Hope is an admirable quality and a vital ingredient in human life. The Zionist movement recognized the importance of hope when they made Hatikva
- the "hope," their song, a song that was later adopted by the state of Israel
as its anthem. In the depths of concentration camp despair, our people sang "Do not say this is your last trek, that daylight has been overcome by the clouds for the day that we have yearned for will arise and come..." and "Ani Ma'amin" - I believe. Soldiers fighting the desperate battles of 1948 sang "Believe me, a day will will come when it will be good - I promise you" - the promise of a big brother to his sister.
Eventually, for many, it really was good - but not all stories have a happy ending, and wishful thinking is not what made it good. The need to maintain hope should never be confused with, or subservient to, the need for a realistic understanding of every situation.
The revolting victory of the Hezbollah
in Lebanon is insidious, because it is taking place on installments. The first installment was the takeover of Beirut by Hezbollah thugs. This was followed by the Lebanese army "compromise" that gave Hezbollah what it wanted so it could withdraw its soldiers and allow them, and all other wishful-thinking Lebanese, to pretend that they were not using force to get their way. This was followed by the Qatar agreement that put the stamp of approval on the "compromise," and additionally gave the Hezbollah veto power over any government action, as well as setting up the next elections so that Hezbollah supporters would have every advantage possible. The latest humiliation to date was the glowing approval of the shameful agreement was given by the UN Security council.
A number of commentators in Israel, the Arab world and elsewhere have insisted that the Hezbollah "lost" the encounter when they turned their arms on fellow Arabs, a view summarized by David Kenner in The New Republic.
Eventually, it is argued, the right-thinking Lebanese of the majority will force the Hezbollah to lay down its arms.
However. the fantasy of the Hezbollah laying down its arms will probably never happen. Hassan Nasrallah and the Hezbollah are not stupid. They understood exactly how far they could go. We can also trust that they would not make an agreement that would put them out of business. They cannot exist without their guns, so they would not allow any agreement that disarmed them.
They have engineered the takeover in such a way that they no longer need force. They have veto power over any government decision according to the terms of the Doha agreement. In effect, they almost passed an "enabling law" similar to the one that Hitler used to take dictatorial power in Germany. The government will be packed with pliant politicians, and the army already proved its pliancy. Therefore, it is almost inconceivable that they will be induced to lay down their arms.
While their might be a lot of dissatisfaction with the Hezbollah in Lebanon, this is meaningless unless it can be translated into armed force. Many Germans were dissatisfied with Hitler. For that matter, many slaves - and others - were dissatisfied with the Roman Empire, but they did not have any political or military power. Spartacus, Tacitus, Bar Kochba and others challenged the power of the Romans or groused about the emperor. Sure enough, it only took about five hundred years or so (or a millennium, depending how you count) for Rome to fall. All that is needed is patience, I suppose.
In the showdown, the army sided with Hezbollah, working out a near-bloodless capitulation to Hezbollah demands, that only required that they remove their troops from the streets. Saad Hariri, leader of the pro-government and anti-Hezbollah forces, had no say in the matter. He was a prisoner in his own house, and his Future TV was put off the air. As Hezbollah had won all their demands, there was no reason for them to keep their troops in the streets. How many divisions has Saad Hariri's Future TV? None. It was shut down in fact by Hezbollah thugs. Political power in Lebanon grows out of the barrel of a gun, and the guns of the army have sided with those of Hezbollah.
Moreover, one must take into account the apparently limitless capacity of Lebanese and their politicians to delude themselves. One has only to read the Beirut Daily Star to understand that a significant element of Sunni Arabs and Christians are willing to make believe that the Hezbollah are really working for the unity of Lebanon and that the Qatar agreement is a "good thing." This is no doubt preferable to opposing the Hezbollah, which has often proven to be very bad for the health of journalists and politicians. Whatever solution is adopted, even if and when Hassan Nasrallah is president of Lebanon and Fadlallah supreme leader, this chorus will continue to maintain that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Hezbollah has managed to take power by terrorizing and assassinating its most important enemies and then using just enough armed force to make clear who is in charge. Rather than disarmament of Hezbollah, it is far more likely that if Hezbollah ever "surrenders its arms" it will be because its own troops have been absorbed in, and have come to dominate, the Lebanese army. At that point, there will be nothing left of Lebanese sovereignty. The issue of popular support doesn't matter. Islamic Republics like Iran are not dependent on the support of a democratic electorate. They maintain their rule at gun point. The Kalatchnikov assault rifle and the terrorists bombs, rather than the ballot and the public opinion polls, will decide the future of Lebanon, just as they have now decided the Doha"agreement."
The next stage in the Hezbollah show will apparently be a triumph similar to the ones enjoyed by ancient Roman duces and imperators. It will be, with little doubt, the humiliation of Israel
. Israel and Hezbollah are apparently negotiating an agreement for "exchange" of hostages. If all goes as planned, in a few weeks, the vicious and unreprentant serial murderer Samir Kuntar will stand free in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, along with a Lebanese Jewish spy, and accompanied by the release of a large quantity of Palestinian prisoners. A gala victory celebration will enthrone Nasrallah and Hezbollah forever as the the saviors of Lebanon and heroes of the resistance. It is probable that preparations for this landmark event are already underway. Over a million people with a sea of Hezbollah banners and Nasrallah posters will throng the streets of Beirut. Nobody will forget it, nor will they be allowed to forget it. Nasrallah and Hezbollah will again be the heroes of the Arab world if they are not now, for nothing succeeds like success.
A 'minor' consequence of this prisoner exchange fiasco will be to declare that Israel lost the Second Lebanon War
- a very humiliating retroactive defeat, as if the triumph of Hezbollah were not itself sufficient evidence of that defeat. Israel sacrificed the lives of over 150 soldiers and civilians precisely because of Israel's refusal to exchange Samir Kuntar and others for the kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. However regrettable it is, all evidence indicates that there is almost no probability that Regev and Goldwasser survived the attack on them. IDF analysts who examined the site of the attack and the vehicles surmised from the damage to the vehicles and the bloodstains. that they must at least have been quite severely wounded. It is unlikely that if they were alive then, they got reasonable medical care. There has been no sign of life from the supposed captives since. Even if the captives are alive, an unlikely contingency, the Hezbollah will be handed a huge victory by the exchange. It will tempt them to carry out further kidnappings, and endanger hundreds of lives for the two that were saved. It is difficult to understand what might be motivating the Israeli government to make any such deal. Human concern for our two captured soldiers should not be put above the lives of hundreds of people that will be lost in future wars that are made inevitable by capitulation to Hezbollah demands.
In these circumstances, those who continue to find a 'silver lining' in the Hezbollah coup in Lebanon are truly whistling in the dark. A very dangerous enemy with clear goals of the most sinister kind has achieved all of its objectives, frustrating and humiliating not only Lebanese patriots and Israel, but also the will of the Arab world as well as the international community. Hezbollah intends to set up an Islamic Republic in Lebanon by their own admission. This monster state will without a doubt be a poppet of Syria and Iran and an exporter of radical Islamism and terrorism, producing a very hazardous situation for Israel as well as for most of the Arab world. Deluding ourselves will only make matters worse. It would be far more constructive to make the most sober assessments, to recognize the damage that has been done, and to see what may be done about it. The least that we can do is make certain that all of us have a realistic appraisal of what happened - and will happen - in Lebanon.
The denial of the Hezbollah triumph by commentators and politicians is perhaps the most frightening aspect of the whole sorry mess. A person who has a minor ailment is concerned and treats it. A person who knows they have a terminal illness relies only on hope, and clings to it stubbornly, because that is all they have. A country that is successful but has the usual problems is blessed with a chorus of whiners and doom sayers. A country or a people that see themselves as doomed and desperate are usually the best candidates for singing "Do not say it is your last voyage" as they are marched off to their doom. The Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon is not inevitable, and it is not the end of the world. The sky is not falling yet, but we had better all wake up and do something before it does fall. Ami Isseroff
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Replies: 3 Comments
I don't understand why John's comment is posted to this old article instead of the intended article about Gaza.
It is easy to find solutions for Gaza if you ignore reality: Give everyone LSD so they will think nice thoughts, use the weapons of the ancients to destroy Hamas selectively. I was concentrating on practical options, but since John has opened the competition to other entries, I will add this one.
My ultimate solution to the Gaza problem is to think really good thoughts and hope that this changes the minds of the Gazans. John will object that this is wishful thinking and can never happen. That is true, but it is equally true of his plan. In the real world, both plans have the same value as options.
The advantage of advocating the "thinking good thoughts" plan is that it makes us look like the good guys rather than the heartless evil ones. It also helps to create a positive moral dynamic in our society, and to enlist world support. The "bomb 'em to oblivion" solution encourages militarism in our own societies and stirs up hate against us for no reason.
Neither plan is ever going to be carried out.
So which plan is more practical and beneficial?
Ami Isseroff, Saturday, June 14th
This is in reply to "No Easy Answers for Gaza"
A while back Ami and I had an argument baout my contingency management proposal for dealing with the rockets. this proposal has been discussed on the Canadian Coalition for Democracies site, with the last message being from its moderator: http://canadiancoalition.com/forum/messages/28893.shtml.
I still think that this strategy is the most suitable onein the prsent circumstances, given that neither negotiation or full scale attack is feasible.
It is also consistent with my belief, expressed some years ago, that Israel must hold onto what is militarily possible, and not sorry about what people in the UN or Ônternational opinion says.
Wiping out places within some specified perimeter of a rocket attack 24 hours later will still result in civlian casualties, but at lesat it is clearly directed punishment against the specific behavior that Israel wants to discourage, as well as producing considerable economic hardship for the many in Gaza who do not support Hamas's extreme policies, but are powerless to say anything.
All the best, John
John Furedy, Saturday, June 14th
Miracles are made by human beings who pray and work to destroy the enemy who is at at the gates.There is tragically no substitute for a well executed war when the enemy is gathering strength and sees he has little to lose.
Howard Wolf, Sunday, June 1st
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