Banksy and Israel’s Vietnam

August 9, 2006 Off By leigh

How to respond to the insanity in Palestine and Lebanon?

That’s what has held me from commenting on the Israeli invasion. The resistance of Hezbollah is increasingly becoming a cause celebré matching North Vietnam and the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front in the late sixties in the eyes of the people (regardless of their governments) of the Middle East. Or perhaps more accurately, Lebanon is likely to be Israel’s Angola and Mozambique, directly mirroring the Apartheid mindset which drove South Africa to invade those countries at the behest of U.S. anti-communist ideology.

For me the defining commentary, alongside the excellent contributions of Juan Coles Informed Comment and Paul Woodwards War in Context, is the artist Banksy whose stencil grafitti on the other gross violation of human rights by the Israeli Likud regime, the Bantustan wall in the Palestinian West Bank.

That wall and the associated land grab is also determined to be illegal by the World Court, yet Israel ignores that ruling. According to Ralph Nader, 66 U.N resolutions condemning Israels seizure of territory has been ignored, while U.N security council (composed of an unrepresentative few countries, not the General Assembly) resolution 1559 is declared by Israel to grant them the right to engage in an invasion and carry out indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, as demonstrated by the Qana massacre.

So the selectivity continues: It is perfectly permissible for Israel to launch over 9000 unguided artillery shells into Palestine, to assassinate leaders, to hold over 9000 Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian prisoners, including women and children and to kidnap two Palestinian civilians the day before the Israeli military volunteer is captured in Palestine. Yet that capture of that single Israeli prisoner did not lead to the Olmert government seeking a prisoner exchange (as has been done several times before), it lead to the whole-scale invasion of the Gaza strip and further killing of Palestinian civilians.

The response by Hamas and the other resistance movements in Palestine in launching the ineffectual Qassam missiles were reprehensible, and fail the moral test of being indiscriminate and not solely aimed at Israeli Defence Force (IDF) targets. But those atrocious acts are on balance, much less than the response of the Israeli military. Unless one human being is considered more valuable than another, each life lost is a loss to the whole world. Any equation other than that each life is equally valuable is simply racism.

It was that action of the re-invasion of Palestinian Gaza strip that certainly inflamed the already tense situation on the Lebanese border and that lead to Hezbollah outrageously killing three and capturing two Israeli military people. But again, the whole-scale targetting of Lebanese civilian infrastructure by the IDF using unguided artillery and bombing far exceeds an appropriate response. Israel had negotiated prisoner exchanges in the past, but given that the invasion seems to have been planned ahead, it would appear to have met the needs of the Olmert government to generate sufficient domestic support by matching the brutality of the Sharon regime.