Lebanon is not Gaza, Lebanon is not the West Bank

Or is it?

Yesterday Israel “imposed” a curfew in the south, including in the city of Tyre. Anyone who dares leave home after 7 pm would be struck by Israeli jets (as if they weren’t doing that before). Today Israel dropped leaflets, warning that any and all cars, at all times, will be bombed (as if they weren’t doing that before).

Israel still thinks it can go in and out of Lebanon as it pleases, or impose curfew on Lebanon whenever it desires, like it does in the Palestinian territories. It seems to me Israelis have forgotten 2000. And so they shall be reminded. Too bad it already took a month – and perhaps will take another – for the average Israeli to start questioning the conduct of his/her government. Instead, and despite pleas from this side of the border for an end to the hostilities before it was too late, they followed their leaders like sheep, and what have “leaders” brought to people other than suffering and destruction at all times and in all places? On July 12 Lebanese public opinion was highly critical of HezbAllah’s “kidnapping” of the two soldiers. It’s August 8, and look where Israel has taken Lebanese public opinion. If Israelis truly desire peace, they should realize that this cannot – never, ever – be achieved by bringing people to their knees, humiliating them, and imposing impossible conditions on them. This is exactly the point that HezbAllah has been making.


19 responses to “Lebanon is not Gaza, Lebanon is not the West Bank

  1. It is no secret that this Israeli action has strengthened Hezbollah politically. The long term reality may be that Israel may have now paved the way for Hezbollah to obtain more power in the Lebanon government, perhaps dominate the government, and thereby control the military of the government. Any idea that Hezbollah is not a significant military force has been put to rest by this conflict. There is a reality that no one will disarm Hezbollah without either Hezbollah’s cooperation or the destruction of all of Lebanon. The Bush peace plan used the my-way or the highway approach to peace. Such a peace plan can not be imposed unless one side has surrendered. The Arab League’s plan is better in that it includes more parties with an interest in the region. A real peace plan must address all issues and involve all groups and nations with an interest.

    A major failure to acheive Middle East peace has been the notion “We do not negotiate with terrorists.” Yet the reality is when terrorists are the resistance, excluding them excludes any chance for a lasting peace. The past four decades are proof of this fact.

  2. According to my interpretation of the Arab League’s peace plan, Hezbollah has agreed to either disarm or become a part of Lebanon, eliminating its ‘state within a state’ or ‘renegade militia’ status. If this is truly the case and Lebanon is insisting it will take full control of its territory then the peace plan should be accepted. Giving up the contested Sheeba Farms and the maps of mines is a fair trade.

    And RoxieAmerica is right. Regardless of their status, Hezbollah should have been included in peace negotiations. The UN resolution is a joke and will lead to the same border stalemate in the years past. Israel will occupy the buffer zone and the IDF will take casualties from Hezbollah and the cycle will repeat. The Arab plan might actually deliver a lasting peace.

  3. Hezbollah has agreed to either disarm or become a part of Lebanon
    Actually, not true. HezbAllah has agreed that the army would also be present in the south, but that does not mean it has agreed to hand over its weapons or command, or incorporate itself into the army.

  4. Anarchistian:

    Given the leaflets (in Gaza, they have a personalized alternative or supplement to the leaflet in the form of phone calls–a little more difficult to implement in Lebanon since it is not very efficient in Lebanon to bomb one home at a time), bombing of power plants, curfews, thorough reliance on air power to intimidate, etc., the analogy between Gaza and Lebanon is not precisely opaque. Perhaps in the spirit of integrity, Israel might begin referring to Lebanon in press releases as Gaza North.

    In another posting at this blog in response to stellaa, I have suggested what may (for Israel) be an unintended consequence of all this Israel, At some point in the not-to-distant future, someone is going to do a very graphic inventory of damages–and it isn’t going to be pretty. And it is likely to change some views of Israel in the process.

    Also, by all accounts, it is not just Israeli leadership that is driving this. With a large part of the Israeli population at least inconvenienced within the last month (in ways that have not occurred previously since the battle has not been brought to within Israel), the Jewish population of Israel appears to be fully behind. I read in one comments section of an individual’s father-in-law who had been a dedicated leftist within Israel, but who is now gung-ho behind the government. I don’t think popular opinion in Israel is likely to be much of a break on further Israeli “defensive” (after all, everything that Israel had done in Lebanon to date is only defensive in nature, I read today in the Wall Street Journal opinion section–by a former editor of the Jerusalem Post) action.

  5. It astounds me that Isreal would have watched the failure of the US and Britain in Iraq, looked at their own history in Gaza, West Bank and Lebanon and somehow expected this to be a positive move. I know it was driven by domestic politics (on of the drawback of democracy – what the people want is not always good for them) but still, that Israel did not even try to frame this action in any terms that indicated they were trying to align themselves with the moderate elements in the current Lebanese government boggles my mind. And in the US neo-cons and arch-cons like Krauthammer are arguing that Olmert must go for being too tentative in his approach.

    There are even some who have suggested that Bush and co wanted Isreal to attack Syria, something I can’t imagine, but could nonetheless believe.

    While there would have been no Isreali attack without Hizbullah’s provocation, Israel’s response has been both criminal and stupid.

  6. http://www.lebanonmaps.org/

    I think this map is very graphic about the destruction. Click on either the JPEG or PDF to see the details.

    I am sure that this is something obvious, but I have been trying to find the data to support it. In Iraq the Neocon Bushies made up the notion of the WMDs. The terrorized everyone and created the notion of the monster that the US had to go kill in order to defend the US and Israel, if not their idea of the “civilized world”.

    Israeli and American public opinion is tied to the war on terrorism. No one sees beyong that. Who gets branded a terrorist and how, that is my question.

    Well, about Hizbolah, they have been branded terrorists. No one wants to be seen to support terrorists. So, everyone throws their hat in without looking at the facts or questioning the charactherization. Now, like Sadam, Hizbolah does not represent the kind of politics I like, but in characterizing them as terrorists Israel got a carte blanche to destroy them and all of Lebanon.

    I have been trying to find terrorist activities that have been attributed to Hizbolah and I cannot find any since the alleged 1996 Argentinian cultural center. In also looking at the details of that, it seems that no real suspect was caught. Some trumped up allegation from a brother of a Lebanese Shia who was arrested by the FBI in 2005 in MIchigan. In looking further the attack was on a Jewish center not an Israeli center. In Argentina there is a strong right wing anti Jewish thread that the government basically covers up. Now, the alleged bomber a guy called Birro, they did not even identify his DNA, just that the Attorney General accused him on hearsay. I could not find anywhere that there was real evidence of his death. Hizbolah says he died in Lebanon. Interesting that we have heard Israel was planning the Lebanon attack for a year and this weak association was made a year ago after 10 years of no leads.

    Anyway, I would like to see some good investigative reporting to the “terrorist” allegation. That branding has made it so that in the US at least, lefties cannot even question the justification of self defense against terrorists. I heard but not seen that the EU does not classify Hizbolah as terrorist.

    Any ideas?

  7. Stellaa – I think the main argument (at least when it comes to the U.S. official policy) about HezbAllah’s “terrorist” activities is the bombing of the marine barracks. That the targeting of non-civilians (ones whose country had sent USS New Jersey to shell Druze villages in Mount Lebanon) is considered a terrorist act is indicative of the logic of good terrorism vs bad terrorism. Anyway, if we are to look at the past, then we can find many bones in almost everyone’s closet… Today HezbAllah is much, much different, unrecognizably so… As are the times.

  8. Of course, the logic of good terrorism vs bad terrorism can also be seen in Israel’s argument that the taking of the 2 soldiers as POW was a “kidnapping”, and thus equivalent to the taking of civilians as hostages…

  9. Precisely, here in America, no one can mention Hizbolah and not say terrorist, it’s a massive missinformation campaign. To many Americans, they think Hizbolah and Al Quaida are interchangeable. Many of the politicians make also no distinction. Hence the demonization process that causes the dehumanizing of the Lebanese people. Israel also makes the blanket charectirization of HIzbolah as killers of children and women. American media and Americans think that all the Lebanese dying were all potential terrorists and an enemy to America.

    Stay safe Anrchistian…(by the way your name is awesome)

  10. Stella,

    I completely agree. The designation ‘terrorist’ simply serves a rhetorical purpose. I was reading recently that in the US the Department of State has a different definition of terrorism to the Department of Defence. The difference is important. For the Department of State terrorism is ” premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” The DoD defines it as “the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies.” As the authors point out, in the first definition, the notion of noncombatants includes unarmed or off duty military personnel, even in an occupied zone. This is also similar to Israel’s stance that an attack on a passive miltary target is an act of terrorism. Anyway, such definitions are handy for the US in regard to Israel since they don’t require it to recognize Israel as an occupying force – and in regards to any palistinian resistance movement, from the POv of DoS, any violence against Israel will be terroristic since they could only be a ‘subnational group.’ So when Israel targets civilians – and we all know they do, even before this war – it is not terrorism because Israel is a state and, from the US’s pov, they are not trying to coerce a population (since they are not occupiers in the version). But when Hamas or Islamic Jihad or Hizbolah targets civilians, it is terrorism because they are a subnational group, they hit ‘noncombatants’, and they are intimidating a govt/population. In fact, even if they were to only hit military targets, they would still be terrorists.

    As far as I understand it, the EU classes the military wing of Hizbolah as a terror group. But becuase of HA’s representation at government level, the EU can’t brand HA a terrorist organization. In other words, HA is not classes as a terrorist group because of a loophole. I’m not checking for sources on this and I may be wrong,,,

  11. Hi,

    I found your adress on the ISM site.

    You must have heard from Ur-Shalim about a call for a boycott. I know that Israeli products are not on the Lebanese market but you may have readers from the Arab world and from outside the Arab world and we are trying to publicize these calls for a boycott.
    This one is launched by an online magazine editor from Dubai:


    This one is launched by a blogger activist from the UK and could be done on an individual basis:

    Hopefully this comment will find you well.

  12. If many of these definitions and interpretations of “terrorism” existed not all that long ago, George Washington and his group would clearly have been terrorists.

  13. Certainly those whose actions helped to found the state of Israel (Begin and others) were

  14. Hizbullah has been accused of the numerous terror actions that culminated in the Argentinian and Saudi Towers bombings. I have no idea of validity of the last two, but Hizbollah was certainly involved in the kidnapping and imprisonment of Terry Anderson and many others.

    The more important issue, at this point, is the crossborder adventures: Al-ghara, Sheba’a farms and this latest of July, among others (as well as the recent statements relating to joining up with Hamas and others.)

    Given that Lebanon designates Hizbullah as a resistance organization, perhaps Lebanon sanctioned the soldiers kidnapping (and, in the issue of full disclosure – rocket fire and killing of other soldiers). If so, the kidnapping and incursion is just an act of war and Lebanon should not be suing for a cease fire, but should be surrendering and offering terms of surrender. If, on the other hand, Lebanon did not sanction the kidnapping and killing, that is at least an act of civil rebellion, and one that is often identified as “terrorist.” The fact that the soldiers were taken hostage in order to gain the release of a murderer who bashed a 4 year old girl’s head in with the butt of his rifle, also identifies it, to many, as a terrorist act.

  15. …the crossborder adventures

    I believe that if you look at the incidences of crossborder “adventures”, you’ll find that Israel has been, far and away, the much more egregious participant. Didn’t HezbAllah hold fire across the border for something like 6.5 years? In that same period, did not Israel launch artillery shells into southern Lebanon numerous times? Each time, HezbAllah’s response was…nothing.

    How long do you want to get shelled, without responding in kind, before you’ve just had enough? Human Rights Watch has reported that in a two and a half month period in early 2006, Israel sent 6,000 artillery shells into Palestine and 80 missles. That averages out to about 80 explosives per day! For 2.5 months! Talk about provocation. How much more do you need?

    If you want to do a tit-for-tat on provocation, the pile on Israel’s side is huge compared to that of the other side.

  16. Palstine is not Lebanon. And I do not want tit for tat. I think Isreal’s response to the Hezbullah murder and kidnapping of the soldiers has been excessive, stupid, criminal and unconscionable. But the fact remains: had Hezbullah not fired missiles, ambushed, kidnapped two Isaeli soldiers and killed 8 other this conflict would not be unfolding as is it today.

    You can play Cassandra all you want and say this invasion was inevitagle, that Isreal was just waiting for a pretext etc. But the fact remains, this particular conflict, the way it is playing out at this exact moment with these exact real people being murdered on both sides was precipitated by a premeditated attack across the border from Hezbullah. An attack whose stated aim was not to get Palastinian’s recently kidnapped in Gaza released or have Sheba’a returned or any of the above. Its stated aim was to get a man released from prison who had killed two civilians, one a 4 year old girl whose head he bashed in with the butt of his rifle.

    You may not want to take any responsibility on your side. You may want to post satire and emoticoms and wave pompoms and yell horay for our side, but the kidnapped soldier remains kidnapped and this tragedy continues.

  17. had Hezbullah not fired missiles, ambushed, kidnapped two Isaeli soldiers and killed 8 other this conflict would not be unfolding as is it today.
    Again, you keep missing the point. The point is that, had Israel wanted things to evolve differently, it would’ve responded differently, as it had done before in a POW scenario. The bottom line is that: Israel was actively seeking it. Whether or not HezbAllah provided the pretext is pretty much irrelevant. We have all seen that Israel has created the pretext whenever one was not available, and in the end the ones who were blamed were … the underdogs, rather than Israel. Something that Nasrallah pointed out a while ago (regarding HezbAllah’s strikes against mostly military targets vs. Israel’s deliberate targeting of residential buildings and funeral processions)…

    Also, you keep considering the taking of POWs by Hamas and HezbAllah provocation, what about the daily kidnappings of CIVILIANS by the Israeli army? What about the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails, who are not even allowed to receive visits from relatives or without even being charged (since Israel claims to have an extraoirdinary, moral justice system…). Remember that at a time when Hamas remained faithful to the truce for months, Israel continued to send missiles at houses and buildings and assassinate leaders. Well, you can’t blame a dog if it bites you after you stand there for hours and piss it off, can you? Bad analogy I know, but you get the point (I hope).

    At any rate, you might also want to check your sources; long before either the PLO or HezbAllah existed, Israel continuously bombarded Lebanon, resulting in many civilian deaths. If Israel’s response to the taking of SOLDIERS as POW is justified (or we should not talk about the pretext because it’s now irrelevant), then the founding of the PLO and HezbAllah, and in fact also of Hamas, and the methods they have used, are perfectly legitimate.

    You seem upset – perhaps at Israel’s military failures? Or are you saying that you care more about Lebanon – yourself living in some distant corner in the USA or Europe – than I do? At any rate, I would recommend that you lighten up; a little dose of sarcasm and humour can actually take one a long way – especially when one is under siege for almost a month, with almost no fuel to go around with, few hours of electricity, and F-16s and drones buzzing above in the skies.

  18. What you don’t want to acknowledge is that I think the daily kidnapping of civilians by Isreal is unabashedly wrong. I do not understand it. It makes no sense to me.

    But at the same time, there are a few clear facts related to the current crisis in Lebanon.

    The first, which I have stated and will state again, is that Israel has massively overreacted. What they have done is criminal and I don’t think it will increase the security of the northern border in the long term. It is unconscionable.

    But what you try to ignore is that Hezbollah clearly provoked the response. Whether they were aiming for and anticipated this sort of overreaction or whether they simply thought that this time Isreal would cave in regard to the longest held Lebanese (I think) prisoner in Israel is unclear. But it seems telling to me that they chose a man guilty of the murder of a 4 year old, a man who previous hostage taking have failed ot release. Kuntar was the target of a 2004 kidnapping and while 60 or so Lebanese militants were exchanged HE WAS NOT. This was not a kidnapping that Hezbullah, if they were acting rationally at all, could have expected to have been easily resolved. It is clear that Isreal was never going to hand Kuntar over easily. Hezbullah had vowed to get him released, but Israel was not going to do it.

    So, in order to save face, Hezbullah tried again.

    And whether or not Israel was looking for a pretext there were given one. Hizbullah killed 8 soldiers on Israeli territory. If you commit an act of war with a militarily powerful neighbor, you cannot be surprised that you are suddenly in a war.

    You have a very funny idea of what losing militarily is. If this is the kind of military victory that Hezbullah is going to achieve as part of Lebanon, I can’t wait to see what happens when they lose.

    The problem for Lebanon is, at least among the Lebanese I know – and I know a decent number – they did not want any Israeli soldiers killed, they could are less about Kuntar’s release. They did not want to give Israel a pretext for attacking. Perhaps you, in Beirut, know better. Perhaps all of Lebanon care deeply about getting a child killer relased from prison and care enough to embroil their country in a shooting war with Israel.

    I, for one, doubt it.

  19. But what you try to ignore is that Hezbollah clearly provoked the response.
    Wrong. In making this assertion you are clearly trying to view HezbAllah’s “kidnapping” as the starting point; which does suit Israelis’ and pro-Israelis’ agenda, because it’s really convenient to forget that 2 Islamic Jihad (don’t tell me they were terrorists and their murder is justified – because one can argue the same about those IDF soldiers) leaders were assassinated by a car bomb in Sidon – that’s INSIDE Lebanese territory, and a few weeks later, a number of agents who had been working for Israel (and no, the argument that Israel was not DIRECTLY involved, but only through proxies, does not hold either), and who were responsible for the assassination were arrested by LEBANESE SECURITY with information provided by LEBANESE INTELLIGENCE. Here we’re not even talking about HezbAllah arresting them. We’re talking about official government units, the same government that was trying to find a way to put an end to the HezbAllah weapons dilemma. If that is not to be considered PROVOCATION (it’s really irrelevant that the victims were not HezbAllah men – the idea is that Israel has agents deep inside Lebanon and on whose orders bombs are going off INSIDE Lebanese territory, killing people, injuring civilians, causing instability, and so on), then how can you consider a clear military targeting and taking of POW “provocation”? That is beyond me. Of course, you will now respond with pessimistic comments about having doubts that the M.E mess ever be resolved if we all think this way – but we all know who that is supposed to JUSTIFY, and who that is supposed to work in favour of. Whenever Israel is the provocateur, it’s always “let’s just not go back and see who started it all, shall we? It’s pointless and childish.” Yup….

    Actually, my issue is not that Israel declared “war”; what Israel has been doing is not war. War is fought between soldiers, on the battlefield; it is not fought by bombs being thrown on residential buildings. And let me remind you, it was not HezbAllah that started firing Katyushas on residential areas, it was Israel that did that, and HezbAllah’s was merely a RESPONSE to it (now are you going to say that Israel shouldn’t complain about those Katyushas? Or will you – as usual – adopt a different set of criteria to judge HezbAllah?)

    The issue is not Samir Kuntar per se – and I don’t care what you say about who he has killed (I’m sure there are many in the Israeli army who have the blood of 4 year old kids on their hands, imagine defending their incarceration by Palestinians for 30 years – fighter jet pilot, massacrer of many civilians, Ron Arad ring a bell?), that is not why Israel has been keeping him. Israel has handed over people with “blood on their hands” before, with much more blood on their hands than Kuntar. The reason Israel is refusing to give back Kuntar is because it wants to get Ron Arad back; but of course, Ron Arad is not in Lebanon, and it is beyond HezbAllah’s ability to do anything with regards to it; Israel is clearly attempting to bring Iran into the equation. Anyway, that’s not the point; the point is, if Israel wanted its northern front to finally calm down for a long time, giving Kuntar back, along with Sheba’a (fine, so let’s say Kuntar isn’t being released because he killed a 4-year-old Israeli girl, but what about Sheba’a farms?) and the minefield maps, would’ve left HezbAllah with absolutely no pretext to continue existing. But as I said before, Israel feeds on extremism, because it can be considered a “provocation” (to people like you at least) and a green light to commit war crimes (the military needs practice from time to time, after all, eh?).

    The fact that you insist that this is merely about Kuntar is proof enough that you don’t want to see the real agendas behind what has been going on. And I can be naive and call that naive, or I can be honest and call that: intentional blurring of the real issues. Your appeal to emotions (as seen in your constant detailed “reminders” of Kuntar’s crime) is a very well-known fallacy.

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