- On July 20, 2006, Pope Benedict proclaimed Sunday a day of "prayer and penance" for the worsening situation in the Middle East. According to the communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office (available via Zenit News Service):
The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.
In particular, the Supreme Pontiff hopes that prayers will be raised to the Lord for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples, and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region, as already indicated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Angelus last Sunday, July 16.
In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis, the right to live in peace in their state, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.
At this sorrowful moment, His Holiness also makes an appeal to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict.
- Pope Benedict has also stated that he backs the G8 Summit document condemning Hezbollah. :
Two days before the statement was released by the Vatican, Pope Benedict endorsed a Group of Eight declaration that criticized Hamas and Hezbollah for fueling an escalation in current hostilities and urged Israel to exercise restraint in its retaliation.(Pope calls for immediate cease-fire, negotiations, penance, prayers for peace Catholic Online (Catholic.Org) 7/20/2006.
"I find myself in full agreement with the G-8 communique," the pope said July 18 during his vacation in the northern Italian Alps. "I have nothing else to add other than the importance of prayer so that God may help us."
- Know Thine Enemy - From Greensboro, NC's The Rhinoceros Times, Orson Scott Card questions the notion of "Lebanese sovereignty":
If Israel sends its troops into southern Lebanon, you can be sure that it will be condemned as a violation of "Lebanese sovereignty."
What Lebanese sovereignty?
Either the Lebanese government controls southern Lebanon or it doesn't.
If it is sovereign Lebanese territory, then Lebanon as an entirety is responsible for the terror missile attacks launched against Israeli civilians by the Hezbollah forces that openly rule there. Therefore, Lebanon has committed acts of war against Israel, and Israel is perfectly justified in any military action it takes against the entirety of Lebanon.
But if the Lebanese government declares that it is not responsible for missiles launched from that region of their nominal territory, then by that admission they confess that it is hot territory for which the Lebanese government claims responsibility. In which case, Hezbollah is the ruler of that territory (which it is), and Israel, regardless of lines on a map, has a right to invade Hezbollah territory and destroy the capacity of that enemy to make war against them.
- Israel Is Fighting for its Life, but the Vatican “Deplores” - www.chiesa July 19, 2006. "Departing secretary of state Sodano is one of the prominent proponents of the anti-Israeli camp. But there are some who have a different view on the new war in Lebanon." A column by professor Vittorio E. Parsi, and an interview with Fr. David Maria Jaeger.
- The Sodano Code: The Vatican's stale policy on the Middle East. Weekly Standard Volume 011, Issue 43. Jody Bottom asserts that "since the founding of Israel in 1948, the Vatican has never had a clear idea how to respond to tensions in the area" -- the fate of Christians in Islamic countries hanging in the balance, and endangered by the slightest hint of support for the Jews:
The Vatican was never anti-Israeli, and it certainly never condoned or praised terrorism. But, bit by bit, Rome's advisers and experts on the Middle East came to be those whose first impulse was to take the Arab, and particularly the Palestinian, side in any dispute with Israel or the United States.According to Bottum, the same diplomatic strategy underlied Cardinal Sodano's statements on the present situation:
. . . in one sense, Sodano was merely indulging the kind of ritual statement--everybody's wrong, but Israel most of all--that the Vatican has been issuing for decades. It didn't mean much in 1973, and it doesn't mean much now.Further discussion of Bottum's article at Amy Welborn's Open Book.
In another sense, however, Sodano's remarks on Vatican Radio--and similar statements by other Catholic figures, from the custodians of the holy places in Israel to the editorialists in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osserv atore Romano--are most disturbing precisely because of their datedness. The situation in the Middle East is no longer simply a battle between Israelis and Palestinians. With the increasing role of the Iranians, and the refusal of the Arab League to involve itself, the fight doesn't even really center around the Arabs.
It is, rather, a war between the Islamists and the West--a proxy fight, in which the totalitarian governments of Syria and Iran have aimed the weapon of terrorism at modern democracies. And, for the Catholic Church, the answer cannot remain the old, ritual statements about the Middle East, dusted off one more time. John Paul II had a vision for confronting totalitarianism--a way of refusing government by the lie and naming things for what they are. It is time for the Vatican to apply that vision to the Middle East.
- Religious brother details tension in Lebanon Catholic News Agency July 18, 2006. "In e-mails sent to his family members and community, Marist Brother Jose Maria Romero has detailed the growing tension Christians are experiencing in Lebanon amidst the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah." Another report on the refugee situation is provided by Antioch Abouna - "a Lebanese Orthodox Christian of the Patriarchate of Antioch."
- Shaken and Stirred, by Josh Manchester. TCS Daily July 21, 2006, arguing that the US invasion of Iraq has destroyed any consensus that might have existed between Arab states, prompting a reconsideration of their roles and support of terrorism:
Were Saddam still in power, the Arab world would not feel nearly as threatened by Hezbollah, the Frankenstein's monster of Iran's creation. Instead, they would have sided with the Syrian foreign minister's strong support for Hezbollah. Saddam himself might even have offered cash rewards to anyone attempting martyrdom against the Jews.
Instead, they came to no consensus. The leading Arab League states, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, call Hezbollah's actions "inappropriate and irresponsible." This lessens the urgency of calls from the international community, whether the G8, UN, or EU, for a ceasefire. That lessened urgency creates something very precious indeed: a moment in time and space wherein Israel has the most fleeting of opportunities for decisive action against Hezbollah, an avowed foe, a terrorist organization, and a constant threat to the security of its populace.
- The Stupid, Isolationist Right. July 21, 2006. Tom Karako of The Claremont Review's The Remedy pens a rebuttal to Pat Buchanan's assertion that Israel's struggle for survival shouldn't be considered "our war":
One does not have to be a democratization zealot, or to say things like "we are all Israelis today," or to walk around with the purple thumb of Iraqi solidarity, to see that America does indeed have a powerful interest in preventing monsters abroad the freedom to rampage, hurt our allies, and gather strength and organization—before coming to search after us. This is monster-slaying which John Quincy Adams would sanction, indeed require. Buchanan suggests that we have no dog in this fight. When Hezbollah has pushed Israel into the sea, will they then become America’s new ally in the region?
- Terror Supporters in New York City - Little Green Footballs comments on the "ridiculously bland" caption by Reuters depicting a "Lebanon protest outside the Israeli consulate in New York", July 18, 2006. Correct me if I'm wrong, but slogans like "God will send the Mushroom Cloud from the Sky on Israel", "Allah will destroy the terrorist state of Israel" and "Islam will DOMINATE," -- with a photo of an Islamic flag over the White House -- speak to me something more than a mere "support for Lebanon." But decide for yourself. You can view photographs from the entire Islamic hate-rally against Israel here.
Ignoring the fact that Israel Sets Up Humanitarian Aid Corridor To Lebanon, protestors scream "genocide!" Meanwhile, Iran has reasserted the duty of Muslims to “wipe out” Israel, and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared Sunday that Israel had "pushed the button of its own destruction" by launching its military campaign against the Iranian-backed Hizbullah in Lebanon (Jerusalem Post July 23, 2006).
- A collection of words from a reluctant war compiled by Loy Mershimer. July 20, 2006.
- Hizballah Activity in North America CounterTerrorismBlog.org. Brian Hecht of The Investigative Project on Terrorism has prepared a quick reference guide to major Hizballah and Hizballah-linked illegal activity in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In Hezbollah and Main Street (The Washington Times July 21, 2006), Diana West raises some concerns as well about the evacuation of "dual nationals" who convey their sympathies for the terrorist organization:
"In this wide-open question of loyalties we may see the expanding emptiness of the modern nation-state, where basic identification with the nation itself is no longer at the core of citizenship. And that includes the United States, where, for example, a good stretch of Main Street follows the Israeli war on Hezbollah via Al Jazeera."
- How Deeply Are Iran And Syria Involved In Lebanon?, asks Captains Quarters. Ynet News reported last night that the IDF had intercepted missile shipments coming from Syria, and the New York Sun's Ira Stoll says that "hundreds" of Iranian troops have joined Hezbollah's missile brigades.
- Hizbollah's Iranian War in Lebanon, Counterterrorism Blog July 22, 2006. Walid Phares, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against The West, provides the necessary background history on Hezbollah and Syrian, Iranian involvement. A must-read.
- Katyusha rockets, ball bearings and bombs, by Donald Sensing. A shredded car provides a graphic illustration to Human Rights Watch' earlier report of Hezbollah's deliberate illegal targeting of civilians with missiles containing ball-bearings. The Jerusalem Post has a summary of recent rocket attacks on Israel. Although as Sensing reminds us, there is "plenty of suffering to go around" -- Lebanese civilians not having the benefit of Israeli bomb shelters built in response to years of bombardment. The Ouwet Front, a blog expressing the "personal views and opinions of members of the Lebanese military", rails against Hezbollah's Dirty Methods.
- Hostage to Hezbollah - Lesson for Nasrallah: "The violence done to Lebanon shall overwhelm you", by Foad Ajami:
Nasrallah's brazen deed was, in the man's calculus, an invitation to an exchange of prisoners. Now, the man who triggered this crisis stands exposed as an Iranian proxy, doing the bidding of Tehran and Damascus. He had confidently asserted that "sources" in Israel had confided to Hezbollah that Israel's government would not strike into Lebanon because Hezbollah held northern Israel hostage to its rockets, and that the demand within Israel for an exchange of prisoners would force Ehud Olmert's hand. The time of the "warrior class" in Israel had passed, Nasrallah believed, and this new Israeli government, without decorated soldiers and former generals, was likely to capitulate. Now this knowingness has been exposed for the delusion it was.Worthy reading from the Lebanese-born American university professor.
There was steel in Israel and determination to be done with Hezbollah's presence on the border. States can't--and don't--share borders with militias. That abnormality on the Lebanese-Israeli border is sure not to survive this crisis. One way or other, the Lebanese army will have to take up its duty on the Lebanon-Israel border. By the time the dust settles, this terrible summer storm will have done what the Lebanese government had been unable to do on its own.
- BlogsofWar: Israel - Hezbollah - Lebanon - links to various media providing a variety of perspectives on the conflict.
- Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian Bloggers on the Mideast Crisis. Courtesy of TruthLaidBear.com.