Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Statement at Beirut news conference

By Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein

"I want to thank Dr. Samah Idriss of Al-Adab magazine, Nadi as-Saaha, the Campaign for Civil Resistance and the American University in Beirut for inviting me to Lebanon. This is my second visit. I have warm memories of the first trip and look forward to renewing contact with old friends and comrades and making new friends and comrades.

Since my last visit there have been three brutal wars in the region for which the U.S. government bears primary responsibility.

In March 2003 the U.S. launched what U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan subsequently called an "illegal war" against Iraq. Using the false pretext that the Iraqi regime posed a mortal threat to the world, the Bush administration violated the United Nations Charter and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Although it is fairly clear from the documentary record that the U.S. knew that the Iraqi regime did not possess weapons of mass destruction and that the U.S. invasion would encounter little Iraqi resistance, there is less clarity on the motives behind the war. It is widely believed even in the United States that a Jewish cabal loyal to Israel was responsible for the war. In my opinion, however, this is not true. It was an American war waged for the sake of American interests.

In July 2006 Israel launched a brutal war of aggression against Lebanon during which a thousand Lebanese civilians were killed and billions of dollars of damage was inflicted on Lebanese infrastructure. It is widely believed that Hezbollah bears chief responsibility for the war. The record shows, however, that this war was both long planned by Israel and was enabled by the U.S. in the hope that if Israel destroyed Hezbollah it would facilitate an attack on Iran. My late parents suffered terribly from the ravages of war and it would be betraying their legacy were I to assert that there was a victor in the summer 2006 war. There are no victors in war. However, it is also true to say that the Lebanese resistance inflicted a historic and well deserved military defeat on the invading foreign army and its chief supporter. Just as I will never glorify the horrors of war, so I will never pretend to be indifferent when foreign aggressors and marauders are put in their place. It should also be mentioned that after the war the U.S.-based organization Human Rights Watch whitewashed Israeli war crimes and made false accusations against Hezbollah. This cowardly and mercenary act deserves contempt.

Since the electoral victory of the Islamic movement in January 2006 the Palestinian people have been put under siege by Israel with the crucial support of the United States and the silent complicity of the international community. The Palestinians are being starved into submission while Israel and the United States demand that Hamas renounce terrorism, recognize Israel and honor past agreements. But no comparable demand is put on Israel to renounce terrorism, recognize Palestine and honor past agreements. Compounding this gross hypocrisy, the country that is the main obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict hosts meaningless peace conferences and the main peacemaker is the person who declared that the criminal destruction of Lebanon was the "birth pangs of a new Middle East."

There are many lies and many injustices. But we can still be hopeful of a better tomorrow because those of us struggling for a more decent world have truth and justice on our side. If we learn how to wield the powerful weapons of truth and justice, it is yet possible that the future will be if not bright then at least less bleak than the past."

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