News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Israel's Legacy in Lebanon Comes Home to Roost

Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel's Legacy in Lebanon Comes Home to Roost

After numerous decades, I can still remember the day that I heard Manahem Begin, Israel's then Prime Minister, assert in no uncertain terms that Israel would not invade Lebanon, even though Israeli troops were massed along Lebanon's southern border. Trusting sod that I am, I believed him and was thankful. Here was a man--known for his terrorist past--who knew what abyss he could plunge Lebanon into if Israelis invaded. ...

You might understand my horror, then, when the next day I woke to news that Israel had--contrary to Begin's apparently sincere statements--indeed crossed the Lebanese border and invaded Palestinian refugee camps.

As many will know, atrocities and massacres by Israeli troops followed. Lebanon itself plunged into fratricidal and religious civil war. The body count was horrendous. The great Mediterranean and enlightened city of Beirut became a terror-scape of rubble and gutted buildings from whose windows the combatants killed each other.

That war lasted many years. Eighteen years later, Israel finally pulled out from the area.

In the Mideast, if not in the world, all human events occur in a context, with a winding and intertwined history of human wills, deceptions, and self-delusion. Guardian reporter David Hirst recalls that historical context which currently feeds the battles and attacks underway in contemporary Lebanon and Gaza. Concluding his report, Hirst writes:

Lebanese apart, many Arabs, especially Islamists, are applauding Hizbullah's act, bring what it may - and none more so than its chief intended beneficiaries, the Palestinians, especially those doing battle in Gaza. As for its target, Israel, there could hardly be a more apt example of a nation reaping what it has sown. Israel took 18 years to extricate itself from the Lebanon morass - and only then at the price of leaving in place a triumphant Hizbullah of which, along with Iran and Syria, it justly ranks as a co-founder. Even as, on its new Gaza front, it is likewise turning Hamas and other Islamists into more formidable future foes than they already are, it suddenly finds itself confronted, in alarming and maddening fashion, with this monstrous legacy of an old one.
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