Feature

Unwilling—or Unable—to Stop Israel

Contemplating U.S. involvement in the Middle East crisis.

The United States is 'œmorally complicit in Israel's murder of civilians,' said George Monbiot in Britain's The Guardian. The U.S. supplies Israel with F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, M-16 rifles, and much of the rest of the arsenal that has been laying waste to southern Lebanon. U.S. diplomatic backing in the U.N., meanwhile, prevents the international community from condemning Israel's reckless overuse of force. If the U.S. chose to use its extraordinary leverage over Israel, it could order a cease-fire and the beginning of negotiations tomorrow. Much of official Washington, however, is in thrall to the 'œIsrael lobby,' and it would take an especially perceptive president to recognize and stand up to such a bully. Instead we have President Bush, who, with his blinkered worldview, sees the Islamic militants from Hezbollah as 'œterrorists' who attacked Israel for no reason. He is blind to Israel's crimes, such as its earlier occupation of Lebanon, its continued occupation of the West Bank, 'œits beating and shooting of children,' and 'œits bulldozing of homes.' As far as Bush is concerned, Israel can do what it likes.

Why should we be surprised? asked Germany's Nordkurier in an editorial. 'œNo U.S. president has done less for the Middle East peace process than Bush.' We can hope that now that Israel has botched its attempt at smashing Hezbollah'”leaving Lebanon in ruins and allowing the militants to claim every propaganda victory'”Bush might intervene simply to minimize the damage to the cause of the War on Terror. 'œBut given his inaction in the past, we're skeptical.'

Doing nothing is no longer an option, said France's Le Monde. The threat facing Israel is real and immediate. Hezbollah is an arm of Iran, and Iran is unambiguous in its pledge to eradicate Israel. Those who accuse Israel of retaliating against Hezbollah with disproportionate force fail to realize that 'œIsrael owes its survival to its ability to inflict disproportionate damage.' Yet by allowing Israel a free hand for so long, Bush has helped 'œprovoke an unprecedented wave of anti-Americanism' and anti-Israel sentiment, which is undermining the moderate Arab regimes that have helped defuse crises in the past. At this point, only a multinational force made up mostly of Europeans can ensure that Israel is protected and Lebanese civilians are spared.

Michael Streck

Die Tageszeitung

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