OPINION

Crime without punishment

Following the incursion of Israeli ground forces into Lebanon, the war has entered a second, more violent, phase. In the role of a modern Pontius Pilate, the West has passively observed the collective punishment of a nation and the destruction of an entire country. Meanwhile, efforts by the United Nations, Russia and a handful of European countries, including Greece, to achieve a ceasefire were torpedoed from the very beginning by Washington and its well-worn excuse that Israel «has the right to defend itself against terrorism.» But many questions still remain unanswered. Why did Israel have to open the gates of hell in response to the abduction of two of its soldiers, thus causing the deaths of 12 more of its soldiers (and 300 Lebanese civilians) when not so long ago it freed hundreds of Arab «terrorists» in exchange for the release of an Israeli businessman? Why did Israel have to bomb the camps of the Lebanese army, the same army that is being asked to drive Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon? What kind of logic allows one to describe as «defense against terrorism» a barbaric campaign which has already destroyed 38 arterial roads, 42 bridges, three airports and three ports as well as electricity, irrigation and telecoms networks, buses, ambulances and food convoys? The stark truth is that Israel has used the abduction of three of its soldiers (two in Lebanon and one in Gaza) as an excuse for a campaign with broad aims, namely the suppression of any will to resist Israeli occupation in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, the radical revision of the political map of the region and the appointment of compliant puppet governments in Beirut and Ramallah. It is unclear if it will achieve these aims. But this new war is likely to mobilize a new generation of Islamic fundamentalist «martyrs» who will make Hamas and Hezbollah appear the very soul of moderation.