from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

"We Stand with UNIFIL"

January 29, 2015

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The recent violence between Hezbollah and Israel elicited a statement from the State Department yesterday. It’s a marvel of moral equivalency and confusion.

Here it is, in full:

The United States strongly condemns Hezbollah’s attack today from Lebanon on Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in blatant violation of the cease fire between Lebanon and Israel and UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks. We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation.

We are deeply concerned by reports of injuries and casualties on both sides of the Blue Line, including the reported deaths of IDF soldiers and the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). We extend our sincere condolences to the victims’ families. We also stand with UNIFIL as it fulfills its important mandate to maintain peace and security along the Blue Line.

Hezbollah continues to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel and by its presence and fighting inside Syria, which violates Lebanese leaders’ agreed policy of dissociating Lebanon from foreign conflicts.

First, why does the United States "stand with UNIFIL" instead of saying "We stand with Israel?"  Then there’s  the "all parties" language: we urge all parties to do this and that, despite the fact that one party is America’s closest ally in the Middle East and the other is a murderous terrorist group that has a great deal of American blood on its hands. Then, the confusion: State "strongly condemns" Hezbollah and blames it for this incident and for generally inciting violence and instability. So what is to be done about all those actions by Hezbollah? Is Israel supposed to strike back or "refrain from any action that could escalate the situation?" Israel has a "legitimate right to self-defense" but it must "respect the Blue Line." Given that Hezbollah is just across the Blue Line, that’s impossible; Israeli self-defense must include hitting Hezbollah, or "self-defense" means sitting in bunkers.

It would be better if the United States stood with its allies and condemned its enemies, without the confused advice and the lectures to "all parties."

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