Few Iraqis embraced the jihadis until the Americans stole Iraq's oil. Similarly, only 18% of the Lebanese supported Hezbollah before the current Israeli strikes. When the refugees return, we can expect every one of them to seethe with rage at Israel -- and at the United States, which has sped up Israel's supply
of precision-guided weaponry.
Worse still: We have growing indications of Israeli chemical warfare
. Bachir Cham, a Belgian/Lebanese doctor who runs a hospital in Lebanon, offers this report:
"The bodies don't look like they normally do. After an explosion there were no traces of blood loss or subcutaneous haemorrhages [bruises]," Cham said via mobile phone direct from Beirut.
"The hair and sometimes the beard and the moustache remained intact. I found no traces of the pressure wave by the explosion. The colour of the skin was black like a shoe, but the skin was not carbonised or burnt."
After reading these words, I'm worried about Samantha Green -- a Canadian student doing a summer internship the American University in Beirut -- who has decided not to join the evacuation. Her voice narrates a powerful slide presentation here
, and the Hamilton Spectator publishes her story here
When I arrived two months ago, the atmosphere was an instantly appealing mix of Mediterranean and Arab culture. The depth and variety of history and culture was amazing, the food was great and cheap, and the locals were the most welcoming people I've come across, opening their homes, their kitchens, even their weddings, to me...
The Lebanese are scared, and sad, and also overwhelmingly angry. The majority of the Lebanese do not naturally support Hezbollah, but Israeli attacks are rallying support. I am staying in a dorm at the American University of Beirut, and even these least radical Lebanese were joyful when Hezbollah hit an Israeli warship.
I've volunteered in a public garden to which refugees from Beirut's southern suburbs have fled. These families, among Beirut's poorest, have had their homes destroyed by Israeli bombing and have nowhere left to go.
Since schools and community centres are full, entire families have brought mattresses and bags of clothes to camp out in the garden. There are no sanitation facilities and no shelter. Some families have been there for six days now.
Many Americans don't understand that a large number of Christians live in Lebanon -- in fact, the world's last remaining native speakers of Aramaic, the language of Jesus, reside here. Fans of historical irony will find grim humor in the fact that the "Christians" of the American south have enabled Israeli attacks on Christians
in Lebanon's north. Indeed, the IDF targeted the media outlets of the very "Cedar Revolution" which the Bush administation had once supported.
The Israelis are smart -- much smarter than their easily-gulled American supporters. The Israelis know full well that this offensive will raise sympathy for Hezbollah from 18% to 100%. Why, then, the attack on Lebanon? I doubt that the stated reasons are the real ones; indeed, I would not be surprised to learn that some Hezbollah attacks were provoked or staged. (Note the precedent
So why would Israel engage in such a risky adventure? For the same reason America invaded Iraq: A desperate need for a diminishing natural resource.The current Lebanese war is about water
Few Americans understand this, because few Americans can imagine living in a region where the demand for water exceeds supply. But this natural resource has long been at the real root of Israeli/Lebanese conflict. As this report
Almost half of the water currently used in Israel is captured, diverted or preempted from its neighbors." This is understandable, given water can be described as "Israel's vulnerable and fragile source of life.
Today, in 2006, Israel lives with increasing water shortages and a rapidly decreasing supply of fresh water. The river Jordan may run dry within the next two years, because of the vast amount of water being drawn from the river by the people living in the area.(Emphasis added.) From a brief -- yet monumentally important -- 2002 New York Times story:
Senior officials from the United States Embassy in Beirut met Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri to try to defuse a dispute with Israel over Lebanon's plans to use water both countries say they need. Israel has said it takes a "grave view" of Lebanon's plan to pipe water to southern villages from the Wazzani Springs, three miles north of the Israeli border. The springs feed the Hasbani River, a tributary of the Jordan River, which is a major source of Israel's fresh water. Lebanon says that it is within its rights under international law and that it plans to open a pumping station soon.Few in the West now recalls that in 2002, Uri Saguy -- head of the Israeli water suppply, as well as the former head of Israeli military intelligence -- warned that "war or forceful confrontation" would result if Lebanon continued to access its own water. (This, despite the fact that the Lebanese had already allowed the bully to the south to install pumps at the Springs.) See also this story in the Christian Science Monitor.
Hariri is gone now, and those southern villages have been reduced to rubble. When the current conflict ends, Israel will control the Wazzani Springs.
UPDATE: Quite independently, Jeff Wells over at Rigorous Intuition came to much the same conclusion. He quotes from a book called Watershed: The Role of Fresh Water in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (unread by me); apparently, the Litani has played a major role in Zionist strategic thinking well before Israel came to exist. We also learn that the Ogallala aquifer in the U.S. may be endangered, and that none other than the Reverend Moon has been buying up territory surrounding South America's Guarani Aquifer.
Water. It's the new oil.