Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Self-defense is a right

By Martin Phipps

The question your editorial ("Washington fiddles, Lebanon burns," July 15, page 8) failed to address is whether or not you believe Israel does, in fact, have the right to defend itself.

Imagine if the Mumbai bombings had occurred after many years of "militants"operating freely in Pakistan with the government making no effort to reel them in. Imagine if, instead of just testing missiles, North Korea were to have deliberately targeted and successfully hit towns in Northern Japan.

Imagine if Taiwan were to routinely suffer attacks from China with China refusing to accept responsibility because the attacks were coming from so-called "individuals acting independently."

Imagine if these "individuals" were not interested in simply discouraging Taiwanese independence but were acting with the stated purpose of seeing Taiwan "wiped off the face of the Earth."

Imagine if the government in China were to insist on describing these individuals as being part of a "legitimate resistance to aggression" from Taiwan.

Imagine if these attacks came from parts of China formerly occupied by Taiwan which had recently been unilaterally returned to China after pressure from the UN.

Would you argue that Taiwan didn't have the right to defend itself? I think the Taiwanese people would probably unanimously agree that it was a mistake to return territory to China without the guarantee of a peaceful settlement. I think Taiwanese people would see retaliation against China as a fight for the very existence of the nation.

In any case, the US is not in a very good position to criticize Israel. The US invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime following the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington.

However, it wasn't the Taliban that planned the 9/11 attacks: it was Osama bin Laden. The Taliban's mistake was in refusing to turn bin Laden over to the US authorities. The US invaded Afghanistan and still couldn't capture bin Laden.

Frustrated, the US invaded Iraq. Why? In retrospect, it appears that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had plotted to kill President George W. Bush's father while he was visiting the region might have had something to do with his decision to invade and topple the Saddam regime. It was very personal. By comparison, Israel has shown remarkable restraint in a situation where the danger is quite real and not simply imagined.

It is true that Israel has negotiated with Hamas and Hezbollah in the past. See how well that turned out for Israel? The Israelis see no reason to want to negotiate with these people and are demanding that they abide by previous calls for them to disarm and recognize the state of Israel and its right to exist.

By condemning Israel's acts of self-defense, this paper, along with UN diplomats from France and Russia, are effectively siding with Hezbollah and Hamas and encouraging their acts of aggression against Israel. Israelis will never be safe so long as Hezbollah and Hamas are allowed to act with impunity while Israel is the one being pressured to show restraint.

When a conflict occurs, putting pressure on the aggressors to lay down their arms is the only way to promote peace. Doing the reverse, asking the victims to show restraint in defending themselves, will only result in more bloodshed and more casualties as the aggressors become bolder, convinced that they are acting with international support.

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