In war innocents pay a heavy price. There is no way to fight a war without “collateral damage” to civilians unless the opposing armies agree to meet in a desert and let the superior force prevail. It certainly cannot be done when the aggressor is a terrorist army that deliberately places its headquarters, its weapons depots, its missile launchers and its staging bases in the middle of large urban centers like Beirut, or in the small villages abutting the border of its victims.
Sometimes the death of innocents comes not from collateral damage but from the deliberate targeting of civilians – as is almost invariably the case with terrorist armies like Hezbollah and Hamas. In World War II wherever the Wehrmacht went, Jews were rounded up for the slaughter. Guernica and Lidice are the names of innocent towns with no military value that were deliberately destroyed by the fascists. Sometimes innocents are targeted even by civilized armies with military ends in view. The allied bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki incinerated hundreds of thousands of civilians for military reasons. The allied bombings were designed to break the morale of the enemy and to end the war, and save millions of lives. They did, and we can all be grateful for that (or at least the honest among us can).
Critics of Israel’s defensive war against Islamic terrorists are busily wringing their hands over the destruction that has been wreaked on Lebanon, which is portrayed as innocent. They invoke these tragedies while calling on Israel to cease its fire and leave the Hezbollah aggressors intact. Since Israel had no role in starting this war, this is like blaming the Allies for the damage inflicted on Germany in World War II – and doing so in the midst of the war. Critics who make such charges and demands in the midst of a war are aiding and abetting the aggressors.
But the very idea that Lebanon is an innocent bystander in the war against Israel won’t wash. Lebanon is host to the terrorist aggressor which has sworn to eliminate Israel and its Jews from the face of the earth. This is the explicit creed of both Hezbollah and its sponsor Iran. And not just in their charter or in statements made months or years ago. Iran’s little dictator reiterated the threat even yesterday in the midst of Islam’s aggressive war against the Jews: “Israel has pushed the button of its own destruction. The Zionists made their worst decision and triggered their extinction by attacking Lebanon." Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, occupying two cabinet positions and seats in its parliament. The Lebanese government agreed to enforce UN Resolution 1559 which calls on it to disarm all militias on its territory, namely Hezbollah. If the Lebanese Government had performed this obligation, there would be no war, and there would be no Lebanese civilian casualties.
Instead the Lebanese government allowed Hezbollah to build its headquarters and underground bunkers in the populated neighborhoods of Beirut. It allowed Hezbollah to import 13,000 missiles to be fired into Israel’s cities and towns. The 75,000-man Lebanese army has not sealed off the Syrian border and, according to reports, has allowed Syria to re-supply Hezbollah in the midst of its aggression. The Lebanese government has allowed Hezbollah to build underground fortresses on its southern border in position to attack. It has allowed Hezbollah to launch rockets into the towns of northern Israel to terrorize and kill innocent civilians.
Israel has done nothing to provoke this attack from Lebananese territory. But in the midst of Hezbollah’s aggression against Israel, Lebanon’s prime minister has joined the attackers, blaming Israel for Lebanon’s misery instead of its source.
It will be objected that Lebanon is helpless, that its democracy was destroyed and its territory conquered by the PLO, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. It will be said that the Lebanese cannot resist the superior force of Hezbollah’s “state within a state.” But this is an argument in bad faith. No one is helpless. When France was occupied by Germany during World War II, DeGaulle organized the “free French” into a fighting force. The so-called “Cedar Revolution” showed that there are ways of manifesting opposition and resistance to the occupiers. Even though it failed, it showed that resistance is possible. If there is resistance to Islamic terror in Lebanon today, it is as invisible as moderate Islam. Put bluntly, while the Lebanese have demonstrated their resistance to the Syrian occupier in the very recent past, there has been no evidence of it when the aggressor is an Islamic force bent on obliterating the Jews.
The Lebanese army has not lifted a finger to obstruct Hezbollah’s aggression, but the Lebanese prime minister has been out front in attacking Israel. Who, watching the Lebanese interviewed by reporters during the war – including the Lebanese Americans evacuated to safety – can doubt that their hatred is for Jews and not for the Islamic killers of both the Jews and the Lebanese.
These attitudes do not make the Lebanese deserving of the war that Hezbollah and Iran have inflicted on them; but it does not make them innocent either. Hezbollah's Shi'ite fanatics are Lebanese. Over the last twenty years Hezbollah has become an integral part of Lebanese society and Lebanon's government. All the while Hezbollah has sworn to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. If war has come to Lebanon, no one can pretend that they didn't see it coming.
The last stand of Western imperialism is the patronizing attitude displayed by Western radicals and liberals toward Third World Muslims and Arabs. If Americans taught their children to murder Muslims as a quick pass to heaven, the left would regard this as a crime against humanity. But if Palestinians are the perpetrators of such crimes and Jews are the targets, it’s a different story. In this case terror is the only means (and therefore the understandable means) of a “desperate” people. Jews who have been told by Iran and Hezbollah that their extinction is imminent of course aren’t desperate.
Hassan Nasrallah is not a victim, let alone a helpless one; nor is he stupid, or unaware of what he is doing. He knows just what his agenda is. “There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel” he told a crowd of supporters. “I promise Israel that it will see more suicide attacks, for we will write our history with blood.” His supporters responded with chants of “Death to Israel, death to America.” Counseling the Israelis to lay down their arms in the face of these threats and negotiate with a movement that seeks their destruction is a not so surreptitious support for the malignant agendas themselves.
Making excuses for Lebanese appeasement of these agendas while directing moral outrage against the intended victims repeats a familiar pattern among leftist critics of America and Israel. In weighing in on the frontline battles against the terrorists in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, critics attribute civilian casualties not to the terrorists but to their opponents; liberation and self-defense are denounced as “occupation.” This is not even moral equivalence; it is sympathy for the devil.
Until the arrival of Arafat and the Palestinian terrorists, Lebanon was a Christian democracy. But Islamic radicalism could not tolerate either Christianity or democracy. This – not the presence of tiny Israel (one hundred times smaller than its current antagonists) is the root cause of the violence in the Middle East. The cause is Arab intolerance and Islamic hate. One Jewish state among 22 Arab states was one too many. Six million Jews among 300 million Arabs was too much to bear. A sliver of land, less than one percent of the Arab land mass, which belonged to first to the Turks and then to the British was an imperialist outrage. Lebanon, a country raped by the Syrian-Iranian axis and the Palestinians has become an integral component of the terrorists’ war plan to push the Middle Eastern Jews, who have lived continuously for 3,000 years in the region, into the sea. Lebanon is a tragedy of the 58-year Arab war against Israel, against democracy, and against Christianity in the Middle East. But it is not innocent.