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Radiating Tensions from the Syrian Crisis


by Morgan Duchesney


Radiating Tensions from the Syrian Crisis

May 2013

 Israel has justified its recent Syrian airstrikes by citing potential military threats from Iranian Fateh 110 rockets. However, pro-Israeli pundits are wrong to point to Hezbollah this time; although that group would readily employ anti-aircraft weapons to reduce Israel’s freedom to conduct illegal reconnaissance flights over Lebanon. ”Military analysts said the Russian-made equipment was too sophisticated for Hezbollah to use, and suggested that the air strike was a signal to Tehran that Israel would conduct a similar attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities if Iran came near to achieving weapons capability.” (1) Conversely, it is unimaginable that the corporate press would publish something like: “Hezbollah sinks U.S. ship thought to contain sophisticated weaponry bound for Israel.” That of course; would be terrorism.

These Israeli attacks were illegal acts of aggression under international law and occurred without the formality of a warning or declaration of war. The airstrikes were possible because Israel; as a highly-subsidized U.S. proxy state, enjoys a formidable degree of impunity to inflict devastating violence with U.S. arms, protection and intelligence. Of greater concern to Israel than Hezbollah rockets is Russia’s intention to sell advanced S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria. These missiles would seriously interdict the activities of Israeli, NATO or U.S. aircraft entering Syrian airspace.  While “Moscow had [has] held off on the deal under persistent U.S. and Israeli pressure;” (2) the Russians have traditionally paid little heed to critics of their arms exports. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Obama consider these weapons to be, “game-changing” (3) although no mention is ever made of Israel’s “game changing” arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological arms.

Recent anti-Hezbollah comments from Mike Fegelman, Canadian Israeli advocate and Executive Director of Honestreporting; support the conventional definition of terrorism which narrowly and conveniently defines it as the violence of non-state actors. However,  “One will search the UN Charter in vain to discover the basis for the authority claimed by Washington [and proxy states like Israel] to use force and violence to achieve the ‘national interest’…[and] one will find no wording that exempts ‘the architects of power’ from punishment for their exercises of state terror…” (4) Of course, the people of Lebanon may feel differently about Hezbollah than the rest of the world. Hezbollah has kept the Israelis at bay since its formation in the early 1980s to thwart Israel’s periodic invasions and occupations of South Lebanon in pursuit of PLO guerillas operating from Palestinian refugee camps along the Israeli border.

The Lebanese remember the 1982 Israeli invasion that killed over 17, 000 Palestinians and Lebanese and led to 18 years of Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, which ended only in 2000 when the  IDF was forced out by Hezbollah. Of course, with such powerful enemies; Hezbollah has been forced to acquire weapons wherever they can, even if that means creating dangerous alliances with the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Although unmentioned in the corporate media, “Hezbollah is now a member of the Lebanese government and is recognized as a political party by the European Union, despite being branded as terrorist by Israel and the U.S.” (5) It is unlikely that Fegelman et al would be interested in publicizing the long and ugly history of Israeli interference in Lebanon; dating back to Ben Gurion’s attempts to forge anti-Muslim alliances with Lebanese Christian factions.

 I wonder what would happen if the Palestinians ever received sophisticated anti-armor, anti-aircraft and anti-ship weapons to counter Israel’s overwhelming military supremacy? The answer lies in recounting Hezbollah’s spirited eviction of Israeli forces from Lebanese territory in 2006. Israel has long had designs on Lebanese resources like the Litani River, which curves within four kilometers of the Israeli border. According to Andrew F. Krepinivich Jr. , “…during the Second Lebanon War [2006], Hezbollah irregulars hit an Israeli warship with an Iranian-made guided ASCM and destroyed or disabled over 50 Israeli tanks with sophisticated Russian-made guided anti-tank missiles.”  (6) That fact that this stunning military accomplishment went unreported in the corporate press is both telling and sadly typical. Rapidly proliferating RAMM (rocket, artillery, mortar, and missile) weapons may eventually level the playing field in the struggle between the Palestinians and an expansionist Israeli government intent on absorbing East Jerusalem and the West Bank while also re-taking Gaza to control scarce water and the natural gas deposits found off the coast of that isolated enclave.

While the Israelis are wise to fear the possible role of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, their hypocrisy is striking; considering their own use of white phosphorus in the IDF’s 2009 Gaza invasion. White phosphorous burns anything it touches; including humans, and Israeli jets delivered this terror chemical to tightly-packed civilian areas. The IDF’s Operation Cast Lead killed 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis; a kill ratio of about 100 to 1. Now Netanyahu is openly musing about a repeat performance.

It is widely-assumed that Israel has amassed a considerable stock of nuclear weapons
and the technology to deploy them to across the entire Middle East and much of Europe and Africa.  Since intimidation is the only reason to possess these monstrous devices; it is natural that both the Israeli and American governments consider themselves exempt from nuclear oversight. Different rules apply to Iran, of course. Such arrogant exceptionalism does little to encourage other nations to submit to third party inspections. While I do understand Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons potential, I think the ruling Mullahs behind Amademajad are too canny to actually do anything as crazy as attacking Israel. Amademajad is a rabble-rouser who keeps the world guessing. Ironically, Henry Kissinger was once keen to arm pre-revolutionary Iran with atomic bombs.

The Israeli state’s refusal to integrate itself into the new Middle East reality is exposing the fact that, “Netanyahu and other politicians understand that what is really at stake is not Israel’s physical survival but it’s ability to entrench its “Jewishness” against the regional forces of a democratic awakening.” They fear, “… that the real existential threat to the Jewish state’s survival lay [s] less in military defeat that in a gradual demographic erosion, “that will reduce the security of, “…a solid Jewish majority [within Israel].” Therefore; Netanyahu has insisted that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’…” Fully aware that no Palestinian could ever accept such a condition – unless they were prepared to submit to permanent subjugation.” (7)Under such circumstances, is it any wonder that the Palestinians have side-stepped Netanyahu and appealed directly to the United Nations?

Concerning existential threats to the Israeli state, “[Like] the Iranian nuke, the Arab Spring explodes the myth of Israel as a safe haven.”The Israeli leadership is well aware that the Arab Spring is, “…certain to fuel the ambitions of Palestinians not only to end the occupation but to restore their rights and dignity as a people after decades of dispossession and humiliation.” (8)

Canada is undermining Middle East peace prospects through its firm support for Israel’s recent rejection of the latest Arab League’s peace overture. Stephen Harper agrees that, “…the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. “ (9) The 22 nations of the Arab League propose that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders in exchange for future peace and full recognition by the Arab states. This would require forcible removal of Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; something Netanyahu refuses to consider.  Once again, the Israeli government demonstrates its intention to reject practical solutions that might derail its ultimate goal of absorbing all Palestinian territory into Greater Israel. To conclude otherwise requires disciplined self-deception.


1.    Marshall, R. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: pg. 8: April, 2013.

2.    Klapper, B. Ottawa Citizen - Associated Press: pg. A4, May 10, 2013.

3.    Associated Press – Epoch Times: pg. A4, May 10, 2013.

4.    Chomsky, N. Profits before People: pg. 146, 1999.

5.    Marshall, R. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: pg. 9: April, 2013.

6.    Krepinivich Jr.  Andrew F. Foreign Affairs: pg. 14 July/August 2009

7.    Cook, J. Adbusters: 2012.

8.    Ibid.

9.    Netanyahu, B. in Ottawa Citizen: pg. A3 May 2, 2013.

Author Bio: Morgan Duchesney is an Ottawa writer and Karate instructor. His political philosophy has appeared in the Media Co-op, Humanist Perspectives, Adbusters, Canadian Charger, Muslim Link, the Ottawa Citizen and the Peace and Environment News.





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