Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Roots of the Conflict

National Post

Published: Wednesday, August 09, 2006

If we want to prevent further tragedies in the Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah war, we have to go behind the headlines and find the war’s real root causes.

The trigger for the present hostilities on both Israel’s southern border with Hamas and its northern border with Hezbollah was not only the kidnapping of three solders (and the killing of others), but deliberate and unprovoked attacks across internationally recognized borders since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005.

Even before this summer, attacks against Israel were common. For example, in the aftermath of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, a Hezbollah group masquerading as UN personnel kidnapped three Israelis; in 2002, a Hezbollah group crossed the international boundary, infiltrated a kibbutz, fired on a school bus, and killed six persons. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza a year ago, over 1,000 rockets have rained down on Israeli towns such as Sderot. Overall, Israel has suffered over 1,100 civilian deaths from terror since 2000.

Meanwhile, UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the disarming of all foreign militias on Lebanese territory (namely Hezbollah) in 2004, was never implemented. If this international undertaking had been enforced, there would be no war, and there would have been no Israeli or Lebanese civilian casualties. That is the unclouded truth.

But the true root causes of this war lie even deeper. In their covenants and declarations, Hamas and Hezbollah have called for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews, wherever they may be. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah states that "there’s no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel."

This genocidal anti-Semitism, this culture of hatred — this is where it all begins. In the words of U.S. Middle East expert Fouad Ajami following the 2002 terrorist massacre of Israeli civilians in Netanya sitting down for their Passover meal: "The suicide bomber of the Passover massacre did not descend from the sky; he walked straight out of the culture of incitement let loose on the land, a menace hovering over Israel, a great Palestinian and Arab refusal to let that country be, to cede it a place among the nations, he partook of the culture all around him — the glee that greets those brutal deeds of terror, the cult that rises around the martyrs and their families."

Iran not only joins in these genocidal calls, but has become the leader in the campaign to have Israel "wiped off the map". Iran is not just a bystander to the conflict, but a principal actor and choreographer — involved in the training, supplying, financing, harbouring and instigation of Hezbollah.

Herein lies another proximate root cause: Iran Supreme National Security Council Secretary, Ali Lanjari, met with Hezbollah leaders in Damascus on July 12 — the very day that Hezbollah launched its attacks — and the very day that Western nations threatened Iran with economic sanctions if Iran refused to curtail its nuclear program. It is all the more tragic that innocents are dying in Lebanon and Israel because of a proxy war apparently instigated and planned by Iran for its own cynical geopolitical games.

Recognizing the war’s root causes is important, not only to appreciate the basis for the conflict, but the framework for its resolution. That resolution should be organized around the following initiatives and undertakings:

1. A comprehensive and enduring ceasefire and framework for the cessation of hostilities must be put in place.

2. The central principle of UN Security Council Resolution 242 — the recognition of all states, including Israel, to live within secure and recognized boundaries — must be expressly reaffirmed. It is the continuing assault on this seminal UN Resolution and cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy that plagues the region.

3. That same UN Security Council Resolution 242 — and others that followed — also affirm the political independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon. This requires the implementation by the Lebanese government, with international assistance, of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. Hezbollah is a threat not only to the safety and security of Israel, but to a free and sovereign Lebanon. The status of a Hezbollah acting as a terrorist state within a state must end.

4. A robust international protection and stabilization force will be required with the necessary composition, capacity, leadership and rules of engagement to enforce a ceasefire, and to assist the Lebanese government to extend its authority throughout Lebanon.

5. The international protection and stabilization force should also have a primary responsibility for the interdiction of weapons shipments to Hezbollah from both Iran and Syria.

6. The UN should also establish a supervisory force to locate and clear out Hezbollah’s arms caches, bunkers and tunnels, many embedded in civilian areas.

7. The Hezbollah Al-Manar television station — and other media that propagate a culture of hatred — must be closed down.

8. A massive humanitarian effort for the reconstruction of Lebanon and the affected areas of Israel will be required, in which Canada can play an important contributory role.

The death of any innocent — Israeli, Lebanese, Palestinian — is a tragedy. It is urgent to act now for a just resolution and the prevention of further tragedies.