Lebanon: What Happened to the Cedar Revolution?

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My biggest fear in Lebanon is that if the Shiat community takes a major blow, and if the Lebanese government caves to the demands of Israel and the United States, I fear that a bigger and broader sectarian fault line could emerge and wrack the country apart. In particular if Israel escalates… what you’ll have after the dust settles is a civil war.

Fawaz Gerges
leb 2

Celebrating Syria’s withdrawal, 2005 [FlickrJunkie / Flickr]

leb protest

Protesting the bombings, 2006 [captain nomes / Flickr]


It seems like just yesterday the US was cheering on the Cedar Revolution as proof that democracy was spreading through the Middle East. Now the memory of last year’s elections and the withdrawal of Syrian troops has been overshadowed by the power and popularity of Hezbollah. And this second, tragic destruction of Beirut has left us all wondering what happened to the promise of a free and rebuilt Lebanon.

As a new chapter is written in the story of this country, once the Riviera of the Middle East and then synonymous with civil war, we’d like to trace the domestic dividing lines and understand Lebanon as if frozen the day before this conflict started.

From the past: What were the domestic forces that weakened the government so much that it could not or did not want to demilitarize Hezbollah? What accounts for Hezbollah’s power and popularity in the first place? What was the relationship between those Lebanese who supported Hezbollah and those who did not? Were these dynamics the political and cultural remnants of civil war? Of meddling from Syria and Israel?

And, for the future: How might this new conflict re-draw old fault lines?

Fawaz Gerges

Chair, International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, Sarah Lawrence College

Author, Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy

Robert Fisk

Middle East Correspondent, The Independent

Because of an emergency situation in southern Lebanon, Robert Fisk was unable to join us for this show

Caline Jarudi

Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Massachusetts

Extra Credit Reading

jij, A Primer of Events: How We Got Where We Are Today, JIJ, 7/20/06

dibo, Let the flame burn?, The Thinking Lebanese, 7/19/06

Mustapha, On Hezbollah’s Supporters.., The Beirut Spring, 7/19/06

Doha, Iraqizing Lebanon, The Lebanese Bloggers, 7/22/06

Fawaz Gerges, Madman of the Mideast, New York Daily News, 7/23/06

Martin Patience, The divided loyalties of Lebanon, BBC, 7/20/06

Anthony Shadid, Attacks Could Erode Faction’s Support, Washington Post, 7/14/06

Lebanese Civil War, Wikipedia

Jad Mouawad, Beirut’s Young, in the Middle, See Future Take a Dark Turn, The New York Times, 7/23/06

Sabrina Tavernise, In Beirut, an Abyss Between Elegance and Chaos, New York Times, 7/25/06

Augustus Richard Norton, When bombs stir a Shiite political revival, The Daily Star, 7/25/06

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  • Old Nick

    Robin asks: “What were the domestic forces that weakened the government so much that it could not or did not want to demilitarize Hezbollah?�

    Perhaps that’s not quite the right question. Perhaps our Western news-filters haven’t given us enough information for the right question:

    Amr Hamzawy, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said today on KUOW’s The Conversation that Hezbollah acted not only at Iran’s behest but precisely because some Lebanese, as a natural consequence of the Cedar Revolution’s booting of Syria, had begun calling for Hezbollah to disarm. Instead, Hezbollah opted to use its Iranian arms built up over the years of Syrian domination of the Lebanese government.

    Here’s the link: http://www.kuow.org/programs/theconversation.asp

    Give it a listen.

    ROS staff: Hamzawy might make an interesting guest for this thread’s show or another.

  • Old Nick

    Duh. I just noticed that Hamzawy is on tonight’s show! Sorry!

    Anyway, his point on The Conversation at the very least ought to have us all questioning our conventional wisdom about Lebanon. How many other important facts about the Middle East don’t we know?

    Thanks, ROS, for working so hard in the past couple of weeks to ameliorate our collective ignorance.

  • ArielSharon

    What happened to the promise of a free and rebuilt Lebanon?”

    Lebanon continues to fail because it is not able to put forward a strong, centralized government. with ONE army. When Lebanon is able to rule with one voice and one army, then Lebanon will no longer fail.

  • Buster

    Myths are not compactable with the 21st century. It’s about time to do away with them as a basis for a government; yes I’m talking about religions. Some groups of people don’t want to join the 21st century so if they don’t leave them back 1000 years ago. If the world plans to move forward then some things or some people need to figure out where they want to be. Several groups tend to look at history rather twisted. Iran says that Germany didn’t go through a nationalism period, which drove the world into a world war. Some people learn by looking back at history while others need to be taught a lesson again and again such as Germany did the second time around. When the surrounding countries of Israel attacked them and Israel ended up with a lot of land, they gave most of it back except areas, which give them a buffer from attack. Last nights guest kept saying “Arabs� want this or want that but forget some countries signed treaties ending war. They found out it wasn’t in there best interest to continue fighting. I know the United States doesn’t have the best track record but when anything happens in the world, “the Arabs� blame Bush or the United States or and Israel. If “the Arabs� are so united why don’t they make a state sort of like the United Stated a union of states. They can’t because they’ve been fighting for thousands of years and don’t see that it’s not in their best interests. If they want to kill each other let them, just leave me out of it. Some time you have to learn to stand on your own two legs and find that war doesn’t solve a lot unless you count killing a lot of people. After all, World War II, which most people have forgot about killed more the 50 million people. If that’s what it takes then “push button diplomacy� maybe what is needed. Sure you could still get oil out of the ground wearing a anti-radiation suite, just a bit inconvenient and really doesn’t matter to me. If it bring peace to the world then lets go that route if the people want this and need to learn some history or become part of history. Apathy is a big problem you know.

  • Brendan

    Hey guys, Robin just got off the phone with Fawaz Gerges, who pointed out that Condoleezza Rice met with the anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian opposition in Beruit before she met with the Lebanese Prime Minister. So a question here, now that Condoleezza Rice has come and gone in Beruit, are we approaching this conflict the right way?

  • joshua hendrickson

    Buster says,

    “Some time you have to learn to stand on your own two legs and find that war doesn’t solve a lot unless you count killing a lot of people.”

    Well, yes, but then, that is the goal of the fundamentalist mindset: to kill all infidels, heretics, unbelievers. It applies to Christians as well as Muslims. As far as they are concerned, they are standing on their own two legs; it is the rest of the world that is wallowing in the gutter.

    I couldn’t agree more that the myths of religion have no place in the 21st century, but unfortunately that is very much a minority opinion. When I was growing up in the Moral Majority 80s, I thought that the coming turn of the century would mean a lessening of fundamentalism; sadly, the worst possible political and social attitudes are gaining strength now, not weakening. I fear that those attitudes are leading us closer to the brink of some kind of apocalypse. It is sad that humanity seems eager to destroy itself in the name of its delusions.

  • Potter

    I heard a reason given ( BBC/The World) for not seeking a ceasefire: that it would not hold and it would make the party that asked for it weaker. It’s always geopolitics as people die.

    Shouldn’t Rice be talking/listening to Syria and Iran? Wouldn’t that strengthen the mediator’s position?

    Rice looks too terrific, smiling, sharply dressed, fit..while all this horror is going on.

  • AnneMeyerson

    Why is it so hard for liberal, thoughtful Americans to criticize Israel? Why do the words of disagreement or condemnation we feel free to apply to our own country, or other countries freeze in our mouths when we talk about Israel?

    The history of the modern state of Israel cannot be separated from the Holocaust and indeed, from 1,000 years of persecution of Jews by Christian Europe. As a Jewish American, I too feel the nagging, lurking fear that the world could turn on us, or abandon us again to annihilation, which remains a legacy for the Jews of the world since World War II.

    In conversations with Christian friends, I find liberal, well meaning people are as uncomfortable with reproaching Israel as they are with the “n� word. That somehow, having failed before to do what was right by the Jewish people, criticism of Israel is forbidden territory, uncomfortably close to anti-Semitism and worse.

    It is time that we all acknowledge and understand these feelings and move on. Israel is a country in a world of nations, and must be held accountable for its actions. All nations are expected to defend themselves, but no nation can use self-defense as an excuse for invasions and attacks upon innocent civilians.

    Israel’s current bombing campaign against Lebanon is an international crime against an innocent people who posed no threat. A Lebanese life is every bit as sacred as a Jewish/Israeli life, and it is not excusable to rain bombs down on civilians and their cities in response to a provocation by a rogue sector of the country.

    Why is no one speaking up? Why are we diluting our expressions of concern with platitudes about Israel’s right to defend itself – which no one is arguing with?

    It is more than time for Jews and Christians alike to hold Israel to the same standards we hold other nations. If well-meaning people who care for Israel cannot voice objections, the only people who can are the extremist, fundamentalist enemies who do desire its destruction.

    Take a deep breath – and say, “Israel is wrong to attack Lebanon. Israel must cease these attacks immediately. America must insist that Israel stop immediately, and will not support these actions.�

    It is our responsibility as Americans, and as concerned Jews and Christians. Write your congress people. Urge them ,to support H.Con.Res.450, calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East. Write to your newspapers, and speak to your communities. We must stop these attacks. We must believe in a just and secure peace. We must act now.

    Anne Meyerson

    Quincy, MA

  • jdyer

    “In conversations with Christian friends, I find liberal, well meaning people are as uncomfortable with reproaching Israel as they are with the “nâ€? word. That somehow, having failed before to do what was right by the Jewish people, criticism of Israel is forbidden territory, uncomfortably close to anti-Semitism and worse.”

    This is a ridiculous post because it addresses non of the background issues of the conflict with Hezbollah nor does it address the question of antisemitism in its full context.

    It’s easy enough for someone to say that the Holocaust is history let’s move on! However for many Jews in the world the Holocaust is both memory as well as living history. It is also the culmination of an antisemitism that is still present with us especially in the left even among “Jewish leftists.â€?

  • jdyer

    About the nature of antisemitism and genocide:

    Here is an important book about anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and the push to annihilate the Jewish people which is still relevant today:

    “Blood or Politics?: Parsing Nazi Intentions

    HISTORY

    By Noah Strote”

    http://www.forward.com/articles/8129

    From the review:

    “With the market so saturated with books that have “Nazi” in their titles, when a path-breaking new work does appear, one that explains the “why” — not just another documentation of the “how” — there is a chance it will slip under many readers’ radar. One can only hope that such a fate will not befall Jeffrey Herf’s incredibly important “The Jewish Enemy,” one of those rare works of Holocaust history that poses the most essential question: “Why did European, especially German, anti-semitism, which had never led to an effort to murder all of Europe’s Jews before, do so between 1941 and 1945 in the midst of World War II? What changed to make anti-semitism a rationale for mass murder rather than for a continuation of centuries-old patterns of persecution?”

    The quest to enter the Nazi mind began in the early 1960s through the work of two pioneering German-Jewish émigré historians teaching in the United States, Fritz Stern and George Mosse. The latter, to whose memory Herf’s book is dedicated, was the first to demonstrate how fanatically Nazi ideologues actually believed in the mythology they espoused. This ran counter to contemporary interpretations, which understood National Socialist propaganda primarily as a tool for the cynical manipulation of the masses; after all, the healthy distrust of politicians led, and still leads, most skeptical people to the often accurate assumption that regimes use euphemism and subterfuge to disguise their true intentions. Herf, the legitimate intellectual heir to Mosse, inherited the tradition of taking the Nazis at their word.

    But in “The Jewish Enemy,” Herf’s fourth book, the student has surpassed the teacher. Mosse always held that the crucial development — what finally armed German antisemites with rationale for extermination — took place in the late 19th century with the birth of race science, according to which Jews were barely human. Herf shows that such an interpretation does not fit the evidence of how Hitler, Goebbels and other Nazi elites justified genocide. As horrible as racial stereotyping was, ultimately, Jews were not killed en masse because they tainted the purity of Aryan bodies. Jews were eliminated because Nazi leaders considered them Germany’s most powerful and dangerous political foe. Working together as a collective political actor called “international Jewry,” Jews allegedly controlled the governments of the United States, England and the Soviet Union, and therefore bore responsibility for all attacks on Germany. Conspiracy theory, not race science, proves to be the real ideological culprit of the Holocaust….”

  • jdyer

    About leftist antisemitism of the AnneMeyerson type:

    A different book recently reviewed in the NYTimes:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/books/review/23margolick.html

    Postwar Pogrom

    FEAR

    Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz. An Essay in Historical Interpretation.

    By Jan T. Gross.

    Illustrated. 303 pp. Random House. $25.95.

    “With the war over, and to tumultuous applause, a thousand delegates of the Polish Peasants Party actually passed a resolution thanking Hitler for annihilating Polish Jewry and urging that those he’d missed be expelled. Indeed, the mopping up soon began. Returning to their villages and towns, Jews were routinely greeted with remarks like “So, ____? You are still alive.â€? Their efforts to retrieve property were futile — and, sometimes, fatal. Some Jews met their end on trains — not cattle cars this time, but passenger trains, from which they were thrown off. If the trains weren’t moving fast enough, they were beaten to death….”

    Later on:

    Days before the pogrom, the Polish primate, Cardinal August Hlold, had spurned Jewish entreaties to condemn Roman Catholic anti-Semitism. Afterward, he charged that by leading the effort to impose Communism on Poland — Jews were in fact prominent in the party, though hardly in control — the Jews had only themselves to blame. The point was seconded by the bishop of Kielce, who suggested that Jews had actually orchestrated the unrest to persuade Britain to hand over Palestine. It was a neat trick: being Communists and Zionists simultaneously. Only the bishop of Czestochowa condemned the killings, and was promptly reprimanded by his colleagues. One wonders how Karol Wojtyla, then a young seminarian, later Pope John Paul II, viewed this cesspool of ignorance and intolerance.”

    Suggestions that Jews were using their own suffering to their advantage is an old antisemitic canard.

  • jdyer

    I am sorry to have to post the above here since it is off topic, but I wanted to answer Anne Meyerson’s tendentious and mendacious antisemitic post.

  • gwendolyn

    Lately it seems that the world is in a complete state of chaos due in large part to the disgraceful actions of the United States. As an elementary school teacher, I preach the children all day about the golden rule, not hitting back, etc. Why do we let terror take over our world? Why do educated people sit and argue while innocent people are dying? Doesn’t anyone remember Mahatma Gandhi? Can’t we live day by day for each moment in peace? Instead we cling to history and old and horrible wounds. Yesterday on All Things Considered the cries of a seven year old girl were heard over the airwaves. That sound said so much. The cry sounded to me like “why, why did they do this?” Imagine explaining the reasons ‘why’ to a seven year old child. I mourn for the middle east and the people of Lebanon…I am also so very sad for this country…I am about to move to Europe with my husband probably for good to the dismay of my second generation eastern European parents. I am ashamed to be part of this country. It leads the way in terrorizing the world. Israel seems to be the United States’ attack dog and I refuse to support this crazy place.

  • Potter

    jdyer: Anne Meyerson said:”The history of the modern state of Israel cannot be separated from the Holocaust and indeed, from 1,000 years of persecution of Jews by Christian Europe. As a Jewish American, I too feel the nagging, lurking fear that the world could turn on us, or abandon us again to annihilation, which remains a legacy for the Jews of the world since World War II.”…………”It is time that we all acknowledge and understand these feelings and move on. Israel is a country in a world of nations, and must be held accountable for its actions. All nations are expected to defend themselves, but no nation can use self-defense as an excuse for invasions and attacks upon innocent civilians.”

    I find nothing in that post mendacious or anti-Semitic.

    I question whether what Israel is doing is going to enhance it’s survival. An Israeli friend of ours who fought in five wars, a hero in the Palmach, wondered whether israel would exist in 100 years. Israel cannot continue this way. As well, Israel has been losing the moral high ground for years now and this is eating into it’s soul. The country must make peace with it’s neighbors somehow. It must act towards that goal even when it seems hopeless. Or else no one will want to go and live there- even if they are being persecuted and there are pogroms. The whole reason for israel was to make a safe place for Jews. It’s not. And it can’t be blamed completely on the Arabs…..

    Saying that is not anti-Semitic. This has nothing to do with the justification of striking back at Hezbollah in a measured way, taking care not to destroy the place completely and having an uglier monster rise. We have passed that point of sanity. Israeli’s are convinced that this is about survival. It is, but there are legitimate differences about the response. War changes ones chemistry- let’s be aware for the sake of survival because as surely as Hezbollah brought Israel down on Lebanon, so will there be a boomerang back onto Israel.

  • Potter

    The show was about Lebanon, not Israel. I noted that very little of the conversation even touched on Israel. Thank you- it was enlightening- good questions from Chris.

  • jdyer

    “It is time that we all acknowledge and understand these feelings and move on.”

    This is easier said than done.

    “It is more than time for Jews and Christians alike to hold Israel to the same standards we hold other nations.”

    This is what I meant when I said that the post was tendentious:

    Israel is being held to a stricter standard than most other countries.

    You Potter said:

    “I question whether what Israel is doing is going to enhance it’s survival.”

    would you mind telling us how you would have deal with Hezbollah’s deadly threat?

  • Potter

    I don’t need another idea to criticize. But here’s mine anyway- if there was an IDF plan “on the shelf” ready to go for this eventuality, why ( oh why!) was there not a plan and time for evacuation of the population? Of the plan itself, I object to the destruction of Lebanon in the process of trying to destroy Hezbollah ( which in any event even Israel has said it is not aiming to destroy). A strong blow or two would have sufficed to make a down payment, then the ultimatum given by Israel to Hezbollah followed by diplomatic action.

    I mind that this thread is being hijacked. I don’t think it’s right. Maybe we will discuss this on another thread.

  • Potter

    Jdyer: By the way, Hezbollah’s threat became a lot more deadly after the Israeli response.The Israeli threat is a lot more deadly and would have had more positive effect if held in restraint.

  • “Hezbollah acted not only at Iran’s behest but precisely because some Lebanese, as a natural consequence of the Cedar Revolution’s booting of Syria, had begun calling for Hezbollah to disarm.”

    But Hezbollah’s ABILITY to act was the result of a very long period of buildup in Lebanon, while the Lebanese apparently saw nothing wrong with a huge army whose ONLY purpose was the destruction of Israel, growing in their country. Keep in mind that Hezbollah is not just an outside, alien, force, but an integral part of Lebanese society and politics – Israel is not just being attacked by some proxy for Iran or Syria – Hezbollah’s roots are deep and wide enough in Lebanon that they are being attacked by Lebanon itself.

    You (Nick) keep alluding to us having some narrow, peculiarly western perspective on this, that prevents us from understanding the mind of the Lebanese, and why Hezbollah is, somehow, the logical product of their thinking, or historical and cultural psychology. But you never quite articulate it – you just link to other writers, or quote someone’s scriptural writings. So let’s try this perspective:

    I claim that Lebanese children are dying in Beirut today for very similar reasons that American children are dying in Baghdad – namely, that their parents allowed their country to go down a path of self-destruction that was PERFECTLY PREDICTABLE. Our adventures in Iraq produced results that were not merely foreseeable; they were foreseen. Three-quarters of the US public supported the invasion, even though to any rational person applying the slightest bit of intellectual rigor to the question, an invasion of Iraq made no sense. How do you explain this? Likewise, allowing a huge army to build up on your territory whose sole purpose is to start a fight with your heavily-armed, militarily-mobilized next door neighbor is a FLAMING invitation to trouble.

    So if you feel that cultural barriers prevent us from grasping why the Lebanese made the decisions they did, try explaining why the Americans made the decisions THEY did.

  • jdyer

    Potter,

    “Jdyer: By the way, Hezbollah’s threat became a lot more deadly after the Israeli response.The Israeli threat is a lot more deadly and would have had more positive effect if held in restraint.”

    This is all speculation. Neither you nor I no on what evidence the IDF decided to act the way it did.

    Remember though that Hezbollah has been receiving missilies from Iran through Syria for the last six years and after Israel withdrew from Lebanon.

    They had also been firing them into Israel periodically and crossing the border to attack and try to kidnap civilians.

    One reasonable conclusion would be that Hezbollah was just waiting for the right time to attack Israel. If this is the case it would make more sense to try and strip that organization of its power to attack the Jewish State.

    I don’t know why restraint would have been more effective. Israel had been restraining itself for the last six years and look at the result.

  • jdyer

    “You (Nick) keep alluding to us having some narrow, peculiarly western perspective on this, that prevents us from understanding the mind of the Lebanese, and why Hezbollah is, somehow, the logical product of their thinking, or historical and cultural psychology. But you never quite articulate it – you just link to other writers, or quote someone’s scriptural writings. So let’s try this perspective”

    As British general once told his subordinate when told that the Brits, during their colonial period, that he could never understand what was in the ” inscrutible mind of the MIddle Easterners:”

    “Never mind what is in their mind,” he said, “make sure they know what is in yours.”

    It’s up to us to set down clear red lines which we will not tolerate their being crossed.

  • huck finn

    WHY IS NO ONE DISCUSSING THE PRICE OF OIL???

    We’re discussing people, politics, moralism, ideals …

    The agenda is a corporate one between economic Huns intent on world domination, not cultural dreams.

    Hezbollah and Hamas are pawns-peons in a far greater chess game.

    Zoom out and realize that wars benefit the Huns – and always will.

  • What an informative show. It was like walking into the 3D world of real social complexity after living in the one-dimensional space of MSM broadcasting. I hope lots of policy-makers were listening.

    Since there is no simple interpretation, those seeking easy answers, clear red lines and final solutions are apt to overlook the need for the long and difficult negotiations required for any lasting settlement and peace.

  • marylaure

    It’s really a pity that Robert Fisk could not appear on the show. His book

    PITY THE NATION: THE ABDUCTION OF LEBANON

    is the very best and most enlightening reading one can do on Lebanon. A MUST-READ these days.

  • communic8or

    The logic of Sidewalker’s post — and that of many well-meaning but ignorant people who have no idea about life and death in the Middle East — is dictated not so much by reality but by magical thinking:

    Sidewalker says some people are “…apt to overlook the need for the long and difficult negotiations required for any lasting settlement and peace.”

    Sidewalker, you’re forgetting one small detail: Hezbollah is, like, not interested in any lasting settlement and peace with Israel. Like, no way, dude! Get it? The only eventuality they will settle for is to wipe Israel off the map. Don’t take my word for it; read literally EVERYTHING they have said in print or in speeches for 20 years.

    What part of “no negotiations, no peace” does Sidewalker and others not understand? This is why Israel is fighting so hard and furiously. As Shimon Peres recently said, Israel is in a battle for its life. If you think that’s an exaggeration, that’s a luxury you can afford — given that you live somewhere else.

    What happened when the UN gave birth to Israel in 1948? And again in 1967? Combined Arab armies attacked — with no occupied West Bank or Gaza as a fig leaf for their intention to wipe out the Jewish state. Before Hezbollah attacked last week, there was no “occupied Lebanon” for it to “resist.” Sarcasm is generally to be avoided in these posts, but the phrase “get a clue” comes to mind here.

    What amazes me even more than Sidewalker’s post is Anne Meyerson’s: The world has always held Israel to a higher, not lower, standard than other nations. Not to mention that Hezbollah will not accept anything resembling Meyerson’s proposed solution: “a just and secure peace” that presumably includes Israel. Her willful disregard of the nature and goals of Hezbollah reveals a breathtaking double-standard, if not outright intellectual dishonesty.

    Speaking of double standards and the American Left that is so exercised about admittedly regrettable civilian casualties (though only on the Lebanese side):

    Where were their similarly enraged and self-righteous voices during Rwanda, Chechnya, the Balkan conflict, and most recently the ongoing genocide in Sudan — where a Muslim government and its proxy Arab militias have slaughtered tens of thousands of black Africans, raped thousands more, and displaced more than twice as many people as the situation in Lebanon? And it still goes on!!

    What is “well-meaning” about folks who reserve their outrage for the struggle of a remnant people to hold on to their one tiny homeland, while the combined populations, religious leaders, and elites of 22 Arab (and one Persian) nations — plus 700 million Muslims beyond — clamor for their defeat?

    Would ANY country stand for a powerful guerrilla force — dedicated to its destruction and armed with 10,000 rockets, on its border

    If this cancer that the Lebanese have allowed to grow is not checked, in a few years they will have 25,000 Syrian and Iranian

  • communic8or

    Sorry about the last two incomplete paragraphs at the end of my previous post: this process is new to me, and I forgot to delete some incomplete thoughts. But you get the idea.

    P.S. Once again I note the incredible bias in tonight’s Open Source program. Yeah, it’s about Lebanon, but biased back-stories and views about Israel are being expressed right and left. How can you divorce Israel from a discussion about Hizbollah? As several speakers have observed, it was created as a response to Israel’s invasion of 1982 to stop the cross-border attacks of various Palestinian terror groups — anyone remember the massacres of Israeli children in Kiryat Shmona and Maalot in the 70s? (Speak up, Anne Meyerson!)

    So anyway, who is Open Source’s program director — the Arab League? Noam Chomsky? I urge fair-minded posters to complain about this unbalanced coverage to their local PBS station, as I will do tomorrow.

  • Brendan’s question asking if we are going in the right direction in trying to support the “Un” Hezbollah” portions of the Lebaneeze govt is really the operative one – Israel maybe the entity on the side of the “West” but by proxy, the blood is on ours as well.

    As many observers have pointed out, all of this violence is actually the death spasims of ancient Islam in hte fires of modernity – read Gerges book sited above.

    A great book describing the events that began the West’s journey to modernity, that ironically involved Islam is entitled “Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages”

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0151007209/103-3376079-2559017?v=glance&n=283155

    It describes the spark that ignited the Renaissance and how it affected Europe / West and how it didn’t affect Islam. Witness the differences: There are no world-class universities in Islamic countries, no hospitals, no govts so dominated. Smothered, stunted and backards. Just look at the term that you hear repeatedly in when many Muslims speak – “INSHALLH” meaning “If God wills”.

    http://www.geocities.com/mutmainaa/expressions.html

    In a way this is a “Clash of Civilizations” and the only choices we have is how we are involved in the clash.

    And note – Europe and the UN have chosen to, as usual, “sit this one out” like the chicken sh_t, decdant / dieing and / or irrelevant bastards that they are, as the case maybe.

  • Potter

    jdyer: “I don’t know why restraint would have been more effective. Israel had been restraining itself for the last six years and look at the result.�

    Yes have a good look at the result. And please you must widen your lens and put on your glasses to see into the future as well. The cost of that adrenalin rush may be quite high.

    Acting out of fear narrows vision. Israeli leaders do not need to act out of the same fear of those who are being terrorized by bombs in the north but more judiciously and wisely. The threat yes, needed attention. The IDF, despite the plans, seems like it was caught off guard and going beserk as it did in Gaza, drawn into a second front of a war now become a war of survival, choosing to have it out before the consequences were fully evaluated or even known, before other means were exhausted.

    Communic8tor-.

    Yes, Hezbollah provoked using Shebaa Farms /Palestinian cause/3 prisoners in Israeli jails as an excuse to draw Israel to a 2nd front and trap. You pull out all the old justifications and accusations, the relevant history including the new ones about attending to Rwanda’s and Chechny’sa etc for what ensued . Considering that this may very well not serve Israel’s survival in the longer term, your opinions may be just as clueless. I do not read that you connect Israel’s 1982 invasion and subsequent occupation of Lebanon to it’s trouble with Hezbollah today, only that it was expected that since Israel left Lebanon in 2000 that should have been the end of it on that front. Hezbollah with the victory it claimed used the Palestinian situation to gather force.

    I agree Israel is fighting for survival, but Israel will not survive by destroying it’s neighbors and bringing the whole Arab world down upon itself regardless of history or just cause. Israel may (may) destroy missiles and supply lines ( which can be rebuilt) but it cannot not change the will of others to destroy Israel (the failure of this method so well proven). In fact this method may give more impetus to that cause. Reacting ever more fiercely and in a way that seems indiscriminate and immoral (women children, old men, wounded, dead, the rubble and smoke of buildings and power lines and bridges-now pictures going around the world faster and farther than ever before in history) using overwhelming force, brings a reaction and a consequence.

    There is no “once and for all� here. To think so is clueless. Israel may fight so “hard and furiously� for survival in the wrong way that it may accomplish the opposite: destroy itself.

    BTW- “Regrettable casualties� does not do it for me for theirs or Israeli’s ( who might be my own loved ones) and would not for your own.

  • “THE ABDUCTION OF LEBANON”

    “Abduction” is one way to look at it. But you COULD see the Lebanese as willing partners in their own abduction, the way a teenage daughter runs off with a biker-gang. While the father is running to the police claiming his daughter was ‘kidnapped’, she’s drinking and trying on leather jackets at the gang’s clubhouse.

    Hezbollah is an integral part of Lebanese society and politics. They are are major political party and enjoyed enthusastic support from big elements of the population even before this war.

    The OTHER way to look at this is that there IS no Lebanon and never was. Just because a bunch of European imperialists draw some lines on a map, that does not make a nation. Earlier I drew parallels between Lebanon and Iraq in terms of both conflicts being the moral products of irrationality – children dying as a result of the obvious and fully predictable (and FULLY PREDICTED) consequences of their parents’ decisions. But the other parallel is this: both “nation”s are the fictions of Europeans standing over maps with pencils and erasers in their hands. There are many places in the world that would seem to have little basis for thinking of themselves as nations and Lebanon and Iraq are two of them.

  • “drawn into a second front of a war now become a war of survival, choosing to have it out before the consequences were fully evaluated or even known, before other means were exhausted”

    REPEATEDLY in these discussions we’ve had people allude to Israel having other options, but they never specify in detail what those other options are.

    Hezbollah’s whole raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel. Asking Israel to negotiate with them is like asking me to negotiate with the carpenter ants that attack my house.

    The most “regrettable” thing about what Israel is doing is that they have to do it at all. The US, the EU, the UN , etc, have been asked REPEATEDLY and LOUDLY by Israel to stop Hezbollah’s military buildup on their border for years, to no avail. What possible purpose was the UN “observers” program serving?

  • What I find interesting about the more, shall we say, radical defenders of the faith posting here is that they say anyone who does not agree with their perspective is either anti-semitic, ignorant or both. What has been great about the last two ROS shows is that we were given a more textured view. One does not have to agree with all or any of what the participants are saying, but one should be listening and learning rather than simply dismissing out of hand what is said because the speaker is from the Arab world.

    Potter mentioned on another thread the importance of recognition. The philospher Charles Taylor has written about this. Of course this is not enough, as there are serious questions of social justice than need to be considered, as Fawaz Gerges discussed today. A critical question is Just why do some people feel so disenfranchised or irrelevant that they are willing to give up life itself to find meaning or gain significance in death, and while doing so ruin the lives of others?

  • Potter

    pinelson I specified options above here which are in between asking others and going beserk.: http://www.radioopensource.org/lebanon-what-happened-to-the-cedar-revolution/#comment-13923

    With the Hezbollah provocation, those requests to the US, EU,UN etc.should have been repeated loudly, along with Israel’s threat to cause a crisis if no action was taken.

    ————-

    Hezbollah (and Hamas) military wings can be dried up (getting rid of them completely probably not possible) not by provoking them and their supporters, but by taking away their more just causes. Their maximum one, the destruction of Israel should not drive reaction. Concurrently diplomacy (multilaterally)with their state sponsors has been sorely missing. There has been no talk, only threats. The Bush Administrration is clueless.

    The extremist rhetoric is a trap, especially if Israel believes it. It serves the extremists well because as the rhetoric is believed, it is brought about trying to fight it at all costs, like a Greek tragedy.

    The challenge is to modify Hezbollah/Hamas ( regardless of the rhetoric/ stated goals) to remove it’s raison d’etre and thus support for militancy. This cannot be done through military means.

    Ahmadinejad has gained power with such rhetoric now especially, with Israel’s help as it fell into the Hezbollahtrap, His rhetoric seems right now to crowds watching the pictures from Lebanon playing over and over again. Iranians will support sending fighters and weapons to Hezbollah and will want their nukes more now in order to protect themselves from an Israel perceived to have gone berserk.

    Israel needs a moral force behind it which it loses with actions that cross the line. Israel must use restraint militarily. The rest of the world would support that I believe. But Israel fights (flails) from a weakened position ( not unlike the US after Iraq) because it is spending itself unwisely with diminishing returns. This is what it seems like to me now. Remember, the rockets that Hezbollah amassed were not let loose until Israel gave the signal after having been drawn into the trap. This awakened Israeli’s to existential aspects. That was a moment of decision. And now of course you have everyone’s chemistry changed for war with “regrettable deaths” and an excruciatingly slow diplomacy trying to happen.

    Jdyer/communic8tor What is wrong with being held to a higher standard? Israel should accept the challenge which will in turn help it to survive. This higher standard, a world community standard applicable to all, including the US, is essential for survival, and evolves from biblical origins. All supporters of Israel would or should feel much more comfortable if Israel adhered to them. I would. You all can argue with me about that, but I would not believe you.

    —————-

    Have we (myself included) hijacked this thread to be about Israel?- I thought what was being brought out about Lebanon last night was extremely important. I see no reason why Lebanon cannot and should not be a sovereign multi-ethnic, multi-religious country.That it is being used as a theater for war by all parties is tragic.

  • “Just why do some people feel so disenfranchised or irrelevant that they are willing to give up life itself to find meaning or gain significance in death, and while doing so ruin the lives of others?”

    Unfortunately this question tends mainly to get asked by political and social philosophers, and political and social philosophy simply does not have the intellectual strength or conceptual rigor to actually ANSWER such questions. I suggest that if we ever have epistemologically valid answers to questions like that, they will come from science, but that day is a long way off.

    So in the meantime the only sensible thing to do is acknowledge that there ARE people who are happy to blow themselves and those around them up for a cause, and take plenty of precautions.

  • “Hezbollah (and Hamas) military wings can be dried up (getting rid of them completely probably not possible) not by provoking them and their supporters, but by taking away their more just causes.”

    There is no evidence for this, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. From Lebanon’s standpoint, Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon up until a couple of years ago was a just cause. So Israel withdrew and now they’re being attacked from where they withdrew from! On the Palestinian side, the occupation of Gaza was a just cause so Israel withdrew from Gaza and then they got attacked from there. Lack of Palestinian sekf-rule was a just cause, so the palestinians had a democratic election and elected Hamas, which started attacking Israel.

    The empirical evidence is that your appeasement approach only STRENGTHENS, not weakens, the terrorists.

  • plnelson: “So in the meantime the only sensible thing to do is acknowledge that there ARE people who are happy to blow themselves and those around them up for a cause, and take plenty of precautions.”

    No. There is one humane and just path, that of reducing repression and impoverishment. Then there is your path that end at a wall with no horizon in view. The prison with its masters, that space.

  • “No. There is one humane and just path, that of reducing repression and impoverishment. Then there is your path that end at a wall with no horizon in view. The prison with its masters, that space. ”

    That’s just speculation. Plenty of terrorists do NOT come from impoverished or politically repressed backgrounds. The London train bombers, several of the 9/11 attackers, for examples. Many terrorists come from educated or middle class backgrounds – Several Islamic terrorists were doctors; so was Che Guevara. The Italian Red Brigades, the German Bader Meinhof gang, the OK City bombers, did not grow up in refugee camps.

    When Israel built a wall along its border with the Palestinaians the number of suicide bombings on the Israeli side of the wall dropped dramatically. Liberal Americans can sit in their livingrooms and Unitarian church basements, and, in between singing Kumbaya, talk all they want about how if we only solve poverty and create social justice the world’s problems will end, but

    1. There’s no evidence that this is actually true

    2. There is no practical way to test it, because there is no likelihood of actually solving poverty and creating social justice on a widespread basis.

  • Potter

    plnelson: I say the approach of all-out force brought the present results.

    The removal of just causes has not occurred, thus it helped the stronger more determined extremism of Hamas/Hezbollah. In spite of Israel having left Gaza and So. Lebanon there remained cause unsettled for them to use. The Shebaa Farms issue, but primarily the occupation of Palestinians, the dire situation in Gaza under boycott turned Gazans and Palestinians away from their internal troubles and gave Hezbollah ( Syria and Iran) an opening. It gave them just cause, excuse. So that is not an example of drying up, but rather of exacerbating the problem. Syria and Iran have been suddenly strengthened by I this. Syria’s new card is Hezbollah as it threatens Israel. Iran ditto.

    Israel needs to return to the 67 borders as much as it can as soon as it can with the rest left to some alterations by agreement. From that position it can act with strength. Olmert was elected under a plan that would being this movement.

    I am so sick of the use of the word appeasement and it’s WW2 connotations. This is as if to say that the only way here is force. When has the use of force only worked to bring peace and security? Even the IDF and the Israeli leaders know better. Sharon was coming to that, or had evolved there already.

  • “Israel needs to return to the 67 borders as much as it can as soon as it can with the rest left to some alterations by agreement.”

    Israel is a very small country and your proposal would expose all of it even short-range rocket attacks. So it would be irrational for them to take that security risk without some assurance that they would not be attacked from the vacated territories. Who do you suggest could provide that assurance?

    The hard evidence, the facts on the ground, support my view, given that Israel was attacked from Lebanon and Gaza after withdrawing from them. Proponents of withdrawal to the 1967 borders offer no evidence for their point-of-view, and most of them live in Europe and the US, safely away from any consequences of their speculation, should it turn out to be wrong.

    The idea that the Islamic militias and their Lebanese and Palestinian supporters will start being “reasonable” if we only grant them everything they ask for, is the same sort of unsupportyed speculation that led Dick Cheney to claim we’d be welcome in Iraq with open arms, that they’d embrace democracy, and Iraq would become a beacon of freedom spreading democracy throughout the region. It’s the same wishful thinking that led Condi Rice to predict that democracy in Islamic nations would spread moderation. Condi never told us that Lebanon and Palestine would democratically elect terrorist organizations to become the largest political party in ther respective countries.

  • “I am so sick of the use of the word appeasement and it’s WW2 connotations.”

    But it’s EXACTLY appeasement. It is trusting an enemy to not attack you merely on the basis that you’ve given him something he’s asked for. Chamberlain-style appeasement is exactly what you are asking the Israeli’s to do.

    “This is as if to say that the only way here is force. When has the use of force only worked to bring peace and security?”

    Lots of times. WWII, for example. The Japanese and the Germans were defeated and made to give up their conquests through the use of force.

    The United States gained its independence through the use of force, and then defended it again in 1812-1814. Slavery was ended through the use of force in the Civil War. Islam’s efforts to conquer Europe were stopped at Vienna in 1683 through the use of force.

    There are plenty of other examples. Most of us are here today, enjoying the freedoms we have, because someone, somewhere, shot someone with arrows, cannons, muskets, or rifles, or stabbed or punched or beat someone. No doubt lots of innocents were killed, too.

    Our species, particularly the males, are violent. That’s just a fact we have to live with. I see no hard evidence that the amount of violence in the world today is any less than it was a couple of centuries ago, despite the fact that there is FAR more prosperity and more democracy today than there was then. This undermines the idea that spreading democracy and prosperity will reduce violence.

  • Potter

    Plnelson: There are a lot of small countries but they are not threatened. The idea is to work to lessen or eliminate the threat, not to exacerbate it. The rockets will get more sophisticated and have longer ranges with more and more powerful warheads as we see. The wall will be ineffective, as will increasingly larger buffer zones. The relative assurance ( there are no absolute assurances) comes from taking away the just causes and then having the world behind you as well as the military might when needed or as a threat.

    Making the country larger, conversely, is a losing proposition. Then you have injustice, anger and isolation in the world community working against you.

    Israel was attacked not because it left Lebanon and Gaza but because there was just cause left unsettled. That was used as an excuse by those on the other side for their own purposes. That last is no excuse for Israel however. I do not expect the opposing forces to suddenly turn reasonable- I am looking for deterrent in the form of moral high ground and drying up of support from those who are moderate. This has no comparison whatsoever that I can see to Dick Cheney’s ideas regarding Iraq which are more akin to yours regarding the use of force to subdue.

    Regarding appeasement: If doing what is morally right for Israel ( as the leaving Gaza and So. Lebanon) is called “appeasement” ( really a word used to shame), then the US “appeased” the North Vietnamese and the Communists by leaving South VietNam.

    Well call it what you want, I am for it. When you are losing ground ( not winning) you make a tactical retreat and try another way, a smarter way. The point is to survive and try to live in peace and security.

    No matter how heavily Israel defeats it’s enemy, they will and have ALWAYS claimed victory. Israel did not and does not need to play that game. Sharon played that game and where did that bring things? The appeasement cry is hollow, no harmful- used as a club to shame, a dare to fight it out.

  • Old Nick

    pl: “You (Nick) keep alluding to us having some narrow, peculiarly western perspective on this, that prevents us from understanding the mind of the Lebanese, and why Hezbollah is, somehow, the logical product of their thinking, or historical and cultural psychology. But you never quite articulate it –�

    Good lord, pl! Are you a glutton for punishment, or what? 😉 All right, I’ll try it again; but this time I won’t have to link anybody to anything. Every support I need is in the podcast of this hour of ROS. Parenthetical numbers— (2:30) —refer to the time of a statement within the podcast.

    Here’s what we learned last night:

    1. Lebanon is not a nation-state in any natural ethnocentric sense. (2:30) It was ‘glued together’ by the French, using children’s paste (how do you pronounce “Elmer’s� with a French accent?) instead of with political ‘superglue’. (12:15) It’s an arbitrary patchwork, not a ‘nation’. (15:50)

    I will add to this point information from elsewhere: Lebanon is largely (but not completely) Arab, yet even this seeming homogeneity is illusory since something like 38% of the Lebanese are Christians, a few are Druze, and the Muslims are split between Shi’a and Sunni. This split, it should be pointed out, is every bit as bitter as the schism between Catholic and Protestant Irish. Hence the Sunni ally themselves with the Christians more than with the Shi’a (although probably more from convenience than from genuine cross-faith geniality.)

    The Lebanese cannot be characterized as ‘a daughter who runs off with bikers’ (plnelson: http://www.radioopensource.org/lebanon-what-happened-to-the-cedar-revolution/#comment-13946 ). At best, using this anthropomorphic metaphor, they are three sisters, each having received different educations; one sister (Christian) was the parent’s favorite (parent being ‘pere’: the Daddy French), another (Sunni) received less preferential treatment, and the third (Shi’a) was given all the crap-chore drudgery and none of the love. (5:25 & 7:35) In real families, such unequal preferential treatment breeds internecine conflicts, conflicts that persist long after Daddy vanishes into the Great Beyond. Is it any wonder then that:

    2. The ‘normal’ condition of this religiously divisive polity (15:30) is not peaceful coexistence but warfare? (11:50)

    You seem to cite Rasha’s writings as evidence that Hezbollah (the resentful Shi’a sister) is appreciated if not beloved by the other two ‘sisters’. I suggest you’re interpreting emotion in Rasha’s writing ‘through the lens’ that confirms your presuppositions. Did you hear Caline on ROS? – The civil war, she explained, still haunts the three sisters – but, in order to coexist within the Daddy’s house, they agree to never mention it.(31:00) Families that can’t talk out their problems retain those problems. Rasha’s anger at Israel and her explanation that Hezbollah is ‘part of Lebanon’ doesn’t implicitly condone Hezbollah’s rocket attacks—because Hezbollah is the ill-favored sister’s evolved ‘toughness’, a toughness the two older sistersfear. Rasha is simply stating the truth: that Lebanon is not fully sovereign, and that Hezbollah is part of this. Rasha is secular and probably Sunni; moreover she is young and cosmopolitan enough to have learned a more ‘Lebanese’ identity than the primarily sectarian identities of her parents’ generation.(27:20) But to assume that all Lebanese are ‘Lebanese first’ and Christian, Sunni, or Shi’a second is a oversimplification of the actual layers of complexity.(2:20) The real miracle is that the Sunni got so fed up with Syria that they turned to their Christian compatriots, enabling the Cedar Revolution and the booting of the Syrians. Emotionally united (31:50) as ‘Lebanese’ for the first time in their tragic history, they began…

    3. …pressuring Hezbollah to disarm. (18:20) This point is vital to our judgment of the Lebanese body politic. (18:55) Having found the collective will to make a go of it as a nation, they asked the Shi’a sister to abandon her weapons – weapons provided to her for free by two of the neighbors (20:35), who had learned to manipulate the third sister’s ‘toughness’ against their primary neighborhood enemy (Israel).

    4. The Syrians, not the Lebanese, ran Lebanon over the 15 years of the Hezbollah arms build-up. (17:25) The two older Lebanese sisters could not possibly have welcomed this development (the arms build-up). Indeed: it’s precisely why they pressured Hezbollah to disarm. The Lebanese gained their ‘sovereignty’ (imperfect sovereignty at that) only 18 months ago.

    5. Hezbollah didn’t disarm because it is a ‘state within a state’. (18:05) A state not created by the two other sisters but by the manipulating neighbors. A state not ‘tolerated’ by the other two sisters, but forced on them.

    6. Lebanon, divided, weak, and tiny, has been rendered a theater for proxy fights by the bigger manipulative neighbors. (12:50) Only the demented but tougher Shi’a sister welcomes this. (21:15) The other two sisters are sick to death of it. (35:25)

    We commonly laud Israel as the “Middle East’s only functioning democracy�. Well then, we can’t have it both ways: we can’t judge Lebanon as a ‘functioning democracy’ when it isn’t.

    Considering all this, I find it ethically impossible to judge the Lebanese the way we would a typical, ethnically unified nation-state like Sweden or Greece, or even culturally unified nation-states like Canada or the USA. The ‘narrow Western lens’ I suggest we wrongly tend to apply to Lebanon is that of ‘the nation-state’: whose ethnically or culturally homogenous people are truly sovereign and democratically responsible for their country’s actions in the world. This CLEARLY doesn’t fit Lebanon.

    Lebanon wasn’t a nation-state to begin with, hasn’t (yet) evolved into one, and can’t be judged as one—as you seem to be coming to understand yourself here: “The OTHER way to look at this is that there IS no Lebanon and never was. Just because a bunch of European imperialists draw some lines on a map, that does not make a nation.�

    It has been, in its recent past, more ethnically divided than Spain, whose Basques and Catalans have never been fully content to be ‘Spaniards.’ In fact, it’s much like Northern Ireland, but with a third divisive community! (36:50)

    Who’s ultimately responsible for Hezbollah? Europeans in general and the French in particular. But let’s not stop there. The Israelis had a hand in it (2:50) , and the Iranians and Syrians are together at least as culpable.

    And so is Mohamed, despite his having died 13 centuries ago: http://www.campuscrosswalk.org/2005-winter-13.html (More on this in my next post.)

    The recent willingness of two thirds of the glued-together Lebanese to move forward as a Middle East ‘Switzerland’ is nearly a miracle. This cosmopolitan maturity deserves international support and assistance, not collective punishment. Israel has for decades endured accusations of applying ‘collective punishment’ to peoples harboring its foes, and for decades I gave their denials the benefit of my doubt. I can’t any longer. My credulity lies in the ruins of Beirut.

    I cannot for the life of me understand how the IDF has conflated the Shi’a Hezbollah with Sunni and Christian Lebanese. (37:55) I cannot for the life of me understand their undeniable pattern of collective punishment. It may be a show of ‘toughness’, but it’s breeding hatred in potential allies. It’s dangerous and quite possibly self-destructive.

    Ultimately, I wonder if Hezbollah wouldn’t eventually prefer to partition Lebanon and obtain for itself genuine statehood in the south. (6:40) It would however ruin their habit of hiding amid innocent civilians – which makes me wonder if Lebanon’s two “older sisters� might eventually like to grant Hezbollah its own independent state. A state, however, that the Israelis would immediately crush.

    This is a very grim picture. And it’s not the complete picture either. Because we simply refuse to admit the centrality, and then rationally discuss, the real source of the Middle East’s legacy of hatred: religion.

  • “I am looking for deterrent in the form of moral high ground and drying up of support from those who are moderate.”

    You can look for it all you want, but you haven’t provided any evidence that such an approach actually works in armd combat. We didn’t in WWII because we had the moral high ground – we won through a combination of industrial production, advanced weapons, and military tactics and serious fighting against a determined enemy.

    “Regarding appeasement: If doing what is morally right for Israel ( as the leaving Gaza and So. Lebanon) is called “appeasementâ€? ( really a word used to shame), then the US “appeasedâ€? the North Vietnamese and the Communists by leaving South VietNam.”

    That’s because the Vietnamese didn’t represent a threat to us here – they were not trying to destroy us. Hamas and Hezbollah ARE trying to destroy Israel – you’ve provided no strong evidence that they would stop once Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders. Keep in mind that when Israel WAS in its 1967 borders they were STILL attacked from their neighbors.

    NAZI Germany DID represent a threat to France and its other neighbors, as subsequent events showed – and that’s the parallel situation to what Israel faces today.

  • “Lebanon is not a nation-state in any natural ethnocentric sense.”

    Exactly – this is a point that I’ve made repeatedly here. They are, in my words earlier, a fiction created by European imperialists. Because they are not a nation state, the usual outrages we might express over violations of their sovereignty simply don’t apply.

    If the Lebanese Civil War’s horrors were so bad that the other two sisters simply can’t bring themselves to talk about it, or confront their crazy Shia sister, this is unfortunate for them, but why should Israel have to compromise their own military security needs because of the emotional problems of their neighbors?

    In general I tend to reject the idea of national neuroses as an excuse for anything. Many people have tried to explain the US’ ridiculous decision to invade Iraq on the basis that we were so freaked out by the emotional shock of 9/11 that we were incapable of rationally evaluating our options. But the fact is that plenty of us, including yours truly, could easily see that invading Iraq did not represent a sensible sensible response.

    It’s not at all clear to me that Israel is engaged in “collective punishment’. Target selection in a conflict like this is very difficult and the “fog of war” – the confusion and communication breakdowns that inevitably run rampant – is a major factor. I wish more people studied military history – unfortunately the very people who most NEED to study it – peace advocates – are usually the ones most turned off by the subject.

    Roads and bridges are legitimate military targets in a conflict like this because that’s how the longer-range missiles capable of hitting Haifa and Tel Aviv must be transported. About 400 Lebanese have been killed so far, which is a very small number for the amount of ordnance dropped, compared to conflicts of the past, and especially given what small, crowded country Lebanon is.

    War is horrible lots of civilians get killed and maimed – I often wonder whether we would have been able to defeat Germany and Japan if TV and the internet had been around to show us, not only what we were doing to their civilians, but also to the civilians in the countries of their VICTIMS that we had to fight through to GET to them – France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Philippines, etc.

  • Old Nick

    pl: “I wish more people studied military history – unfortunately the very people who most NEED to study it – peace advocates – are usually the ones most turned off by the subject.”

    I agree COMPLETELY. I regularly recommend John Keegan’s A History of Warfare to my progressive-minded cousins, but have no faith that my suggestion seeds itself into anyone’s brain. A pity too. It’s a scathing history, by the world’s most eminent military historian, that utterly deglamorizes its subject:

    http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=17-0679730826-2

  • communic8or

    I see that some folks here feel that because the West Bank remains occupied and unresolved, Arab and Islamic terrorist groups — wherever their location and whatever their agendas– have the right to attack and kill Israelis unprovoked inside their own borders. Never mind that Israel left Lebanon and Gaza (and all of Sinai). Never mind that Shebaa Farms has nothing to do with Lebanon (if you don’t believe me, ask the UN).

    The West Bank is all the provocation any terrorists need! In your minds, it justifies Hezbollah’s cross-border raid and ongoing missile attacks on Israeli cities. Or if it doesn’t quite fully justify Hezbollah, at least it wins them your sympathies.

    This, from the same people who condemn Israel for “over-reacting “and say it should turn away from reliance on its military. Jeez Louise!

    I keep coming back to the “magical thinking” of some posters: that Hezbollah’s core goal of eradicating Israel — literally an article of faith for them — is just rhetoric. “Hey, they’re just kidding!” Even without a shred of evidence that this could be remotely possible.

    Some Americans and Europeans can’t fathom that people like Sheikh Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad in Iran, and their followers can actually mean it when they say they won’t rest until they eradicate a neighbor state. It just doesn’t compute for you, does it? Even when every Hezbollah action for 20 years, plus the traditional Islam they espouse, prove they are dead serious.

    For starters, please look up “dhimmi” via Google — to see what status fundamentalists like Hezbollah and Hamas envision for Jews and Christians under the Muslim theocracies they want to set up.

    For more evidence of the kind of “multi-ethnic state” these groups envision, read up on the fair treatment and equal rights the Bahai’s (and the small remaining Jewish community) are currently enjoying in Iran.

    Wake up and smell the shawarma. Or keep on viewing the Middle East through your rose-colored lenses. You can afford to — after all, it’s not your ‘hood. But you’ll have to excuse the Israelis, and those who’d like to see their country survive, if they digest your enlightened views with more than a grain of salt.

  • jdyer

    Potter,

    “Acting out of fear narrows vision.”

    Enough with the psychologizing.

    Israel is not acting out of fear. It is acting in self defense. Countries don’t react as individuals do. It is in the interest of a country to protect itself which is to say its citizens.

    Did the US raect out of fear when it was bombed in Pearl in 1941?

    Get real.

  • jdyer

    “Jdyer/communic8tor What is wrong with being held to a higher standard?”

    What is wrong, Potter, is that these “higher standards” are arbitrary and they are set up in order to keep some countries from acting in their best self interest.

    “Israel should accept the challenge which will in turn help it to survive.”

    This is moralizing and doesn’t shed any light in the conflict.

    You can’t seclare yourself morally superior to your enemy and hope for the best. Hezbollah and antisemites in general tend to hate the idea of a “morally superior Jew.” It’s like waving a red flag around a bull.

  • Potter

    plnelson:

    World War 2 was very much won on morale and on the moral high ground I beg to differ. That is why the US entered. A fighting force is undermined without it.

    There cannot be evidence of an approach that has not been tried but there is plenty of evidence that this approach is not and will not work as the moral high ground decreases.

    The immorality of Vietnamese War was indeed destroying our country from within. That the Vietnamese were not a threat to us is precisely why. Hamas and Hezbollah are trying to destroy Israel in just the way you see, by drawing Israel in to fighting across a sovereign border, killing innocents, broadcasting this to the Arab world, and gaining enormous support. THAT is how Hezbollah is attempting to destroy Israel and promote itself not through any rhetoric but reaction to it. It’s a trap, a lure.

    Again, you have provided NO evidence that Hamas and Hezbollah can actually destroy Israel, only expressions of your worst fears which is exactly what they are working on. Acting on your worst fears is self-destructive and may very well bring the worst situation about. ( Look at the US in Iraq- we were so afraid of the threat of terrorism that we created more.) this is Greek tragedy.

    Nazi Germany in no way equals Hamas and Hezbollah together times three (or more), not even close. Using this example is ridiculous.

    Once Israel gets behind or even close to legitimate borders, I would support all military might even to excess as necessary. But I doubt it would be necessary.

    The use of the 1967 example that this did not work and would not work is to deny that ANYTHING at all has happened since. Again ridiculous.

  • Potter

    Communic8tor: I did not say that anyone had a right to attack Israel. I did not even say that israel should not respons. I said their excuse or cause should be removed. There is a difference between what I said and how you transposed it plus all the hate that followed in that post. I have no doubt that those that spew hate mean it. One has to be rational about reacting regardless for the sake of survival. You can indulge. A state cannot so easily w/o consequences.

  • “World War 2 was very much won on morale and on the moral high ground I beg to differ.”

    Feel free to show us the evidence that any given battle was won on the basis iof the winner occupying the moral high ground. Battles are won by tactics and strategy, training and equipment, numbers and speed, etc. Pick any battle – Iwo Jima, Bataan, Java Sea, etc, and show how the moral position of the forces mattered in the outcome.

    Please study some military history. We didn’t lose in Vietnam because we were morally wrong. Even if we had been morally right we would have lost because our stratgy of trying to defend a corrupt, haphazard divided regime against a determined insurgency was too expensive and doomed to failure, and we finally wised up to it. Countries win lots of wars even when they are morally wrong (e.g., China’s conquest of Tibet, Spanish conquest of Latin America, etc)

    “Again, you have provided NO evidence that Hamas and Hezbollah can actually destroy Israel,”

    That is an ASTOUNDINGLY uninformed statement. Currently most of the businesses and schools, economy, and civic life in northern Israel are CLOSED due to Hezbollah rocket attacks. I cannot believe you would say that. Amazing.

  • Potter

    plnelson: Trying to defend a corrupt regime is not a moral issue? I am not speaking of “any given battle” which changes the argument to suit your point. You cannot win a war if your soldiers do not believe in it’s morality. If that morality is undermined it weakens the will to fight. The moral position had to matter in all of those battles you mention. The Tibet/China example was not a war, not was the Spanish conquest. In these examples as well you apply your or my evolved morals but it evades the point that a weak moral position, especially in todays world, is a real handicap, if not fatal.

    plnelson: “That is an ASTOUNDINGLY uninformed statement.Currently most of the businesses and schools, economy, and civic life in northern Israel are CLOSED due to Hezbollah rocket attacks. I cannot believe you would say that. Amazing.”

    You believe that this will actually destroy Israel?

    And the cause of this assault has nothing to do with the Israeli response towards Hezbollah? Those missiles would have not been fired at Haifa unprovoked by Israeli reaction. Yes this war will destroy Israel over time as long as Israel chooses to keep it up. This is the the trap. Hezbollah can keep it up, Israel cannot. So you can say that Hezbollah can destroy Israel in that sense. Israel must bring that about however.

  • Potter

    jdyer: “Israel is not acting out of fear. It is acting in self defense. Countries don’t react as individuals do. It is in the interest of a country to protect itself which is to say its citizens.”

    Call it self-defense but when Israel is acting with aggression or injustice it will not protect it’s citizens, as we are seeing.

  • communic8or

    Potter: “I did not say that anyone had a right to attack Israel. I did not even say that Israel should not respons. I said their excuse or cause should be removed.”

    For Hezbollah, the “excuse or cause” is the mere fact of Israel’s existence. Before any further colloquy, I must ask: Do you dispute this?

    What is the extent of your knowledge of Islamic fundamentalists, and indeed of classical Islam? From these perspectives, having a non-Muslim state in the Middle East is an outrage and heresy of the worst sort. To those who believe this — Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and others — holy war is not an option, but a sacred obligation.

    If you’re on the other side of this threat, the only rational response is to kill it, defang it, or get it far enough away from your border that it can’t do appreciable harm. Part of accomplishing this is to make Hezbollah as much of a headache for its Lebanese neighbors as it is for Israel. This is a grim calculus, but it’s reality-based. It’s not the stuff of high-minded utopian armchair discussions over lattes. And as we are seeing, it will not help Israel win any popularity contests. For Israelis — as for any realistic people — surviving has to trump being loved. I don’t see a way for them to achieve both in the present situation.

    BTW, have you looked up “dhimmi” on Wikipedia yet? (Plus the discussion on the accompanying “talk” page.)

  • Potter

    Communic8tor– I don’t dispute the rhetoric, but it hides behind something more morally firm, the Palestinian cause, the perhaps phony issue of Shebaa Farms, and prisoners. Whatever, it was enough to give cover. Tha’s all I was saying: that this cover, the last vestiges of it must be removed. The Palestinian cause is no small matter.

    I believe the majority would accept Israel, regardless of fundamentalist Islam. The Palestinian cause helps to recruit fundamentalist warriors. There is no border far enough away from long range missiles. There will be no killing it. Defanging can happen or start with a solution to the Palestinian issue, establishing borders that the world will recognize, or even provisional borders. Israel can defang by trying to talk to Syria along with the US.? You do not have to think too hard about what incentives Syria would need. To make Hezbollah a headache for Lebanon, is like making Hamas a headache for the Palestinians. It made them stronger. it worked in reverse. Those above here keep asking me for proof of something untried ( removing the just causes) when suggestion they pose in response have been shown to have made things worse! AMAZING! Yet these strategies have not been discredited yet! ASTONISHING! How does Israel make Hezbollah a headache (through destruction of Lebanon) and get absolved itself?

    I agree about surviving- as this is where I started, however I disagree about how this is accomplished.

    Will read about Dhimmi though I am not unfamiliar with this concept. I forgot what your point was in bringing this up.

    Here is my favorite cynic, Meron Benvenisti:The Turnabout Will Come Quickly

  • Here are some important numbers to back up the argument against the all out use of force and higher walls.

    Palestinian deaths and injuries related to the occupation/intifada.

    255 deaths – 2005

    993 injuries – 2005

    881 deaths – 2004

    4009 injuries – 2004

    http://www.palestinercs.org/crisistables/table_of_figures.htm

    Israeli deaths and injuries related to the occupation/intifada.

    45 deaths – 2005

    406 injuries – 2005

    100 deaths – 2004

    589 injuries – 2004

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5213174.stm

    The reason for the declines in the number of those killed/murdered (71% and 60% respectively) according to Shin Bet was was “the informal truce observed by some Palestinian groups.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5213174.stm

    While the explanation for the reduction given above is one-sided, it shows that Palestinians are willing to work towards peace if they believe it is in their interest and they have a cooperative partner, as are Israelis. Giving in to the logic of the extremist on both sides reduces this possiblity; enabling the moderates increases the possibility. Friends of the military industy, please do the math.

  • communic8or

    From a site called “Dhimmi Watch” re Hezbollah’s core beliefs:

    Dhimmitude is the status that Islamic law, the Sharia, mandates for non-Muslims, primarily Jews and Christians. Dhimmis, “protected people,” are free to practice their religion in a Sharia regime, but are made subject to a number of humiliating regulations designed to enforce the Qur’an’s command that they “feel themselves subdued” (Sura 9:29). This denial of equality of rights and dignity remains part of the Sharia, and, as such, are part of the legal superstructure that global jihadists are laboring to restore everywhere in the Islamic world, and wish ultimately to impose on the entire human race.

    If dhimmis complained about their inferior status, institutionalized humiliation, or poverty, their masters voided their contract and regarded them as enemies of Islam, fair game as objects of violence. Consequently, dhimmis were generally cowed into silence and worse. It was almost unheard-of to find dhimmis speaking out against their oppressors; to do so would have been suicide. For centuries dhimmi communities in the Islamic world learned to live in peace with their Muslim overlords by acquiescing to their subservience. Some even actively identified with the dominant class, and became strenuous advocates for it.

    Spearheaded by dhimmi academics and self-serving advocacy groups, that same attitude of chastened subservience has entered into Western academic study of Islam, and from there into journalism, school textbooks, and the popular discourse. One must not point out the depredations of jihad and dhimmitude; to do so would offend the multiculturalist ethos that prevails everywhere today. To do so would endanger chances for peace and rapprochement between civilizations all too ready to clash.

    But in this era of global terrorism it must be said: this silence, this distortion, has become deadly. Before 9/11 it was easy to ignore and whitewash dhimmitude, but the atrocities changed the situation forever. In jihads throughout history, untold millions have died. Tens of millions have been uprooted from their homes. Tens of millions have been stripped of their cultural identity. To continue to gloss over the destruction wrought by jihad ideology and its attendant evil of dhimmitude is today to play into the hands of jihadists, who have repeatedly vowed to dhimmify the West and destroy any recalcitrant elements. While jihadist groups, even with their global diffusion, are not strong enough to realize this goal by themselves, they have a potent and destructive ally, a genuine fifth column, in the dhimmi academics and dhimmi journalists they have recruited in the West. They have succeeded in confusing millions in the West into mistaking honesty and truthfulness for bigotry, and self-defense for oppression.

    Before it’s too late for Western Europe and the United States, which gave birth to the traditions of freedom and equality of rights for all that shine today as lights in the entire world, this must be stopped. Therefore Dhimmi Watch seeks to bring public attention to:

    The plight of the dhimmis, an immense but almost completely ignored ongoing scandal that continues in Muslim countries today;

    The plight of women under Sharia provisions, similar to conditions imposed on dhimmis, in the denial of equal rights and dignity;

    Slavery in Islamic lands, which continues today, justified by Sharia-‘s dhimmi codes;

    The integral role of jihad and dhimmitude ideology in global terrorism today;

    The license that academic and journalistic whitewashes of dhimmitude gives to radical jihadist enemies of human rights for all.

    From Rreuters:

    A MILITANT Islamic group has filed a police report against Indonesia’s Miss Universe candidate, accusing her of indecency.

    Nadine Chandrawinata’s participation in the contest and display of her body in a swimsuit “is actually insulting for Indonesian dignity and women”, Islamic Defenders Front lawyer Sugito said yesterday.

  • jdyer

    “Here are some important numbers to back up the argument against the all out use of force and higher walls.”

    How are the numbers an argument against the use of “higher walls?”

    Walls and fences if they stop suicide bombers save lives.

  • jdyer

    “Palestinian deaths and injuries related to the occupation/intifada.”

    Sorry these deaths are not due to the “occupation.” They are due to Palestinian provocations.

    Since the Oslo accords there was no occupation as the Palestinians might have signed a peace accord at any time and ended the conflict. They chose not, but that is their fault and not the fault of the “occupation.”

    it’s the refusal to negotiate on the part of the Palestinian Arabs which is the problem.

  • jdyer

    Potter:

    “Nazi Germany in no way equals Hamas and Hezbollah together times three (or more), not even close. Using this example is ridiculous.”

    The Hamas charter claims that the Jews were responsible for WW2 and that the Holcoaust was a Jewish invention.

    Both these organizations have as their program a Juden rein Arab world.

  • jdyer

    Potter,

    “Call it self-defense but when Israel is acting with aggression or injustice it will not protect it’s citizens, as we are seeing.”

    Israel is not the aggressor, Potter.

    In prosecuting a war there are casualties on all sides. Had Israel not gone on the offensive the casualty rate would have been much higher.

  • Old Nick

    Every six months or so, I find myself agreeing with something from Winston. This time, I’m increasingly worried that the seemingly apocalyptic “Clash of Civilizations� characterization isn’t as wildly overblown as it probably seems to Americans, protected as we are by our oceans and by our comprehensive ignorance of the rest of the world.

    Now, I don’t think it’s a war between the West and Islam where ‘Islam’ means secular people born into the faith but who don’t grow up into ‘true believers’. It’s a war between those who live by the word of the Koran and Hadith against the rest of the world.

    Here’s what I mean:

    “Mohammed is Allah’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. ~ Victory; Sura 48:29.

    “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal harshly with them.� ~ Repentance; Sura 9:123.

    “Take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then if they turn away seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take no friend nor helper from among them” ~ Sura 4:89.

    “We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. They serve other gods for whom no sanction is revealed. Hell shall be their home.� ~ The Imrans; Sura 3:150.

    http://www.campuscrosswalk.org/2005-winter-13.html

    (For the record, I’m no Christian. So my use of the above website is entirely for its convenience, not for its religion, which to my mind is just as anti-humanistically delusional as Islam. And the copy of the Koran I own [for reference] doesn’t meaningfully differ to the translation from Arabic on that site.)

    The point is that Muslims are taught not that ‘God inspired Mohamed’, but that He spoke directly through his mouth. Islam admits no errors of transmission—even while it accuses the other Peoples of the Book – Jews and Christians – of this very flaw.

    In practice, this translates like so: since everything in the Koran (and Hadith) are God’s inerrant instructions, no faithful Muslim can do anything but follow the Koran. All of the Koran. Muslim ‘extremists’ (as we dub them) are therefore not at all ‘extreme’, but simply and authentically faithful. And not merely ‘faithful’ but moral—according to the morals of Islam.

    This isn’t Presbyterianism, or Methodism, or any other watered-down post-Enlightenment Christianity. It’s instead more akin to the Catholicism that accused poor old women of witchery, and then demanded them to disprove their Inquisitor’s claims. It’s akin to the religion of Pope Innocent III, who ordered the Albigensian Crusade – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albigensian_Crusade – and who, when asked how the soldiers should determine the heretics from the faithful, infamously answered, “Kill them all! God will know His own!�

    It is, in other words medieval.

    And this medievalism is literally at war with all of the ‘infidel’ world – even (and especially) apostate or ‘heretical’ Muslims—every Muslim, in other words, that doesn’t scrupulously follow every instruction of the Koran.

    It’s Hezbollah. It’s Hamas. It’s the religion of Iran’s ayatollahs: Shi’a Islam’s ‘popes’.

    How we ever make peace with that sort of literalism is beyond me.

    But it’s high time we begin to discuss it. It’s high time we quit pretending that religion in general and religious literalism in particular is a taboo topic.

    Or it’s gonna get us all nuked.

  • Old Nick, don’t you think it appropriate to take a look at fundamental Christianity here? And what about the true believers of the Abrahamic Covenant? Is it not a battle of three medieval fundamentalisms? Look not just at what is said, but the actions of the true believers.

    The West may like to think of itself as modern, in the sense of being more enlightened, but just as Leonard Cohen sings about democracy coming to the USA, I think we can say modernity is coming to the West and in fundamental Islam, we see one image of ourselves that we want to deny but yet don’t want to address.

  • Old Nick

    “Old Nick, don’t you think it appropriate to take a look at fundamental Christianity here?”

    Absolutely YES!

    It’s why I wrote the second post in “Lisa Goldman: to Nasrallah with love”

    http://www.radioopensource.org/lisa-goldman-to-nazrallah-with-love/#comment-13911

    I’ve no patience with any ‘revealed religion’. I’d also like to suggest to ROS that we have a frank discussion over the role of Judaism on Zionism’s Greater Israel settler-movement evolutions, which I tend to plause as the real fuel of the first Intifada, and the subsequent explosive growth of Hamas. I recall an NPR story several years back that said the Palestinians had long been the most Western of Arab peoples — until the rise of Hamas.

    All three Abrahmic faiths have a lot to answer for.

    It’s time for a new, 21st century Enlightenment. A global one.

  • Old Nick

    Sorry, I didn’t finish:

    It’s time for a new, 21st century Enlightenment. A global one.

    and it won’t happen so long as we refuse to examine — really examine, ala Dennett — religion.

    Half the globe will remain in the Middle Ages, and try to drag us back there with them. Christians do it. Muslims do it.

    Reasoning people do NOT do it.

    We must begin to talk about this. I don’t believe for an instant that Islamists will never obtain a nuke.

  • And why shouldn’t they have their nuke (being facetious), since the Christians, Hindus, and Jews have theirs. Actually in Pakistan the Islamists already have them.

  • Old Nick: “Half the globe will remain in the Middle Ages, and try to drag us back there with them.”

    I think, though, that any examination of religious fundamentalism must go hand-in-hand with a look at the unfulfilled promise of the enlightenment, which was also hijacked by imperialists, greedy capitalists and socialist dictators.

  • communic8or

    Potter: You can’t say “removing the just cause” hasn’t been tried.

    The Israelis did leave Lebanon (which they never had territorial designs on in the first place). They did leave Gaza, too — all of it. Both of these steps made things worse than they’ve ever been for Israel.

    This only shows — yet again — that in the real-world Mideast, if you do the right thing, the “moral” thing, it’s interpreted as weakness. I don’t think there’s a knowledgeable observer of the Mideast who hasn’t made this observation about these two Israeli withdrawals and how Hezbollah and the Palestinians interpreted them.

    A ceasefire in Lebanon now will be interpreted exactly the same way: as a big, big win for Hezbollah. And a sign that the IDF has lost its power of deterrence — its only trump card, given the superior numbers and the fanaticism of its diehard foes. If Israel’s defense has made Hezbollah more popular, Hezbollah’s attack has done the same for Israel by unifying its entire fractious political spectrum. Yes, the Arab world is angry with Israel. There is nothing Israel could do, short of dismantling itself, that could appreciably change that, Lebanon or no Lebanon.

    But let’s go back to the just cause argument: The Gaza withdrawal was the perfect opportunity for the Palestinians to show enough good will — and common sense — to start building their state. As well as bettering their own lives, this would certainly have given confidence to the majority of Israelis who already favored leaving the West Bank, or at least 90% of it.

    What did the Palestinians do in response? They elected a government completely opposed to any kind of peace or recognition with Israel (beyond temporary ceasefires). In fact, the Hamas government won’t even let its constituents hold a referendum on negotiating a two-state solution with the Israelis.

    Potter, it takes two sides to reach a final settlement. It sounds like instead, you want Israel to leave territory it gained in a war for survival (1967) without getting anything — even verbal pledges — in return… and then hope that the Palestinians will respond with equal good will. Sorry, but the missle ranges Hamas and Islamic Jihad have set up in Gaza are stark proof of just how remote a chance that is. In fact, the Gaza experience confirms Israel’s worst fears about the result of withdrawing from the West Bank.

    Your attitude seems to be that, if given the opportunity, people everywhere will seek compromise and do what is “moral and good.” What happens when they don’t, as occurred in Gaza and Lebanon? And at what point do the Palestinians bear some responsibility for the consequences of their anti-peace seeking decisions and actions?

  • Potter

    Communic8tor– you are making all the arguments that I have made. I know well your point of view and your complaint. But at the end of the day, these are excuses plain and simple for not taking another path forward. All you and the other defenders of the “cycle of violence” do is put up walls of excuses- bringing in history to aid you.

    So for instance you say this and everything that you follow it with : “The Israelis did leave Lebanon (which they never had territorial designs on in the first place). They did leave Gaza, too — all of it. Both of these steps made things worse than they’ve ever been for Israel.”

    and those of us on this side said- “well that should be enough for awhile”- “let’s see what they do with it before we give them anything else”. (The same was true during the Oslo period btw)

    The mistake in withdrawal was it’s unilateral and partial nature. It left both sides with excuses to fall back into that extremists and naysayers picked up on. The withdrawal, you remember, was a tactical retreat leaving Gazans still so deeply in the hole that Hamas stepped right in and took the reigns with their political agenda, the “just cause” part of which was unresolved. The boycott/sanctions helped dig the hole deeper. This is the way history will be written.

    On the Israel side, myself included mind you, everyone was jumping up and down saying either “see, they don’t deserve any more” or “we told you so”.

    The extremists took the opening to make things ( as you put it) ‘worse than ever” This “worse than ever” argugment serves both sides.

    Regarding Lebanon and Hezbollah there is now an alliance with Hamas ( Shia with Sunni) and it grows like a fungus mushroom on the unresolved situation with the Palestinians which at the moment trumps the strong divisions between the two branches of Islam.

    The non-Hezbollean Lebanese allowed Hezbollah their “resistance” they say because they wanted the Shebaa Farms back ( Shebaa Farms is disputed regardless of what the UN says- see wikipedia- but not disputed according to Syria and Lebanon, it was farmed by Lebanese and Syria says it belongs to Lebanon which gives this excuse).

    REGARDLESS, a Hez representative was on the BBC the other day and was asked why the provocation? He had very little to stand on other than the Shebaa Farms, the prisoners ( one of which Israel says does not exist, another a vicious terrorist jailed 30-40 years ago) but mainly it was the Palestinian cause.

    Interesting though that this war on the Lebanese front and the destruction and suffering that it has brought about is taking world attention away from the Palestinians and they are starting to complain about it.

    My hunch is that people everywhere want normal life deep down ( hard core religious extremists excepted and there are not enough of those unless we help grow more).

    Offer it to them as real. Help them if they need help ( in the name of self-defense or enlightened self-interest- this is not rocket science). This was NOT done in Gaza. What happens in war, especially after years of it, is that people get used to the situation and they grow into it; they change their chemistry from repeated trauma, they grow their kids to perpetuate it ( if they do not escape and become professionals elsewhere).

    I heard an interview last year with a peace-loving Gazan who lived in a house with holes in it like swiss cheese from Israeli gunshots. Israeli soldiers occupied his downstairs, and he was forced to live upstairs because it was his home and he and his family did not want to leave it. It brought me to tears, I instantly felt love for this man who somehow preserved his heart enough t o still be able to extend his hand.

    Israel is no different except that israeli’s have not really suffered the way Palestinians have. They don’t understand, yet they blame. Believe me I know, my family are Israeli’s, many of them. they live well. They have no idea.

    That is not to say that Palestinians ( and Lebanese) don’t merit the blame. But what does this blaming do? It’something to hide behind- as you are doing above. And- Hezbollah and Hamas do the same thing. they hide behind whatever there is to blame.

    I am saying instead of giving more to use to blame, reverse direction 180 degrees. It’s a strategy. It has not been tried. Not really. To even begin would make a difference.

    ( Read David Grossman’s ” Death as a Way of Life- a slim potent book).

  • mulp

    Does anyone see any irony in the Israeli celebration of the seminal terrorist act in the creation of Israel a week into the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah?

    http://www.unobserver.com/layout4.php?id=2499&blz=1

    http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m24978&l=i&size=1&hd=0

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/741434.html

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/george_galloway/2006/07/sixty_years_since_the_king_dav.html

    http://mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=540822

    60 years ago, the Jews were the david fighting the British goliath; today we have different davids fighting today’s goliaths Israel and US.

  • scribe5

    I don’t know how much support they have in Lebanon but this proclamation should be better known:

    http://cedarsrevolution.org/

    HEZBOLLAH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MASSACRE

    Written by Admin

    Sunday, 30 July 2006

    WORLD COUNCIL OF THE CEDARS REVOLUTION

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