Israel’s 2006 Invasion of Lebanon

November 13, 2009

On-off negotiations, limp handshakes, violated agreements, starts and stops, hopes dashed. This, the landscape of the Middle East peace process in the last decade. In 2006, what our region needed was a renewed peace effort; what our region got was the devastating cat and mouse conclusion of Hezbollah’s skirmishes and Israel’s imperious invasion of Lebanon. 

Over 1,100 Lebanese dead. Over 4,000 injured, a third of casualties, children. Over 30,000 homes destroyed. Over 100 bridges and roads, demolished. For the Arab public, reality TV at its most appalling: charred bodies of children, haunted faces of mothers, schoolyards mutating into graveyards, endless rows of body-bags, too many unbearably small. The result? A seismic shift in Arab sentiment. The phrase ‘disproportionate use of force’ re-imagined. The parameters of victory redefined. 

The winners? Those who believe violence is the solution. The losers? Those who believe in negotiations and dialogue as a route to peace; the moderates, the majority. The fall-out? An unlikely marriage, a new symbiosis (the likes of which has eluded peacemakers for decades). Extremists on both sides feeding each other’s appetite for destruction. 

That’s the menacing miscalculation from which my region is reeling: the belief that violence is the answer. The only answer is non-violence. That’s the seismic shift we need. Because the major threat to our world is neither nuclear weapons nor environmental disaster; it’s a population without hope. We have one on our doorstep.