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Candide's Latest: Sunday, August 6, 2006
"This Other Hell We Call Earth"
The hottest jobs in Tyre, Lebanon.

Lebanon rejects UN resolution “because it would allow Israeli forces to remain on Lebanese soil, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Sunday,” Reuters reports. “Slamming the French-U.S. draft as biased, Berri said it ignored a seven-point plan presented by Lebanon that calls for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the return of all displaced civilians among other things. ‘ Lebanon, and all of Lebanon, rejects any resolution that is outside these seven points,’ said Berri, who has been negotiating on behalf of Hizbollah guerrillas.” Anyone surprised? Not because Berri, a moderate Shiite whose militia, Amal, was marginalized a long time ago by Hezbollah’s rise, is edging toward intransigence, but because the resolution itself was (as I wrote yesterday) a one-sided carte blanche for Israeli aggression in the guise of self-defense—a continuation of the current offensive by the same means, but with a UN resolution as a justifier. The resolution was designed to fail, and give Israel and the United States a means to press on with the attacks either way. It worked.

Syria rattles its whiskers: “Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem crossed into Lebanon Sunday for the first visit by a top Syrian official in more than a year,” the Jerusalem Post reports. “Speaking to reporters after the meeting with his Lebanese counterpart, Fawzi Salloukh, Moallem said ‘ Syria is ready for the possibility of a regional war if the Israeli aggression continues.’ He added that a US-French draft resolution to end the war ‘adopted Israel's point of view only.’ Underlining his support for Hizbullah, Moallem said, ‘as Syria's foreign minister I hope to be a soldier in the resistance.’” At Lebanon’s expense, of course and as always.

America's Criminal Inaction on behalf of diffusing Israeli-Syrian tensions: Ori Nir in The Forward: "According to diplomatic sources in Israel and in Washington, in the past three weeks Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government has turned to the Bush administration to intervene with Syria, only to end up relying on other third parties because of the White House's policy of isolating Damascus. [...] Syria is hearing the reassuring messages from Israel but is paying more attention to the belligerent bravado of the past three weeks, said Moshe Maoz, a leading Israeli expert on Syria."The Syrian government is very suspicious. It does not believe Israel's reassuring statements. The Syrians often suspect 'Zionist conspiracies,'" he said.According to Maoz, America's insistence to isolate Syria and avoid any contact with Assad's regime is not in Israel's interest. "Israel needs an effective channel to Syria," he said. "But in recent years, America has become more of a spoiler than an arbitrator in trying to improve relations between Israel and Syria." See Nir's article...

Nicholas Kristof says “Let’s Start Talking”: “As I see it, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is shooting Israel and America in the feet (and Lebanon in the stomach) each day that he continues his onslaught, with President Bush enthusiastically providing the ammunition. But since discussions of the Middle East usually involve people shouting past each other, let me stop harrumphing and try to address head-on the arguments of the many readers who disagree.” The debunking of American readers’ assumptions and presumptions follows, though Kristof leaves one salient point unaddressed, for being obviously too touchy for his audiences: the automatic reference of Hezbollah’s attacks, and attackers, as “terrorist.” It’s an obviously insupportable tag. The context is war, and Hezbollah’s targets have been overwhelmingly military. The reverse has been overwhelmingly not. One of the many ironies of the ongoing atrocity is that if the “terror” brand applies to anyone, given the slaughter of Lebanese civilians and the demolishing of their country down to their humanitarian network’s means of survival, it applies, overwhelmingly, to Israel. If you can say that in print in the United States and survive decapitation, let me know.

Ethan Bronner in the Times puts Israel’s latest growing quagmire in Lebanonat the feet of Ariel Sharon: “As a commander and politician, he made sure that Israel responded to armed provocation with ferocity, helping create Israel’s doctrine of asymmetrical deterrence. But paradoxically he was the one who, as prime minister, did virtually nothing for five years as Hezbollah built up a deadly anti-Israel arsenal on its northern border.” Sharon, Bronner reminds us, “led the first invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to uproot the Palestinian ministate that had taken hold there to carry out raids on Israel, a goal the invasion achieved. But a further effort to transform Lebanon into a state friendly to Israel failed utterly, and helped spawn Hezbollah, a Shiite movement that rules most of southern Lebanon and has since haunted Israel in more ways than one.” See the full analysis…

"The wholesale destruction of all of Lebanon by Israel and the US Pentagon," Juan Cole writes, "does not make any sense. Why bomb roads, roads, bridges, ports, fuel depots in Sunni and Christian areas that have nothing to do with Shiite Hizbullah in the deep south? And, why was Hizbullah's rocket capability so crucial that it provoked Israel to this orgy of destruction? Most of the rockets were small katyushas with limited range and were highly inaccurate. They were an annoyance in the Occupied Golan Heights, especially the Lebanese-owned Shebaa Farms area. Hizbullah had killed 6 Israeli civilians since 2000. For this you would destroy a whole country? It doesn't make any sense. Moreover, the Lebanese government elected last year was pro-American! Why risk causing it to fall by hitting the whole country so hard?" It doesn't make any sense unless it all goes back to every Mideast madness' common denominator: oil. Cole goes a-exploring...

In today’s Travel section of the New York Times, Jennifer Conlin asks, a bit prematurely: Can Beirut make yet another comeback? (A silly question, actually: Beirut has been flattened seven or eight times in its history, earthquakes not included. Coming back is its good-penny habit, regardless of the destroyers’ abilities or intent. Beirut outlasts.)

What Israel allows itself but no one else: "An Israeli army force stormed shortly before midnight on Saturday the house of Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), in the West Bank city of Ramallah and arrested him," China's People's Daily reports. "Residents in the area said that the Israeli army backed by jeeps and armored vehicles besieged the house of Dweik in the neighborhood and asked him to come out raising his hands and hand himself over to the soldiers. They added that when Dweik refused to come out and hand himself over to the soldiers, the force stormed the house, searched into its content, arrested Dweik and confiscated documents and his private Laptop Computer."

Accommodation or surrender to wealthy veils?Italy’s Corriere Della Sera reports that “Canopies may soon be seen on the beach at Riccione for the benefit of Middle Eastern holidaymakers. Partitions could protect the modesty of rich female visitors whose religious beliefs forbid them from appearing in public without traditional dress. In fact, the council has already given the scheme the green light.“If anyone makes a formal request, we have the motion ready”, says one councillor.This will make Riccione the first holiday resort in Italy to set up women-only beaches to cater for a new and extremely well-heeled influx of tourists from Muslim countries. Numbers of Arab holidaymakers have been growing for the past two seasons, but this year there has been a boom. “Princes”, say the owners of Riccione’s five-star hotels.


QUOTE OF THE DAY Juan Cole's Informed Comment

“The difference between Ahmadinejad and Olmert is that the Iranian president is a blowhard. The one who had practical plans to wipe a country off the map was Olmert.”


Bearing their crosses in Tyre

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