Humanitarian Relief for Lebanon

by Joel on July 26, 2006

Regardless of one’s position on Israel’s attack on Lebanon, the need for humanitarian relief is undeniable. By many reports, up to 700,000 Lebanese have been driven from their homes. Food and medical supplies are running low. There are also claims that as much as 95% of Lebanon’s bridges have been demolished and much infrastructure in general has been destroyed.

Most humanitarian relief will come through governments, but it would seem vital for the Church to make a strong stand in attempting to alleviate suffering. One way to help is through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). “#601740 Middle East Emergency” provides funds in several places, including Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.

Contributions may also be sent by mail to:

UMCOR
P.O. Box 9068
New York, NY 10087-9068

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Dave Warnock 07.26.06 at 6:53 pm

Joel,

Just been watching the BBC news and saw some humanitarian aid arriving at Beruit airport from Jordan.

However, the point was strongly made that the Lebanese people would prefer a ceasefire to aid. There are only two countries not urging a ceasefire. The US and the UK.

With the BBC reporting 460 dead of which 418 are Lebanese and 42 are Israeli the Church must be demanding our governments start acting to stop this slaughter.

Aid is vital but we cannot provide aid that allows our governments say that we support them at all in their lack of support for the innocent.

2

Joel 07.26.06 at 7:03 pm

Dave,

That’s one of the reasons it is important for aid to come from other sources.

I think Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom have made a huge mistake in effectively waging or supporting war against an entire nation.

We seem to be seeking an entirely military solution and I don’t see that as possible.

I found something rather disgusting in the sight of huge American flags covering boxes of humanitarian aid.

3

John 07.26.06 at 8:18 pm

It’s interesting how there were so few calls for a ceasefire while Hezbollah launched terrorist raids and rocket attacks into Israel, and so many once Israel responded.

But, yes, the Church should get involved and demand that Hezbollah immediately cease its terrorist attacks and hiding behind the Lebanese population. No doubt such a demand is forthcoming from the UMC General Board on Church and Society.

It’s pretty simple. Once Hezbollah turns over its hostages and withdraws from Lebanon, the war ends. The ball is in their court.

4

DH 07.26.06 at 8:58 pm

No war is being waged against an entire nation it is against Hezbollah. What I find disgusting is Hezbollah continuing to do these terroible acts against the will of the Arab world, other than Iran and Syria, who have condemned the Hezbollah. Also, the US and UK aren’t against the cease fire. Like John says once Hezbollah turns over hostages and withdraws from Lebanon then a cease fire can be done. No one is suggesting no cease fire what so ever. For someone to suggest that is totally disingenuous.

5

Joel 07.26.06 at 9:54 pm

John,

With all due respect, I think you are naive. Hezbollah will neither be entirely defeated nor will it withdraw from Lebanon because it is too integrated into southern Lebanon society. Israel could have made a strong response that had the support of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but it has made a disproportionate response that has been condemned by those countries. Israel also had the opportunity to have Lebanon’s sympathy and support but the Lebanese are almost universally condemning of Israel.

On the one hand, the Bush administration touted what a fine democracy had been built in Lebanon. On the other hand, as Newsweek points out, it is also actively participating in the disentegration of that nation.

DH,

All I can say is that I profoundly disagree with your view that the war isn’t being waged against Lebanon as a country.

6

DH 07.26.06 at 10:04 pm

The attack is against Hezbollah and the Lebanese casulties are due to Hezbollah hiding behind the Lebanese population. John and I are in agreement.

Joel I think you are naiveto think that a cease fire will prevent Hezbollah from continuing their attacks or get stronger to worse attacks in the future. Also, Egypt and Saudia Arabia condemnedmore Hezbollah than they did Israel. If you reread the transcripts you will see the Arab world having a greater condemnation for Hezbollah. I listenedto an Arab professor from the Univ of Maryland who is a member of the Anwar Sadat Institute andhe echos my sentiment. However, he differs by the support adavance troops from the UN like Blair mentioned. I prefer NATO troops rather than UN troops. Also the timing is what I disagree as well. Only after Hezbollah is seriously weakened which Israel says will happen in a few weeks.

7

Joel 07.26.06 at 10:16 pm

I wouldn’t disagree that most of the Arab and/or Muslim world leadership dislikes Hezbollah. However, an opportunity to bring forth a unified approach is being lost. Egypt turned down an invitation to host negotiations for a cease-fire on the very basis that Israel’s response was lopsided.

There is the further point that in many of the countries where the leadership is condemning of Hezbollah, popular opinion of the citizens is moving toward Hezbollah because of the perception that Israel substantially overreached. If the gap between leadership and citizen becomes too wide, the whole Middle East could come unglued.

Hezbollah should clearly be condemned. But one wider question is whether or not Israel’s approach will truly bring it greater safety. There are a lot of voices, including a few retired Israeli generals, who believe that Israel has overreacted in a counterproductive way.

8

DH 07.26.06 at 10:38 pm

Well I don’t see more people supporting Hezbollah Iactually see the opposite. While they may say in the same conversation “lopsided” the overal statement is oneof total condemnation for Hezbollah. From myvantage point I’m surprised by this and encouraged. In the past no condemnation toward Hezbollah would ever be mentioned only one of condemnationfor Israel. Under current events this is different and for that Iam greatful. I still feel that for stability Hezbollah must be weakened. We must not fall victim to the Neville Chamberlain mentality.

9

Dave Warnock 07.26.06 at 10:55 pm

John and DH,

a) A ceasefire applies to all including Israel and Hezbollah

b) 418 versus 42 dead implies a very imbalanced use of force

c) Have you watched the news and seen the families who are fleeing?

Dave

10

Richard 07.26.06 at 10:58 pm

Why does Neville Chamberlain keep getting dragged into conversations like this?

I have no sympathy for Hezbollah. Their attacks on Israel are shameful. Israel’s actions are no less so. When rockets are fired into civilian areas, you can’t call the deaths of woman and children ‘accidental’ or ‘unintended’. An immediate and unconditional ceasefire is essential.

11

thereverendmom 07.27.06 at 5:13 am

You can also contribute to UMCOR online at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/

12

J 07.27.06 at 5:28 am

“When rockets are fired into civilian areas, you can’t call the deaths of woman and children ‘accidental’ or ‘unintended’”

No, but you can call them the intention of Hezbollah, not Israel. Hezbollah is intentionally targeting Israeli civilians. What would you have them do? They’ve talked and negotiated and signed agreements and every single time the terror organizations that target Israel use the “cease fire” to regroup and attack again. Israel is attacking terrorists hiding behind civilians, not the civilians themselves, and their actions are infinitely less shameful than those of Hezbollah. I think you sincerely believe that equating their actions with intentional targeting of civilians may shame them into a cease fire. But it’s also possible that they may conclude there’s no point in protecting civilians on the other side, since they’ll be condemned regardless - and my guess is if they decided to really scorch the areas Hezbollah controls the carnage would be considerably worse.

13

Dave Warnock 07.27.06 at 10:58 am

J,

Where do you find in the life and teaching of Jesus anything that can justify indiscriminately attacking areas where there are plenty of civilians?

Where do you find in the life and teaching of Jesus something that says when your enemy does something wrong you are freed from all constraints?

Remember that Jesus lived under in an occupied country where there were “terrorists”, so find something that he taught or lived that can support the actions of either Hezbollah or Israel.

Now if we are intending to be Christ-like, tell me how we can call for anything but a ceasefire?

Dave

14

John 07.27.06 at 1:59 pm

a) A ceasefire applies to all including Israel and Hezbollah

Which side has never kept a ceasefire in its history? Three guesses.

b) 418 versus 42 dead implies a very imbalanced use of force

Huh? So Israel should let itself be bombed some more? The US took 400,000 fatalities during WWII. The UK took 450,000. Germany had 5.5 million. Was the US and UK then wrong to attack Germany on the basis of German fatalities?

Since when is “balance” a principle of ethical warfare?

c) Have you watched the news and seen the families who are fleeing?

Yes. What of it?

15

J 07.27.06 at 2:17 pm

“Where do you find in the life and teaching of Jesus anything that can justify indiscriminately attacking areas where there are plenty of civilians?”

Nowhere. That’s why I support efforts to stop people doing just that.

“Where do you find in the life and teaching of Jesus something that says when your enemy does something wrong you are freed from all constraints?”

Again, nowhere. That’s why I don’t like to hear complaints equating justifiable defensive measures with terrorism. I don’t think we’re going to agree on this one Dave - and my objective isn’t to get you to do that, but to point out that reaction to your criticism might be the opposite of what you expect and hope for. We’ve already seen that with the torture issue.

“Remember that Jesus lived under in an occupied country where there were “terrorists”, so find something that he taught or lived that can support the actions of either Hezbollah or Israel.”

Nothing he said or taught supported Hezbollah. But he did say love your enemies, and sometimes love requires us to stop someone from self destructing. That may result in the death of many innocent people, but I’m not sure the answer is letting an exponentially larger number die to preserve our own pacifist sanctimony. This problem is not going away, and we’ve tried (repeatedly) settling it peacefully.

“Now if we are intending to be Christ-like, tell me how we can call for anything but a ceasefire?”

Easily. I think a ceasefire will only result in more bloodshed in the long run.

16

Dave Warnock 07.27.06 at 2:50 pm

“Since when is “balance” a principle of ethical warfare?”

According to the Just War theory which has a lot to say, little if any of which would apply to the actions of Israel (or Hezbollah).

J,

You say all these things, then apply them as if all the right is on one side and all the wrong on the other, in the responses you support you repeatedly imply that the ends justify the means.

The idea that the ends justify the means is not Christian, it goes explicitly against the idea of God sending his son as a human being, it goes against all the teaching of Christ which placed incredibly high value on the means.

Dave

17

John 07.27.06 at 4:12 pm

Okay, there is a place for balance of some degree in ethical warfare. If Israel had responded to the attacks by, say, nuking Lebanon, then it would have acted wrongly. Or if they had carpet bombed the nation into oblivion. But how have the casualty reports reflected some extreme reaction? The numbers do suggest that Israel is more successful at waging war than Hezbollah. But they do not suggest that Israel is engaging in indiscrimate slaughter. That’s something that Israel could do, by the way, if they wanted to. They have the capacity.

If we’re looking at balance, consider that Israel has been very restrained in its military capabilities. Hezbollah, in contrast, has tossed every high-end weapon at its disposal at Israel — and at Israeli population centers. Israel has shown restraint; Hezbollah has not.

18

J 07.27.06 at 4:56 pm

“all the right is on one side and all the wrong on the other” would be a very accurate description of this situation, I agree.

“in the responses you support you repeatedly imply that the ends justify the means”

Imply is a weaker word than I’d use trying to set up this kind of straw man, but I’ll bite anyway. If you’ve got a better means of handling this problem let’s hear it. And let’s not even start with things that have repeatedly failed in the past.

Though doing so requires actions that upset pacifist sensitivities, destroying Hezbollah will help stabilize Lebabnon (to the extent that’s possible) and reduce bloodshed in the long run. Things may get a lot worse before they get better, but if you want to criticize somebody for being Machiavellian, look in the mirror.

19

Dave Warnock 07.27.06 at 11:22 pm

J,

“Nothing he said or taught supported Hezbollah. But he did say love your enemies, and sometimes love requires us to stop someone from self destructing. That may result in the death of many innocent people, but I’m not sure the answer is letting an exponentially larger number die to preserve our own pacifist sanctimony. This problem is not going away, and we’ve tried (repeatedly) settling it peacefully.”

Please detail how you think the teaching of Jesus supports the death of many innocent people.

Please explain how you feel that we have attempted to solve this peacefully (using a Jesus compatible definition of peacefully).

“‘all the right is on one side and all the wrong on the other’ would be a very accurate description of this situation, I agree.”

I am truly sorry but I am not sure how to read that. Are you being sarcastic? Or do you really mean that there is no wrong at all on the side of Israel? How do you justify that? When a UN watching post makes 6 phone calls to Israel that they are shelling dangerously close to them before they are hit and killed? When innocent children are killed? When children are used in propaganda writing messages on missiles?

“but if you want to criticize somebody for being Machiavellian, look in the mirror.” via Wikipedia “Machiavellianism is the term some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain.”

Please explain how I will see this in a mirror?

“Though doing so requires actions that upset pacifist sensitivities, destroying Hezbollah will help stabilize Lebabnon (to the extent that’s possible) and reduce bloodshed in the long run.”

Where is the proof of this? Iraq? Nope, not worked there. Afganistan? Nope not worked there? Vietnam? Nope failed there.

When were you last in Lebanon. I was there in 98 and I saw the work that ordinary people did to repair their homes and businesses. I have worked with Christians who went to work for the Bible Society everyday, crossing squares under sniper fire everyday, one of whom was buried alive when his house was shelled. You are talking complete crap here when you talk of a war like this stabilizing Lebanon.

Instead look at South Africa and Northern Island and what progress has been made there. Force of arms will not create peace in the Middle East - it has not and will not.

Instead start investing in Justice and Reconciliation - see your Bible for why (Amos and Joel are good starting points). We have not tried this in any real way (eg at the level of Arms Sales or a defence budget).

Please note that in no way at all do I support Hezbollah, or their actions. But to try to say that they are the only ones at fault requires a very biased approach to this problem that will not help bring justice and peace.

When you respond about justice consider another friend of mine. He could only get a Palestinian refugee passport for over 40 years after his parents were thrown out from their family home by Israel - no country would accept them. Even in 98 when I was there Palestinian refugees were still living in refugee camps around Beruit, decades after losing their homes.

Blindly supporting one side or the other despite the evidence cannot bring justice and reconciliation - and war most certainly will not.

20

J 07.28.06 at 3:55 pm

The root of our disagreement here is the idea that the killing will stop with a ceasefire. Obviously I don’t think it will. Nothing in Jesus’ teaching supports the killing of innocents, but faced with the choice between 10 people dying and 1000 people dying, I’m pretty sure He’d want us to go with the 10 option.

I do think Hezbollah is completely in the wrong on this one. They started shelling civilians out of the blue. When Israel responded, they first warned the local population that they were going to do so, advising them to leave the area. I’ve seen reports that Hezbollah stopped some people from doing so, and I’ll bet we find out they were firing from that UN post. I’m not sure what UN observers were even doing there once this broke out, but I hope they’ll evacuate now.

Do you really think Afghanistan and Iraq were better off under their former governments? Neither one has turned into Switzerland, but nobody in their right mind expected that to begin with. As for Vietnam, we never finished the job there because of…a ceasefire. It worked great there, didn’t it?

Machiavelli was a fictional character, one of whose philosophies was “the end justifies the means”. That comment was a mean thing to say and I apologize. I think you’re wrong about this issue, but I don’t question the sincerity of your opinion.

This wikipedia entry has links to most of the treaties and negotiaitons between Israel and it’s neighbors:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel-Palestine_Liberation_Organization_letters_of_recognition

The link on the 1919 agreement has some interesting stuff on Arab attitudes towards Palestinians.

I really don’t think SA or NI are analogous to this situation. Their objectives were self determination, not the destruction of another country and the extermination of it’s people. And in the case of SA, that movement was led by a man with an extraordinary capacity for reconciliation that it’s unrealistic to expect from most human beings.

“Blindly supporting one side or the other despite the evidence cannot bring justice and reconciliation - and war most certainly will not”

Actually, what I see here is not blind support, but blind criticism of Israel every time this sort of thing happens, which was the point of my original comment. That criticism may ultimately have the opposite effect of what you seek.

21

Richard 07.28.06 at 4:03 pm

“And in the case of SA, that movement was led by a man with an extraordinary capacity for reconciliation that it’s unrealistic to expect from most human beings”
Can you possibly be referring to Nelson Mandela, the man who Margaret Thatcher and — if memory serves — her friend Ronald Reagan regarded as a terrorist?

22

J 07.28.06 at 7:04 pm

Yes.

23

DH 07.28.06 at 7:06 pm

RonaldReagan never referred to Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. He may have referred to him as a Communist but thatis a whole other story.

24

Richard 07.28.06 at 8:35 pm

I was going from memory, DH so I can’t be certain that Reagan ever said “Mandela is a terrorist” (though Thatcher certainly did. A brief search on google turned up this interesting paragraph from Foreign Policy in Focus written in 2001

In 1985 a group of bearded men met with Ronald Reagan in the White House. These turbaned men were, Reagan stated, “the moral equivalent of America’s founding fathers.” These were the Afghan mujahedin, for whom Osma bin Laden worked and was undoubtedly funded, directly or indirectly, by the CIA. At the same time Nelson Mandela sat in prison in Robben Island. Mandela, according to the official watch list of the Pentagon, was a terrorist, the head of a terrorist organization attacking the anticommunist apartheid regime.

Makes you think.

25

DH 07.28.06 at 8:48 pm

It doesn’t make me think because Reagan never said he was a terrorist or implied thathe was. Just because some CIA list mentions it in that category doesn’t mean Reagan considered or agreed with that particular analysis. He defintiely was considered Communist and to some extent he was. Also, I would be interested in the substantiation of this so-called list and whether or not it is credible or in what context this so-called list is. Myself not being a conspiracy theorist is what leads me to these type of questions I have mentioned here in this reply to you.

26

J 07.29.06 at 1:42 am

“These were the Afghan mujahedin, for whom Osma bin Laden worked and was undoubtedly funded, directly or indirectly, by the CIA”

Actually, OBL was part of the Arab mujahedin, AQ’s predecessor of sorts, not any Afghan mujahedin group. Interestingly, both AQ and the CIA deny that they ever received any funding from the US. Given other sources, they really didn’t need it anyway.

27

Bene Diction 07.30.06 at 1:45 am

The Boston Globe - Derrick Jackson

Ronald Reagan - 1985 that the “reformist administration” of South Africa had “eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country”. In 1986, Reagan gave a speech where he said Mandela should be released but denounced sanctions with crocodile tears, claiming that they would hurt black workers, who were already ridiculously impoverished.”

1986 Reagan vetoed the congressional sanction. Congress over rode the veto. Reagan influenced none enforcement
2000 South Africans including Mandela remained in prison without recourse.

1987 - Reagan publishes a report saying additional sanctions would not be helpful.

Reagan viewed Mandela as a communist.
Ronald Reagan had Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress labelled a terrorist organization

1981 to CBS news: Reagan supported the SA government because it…”a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve ever fought, a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals.”

Ronald Reagan said Nelson Mandela was a communist and a terrorist.

28

DH 08.07.06 at 4:11 pm

Ronald Reagan never said he was a terrorist. He did say he was a communist but not a terrorist. Look at the Boston Globe it is a biased news paper.

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