Thursday, August 05, 2010

When the Lebanese Army is not the Lebanese Army anymore...

Well, at least not the Lebanese Army of yesteryear. Not the boys who looked pretty in creaseless uniforms but wouldn't fire a shot if their very lives depended on it. There were of course reasons for the LA's legendary ineffectiveness, mostly rooted in Lebanon intrinsic ethnic/religious divisions. But Lebanon seems to be getting it together nowadays. And recently the LA did what it did what it's supposed to do in a rather pointless skirmish with the AOF who must have believed hell hath frozen over when the LA, without involvement of Hizb'allah, defended Lebanese territory. Gideon Levy tells it much better than I could ever do:

And now that we've recited ad nauseum the explanations of Israel Defense Forces propaganda for what happened Tuesday at the northern border, the facts should also be looked at.

On Tuesday morning, Israel requested "coordination" with UNIFIL to carry out another "exposing" operation on the border fence. UNIFIL asked the IDF to postpone the operation, because its commander is abroad. The IDF didn't care. UNIFIL won't stop us.

At noon the tree-cutters set out. The Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers shouted at them to stop. In Lebanon they say their soldiers also fired warning shots in the air. If they did, it didn't stop the IDF.

The tree branches were cut and blood was shed on both sides of the border. Shed in vain.

True, Israel maintains that the area across the fence is its territory, and UNIFIL officially confirmed that yesterday. But a fence is a fence: In Gaza it's enough to get near the fence for us to shoot to kill. In the West Bank the fence's route bears no resemblance to the Green Line, and still Palestinians are forbidden from crossing it.

In Lebanon we made different rules: the fence is just a fence, we're allowed to cross it and do whatever we like on the other side, sometimes in sovereign Lebanese territory. We can routinely fly in Lebanese airspace and sometimes invade as well.

This area was under Israeli occupation for 18 years, without us ever acknowledging it. It was an occupation no less brutal than the one in the territories, but whitewashed well. "The security zone," we called it. So now, as well, we can do what we like.

But suddenly there was a change. How did our analysts put it? Recently there's been "abnormal firing" at Israeli aircraft. After all, order must be maintained: We're allowed to fly in Lebanese airspace, they are not permitted to shoot.

But Tuesday's incident, which was blown out of proportion here as if it were cause for a war that only the famed Israeli "restraint" prevented, should be seen in its wider context. For months now the drums of war have been beating here again. Rat-a-tat, danger, Scuds from Syria, war in the north.

No one asks why and wherefore, it's just that summer's here, and with it our usual threats of war. But a UN report published this week held Israel fully responsible for creating this dangerous tension.

In this overheated atmosphere the IDF should have been careful when lighting its matches. UNIFIL requests a delay of an operation? The area is explosive? The work should have been postponed. Maybe the Lebanese Army is more determined now to protect its country's sovereignty - that is not only its right, but its duty - and a Lebanese commander who sees the IDF operating across the fence might give an order to shoot, even unjustifiably.

Who better than the IDF knows the pattern of shooting at any real or imagined violation? Just ask the soldiers at the separation fence or guarding Gaza. But Israel arrogantly dismissed UNIFIL's request for a delay.

It's the same arrogance behind the demand that the U.S. and France stop arming the Lebanese military. Only our military is allowed to build up arms. After years in which Israel demanded that the Lebanese Army take responsibility for what is happening in southern Lebanon, it is now doing so and we've changed our tune. Why? Because it stopped behaving like Israel's subcontractor and is starting to act like the army of a sovereign state.


At 5:52 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Maybe the Lebanese Army thought it was defending its territory, but it doesn't really seem that way. It was a routine operation Israel was doing on its own side of the border, though north of the fence (which isn't exactly on the blue line). Anyway, whatever happened, I hope it's behind us.

About that last paragraph in Levy's article: Working to stop the arming of our enemies isn't arrogance. It's legitimate international politics. Lebanon has every right to arm itself, as Israel has a right to arm itself as well. And just like we have a right to try to prevent our allies from providing arms to Lebanon, Lebanon (or any other enemy of ours) has every right to try to prevent countries from arming Israel.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Here's a slightly alternative take on it, courtesy Alex Stein.

The whole thing doesn't merit a great deal of analysis, IMHO.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger joe90 kane said...

Excellent journalism.

Thanks for bring it to my attention DyWp.

There isn't many other journalists in the western corpoarte media that can hold a candle up to the best that Jewish-Israel journalism has to offer.

By the way,
speaking of Gideon Levy, he'll be visiting the Athens of the North soon -
Gilbert Achcar & Gideon Levy
Dipping toes into the toxic waters of a never-ending conflict
Edinburgh International Book Festival
18 Aug 2010

In The Arabs and the Holocaust, prominent Middle East-watcher Gilbert Achcar discusses how events in the Second World War have helped shape various Arab worldviews. The Punishment of Gaza comes from Gideon Levy, a journalist dubbed a ‘thorn in Israel’s flank’, who explores the long, intricate planning behind the Gaza assault and how its painful legacy will affect the region forever.

All the best

Why does the Israeli regime have enemies?

Well, it's because Israel refuses to make peace with anyone, and rejects all offers all the time, unless it's self-styled 'enemies' can prove they are capable of defending themselves and also more than capable of taking on the Israeli state militarily, as Egypt demonstrated in 1973.

Israel has no enemies except the ones it creates, whose offers of peace it permanently rejects.

At 3:08 PM, Blogger joe90 kane said...

Here is a brilliant blog post about the state of the Lebanese military and whom the US expects it to use its weapons against, if it is allowed to have any decent ones that is -
Biden to Lebanon: how would like to be destroyed?
jews sans frontieres
01 June 2009

At 3:16 PM, Blogger Gert said...

It's the US exporting it's own snake oil merchant version of 'Democracy' again...

The Lebanese had better watch out.


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