Press Release 15 August 2006

Scottish Friends of Palestine welcomes the cessation in hostilities between the Israeli state and Hizbollah in Lebanon.

It is hoped that not only will this prove to be durable but that the Israeli state, and its citizens, will use the opportunity to reflect on the madness of its recent actions. We hope that prime minister Tony Blair will also reflect on his criminal folly in failing to call to a halt the totally disproportionate Israeli response to Hizbollah actions and in allowing Scotland’s soil to be used by the US in the transport of bombs to Israel.

However we are mindful of the realities in Lebanon. As should the Israeli state. Israel failed to establish a Maronite Christian state in Lebanon, in its own image, over three decades ago. Similarly it failed to establish a Christian militia controlled buffer zone in Southern Lebanon. The divided and sectarian nature of Lebanese society, exacerbated by continuous Israeli designs and interference always accompanied by violent action, has given rise to the resistance group, Hizbollah.

For us, far removed from the theatre of miltary action and violent, needless death in the Lebanon – we tend to forget or be unaware of the history of interference in Lebanese affairs. The Lebanese, including Hizbollah, are very much aware. Hence the the successful resistance of Hizbollah

It was Moshe Dayan who confirmed Israel’s mindset when he said

We will make all life impossible in South Lebanon

(Le Monde April 14-15 1974)

By the end of that decade the sum total of Israel’s achievement in South Lebanon was as follows

250 000 driven from their homes, 25 000 houses partly damaged; 10 000 houses totally destroyed; 3 046 families left without a breadwinner; 10 810 children orphaned; 36 000 pupils left without schools . . . 80% of all villages were damaged . . . Sidon and Beirut again overflowed with displaced families squatting in empty lots, hovels, or wherever they could find. In an area where agriculture was the mainstay of life, 11 000 dunums of tobacco land, 51 000 of orchards, and 70 000 of oranges were totally destroyed by 1980. Millions of trees and saplings were uprooted. Ports in Sidon and Tyre, highways, telephone installations and power stations were damaged and demolished.

(The Struggle over Lebanon Tabitha Petran p.254)

And this was all before the invasion of Lebanon by Ariel Sharon in 1982 and the subsequent Israeli occupation of South Lebanon for 18 years.

As yet more UN Security Council resolutions are generated, Scottish Friends of Palestine takes the opportunity to remind you of the dozens of similar resolutions which the state of Israel has ignored over the decades. These are a reminder that unilateral actions by the state of Israel, alone, are no solution. All actions must be negotiated within the parameters of international law and Palestinian rights. As it is, recent actions by Israel clearly show the contempt with which she regards the rights of the Palestinian people under occupation. These includes the blockade of the civilian population and their collective punishment, constant bombardment of a civilian population, the bombing of Gaza’s $150m power station, depriving 750,000 Palestinians of electricity in the intense summer heat, and the kidnapping on the West Bank of 64 members of the political wing of Hamas, including eight cabinet ministers and 22 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The state of Israel should now consider its position. Military force alone will not achieve a political solution with its neighbours – just as a firm conviction that Israel is somehow different with a different set of values from other nations, which allows it to deal with its opponents in a barbaric way, will achieve nothing.

It was Moshe Katsav, Israel’s current President, who observed

There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies, not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbours here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred metres away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.

The real problem is that the actions of Israel, as a state, seem to support such an absurd belief – without realising, yes, there might be a huge gap but it is Israel, and her actions, which belong to a different galaxy. The task of the international community is clear, the state of Israel must be brought to earth – and soon.

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