Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Disproportionate Response

Cox and Forkum offer their opinion of the refrain that Israel's response to the thousands of missiles that have been fired into Israel over the years and the hundreds of murders of Israeli citizens is "disproportionate":

Thank God For George Bush

This will set the left to rooting through its pockets for its blood pressure medicine. Elie Wiesel, in a demonstration in support of Israel in New York on Sunday, thanked God that George Bush was in the White House. Hillary who shared the stage with the Nobel prize winner, did not seem to share Elie's enthusiasm for Mr. Bush.

Go here and scroll down to the photo of Weisel and click on it to play his speech.

Stem Cell Funding

The imminent presidential veto of a bill providing for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research may require a few clarifications.

No one in the debate is seeking to ban embryonic stem cell research. The legislation which will be sent to the oval office, there to fall victim to the first veto of the Bush presidency, would simply lift the ban on federal funding of such research. Presently anyone who wishes is free to seek alternative funding for his or her research, but federal funds are available only to those researchers working on stem cell lines available prior to 2001. This limitation applies only to embryonic stem cells taken from a human embryo and which require the embryo be destroyed in order to harvest them. Research on stem cells from adults or umbilical cords is not affected.

One possibility being discussed is that surplus embryos produced in fertility clinics for women seeking to get pregnant, and which will be destroyed in any event, could be donated for their stem cells, and researchers could be eligible for federal funding for these. Since these embryos are going to be destroyed, this seems to make a certain amount of sense, but it puts the administration on a slippery slope. If they agree to making funds available to researchers working with stem cells obtained in such a fashion on what grounds could they refuse to make funds available to researchers using stem cells harvested from aborted embryos? No doubt this is what will provoke Bush's promised veto.

A Brief History

Breitbart.com offers us a brief history of the relations between Israel and Lebanon:

Because Israel and Lebanon have never signed a peace accord, the countries remain officially in a state of war that has existed since 1948 when Lebanon joined other Arab nations against the newly formed Jewish state.

The two countries have been bound by an armistice signed in 1949, which regulates the presence of military forces in southern Lebanon. With a large Christian minority in an overwhelmingly Muslim region, mercantile and Westernized, Lebanon was considered the least hostile Arab neighbor to Israel - and the weakest. The rare skirmishes that occurred were mostly symbolic.

That began to change as Palestinian guerrillas became active. In 1968, Israeli commandos landed at Beirut airport and blew up 13 Lebanese airliners in retaliation for Arab militants firing on an Israeli airliner in Athens, Greece. Under pressure from staunch anti-Israeli Arab regimes in 1969, Lebanon signed an agreement that effectively gave away a southern region for Palestinian guerrillas to use as a springboard to infiltrate Israel or launch cross-border attacks.

Israel retaliated regularly as Palestinian guerrillas fired on northern Israel, and Israeli forces invaded southern Lebanon in 1978. A U.N. peacekeeping force deployed and the Israelis pulled out after installing a local Lebanese militia in a border buffer zone, but the attacks continued.

Israel invaded again on a wider scale in 1982 to destroy Yasser Arafat's Palestinian guerrilla movement, which had established itself as a force within Lebanon during the country's civil war. The bulk of Palestinian guerrillas were evacuated from Lebanon, but a new Lebanese guerrilla force, Hezbollah, emerged with the aid of Iran and drawn from the Shiite Muslim community that inhabits southern and eastern Lebanon.

U.S.-sponsored negotiations produced a Lebanon-Israel agreement but that deal died as Lebanon collapsed in another round of civil war. After a destructive and costly military campaign that lasted for three years, Israeli forces withdrew from most of Lebanon but retained a self-proclaimed "security zone" just north of its own border.

Fighting inside Lebanon would escalate periodically, including a 1993 Israeli bombing offensive and the 17-day "Grapes of Wrath" military campaign in 1996 that left about 150 Lebanese civilians dead. At that time, Israel was reacting against guerrilla attacks by Hezbollah against Israeli soldiers inside the occupied zone and against Katyusha rockets being fired by Hezbollah into Israel proper.

Israel left that zone in 2000, but warned that it would return if its security to the north was compromised. Hezbollah trumpeted Israel's withdrawal as a great victory but claimed that Israel continued to occupy illegally a small, empty parcel near Syria called the Chebaa Farms.

Diplomats mostly see that claim as a convenient excuse to justify attacks against Israel. Nevertheless, the Israeli-Lebanese frontier had remained largely quiet for the past six years with occasional outbursts _ until a cross-border raid July 12 resulted in the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight others, sparking the current warfare.

Let's think about the Israeli position. Suppose some American Indians moved into the houses on either side of yours and from time to time fired a couple of bullets at your house. You demand that they stop, but they refuse. Occasionally they sneak onto your property and assault your family. You call the police, of course, but the police ultimately do nothing to stop the terrorizing of your family. Your kids fear for their lives and so do you. You ask to negotiate with your neighbors. They insist that you're living on land taken by your ancestors from their ancestors and they want it back, and until you give it back you'll have to put up with these attacks forever or until you and your descendents are all dead.

You have two options. You can either move your family or you can fight. You have no place to go, the house is yours, so why should you move? On the other hand, you are much stronger than your neighbors and better armed. Fighting is the last thing you want to do, but what other practical choice do you have?

That's pretty much the situation the Israelis find themselves in today.