Dear Amal Alamuddin,
I am writing to urge you to reconsider, and say yes to your appointment to the U.N. Committee that will investigate war crimes in Gaza. Look, I know you’re busy. You have eight major human rights cases already on your docket, plus your upcoming marriage to George Clooney is one of the hottest tickets around, with Vogue editor Anna Wintour as one of the few guests invited to what’s supposed to be a “a small and intimate affair.”
The celebrity stuff aside, I also know that you are reportedly brilliant, in addition to being charming and beautiful and having captured the heart of Hollywood’s most eligible long-term bachelor. You got a law degree from Oxford, clerked for Judge Sonia Sotomayor (pre-Supreme Court), represented Julian Assange, and among other high-profile cases, you worked on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, investigating the murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq al-Hariri.
I know that while you are very busy, you are also deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza and in bringing those responsible for visiting death and destruction on innocent civilians to justice. In your own words, you are “horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties that have been caused, and strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed.”
As someone who also cares deeply about the people of Israel and Palestine, and who lived in your beautiful, war-torn native country of Lebanon, I think that you could use your personal experience to help illuminate the immense human tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes. I’m referring not only to the particular brief specified by the committee, namely the Gaza Strip, but also to Lebanon, which is also held hostage by an Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization that uses innocent men, women, and children as pawns to gratify the evil geopolitical schemes of a foreign power.
As you surely know, there was an international committee that looked into ostensible war crimes when Israel waged Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza five years ago. Led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the committee’s report compelled the U.N. Human Rights Council to pass a resolution condemning Israel for “grave violations” of human rights. Two years later, Goldstone published in the Washington Post a retraction of the report that bore his name. To be sure, Israeli strikes killed civilians in Gaza, Goldstone wrote. But they “were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” In fact, no sane person thinks that.
What Goldstone left out of both his report and his retraction is that civilians in Gaza were killed as a matter of Hamas’ policy. A U.N. report about the recent conflict in Gaza might make a point very different from the one issued by Goldstone—namely, that the chief human rights violation was committed by Hamas, whose media war against Israel requires the use of human shields, which in turn provide a plentiful supply of photogenic shattered corpses for photographers who have helped Hamas raise their propaganda to an internationally acclaimed art form.
What makes the most recent conflict in Gaza different than the 2012 war, or the 2006 war in Lebanon, is that a number of reporters from the international press broke the silence about Hamas’ disgusting tactics, providing an example of old fashioned journalistic bravery under fire of the kind that your husband-to-be greatly admires—and made a pretty good movie about. I especially admire the three TV reporters—an Indian man, a Finnish woman, and a young Frenchman and their crews—who braved Hamas’ threats and reported on how Gaza’s Islamic Resistance launches missiles from near hospitals, schools, and other civilian areas.
Why does Hamas put the lives of tens of thousands of innocent children and old people at risk? As you know from your own experience in Lebanon, they do it entirely, and quite openly, on purpose—either to deter an Israeli counterstrike, or force Israel to kill innocent civilians in order to stop the rockets, which are aimed against innocent Israeli civilians. Once innocent civilians on both sides are dead, the fun starts—namely, the outraged headlines and manufactured war crimes accusations against Israeli soldiers and officers who are trying to defend their own lives, and the lives of their families, against evil men who are trying to kill them.
Having watched Hezbollah rip your beautiful country apart at the behest of its Iranian masters, while sacrificing the lives of thousands of innocent Lebanese men, women, and children, I am positive that your service on the U.N. committee would help to illuminate facts, and therefore save lives—not only in Gaza, but in Lebanon, too. On a recent trip to Israel, I spoke with government officials who laid out likely scenarios for the next, almost inevitable, round of Israeli hostilities with Hezbollah. Needless to say, given Hezbollah’s ever-increasing strength on the ground, those scenarios are incredibly grim. In short, the Israeli military proposes that in the next conflict with Hezbollah all of Lebanon will be treated like Dahiya, the Hezbollah stronghold that the Israeli air force destroyed in the summer of 2006. “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on,” as one Israeli official explained. “We will apply disproportionate force on it, and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.”
Insane, no? The problem is, the Israelis are right. It’s not that Israel wants to kill Lebanese civilians. As one Israeli official told me, it is largely because thousands of innocent Lebanese will lose their lives that Israel is reluctant to move against Hezbollah right now. The issue is that the Shia militia has turned all of Lebanon—not just the regions it controls like the Dahiya, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon—into a military installation, holding every man, woman, and child in the country hostage to its supposed love of death. What are the Israelis supposed to do when Hezbollah starts shooting the next time—refuse to fight back, and let the missiles keep hitting Tel Aviv, while the entire country cowers in bomb shelters? Ask your husband what Edward R. Murrow would have thought about the British refusing to fight back against the Nazis, or how long England would have lasted if they had adopted such a strategy.
What’s crazy, as you know, is that this isn’t ancient history: It’s all happening right now, before the eyes of a world that is trying desperately to look away. Soon after the 2006 war, Hezbollah started buying up plots of land owned by Christians and other non-Shias in order to shore up its defenses and store missiles. One senior Israeli official explained that they’re stashing missiles in private homes.
In fact, Hezbollah sought to implicate your own Lebanese Druze community in the next conflict. Hezbollah financiers bought up huge tracts of land in the Druze’s historical homeland of the Chouf mountains, where your family lives in the pretty resort town of Baakline, to use as another military installation. It was only when Druze chieftain Walid Jumblatt got wind of the plan and managed to buy the land back that the Chouf was protected from Hezbollah’s sick project.
But in the end, as I’m sure your relatives have told you, the Druze are not protected, because all of Lebanon will serve as a human shield the next time Hezbollah, or Iran, pushes the button. If Hezbollah’s tunnels make Hamas’ tunnels look like a “child’s game,” and if their arsenal is approaching 100,000 rockets and missiles, many of them much more advanced than the weapons Hamas fired over the last month on Israel, what will the Israeli response look like? If Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah really means to send fighters through those tunnels to kidnap and kill civilians and soldiers, overrun military outposts, and target villages and towns, what will Israel’s ground offensive consist of? How many Lebanese will die?
The reality is that there’s nothing the Lebanese can do about the horrors of the next war with Israel: Like the citizens of Gaza, they are being held hostage by a large, well-funded, well-organized, and well-trained terrorist organization, which takes orders from Iran. You are lucky to have escaped the fate of your family members who still live in Lebanon—and you are in a position to help change that fate for the better. So, take the job. Use the evidence provided by brave journalists to show what really happened in Gaza, and then tell the world what Iran’s other terrorist asset on the eastern Mediterranean has in store for Lebanon.
Like this article? Sign up for our Daily Digest to get Tablet Magazine’s new content in your inbox each morning.
Lee Smith is the author of The Consequences of Syria.
Lee Smith is the author of The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President (2020).