Monday, October 23, 2006
"What We Did Was Insane and Monstrous"
By SAREE MAKDISI
(Saree Makdisi, a professor of English at UCLA, is the author of Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s (University of Chicago Press, 2003))
"Of all the statistics to emerge from Israel's recent war on Lebanon, the most shocking concerns the number of cluster bombs that Israel dropped on or fired into Lebanon.
About 40 percent of the bomblets dropped by Israel (many of which were American-made) did not explode in the air or on impact with the ground. They now detonate when someone disturbs them--a soldier, a farmer, a shepherd, a child attracted by the lure of a shiny metal object.
Cluster bombs are, by definition, inaccurate weapons that are designed to affect a very wide area unpredictably. If they do not discriminate between civilian and military targets when they are dropped, they certainly do not discriminate in the months and years after the end of hostilities, when they go on killing and maiming anyone who happens upon them.
Since then, the true dimensions of the problem have become even clearer: 770 cluster-bomb sites have now been identified. And the current U.N. estimate is that Israel dropped between 2 million and 3 million bomblets on Lebanon, of which up to a million have yet to explode.
Israeli officials said this was a war against Hezbollah, that Hezbollah was hiding in the midst of the population. But this wasn't a war against Hezbollah. It was a war to punish the entire population for its support of the guerrillas.
Not only was Hezbollah not hiding behind civilians, it ought to be obvious that the violence was directed in the first instance at the civilians themselves. To direct such violence at one community, one religious group, one minority--and to deny them the ability to return safely home--was what this war was all about.
To drop two or three bomblets for every man, woman and child in southern Lebanon--after having wiped out their homes, smashed their communities, destroyed their livelihoods--is to wage war against them all."