Thursday, July 27, 2006



New Fisk

Israeli missiles had clearly pierced the very centre of the red cross on the roof of each ambulance

Last time I went through Otaki or Waikanae, there was a large billboard for the Red Cross, saying that the symbol meant "don't shoot" in a hundred or so languages. I guess they now need to add a note down the bottom: "except Hebrew".

26 comments:

Fisk omits the important information that this was in the dark. Night vision aids don't show paintwork. And guided missiles are not aimed at visual targets like a cross, but lock on to heat/motion. Which is why even Fisk has to pose the accusation "Did the pilots use the cross as their aiming point?" as a question.

Posted by stephen : 7/27/2006 11:29:00 AM

It doesn't pose a question in my mind.. if you can't actually identify a target, you have absolutely no business launching a missile in it's direction..

And technically I disagree.. image intensification (as opposed to infrared) night vision aids will absolutely show up markings.

Posted by Huskynut : 7/27/2006 11:48:00 AM

"if you can't actually identify a target, you have absolutely no business launching a missile in it's direction"

Agreed, but there is very significant difference between failing to identify a target and deliberately targeting ambulances, which is what Fisk is suggesting.

Posted by stephen : 7/27/2006 11:51:00 AM

OK, so Fisk is against an international force that would disarm Hezbollah. So what does he offer instead? Nothing as far as I can tell.

So what to do about that fact that, as Fisk says, - "The Hezbollah have been waiting and training and dreaming of this war for years..." Do nothing, meaning Israel will do what it must, then stand back and vilify Israel. I suppose that will make some people feel better but it probably will draw the conflict out longer with more civilian deaths.

But then it all Israel's fault and that's OK.

(Isn't leaving out significant information something Fisk is usually against?)

Posted by Neil Morrison : 7/27/2006 12:45:00 PM

Neil,

I share your frustration that Fisk sees his duty as criticizing those in power, rather than coming up with better solutions. But don't confuse that with him doing a bad job it.

You claim the only alternative is "Do nothing and Isreal will do what it must, and then vilify Israel"

I'm not sure what your claim is there.

Are claiming that because Hizbollah attacked an Israeli military outpost, killing four soldiers and capturing two, Israel had no choice but to embark on a bombing campaign that will kill hundreds of civilians?

Israel is killing many times more civilians than Hizbollah, is bombing many, many more targets than Hizbollah - many of which seem aimed at destroying Lebanon's economic infrastructure rather at Hizbollah per se. They've participated in a tit-for-tat escalation towards war, not just matching but far out-doing Hizbollah in the violence they've unleashed.

Absolutely Israel deserves to be vilified for that. I'm not saying Hizbollah are innocent or right - they too are bad guys. But I'm not pretending either Israel or Hizbollah is only "doing what they must". Must?

Also, you seem frustrated by a desire to "do something" to fix the problem. I sympathise. But I can't help but think that Fisk is right that the solutions we've seen suggested so far are worse than the problem.

Do you really think that a US-led NATO occupation force in Southern Lebanon (an area that developed great strengths in guerilla warfare when they threw the Israelis out) would work? After all, they're doing such a good job in occupying Iraq...

Nope, sorry, I think Fisk's right. The Israelis are asking for the creation of a NATO-occupied buffer zone. But the land they're trying to give away as a "buffer zone" between them and Lebanon consists entirely of Lebanese territory. Whatever your views on the morality of that, as a measure of practical politics it won't work: the locals will fight any occupier.

Dragging NATO into Israel's side in a guerilla war in Southern Lebanon isn't going to bring peace.

Posted by Icehawk : 7/27/2006 02:07:00 PM

Icehawk,
First up I think Israel is massively over reaction and doing so in a reckless and counter productive way.

BUT

Fisk is intentionally (or negligently) misleading his readers.

Even if it is "possible" they could see the markings - it is obvious that they didn't (which again is reckless rather than evil, although evil sells newspapers a bit better eh?)

> Whatever your views on the morality of that, as a measure of practical politics it won't work: the locals will fight any occupier.

I think Israel sees two options there
1) Hezbollah attacks the UN (and make themselves unpopular as well as humiliating the UN)
2) The UN force is successful - i.e. no more rockets and peace.

A victory for them either way.

In a way I agree with Israel – it is a test for the UN and Hezbollah. Can the UN solve problems like this or is useless? And is Hezbollah resisting an evil occupation or are they just a bunch of crazy people?

But it should be a package deal with putting UN into the west bank and gaza also – how about that?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/27/2006 02:43:00 PM

"Even if it is "possible" they could see the markings - it is obvious that they didn't (which again is reckless rather than evil, although evil sells newspapers a bit better eh?)"

You have no absolutely no evidence it was an accident, other than a desire assume so. This is the same IDF that has just attacked the UN outpost knowing full-well it was there. The same IDF that occassionally fires tank shells at boys throwing stones. Aquaint yourself with some of the regular stream of documented attrocities committed in *peace-time* and then try and rationalise this was an accident.

Neil - no-one claims this is all Israels fault. Or the US's. You just typically try and frame things that way because it saves you developing a cogent argument.

Posted by Huskynut : 7/27/2006 04:33:00 PM

Also in answer to the persistent whine that the critics of Neo-con policy won't come up with solutions.. the first rule of medicine is "at least do no harm" ie don't make things worse.

It's perfectly reasonable in a debate to say "I don't know the solution, but here's the reasons why what is being done and proposed to be done should not be done." Especially when any proposed solution will be, by definition, complex.

I don't know the final solution to this problem. But I do know that if the US weren't stonewalling things at the UN as it invariably does where Israel is concerned, we'd have an international concensus on an immediate ceasefire pretty damn quickly.

Posted by Huskynut : 7/27/2006 04:45:00 PM

Icehawk, what do you suggest Israel do? They have on their border an extremist organisation that refused to disarm when Israel withdrew, that continues to seek the destruction of Israel and neither the Lebanese govt nor (upunitl now) the international community could do anything about.

If you think, as I do, that Israel's actions have been unjustifiable, then we are both in the position of wanting to "do something" as an alterntive. It doesn't really make a lot of sense to just criticise and ignore the problem Israel faces and suggest realistic alternatives.

It appears that Kofi Annan disagrees with you over internatinal millitary intervention -

"...an international force would have a vital role to play, helping in the short-term with the humanitarian operation, but over the longer term assisting Lebanon’s Government in implementing various agreements and Security Council resolutions, particularly by helping it extend its authority and disarm all militias."

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=19308&Cr=leban&Cr1=

Call it a "NATO occupation" if you want but it's either that or Israel will be left to deal with Hezbollah on its own and that will entail more war and more civilian deaths. (How are they giving away parts if Lebanon? Hezbollah disarms and the troops go home. No one is planing to take Hezbollah land from them).

Posted by Neil Morrison : 7/27/2006 05:17:00 PM

To consider Israel's reaction as an 'over-reaction' to the initial attack by Hezbollah that started this conflict completely misses the point. This is an action to reduce the capabilty of Hezbollah and Iran inflicting as much death and damage as possible on Israel, both now and in the future. Whether they go about it in an effective manner is another issue, but to respond to the act of aggression, when the aims of the enemy are clear and admitted openly by them, is fair. One is tempted to respond to the civilian deaths in the same way that Arab leaders respond to suicide bombings - i.e. not in the 'best interests' of Israel (the palestinians), with no regard for the barbarity of the action. Hezbollah knowingly brought about these civillian deaths, the blame of 'proportionality' lies with them.
Within a few days of a conflict involving Israel the world is apparenty beside itself with concern. For the Arabs. Months and months into the conflict in Darfur (for example) those yelling from the comfort of their Mt. Eden living room at Israel happily eat, drink and make merry while thousands of blacks are slaughtered. But lets keep things in proportion shall we? This is Israel after all, and apparently they deserve unbridled and disproportionate criticism, regardless of what they do.
Just one of the reasons i have lost my confidence in what I though was the more reasoned and compasionate 'left'.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/27/2006 06:56:00 PM

Huskynut,

> You have no absolutely no evidence it was an accident

You could be a creationist with that logic.
It depends on what you mean by evidence. E.g. there is no "evidence" the Red Cross don't blow up their own vehicle but it would be odd to accuse them of just doing it.

Anyway - what are you actually trying to say about the Israelis? Whatever it is it doesn’t look like it is productive.

Now that is aside from what the appropriate reaction is. As to that it depends almost entirely on "from who's perspective are you asking the question", but I do think israel and the USA are getting it wrong but again Im not sure what you are trying to prove about israelis.

Posted by Genius : 7/27/2006 07:07:00 PM

Stomach churning...

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3745739a10,00.html

Posted by oh god no.. : 7/27/2006 07:33:00 PM

What would Fisk know about anything in Lebanon?!

But we can rely on TVNZ correspondent covering Lebanon and Gaza wars from her Jerusalem hotel room. She is the only one that knows what's going down in Gaza and West Bank - & Paul Holmes, he is covering Gaza/Lebanon very well from Auckland.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/27/2006 08:30:00 PM

Fisk, reporting in Lebanon, allows his emotions to take over his head.

He simply chooses to forget that the Israel Defence Force is in the front-line in the War Against Terror.

As the New Zealand Herald explained perfectly acurately when this whole war began in its front page headline on June 26: Israel is getting back its kidnapped soldier from all of these terrorists.

It is just that there are SO DAMN MANY of them and the I.D.F. has a BIG JOB to do without the whining of the Fisks in this world.

GAZA, July 26, 2006-"Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that the death toll of the citizens killed Wednesday in Gaza by Israeli troops, climbed to 25.

MOH added that three more citizens died of wounds they sustained today after being wounded during the Israeli bombardment.

It added that at least 70 citizens, including children and women, were wounded during the Israeli attacks.

MOH mentioned that an old man died in the West Bank when Israeli soldiers, stationed at a checkpoint in Qalqilia, prevented him from reaching medical centre."

Posted by Anonymous : 7/27/2006 08:45:00 PM

Oh, for goodness sake!

The reason why I'm angry, is because the IDF is bombing without any pretence at targetting.

Inevitably, you'll hit an ambulance. Whether the IDF 'deliberately' bombed this ambulance is impossible to tell.

To indsicriminately bomb a population is a war crime.

Posted by George Darroch : 7/27/2006 10:59:00 PM

Amusing that some think this is simply about Israel protecting itself. Seems more like an attempt at maintaining regional hegemony, now that it looks like they won't be the only nuclear power in the region soon.

When was the last time Iran attacked another country? Anyone?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/28/2006 04:42:00 AM

regional hegemony? how exactly does Israel have control over Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt? Sure, their possesion of nuclear weapons prevents those who think the church and hitler didn't finish their job from trying to clean up what remains of the jews, but i dont see how israel has total regional control.

when did iran attack another country? using their army or by proxy? I guess the iran-iraq war was when they last had the guts to use thir own troops. by proxy, about 2 weeks ago.

alternatively, when was the last time a leader of another state openly and repeatedly called for the destruction of Iran?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/28/2006 06:29:00 AM

anon - (oh god which one? - use a name for christs sake)

"the Israel Defence Force is in the front-line in the War Against Terror."

- emotive clap-trap. 1, if its a war against an abstract noun why arent they blowing up dictionaries? but more seriously -2, The IDF IS a terrorist organisation by definition of their actions. (snipering little children, sonic boom flybys at night, bombing airports and fleeing refugees, the list can and does go on). Just because they are state run changes nothing. How do you fight a war by becoming the very thing you claim you are fighting?


"Israel is getting back its kidnapped soldier from all of these terrorists. " - well there doing a bang up job of that

"It is just that there are SO DAMN MANY of them and the I.D.F. has a BIG JOB to do without the whining of the Fisks in this world." - so damn many of who!? Not all lebanese, palestinian whatever, are terrorists!
And god help us that there are still some reporters who actually do some reporting instead of trotting out the official line from their hotel room.

I think that we can all agree that hizbollah is a terrorist organisation. Why cant some people accept that Israel is also guilty of the same terrorist actions? why is that so hard for people to accept when there is undisputed factual accounts of such attrocities being committed?

Any hope of a lasting peace requires BOTH/ALL parties to pull thier heads in, and it requires that the international community does, and is seen to, demand the same standard from all parties. And at the moment (mainly due to the current stalling and funding by the US, and the historical involvement of the UK and the US) that is not happening.

eg: any buffer zone needs to be made up of EQUAL shares of land from both Israel and Lebanon. If Israel isnt going to budge then why the fuck should the people they are bombing budge? and vice versa.

fraser

Posted by Anonymous : 7/28/2006 08:38:00 AM

Israel - like the United States - like to boast that its vaunted gee whiz technology allows them to take individual Hizbollah/Hamas leaders in their apartments and in their cars. They can't have it both ways. On occassion their technology may allow them to do this, but Israel's behaviour in Lebanon give lie to their claims, and exposes their actions in Gaza and the West Bank for what they are - indiscriminate fishing expeditions where disproportionate violence is used to kill everyone in a given area with no regard for the innocent. So the question has to be asked - how, then, is Israel any different from Hizbollah or even Al Qaeda?

Israel's behaviour is consistant with a nation whose leadership has succumbed to a semi-fascist racist hubris that regards Arabs as untermenschen cockroaches. Obviously, Israel, to quote another famously misguided racist, thought all it had to do with Hizbollah was "...kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down..." the fact that Hizbollah hasn't run away and is well dug in and is fighting back furiously has proved a rude shock to a complacent Israeli army which has obviously come to believe its own propaganda about the inherent superority of its military system and the Jewish soldier. Its reaction to this cold dose of reality is an infuriated escalated application of indescriminate violence, and this is consistant with the thought process of fascist thinking.

Fascism is at base a form of romaticised wishful thinking that by elevating its proponents to a special status above other humans gives its exponents an exceptionalist get out of jail free card. This fascistic exceptionalism is rife in neo-con America. It has infected Israel as well.

Posted by Sanctuary : 7/28/2006 09:36:00 AM

Genius - let's take out Occam's razor for just one second:

Not one but *two* Red Cross ambulances show up with holes punched neatly through the top crosses in a very short space of time.
Professional militaries of all stripes and nationalities have up till now managed to avoid hitting such ambulances (yes, even at night). The IDF is one of the best trained and equipped militaries in the world. Is it more likely:
a) - that this was a freak coincidence of statistics and poor vision
b) - a deliberate act

I'm sorry, denial may preserve your rosy world view and keep you from the painful reality these soldiers are behaving very badly, but one day you're going to have to wake up.

Posted by Huskynut : 7/28/2006 11:04:00 AM

It is war, and war involves killing all sorts of people, combatants and civilians alike. War is bloody, hideous, and causes carnage. All the "nice" rules of engagement are just makeup on a skull.
mikeybill

Posted by Anonymous : 7/28/2006 11:22:00 AM

" It is war, and war involves killing all sorts of people, combatants and civilians alike. War is bloody, hideous, and causes carnage. All the "nice" rules of engagement are just makeup on a skull."

I presume then mikeybill you see nothing wrong in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre?

Posted by Sanctuary : 7/28/2006 11:53:00 AM

So the IDF is a terrorist organisation, and no different from Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, and as a matter of norm uses operational acts that war crimes (like sonic booms, ohh good grief, where do these people come from? get the Hague on to that right away). Please show me how the IDF deliberately and regularly, as a matter of operational procedure and strategy, sniper children, TARGET civillians, or whatever other war crimes you had in mind. are you sure bombing an airport is a WAR CRIME? of the same order as mass rape, for example? If Isreal was really trying to kill civillains, dont you think the death toll would be a bit higher by now...?

On the other hand, when was the last time Hezbollah or Al Qaeda warned Israelis of an inteneded military operation in their area, so they should leave? Or where does the IDF place its installations next to kindergartens in order to deter the enemy from attacking them?

If you really think the actions of the IDF are of war crime level, then probably any other army in the world facing a similar level of threat (if there is these days) are animals as well. Which is fine, and probably true, just spend as much enery as you do criticising them as you do trying to bring the IDF to the level of terrorist entities. The fact that individual actions of the IDF at times are not of the upmost integrity should just serve to remind you that the Jews are humans too. Maybe the pressure of the constant (inter-generational) threat from the desire for your anhilation from your neighbours can get to you sometimes, I dont know. I really dont understand this attitude of holding Israel to a level of moral perfection, and not holding Hezbollah or anyone else to any level of all. In my mind it is illogical and sickening, and therefore stems from an illogical and sickening attitude. Racism.

Posted by sid : 7/28/2006 06:58:00 PM

Huskynut,

I have no rosy world, if you ever read what I write.

Your world on the other hand seems pretty simple considering your farcical false dichotomy.

> Not one but *two* Red Cross ambulances show up

You still haven't stated what you are trying to imply so I'll do it for you - something like...

"the Israelis have issued a directive to all of their soldiers to kill red cross workers whenever possible"

implied from that

"they enjoy doing evil things for the sake of evil things"

"with holes punched neatly through the top crosses"

I don’t think this says anything because, if they hit the cars from an odd angle THEN you might have a point.

> Professional militaries of all stripes and nationalities have up till now managed to avoid hitting such ambulances

1) Really? How about Russia for example? or is it the particular brand of ambulance your talking about?
Anyway - generally speaking red cross workers get killed by different ways by different armies - that isn't rocket science.

2) this battle has a certain nature - in particular being a battle against a military hidden amongst a civilian population

3) As I said - they are reckless and counter productive. Still - you are a way from proving your implication.

So I am not proposing "a" - there aren’t much freak coincidences in the world there also aren't many people that can be neatly pigeoned by you as just "evil" only in some twisted world of good people and evil people would that be true – and that view is exactly the problem in this situation.

Posted by Genius : 7/28/2006 08:33:00 PM

"You still haven't stated what you are trying to imply so I'll do it for you - something like.. "the Israelis have issued a directive to all of their soldiers to kill red cross workers whenever possible""

You completely misread and misrepresent my intent. All it took was for a single dickhead in the IDF to take it into their own heads. The only professional military reponse would be to abhor the actions of the individual, assume some collective responsibility for investigating and cracking down on the action. For not doing so, the IDF is complicit in the same way the US are over Abu Graib. Acceptance and minimisation is tacit endorsement of the action. When military discipline breaks down, abuses will naturally spiral upward into ever-greater atrocity. That has been happening within the US and IDF militaries for a long time now.

The first step to action is not to pretend it's an accident. That's highly unlikely.
And it's not a question of comparitive atrocity - Hizbolah vs IDF either. The IDF is the national defense force of the country of Israel. It is (should be) accountable to the international community for it's actions in the way a militia is not because it represents it's state. Is that a little one-sided? Well yes, but that's still a fact.

Posted by Huskynut : 7/29/2006 01:52:00 PM

huskynut/ Idiot savant,
and now it would appear that the bombing of the red cross ambulance was a hoax - or at least if not a hoax certainly not as it was portrayed.

"Is it more likely:
a) - that this was a freak coincidence of statistics and poor vision
b) - a deliberate act

I'm sorry, denial may preserve your rosy world view and keep you from the painful reality these soldiers are behaving very badly, but one day you're going to have to wake up."

*cough cough*

Posted by Genius : 9/01/2006 08:38:00 PM