Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Of Iraqi refugees and Israeli cluster bombs


Refugees shopping in an almost all-Iraqi area of downtown Amman, Jordan. Photo: Jon Elmer 2005.

Last summer when we had just returned from visiting Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, I wrote a lot about two topics that had become more immediate to me from having been in the region. Today, a couple of timely updates:
  • A major United Nations meeting in Geneva today is taking up the situation of the 4 million Iraqis displaced in the wake of the U.S. attack on and occupation of their country. Emma Batha on an Alertnet blog reports that

    We're now seeing a "migration crisis of epic proportions", according to the International Rescue Committee, a relief agency which works with refugees.

    Around half those who have left their homes are living in Syria and Jordan, which are struggling with the burden - the issue is particularly sensitive in Jordan where Iraqis now make up a fifth of the population. (You can't help wondering how a European country might act in a similar situation.)

    ... For many years Afghanistan has been the world's biggest source of refugees, but experts believe it could very soon be overtaken by Iraq.

    Read the comments on this blog entry to get a sense of how the refugee Iraqis are destabilizing life in Syria, much as we heard last summer.
  • Meanwhile, international pressure is building on Israel to pay for cleanup of cluster bombs it fired into southern Lebanon in the last days of last summer's war.

    Belgium's Defense Minister said last week that he would act to extract payment from Israel for the removal of cluster bomb fragments that the Israel Defense Forces fired into Lebanese territory during the Second Lebanon War.

    During a meeting with representatives of Medical Aid for the Third World (MATW), an international medical organization, Defense Minister Andre Flahaut said the weapon was "the resort of cowards and a violation of international law."

    ... The MATW did not address the issue of how the funds would be collected from Israel.

    "We left that up to the Belgian government, as the removal is performed at its expense by the Belgian contingent to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon," [Dr. Bert] De Belder [of MATW] said.

    Haaretz, April 16, 2007

Seems like a reasonable request, but the world will see if anything comes of it.

5 comments:

Michael said...

Belgium's Defense Minister said last week that he would act to extract payment from Israel for the removal of cluster bomb fragments that the Israel Defense Forces fired into Lebanese territory during the Second Lebanon War.

While he's at it, will he get Hezbollah, who started the war, to pay to repair the damage they did to Israel?

I didn't think so. You can keep your double standard.

janinsanfran said...

Actually, in relation to this war, Israel is in the position of defending a 10-1 standard.

Lebanese dead: roughly 1120; UNICEF estimates 30 percent of these were children under 13; most of the rest were civilians, unless merely sympathizing with Hezbollah's version of Lebanese nationalism is belligerance.

Israeli dead: about 120. Of these, 4 were civilian.

Too many on both sides, but there is no meaningful equivalence between the two figures.

Michael said...

Your're right that there is no "meaningful equivalence;" there is none between terrorist aggression and self defense.

Hezbollah, either acting on behalf of Lebanon or as part of the Lebanese gov't (they have claimed both), committed an unprovoked act of war: crossed an internationall approved and recognized border to attack, kill, and kidnap Israeli troops, while launching rockets into unprepared towns as a cover.

If they could not handle the consequences of their actions, that is their own problem.

To give an comparison: In WWII, Germany lost about 7.5 million people, and Japan lost some 2.5 million, while the US lost 400,000. The aggressors were made to pay, until they stopped fighting.

You can't compare the figures; at some point those who start a war must be responsible for the results.

sfmike said...

Michael writes: "at some point those who start a war must be responsible for the results."

Uh, dude, Israel has been picking fights with its neighbors and its own citizens since its inception and it has NEVER accepted responsibility for the results. Everything bad must be on account of that dread, magical disease anti-semitism. And as for the United States starting wars...well, let's not even go there because it's too long a list. And like Israel, we NEVER take responsibility.

Michael said...

sfmike:
You said: Israel has been picking fights with its neighbors and its own citizens since its inception

How? All Israel has wanted is to be left alone; are you aware of what Israel's neighbors have been saying for almost 60 years? Let me give you some examples:

...our efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Palestine problem have failed. The only way left for us is war.
Abdullah I of Jordan, 1948

This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre...
Azzam Pasha, Arab Leage Secretary General, 15 May 1948, on the eve of the first Arab invasion of Israel

Our hatred is very strong. There is no sense talking about peace with Israel. There is not even the smallest place for negotiations.
Gamal Abdel Nasser, Pres. of Egypt, 14 Oct 1956

I want to say that this is our Palestine, ...from the River to the Sea; whether they want it or not.
Official PA television broadcast, 29 Nov 2000

In 1948, at the UN, all of the Arab states voted against forming a Palestine Conciliation Commission, to negotiate a settlement.

In 1955, Pres Nasser of Egypt launched a terrorist campaign out of Gaza:
There will be no peace on Israel's border, because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel's death.

Let me remind you that, in 1955, there was no "occupation."

In 1973, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia had this to say in support of Egypt and Syria's attack on Israel:
All countries should wage war against the Zionists, who are there to destroy all human organizations, and to destroy civilization...

I could keep going, and bring these quotes to the present day, but this comment would become too long.

I'll end with this: To this day, the Arab League has never officially renounced the policy they enunciated in 1967, to Israel's statement that it was simply waiting for a phone call, to begin negotiations.

That policy was the "3 no's:" no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.

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