Howland’s radical politics based on flawed assumptions

We believe that Mary Howland’s views are polarizedand incorrect on several levels. Howland’s first assumption,is that Israel is entirely to blame for the current Lebaneseconflict, and that the Israeli citizens have not suffered in muchthe same way the Lebanese have.Currently there are 500,000 displaced Israeli citizens,50 percent of the population. These citizens are livingin bomb shelters due to the rockets launched by Hezbollah,vis-??-vis Iran.About 3,699 rockets have been fired into the country, andunlike the Israeli rockets, their primary target is not supplyroads and terrorist bases but highly populated Israeli citiessuch as Haifa.Howland talks of the destruction to the Lebanese infrastructure. About 70 percent of businesses have closed in northern Israel. They are just as scared and frightened as the people in Lebanon. They all have family in the Israeli militarythat they may never see again.Another inference that Howland makes is that Hezbollah is inherently tied into the separate Lebanese government.Though Hezbollah holds fourteen seats of the 128-memberLebanese parliament, they are far away from democraticallycontrolling the country.Howland defines Hezbollah as a group that unifiesthrough nationalistic ideals.Hezbollah is primarily an umbrella of radical fundamentalistShiite groups, all who believe violence is necessary collateral to achieve their mission.The idea that Hezbollah nationalistically unifies the people of the Middle East is absurd, considering that there have been factional disputes between Sunni and Shiite Muslims for generations. Even though Hamas currently applauds Hezbollah, in the past they have wanted nothing to do with Hezbollah.Howland also makes the statement that, “Israel made a conscious decision in targeting Hezbollah,” which we view asincorrect. The facts are that on July 12, under leadership ofHassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah broke their border agreementand captured two Israeli soldiers.Hezbollah consciously targeted Israel. If it wasn’t the Israeli soldiers, it would have been something else.The biggest issue that we have with Howland’s article is not that she supports freedom for Lebanon, but that she polarizesthe issue in such a way that peace is made impossible. Howland talks of scapegoating, yet she denies the complexity of theLebanese/Israeli relationship, and simply blames Israel.Indeed both sides have suffered much: the Lebanese peopleunder a war in which they did not ask for, which was notinitiated under democratically elected officials, and theIsraelis people under a system of terror, which continues totarget them.Every Israeli knows someone who has been affected by the conflict, and every Lebanese citizen knows someone victimized by the Israeli Defense Forces. Both sides are controlled by a conflict that has seemingly survived since Abraham and Mohamed.The more we polarize issues and explain away the atrocities of our side, the more we fall away from the message of those great religious leaders. As the great peacemaker Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once said, “We must think differently, look at things in a different way. Peace requires a world of new concepts, new definitions.”