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The Fern Sidman Commentaries:
July 27th, 2006: "THE HEAT IS ON"

As day 15 of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists concluded, it was reported that little was accomplished on the diplomatic front at the Rome summit. United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice was joined by the United Nations, European Union countries, Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as Canada, Russia, Cyprus and Turkey in seeking a resolution the burgeoning war between Israel and Hezbollah.

According to CNN’s John King, Secretary of State Rice was “under siege” by world leaders who pressed for an "immediate cease fire in the region". The position of the United States as voiced by Secretary Rice was that a cease fire must be "sustainable" and cessation of hostilities must be part of a wider plan to permanently disarm Lebanese Hezbollah militants.
CNN reported that, "one source involved in the talks said everyone but the United States wanted to press ahead with an immediate cease-fire, but Rice argued that taking that approach would leave Hezbollah in place and still armed with its rockets."

Rice also expressed concern over what she said was Iran and Syria’s involvement in the conflict, while UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that future dialogue should involve Tehran and Damascus.

The Israeli government, which was not invited to the Rome meeting, said Wednesday it hopes the "international community will act immediately to strengthen the Lebanese army" so that it can take charge of south Lebanon.

In its statement, Israel said it wants a U.N. resolution calling for Lebanese militias to be disarmed and a G8 statement calling for the release of all abducted soldiers.

"Israel is forced to continue to defend its citizens because of the failure to implement these resolutions until now," the statement read.

It was also reported by CNN’s John King that Secretary Rice told the summit that she could convince Israel to agree to a cease fire if the international community would orchestrate efforts to pressure Hezbollah to disarm. The members of the summit rejected that proposal. Hezbollah has vowed to continue to wage war against Israel. King also reported that Secretary Rice would be returning to Israel by the weekend to assess whether Israel would be agreeable to a return of the Shebaa Farms region to Lebanon and to a prsioner exchange.

There is no question that the proverbial political heat has been turned on high and now the United States, under a tremendous amount of world pressure is considering the option of asking Israel to make territorial compromises and to discuss a possible prisoner exchange .So much for the global war on terror and the strident policy of isolation of terrorists. Those who were persona non grata just yesterday, may turn into negotiating partners tomorrow.

Let us look at the facts of who the United States would like to reward for its kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and its rocket attacks on Israel. The history of the Hezbollah terrorist network is replete with numerous and multiple attacks and murders of American military personnel and civilians as well as its legendary hatred and attacks on Israel. The facts are as follows:

July 19, 1982: The president of the American University in Beirut, Davis S. Dodge, is kidnapped. Hezbollah is believed to be behind this and most of the other 30 Westerners kidnapped over the next ten years.

April 18, 1983: Hezbollah attacks the U.S. embassy in Beirut with a car bomb, killing 63 people, 17 of whom were American citizens.

Oct. 23, 1983: The group attacks U.S. Marine barracks with a truck bomb, killing 241 American military personnel stationed in Beirut as part of a peace-keeping force. A separate attack against the French military compound in Beirut kills 58.

Sept. 20, 1984: The group attacks the U.S. embassy annex in Beirut with a car bomb, killing 2 Americans and 22 others.

March 16, 1984: William F. Buckley, a CIA operative working at the U.S. embassy in Beirut, is kidnapped and later murdered.

April 12, 1984: Hezbollah attacks a restaurant near the U.S. Air Force Base in Torrejon, Spain. The bombing kills eighteen U.S. servicemen and injures 83 people.

Dec. 4, 1984: Hezbollah terrorists hijack a Kuwait Airlines plane. Four passengers are murdered, including two Americans.

Feb. 16, 1985: Hezbollah publicizes its manifesto. It notes that the group’s struggle will continue until Israel is destroyed and rejects any cease-fire or peace treaty with Israel.

June 14, 1985: Hezbollah terrorists hijack TWA flight 847. The hijackers severely beat Passenger Robert Stethem, a U.S. Navy diver, before killing him and dumping his body onto the tarmac at the Beirut airport. Other passengers are held as hostages before being released on June 30.

Feb. 17, 1988: The group kidnaps Col. William Higgins, a U.S. Marine serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group in Lebanon, and later murders him.

Oct. 22, 1989: Members of the dissolved Lebanese parliament ratify the Taif Agreement. Although the agreement calls for the “disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias,” Hezbollah remains active.

Feb. 16, 1992: Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah takes over Hezbollah after Israel kills the group’s leader, Abbas Musawi.

March 17, 1992: With the help of Iranian intelligence, Hezbollah bombs the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and injuring over 200.

July 18, 1994: Hezbollah bombs the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires again with Iranian help killing 86 and injuring over 200.

October 1997: The United States lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

May 23, 2000: Israel withdraws all troops from Lebanon after 18 years patrolling the “security zone,” a strip of land in the south of the country. The security zone was set up to prevent attacks on northern Israel.

June 2000: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan certifies Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon. Shortly thereafter, the U.N. Security Council endorses Annan’s report. Hezbollah nonetheless alleges Israel occupies Lebanon, claiming the small Shebaa Farms area Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 war as Lebanese territory.

Oct. 7, 2000: Hezbollah attacks an Israel military post and raids Israel, kidnapping three Israeli soldiers. The soldiers are later assumed dead. In mid-October, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah announces the group has also kidnapped an Israeli businessman. In 2004, Israel frees over 400 Arab prisoners in exchange for the business man and the bodies of the three soldiers.

March 1, 2001: The British government adds Hezbollah’s "military wing" to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations.

Dec. 11, 2002: Canada lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

June 5, 2003: Australia lists Hezbollah’s "military wing" as a terrorist organization.

Sept. 2, 2004: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 calls for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," a reference to Hezbollah.

December 2004: Both the United States and France ban Hezbollah’s satellite television network, Al Manar. A U.S. State Department spokesman notes the channel "preaches violence and hatred."

March 10, 2005: The European Parliament overwhelmingly passes a resolution stating: "Parliament considers that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities by Hezbollah. The (EU) Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them." The European Union nonetheless refrains from placing the group on its list of terror organizations.

July 12, 2006: Hezbollah attacks Israel with Katyushas, crosses the border and kidnaps two Israeli soldiers. Eight other soldiers are killed. Israel launches operation to rescue the soldiers and push Hezbollah from its border. Hezbollah attacks towns across northern Israel with rocket fire.

Talk of any Israeli compromises at this juncture in time would be interpreted by the world community that Israel has indeed “behaved deplorably” in this war for the preservation of the nation of Israel. It would tell the world that Israel “owes” something to Lebanon for “the ravages of war”. This kind of talk only defeats any chance at lasting peace in the region and would be an egregious regression in the US lead campaign against world terror.

It is true that the United States is buying time with the international community in order to allow Israel to push Hezbollah further into Lebanon and to eradicate its presence from the Lebanese-Israeli border. It is clear that the war against Hezbollah cannot be limited to a US timetable. It is a war unlike any other war that Israel has ever fought. Unlike the conventional armies of yesteryear, the battle to thwart and conquer these Hezbollah guerrillas requires patience and precise targeting.

Israel has stated that this conflict could last for “several more weeks”. While the patience of the international community is running thin, the United States must not acquiesce to world pressuire for its own sake. Israel has also announced its intention to expand its offensive. While Israel has sustained many deaths and casualties thus far, a major ground offensive must not be ruled out.

While the pressure is mounting and these times are exceptionally tense for Israel, we must remember who Hezbollah is. Terror is their theology and hate is their mantra.

The greatest weapon we possess is our faith and loyalty to our Creator, the Almighty G-d of Israel. Our prayers, our adherences to His Torah and His commandments can and will be our only source of true deliverance from our enemies who are bent on our destruction. Let us remember the words of King David who said, “If only My people would heed me, if Israel would walk in My way, in an instant, I would subdue their foes and against their tormentors, lift My Hand” (Psalm 81).

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