel was about to lose forever its trump card – victimhood.

Editorials in many papers were denouncing the resurgence of anti-semitism all over the world. Anti-semitism hardly seems to be the right word to describe the hypocrisy of the Israeli leadership in claiming to be victims (two soldiers kidnapped on the border) while razing whole city blocks. Letters to the editor were filled with outrage and disgust at Israeli actions, many signed “A former supporter of Israel”.

As outrage spread in the press everywhere except the US, I imagine there were a few tough phone calls from Holland, France and the UK from powerful and wealthy supporters of the Jewish state asking Prime Minister Olmert if his singular intention was to put them at risk of expropriation, exile and pogroms.

The ongoing attention to Israeli war activities also had the effect of bringing the ongoing plight of the Palestinians to the forefront of world attention (what was happening to the Lebanese has been going on for ten years and more in the Occupied Territories). The recent Lebanon war has led to significant talk of putting pressure on Israel to move back to the 1967 borders and settle the Palestinian question conclusively with a dual state solution. Such attention to what Israel preferred remained internal issues is deeply unwelcome.

Now that the Israelis have the propaganda credit for having accepted the ceasefire (although why it was necessary to carry on hostilities over the weekend in an enormous land grab is something of an open question as it appears that the Israelis are indeed retreating from that land expediently), they are looking for any excuse to reignite the conflagration.

  • The IAF have threatened to continue to bomb any transport from Syria which they consider might be carrying arms.
  • The IAF have threatened to forcibly disarm Hezbollah if they don’t feel the Lebanese government has done so in the way the IDF wants.

Either of these events would probably draw Hezbollah into reprisal and reignite hostilities.

In the rematch, Israel is hoping to have its propaganda pieces better lined up. Not only must Israel categorically win the conflict, they must be the victims as well. A rematch might allow them to attempt to reclaim victim status. Moreover, properly handled in the news, a second Lebanese war in such a short period would be old news. Much of the infrastructure to support international journalists and even communication with the outside world has been destroyed in Lebanon.

It’s a pity that there are no winners in war.

I don’t think the world will forget so quickly the destruction wrought throughout Lebanon by the Israelis nor the civilian victims of their terror strikes from the air. The world’s memory and threat of worldwide reprisal is what keeps Israel in check right now.

We will not forget.

No matter how many trumped up talking heads argue about smoke clouds over Beirut being darkened in Photoshop.

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