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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 2nd, 2006 - 01:36:01

US and Britain share Israel's culpability

By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 2, 2006, 01:32

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It's with a heavy heart that I pen this week's column. What I would really like to say isn't publishable. Like the host of an Arabic network, who visibly fought back tears at the sight of so many angelic-faced toddlers dragged out from under a bombed building in Qana, it's hard for me to cast emotion aside.

What was done to Qana for the second time in 10 years is a war crime but Israel isn't the lone perpetrator. The killing would have stopped days ago if it wasn't for the tacit and material support Israel has received from the US President George W. Bush and my own British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

How ironic that the Lebanese are dying from American-made missiles and bombs that are transported from the US to Israel by planes that refuel in Scotland, while other US planes carry food and medicines.

Following the "Yo Blair" moment the British prime minister was roundly condemned for his unswerving obedience and subservience to the White House.

Blair's trip to Washington last Friday was billed as the moment he would finally stand up to the swaggering Texan. Those of us who thought Blair might put some distance between Britain and the US, were sorely disappointed.

This is a man, who went to war for the oppressed in the former Yugoslavia, is committed to bettering the lives of Africans and says he champions a Palestinian state. Yet when he shared the podium with the US president, they were as one, united in condemning Lebanon to weeks of further pulverisation.

Bush and Blair could have put a stop to the killing. But they chose not to. In this case they are surely just as responsible for the deaths of those children in Qana as the Israeli pilot with his hand on the button.

They may be even more so.

The Israeli government can arguably contend it is defending its people under its "never again" mantra although this in no way explains the disproportionate response to the capture of its soldiers.

On the other hand, the Bush/Blair duo have subsumed this conflict into their own "war on terror" and consider the de-clawing of Hezbollah as one step towards what US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the birth of "a new Middle East".

During the gestation period the region must be scourged of all groups likely to be resistant to the American boot. And what better method of doing this than lumping all of them together under a broad umbrella called "terrorism"?

This is what they tried to do in Iraq when they labelled the resistance Iraqis who rightly objected to the US-led military presence as "terrorist", although they were later forced to admit that only two per cent of the militants were foreign fighters.

They did the same with Hamas when it was democratically elected to lead the Palestinian National Authority. It was on its way to morphing into a respectable political party when it was demonised, marginalised and its leadership threatened with assassination.

When it comes to Hezbollah, they are once again humming from the same hymn sheet. In other words, they want their publics to believe that Hezbollah acts out of an extremist ideology. This is far from the truth but unfortunately most Americans, judging from polls, have fallen for this faux branding.

Tipped the balance

It didn't help that Al Qaida's number two Ayman Al Zawahiri chose to crawl out of the woodwork during Blair's US visit to offer support for Hezbollah and call for a global jihad. The same happened just before the last US elections and was thought to have tipped the balance in Bush's favour.

In fact, Hezbollah is first and foremost Lebanese. Its social wing is engaged in educating, housing and feeding the poor as well as providing free medical treatment. Like Hamas, several of its members have been elected into government.

In 2000, Hezbollah was celebrated by all Lebanese as having run the Israeli occupiers out of town. By all accounts, today, most Lebanese, whether Sunni, Shiite or Christian, stand with Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah, even those who didn't initially approve of the capture.

This support is reflected throughout the Arab and Muslim world. The EU has recently resisted adding Hezbollah to its terrorist list, as has Russia.

If one cares to engage in finger pointing when it comes to the deliberate prolongation of the conflict, Blair comes off worse than Bush. The US president doesn't have the luxury of cracking down hard on Israel when his own support base is made up of Evangelical Christian Zionists and the last thing he wants to do is tick off the powerful pro-Israel lobby in the face of upcoming mid-term elections. But what is driving Blair? What excuse does he have aside from maintaining the Trans-Atlantic relationship, or rather, being a slave to it?

I don't think anyone with the exception of those closest to him really knows.

Totally unrelated, of course, is this snippet courtesy of Sunday's Independent under the headline "Tony and Cherie's American Dream".

"With their �200,000 mortgage and his �87,000 pension, the Blairs have their future to think of. And in the land of opportunity, from Pebble Beach to Bohemia Grove, the movers are just a handshake away."

One of those movers is the owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, a pro-Israel right-winger who is a loyal friend to Bush. Blair gave a talk to the Murdoch News Corp on Sunday and as the paper suggests he is about to be offered a seat on that company's board. Now given that Blair began his political career firmly left of centre wouldn't that be a turn-up for the books.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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