Lebanon: Deconstructing the lies

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Lebanon: Deconstructing the lies

Unread post by 'X' » August 2nd, 2006, 10:30 pm

LEBANON: DECONSTRUCTING THE LIES
by Mona Ibrahim aka Dragon Lion

I don't even know where to begin. So much to say. Though what Israel is
doing is absolutely horrifying, it is by no means surprising. In fact, it
is completely in line with the unjust nature in which Israel has conducted
itself since its colonialist inception. It is completely in line with the
nature of an apartheid imperialist country such as Israel. Let us not
forget Israel's history of oppression. This is just one of many examples of
that. For those who don't know or those who need a reminder you can check this link, www.dying2live.com/did_you_know.htm

And to see a listing of some of the over 70 plus United Nations Security
Council Resolutions violated by Israel, the most UN resolution violations by
any country in the world, you can check this link:
www.doublestandards.org/unres.html

Now on to the media. It is torturous to listen to mainstream American media as it is so absolutely twisted. I cannot even count the number of times that I have heard so called "educated" commentators from various political and social backgrounds insist, "Israel has a right to defend itself." Hmmmmm......let us rewind back to the so called beginning of the current assault on Lebanon. Two Israeli soldiers are kidnapped by Hizballah and this means Israel has the right to inflict mass punishment upon the entire country of Lebanon? Hmmm....does not sound very rational to me. In fact, it is a brazen violation of international law (look up Geneva Convention IV, Article 33).

Lebanon is NOT Hizballah. Hizballah holds power in the South of Lebanon and yet all of Lebanon is being punished for the actions of Hizballah. Two
Israeli soldiers are kidnapped and that justifies the killing of over 600
Lebanese civilians, many of them children, the destruction of Lebanon's
civilian infrastructure, and the displacement of half a million Lebanese
people? To say this is brutally disproportionate and horrifically unjust is
a gross understatement. So how can these so called "educated" commentators justify such blatant, austere injustice?

As Irish Labour Party President and spokesman on foreign affairs Michael D. Higgins TD states,"The response of Israel, supported by the most powerful country in the world [the US], is outrageous both in terms of the killing and injuring of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure,
which is occurring in such fashion as to even make impossible the delivery
of humanitarian relief by the United Nations and its agencies. Such
destruction is something which should not surprise the international
community. Israel has followed this policy for decades in Gaza and the
occupied territories of the West Bank. At the heart of the policy lies the
principle of collective punishment of civilians, the denial of human rights
and the destruction of a way of life. In full knowledge of this, the
European Union has remained silent, refusing to implement the human rights clauses of its own agreement with Israel despite being called on by the European Parliament to do so."

I would like to now take the time to quote Israeli military leaders to
highlight their brash cowboy mentality: Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Israel's Northern Command, said, "This affair is between Israel and the state of Lebanon. Where to attack? Once it is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate -- not just southern Lebanon, not just the line of Hizballah posts." Israel's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, told Israel's Channel 10, "If the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years." No further comment on this as their very own words speak volumes...

I must say now that I personally do not believe that Hizballah is a
terrorist organization; in my eyes they are a legitimate resistance group,
but regardless of whether one believes that Hizballah is a terrorist
organization or not, there is still no justification for the destruction of
an entire country based on one group. What about the right of an oppressed and occupied people to stand up and defend themselves? Let me say that again because it seems the mainstream media cannot seem to grasp this very basic human right--What about the right of an oppressed and occupied people to stand up and defend themselves?

How many people truly know the origins of Hizballah? Hizballah was formed in 1982 in response to Israel's brutal invasions, yes invasions, plural, and occupation of Lebanon. How quickly people forget. Over 20,000
Lebanese were killed during this occupation. And what about the massacres at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla for which the Belgian International Courts sought to prosecute former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide as he was the Israeli Defense Minister at the time of the Sabra/Shatilla massacres in 1982and largely responsible for the massacres. Yet people want to throw around the word "terrorism" so selectively.

For the most part when oppressed people (most often people of color) are defending themselvesagainst colonialist, occupying forces, they are almost always dubbed "terrorists." Yet the pernicious actions of an oppressive, colonialist, occupying force are self defense? Even an idiot can see that this makes no sense. It really is ridiculous yet sadly many people buy into this egregious distortion of truth.

Another misconception I would like to address here that has been circulated in the media is that Hizballah started this and there was no provocation from Israel. That is the most asinine, unintelligent, overly simplistic BS. Israel's partial withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in May of 2000 was not the end of its occupation of the region. Israel has continued to violate Lebanon's sovereignty long after 2000. Let us not forget that the Shebaa Farms region is still occupied by Israel and many Lebanese political prisoners still linger in Israeli jails many of whom have been denied a trial. To this day, Israel still refuses to provide to Lebanon, through the UN, a list of the 400,000 landmines Israel planted during its occupation of the region.

Thus, Hizballah has very legitimate beef with Israel, meaning Israeli
military is fair game considering that it is in fact the Israeli military
facilitating Lebanon's occupation, violation of human rights etc.
Hizballah's attack on Israeli soldiers and kidnapping of two of those
soldiers is not a terrorist act as they were attacking military not
civilians--an occupied region kidnapping military from the occupying
force is not a terrorist act--take the time to examine international law if
you don't believe me. Richard A. Falk, Professor Emeritus of International
Law and Practice at Princeton University and Honorary Vice President of the the Society of American International Law said in response to Israeli
soldiers being kidnapped by Palestinians in Gaza: "An Israeli
soldier is part of the Israeli military capability, and I think given the
whole context of a belligerent occupation that has not abided by
international law, that has not followed the resolutions of the United
Nations, that has not abided by the Geneva conventions, that this has to be viewed as an act of war and that it is in the context of what Israel
itself regards as a relationship of war. My best judgment...is that it is
not intrinsically a violation of international law. If he¹s subject to
torture or is executed while in captivity, that would be a violation
of international law. But to capture a soldier is not in itself in
violation of international law in this context." I believe Falk's
assessment can be extrapolated to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by
Hizballah as Lebanon too has been a victim of Israeli occupation.

So now let's examine the grotesque double standards perpetuated in
mainstream media. First let me make very clear that I do not advocate the murder of innocent civilians whether by Hizballah or Israel. Now onto
hypocritical media: Hizballah bombs Israel in response to Israel's bombing
of Lebanon and kills some innocent Israeli civilians and they are "inhumane monsters" according to the media yet Israel kills almost 20 times that number of Lebanese civilians and they are merely asserting their right to defend themselves against Hizballah, a group that was formed in reaction to Israel's occupation and oppression of the Lebanese people. This makes no damn sense. So why are people believing such flagrant lies spewed by an ignorant media clearly pushing a very specific agenda.

This same double standard has historically been used by colonialist,
imperialist nations to demonize legitimate resistance movements across the globe. Remember the Mau Mau's in Kenya who fought against the malicious occupation of their land by the British, the FLN in Algeria that fought the violent French colonization of their land, Nat Turner and the Maroons who resisted the holocaust of slavery; they too were all dubbed "terrorists" when they were merely defending their basic human rights of self determination, sovereignty, and freedom. The same unwarranted label of "terrorist" has been placed on legitimate resistance groups that fought colonialist, imperialist powers throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. And look at mainstream media's portrayal of Northern Ireland in their struggle against the British occupation--instead of recognizing their right to resist an occupying force, the mainstream media dub resistance groups in Northern Ireland as "terrorists." The list of such audacious examples of double standards goes on and on...

Israel's actions against Lebanon are not merely about the two kidnapped
soldiers; the kidnapping of the soldiers was a convenient trigger for them
to proceed with a strategic plan they have had in mind for a long time.
Things are not simplistic. Please take the time to read alternative forms
of media. Educate yourselves. The US and Israel love to bring up
international law when it benefits them but they throw international law out
the window in their own policies towards the rest of the world. This is
deplorable to say the least. As Irish Labour Party President Michael D.
Higgins TD wrote, "The refusal of the US to agree to talks with Syria, or to an immediate ceasefire, is reprehensible. Its policy in supporting the continuing loss of life and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon by Israel as a collective punishment of the Lebanese people for having Hizballah in their
midst is such a breach of international law as merits bringing it before the
international courts."

But of course the US and Israeli governments, as proven by their history,
think and act as if they are above international law. And the world is
sitting idly by and allowing it. No more...WE MUST ACT...

To read all of Michael D. Higgins TD article,"Is this the Beginning of the
End of International Law?" click here: www.medialens.org/board/

In Solidarity and Struggle,

Mona Ibrahim

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Unread post by Christina Marie » August 3rd, 2006, 7:18 pm

Just as I said, your position is loud and clear :roll:

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Unread post by bsavanh » August 7th, 2006, 9:41 am

WAKE UP PEOPLE! the conflict did not start with the kidnappings but when israel continued to hold lebanese land! the conflict goes back longer than the 4 weeks the jewish controlled mass media wants the people to believe! watch the links that i've posted below and be forever awaken!

mr galloway could not have say it any more truthfully
http://www.freespeechwar.com/smf/index.php?topic=2884.0

Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land. -- Educational Video
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... pr=goog-sl

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Unread post by punamusta » August 10th, 2006, 3:43 pm

Good to see that you, X, are here telling the other side of this insane war! Haven't been here on Streetgangs for a while, and now when I'm here going through all these topics about this war, I cannot do nothing but shake my head in disappointment. It is unbelievable to see how some people still can see some kind of a justification to what Israel is doing in Lebanon and Palestine. Just unbelievable... makes me kinda angry and sad...

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Unread post by Godfather » August 10th, 2006, 4:09 pm

Makes me sad to see that people consider harboring terrorists alright. Hizbollah attacked soliders and had they been given up by the Lebanese government conflict could've been avoided. Instead the govt chose to hide Hizbollah and thereby force Israel to take more violent means. What was Israel supposed to do when Lebnanon wouldn't let them touch Hizbollah?
Another misconception I would like to address here that has been circulated in the media is that Hizballah started this and there was no provocation from Israel. That is the most asinine, unintelligent, overly simplistic BS. Israel's partial withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in May of 2000 was not the end of its occupation of the region. Israel has continued to violate Lebanon's sovereignty long after 2000. Let us not forget that the Shebaa Farms region is still occupied by Israel and many Lebanese political prisoners still linger in Israeli jails many of whom have been denied a trial. To this day, Israel
Ownership of Shebba is widely disputed. Last I read, it's considered Serbia land. Israel left ALL Lebanese territory six years ago despite what radicals and their supporters try to claim.

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Unread post by Christina Marie » August 10th, 2006, 9:55 pm

Godfather wrote:Makes me sad to see that people consider harboring terrorists alright. Hizbollah attacked soliders and had they been given up by the Lebanese government conflict could've been avoided. Instead the govt chose to hide Hizbollah and thereby force Israel to take more violent means. What was Israel supposed to do when Lebnanon wouldn't let them touch Hizbollah?
Another misconception I would like to address here that has been circulated in the media is that Hizballah started this and there was no provocation from Israel. That is the most asinine, unintelligent, overly simplistic BS. Israel's partial withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in May of 2000 was not the end of its occupation of the region. Israel has continued to violate Lebanon's sovereignty long after 2000. Let us not forget that the Shebaa Farms region is still occupied by Israel and many Lebanese political prisoners still linger in Israeli jails many of whom have been denied a trial. To this day, Israel
Ownership of Shebba is widely disputed. Last I read, it's considered Serbia land. Israel left ALL Lebanese territory six years ago despite what radicals and their supporters try to claim.

Once again, could'nt have said it better myself

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Unread post by punamusta » August 11th, 2006, 6:07 am

Godfather wrote:Makes me sad to see that people consider harboring terrorists alright. Hizbollah attacked soliders and had they been given up by the Lebanese government conflict could've been avoided. Instead the govt chose to hide Hizbollah and thereby force Israel to take more violent means. What was Israel supposed to do when Lebnanon wouldn't let them touch Hizbollah?
I really wouldn't wan't to start a debate of this situation, because I have better things to do right now, but.....

How many Lebanese Israel has in their prisons that Lebanon has demanded to be freed or transfered to Lebanon? If you don't know, look for the info on that. That was the reason why Hizbollah captured those two soldiers - to swap prisoners. Now Israel is killing masses of civilians by bombing villages and cities randomly. Already 25% of Lebanese are refugees in their own land, while nearly 1000 civilians has been killed. Israel even bombed refugee camps in Lebanon and invaded Red Crescent's estates blocking ambulances from coming in. And very soon Lebanon is forced to shut down majority of their hospitals because of lack of energy and food. Man, there just isn't any justification to what Israel is doing currently in Lebanon and in Palestine. And nobody but US is forcing Israel to carry on this war as you said they were forced to use more violence.

And about those "terrorists"... You really think Israel's government isn't terrorist? Then what are they? They are a Zionist TERRORIST STATE.

The true face of terrorism -> http://fromisrael2lebanon.info/pa/index.php



______________________________________________


And although this is about Palestine and not Lebanon, this map is still very illustrative about Israel's state policy ->
Image

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Unread post by 'X' » August 11th, 2006, 6:17 am

punamusta wrote:
I really wouldn't wan't to start a debate of this situation, because I have better things to do right now

:!: :!: :!: :!:


punamusta wrote: I really wouldn't wan't to start a debate of this situation, because I have better things to do right now, but.....

How many Lebanese Israel has in their prisons that Lebanon has demanded to be freed or transfered to Lebanon? If you don't know, look for the info on that. That was the reason why Hizbollah captured those two soldiers - to swap prisoners. Now Israel is killing masses of civilians by bombing villages and cities randomly. Already 25% of Lebanese are refugees in their own land, while nearly 1000 civilians has been killed. Israel even bombed refugee camps in Lebanon and invaded Red Crescent's estates blocking ambulances from coming in. And very soon Lebanon is forced to shut down majority of their hospitals because of lack of energy and food. Man, there just isn't any justification to what Israel is doing currently in Lebanon and in Palestine. And nobody but US is forcing Israel to carry on this war as you said they were forced to use more violence.

And about those "terrorists"... You really think Israel's government isn't terrorist? Then what are they? They are a Zionist TERRORIST STATE.

Excellent points....

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Unread post by Cold Bear » August 11th, 2006, 6:44 am

I don't see how you can look at those pictures of how arabs were g'd out of their homeland and not see why there are resistance movements in existence.

Another essay I found on line from a ethnic studies student that i think is on point
----------------------------------------------------

I had some thoughts for you on how ethnic studies ties in to the counter-terrorism discourse. This is sort of a rough outline, mostly because I'm still figuring it out for myself. I apologize if it is not clearly elucidated.

The thesis of this email to you is that in the rush to figure out the changing nature of conflict, some commentators/strategists have developed a descriptive framework (which they call 4th Generation War--more on that in a minute) that while accurately depicting what we're seeing in Israel/Lebanon/Iraq also begins to draw some extraordinarily misinformed and downright creepy inferences about the nature of identity. More or less they adopt an essentialist/ethnic nationalist viewpoint that western civilization and "Christendom" are under siege from evil non-white/non-Christian hordes. Taken to its logical conclusion in American domestic politics, this discourse will justify a movement to eliminate the culture of everyone who is not a right wing Christian Nationalist, in the name of fighting terrorism.

One of the big discussions right now in the security community is about the changing nature of war. The view by some is that the advantages of Western militaries in terms of bigger guns, planes, tanks etc are mitigated by the rise of non-state actors (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah etc) that are guerrillas and refuse to fight on what we used to call the conventional battlefield, i.e. Saving Private Ryan. The US, Israeli, British etc militaries train and plan to fight on the conventional battlefield. One of the frameworks for understanding unconventional war is called "4th Generation Warfare", and here's a bit from the wikipedia entry: " Fourth Generation wars are characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian, peace and conflict, battlefield and safety. "

Basically 4GW means fighters without uniforms, refusing to fight pitched battles but instead attacking state militaries through indirect means, such as the infamous IED's, diversionary attacks, attacks on infrastructure targets (power stations, water, financial centers) to destroy a the state's internal cohesiveness. The theory is that small groups are empowered via the internet, powerful laptops etc that allow them to punch above their weight. 4GW fighters will seek to attack their opponent at its weakest points, instead of meeting head on. States can play the 4GW card as well, but that's beyond the scope of this email.

Enough about the theory. Where does it intersect with identity and ethnic studies? The argument is that in the 4GW framework the conflict is between the state and non-state actors trying to undermine social cohesiveness. The giant leap that some influential theorists take is that they argue that the solution to the challenge is to ensure cohesiveness of the state by forcibly solidifying a monoculture. I think you can see exactly why that is troubling. Bill Lind was probably the first guy to coin the term 4GW and you can read one of his screeds against multiculturalism here.
http://www.freecongress.org/commentarie ... 0103BL.asp

I'm not a big fan of Marxism, but the sheer paranoia displayed in the essay is breathtaking. Lind is good I think on the strategic and tactical level, and dangerously wrong when he veers off to discuss civil society and the role of culture. Lind has some audience in the military-- he helped write the book on armored warfare for the Marine Corps in the 80s.

What's disturbing to me is the level to which Lind and his fellow travelers fail to understand the very real experiences of non-white communities with oppression and domination by the mainstream of American or, "western" culture. It's as if we don't count in their worldview.

It never occurs to Lind and most of the other 4GW theorists I've read, that culture can change, or that Americans could construct our own identity that takes in to account differing views.

It's as if Lind cannot grasp that the effort to create the monoculture in fact creates the climate of pervasive humiliation that leads to exactly the rise of the ethnic nationalist/religious identities which the monoculture proponents want to eliminate. I don't know if you've ever read the bios of Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 attackers, but what jumps out at me is that they many were well educated guys who had lived in the west. Some conservative commentators have pointed to this as proof that terrorism isn't caused by poverty, but by some kernel of evil within Islam. When I read the bios, however, what came through to me were two things, identity crisis and alienation. Atta unfortunately chose to fill that vacuum with fundamentalist Islam and we know how that turned out. It's all about dealing with perceived humiliation.

In the end I think the solution to the problem of asymetric warfare, etc comes in finding ways for people to reconcile their different identities with one another, in a way that doesn't end in a violence. Thus, scholars like you are actually in an ideal spot to examine these emergent phenomena. The security policy/strategy analysts, are completely out of their depth when it comes to discussions of culture and identity.

------------------------------------------------------


Here's another one that is more pro-Israel


Before the soldier kidnappings, I was staunchly Pro-Palestinian. Based on what I had learned in college, I viewed the conflict as that of David and Goliath. In my mind, Palestinians armed with rocks played the part of revolutionaries while Israel, with its tanks and missiles, assumed the role of military behemoth. I assumed that the sole goal of the Palestinians was to be left alone so they could build their own independent state. I figured most Israelis were in support of settlers and wanted nothing more than to extend further into the Palestinian territories.

However, since I got here[Israel] about two months ago, I've come more to the middle. My original conceptions were a little too simple, grounded more in things I heard at college rallies than from talking to people who actually live in the area. Most Israelis I've talked to do not favor expansion or the settlers. All in all, they say they would very much like to lead a quiet life and have things cool off. This has become even more apparent as a number of the scientists I work with are being called up to serve in the military action in Lebanon. These are people who have families and children, who have not been soldiers or had to assume a soldier’s mentality for years. I believe their wish to live their life uninterrupted is sincere and I sympathize with them.

From talking to people I've come to the realization that a lot of what I am used to thinking is somewhat idealistic. The big thing I've come to realize is that it is not everyone's goal to be left alone. Shortly after getting here, I got into a discussion about the first kidnapped soldier with one of my colleagues that had been in the IDF. He told me he was surprised how jaded he had become in so short a time. Regarding Hamas, he said, “You cannot reason with them. They do not fight for reason, they are fighting for God. Before, I was very much for peace. I would have said anyone who wanted to fight the Arabs was ignorant and racist. But after being here so long, after so many attacks and being at war for so long, I changed. I just want peace, but they do not want to just be left alone.”

I think this was my major misconception. Being from the US, I assumed it would be enough for both sides to go tit for tat until deciding they're even, because I thought that everyone’s natural goal is to live and work and be left alone. That is why I have always assumed peace was possible. But that is not the case for everyone here. For Islamic extremists, the goal is to destroy the state of Israel. I used to write this idea off as propaganda spread by Israel to advance their foreign policy, but a lot of what I've heard and seen here suggests it is more true than I previously thought. And the idea of Hamas or other governments actually wanting to destroy Israel (and not just using it as rhetoric to find approval with the masses) is a very scary thing to consider, because it is a goal that cannot end in compromise and a conflict that time cannot resolve. It is a conflict that can only end when one side completely destroys the other.

Beyond the religious basis for the conflict, there also seems to be a strong socio-economic basis for it as well. The Palestinian state seems horribly disorganized, and I can understand how people that are unemployed and living in poverty would not be content to just live their lives. I understand why people living in such these conditions could be swayed by groups like Hamas to want to fight their relatively rich and close neighbors/employers (especially since Israel seems to be at least partially responsible for the economic inequity of the Palestinian state). Given that Hamas has long been a provider of social services to a large portion of the state, it seems all the more reason why they (and their rhetoric) are so popular.

What is perhaps most surprising for me is that I've come to kind of appreciate the IDF more and have found myself agreeing with their actions far more than I ever would have expected. Being that I am staying in Israel, I realize that this is somewhat hypocritical, like hating the police until you become a homeowner in a bad neighborhood and suddenly want cops driving around hassling people. But I am now more appreciative of their position. I had originally thought the invasion into Gaza after the first kidnapping was overly aggressive. I objected to people who said that the IDF needed to react strongly, that only refusing to negotiate and using military force would dissuade future kidnappings. This all sounded remniscient of Republican war-hawk rhetoric to me, and I was firmly against it until the second group of soldiers was kidnapped. At that point, I realized how easy it is to kidnap soldiers (or even citizens) and if it were seen as advantageous at all, there’d be no end to it. This is what war is like.

I also have a newfound and palpable sense of the risk I am in being in Israel, so I appreciate that the IDF is reducing Hezbollah's ability to shell Haifa (I was there about 3 weeks ago). I realize that it's hard for them. Despite their claims of aiming only at military targets, Hezbollah and Hamas have been firing rockets at civilian targets for over a month now. Before the Gaza invasion, the international community was not incensed about this, it's kind of just accepted as what Hamas and Hezbollah do. Conversely, the scrutiny that the IDF has been under has been substantial. Granted, much of this criticism is deserved; the IDF has destroyed a lot of the infrastructure (such as power and water plants) in Lebanon and Gaza, thereby hurting many civilians. Missiles have missed their targets and hit civilians. But sadly, that is the nature of war. And it's still amazing to me that Israel is largely being portrayed in the international community as being overly aggressive when they are essentially responding to kidnappings of its soldiers and attacks on its own civilians. While I can see why critics would favor diplomacy here, I do not think Israel can afford to have a non-forceful response. The failure of diplomacy would lead to more kidnappings and more missiles from Israel’s borders. And for a small and isolated country, that is a failure that they cannot afford.

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Unread post by Godfather » August 11th, 2006, 9:54 am

Pun those are some interesting facts you brought to the table. I'm want to try to examine them a little further but I think there's something wrong with your link. You say that the soliders were in fact kidnapped for a "swap" of sorts and that's something I've never read about. Also can you provide a link to the website that you got that map from?

CB interesting articles. The first one confused me a little bit but the second one was pretty clear. Do you have an article available that's sort of like the second one except more Pro-Lebanese or Pro-Palestinian?

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Unread post by Cold Bear » August 11th, 2006, 10:38 am

Nah not off hand. The first one is pretty clear to me and I side with that a little more, but the second one I put because it was somebody who was more pro-arab and who is now kind of even about it after actually being there.

The first one reflects how people bug out and get scared of Islam and make it a crusade by always claiming to be threatened by 'non-white savages'. If you look at action movies from the 80's with dolph lundgren, sylvester stallone, all themajors, you'll see that the bad guy is always an exaggerated Arab type. That's why so many people are so quick to write of Arabs as terrorists or savage incorrectly.

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Unread post by Cold Bear » August 14th, 2006, 8:36 am

Who's attacking who? This dude says Hizbollah is justified

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=249JaIaubVw

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Unread post by 'X' » August 20th, 2006, 3:02 pm

Hizbollah hands out cash to Lebanese
By Alistair Lyon

BEIRUT - Hizbollah handed out bundles of cash on Friday to people whose homes were wrecked by Israeli bombing, consolidating the Iranian-backed group's support among Lebanon's Shi'ites and embarrassing the Beirut government.

"This is a very, very reasonable amount. It is not small," said Ayman Jaber, 27, holding a wad he had just picked up from Hizbollah of $12,000 in banknotes wrapped in tissue.

Israeli and U.S. officials have voiced concern that Hizbollah will entrench its popularity by moving fast -- with Iranian money -- to help people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the 34-day conflict with Israel.


Hizbollah has not said where the funds are coming from to compensate people from an estimated 15,000 destroyed homes. The scheme appears likely to cost at least $150 million. The Lebanese government has yet to launch anything similar.

Trying to bolster a five-day-old truce, Lebanese troops moved deeper into south Lebanon a day after France dealt a blow to hopes of building a strong U.N. force to help the army take control of the region as Israeli troops withdraw.

The United Nations said it had received substantial offers of troops for Lebanon, but was disappointed that France was only offering to send 200 additional soldiers.

"We had hoped -- we make no secret of it -- that there would be a stronger French contribution," said U.N. deputy secretary-general Mark Malloch Brown.

International and Lebanese government aid efforts risk being overshadowed by Hizbollah's swift action on reconstruction.

Hizbollah said it had so far given the one-time cash payment to 120 families whose homes in the southern suburbs of Beirut were destroyed in Israeli air strikes. The money is to help families rent and furnish alternative accommodation.

"We have full information on all the buildings that have been destroyed or damaged," said a Hizbollah official at one of 12 assistance centers the group has set up in the suburbs.

"Later on, we will either pay for new flats or rebuild the buildings that were destroyed."

Hizbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah promised the compensation in his first speech after the truce took hold.


PAINFUL EXPERIENCE

France's reticence to contribute more troops follows disastrous peacekeeping missions in the past. It lost 58 paratroopers to a Shi'ite suicide bomb attack in Beirut in 1983 and some 84 soldiers in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

"I'd like to remind you of the experience of painful operations where U.N. forces did not have a sufficiently precise mission or the means to react," French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told RTL radio.

The Italian government formally approved the deployment of troops to Lebanon. It did not say how many would be sent, but officials have said Italy was ready to offer up to 3,000 troops.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Italy wanted to contribute, but that the mission must have clear rules of engagement.

The Lebanese army began deploying south of the Litani River, about 20 km (13 miles) from the border with Israel, on Thursday.

A senior security source said about 4,500 Lebanese troops were already south of the Litani and more units were joining them on Friday as the force builds up to an eventual 15,000.

Some troops reached the village of Shebaa, near the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms enclave, a key source of tension between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas before the recent war.

Hizbollah fighters have melted away as the Lebanese army arrives, but they have not left the south or given up the rocket launchers they used to bombard Israel during the conflict.


Malloch Brown said Hizbollah's disarmament required an agreement between the group and the Lebanese government.

At least 1,181 people in Lebanon and 157 Israelis were killed in the conflict that erupted after Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinian militants near Bethlehem after a nearly two-hour standoff, Palestinian security sources and witnesses said.

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Christina Marie
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Unread post by Christina Marie » August 20th, 2006, 3:09 pm

Is this off that Lebanese propaganda site again?

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