Send my regards to her radical politics:

Mary Howland, your recent condemnation of Israel for its attacks targetting Lebanon’s civilians and infrastructure in the recent war is appropriate and insightful. However, your defense of Hezbollah’s actions is wholly unjustified. Ms. Howard stated in your opinion piece that the branding of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization stems from fear within Israel and the United States because Hezbollah, along with Hamas in Palestine, is one of the only popular nationalist organizations that has successfully beat off U.S. funded Israeli aggression. While I do not disagree that many western nations harbor unfair and illegitimate prejudices against some non-secular and nonliberal states in the Middle East, it is utterly irresponsible to overlook the terrorist acts committed by Hezbollah. Israel, as with any independent nation, has not only a right, but a responsibility to protect its own people. When hundreds of katyusha rockets are fired into civilian-populated areas of Israel (as they have been for the last year), this constitutes a legitimate threat to the safety of Israeli civilians, and warrants a miliitary response. My intention is not to defend Israel’s conduct in the war. It is clear that Mr. Olmert’s unwillingness to commit ground troops to southern Lebanon, and the subsequent air-strikes targeting (mostly Shia) civilian neighborhoods and buildings, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Lebanese and the exodus of thousands more. Most reasonable people are in agreement about this, as evidenced by the current investigations of Israel’s war-time conduct by several NGOs, as well as an investigation from within the state brought about by a group of Israel’s own reservist soldiers. What is at issue here is the fact that you implore us to side with Hezbollah. There should be no taking sides when atrocities have been committed by both parties. While one may sympathize with the ideologies of one group or another, this does not exculpate grave violations of human rights. You make the claim that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization. Yet their stated aim is the destruction of the Israeli state, and their means of achieving this end involve constantly endangering the lives of non-combatants. If we define terrorism by the criteria of targeted attacks on non-combatants, the destruction of infrastructure vital to civilian life and the purposeful instilling of fear into non-aggressors, one could make the case that both Hezbollah and Israel’s current regime fit the description of terrorist organizations. For this reason, we must condemn the actions of both parties involved, and seek to hold their leaders accountable in a court of international law. It is true that the United States unfairly supports Israel. It may not be unreasonable to say that the U.S. is in fact helping sustain terrorism (in this instance), via its unrestricted flow of weapons and cash to an already fiery situation. But to say that the American anti-war left should side with Hezbollah demonstrates a myopic ignorance of the facts that is increasingly common among so many of our “forward thinking” compatriots. You say that “we must stand with Hezbollah against Israeli aggression.” This requires us to make a judgment as to who we think is the more justified perpetrator of crimes against humanity. It is the duty of any state that values human rights to condemn such actions, whether committed by the oppressor or the oppressed. We must not stand with Israel or Hezbollah; it is our duty to stand with other like-minded nations against human rights violations of any kind, and hold the perpetrators accountable.