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VC Reader Catches Party of God (Hezbollah) Lies:

Reader Victor Steinbok writes:

A Financial Times piece has a couple of interesting contradictions that are worth noting.

"Lebanon's Hizbollah movement on Thursday denied that a massive Israeli strike on the southern suburbs of Beirut had hit any of its leaders." vs. "The Shia fundamentalist group took reporters on a visit to its devastated stronghold of Haret Hreik in south Beirut but did not provide access to an adjacent neighbourhood where Israel said it targeted a 'leadership bunker.'"

And, "A Hizbollah spokesman ridiculed Israeli claims that it had severely damaged the group's military capabilities in nine days of attacks, in which more than 300 people have been killed -- the overwhelming majority civilians -- according to Lebanese sources." vs. "A Lebanese military expert also said he doubted that Israel had made much headway against the group. 'Hizbollah has no visible personnel infrastructure on the ground. They are organised in cells, they look like civilians, they move fast and they are trained to hide.'"

And, "In the south, Hizbollah fighters were engaged in fierce clashes with Israeli soldiers on the border for a second day. The group's spokesman in Beirut said this underlined that Israeli claims that only military targets were hit, were clearly wrong. 'We have no fighters here in Beirut, they are all in the south, on the front.'" vs. "On the edge of the bombed-out southern neighbourhoods of Beirut, some Hizbollah supporters have remained. One expressed his pride in the movement. "We are only a small group standing up to a mighty nation. I hope that they will come in with ground troops so that we can face them."

So, let's take count: Hezbollah denies that the massive attack did any damage to their leadership and infrastructure, yet they refuse to show the actual damage; they claim that the casualties are mostly civilian, yet they [sic, it was a "Lebanese military expert"] also confirm that "they look like civilians" so it's easy for an outside observer to mistake dead Hezbollah troopers for civilians; and they claim that they have no fighters in Beirut, yet their supporters in Beirut are goading on the Israelis into a combat.

Thanks, Victor.

riptide:
No contradictions, actually - just an indication that they have something to hide. Very likely, they have taken some damage.

Congrats on having comments open, though! A big step.
7.20.2006 11:03pm
Just:

Maybe you should wait on these... "THIS JUST IN!..." posts, until something actually is in?

I understand it is an hour-by-hour thing with you, (have you heard of the term, "football widows" to describe some on fall Sundays?) but if everything is breaking news, we won't know when to read you when something truly new or confirmed happens.

Just sayin
7.20.2006 11:20pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Alexi, if you read the post closely, you will note that these are not my words, but those of a reader. And all the quotes appeared in a single article, for info gathered by a reporter on a single day. That's called "lies."
7.21.2006 12:43am
big ticket:
C'mon, we're all lawyers here. I would call these "possible inconsistencies", rather than proven lies.
7.21.2006 12:54am
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
The first casualty in war is the truth, as Prof. Volokh had just demonstrated.
I view the Israeli action in Lebanon as just another theatre in the world wide fight between Western secular democracy and Islamic facism.
I would not bet on the facists.
7.21.2006 5:12am
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
I haven't seen the context of all the clips, but one possible consistent explanation is that the "fighters" are mainly to the south while Hezbollah leaders, etc. are in Beirut (e.g., the Nasrallah bunker bombed in Beirut referred to here: Is Nasrallah Dead?). Not that I want to be an apologist for Hezbollah --- talk about playing devil's advocate...

I have seen a spokesman for Hezbollah in Beirut saying Hezbollah lives among the people in Lebanon. See the second half of the two minute clip at this link: Fox News Tries To Make The News in Lebanon
7.21.2006 5:15am
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
Make that, "fascism" and "fascists." Sorry for the third rate keyboarding -- I think it may be generational.
7.21.2006 5:15am
The Arbusto Spectrum:
Absolutely unconscionable. Not only are these terrorists provoking war, but now they are misleading the public. Are there no boundaries any more?
7.21.2006 9:17am
jvarisco (www):
Of course they are lying. As Israel lied about negotiating for the prisoner's release, and our administration lied going into Iraq. But why is this newsworthy, that a guerrilla group makes outrageous claims? What matters is not if they are true, or if we believe them, but if their own supporters and followers believe them.

You (along with Victor) seem to be accusing the Financial Times of lying - they are not asserting the statements as truth, but merely reporting what Nasrallah said. Moreover, the quotes by him are buried well after quotes from the IDF. Unless you think that Israel is somehow not hitting civilians (they are bombing a modern city!) I don't see why the article is problematic.
7.21.2006 9:19am
big dirigible (mail) (www):
Well, Hezbollah propagandists lie like Persian carpets, but that piece only demonstrates it if one pretends to be unable to spot rhetorical sleight-of-hand, such as the obvious difference between "Hezbollah fighters" and "Hezbollah supporters".

Maybe the forces of civilization should do more to fight propaganda fire with fire. Since "they look like civilians", let's drop that "300 people have been killed – the overwhelming majority civilians" stuff, and report it as "300 Hezbollah fighters have been killed", since that's what they look like.
7.21.2006 9:32am
Anonymous Libertarian (mail):
What? An organization in armed conflict says incomplete or misleading things about its circumstances relative to the conflict? Shocking!
Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that everyone was jumping on the New York Times for trying to prevent the U.S. government from doing the same thing?

Don't get me wrong: I think the statements Professor Bernstein quotes probably are lies (though the evidence presented makes that case in only the weakest of circumstantial forms), and I couldn't care less for Hezbollah or its tactics in this conflict. But to criticize Hezbollah for its disinformation, as opposed to for its terrorist activities, seems to me like throwing stones from a glass house.
7.21.2006 9:51am
thirdfinger (mail):
big d,

I agree with you. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, acts like a duck it's probably a duck.
7.21.2006 9:57am
Zephyr (mail):
Of course Hezbollah lies. They must and should be condemned (but mostly for their aggression). I don't find it surprising, or particularly interesting, but vigilance to the statements of people in power, be they guerrillas or state leaders, is always appropriate.

That said, the legal question here is related to the moral question, and its one I don't think you've talked about — and is perhaps an appropriate way to talk about questions of justice, humanity — is the question of international law.

I think a real discussion of Israel's response to claims of disproportionality ("you're damn right we are (disproportionate)") is what is sorely needed here, and elsewhere. If there are those who feel strongly that the response is not disproportionate under international law, or that this aspect of international law should be ignored, I'd like to hear the discussion.

Thanks in advance,

Zephyr
7.21.2006 10:08am
Ken Arromdee:
But to criticize Hezbollah for its disinformation, as opposed to for its terrorist activities, seems to me like throwing stones from a glass house.

The more important point is not that Hezbollah is providing disinformation, but that the press and Europe is swallowing it.
7.21.2006 10:26am
Christopher M (mail):
This is the most bizarre post I've read on VC in a while. In the dialect of English that I speak, a "lie" is when you say something that's not true, knowing that it's not true. One way of catching someone in a lie is to catch them saying two contradictory things, because (most of us not being dialetheists, I presume) two contradictory statements can't be true at the same time.

But none of the "lies" listed in this post even come close to being contradictions, so I'm at a loss to figure out how we are to know that they're lies.

1. Proposition A (summarized): "Israel's strike on southern Beirut did not hit Hezbollah's leaders." Proposition B: "Hezbollah showed reporters some parts of its damaged facilities but not all of them, including one building that Israel called a 'leadership bunker.'" This is not a contradiction in any way whatsoever. I call my bedroom "my bedroom," but there are lots of times when someone could blow it up without killing me, and in any event the fact that international reporters aren't invited on guided tours of my bedroom doesn't really give anyone information one way or the other as to whether it's been blown up or whether I'm alive.

2. Proposition A: "Israel hasn't severely damaged Hezbollah's military capabilities, more than 300 people have been killed, and most of them have been civilians." Proposition B: "Israel hasn't made much headway against Hezbollah, and a lot of Hezbollah members look like civilians and are good at hiding." On what possible basis is this a contradiction? The fact that a fair number of Hezbollah members look like civilians to Israelis doesn't preclude people within Hezbollah from doing an accurate count of the civilian dead. The only possible way this is a contradiction is if you assume Hezbollah is lying about the civilian death count -- but if you're going to do that, you didn't need to bring up some supposed contradiction, because the premise "Hezbollah lies" just follows from itself.

3. Proposition A: "Hezbollah has no fighters in Beirut." Proposition B: "There are some Hezbollah supporters on the edge of Beirut's southern neighborhoods." This is a little bit closer, but "supporter" and "fighter" don't mean the same thing. I'm a "supporter" of the United States, but not a "fighter" for it. (That's putting aside the question whether the existence of "some" people on the "edge" of a location is a serious enough contradiction with a statement that there are "no" people there to warrant anyone making a big deal over it.)

So yeah, zero for three. Not like there aren't plenty of reasons to dislike &distrust Hezbollah, but these stupid pseudo-contradictions aren't one of them. This conflict provoke people to say the weirdest things.
7.21.2006 10:51am
Brad D. Bailey (mail):
I agree with big dirigible. How do we know most of the dead are civilians? Both Israel and the free world are dealing with an enemy that does not wear a military uniform. Recently, women and children have been committing terrorist acts.
7.21.2006 10:52am
goesh (mail):
I certainly agree with what the Asian respondent wrote. I'm waiting for the leader of hizbullah to get on camera and at least wag his tongue at the Israelis. And speaking of contradictions, it seems some in Europe are willing to call the hizbullah leader a terrorist but not hizbullah itself.
7.21.2006 11:03am
JohnAnnArbor:

C'mon, we're all lawyers here. I would call these "possible inconsistencies", rather than proven lies.


THere, in a nutshell, is why lawyers are held in low esteem.
7.21.2006 12:26pm
anomdebus:
<tic>Speaking of disproportionality, just the other day a mosquito was trying to extract that tiniest bit of blood from my viens and in retaliation, I crushed it to death with my hand.</tic>




nb: tic == tongue in cheek
7.21.2006 12:41pm
Shelby (mail):
I am not surprised if Hezbollah's spokesmen lie. However, for me the most crucial open question about this conflict (at the moment) is whether Israel is attacking targets not closely related to hurting Hezbollah or limiting its activities. Credulous reporting of Hezbollah's statements makes it nearly impossible to sort out whether Israel is indeed attacking illegitimate targets.

I understand that Hezbollah is not going to let independent reporters roam through Southern Lebanon investigating claimed IDF strikes. However, where there are circumstances that support or undercut Hezbollah's claims of what occurred, that should be reported. If there are no such circumstances, that should be reported too, and let the viewers/readers determine the credibility themselves.

I would also love to see the IDF explain what marginal targets it has hit and why, as well as where it has erroneously hit something it shouldn't have. For those of us inclined to Israel's perspective but who recognize that it could be in the wrong, such explanations would go a long way.
7.21.2006 1:17pm
A veteran VC reader:
To enhance your user experience here at the VC, use this.
7.21.2006 1:40pm
rarango (mail):
Re "proportionality," aka the strawman of the day: Seems to me using Katyusha rockets, an area fire weapon with only marginal guidance capability, on civilian targets is a disproportional tactic to start with. The notion of disproportionality is solely a strawman to disparage Israel, IMHO. And at this point in the overall conflict, does anyone really remember who started what in the first place? Faster, IDF, please.
7.21.2006 1:49pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
I agree with Christopher M. that these are at most "inconsistencies," and not lies. Saying "Our leadership was not killed, but we're not going to show you the leadership bunker" isn't a lie, i.e., a falsehood, it's at worst making a fact statement and then declining to offer proof in support of it. (And, of course, even if Hezbollah *had* shown the bunker and it *was* revealed as being hit, that still wouldn't necessarily mean the first statement was false, since it might not have been occupied at the time of the bombing, or the occupants might have escaped relatively unharmed.)

Equally, the spokesman and expert *agree* that Israel is not significantly damaging Hezbollah. The spokesman then says most of the people killed are civilians, while the expert says Hezbollah hides amongst civilians. Both of those statements can be simultaneously true. By way of example, if police are pursuing a criminal who runs into a crowd and the police open fire anyway, killing two innocent bystanders and the criminal, then it would be correct to say "most of the victims were innocent bystanders" and "the criminal was hiding amongst the innocent bystanders".

Finally, setting aside the fact that spokesmen in all contexts routinely make overly broad statements (e.g., "everybody agrees this product will revolutionize the industry"), the spokesman here said Hezbollah has "no fighters" in Beirut. Meanwhile, a Hezbollah "supporter" in Beirut says that he will fight the Israelis if they invade. Given that Hezbollah's party membership (usually estimated at a couple hundred thousand) is far larger than its military wing (usually estimated at 30,000), it's hardly unreasonable to think that there are "supporters" of Hezbollah who are not "fighters," and there certainly is no necessary contradiction in the statements.

Given that there are plenty of legitimate criticisms to be made of Hezbollah, this sort of post looks totally pathetic.
7.21.2006 2:13pm
cirby (mail):
On the "300 civilians" meme:

There have been a few incidents in Iraq where the press touted heavy "civilian casualties," while not noting that 90% of those "civilians" were young men between the ages of 18 and 26. Not exactly what you'd expect from "collateral damage" in a normal neighborhood...
7.21.2006 2:18pm
Tierce (mail):
rarango,

As far as I can tell, the sequence of events went something like this:
1. Hizballah attacks Israel patrol.
2. Israel strikes Beirut airport and targets in the city's southern suburbs, killing at least 50 people, begins naval blockade
3. Hizballah fires rockets

Given that there has been continual skirmishing between Hizballah and Israel along the border for sometime, it seems to me that it was Israel that significantly escalated the conflict (especially to a level of violence that included civilian casualties).

A proportionate response would have been to retaliate again Hizballah forces and position in the area, or at least the south of Lebanon. One can argue that there are strategic reasons for the Israeli escalation, but it was still disproportionate.
7.21.2006 2:54pm
rarango (mail):
Tierce-I was being a bit sarcastic (and overly brief) about who started what when--I intended to really start the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and the whole series of events creating a Jewish homeland, and the ensuing conflicts over the last 80 years. Your chronology is a accurate in terms of time sequence. Clearly, the Israelis are not concerned what other people think is proportionate, and one suspects that proportionality is a measure that is more salient the closer one is to the conflict.
7.21.2006 3:11pm
David in DC:
Proportionality refers to the use of proportionate means to achieve one's goals. It does not mean that the number of dead on both sides should be equal and it does not mean that all provocations and responses should be 'tit for tat' as the previous poster seems to think.

Israel's goals are absolutely legitimate here. They want their two kidnapped citizens back and they want a rogue force, one that is known for firing rockets indiscriminately towards Israeli citizens, removed from their border and a legitimate force take responsibility for the area (which echoes UNSC resolutions, including 1559).

So the question becomes - is what they are doing going to be effective at achieving this undeniably legitimate goal? Really, it isn't. They actually aren't doing enough yet to achieve their aims. They have isolated Hizbollah and cut off their supply routes (the airports, the sea, and the main roads to Syria), they have targeted their home base and leaders in southern Beirut, they have targeted weapons caches, and they have destroyed assets they have used (the Lebanese coastal radars).

That won't be enough. The weapons stashes that aren't stored in people's houses are very well hidden in deep (I read 120 feet!) bunkers and tunnels. It's not enough to call a time out and everyone go home only to start this up again next time Iran or Syria or Hamas needs a distraction. Hizbollah needs to be disarmed. It would be great if an international force could be trusted to go in and enforce the Security Council's will, but it simply won't happen. The group must be rooted out first. And even then it is questionable how effective they will be since Hizbollah built up its current stash of weapons and built its bunkers under the noses of a UN force stationed there in the first place.
7.21.2006 3:21pm
Crunchy Frog:
Tierce, rarango - Actually, the sequence goes something like this:

1. Israel pulls out of southern Lebanon
2. Hezbollah moves into southern Lebanon
3. Hezbollah fires rockets
4. Hezbollah fires rockets
5. Hezbollah fires rockets
...
463. Hezbollah fires rockets
464. Hezbollah fires rockets
465. Hezbollah attacks Israeli patrol, inside Israel, kidnapping Israeli soldier in process
466. Hezbollah demands thousand jailed terrorists in prisoner swap for single Israeli soldier
467. Israel finally gets pissed and does something about it

To borrow the mosquito analogy, how many times does Israel have to get bit before they break out the industrial strength can of Raid?
7.21.2006 3:25pm
anomdebus:
CF,
step 465 should read:
465. Hezbollah attacks Israeli patrol, inside Israel, kidnapping Israeli soldier in process, while firing rockets. <source>

Don't forget to return the analogy :P
7.21.2006 3:36pm
Shangui (mail):
So the question becomes - is what they are doing going to be effective at achieving this undeniably legitimate goal?

And let's not forget the question of what the long term effects will be. How can sending Lebanon back 20 years and utterly destroying its economy possibly lead to more stability in the region? Terrorism always benefits when people see no other appealing routes out of their situation. Lebanon was well on its way to giving people those better routes and a chance for a better future. That's all shot to hell now. Israel might as well be printing up recuiting posters for Hezbollah and every other wacko militant group. Whether they are justified in doing what they are doing is besides the point. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. I've long been a general supporter of Israel as an example of democracy and capitalism (to an extent) in the Middle East, but with this response they have lost my support.
7.21.2006 4:07pm
cirby (mail):
How can sending Lebanon back 20 years and utterly destroying its economy possibly lead to more stability in the region?

If you think a Hezbollah-controlled Southern Lebanon contributes any stability to anything except arms sales, you need to rethink your premises.

Blowing up some bridges and shutting down an airport isn't going to set Lebanon back "20 years," unless they're really inept at building things out of concrete. On the other hand, getting rid of much of Hezbollah's military power will certainly go a long way towards actual stability, instead of the "shoot rockets at random" excuse for stability that pundits seem to prefer.
7.21.2006 4:14pm
David in DC:
Shangui,

I've long been a general supporter of Israel as an example of democracy and capitalism (to an extent) in the Middle East, but with this response they have lost my support.

Doesn't sound like you were all that big a supporter, assuming you ever really were one. Cirby addresses one of your mistaken premises, and I will add to that the prediction that aid will be quick and massive, and that rebuilding will be speedy. To address another of your premises - Hizbollah is not hurting for support in Lebanon. They have solid representation in parliament and even hold some ministerial seats. (Likewise, Hamas' electoral victory shows the same thing in the Palestinian territories.)

So, really, what does the population of northern Israel care whether Hizbollah holds 20 or 30 or 70% of parliament when their children's schools are hit by rockets as they are (hopefully) hiding in bomb shelters.

And there is nothing wrong with Hizbollah being elected into the government of Lebanon. If that is what the people want, so be it. But the reality is, those same people will have to make it clear that what Hizbollah is doing is unacceptable and force them to change or they will keep getting caught in the middle of the repercussions of Hizbollah's terrorist adventurism.
7.21.2006 5:02pm
rarango (mail):
Crunchy Frog and others--I had planned to make the point you did but didnt want to start a urination contest--and you are making my point about the starting point of the conflict--Let me be totally unambiguous about my personal position: Hezbollah should be wiped off the face of the earth down to the last terrorist (not militant: terrorist); Syria and Iran should be given ultimatums to cease and desisit from interference in Israeli affairs, and the whole notion of "proportionality," is as phony as a three dollar bill. As I said in my first post: Faster please IDF.
7.21.2006 5:08pm
Shangui (mail):
If you think a Hezbollah-controlled Southern Lebanon contributes any stability to anything except arms sales, you need to rethink your premises.

Did I say anything even remotely like this? Of course I didn't. But hey, it's easier to attack something ridiculous that you made up yourself so have at it!

Hezbollah is of course a huge impediment to stability in Lebanon and the region as a whole. And if you seriously think that ruining Lebanon's economy will make them easier to control, then you are an idiot have no understanding of social, political, and economic development. It's not just a matter of pouring concrete. We could pour all the concrete we want in Iraq and it won't suddenly save the economy or change the social and political problems. How long were US planes grounded after 9/11? Less than a week? Look at the long term effects that had on the US airline industry, which had a much more solid economic base than Lebanon's economy. Blowing up the airport and the major highways may hurt Hezbollah in the short term but I worry it will hurt the Lebanese people much more in the long term and make them less able and willing to reject Hezbollah themselves, which should be the ultimate goal.
7.21.2006 5:08pm
te (mail):
Let me see if I can understand your position: It seems from what I can make out that you think Israel is good and the those other guys are bad. Is that right?
7.21.2006 5:16pm
Shelby (mail):
Shangui:

That's all well and good, and I really do want to see Lebanon become a stable, democratic polity with a thriving economy. BUT. If Hezbollah remains the force that it is, with the goals and methods that it has, this will never happen. If Israel does NOT strike at the infrastructure currently enabling Hezbollah to attack it, the attacks will continue. All you're ultimately saying is, Israel should sacrifice its own existence in favor of Lebanon's, because Lebanon cannot rein in Hezbollah.

There is a real case to be made that Israel is overdoing it -- hitting infrastructure that is NOT useful to Hezbollah, attacking people clearly not connected with it, etc. Sadly I have yet to see that argument well made. There are lots of allegations flying around but damn little data to support them. If you can link to a solid source re what Israel is hitting and why it isn't relevant to fighting Hezbollah, I'd be grateful. Telling us the Beirut Airport was bombed does not count, because that's the main transport center for Hezbollah's weaponry.
7.21.2006 5:19pm
Shangui (mail):
There are lots of allegations flying around but damn little data to support them. If you can link to a solid source re what Israel is hitting and why it isn't relevant to fighting Hezbollah, I'd be grateful. Telling us the Beirut Airport was bombed does not count, because that's the main transport center for Hezbollah's weaponry.


I'll admit that I'm going entirely on what I read in US papers (e.g. NYT 7/19: "Israeli air attacks on civilian infrastructure like power plants, electricity transformers, airports, bridges, highways and government buildings"). I don't have contacts on the ground in Lebanon or some secret source of info. And I certainly understand the argument that a lot of these things are dual use. My point is, to use what is perhaps not the best analogy, that if Hezbollah is a cancer then Israel seems doing so much damage to Lebanon's body that it won't be able to fight off what remains of the cancer after Israel is done. If they manage to truly wipe out Hezbollah for good then I'd be thrilled. Contrary to what some commentators have assumed (with no basis whatsoever), I have absolutely no sympathy with Hezbollah, its goals or methods. But I fail to see why that requires me to support any effort whatsoever to eliminate them, especially when I don't think that method will be effective in the long run. If this works and in two years Lebanon is a richer and more stable than it was 10 days ago, then I'll be happy as a pig in shit. I just don't see that happening. Hope I'm wrong.
7.21.2006 5:44pm
rarango (mail):
te--in a nutshell, yes, if the question was asked of me.
7.21.2006 7:16pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Zephyr, I couldn't care less about what 'international law' says about what's going on in the Middle East.

Why would you?
7.21.2006 7:43pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
With the Israelis supposedly having over 200 nuclear weapons it doesnt seem very smart for the Arabs to keep bothering them so much, but then I figured out the flip flop in the 1st grade.
7.21.2006 7:52pm
Just:
"It's not just a matter of pouring concrete. We could pour all the concrete we want in Iraq and it won't suddenly save the economy or change the social and political problems."

Not to mention all the displaced people, and the dead.
7.21.2006 8:26pm
Mark F. (mail):
Here are some photos of what Israeli bombs actually do:

http://fromisraeltolebanon.info/
7.21.2006 8:34pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Hmm let me guess they blow stuff up and kill people?
7.21.2006 10:34pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Hey Mark, great site, I highly recommend it, especially love the cute Israeli Kids writing messages on the artillery shells. See, its funny cause the shells gonna blow up, so noone will actually read the message,unless its a dud. Its like those H bombs in Dr.Strangelove with the names written in chalk.("Dear John" and "Hi There" if I remember right).
7.21.2006 10:54pm
r4d20 (mail):

let's drop that "300 people have been killed – the overwhelming majority civilians" stuff, and report it as "300 Hezbollah fighters have been killed", since that's what they look like.


I think we can assume that at least some of the dead are real civilians. The vast majority of Hezb. fighters are, not suprisingly, males of "fighting age" - between 16 and 50. Outside of this demographic, however, the simple truth is that most of the women and children, and elderly, are probably not hezbollah fighters.
Not only is "All terrorists look like civilians, therefore all civilians are really terrorists" an obvious logical fallacy, it is statistically quite improbable that all of the dead women, children, and elderly were from the tiny minority that are fighters in Hezbollah. The best you could say with any degree if likelihood is that most of them are from the population that supports Hezbollah.
I think its better to be realistic about the consequences of the causes we support than to rationalize away the natural bad feelings that decent people have when they support causes that involve a choices with no "good" answers - choices where the death of innocent people is unavoidable. I haven't decided if I think their approach is good or not, but I definitely understand and support their right to defend themselves from these attacks. Their choice of response was invariably going to cause civilians casualties, not both sides ot varing degrees, and obviously the choice hty made is going to involve some numbers of dead lebanese civliations. No matter how "targeted" the bombing, the fact is that bombs miss and - more importantly - targets are misidentified. It's part of the friction and Operation Anaconda proved that even the best surveillance in the world can still miss and misidentify enemy positions. So, I think its best to accept this and accept that it sucks when innocent people are dying, and they are, but sometimes its inevitable.
7.22.2006 1:23am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Disproportionate response is exactly what you want in war. It shortens them and makes discussion of terms feasible.

Proportionate response makes wars last longer.

When fighters use Human Shields civilian casualties go up. The best way to discourage this is to ignore their presence and use what ever force is required to subdue the fighters. Except if the human shields are hostages. Even then one must not unduly hold back on their account as it will only encourage further hostage taking.
7.22.2006 9:58am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Shelby,

Target lists are military secrets. Why? If you have them (the infamous "bomb plot" of Pearl Harbor) it is possible to figure out the battle plan if you are paying attention.

But perhaps it could be reciprocal. Hezbollah gives its target list (the general vicinity of Haifa) and the Israelis can give theirs (latitude and longitude to within 10 yards).
7.22.2006 10:04am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
r4d20,

Why couldn't hezzie fighters be women and children? The Palis certainly use women and children as fighters and aas willing human shields (making them de facto fighters)
7.22.2006 10:09am
Just:
"Proportionate response makes wars last longer. When fighters use Human Shields civilian casualties go up. The best way to discourage this is to ignore their presence and use what ever force is required to subdue the fighters. Except if the human shields are hostages."

By denying the deaths of innocent, often fleeing civilians, or those killed in their own homes, you are doing a great disservice to Israel's cause. By claiming, or attempting to insinuate, that all the dead children, women and unarmed men are being used as "human shields" might justify Israel's actions for now. But how much sympathy will the world have for burned Jewish babies, when you're expecting them to turn their heads to burned browner babies now? Face it, many of these non-Jews died as innocents, not as human shields. The nature of cheap resistance warfare is that there is no isolated battlegrounds, no clean areas for Israel to bomb to win this quickly. She kills children and civilians at her own long term risk.

Curious: do the religious Jews in Israel think their G-d is supporting this kind of indiscriminate slaughter? If so, I'm so glad that Old Testament G-d is not mine, monotheism aside. If you could listen, this is not the healthiest, securest, most strategically wise way to go...
7.22.2006 10:33am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Just,

The Death toll in Lebanon is 100,000.

Insane you call me? Nope. That was the price of the Lebanese Civil War.

If Israel was practicing indiscriminate slaughter the death toll would be way higher than 30 a day (which so far according to the hezzies includes only one (1) fighter out of 300 deaths. Sure. Easy to believe. The hezzies always try to stick close to the truth).

But I understand your position. Since nothing can be done without killing innocents Israel should just let its innocents be killed. It would be the Christian thing to do. Now if you can tell me why the Jews opught to be more Christian than any Christian nation I know of I'd be really interested.
7.22.2006 2:18pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
To Just:
I have not noticed anyone denying "deaths of innocents". IDF certainly screwed up by bombing a convoy from a village they told to evacuate just hours earlier--and, yes, children got killed. This is unacceptable in the normal course of human events, but shit like that happens during a war. The difference is that IDF tries to prevent such errors and does not intentionally target civilians, while the Hezbollah and other terrorist groups seek out civilian targets.

To Mark F.:
Which part of PROPAGANDA do you not comprehend?

To jvarisco, who wrote:

You (along with Victor) seem to be accusing the Financial Times of lying - they are not asserting the statements as truth, but merely reporting what Nasrallah said. Moreover, the quotes by him are buried well after quotes from the IDF. Unless you think that Israel is somehow not hitting civilians (they are bombing a modern city!) I don't see why the article is problematic.


This is an odd observation, as I have not noticed anyone--not Bernstein, not his reader (Victor?), nor anyone in the comments--accusing FT of lying. If anything, it's the opposite--the reader sent in a bunch of clips from the story to show that FT is covering both angles, making it possible to juxtapose them. What the reader wrote was that the claims of the Lebanese and the Hezbollah are either self-contradictory or contrary to otherwise known facts. DB simply reproduced the text, presumably without editing, but added the extra claim about "lies", which does not seem to appear in the original. But neither one faults FT for anything.

To the rest of the commenting bunch:

It seems that for many of you your reading skills leave a lot to be desired. You read one thing, then claim another and attack the strawman argument that's never been presented. Worse, some of you disbelieve any media reports, while others believe any media reports. This is completely idiotic. One thing I found interesting here is that, unlike some of the more liberal blogs, the comments on this thread have not been blatantly anti-Semitic. Sure, there are plenty of readers who oppose "Israeli agression", but they've learned enough to keep their tongues when it comes to broader claims (of global Jewish conspiracy and the like). Still, before making accusations of barbarity against Israel, take a look at the less biased sources. For example, Haaretz, which is generally opposed to Israeli policies in the occupied territories and is often a very liberal rag, nonetheless covers the list of Israeli targets in Lebanon in some detail. Perhaps, before any of you run off at the mouth claiming that Israel targets civilians, you should read something that comes from people other than the Lebanese.

But, ultimately, the reason why any civilian targets are hit is because Israel tries to conduct a war, while Hezbollah wants to avoid an actual war, while continuing to pursue one-sided para-military action. There would be no civilian targets in Lebanon had Hezbollah not made repeated use of human shields, something that most Islamic guerillas have been prone to do. You don't want hospitals and mosques being hit? Tell Hezbollah not to store their ammunition there and to fire rockets from the buildings. You don't want a civilian port hit? Don't allow Hezbollah to use the naval radar at the port. You don't want the Beirut airport destroyed? Don't allow supplies to come through there and to be stored there. (Note also that while runways and storage facilities have been hit, the main buildings and the control tower have not been touched by bombs.)

Israel has learned a long time ago that trying to spin and lie in matters of way will only harm their cause. They hide some things, but, generally, the information they do release is fairly accurate. Nothing of the sort can be said about any of the Palestinian sources. They lie and distort everything in an attempt to gain sympathy from the West. The BBC buys into that, while FT apparently does not.

Haven't any of you been taught critical reading skills when you were in school?
7.22.2006 2:43pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Mark F.,

The hizzies ought to stop using human shields. Then fewer children would get turned into hamburger.
7.22.2006 2:54pm
r4d20 (mail):

r4d20,
Why couldn't hezzie fighters be women and children? The Palis certainly use women and children as fighters and aas willing human shields (making them de facto fighters)


Actually, I said they DID use women and children as fighters - but they are A MINORITY used for particular missions where disguise is important (aka. terrorism). Young men always have been, and probably always will be, make up 90%+ of the main force of "frontline" fighters of every army - the ones who fight head-on against enemy soldiers.

The idea that Hezb is using large number of women and pre-teen children on the basic military tasks like loading/crew rocket lauchers, or in conventional ambushes of Israeli force, is simply implausible. These are jobs that require the kind of physical endurance and strength that you simply don't find in the majority of children and women.

But, sadly, this is typical thinking from the American public these days. "I know they have used child soldiers occasionally in the past, so I am now going to believe every child killed iaa soldier, even though it would imply that the majority of Hezb. fighters are women and children, which is so stupid as to defy imagination, but it makes me fel good so I will believe it".
7.22.2006 4:37pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Just sez: Israel 'kills children and civilians at her own long term risk.'

Well, that might be true, or it might not. There's the argument that smacking down ill-disposed people hard enough might discourage other, not quite as ill-disposed people.

But that's speculative.

Two things are certain: 1. Israel is suffering in the short-term. 2. Israel is at risk in the long-term as long as Hezbollah and Islam exist, since they are dedicated to destroying Israel.

I asked you before, and you declined to respond, whether you beleive Israel would be bombing in Lebanon today if Hezbollah had not kidnapped Israeli citizens.

People on this blog raise many complicated questions of law, policy and morality that perhaps have no unequivocal answers. But my question is easy. So, Just, yea or nay?
7.22.2006 5:18pm