1. Robert Fisk, quote of the day
2. French lose world cup soccer, but win world cup for hypocrisy
3. The French love bombing
4. The Vatican also condemns Israel
5. “France assured Israel it would prevent terror”
6. “Europe’s disproportionate criticism” (Wall Street Journal Europe, July 17, 2006)
[Note by Tom Gross]
ROBERT FISK, QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I travel the roads of southern Lebanon every two weeks and there are no such [Hizbullah] missiles, as the UN force there will confirm… Hizbollah resistance… missiles are a myth.”
-- Robert Fisk, Chief Middle East correspondent of The (London) Independent newspaper, writing in The Independent on April 15, 2003.
(Fisk was writing after Shimon Peres, who was then Israel’s foreign minister, said Iran had already supplied Hizbullah with at least 8,000 missiles capable of hitting Israeli cities. Since then, Iran has delivered some 6,000 more missiles, as barely reported in the western media for the last four years.)
Over 2,000 Hizbullah rockets have been fired at northern Israel from south Lebanon since last Wednesday. Last night Hizbullah fired more than 50 rockets, including one which hit the hospital in Safed, injuring patients. Another missile hit a synagogue, injuring worshippers.
Robert Fisk is the most beloved Middle East reporter among the international left. His articles are reproduced on left-wing websites throughout the world, as well as on a number of neo-Nazi websites. With his cult following, despite having a record of bias and “mistakes” second to none, he is the Noam Chomsky of reporting, the Edward Said of journalism.
On April 29, 2004, when The Independent asked Hitler-admiring historian David Irving for a quote about his plans for a lecture tour of Britain, Irving replied: “I will be happy to assist any journalist on the newspaper that publishes Robert Fisk.”
In April 2003, Fisk was described by the New York Times as “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain.”
For more on Fisk, see previous dispatches including:
* Osama Bin Laden praises Fisk (& other items) (Nov. 4, 2004).
* “The dangers of Fisking” (Nov. 14, 2003).
* Al Aqsa leader: American Jewish teens are our ideal target (& Fisk on Walt) (May 1, 2006).
FRENCH LOSE WORLD CUP SOCCER, BUT WIN WORLD CUP FOR HYPOCRISY
France lost the World Cup soccer final to Italy a few days ago, but their president wins the world cup for hypocrisy.
* This is President Jacques Chirac on how France would respond to terrorism against French citizens:
Chirac: Nuclear Response to Terrorism Is Possible
By Molly Moore
January 20, 2006
PARIS, Jan. 19 -- President Jacques Chirac said Thursday that France was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsors a terrorist attack against French interests. He said his country’s nuclear arsenal had been reconfigured to include the ability to make a tactical strike in retaliation for terrorism.
“The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would envision using… weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part,” Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in Brittany. “This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.”
* And this is President Chirac on Israel’s response to terrorism against its citizens:
Chirac: Israel has gone too far
By Associated Press
July 14, 2006
French President Jacques Chirac castigated Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon on Friday, calling it “totally disproportionate,” while he and other European leaders expressed fears of a widening Middle East conflict that could spiral out of control.
(With thanks to M.A. for drawing attention to the above articles. Longer extracts can be found here.
In December 2001, the former French Ambassador to London called Israel a “shitty little country.” For more, see this article.
THE FRENCH LOVE BOMBING
In 1999, in the heart of Europe, in a 72-day air war against Yugoslavia, dozens of NATO bombs and missiles hit Serbian bridges, communications grids, power plants and a television station, killing at least 498 civilians, including many children, and decapitating a village priest.
Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine reports that French fighter pilots flew more than 1,100 of the war’s air strikes, or about 11 percent of NATO’s missions.
Last week, France was among 10 UN Security Council members voting to condemn Israel for “disproportionate use of force.”
The 25-nation European Union, which includes other countries that participated in NATO’s air war, such as Britain and Denmark, also condemned Israel’s “disproportionate” response.
Meanwhile, the BBC was so busy in recent days scrutinizing what its chief Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen called Israeli “war crimes,” that it forgot to report in any detail that on Saturday British troops led the raids in Afghanistan that killed 35 people.
THE VATICAN ALSO CONDEMNS ISRAEL
The Vatican has joined Chirac, strongly deploring Israel’s strikes on Lebanon. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano told Vatican Radio that “the Holy See deplores right now the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation, and assures its closeness to these people who already have suffered so much to defend their independence.”
“FRANCE ASSURED ISRAEL IT WOULD PREVENT TERROR”
The recent EU criticism of Israel is particularly ironic, as Gerald Steinberg notes in the Wall Street Journal Europe (article attached below). In early 2000, prior to Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, “The French foreign and defense ministers pressed Israel to return its military forces to the international border… In detailed talks that took place at the French ambassador’s residence in Jaffa, the Europeans assured [Israel] that once Israel retreated, Hezbollah would lose its raison d’etre as a ‘militia’ and transform itself into a political party. France and its partners would send peacekeepers to prevent terror and missile attacks against Israel, help the Lebanese army take control of the border, and disarm Hezbollah.”
Steinberg, who is a subscriber to this email list, questions the recent condemnation of Israel: “Beyond the rhetoric, European officials offer no framework for a proper and ‘proportionate’ level of force in response to mass terror aimed at the ultimate goal of ‘wiping Israel off the map.’”
He concludes that “if European leaders are serious about preventing instability and promoting their own economic and security interests, they will also have to share the costs of containing terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas… By tying further economic assistance to an end to terror attacks, Europe can actually help create the basis for long-term stability. And of course, it must pressure Tehran and Damascus. Instead of reflexively labeling Israel’s belated use of force as ‘disproportionate,’ the leaders of the EU must learn to make their own security policies proportionate and realistic.”
-- Tom Gross
EUROPE’S DISPROPORTIONATE CRITICISM
Europe’s disproportionate criticism
By Gerald M. Steinberg
The Wall Street Journal Europe
July 17, 2006
In early 2000, the European Union was an enthusiastic supporter of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the security zone in southern Lebanon. Paris was about to take over the EU presidency in July and played a dominant role in the discussions. The French foreign and defense ministers pressed Israel to return its military forces to the international border. In detailed talks that took place at the French ambassador’s residence in Jaffa, in which I participated as an academic consultant, the Europeans assured us that once Israel retreated, Hezbollah would lose its raison d’etre as a “militia” and transform itself into a political party. France and its partners would send peacekeepers to prevent terror and missile attacks against Israel, help the Lebanese army take control of the border, and disarm Hezbollah.
In May that year, the Israeli military left Lebanon. The United Nations certified that the withdrawal was complete. But Europe did nothing. Hezbollah’s leaders celebrated a great “military victory,” and Iranian “advisers” provided intelligence, training and thousands more of missiles, some with ranges of 75 kilometers and more that could penetrate deep into Israeli territory and for the first time hit Haifa, Israel’s third biggest city.
Instead of the promised transformation, Hezbollah took positions right across Israel’s border and prepared for the next round of the war. Fearing international and particularly European condemnation, Israel did nothing to prevent this dangerous buildup. Emboldened by Israeli restraint, Hezbollah staged the first cross-border attack and kidnapping only five months after Israel’s withdrawal, in October 2000.
Europe’s reaction back then was limited to repeating the usual mantras, calling on Israel to “act with restraint” and to “give diplomacy a chance.”
Now, after steady escalation and attrition to which Israel is particularly vulnerable, Hezbollah triggered a full-scale confrontation by firing another round of missiles at Israeli cities and staging a kidnapping attack, in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed. In tandem with Palestinian assaults from Hamas-controlled Gaza, which also featured missiles and kidnapped soldiers to be traded for terrorists, this opened a two-front war.
This time, though, Israel moved quickly to finally dismantle the strategic threat in Lebanon. No state can simply stand by while its citizens are being killed and abducted, its cities routinely shelled, and part of its population forced to live in fear and sleep in bomb shelters. Hezbollah erroneously thought its missiles and the support from Iran and Syria would allow it to continue attacking Israel with impunity.
Europe’s role, once again, is limited to repeating the same old tired phrases. The EU called Israel’s response and attacks on Beirut and in Gaza “disproportionate” and violations of international law. France in particular was outraged. “For several hours, there has been a bombardment of an airport of an entirely sovereign country, a friend of France... this is a disproportionate act of war,” French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said. It may have escaped the minister that the initial act of war originated from Lebanon and that the target of this unprovoked aggression is supposedly also a “sovereign country” and “friend of France.”
The knee-jerk condemnation of their country was not lost on Israelis who recall the broken promises from 2000 and the visceral antipathy toward them when they had to fight Arafat’s terror war. Beyond the rhetoric, European officials offer no framework for a proper and “proportionate” level of force in response to mass terror aimed at the ultimate goal of “wiping Israel off the map.”
Few in Europe probably realize that the EU’s failure to act in response to Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts, and the three years that were wasted in negotiations while Iran began enriching uranium, only strengthened Israel’s decision to act forcefully against the terror threats posed by Hezbollah and Hamas, who act as Tehran’s proxies.
Israel’s strategy is twofold. The immediate goal is to remove Hezbollah’s acute threat by crippling its military capabilities and driving their troops from the border zone. Attacks on Lebanese infrastructure are designed to prevent the resupply of Hezbollah and to pressure the Lebanese government to establish full sovereignty over the country. It is Lebanon, not Israel, that is in violation of international law as Beirut still has not implemented U.N. resolution 1559, which demands that Hezbollah be disarmed.
At the same time, and this is Israel’s medium-term goal, going forcefully after Iran’s prodigy in Lebanon sends a powerful message to Tehran. It restores Israel’s deterrence capability, a crucial move in preventing future confrontations with Iran on a much larger scale. But many idealistic European policy makers cannot see that a small war stopped prematurely now may only pave the way for a much larger war later. In order to understand Israel’s military actions, it is imperative to consider the two powers standing behind Hezbollah. The larger strategic threat to Israel is the Damascus-Tehran axis. To view Israel’s actions in Beirut and Gaza as “disproportionate” means ignoring the radical Islamic regime in Tehran, which threatens to destroy Israel and is bent on acquiring the weapons to actually carry out its threat.
At the same time, Europe – particularly France – has invested heavily in the reconstruction of Lebanon and the international isolation of the Syrian regime. From this perspective, the damage to Beirut’s airport and infrastructure and the strain on the Lebanese government are justifiably worrying.
But if European leaders are serious about preventing instability and promoting their own economic and security interests, they will also have to share the costs of containing terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. To help resolve the immediate crisis and prevent further damage to Lebanon’s fragile economic and political structure, Europe’s leaders can stiffen Beirut’s backbone by conditioning aid to the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Cease-fire initiatives must lead to Hezbollah’s disarmament. By tying further economic assistance to an end to terror attacks, Europe can actually help create the basis for long-term stability. And of course, it must pressure Tehran and Damascus. Instead of reflexively labeling Israel’s belated use of force as “disproportionate,” the leaders of the EU must learn to make their own security policies proportionate and realistic.