Alan Dershowitz says that civilians in Lebanon are not "civilians" like civilians in Israel. Civilians in Lebanon, according to Dershowitz, must be graded on a sliding scale of terroristness or "the continuum of civilianality." Dershowitz’s argument is the same tired argument used by tyrants and murderers all throughout history. Dershowitz is in notorious company. He can count his peers as Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussain and Pol Pot.
Mr. Dershowitz, the apologist for murderers, has this to say:
Hezbollah and Hamas militants, on the other hand, are difficult to distinguish from those "civilians" who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks.
The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims. [Emphasis added by me.]
At this point, I could cite all the international laws and conventions that debunk Mr. Dershowitz’s ridiculous claims, but I will not waste my time with defending something so obviously basic to the law of war and human rights. What Mr. Dershowitz is advocating is terrorism. Dershowitz is inciting and condoning terror. In that he is behaving like a terrorist.
Instead, I want to tell you two stories from Lebanon and let you judge for yourself the merits of Mr. Dershowitz’s argument. These two stories are only a small part of the larger story of death in Lebanon.
Ali Sha’ita is a 12 year-old Lebanese boy. Ali and his family were fleeing Israeli bombing of Southern Lebanon. His family was traveling in a caravan of 3 minivans, having abandoned their homes, at the order of the Israeli military. Ali’s family only made it as far as 9 miles from their home before an Israeli helicopter fired upon their minivan. Three of his family died instantly – 16 others were injured. In the carnage that followed, Ali held his mother’s hand:
The ambulanceman gave Ali the job of keeping his mother alive. The 12-year-old did what he could. "Mama, mama, don’t go to sleep," he sobbed, gently patting her face beneath her chin. Behind her black veil, her eyelids were slowly sinking. "I’m going to die," she sighed. "Don’t say that, mama," Ali begged, and then slid to the ground in tears.
On the pavement around mother and son were the other members of the Sha’ita family, their faces spattered with each other’s blood. All were in varying shades of shock and injury. A tourniquet was tied on Ali’s mother’s arm. A few metres away, his aunt lay motionless, the white T-shirt beneath her abaya stained red. Two sisters hugged each other and wept, oblivious to the medics tending their wounds. "Let them take me, let them take me," one screamed.
Their mother was placed on a stretcher, and lifted into the ambulance. "God is with you, mama," Ali said. She reached up with her good arm to caress his face.
Of course these people are not really "civilians", they are something less according to Dershowitz. Let him bear their deaths and their injuries. Let him carry these atrocities on his conscience. Ali’s life doesn’t count; neither does his mother’s. Why check to see whom you are killing if there is the slightest chance that you may get a Hezbollah fighter. In either case, these people, even if they were not Hezbollah, surely had the potential of becoming Hezbollah.
Zeinab Haidar is a 13 year-old Lebanese girl. Zeinab is a survivor of an Israeli attack on her three-car convoy fleeing Israeli bombing. She is lucky to be alive. Only four of her convoy escaped death:
Zeinab, 13, is one of four people still at Tyre’s Najm Hospital who survived an ill-fated civilian convoy that left the village of Aitaroun last Friday to escape from one of the most bombed areas in south-east of Lebanon near the Israeli border.
As the convoy’s three cars approached Tyre, the first was hit by an air strike, killing everyone on board.
The two remaining cars tried to escape, but one was also hit by an missile, causing more deaths and injuries.
The Haidars jumped out of their car and ran to a nearby orchard, but the Israeli jets returned to drop two more bombs, wounding Zeinab, her mother and grandfather, and killing her grandmother.
After about 30 minutes hiding among the trees, Zeinab’s father went back to the car. He found it was still working and drove to Najm hospital, on the southern edge of Tyre.
Ambulance drivers say two charred bodies still remain trapped in the first car, and two days later dogs and cats have started to eat their remains.
So, there you go. Zeinab escaped the death that Dershowitz believes she deserves. Maybe now she will grow up to be a terrorist.
The balance of firepower between Israel and Hezbollah is not even close. Even with such superior firepower if Israel feels compelled to fire indiscriminately at anything that moves, then Israel has already lost this war. In 18 years in Lebanon, Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah. This time they are succeeding mightily in blowing up women and children.
Shame on Israel for presiding over these killing fields. Shame on Dershowitz for his inhumanity. Shame on the Bush Administration for providing the weapons that are doing the killing.
This isn’t self-defense. This isn’t war. This is slaughter, pure and simple.
Hey, hey, Olmert, how many Hezbollah did you kill today?
Hey, hey, Olmert, how many kids did you kill today?