I was astonished and deeply offended by the article "Lebanon" (front
cover and page 12 of November issue).
This article, which is in the form of an interview with "Malika" is
nothing other than an ill-informed and vicious anti-Israel propaganda
piece that will further marginalise Jewish students on campus, who
already feel threatened by the persistent anti-semitic agenda that is
ill-disguised as anti-Zionism.
The strapline of the article states "When she returned this summer to
visit her grandmother who was ill, the Israeli army attacked the country".
That strapline sets the tone for the nonsensical and inflammatory
statements that follow, such is this one (in response to the question
"What do you think was the cause of the conflict"):
"I think Israel has been planning to attack for a long time. This war
showed the true faces of everyone. This time it showed Israel as a tyrant
and a murderer. ... They're cowards. They are in the wrong. Israel is a
tyrant politically but even though we lost so much, Israel lost and this
was the first time Israel retreated."
The indisputable fact (accepted even by the notoriously anti-Israel UN)
is that the conflict was started by Hezbollah, who launched an
unprovoked attack inside Israel on 12 July kidnapping two soldiers and
killing eight others after sending a barrage of Katyusha rockets along
the entire Northern border.
As for the comment about this being the "first time Israel retreated"
how does this tally with the fact that Israel withdrew from every inch
of Lebanon in 2000?
Other inflammatory comments include:
"Tony Blair had a role in all of this because he offered the airports
for the US bombs. This nation deserves much better. He stains the flag
of England. He's killing the people they're trying to save."
and the very curious final statement:
"Politically in Lebanon it showed the face of everything. The government
of Lebanon didn't do anything. Like an overgrown tree it's
going to be chopped down. The governments, they all work together."
which seems to suggest that Malika not only promotes some ill-defined
cosnpiracy theory, but wants to replace the elected Government of
Lebanon with Hezbollah (something that Hezbollah in the last week has
itself demanded). That's the Hezbollah (who Malika clearly loves) whose
leader Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanonís Daily Star on October 22, 2002:
"If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of
going after them world wide." And that's the Hezbollah who did go after
Jews world-wide when they killed some 200 in two separate attacks on
Jewish targets in Argentina in 1992 and 1994.
It so happens that, like Malika, I too was caught in the conflict as I
was visiting my brother who lives in Zichron Yaacov, 30 miles south of
Haifa in Israel. Unfortunately, our plans had to be altered because, due
to the daily barrage of katyusha rockets my brother, his wife and two
young children had to leave their town to come and stay, like us, in Tel
Aviv. They were part of the exodus of some 400,000 people who were
displaced from the north of the country.
So, if you want to at least go some way to rectifying the damage you
have caused by publishing this piece of offensive nonsense, I am
offering you the chance to place an equally prominent article next month
which, for example, interviews me about my experience of the conflict. I
would also like the interviewer Kate Connelly to ask me exactly the same
questions, so that I have the opportunity to inform students about what
really happened. Of course there were Lebanese, as well as Israeli
civilian casualties, but unlike the Israelis who were deliberately
targetted with 3500 rockets, the Lebanese casualties arose because
Hezbollah were using civilian areas from which to launch their rockets.
And finally, perhaps you can explain to me exactly what this article has
to do with the Queen Mary Student Union?
Professor of Computer Science
Head of RADAR (Risk Assessment and Decision Analysis Research)
Computer Science Department
Queen Mary (University of London)
London E1 4NS.
Tel: 020 7882 7860
Mobile: 07932 030084