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Historic Crimes Don't Justify Israeli Violence

Historic Crimes Don't Justify Israeli Violence

Justifying Israeli expansionism and violence in Lebanon, Omri Schwarz '97 ["Israel's Presence in Lebanon Not Illegal," March 18] derives moral authority and legitimacy from 19th century imperialism. By drawing a parallel between the South Lebanese experience and the Seminole Wars and the Mexican Cession, Schwarz equates contemporary Israel with what many consider today as the barbaric age of American civilization. Indeed, this was a time when African Americans were still enslaved and when Native Americans were being slaughtered. Schwarz uses a history which most view with horror and indignation as the moral backbone for continued Israeli occupation of Lebanon. In the process, the voices of many Chicanos, Native Americans, and Lebanese, who continue courageously to speak for the sanctity of their national borders and against the violence done to their cultures and people, are erased.

Furthermore, the logic of Schwarz's argument establishes a system of ethics and justice through which territorial annexation is legitimized by the oral authority of colonial conquest. From this perspective, arbitration through the international community is delegitimized. Laws sanctioned by the United Nations - whose purpose is "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war to establish conditions under which justice and respect under sources of international law can be maintained" - are considered null and void. Through this logic, we can only ask, what have we learned from a century characterized by unspeakable violence? It is unfortunate that Schwarz, while decrying the loss of human life (25,000 Lebanese killed), still accepts the principles which make it possible.

Alberto J. Herrera '97

Maha M. Yahya G

Mona M. Fawaz G

on behalf of members of Lucha and the Lebanese Club at MIT