Saturday, April 14, 2007


There was a time when people in Israel spoke of Lebanon as a potential peace partner. They used to say that as soon as one Arab country made peace then Lebanon would follow suit.

However, that was before the country was poisoned by its own internal hatreds, by the presence of the PLO and later by Hizbullah. Today, Lebanon is a nation ravaged by civil wars and external wars, the occupation by foreign forces particularly those of Syria and through Hizbullah by by foreign forces particularly those of Syria and through Hizbullah by Iran.

Syria's hand has been behind so much of the decay experienced by Lebanon's civil society - the assassinations, the threats and blackmail of a beleagured government and the arming of Hizbullah along with the Iranians. Of couse the Syrians have destabilised much more of the Middle East than just Lebanon in the same way that Iran which fights proxy wars on Lebanese soil against Israel through Hizbullah has done throughout the region and beyond.

The world has allowed Syria and Iran to get away unchalleneged with far too much for so long that it's reached the point of no return with these two rogue states. The icing on the cake came this week when both Syria and Iran were elected to the U.N. Disarmament Commission in a move that must surely soon see the ringing of the death knell for the entire United Nations Organization.

This is the reward you get in a corrupt world for what you do to your co-religionists and to your neighbours. For these two to be entrusted with disarmament is only to encourage further the damage that both Syria and Iran are inflicting on the people of their region. They threaten Israel with their bombs real and imagined but they have been responsible for killing the people of Lebanon and trampling on their rights for a long period of time.
Last year, journalist Noah Pollak toured war ravaged Lebanon. He has given a fascinating insight into this country in an Azure magazine article as to how the country has been split. Writing about Lebanon, he says,

"For thirty years it was a nation in name only, existing unhappily as a Syrian vassal. In March 2005, the pressures unleashed by the Cedar Revolution drove out official Syrian dominance and inspired a new era of liberal democratic dreams. During my visit this past December, as in the months before and after, Lebanon was roiled by this new political reality–and by the old Lebanese reality, of a nation without a majority religion or ethnicity, a focal point of foreign patronage, a place where Christians, Sunni, Shia, Druze, and the various ethno-religious factions contained within them, perpetually assemble themselves, atomize, and reform in a turbulent competition for supremacy."

Pollack adds that "… there is a Lebanon that exists in the distance, too far away to see from Israel's northern border, and too difficult to discern through the opaque and fevered people camped in the South. It is the Lebanon of the Christians, the moderate Sunnis, and the Druze, the Lebanon that earned Beirut the moniker of the Paris of the Middle East. This Lebanon looks West for inspiration and support, not East, and sustains a loathing for Hezbollah (and the Palestinians) that rivals Israel's. This is the Lebanon of East and West Beirut, of outstanding restaurants, nightlife, beaches, tourism, and Mediterranean joie de vivre. These Lebanese share two vital things with Israel: An aspiration to live in a liberal, democratic society, and a fervent wish to rid their nation of the Islamic extremists who are the perpetual cause of bloodshed, instability, and warfare. Israel and Lebanon, in this regard, are more similar to each other than either of them is to any other nation in the region. In the 1980s, a Lebanese Christian leader declared that 'the Western world should either defend us, or change its name.' Israel is a member in high standing of the Western world, and should not exempt itself from sympathizing with such pleas."

Pollack proceeds to lay bare many of the myths that the Hizbullah propaganda machine successfully established through its sucessful wartime public relations campaign aided by sympathetic lackeys in the Western media.

"Southern Lebanon is not uniformly Shia. It is scattered with a few enduring Christian villages, one of which, named Ain Ebel, sits near Bint Jbeil, and is a Hezbollah-free zone. This town is spread across the northern-facing slope of one of the area’s many smooth, undulating hillsides, and from the top of this hill, where a few houses stand, the Israeli border is easily visible in the distance below. Many of the houses in the town, especially the ones closest to the hilltop, were badly damaged by Israeli bombardment during the war, seemingly confirming the charge that Israel had targeted civilians, or at least that the Israel Defense Forces attacked Lebanon indiscriminately. But that is not the reality of Ain Ebel: Israel did not lay siege to the town–Hezbollah did, and the manner in which it went about doing so should clarify the true cynical brilliance of Hezbollah's asymmetric tactics.

"The residents of Ain Ebel, in several different interviews, explained to us that at the outset of the war, Hezbollah transported a number of rocket launchers into the village and set them up for use as close to civilian houses as possible. Meanwhile, Israel was dropping leaflets over most of southern Lebanon urging civilians to evacuate (many of these leaflets were still visible, blown into countryside ditches and brambles). When the air campaign started, Hezbollah blocked the roads leading out of Ain Ebel, preventing civilians from fleeing, and on one occasion even opened fire on a caravan of evacuees, forcing them to return to their homes. With many of its residents trapped in the town, Hezbollah ignored the abundant open spaces in Ain Ebel, and fired rockets instead from within meters of civilian houses, drawing Israeli fire onto the village. As we surveyed Ain Ebel’s houses, many in varying states of reconstruction, I had to grudgingly admire this clever way of waging war against modern Western armies, when the combination of our precision munitions, a media that treats Western militaries with skepticism, and the expectation of morally perfect warfare have made civilian casualties one of the most dominant points of contention in warfare.

"From Hezbollah's perspective, premeditating the creation of civilian casualties makes perfect sense: It ensures the highest possible rate of return for the Katyusha rocket, insofar as it is turned into a weapon that can be used to kill both Lebanese and Israelis. More importantly, I realized, it accomplished something stunning in that it allowed an inferior power to use its adversary's superior weaponry to carry out its own battlefield strategy. In Ain Ebel and elsewhere, Hezbollah was in effect aiming Israeli firepower, directing its missiles and artillery onto Hezbollah’s preferred targets–houses, hospitals, apartment buildings, anywhere civilians could be found–knowing that Israel would be punished by the ensuing international outrage. Scenes of civilian death and destruction are irresistible for the Western image media, and the course of the summer war was affected perhaps like none before it by the manner in which the spectacle of dead Lebanese galvanized anti-Israel actors. Many people refer to Hezbollah's tactic as the use of 'human shields,' but this gets it exactly backward: It implies that Hezbollah was trying to protect its assets by using civilians to deter an Israeli attack.
In fact, Hezbollah was trying to provoke Israeli bombardment so that both human lives and infrastructure would be destroyed, and the Party of God could enjoy the resulting moral absolution. In this way, Hezbollah achieved its greatest victory in the war, which was its ability to transform the narrative of the conflict from one in which Israel was defending itself from attack by a terrorist organization to one in which Israel was barbarically laying waste to civilian Lebanon."

I wonder from where Hizbullah got this tactic?


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that we need to talk about these countries and about Hizbullah but that's exactly what most folks who constantly condemn Israel don't want to talk about because it shows them up as hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Lebanon/Israel: Hezbollah Hit Israel with Cluster Munitions During Conflict

(Jerusalem, October 18, 2006) – Hezbollah fired cluster munitions into civilian areas in northern Israel during the recent conflict, Human Rights Watch reported today. This is the first time that Hezbollah’s use of these controversial weapons has been confirmed.

Lebanon/Israel: U.N. Rights Body Squanders Chance to Help Civilians

(Geneva, August 11, 2006) – By adopting a politicized resolution that looks only at Israeli abuses in the current conflict, the Human Rights Council undermined its credibility and wasted an opportunity to protect civilians in the region, Human Rights Watch said today. The council decided to establish a commission of experts to investigate deadly attacks by Israel, but took no action with regard to Hezbollah’s murderous abuses. The council concluded a special session today in Geneva.

Israel/Lebanon: Hezbollah Must End Attacks on Civilians

(New York, August 5, 2006) - Hezbollah must immediately stop firing rockets into civilian areas in Israel, Human Rights Watch said today. Entering the fourth week of attacks, such rockets have claimed 30 civilian lives, including six children, and wounded hundreds more.

Israel/Lebanon: Hezbollah Must End Attacks on Civilians


Lebanon: Hezbollah Rocket Attacks on Haifa Designed to Kill Civilians

(New York, July 18, 2006) – Hezbollah's attacks in Israel on Sunday and Monday were at best indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, at worst the deliberate targeting of civilians. Either way, they were serious violations of international humanitarian law and probable war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.