Monday, 24 July 2006

Wider implications

Paul Rogers, writing again for OpenDemocracy, in his latest analysis (Hit Beirut, target Tehran) suggests that the current US support for Israel's bombardment of Lebanon is at least in part a preparation for wider action against Iran. He raises the possibility that by attacking Hizbollah (OK, I know they're doing much more than that in their destruction of the country's infrastructure and taking of innocent lives) they are weakening their ability to retaliate if one or both countries decide to attack Iran later in the year.

With this in mind, encouraging our own decision-makers to push for diplomatic approaches to both conflicts would still seem worth doing. Whether or not we describe what is happening as a 'proportionate' or 'disproportionate', it is certainly profoundly damaging, both in the immediate region and more widely.

Wednesday, 19 July 2006


Paul Rogers seems to be writing a daily column for Open Democracy at the moment, focussing on the Israel / Palestin / Lebanon conflicts. In his most recent piece he describes the underground barrier being proposed (and in some places being tried out), to prevent Palestinians tunnelling underneath the dividing wall. He concludes:

"Such plans, coupled with the extensive IDF raids into Lebanon that have widespread support within Israel, all point to a national mindset of protection that is currently unable to even comprehend that the entire process is ultimately self-defeating. Israel cannot achieve physical security without political security, and that cannot be achieved except by negotiating with its adversaries and recognising the predicament of the Palestinians. In the final analysis there is no alternative to a peace settlement encompassing the creation of a viable Palestinian state."

To get beneath the headlines and gain an insight in the range of perceptions involved, the Bitter Lemons website provides a useful resource for reading a range of Israeli and Palestinian opinions and observations. They produce an emailed compilation of these pieces on a weekly basis.

A Guardian editorial today sets the Lebanese experiences alongside those suffered by Iraq on an almost daily basis, stating: " Any crude calculus of suffering risks cheapening the memory of the victims, but it is probable that many more Iraqis than Lebanese have been killed on average every day since Israel lashed out after Hizbullah's border attack."

The common factor in all this is the stoking up of the cycle of hatred from each act of violence.
"The Middle East is a tough neighbourhood. Iraq's sectarian war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have their own roots and dynamics. Both need resolving, urgently. Bleeding constantly, they sustain bitter hatreds and, as the Lebanese are learning to their cost, risk dragging others into an abyss."

Friday, 14 July 2006

Israel, Palestine, Lebanon

In a statement issued yesterday, Samuel Kobia, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches is reported as saying:

"We insist fully and firmly on the need for all parties to protect civilians -- Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian -- in accordance with international law. We call for an end to violent actions, condemning these actions including the destruction of roads, bridges and airport runways and the blockade by sea of Lebanon as is already the case in Gaza.

Implementation of international law including international humanitarian law and of UN resolutions concerning Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and Lebanon, is the essential alternative to the cycle of incursions, occupations, violent counter-attacks and international inaction that now looms over the Middle East again.

The WCC called two weeks ago for the international community to take new action to uphold law and end violence over Gaza, releasing those detained by both sides, and two months ago for Israel to base its security on equitable negotiations with neighbouring peoples within the framework of international laws and related guarantees. Events in Lebanon show the high costs of inaction by the international community.

This new word of warning comes with our urgent prayers for action by all parties committed to achieving peace with justice."

Links to other sources of information and comment from the region can be found on the NFPB website here and here. See also news and comment from Inter Press Service here
and many many more sources on Norbert's Bookmarks a Better World ... here

Friday, 7 July 2006


Paul Rogers, writing on Open Democracy (The threads of war ), makes some valuable points on this day when people are reflecting on the significance of the anniversary of the July 2005 suicide bombings in London. I don't imagine his sentiments would go down well in establishment circles, but he makes some valuable points. "Each month", he writes "the death toll in Iraq is equivalent to twenty London attacks." Any death through violent attack is horrific, and I cannot begin to imagine the emotional legacy for those immediately affected. But magnify that for vast swathes of society, as we might do for Iraq, Afghanistan etc. and the mind boggles to contemplate the hurt and its consequences.

Paul Rogers concludes: "The first anniversary of the London attacks is rightly a time for reflection and sympathy, but the memories of those killed might be much better served if there was at least some awareness at the top of the British government of the connection between its policies and the costs to its own citizens."

Meanwhile, writing in The Guardian, Sadiq Khan writes: "What matters above all is to ensure that Muslim voices and inputs are part of a mainstream and majority debate. ... We need a much deeper engagement between us all if we are to come up with a common analysis and solutions."