Thursday, August 31, 2006

UNIFIL 2 - We Need You: Part II

This is the second part of a two (maybe three) part series on the deployment of the UNIFIL 2 force to Lebanon.

In this post, I put issues relating to Hizballah and their disarmament aside, and seek to highlight the risks the deployment of this international force will bring to Lebanon and to the force itself.
This last point [refer to previous post] also highlights the extensive risks that will be faced by the UNIFIL 2 forces, and the importance of pursuing to the end the body of UN investigations on the string of assassinations - and attempted assassinations - that have gripped the country for the past 2 years.


The widely anticipated conclusions of the central investigation, that surrounding the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri, are expected to point the finger at the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon. Many analysts have pointed to this investigation, and its impending conclusion, as the primary catalyst to the Syrians’ acquiescence to (if not outright ordering of) Hizballah's most recent operation. In that respect, the Syrians can be expected to instigate wider disruptions to the stability of Lebanon and to the continuation of the investigation in order to derive a gain leverage with respect to the investigation and its final report. The presence of international troops on Lebanese soil could provide them with surest way to obtain that leverage. In that case, what the Syrians would be looking for would be a way of forcing the international community, or more specifically the broader western contingent of the incoming UN force, to be in need of the regime’s services. By instigating untraceable attacks – easily attributed to Al-Qaeda or other fundamentalist groups – the Syrians would in effect be creating a situation in which they could provide for the security of the international troops, or even of the Lebanese state as a whole in the worst case scenario, through a quick and well-greased re-infiltration of the Lebanese internal intelligence and security bodies.

This would in effect be a replay of the events encountered throughout Lebanon’s recent past in which untraceable explosions ripped through the cities and towns of the country creating sectarian fears and suspicions, in which Syrian supported Palestinian factions infiltrated the country, and in which a destabilized and dangerous internal situation prompted the international community to consent to an enforced Syrian occupation.

Our hope now is that the Lebanese government can successfully downgrade the threat to the UNIFIL 2 troops and thus eliminate a relatively easy and untraceable way to creating instability, while at the same time, we hope that this armed body will be robust enough to aid the Lebanese Army in its enforcement of the government’s will over the entirety of Lebanon’s territory.

UNIFIL 2 - We Need You: Part I

This is the first part of a two (maybe three) part series on the deployment of the UNIFIL 2 force to Lebanon.

In this post, I put issues relating to Hizballah and their disarmament aside, and seek to highlight the (other) advantages that can be derived from the deployment of this international force.
Lebanon has much to gain from the versatile composition of the international force now preparing to land on our shores.
On top of the large numbers of infantry and mechanized infantry battalions being pledged to the newly polished UNIFIL 2 forces, countries such as Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy are also pledging a large number of naval assets.
These naval assets, including at least one carrier group, to be position off the coast of Lebanon are of pivotal importance is the assistance being provided to the Lebanese Army. Although ostensibly there to prevent the transferring of arms to groups within the country other than the Army, these assets could play an important role in the securing of Lebanon’s borders. Take for instance the numerous accounts of fishermen abducted from Lebanese waters and held in both Syria and Israel. In other occasions, fishermen have had their nets cut by both nations’ navies following particularly bad spells in relations with Lebanon. The continual presence of an international naval taskforce would, in theory, provide an adequate deterrence to a continuation of such actions.

The presence of a carrier group off the nation’s coast would also help enforce the Lebanese state’s sovereignty over its air space, violations of which occur on a regular basis (predominantly by the IAF, but also by the Syrian Air Force). Although the UN has proved incapable of this task in the past – even when those violations have resulted in the deaths of several soldiers serving under its command – it has never had the ability to enforce its will on the Lebanese arena as it will have now. If the UN can impose an effective ban on cross-border over flights, it would be the first time in approximately 30 years that Lebanon’s skies would be free of intruders.

A strong international aerial presence would also provide needed assistance to the Lebanese Army in its monitoring of the Lebanese-Syrian border. Although the issue is currently being viewed as an American-Israeli inspired demand, Lebanon has been struggling with this issue since the evacuation of the Syrian army from the country. The porous border is widely seen as a gateway for illegal drug and weapons transfers to groups clandestinely (and sometimes not so clandestinely) supported by the Syrian regime. These groups range from armed Palestinian factions based throughout Lebanon, to the Syrians’ own intelligence and sleeper cells (who’s members also engage in drug smuggling and car theft activities throughout Lebanon), and finally to Hizballah.

On the ground, the UNIFIL 2 force will also be expected to support the Lebanese Army in ways not (yet) highlighted by the media or governments in play. These activities will primarily consist of a forced disarmament of armed Palestinian factions both inside and outside the refugee camps. For the most part, the government expects little resistance from those Palestinian factions allied to current PA President Mahmoud Abbas, as extensive contacts and dialogues with the groups have led to positive results.

With respect to the Palestinian groups allied to Syria, there already seems to be a growing will to move against these groups quickly and effectively. As in all the operations to be conducted on the ground, the Lebanese Army will be expected to take the lead in any move against the groups while heavily armed UNIFIL 2 forces provide backup and support. On the political level things might be a bit more risky. The moves against these armed groups might provide enough cover for the Syrian regime to renew its murky assassination campaign against prominent anti-Syrian political figures, thereby laying the foundations for an aggressive campaiged aimed at internally destabilizing Lebanon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Milk, Bomblets, and a T-Shirt

Here are three articles published today relevant to some of the discussions sweeping the blogsphere:

This article deals with the evidence collected by the UN on the use of cluster bombs on the Lebanese civilian population throughout the 'July War' campaign. Investigations were conducted by the "...UN Mine Action Co-ordination Centre, which had undertaken assessments of nearly 85% of the bombed areas in Lebanon."
The investigators have so far uncovered 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets at 359 separate sites.
I'm not even going to say anything about this second article.
Finally, this third article highlights the presence of a dairy sleeper cell that posed a considerable risk to the security of Israel. I can't believe the Lebanese state could harbor these milky terrorists!

The End Game for Lebanon - Part I: The Shebaa Farms

George W. Bush has been struggling to sell this war as part of his War on Terror. This administration repeats itself over and over again by suggesting that Hizballah has ties to Al-Qaeda and that Hizballah could plan attacks on Americans any minute, and that to sum it all up Hizballah is a national security threat.

Now of course, no one in D.C believes that. They all know that there are no ties between Hizballah and Al-Qaeda and that Hizballah is not planning any attacks on American civilians.

The Italian FM came out yesterday and told the press that a group like Hizballah has the potential to be reduced to a poltical party only, with no military wing that is, and that confronting them should not happen with the use of force but rather through peaceful negotiations.

Well, peaceful negotiations is what we, the Lebanese, want. Here I can pose the question: What is the end game for Lebanon?

In essence, that is the question that has to be answered. Do we want a full out war with Israel? Well, of course not. If that was what we wanted the missiles would still be hitting Haifa.

Do we want a peace treaty? Well eventually we do want peace, but it is definitely too early to put this option on the table after Israel's demolition of Lebanon. According to a survey carried out by the Beirut Center for Research and Information last week, the majority of every sect in Lebanon believes it is impossible to establish peaceful relations with the State Of Israel.

The path being taken at the moment is thus, for once, an optimal one. The cease-fire must hold until all Israeli troops have left our land and all our cards must be put on the table in order for us to try to resolve this issue once and for all. If the root of our problems with Israel remain the same then the scenario of a conflict will keep on reemerging. Our current points of conflict with Israel concern the Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, the Shebaa farms which are under Israeli control, the almost daily overflights of the IAF over Lebanon and last but not least the question on what to do with the Palestinian refugees. On the other hand, the Israelis want to see Hizballah disarmed.

The Shebaa farms issue is a crucial one, but one that can be easily solved if Israel gets over itself. Everyone knows this piece of land does not belong to Israel. Furthermore, everyone knows that Israel is not just going to hand over a piece of land, one that contains precious water and parts of Israel's only ski slopes, over to Lebanon right after a war gone array for them. After all, their 2 soldiers are still in captivity.

Nobody can expect a full disarmament of Hizballah while the Shebaa farms are still under occupation. The Israelis thus should be reasonable and recognize that withdrawing from Shebaa will give Hizballah much less of a reason to carry arms and thus will strengthen the Lebanese government.

Hizballah will only be disarmed peacefully and that can only occur through long, tedious internal negotiations with the government. By withdrawing from Shebaa, Israel will have left Hizballah all bun.

The deployment of our army to the South, the recent uncovering of Hizballah weapons caches and the agreement to have 15'000 UNIFIL soldiers in our country, proves that the state of Lebanon has shown a lot of goodwill.

Israel should reward this goodwill by withdrawing from the farms. It is in both nations interest.

Lets assume the Israelis were to say the status of the Shebaa farms is not up for discussion at the moment. Then I say the Shebaa farms should be included in any deal which is made concerning the freedom of those two IDF soldiers.

We all know too well that to the Israeli government, U.N resolutions are not worth the paper on which they are written on. Thus, it is in our best interest not to release those 2 soldiers until the Shebaa issue is resolved.

The Shebaa farms can create potential for conflict for years and decades to come and now, with the attention of the international community focused on our little country, we should do everything humanly possible in order to try to solve this problem.

All that is needed, is for Syria to officially state, vis-a-vis the U.N, that Shebaa is Lebanese. For anybody who is reading about this for the first time; the U.N recognizes the Shebaa farms as occupied Syrian territory.

Thereafter the transition of Shebaa over to Lebanon can be completed. After all, the Syrians have announced on numerous occasions that the farms are indeed Lebanese.

So before we once again call on Israel to withdraw from Shebaa, let us deal with the Syrians first. The Secretary General of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council, Mr. Nasri Khoury, should ask the Syrians once and for all to take an official position regarding the ownership of the Shebaa farms.

We should let the Syrians realize that Lebanon is not their play toy anymore. The Shebaa farms is the last straw with which Syria can put pressure on Israel through Hizballah and this life line should be cut immediately.

Depleted uranium used in Lebanon


In a INN World Report video [It's the 'Watch it' link that's on the right] Dr. Doug Rokke, PhD. and former Director of the U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project confirms that Israel used depleted uranium - in the form of GBU-28 bombs - in Lebanon.



These USA provided Guided Bomb Units (GBU-28) are developed for penetrating targets located deep underground. These ‘Bunker Buster’ bombs are equipped with a laser guidance system and a 4,400 pound warhead. They are capable of penetrating 20 feet of concrete.

This claim is easily verified by this NY times article:

"An arms-sale package approved last year provides authority for Israel to purchase from the United States as many as 100 GBU-28’s, which are 5,000-pound laser-guided bombs intended to destroy concrete bunkers. The package also provides for selling satellite-guided munitions."

A good animation explaining how the GBU-28 works is available at usatoday.com, although I dont think they captured the last frame correctly. It should look like this.

In the third frame, the one detailing the main section of the missile, notice how “the composition of the rest of the warhead is classified”. Dr. Rokke claims that these GBU-28 bunker busters exploded with “the perfect signature of uranium weapons”. With his qualifications, I am inclined to believe him.

In 'Le Monde Diplomatique', an must-read article aptly titled "America’s big dirty secret" mentions extensive depleted uranium contamination in both Kosovo and Afghanistan. It also confirms Dr. Rokke's claims:

"Since 1997 the United States has been modifying and upgrading its missiles and guided (smart) bombs. Prototypes of these bombs were tested in the Kosovo mountains in 1999, but a far greater range has been tested in Afghanistan. The upgrade involves replacing a conventional warhead by a heavy, dense metal one. Calculating the volume and the weight of this mystery metal leads to two possible conclusions: it is either tungsten or depleted uranium.

Tungsten poses problems. Its melting point (3,422°C) makes it very hard to work; it is expensive; it is produced mostly by China; and it does not burn. DU is pyrophoric, burning on impact or if it is ignited, with a melting point of 1,132°C; it is much easier to process; and as nuclear waste, it is available free to arms manufacturers. Further, using it in a range of weapons significantly reduces the US nuclear waste storage problem."

Dr. Rokke was instructed to lie in his reports on the health and environmental effects of uranium munitions in order to ensure that they can always be used.

The Monde Diplomatique artice sums the problem of depleted uranium useage in two points:

"1) Radiation emitted by DU threatens the human body because, once DU dust has been inhaled, it becomes an internal radiation source; international radiation protection standards, the basis of expert claims that DU is harmless, deal only with external radiation sources;

2) Uranium from reactors, recycled for use in munitions, contains additional highly toxic elements, such as plutonium, 1.6 kilogrammes of which could kill 8bn people. Rather than depleted uranium, it should be called uranium plus."

Dr. Rokke refers to a US army training video detailing Depleted Uranium Hazard Awareness. You can view this video here.

Why?

Why?

Why all this hate against the people of the near east? The aggression started with the Zionist movement in the 20th century, and then people reacted and became more radicalized as injustices increased. In Europe, Jewish communities were treated with savagery for so long (pogroms, ghettos, holocaust, segregation…), at the same time many decided to leave Europe and add ranks to the existing communities in the north Africa and the near east. The communities were in protection and thriving in coexistence from more than a 1000 years in societies in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Andalusia, Morocco, Anatolia, Persia...

Why all this blind hate now against Arabs, I find it misdirected. The majority of the Arab peoples want a minimal sense of justice in Palestine. All the radicalization you see is a reaction to the huge injustice committed in Palestine. The area called Palestine prior to the British occupation in 1918 was not a desert. It was a full with people, it was a thriving society, it was one of the most modern and rich Arab societies at the time, this society was completely destroyed by the Zionist project, a project based a set of myths based itself on a set of religious beliefs rather than on accurate historical facts about the ancient Israelites.

A solution?

Our Area (Long term)
I think the best thing for humanity, and to put an end to radicalization, is a peaceful solution like what happened in South Africa in 1994. End the apartheid and the whole near east will belong to you to live and thrive. In the meanwhile, I reckon that anger will persist....

Lebanon (Short term)
We in Lebanon have had enough, and we ask the state of Israel to [leave us alone] (this is what I meant by the hell with your gov..., but some don't understand spoken english) and leave us alone. At the same time and with the same determination, we are asking that HA (the armed wing), Iran and Syria’s regime to [leave us alone] too.

I find Positive neutrality to be the best thing for Lebanon as we have been used and abused by hypocrites who only want to fight Israel in our country or get a seat on the table with Uncle Sam. If this happens, we are more than happy to be withdrawn from the regional equation. Don’t bother us and we don’t bother you.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lantos Blocks US Aid to Lebaon

Here's a very interesting article demonstrating how biased and deceitful the US Government can be.

As the top ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives' International Relations Committee, Tom Lantos said on Sunday August 27th at Israel’s Foreign ministry, where he met Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni after talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, that he was putting a legislative hold on Bush's proposal to provide $230 million in aid for Lebanon.

The reason given for this block:

"The international community must use all our available means to stiffen Lebanon's spine and to convince the government of Lebanon to have the new UNIFIL troops on the Syrian border in adequate numbers"
Lantos also declared:

"It is very much my hope that I will be able to lift the hold when the reasons will no longer be present. ... My purpose is not to withhold aid from Lebanon, my purpose ... is to persuade the government of Lebanon that the closing of the Lebanon-Syria border to arms smuggling from Iran and Syria is in the prime national interest of Lebanon and the Lebanese people."
His sickening final words:

"Lebanon will get help from both Europe, the Arab world and the United States. Unless the United States provides some aid to Israel, Israel receives no aid"

You can draw your own conclusions.


Source Article: Key US legislator says will block aid to Lebanon

A Documentary for the Brainwashed, Disillusioned, & Politically Confused

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others--work in combination with Israeli public relations strategies to exercise a powerful influence over how news from the region is reported.

Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how--through the use of language, framing and context--the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one. The documentary also explores the ways that U.S. journalists, for reasons ranging from intimidation to a lack of thorough investigation, have become complicit in carrying out Israel's PR campaign. At its core, the documentary raises questions about the ethics and role of journalism, and the relationship between media and politics.

Interviewees include Seth Ackerman, Mjr. Stav Adivi, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Hanan Ashrawi, Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Neve Gordon, Toufic Haddad, Sam Husseini, Hussein Ibish, Robert Jensen, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Karen Pfeifer, Alisa Solomon, and Gila Svirsky

You can watch it here: Peace Propaganda, & the Promised Land

Your constructive comments are all welcome.

The above summary was taken from the following website:

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Beautiful South (Part 6)


Hi All, since I mentioned in previous posts of this series that the location of Beaufort Castle was the highest in the South of Lebanon, this pic is just to give you an idea of just how high it actually is. The landscape in the pic is the view towards the east form Beauforte Casle, but looking down below though. Mind you, i did zoom in abit, and still, it looks like pretty high.
Enjoy :D.

Poetry Lebanon Resurrection

Resurrection: After the Strike, the Lebanese People Are Immerging from Nothing!

The chaos:

Goats of unconscious… Since I am living a vegetable life; do I need food for thoughts? The matter called soil to nourish my soul and enlighten my vision, very affirmative?!… Do we need a multidimensional spline where each step is a new challenge…But I am still banded in a bath of petroleum where I crashed and still catching fire? The driver is still vulnerable… The thin line between love and hate, the snowball of struggle… Toast a rope.

The Sorter:

Grow and learn, until an epoch, the weak capacity of darkness will injure almost all the drivers and the injury; the area of difference with no home… at an unaffordable price…the collision will be unavoidable, with double fatality… Where are your enemies? The friends of the anxious trauma the “what will be tomorrow”, the area of coma… where never is a big land of shining power… Waiting for the tidal wave, the last word of chance.
How is the string called family? Reliquary!
Tillage, prepare a system, a pair of no hesitation, and a rusty forget. Who are you? Hyper-mediocrity… Pave the way… This is a fight against cold…

Nasrallah: It Wasn't Worth It!

(in collaboration with Debate)

In comments given in an interview on Lebanese television station New TV Sunday night, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah toned down much of his group's post-war rhetoric. Nasrallah conceded that the destruction caused as a result of his group's abduction of two IDF soldiers had cost the nation and its people too much and outweighed the benefits derived from the operation.

"Had we known that the kidnapping of the soldiers would have led to this, we would definitely not have done it," said [a calm Nasrallah].

"We did not think that there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war of this scale and magnitude...Now you ask me if this was 11 July and there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war like the one that has taken place, would you go ahead with the kidnapping? I would say no, definitely not, for umanitarian, moral, social, security, military and political reasons...Neither I, Hezbollah, prisoners in Israeli jails and nor the families of the prisoners would accept it."


This change of tone is a reflection of the very real devastation and destruction the Shiite community (Hizballah's primary base of support) is having to deal with as they return to the homes they fled during the conflict. Earlier in the week, the leading Shiite cleric of the city of Tyre and the surrounding regions, questioned the monopolization of political life by the two dominant Shiite parties of the country, Amal and Hizballah, and said that the majority of Shiites were moderates that did not adhere to an extremist agenda. The cleric went on to state that the Shiites of Lebanon rejected the notion of a 'state within a state', and that following this summer's events would start to question their leaders more closely.

In other statements made by Nasrallah, the leader revealed that initial contacts leading to indirect negotiations on a prisoner exchange had already had been taken. According to the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, terms for the exchange have already been agreed to by Israel and Hizballah, through German mediation with the actual exchange taking place in the coming weeks. Germany has mediated similar exchanges in the past, most notably the January 2004 release of 400 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the bodies of 3 IDF commados killed in a raid on Lebanon and an Israeli businessman accussed of having ties to Israel's intelligence body, Mossad.

According to figures provided by the Lebanese Higher Relief Council, approximately 15,000 housing units were destroyed throughout the duration of the war, displacing approximately 800,000 people.
Sources
Arabic Sources

Israel suspected of using experimental weapons against Lebanese civilians

It has come to my attention that there are numerous reports from sources like Reuters, Expatica News, Globalresearch.ca, indicating that some of the weapons used by Israel during the latest Israeli-Lebanese conflict were in fact new and experimental:

In the image on the right, as reported in the Miami Independent Media Center, we can see an artillery shell, with its FMU penetrator, can also be used to carry chemical weapons, the use of which is also being reported from southern Lebanon.

“New and strange symptoms are reported amongst the wounded and the dead.

Bodies with dead tissues and no apparent wounds; 'shrunken' corpses; civilians with heavy damage to lower limbs that require amputation, which is nevertheless followed by unstoppable necrosis and death; descriptions of extensive internal wounds with no trace of shrapnel, corpses blackened but not burnt, and others heavily wounded that did not bleed.”

We can reason following the above descriptions that the new arsenal used may actually include 'direct energy' weapons, and chemical and/or biological agents, in a sort of macabre experimentation of future warfare.

Bachir Cham, a Belgian-Lebanese doctor at the Southern Medical Centre in Sidon, received eight bodies after an Israeli air raid on nearby Rmeili which he said exhibited wounds such as the ones described above.

Samples were taken from the bodies in order to verify the cause of death.

He believes it is a chemical.

Dr Cham made a statement saying:

"the bodies of some victims were black as shoes, so they are definitely using chemical weapons. They are all black but their hair and skin is intact so they are not really burnt. It is something else.

If you burnt someone with petrol their hair would burn and their skin would burn down to the bone. The Israelis are 100 per cent using chemical weapons."


Chemical weapon drawing from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons


Sources:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Beautiful South (Part5)


Hi All ! This pic is the view from Beaufort Castle towards the west ie. the Mediterranean Sea. On a clear day, you would be able to see the City Port of Tyre and the most of the coast of Southern Lebanon. Also, back in the day, however far in the past, from the castle one would also be able to see incoming ships too on the Horizon. Unfortunately, on the day I took this pic, it was rather cloudy and did no justice to the western view. On the landscape infornt of the castle, is part of the town of Arnoun. Notice how one has to travel through a sea of hills to get to this place.
Enjoy :D.

KNOW THY ENEMY - PART I : PREFACE


"So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles"
Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 6th century BC

As the dust settles on our once-lovely coastal country, the results of the distressing events that took place in Lebanon in the last month are emerging on the world stage. Any moral person will require that justice be upheld for what is clearly a breach of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War – which Israel ratified on December 8th 1949 – and rightly so. But strangely enough, no such claim is to be heard; no pointed finger of blame at Israel for its brutal punishment of the people of Lebanon, let alone any talks of proportionality regarding this conflict.

What I am proposing to show you is that this in not a historical aberration.

You quickly find out when dealing with Israel that it cannot be compared with any other state. Being built exclusively for Jews, this state is based on traditions and ways of thinking that have developed amid Jews for centuries. The notions that Jews are special, and – more importantly – that their suffering is special, are the root of the issue. These trends are reflected in every aspect of the modern state of Israel. This is a state that knows no restrictions. It is a state that both believes, and uses as corroboration for its own belligerence, the view that its very existence is perpetually at stake. Given this basis, anything is acceptable to guarantee its survival. Israel is a state that clearly deems that the rules which apply to all other states do not apply to it.

As I stated earlier, Jewish suffering and victimhood create this “Jewish uniqueness”. Jews have undoubtedly suffered. The Holocaust, which is the archetype of Jewish suffering, has been stripped of its historical status, and is now being regarded by religious and secular alike, as a piece of theology and therefore beyond inquiry.

We can argue that modern Jews aren’t suffering anymore, but their history of suffering is not just an incontrovertible past. For many Jews, it may become a possible future. Zionism plays into this fear, by confirming that Jews are unique in their suffering and is unequivocal that Jews should ‘return’ to a land given to – only – them simply because they are not safe anywhere else on earth.

This is the problem with Modern Zionism. It articulates Jewish character but also empowers it. It tells Jews and numerous others too, that Jews can achieve what they have always dreamed of. It takes the perfectly acceptable religious feelings of Jews, or if you prefer, their harmless delusions, and attemps to turn them into reality. When empowered with a state, a powerful army and armadas of F16s fighter jets, these notions - specialness, choseness and supremacism - become a concern for us all.

It is truly ironic that this Jewish empowerment has come to most resemble those empowerments under which Jews have suffered the most. Empowered Christianity, also a marriage of faith and power, enforced its ideology and pursued its dissidents and enemies with no greater fervor than has empowered Judaism. In its zeal and self belief, Zionism has come to resemble the most brutal of modern ideologies. But unlike the aggressive rationality of Stalinism, willing to sacrifice millions for political and economic revolution, this Jewish ideology, in its zealotry and irrationality, resembles more the National Socialism which condemned millions for the attainment of a nonsensical racial and ethnic supremacy.

Naturally there are differences but there are also similarities. National Socialism, like Zionism, gained credibility as a means to correct historical wrongs done to a victimized people. National Socialism, like Zionism, also sought to maintain the racial/ethnic purity of one group and to maintain the rights of that ethnic group over others, and National Socialism, like Zionism, also proposed an almost mystical right of that group to a land. Also, both National Socialism and Zionism shared a common interest – to separate Jews from non-Jews, in this case to remove Jews from Europe – and actively co-operated in the attainment of this aim.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

On the Origins Of The Shebaa Farms and Much More

The question of the ownership of the the Farms is one that takes center stage on many issues on the domestic and regional levels plaguing Lebanon's development today. A while back, I dug up an article at the Ha'aretz titled Too Late For Their Own Good by Akiva Eldar published in July 2002, and can be accessed at the following link :
http://www.geocities.com/lorrrenzo13/pdf/Too_Late.pdf

The article mentions that an independent Israeli researcher travelled to the archives in Paris to discover the true ownership of the farms, the main conclusions of the article are:

1.The Farms were mistakenly drawn on the map which represented it as part of the Syrian territory, and

2.In light of the first point, Israel will not return the farms back to Lebanon as the government has the belief that Hizballa might find another excuse to retain it's weapons.

The Lebanese government should send a delegation to Paris and conduct this research, as it will clarify and resolve many issues:

1.If the Farms are indeed lebanese, then Israel is illegally occupying Lebanese territory in violation of U.N resolution 1559 which it stauchly stands behind.

2.The potential for disarming Hizballa by means of a political solution.

Why I explicitly mentioned the word potential in bold in my second point, is due to the following:

Suppose that Lebanon does conduct the research and that the identity of the Farms is actually Lebanese then, will Israel actually adhere to U.N resolution 1559 and withdraw from that area? According to the conclusions of the article, it does not have the incentive for such an action. So, it will invariably depend on whether Hizballa can credibly demonstrate that it will disarm upon the Israeli withdrawal. But by the same logic, can Israel demostrate that it will actually withdraw and not seek revenge whenever hizballa disarms? The nature of the interdependence existing in this issue- in my thought experiment- is that a commitment problem exists on both sides.

Your thoughts on the matter are all welcome.

A Brief History of Contemporary Lebanon

This is the best article on the issue I have ever read. Put aside demagogy, sectarianism, isolationism, or feel offended...then take 15 minutes to read and think.
Lebanon for Whom? By Paul Shaoul.


(Arabic Resource)
http://www.almustaqbal.com/stories.aspx?StoryID=192788

Lost Nerves Lost Minds

Editorial: Bashar Al Assad, the small dictator of Syria went on Dubai TV to retract his previous attacks on the Arabs, but ended up defending his original speech in ways that can only signal that the guy lost his mind. The fear is that Story of the Israeli spy Elie Cohen be repeated and that the Syrian nation pays the ultimate price for the foolish policies followed by its dictator.
In the past, the undercover job of Cohen led to the occupation of the Golan heights, so what will the new Cohen do this time? The new Cohen called Bashar who made his nation as isolated -in the Arab World- as the theocratic Jewish regime in occupied Palestine.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Beautiful South (Part 4)

Hi All,
This pic is the view of the north from Beaufort Castle. The houses in the pic are on the outskirts of the town of Arnoun. Also, beyond these houses is the end of the Mount Lebanon mountain range in the south.

U.S. State Dept. to Investigate Israeli use of Cluster Munitions

The NYTimes have just reported that the U.S. State Dept is to investigate reports that the IDF used cluster munitions against civilian targets and in populated areas in contradiction of an agreement signed between the U.S., which manufactures and supplies these munitions, and Israel. According to the article:
"In addition to investigating use of the weapons in southern Lebanon, the State Department has held up a shipment of M-26 artillery rockets, a cluster weapon, that Israel sought during the conflict, [the] officials said."
The NYTimes initially broke the story on that shipment (and we posted it) approximately a week before the end of the war. Although the actual agreement restricting the use of the munitions is classified, its existence is widely acknowledged.
This is not the first time the State Dept. takes action of this sort against Israel, according to the NYTimes:
"A Congressional investigation after Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon found that Israel had used the weapons against civilian areas in violation of the agreements. In response, the Reagan administration imposed a six-year ban on further sales of cluster weapons to Israel…the decision to impose what amounted to a indefinite moratorium was made under pressure from Congress, which conducted a long investigation of the issue. Israel and the United States reaffirmed restrictions on the use of cluster munitions in 1988, and the Reagan administration lifted the moratorium."
Howerver, analysts widely expect the current inquiry to lead to a far less aggressive response.

Video: Hizballah the Charity

This WashingtonPost video (9 mins) documents the aid effort conducted on the ground by Hizballah while the war was underway. It illustrates the preparedness and efficiency of the group in handling the situation and highlights the strong support its main constituency continues to give it.
What I appreciated about this video is that it clearly showed how the group cleverly maneuvers itself into a position in which it is the sole provider to its constituents. It is a clear illustration of both the hand that deprives and the hand that provides - something that I have talked about in previous posts.
More concretely, witness how the residents of Dahyeh complained that the were no NGOs (either domestic or international) that entered the worst affected areas of Dahyeh and that Hizballah was the only charity operating there, however, a casual acquaintance of the area is all you need to figure out that it is Hizballah that keeps all non-residents out (even in times of peace and even government officials) as the area is considered their 'security quarter'. Also witness the scene in the supermarket garage in which an American NGO is handing out food and water supplies and yet it is Hizballah that takes credit for the operation.
Watch the video and make up your own minds...
...then let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Israel Purchases 2 New Nuclear-Capable Submarines

Israel has purchased two new German-built Dolphin submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
The purchase, made Wednesday, brings the number of Israeli nuclear-capable submarines to 5 and cost an estimated $1.3 billion dollars.
In Germany, opposition members have criticized the government over the deal citing concerns that they had not obtained guarantees "the submarines would not be used to carry nuclear weapons".
According to the WashingtonPost, Germany payed one third of the costs for the deisel-electric powered submarines. The purchase is viewed as a response to what the Israelis view as Iran's continued efforts develop nuclear weapons.
Israel is believed to posses more than 200 nuclear warheads, making it the country with the sixth-largest stockpile of atomic arms in the world.

Amnesty Accuses Israel of War Crimes in Lebanon

Associated Press
LONDON -- Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes Wednesday, saying it broke international law by deliberately destroying Lebanon's civilian infrastructure during its recent war with Hezbollah guerrillas.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Japanese Aid Worker Commits Suicide in South Lebanon

"...the victim, who had been working in the southern village of Bint Jbeil, which was devastated during Israel's 34-day war against Hizbullah, suffered a nervous breakdown Wednesday and was transported to the main hospital in Tyre, where he jumped to his death from a third-floor window. "

Full story

The Beautiful South (Part3)

Hi All! This is the view from Beaufort Castle towards the north east which is in the direction of the mouth of the Bekaa valley. It is also part of where the Mount Lebanon range ends in the south, like a river flowing into an endless sea of overlapping hills. Enjoy :D.

Reconstruction Efforts

The war is over. Well, at least the part of the war where many lives are lost and 10-story building are being brought down by tons of explosives.

During the war, we all have heard the government pledge to rebuild homes and help the people who have lost it all to get their lives back together. We have seen Sinora and Berri tour the Dahye area and vowing to put back up all those buildings. My understanding is that considerable cash flow has already come into the country, cash which can back up those words of compassion uttered by our leaders.

Dear Lebanese Government,
What are you waiting for? Will the process only start after the money has been transferred through Jumblatt's Fund of the Displaced so that he can take his juicy share of the money? Or is the money held up somewhere else in the government due to red tape or other corrupt politicians? Maybe, after all, the money is only meant for state infrastructure and is not meant to help rebuild the private lives of the people.

Now is the time to compete with Hizballah. Hizballah, who is handing out $12'000 to people whose homes have been destroyed. The concept of a strong state amongst the Shiites, or for that matter any other community in Lebanon will not prevail if the government is being outperformed by Hizballah.

Can we blame the people for taking money from Hizballah? Can we blame them for inviting Hizballah engineers to their homes in order to assess the damage?

Of course the answer is that we cannot blame anyone for accepting such generous amounts of money and high quality services from anyone in such a time of need. Again, the state has failed and Hizballah has succeeded in entrenching their already massive support of the Shiites (and others) in Lebanon.

A sad kind of funny

Peace?

I’ve come across three articles that give perspective to the recent conflict between Israel and Hizb Allah, and how this conflict ties into a recent peace initiative between the Palestinians and Israel:

1.article by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.
2.article by Arthur Neslen.
3.article and a second by Arthur Neslen.

It’s interesting to note that the last prisoner exchange between Hizb Allah and Israel took place, when Sharon was functioning as prime minister of Israel in 2004, using German mediation. Moreover, there was no overt hostilities, such as a military campaign in 2004.

After reading these three articles, it seems that the Olmert government decided to go to “war” with Hizb Allah to hinder this new peace initiative that would have returned the captured IDF soldier in Gaza and kick started talks for a broader Palestinian-Israeli peace.

The worst part is, all the unnecessary death and destruction in Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon could have been avoided…

2006 Lebanon War - Demo for Iran

Here is an article I stumbled upon while researching for another post I am currently preparing. In it, author Seymour M. Hersh states that the White House not only knew of the planned air attack on Lebanon months beforehand, but that it green-lit it as a demo for eventual US preemptive strike on Iran. This goes to show you that the Israeli arm's reach is long indeed...

In an interview with Democracy Now, mr. Hersh says that the trap was laid out and all that was needed was for Hizbollah to spring it.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Beautiful South (Part 2)

Since I mentioned Beaufort Castle in my last post of the series, I thought it would be a nice idea to show you the Castle. This pic is taken from the east of the Castle from the Town of Arnoun.
Note that Beaufort Castle is also known as the Castle of Arnoun too, and that it is situated on the highest point in the south of Lebanon which makes it a strategic point of capture in any military event. Also, it has 7 stories undergground into the hill on which it is situatated. On another note: some historians say that the Crusader Reynaud De Sagette escaped the siege of the castle by Saladin back in the day via a network of underground tunnels that took him to the city port of Tyre, from where he was bound for Europe.

Quick Message to Readers

Hi Everyone,
We've started a few new sections in the blog's sidebar including:
  • Featured Posts: Contributors' Opinions and Analysi
  • Lebanese Blogosphere: Links to other Blogs dealing with the politics of Lebanon
  • Get Involved: Links to organisations trying to make a difference
  • My Beautiful South: Picture series highlighting Lebanon's jewel, the South

We hope these sections will add to your experience on this site and we look forward to stimulating and engaging discussions on the past, present, and future of this most remarkable of nations.


Note:
Due to the high volume of articles and comments posted by our contributors, not all posts have been shown on the front page of the blog. We recommend that our readers refer to the
August 2006 Archives for a complete listing of this month's posts. After clicking on the above link simply scroll down and enjoy.

Thank you.

...and life goes on?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ralph Nader on Lebanon

Below are links to two open letters U.S. Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader wrote to U.S. President George W. Bush concerning the war in Lebanon. The first letter was written at the onset of the war (July 17th) while the second - more scathing - letter was written approximately one week after the fragile UN ceasefire was put in place (August 22nd). In the letters Mr. Nader outlines a wide variety of arguments against the policy Mr. Bush has pursued in the Middle East, especially noteworty are the points he makes about the legitimacy and legality of some of those actions and policies. Both letters - and the first one especially - are very interesting reads and aren't really as long as they look!
Born to parents of Lebanese descent, Mr. Nader has dedicated his life to consumer advocacy. He is America's leading 'customer crusader' and has taken on countless corporations (e.g. GM, Beoing, Citigroup, etc..) in the pursuit of safe products and equitable policies.

Turkey Intercepts Arms Shipments to Hizballah!

Turkey has forced down 5 Iranian and 1 Syrian aircraft on suspicion of transporting arms to Hizballah. The last airplane to be intercepted reportedly landed in Diyarbakir airport last Thursday (August 17th) at 18:30. The first interception reportedly took place on July 20th, and was instigated by U.S. intelligence reports and satellite imagery showing the loading of missile launchers and missiles onto a plane destined for Damascus. The U.S. government reportedly pressured the Iraqi government into denying the plane entry into its airspace thereby forcing it to divert to Turkey. Upon requesting entry into Turkish airspace the Iranian plane was given approval given it would submit to a cargo search at Diyarbakir airport, it refused and returned to Iranian territory.
Below is an excerpt from the DailyStar article I first read this in:
"…a Turkish daily reported Monday that Turkish authorities have prevented five Iranian airplanes and a Syrian aircraft from flying into Lebanon, suspecting them of transporting arms to Hizbullah.

The Turkish newspaper reported that one of the aircraft Ankara forced to land at the Diyarbakir airport in eastern Turkey belongs to a private Iranian airline. According to Hurriyet and other reports in Turkish media, the aircraft was not allowed to leave Diyarbakir for Lebanon, after US intelligence reports indicated the plane carried three missile launchers and containers with Chinese C-802 land-to-sea missiles, identical to the missile that hit an Israel Navy battleship in July.
The detained aircraft entered Turkish airspace after having been prevented from flying over Iraq. Turkish authorities would not elaborate on whether these actions are part of a new policy. It is believed that Ankara has acquiesced to American and Israeli requests to impose stricter surveillance on the passage of Iranian aircraft and their cargo."
Turkey is one of the nations being heavily engaged by the international community in the hopes that it will contribute troops to the UN Multinational Force to be deployed in southern Lebanon.


Read More:

The Beautiful South( An Appendix)

Hi All,
I thought that an appendix to the series I am presenting will suffice in helping many viewers as to the geographic location of the part of the south of lebanon that I toured. The green circle marks the area and X marks the spot for Beauforte Castle. I credit this map to Wikipedia**. Please note, Wikipedia does illustrate on it's map that the Shebaa Farms are in the Golan Heights(Annexed part of Syria since 1967 by Israel). The Origins of the Farms is still a subject of dispute, and this map does not reflect my view on the matter.




**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shebaa_Farm

The Beautiful South (Part 1)

Hi All,
I am setting up a multi-part piece featuring pictures from my tour in southern Lebanon prior to the conflict. This feature will be updated with a new pic each day.

Details of the pic:
This pic was taken from Beauforte Castle in the south eastern part of the country which is roughly within 20 kilometers of Metulla on the Litani river. The pic was taken from on top of Beauforte Castle towards the south east. You can see parts of north east Israel and the extreme south east of Lebanon. Also, this is where alot of the heavy fighting took place between Hizballa and the IDF. Enjoy. :D.

PS. If you have any questions regarding the pics that I will post, don't hesitate to comment and I will reply asap.

Al Jarallah's Take

Editorial in Arabic:
quote: why did hizbo pay brides in US dollars the money of "big Satan" according to them, instead of paying out in Lebanese pounds, especially that the pound is under tremendous sell-off pressures now. Why did the Iranian money come to a party at the expense of the government...Why this ridiculous sum of money that doesn't compare to the real costs. Why why


(Arabic Resource)

A Hasty Declaration of Victory

On the first day (after the truce) hizbo declared victory. However, since then their fervor has been winding down as the populace and their base in particular got to see the real damage inflicted by Israel. Now they are whispering, as we say in Lebanon: Ba3ed el Sakra ijit el Fakra. Guess they realized it wasn't a real victory after all. This explains why their initial plan for a victory ceremony was scraped.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Roundtable Discussion on the MNF in Lebanon

The WashingtonPost has a segment titled PostGlobal in which a panel of experts and career international journalists attempt to answer questions related to contemporary international issues.

I've posted the links to all the articles and responses posted by panel members to the question of:
How can the new international force do a better job than the old UNIFIL at stabilizing Lebanon and preventing future attacks on Israel? Should the U.N. force insist on disarming Hezbollah?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The 2% joke

Iran should be paying a lot more than the $200 million for destroyed homes. This sum of money is a joke compared to the real costs of the war which amount to $10000 millions. At least if they wanna buy loyalties, buy em up properly with petro-dollars gained when the war artificially increased the price of crude oil.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Video of Marjayoun Tea Party

Below is the link to the CNN video report showing the footage of Israeli and Lebanese officers sharing a cup of tea in the Lebanese Internal Security Forces barracks in the town of Marjayoun.

According to accounts on the ground, following the airing of the video by Israeli Channel 2, and then by Hizballah's Al Manar Television Station, the General in question was put under house arrest pending further investigation. There were attempted interventions on his behalf by the displaced residents of the town who claimed that the General had helped them obtain food, water, and medical supplies throughout the hostilities and up until the invasion and forced evacuation of the town.
Despite allowing a convoy of close to 1,000 vehicles to leave the town - under UNIFIL and Lebanese Army supervision - the Israelis still bombed it causing the death of seven people, a number of them officers under the General's command. The Israelis later claimed they were not aware of the any authorization being given for the convoy to proceed, I think this video proves that the IDF was fully aware of all movements in and out of the town and were fully in control of the situation. Those people in the convoy were killed in cold blood...like the countless other Lebanese civilians and Army soldiers throughout this conflict.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Analysis: Bashar's Speech

The following article presents an excellent analysis of the international politics that led up to UNSC Resolution 1701 in relation to the Syrian position, and also provides an interesting perspective on the fiery speech given by Syria's President following the announcement of the resolution and the stop in the fighting:

For a full transcript of Bashar Al Assad's speech go to:
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m25813&l=i&size=1&hd=0

Pictures: Southern Suburbs of Beirut

These pictures were taken by a friend of mine the day after the end of the fighting. Him and another friend drove down to the bombed out southern suburbs of Beirut and, despite the terrible of stench of rotting garbage and flesh, managed to take the following pictures:


The specific area in the pictures above is known as Hadath and was the site of a terrible tragedy after an Israeli jet fired rockets into a residential building completely destroying it and causing the deaths of 41 civilians. No leaflets were dropped on this neighborhood urging the residents to flee before the strike.

My friends were not allowed to enter some areas of the southern suburbs, namely Dahyieh and Hara, as those areas were declared to be a 'security zone' by armed Hizballah members. It is the area in which the Israelis believed the Hizballah bunkers to be.


Note: The yellow symbol on the back of the shirt of the man in the foreground is in the shape of the emblem of Syrian Socialist National Party, a party whose sole purpose is to bring Syrian rule to Lebanon and whose members make an important intelligence source for the Syrian regime.

According to Hizballah sources, as reported on Naharnet, the security zone was established in order to prevent looting, and as can be seen in the following picture residents were allowed to enter the area:


The sources also pointed out that they had begun clean up, and rubble removal operations in the affected areas as witnessed by some of the cleared streets in the above pictures. According to another friend, the yellow tape put up by Hizballah apparently has written on it: Divine Victory.

And finally, I couldn't believe it when I first saw it in a picture I received in an email but these pictures below prove it:


Only one or two days after the declaration of the ceasefire, these massive commercial posters riddled the entrances to the Hizballah controlled areas. The poster in the second picture literally translates into "Victory from God" and is a play of words on Hizballah leader Nasrallah's name which itself means God's Victory.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Israel doesn't want the Alawite regime to Fall

Israel doesn't want the alawite regime in Syria to fall. The zionist lobby in the US is pushing hard the Bush administration to refrain from changing the regime. It seems the US took up the Israeli advice and is holding back on its plans to change the regime for now. Israel is convinced that the alawite regime serves its interests. Afterall, it was this same regime that sold it the Golan back in 1967 for a sum of money, and that kept it quiet and calm since 1974. Any other regime might be willing to use a resistance to regain the plateau.

(Arabic Resource)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Analysis of the Aftermath

Currently, the cease-fire is a few days old and surprisingly still exists in its uncertain form. From the lack of major incidents since monday morning, one can deduce that both sides have shed a lot of blood and are too exhausted to continue fighting, especially Hizballah due to their smaller manpower. As a result, the dust is settling and new questions and scenarios are emerging.

What have we gained through this war and what have we lost?

There are numerous points which one can list and here are the most important ones. The Shebaa farms issue is finally on the discussion table at the U.N and with good behaviour we will probably get that piece of land back (as long as Syria signs it over to us). We still have the Israeli soldiers which will be negotiated for the release of some of our countrymen. The Lebanese army is sending 15'000 troops to the South as well as 15'000 U.N forces belonging to friendly nations. That will help loosen the grip that Hizballah has in the South.

This is important for Lebanon as it is very easy to create conflict in a country where you have an entire chunk of the country influenced by a single party. This situation is not unique to Hiballah but can be perfectly extended to Jumblatt's grip on the Chouf or to a lesser extent the Lebanese Forces' grip on certain areas in the mountains. The only difference between the above mentioned parties is Hizballah's military strength. Moreover, the government of Lebanon can be taken more seriously than in the beginning of July, primarly due to the decision of sending its own troops to the South.

So all these new developments technically should sound decent, right?

Unfortunately, the subject becomes rather sketchy when Hizballah's disarmament is dicussed. We all know that disarming Hizballah right now is impossible. To disarm an organization, especially one which is now more widely respected and admired than ever, immediately after a successful military campaign does not make sense even to the most ardent Hizballah opponents. This process should be done slowly and through sensitive internal diplomacy. Luckily no time frame for disarming Hizballah is mentioned in U.N.S.C Resolution 1701

Right now all we have to do is to influence Hizballah to such a degree that they will at least withdraw to north of the Litani and/or make sure that all weapons and fighters in the South go dark for a very long time. The Lebanese state, by showing the world that it has some kind of weight in pushing Hizballah into the right direction, will then also have found in Hizballah an extremely powerful bargaining chip vis-a-vis the international community. We could bargain the West for upgrading our army to some degree and bargain for money in order for the government to rebuild the country, especially since the other great contributor of aid will be Hizballah, paying with Iran's credit card. Hizballah promised large sums of money, in the thousands of dollars, to people who have lost their homes in order for them to secure housing for this coming year. As mentioned over and over again, the Lebanese state has to become the one to provide those services in order for them to gain the trust of the Shia community and disrupt their habit of turning to Hizballah when in need of social services. Nothing against Hizballah's social services, as they have helped countless people in the past, but it is not the place of a political party but rather the duty of the state to distribute such services. Unless the state is unable or unwilling to....as the Lebanese state was in the past. Now were Hizballah actually to pay those sums they promised the people rendered homeless due to the war, then the Lebanese government could never compete with them. The only way for the government to play the role of the grand beneficiary would be with lots of money from our friends in the world, and not only to rebuild destroyed infrastructure but also the thousands of homes which were destroyed.

The price which we paid for those new alternatives is rather huge, many lives were lost and many homes destroyed. Our coastline is one huge oil slik and every single Lebanese has been affected by this war, be it by the inconvenience of power rationing.

What makes implementing those new options difficult is the fact that Hizballah is dancing a victory dance. They basically knocked the Israelis out. The Israelis, with the most sophisticated weapons which exist in today's world, could not manage to take over towns such as Bint Jbail after 2 weeks of fighting. Hizballah's underground bunkers are still intact and most of their missiles are most probably still existant.

They are a very powerful force to reckon with, but ultimately they are going to be to disarmed. That will take a while but with diplomacy and patience, this too can be achieved. Finally, for Lebanon's sake, not only Hizballah should be disarmed but all other (ex)-militias as well. Those other parties (LF, PSP) might not have Hizballah's vast arsenal, but they still have small weaponry and the personell to operate them.

Give Me My Space

I would like to tackle to essencial issue so as not to fall pray to the propaganda bullshit machine of the demagogue talk (bla bla bla bla...) like the language of hassoun's defenders.

A few days ago there was a discussion in the government among some ministers and they brought up the issue of weaponry in the hand of militiamen. Yet, hizbo made a big deal of out it, and the motherfuckers in the propaganda machine started their work culminating with the speech of the Arnab (or the Assad if you like) yesterday. I strongly believe that the leb people have every right to criticize hizbo and ask it to lay down arms and and put an end the militia rule and the state within the state, because it caused us ruin. As a matter of fact there can only be one, and in the choice between the militia and the state, we choose the state.

Concerning rebuilding efforts, the speech of hassoun about it has 2 connotations. First, admitting guilt, second, a fear to lose popularity at the base level. So as they already tried to do during the crisis, hizbo will deny access to those people by any one, be it the state or NGOs. The state funds will be disbursed within a culture of entiltement, where partisans will be encouraged to take and spit on the giving hand. All of this is the strategy to maintain the state within the state logic.

This war was imposed on all of Lebanon and yet now we are supposed to be carefully with our choice of words??? No way.

Now coming to the silly talk stating that this war was prepared in advance, I reckon that it has no meaning whatsoever, and I'll explain why. First, one cannot expect any state in the world with a hostile militia on its borders not to have contigency plans, especially a warmonger state like Israel. As a matter of planning they always make plans even for remote senarios, and even in the days of peace. So this is a constant in their policy and nothing new. Plus since 2000, the build up and bigheaded talk coming from hizbo put this militia under the Israeli microscope and it formed a natural call for Israel to attack it at a future point (This would not have been the case if the government sent the Army to the south and dismantled the militia). Second, even if it was prepared, hizbo gave them a big big big excuse, a freeby that led the whole world (except the Arab one and some Muslim nations), to have one message: "Israel has the right to defend itself". Third, if they knew the aggression was imminent, then they committed a serious crime because they didn't prepare the civilians for war and didn't warn the innocents who were crushed like flies on the roads in absence of shelters and bunkers, while the leadership of hizbo left to Damascus or went underground into caves and bunkers and left their supporters+Lebanese populace to face hell and fire.

So please, for God's sake spare me silly arguments and give me my open space to put my finger where it hurts.

Part II: Talking to Hizballah's Supporters

In Lebanon things aren’t any different, except that in Lebanon we have a multitude of political cultures and psyches. This is the reason that after 30 years of war and occupation, people in Aschrafieh, Qoreitem, and Ouzai all have hugely varying opinions on what has happened over the past month, not to mention the past few decades! It is the view that Lebanon has been victorious, that Hizballah is right to do what it did, and that Hizballah should retain the right to do it again that I take issue with.

I’m taken back to December 12th (I think it was) when, immediately following the assassination of MP Gebran Tueni, the Lebanese cabinet quickly moved to secure a demand for an international tribunal to try those who would be implicated in his and previous assassinations – most notably that of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Claiming that the ‘March 14th’ element of the cabinet had acted unilaterally in passing the cabinet resolution, two Hizballah ministers, along with the other Shiite members of cabinet, brought the government and the entire country to a virtual standstill for three months. To those who supported this boycott I ask: Wasn’t plunging the entire nation into a war it did not want a unilateral action? If the boycotting the government was a legitimate reprisal to such a move, I ask you what should be the response to more than $2 billion worth of damage and 900 dead?

I understand why Shiites support Hizballah. The historical neglect and quasi-oppression faced by the sect – not just in Lebanon but across the entire Middle East – has made their ascent to power ever sweeter. This ascent was captured in the signing of the Taef Accords and in the rise of Amal and Hizballah. Therein lies the secret of the Shiite community’s psychological ability to tolerate those two groups. These two groups, that have forced the community into a state of lackeydom through cultural hegemony, corruption, social and political oppression, and countless other tools of authoritarian governance, are the symbols of the Lebanese Shiites’ rise from neglect; the Syrian-dominated regime of the past 15 years that supported them was the regime of their rise; and Hizballah’s expelling of the Israelis from the South and the weapons with which they did it was the legacy left by their rise to the generations to come.

Too dramatic? Maybe, but not any less true. These factors form one of two integral pillars in the mentality of the Shiite community’s support for Hizballah, the second pillar is made up of the material and more tangible contributions of Hizballah to the community members’ everyday lives.
For the rest of the Lebanese there is only one way to reconcile this ‘Shiite Renaissance’ with the deeply rooted establishments of the Lebanon of the past. That way relies on us moving forward towards a political equation that guarantees equality, democracy, sovereignty, stability, and security for the nation as a whole, in such a way as to minimize the importance of sectarianism when compared to the nation that guarantees all of the above. Of course, the toughest question one can ask after such a statement is how? To this question I say there is an answer! But I won’t post it here today.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Part I: Talking to Israel

Flipping through the thousands upon thousands of pages of commentaries, news articles, blogs, and editorials from a wide spectrum of view points I’ve tried to really understand how and why there seems to be such disagreement on everything! What I’ve really taken issue with is the following: the Israeli moderate public’s opinion about the war, and statements by Lebanese people supporting what Hizballah did and the celebratory mood of Hizballah’s supporters following the cessation of hostilities.

The biggest damage done to Israel as a result of this war has been that done to the Israeli people’s psyche. These people have reconciled themselves with living in the most turbulent part of the world – with emigrating to this place – by convincing themselves that their military has the will and the power to crush any threat that emerges to their existence. For them, the concept of a military loss to a neighboring party – especially Hizballah, given the damage its resistance efforts had already inflicted on the Israeli public’s psyche – has been traumatizing. Dr. Ronnie Berger, a clinical psychologist and founder of Psychologists Without Borders, is quoted in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz as saying:

"It's not only that we didn't prepare for this war…but that people here are still harboring a feeling that the army will be victorious, and when they acknowledge that this mock army of Hezbollah is not so weak, they snap. All the primeval fears about the world seeking our destruction surface, the connection to the Holocaust is subsequently made, and this causes people to sink into despair."

It is this mentality that has been a major obstacle in Arab-Israeli relations, not on the state-to-state level, but on the popular level. Despite years of peace and economic trade, it would still be nearly impossible to find an average Egyptian man/woman capable of understanding the reasoning process of an average Israeli man/woman when it came to politics and security. This condition is a symptom of the political mentality present in both populations. In relations with their Arab neighbors, the Israeli public strongly believes that they must approach any talks or dealings with a superior hand, with an ability to dictate – and not negotiate – terms. This view has dominated Israel’s regional politics since the death of their greatest peacemaker, Yitzhak Rabin. It has also dominated their judgement and analysis of other countries’ actions on the ground.

Reading comments and posts found on some Israeli blogs I found that the most recurrent theme amongst their moderates was that Lebanon should assume its responsibilities and deploy its army to the South, and that the Lebanese had a chance to disarm Hizballah and didn’t. This second point took two forms depending on the authors knowledge and understanding of Lebanese and regional politics; those more familiar with the situation argued this was the case after the Cedar Revolution and Syria’s withdrawal from the country in 2005; others contended that that action should have been taken after Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. What all of these people failed to realize was that the Lebanese government was in fact working towards that goal – since the Cedar Revolution – but that it was working towards it in a way that was different than the one advocated by Israel (and the U.S.). They failed, and still fail, to realize that even if moderates in Lebanon want the same thing as those everywhere else, the actions taken in Lebanon can’t be dictated or done in the manner that Israel (or any other country) would wish them to be done. Lebanon is a country with a unique set of circumstances, and one through which actions only work when they are purely Lebanese in nature.
Through this war Israel had a chance to really push forward both its own and Lebanon’s wish to live in peace. The fact that this didn’t happen is a symptom of this chasm in the psyches of the two populations! In Lebanon, there was a thrust, by the moderate government in place, to capitalize on the abduction of the two IDF soldiers and move against Hizballah, to disarm the group, and assert the government’s sole sovereignty over the entirety of Lebanon’s territory. This is exactly what the Israelis claim they have always wanted from Lebanon and what they thought they would achieve through this offensive. To them, however, this war was a valid method of achieving this goal! To me, the best policy might have been for the Israelis to have given the government a chance to intervene to secure the release of those abducted soldiers under threat of a war, but to the Israeli public – the IDF believed – any lack of immediate military action would look like weakness in the face of Israel’s enemies. There had to be a maintenance of the military upper hand, of the dictation. So even though in this case both the majority of Lebanese and the majority of Israelis both wanted the same thing, this difference in how each perceives the world led to a massive loss of life and property.
I know it’s a bit weird reading this, for me it’s a bit weird writing it as I personally don’t like making generalizations. But I don’t think this is a generalization, what I’ve been talking about is a sort of general psychological culture that has been bread throughout the Israeli population that helps them deal with everyday life. Some people adhere to it more than others, some in Israel completely reject it, but I think its fair to consider this as being an affliction of the national psyche.
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