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LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM LEBANON

 

By Dr. Mohamed Elmasry- September 1, 2006

 

(Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. He can be reached at np@canadianislamiccongress.com)

 

Now that the 34-day Israeli war against Lebanon has been superseded by a precarious ceasefire, it's time to reflect on the lessons it can teach everyone involved. Here are the top ten:

 

1. Low tech weapons can stand up to high tech ones.

 

Israel utilized its entire high tech military arsenal -- stopping short only of using its nuclear bombs -- in its war on Lebanon, causing maximum death, terror, destruction and misery. Yet in self- defense and response, Hezbollah fighters proved that their low tech weaponry was still able to slow down the invasion by Israeli ground forces. Citizens of Israel's northern cities were given a major taste of the terror that their own army had been inflicting for years on Lebanese civilians by air, sea and ground strikes.

 

2. Israel is the world's most aggressive state in relation to its size.

 

This lesson is already well known to surrounding Middle Eastern countries.

Almost every Israeli between the ages of 18 and 50 is, has been, or will be, a full or part-time (reservist) member of the military. No other state can match that level of militancy. Neighboring states on the first line of defense -- Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon -- as well as those on the second line -- Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states

-- must follow Israel's example in this regard. Civilian and military preparedness is the only way to maintain a balance of power against future Israeli aggression.

 

3. Israel's neighbors must include commando units as part of their permanent armed forces.

 

Middle Eastern countries comprising the first and second lines of defense against Israeli aggression must include special commando units in their armed forces that operate independently from regular armed forces, but follow a similar chain of command. The expanded flexibility will give these states more balance-of-power capability against Israel.

 

4. Israel cannot sustain a militant society forever.

 

Israel's war on Lebanon was the longest in its history -- not because its leaders and citizens wanted it to be so, but because the Lebanese resistance put up a fight. More and more Israelis are now wondering if the cost of solving conflicts only through combat is worth the high cost in lives and resources. No society can maintain Israel's level of militancy for ever. If Israel takes this lesson to heart, there could be real hope for peace in the Middle East. If not, cyclic violence will continue to be the way of life there and societies will deteriorate as a result.

 

5. There is no freedom of the press; freedom is reserved for media owners.

 

Western media coverage of the Israeli war on Lebanon was, as expected, biased in favor of Israel. This did not happen haphazardly or by accident.

For example, all the Middle Eastern offices of major Western media outlets are in Israel. This means that Western journalists covering the Middle East live in Israel, have Israeli friends, send their children to Israeli schools, go shopping in Israeli supermarkets, and so on. The absorption of the Israeli lifestyle affects these journalists in how they perceive the ownership of news events that affect their Israeli friends, colleagues, associates, neighbors, children, etc.

 

6. The U.S. is no friend to any Middle Eastern nation, including Israel.

 

Zionist Jews strongly believe that the U.S. is a great friend of the state of Israel because Washington supported and encouraged its war against Lebanon. But if you measure friendship by a different yardstick, the U.S.

has proven that it is not a true friend of the Israeli people at all.

Just

imagine what might have happened if U.S. president George W. Bush had sent Israeli PM Ehud Olmert an urgent email on July 12 (2006) saying:

"You

should first of all negotiate with Hezbollah about the two kidnapped soldiers. War is very costly in human lives, for both sides. Look at the mistakes I made in Iraq; don't repeat the same thing. Pursue all possible diplomatic channels before even remotely considering armed combat.

America

and our friends in Europe will help you keep this thing from blowing up.

Sincerely, George."

 

7. Arab states should learn from South Korea.

 

There is a long list of differences between South and North Korea, but those differences have not prevented South Korea from saying no whenever the U.S. threatens North Korea with military action. The divided country shares a common heritage and ancestry, so political differences must be put aside. It is when Americans try to kill Koreans that the North and South (although technically still at war) are closest to unity. This was not the case, however, during Israel's war on Lebanon. The surrounding Arab states committed a major mistake in not bonding with Lebanon from day one of the crisis, regardless of their various differences and disagreements.

It's a

further shame that petty politics between Arab states were blatantly exploited by both Israel and the U.S.

 

8. Ceasefires are for Israel to violate.

 

Israel has a long history of chronic ceasefire violations, notably in 1948,

1967 and 1973 -- and now once again in 2006. At the time of writing this, the UN has already condemned Israel for violating the ceasefire in Lebanon.

 

9. Most Jews still subscribe to Zionism.

 

Few Western Jews do not subscribe to Zionism, the 19th-century political ideology that advocated using any and every means to justify the creation, expansion and protection of a Jews-only state in Palestine. Zionism does not recognize the Other (mainly Palestinians) in its "homeland." Such an ideology, which imposes its own form of Apartheid, can never lead to peace in the Middle East. It can only feed the cyclic violence of cold and hot wars.

 

10. Conflict in the Middle East is political, not religious.

 

Israeli F16 fighter-bombers did not differentiate among the Lebanese they killed and maimed -- Sunni Muslims, Shi'a Muslims, and Christians were all victims. Religion has been chronically misused, abused, and distorted in the interests of gaining and imposing power throughout the entire region.

There is no reason for mainly Sunni Egypt and mainly Shi'a Iran not to have diplomatic relations as neighboring Muslim countries. It is only

greed- and

power-based politics, not faith, keeping them apart. Similarly, there is no reason for the Jewish state of Israel not to have (and keep!) peace treaties with the states of Palestine, Lebanon, or Syria. Again it is politics, not religion, that divides them so bitterly.

 

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