Stephen R. Shalom has an excellent Lebanon War Question and Answer article on ZNet. It addresses such questions as:
“Doesn’t Israel have the right to defend itself?”
“But can any country accept having rockets raining down on its citizens?”
“But doesn’t Hezbollah place its fighters and its weapons amid civilians, making Hezbollah — and not Israel — responsible for any civilian deaths?”
“But didn’t Israel withdraw from Gaza as the first step in giving the Palestinians a state?”
Read it for a rationale discussion of the complex issues, and an antidote to the propaganda from all sides.
August 10th, 2006
Israel is a complex society. At the same time the country is ruthlessly attacking Lebanese civilians with all the weapons of modern mass murder available to modern states, some Israeli pilots are resisting by deliberately missing their targets in order to avoid deliberately killing civilians, according to Democracy Now!
YONATAN SHAPIRA: Yeah. I just spoke to some friends in the Air Force, an F-15 pilot, and he told me an interesting thing. He told me that since the third day of this war, they are waiting for Bush to stop the war. They also understand that they are playing some kind of role in this whole big war of interests between major forces, not just Israel and not just Hezbollah.
Also he tells me that they are not counting anymore on intelligence. Sometimes they see — you know, they get the coordinates, and they see a house in their target, and they prefer to shoot beside the house, because they don’t know. Maybe there are civilians, maybe there are innocent people sleeping there. Sometimes this intelligence are being based on the fact that Israel told those civilians to evacuate their villages, and then afterwards, they just tell the pilots to bomb some houses then. And I know that more and more pilots are feeling very, very uncomfortable with this situation. And we are waiting for the first pilot to refuse to do these crimes and to help us, Israelis and Arabs in this region, to stop this crazy war.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Yonatan Shapira, this is very significant, what the Guardian newspaper was talking about and also quoting you about this: at least two Israeli fighter pilots deliberately missing bombing targets in Lebanon, because they were concerned they were being ordered to bomb civilians.
YONATAN SHAPIRA: Yeah, I know that — I guess there are several of them. I spoke with one of them, who told me especially of one case that he just got a target — it was a house on a hill — and he just didn’t want to shoot at the house, and he shot beside the house, and later on, the commanders told him that it’s okay. And my question is, you know, if they can give pilots a target, and later on when the pilot is not shooting the house and telling him that it’s okay, you know, what is all this idea behind those missions, if, you know, you can shoot the house, you can not shoot the house? I think there is a problem, you know, spilling behind all these missions that these pilots are getting.
And just so you know, as pilot, I’m not a fighter pilot. I was a helicopter pilot, and I didn’t shoot anyone, but I know, just like most of the people can understand, a fighter pilot is flying up in the sky, thousands of feet above the ground. He cannot see people. He cannot see — he can maybe see some dots, something on the screen inside the cockpit, but he cannot know whether there are civilians or enemies, or, you know, that the truck is bringing missiles or bringing kids. And if now we see that pilots cannot trust the system, I think it’s a sign that maybe, maybe in the near future, some of them will speak out, not just quietly and continue to serve, but to speak out to the world to help us to stop this war.
Other Israeli soldiers are resisting going to Lebanon:
DAN TAMIR: Well, I have already twice told my commanders that I’m not willing to carry out such mobilization orders. The first time was in 2001, and the second time in 2004. That time, it was considering going into military regime at the Occupied Territories in Judea and Samaria. Personally, I refused twice, and I was sent twice to jail for one month every time, although it doesn’t have to be like this. Some people just say, “We are not going,” and their commanders just let them go. I must emphasize maybe that going to jail is not some kind of an aim for itself. Some people are sent to jail, but many others are being just dismissed. This is why the actual number of refuseniks, of people who refuse to take actions, is actually much higher than the number of people actually sitting in jail.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?
DAN TAMIR: I mean that there are many people, many soldiers and officers, who say, “We are not going,” and since the Israeli military is the — how should I put it? — doesn’t have the strongest disciplines, many people are just being dismissed by their officers telling them, “Okay, don’t come this year. We’ll call you in a few months,” just in order not to make such a big fuss out of this whole issue.
If only Hezbollah fighters would start refusing to fire missiles into civilian areas in Lebanon. We can dream that the fighters on both sides wouls refuse to continue their kiling. Sometimes, just sometimes, dreams come true…
August 10th, 2006