So what do we call Israeli terrorism?

An editorial in Lebanon’s Daily Star that should be read in full and without comment:

While it remains to be seen whether Israel’s handing over maps of cluster bomb locations in southern Lebanon will put a definitive end to this bleeding wound of an issue, it’s not exactly the kind of move that inspires hope about a more peaceful future in this region. Israel has, finally, turned over the maps to the United Nations, which had long requested that such a step be taken. Unfortunately, the “generosity” came a bit late, certainly for the 300 or so Lebanese civilians who have been injured or killed by the deadly devices. “Only” a million or so were dropped by Israel during the July 2006 war, and perhaps several million is closer to the true number, since they can break into even smaller components.

The utter callousness of the original bombing, and the odyssey of the precious maps, are what cause people here to take note. And remember.

We’ll soon mark the third anniversary of the war. What was so problematic about handing the maps over all this time?

We can understand that the recent Gaza offensive partially reflected a desire by Israel to “save face,” after its disappointing performance, from its perspective, in July 2006.

But it’s certainly more difficult to process why these bombs were used in the first place. It’s an example of how we can make no sense of Israel’s actions. This and other Israeli policies accumulate, providing people here, and states, with a puzzling picture. What possible rationale could there be for the cluster bombs, and the delay in turning over the maps? The average person might understandably conclude that “they [the Israelis] hate us. So we’ll hate them back.”

What was the rationale? To limit the activity of Hizbullah? This might have made sense in the war’s immediate aftermath, but not after UNIFIL and Lebanese official authorities beefed up their presence in the south.

With UNIFIL, and Israel’s own drones, aircraft and satellites around to monitor Hizbullah, would the cluster bombs be of any possible use?

These and other policies by the Jewish state – roadblocks to limit the movement of Palestinians, obstructing residency formalities for Jerusalemites – are what prompt people here to hate the Jewish state.

The expression “the nail of Juha,” about the medieval folk hero Juha, sums up this kind of behavior: as in, the Israelis always leave a nail behind in the works, to annoy people or worse. It’s the kind of behavior that doesn’t inspire trust, and leads us to ask what this possibly has to do with war, conducted by a supposedly “civilized” state?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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