The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was increased from 2,000 to 13,300 peacekeepers after the month-long war last summer between Israel and Hizbullah. The UN peacekeepers are led by elite European troops and are charged with helping the Lebanese Army ensure that the tense border remained calm.So while Hezbollah may not have changed its pro-terror positions one iota, since a supposedly worse terror group has emerged, they are now considered pretty good by comparison.
But a year on, UNIFIL still finds itself under threat, not from the Shiite Hizbullah, but from suspected radical Sunni militants possibly inspired by Al Qaeda. And in a bizarre twist, some UNIFIL contingents are now seeking the cooperation of the powerful Hizbullah, which also views militant Sunnis as a threat, to help provide tacit security for the peacekeepers, Hizbullah and UNIFIL sources say.
Last month, six Spanish and Colombian soldiers serving with UNIFIL's Spanish battalion were killed when a car bomb exploded beside their armored vehicle, the deadliest attack in UNIFIL's 29-year history.
Last week, a UNIFIL jeep was damaged when a small bomb exploded nearby, confirming fears that last month's bombing was not a random act. In both attacks, radical Sunnis are the prime suspects.The growing threat of attack by Sunni radicals apparently spurred the leading European troop-contributing states to seek the Shiite Hizbullah's cooperation. According to UNIFIL sources, intelligence agents from Italy, France, and Spain met with Hizbullah representatives in the southern city of Sidon in April. As a result, some Spanish peacekeepers subsequently were "escorted" on some of their patrols by Hizbullah members in civilian vehicles, the UNIFIL sources say.
A day after the six peacekeepers were killed last month, Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos spoke with Manucher Mottaki, the foreign minister of Iran, Hizbullah's main patron. According to a Hizbullah official in south Lebanon, there has been at least one meeting between the Shiite party and Spanish UNIFIL officers since the bombing.
A similar phenomenon is happening in Gaza. Both Fatah and Hamas are claiming that the other side is hosting Al Qaeda in Gaza, and the existence of that group there - or any other group that can be claimed to be more extreme than Hamas - ends up bolstering those who want to ease up on Hamas terrorists, like these parliamentarians in the UK.
In a report to be published on Tuesday, a subcommittee of the House of Lords' European Union Committee said that the EU should avoid an "undesirably rigid" approach to dealing with Hamas that would risk undermining progress in building viable and democratic Palestinian institutions, a prerequisite, they say, for any peace settlement.This should not be surprising. Fatah is an extremist terror organization by any objective yardstick, but compared to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it is "moderate." Say the word "moderate Fatah" enough times and people start to believe it.
Still, in the report, entitled "The EU and the Middle East Peace Process," the committee asserts the EU is "right" to require Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing agreements.
A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs subcommittee, one of seven subcommittees of the European Union Committee, said that Hamas must be "clear on renouncing violence" and that while pressure should be put on the group to recognize Israel and accept previous agreements, "progress should not be scuppered because of this."
But if you imagine Jews who hold symmetric positions as Fatah - that only Jews should live in the territories, that the Arabs should move, that 100% of the territories are Jewish, that no compromise is possible, that those who kill Arabs are heroes - they would be considered extremist, militant, terroristic and racist to boot. So would saying the same things about Israel.
This lack of objective standards is one of the major problems in the Middle East. Behavior that any civilized nation would consider beyond the pale is welcomed when done by Arabs - because many of their compatriots would act even worse. Rather than expecting and enforcing a single standard for human behavior, the West is willing to give Arabs much more slack, with the unspoken bigoted assumption that Arabs just don't have the ability to act the way enlightened human beings do.
Here's a short guide on how to make terrorists look moderate without forcing them to actually change their positions, or even to lie:
- Have them wear ties and jackets.
- Put someone even more bloodthirsty next to them.
- Have them elected to any office.
- Teach them to use ambiguous language (like "Of course we recognize that Israel exists.")
- Have Jimmy Carter, or any of the "Elders," praise them.