OPINION

‘Self-defense’ and prejudice

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has described as «prejudiced against Israel» those who condemn the incursion into Lebanon by his country’s military forces, which has caused the deaths of around 400 Lebanese and created some 600,000 refugees. But it would very difficult to describe as «prejudiced against Israel» United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, who recently charged that «the indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes an unacceptable targeting of civilians» and that «the scale of the killings… could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved.» It is equally difficult to accuse UN Undersecretary-General Jan Egeland of such prejudice in view of his charges that «Israel’s disproportionate response» violates human rights law. But the expression «disproportionate response» is too diplomatic to describe the situation. It fails to convey the frequency with which refugee convoys and camps are being bombed. It also fails to describe why hospitals, waterworks, medical supply units and residential areas, apart from those visited by US «peacemaker» Condoleezza Rice, have become «military targets.» News teams have also been hit, not surprisingly as Israel does not want its «disproportionate response» on record. Even a UN peacekeepers’ post was shelled on Israeli territory, and if a UN official had not clarified that this had been a «direct shot from a Israeli field gun,» the attack would doubtlessly have been attributed to Hezbollah rockets. These atrocities are theoretically simply Israel’s implementation of its right to self-defense. But to believe this one would have to be so gullible so as to agree that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq was nothing more than a humanitarian operation and an importation of democracy.