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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

The Doha Debates - did Hezbollah have the right to drag Lebanon into a war?

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Qatar audience  believes Hezbollah was justified in fighting a war on Lebanon's behalf
 
The Doha Debates, a monthly public forum takes place in Qatar and  hosted by BBc's Tim Sebastian are broadcast on BBC World TV. Panel speakers discuss issues relating to the Arab and Islamic world and the audience is encouraged to participate by asking questions.

The audience includes people living in or visiting Qatar and includes  University and senior high school students.

Today they discussed the motion "This House believes Hezbollah had no right to fight a war on Lebanon's behalf"

The audience voted heavily against the motion. I don't remember the precise figures but it was about 65% to 35%

Below is a copy of an email sent to Tim Sebastian.


Letter from Maurice Ostroff to BBC's Tim Sebastian (Formerly of Hard Talk)

September 17, 2006

Dear Tim Sebastian

Allow me to congratulate you on the extremely high standard of the Doha debates. I try not to miss them. Not only do the panelists exhibit a high standard, the questioners among the audience are usually very impressive.

I am writing after having viewed the latest debate on whether Hezbollah had the right to initiate the recent war with Israel. It was surprising to find that among all the erudite speakers, there seemed to be a lack of knowledge of recent history of the conflict. The fact that  the following highly relevant facts were not mentioned, and consequently not debated, unfortunately detracts from the rationale of the conclusion.

Kidnapping of the soldiers as the casus belli
There appeared to be consensus that the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers Israel's was the sole provocation which brought about Israel's response. This, of course, is incorrect..

A UNIFIL background paper reported that at the time of the capture of the two soldiers on July 12, 2006 Hizbollah launched several rockets from Lebanese territory across the Blue Line.  In parallel, Hizbollah fighters crossed the Blue Line into Israel, attacked an Israeli patrol and captured two Israeli soldiers, killed three others and wounded two more.

What is more important, is the fact that since Israel pulled out of Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah, instead of disarming as called for in resolution 1559 intensified its buildup of arms and periodically fired rockets at civilian populations in Israel.
http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/background.html


Shaba's farms
There also seemed to be a general consensus that there was a justification to Hezbollah's claim for ceding to Lebanon the Shaba's Farms area, in contradiction to the relevant ruling by the UN.  The same UNIFIL background paper states

Reporting to the Security Council on 20 January 2005 , the Secretary-General said  "The resumption of military measures, for which Hezbollah took credit, asserting its claimed prerogative to resist Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory by force, was disturbing, the Secretary-General said in the report. The United Nations had made abundantly clear that no violations of the Blue Line were acceptable.  The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line was not valid in the Shab'a farms area was not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel 's withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The Government of Lebanon should heed the Council's repeated calls for the parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety."

I would very much appreciate your considered comments

Sincerely
Maurice Ostroff


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