We, residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, Arabs and Jews, do not believe the government of Israel and the military who maintain that war is being waged in self-defense and for the purpose of releasing the captured soldiers. We do not believe them because it is now common knowledge that the military steps were planned a long time ago. We know that about a month before the Hizballah attack on the army patrol, a military exercise was conducted as a rehearsal for an attack on Lebanon. Similarly, the kidnapping of the ministers and Parliament members of the Palestinian Authority was planned weeks ahead of the capture of the soldier Gilad Shalit by the Hamas.
We do not believe the government of Israel and the generals because there is a huge gap between the declared aims of the war and Israel’s actual military operations. What is the connection between the declared aims of this war and the destruction of Beirut? How are the declared aims of the war served by the demolition of a baby-food plant? Or by the destruction of the city of Nabatiyeh? Or the bombardment of Gaza’s power station? Or the destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza? Or turning over half a million Lebanese civilians into refugees?
We cannot believe them because one cannot allegedly protect a civilian population by a cruel and deliberate attack on another civilian population.
We refuse to allow the government of Israel and the generals to use our names, the residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, in destroying a whole neighboring state, Lebanon. This cruel and brainless act will not carry our name! This is not the way to defend the population of the Galilee and the Valleys. We have already learned from earlier Lebanon wars that the aggressive approach that leads to war crimes and crimes against humanity, to the total destruction of a state, also leads to the destruction of any prospects for peace and calming. The present tragic situation is a product of a similar policy conducted in Lebanon by Ariel Sharon in 1982. Each military step taken by the IDF ends up hurting the civilian populations on both sides, though first and foremost inflicting an intolerable price on civilians on the Lebanese side.
We do not believe the government of Israel and the generals because we are convinced that this war mainly serves the interests of the American policy in the Middle East. The government of Lebanon has requested a ceasefire. Hizballah has agreed to a ceasefire. The European Community has requested a ceasefire. Only the government of Israel has refused to consider a ceasefire. The Bush administration is encouraging the government of Israel not to stop the military action.
We, residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, along with all the peoples of the region, are victims of the plans for the reshaping of the Middle East, victims of a desire to establish a new order in the Middle East that does not serve the interests of its peoples. The American army did not bring peace to Iraq. The Israeli army will not bring peace to Lebanon. The American army will not establish a democracy in Iraq, the Israeli army will not bring democracy in Lebanon. The American policies have brought chaos and destruction upon Iraq. The implementation of similar policies in Lebanon by the Israeli army will only bring more chaos and destruction.
We refuse to allow our name to be used in bringing disaster to another civilian population. Even if the government of Israel and the generals could convince us that their policy is the quick road to ridding the northern border of the threat posed by Hizballah, we would not have accepted this policy on moral grounds. We refuse to accept a policy that justifies deliberately harming any civilian population, whether it targets civilians in Gaza, in Lebanon, as well as in the Galilee!
We believe that there is an alternative to this aggressive policy, a policy predicated upon the violation of the Geneva Conventions. We demand that the government of Israel declare an immediate ceasefire. Every moment of fighting generates more victims. We are convinced that an Israeli ceasefire will lead to a ceasefire on all other fronts.
We demand that the ceasefire be used for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and for the negotiated release of prisoners-of-war - Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian. The question of political prisoners and prisoners-of-war is now the central issue. Only such a move of an immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and negotiations regarding exchange of prisoners-of-war can offer the region a way out of the threat of a comprehensive war, bringing the peace and calming that all the peoples of the region all crave.
Residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, Arabs and Jews, against the war.
Rafik Bakri (B’eina)
Uri Davis (Skhnin)
Bilha Golan (Beit She’arim)
Rï¿½my Mendelwzeig (Manof ï¿½ Misgav)
Nakad Nakad (Shfaramer)