June 11, 2006

Lebanese-Israeli Dialogue

Quite a few Lebanese and Israelis have been arguing amongst themselves in my comments section. I'm happy to host this discussion, and I want to encourage more of it. It doesn't take place nearly often enough (thanks to reactionary laws against such "fraternizing" behavior), and I think many mainstream Lebanese and Israelis would discover they are natural allies if this could somehow continue on a mass scale and it certain outstanding issues could be resolved.

Considering that the two peoples are still formally at war with each other I'm impressed with the quality of dialogue - especially considering how hyserical and extreme so many people are about the Arab-Israeli conflict in general. (I know of no subject in this world more likely to make an otherwise reasonable and intelligent person plunge head-first into a fever swamp than this one.) The arguments here are considerably more civil and worth reading than, say, the vast majority of arguments in the blogosphere between liberal and conservative Americans. Whether this speaks well of the Lebanese and Israelis here, or whether it reflects badly on the abysmal quality of American political discourse, I'll leave for you to decide.

Anyway, I'd like to republish a letter to Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah (it first appeared in Beirut's Daily Star) that Lebanese blogger Lira posted in my comments section for Israelis to read. I find that Lebanese public opinion too often gets unfairly lumped in with the unhinged points of view found far more often in the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, and Syria. Americans (and Israelis?) left and right still have a hard time believing that Hezbollah has been marginalized by the majority. Hopefully this will help. If you don't believe me, listen to them.
Dear Mr. Nasrallah,

I am a Lebanese citizen with no affiliation to any political party.

What have I done for Lebanon: I have served for 18 months on two World Bank & IMF development projects aimed at restructuring the Lebanese State Administration.

I have no relations with any embassies or ambassadors.I have no relations with Israel nor with any Western country.

I hope that my credentials fit the profile of whom you deem acceptable to criticize the Hezbollah.

Mr. Nasrallah, I would like to tell you that myself and thousands of other Lebanese do not believe that in 2005 with all that has happened in Lebanon from 1975, we do not believe that violence is the best solution with an entity like Israel.

We would like to ask you to refrain from trying to capture any individual, be it a civilian or a military, be it an Israeli, a Westerner or anyone for that matter.

We understand the plight that we have with Israel's detaining of several Lebanese prisoners, we are facing the same with Syria which is politically detaining many Lebanese in its jails. We however do not believe in kidnapping Syrian soldiers or civilians to force the Syrian government to release the Lebanese that it detains. We know that such a move will bring severe military and economic retaliation from the Syrians and prefer to act in peaceful and diplomatic venues.

We hope that you understand that doing the same with an entity like Israel will cause severe military and economic backlash to the whole of the Lebanese Republic. I must stress also that our demands should cover Lebanese citizens per se, since nationals of other Arab countries should be recovered by their own governments, would you not agree? Would you not agree that Lebanon, as a small country, should relatively follow up on his own citizens and that other Arab nations which are stronger and more resourceful, that they should seek to get back their own nationals? Where is their duty towards them?

It is good to know that your orders are coming from Beirut, but are they coming from the Lebanese Republic? Are they coming from Mr. Sanioura or from the Commander of the Lebanese Army? If so, the Lebanese Army is never issuing any statements on your operations, they never claim to coordinate with you on your attacks, who is issuing your orders in Beirut?

We do not believe that the Syrian Baathist regime "freed" us from occupation. In fact more than 1.5 Million people believe that the Syrian army was occupying us.

We would like to remind you that International Law is above everyone. That the United Nations, while far from being perfect, are still the one and only institution recognized by all countries of the world, including Iran and Syria that are both cooperating with the UN on a number of issues.

We understand your enmity with Israel but could not accept the fact that you call death to the United States of America. You can show your hostility and disagreement with the policies of the United States Government but for the sake of international accountability, do not call for death on any country on our behalf or in the streets of our beautiful country who has given you the freedom of speech.

While the world is not perfect Mr. Nasrallah, we Lebanese deserve to live in peace after all this time. Your weapons and your aggressive policies are preventing us from doing so.

We do not believe that you are able to defend the country against a major Israeli offensive.

We do not believe that you are able to prevent Israel from destroying Lebanese infrastructure.

We do not believe in your claim that the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese.

Please respect our diverging points of view and refrain from using any military means that should be limited to the Lebanese National Army. We would highly appreciate it if you could comply to Lebanese laws and hand your weapons to the Lebanese authorities.

Thank you
I should add an update so she won't get pounced on in the comments. I asked her why she criticized Nasrallah's "Death to America" slogan but not his "Death to Israel" slogan. Here is her answer:
I am a supporter of a 2-state solution in Palestine; my own convictions about whether the state of Israel is rightfull or not will not influence my decision to have peace with this country, this is what's best for Lebanon and we need to communicate with the Israelis in order to reach such a solution.

Criticizing the "death to Israel" slogans would also have been too much in a reply such as mine tipping the balance to a pro-Israel article that would be viewed negatively by many readers at a moment where the memory of Israel's crimes in Lebanon is still very vivid in their memories.

America has not and is not administering death to Lebanon in the same manner Israel did and still are in some sense. Regardless of the views of Hezbollah militants, they remain Lebanese and I understand where they come from while being a staunch critic of many of their antics. The leadership of HA and its allegiance to the Syrian and Iranian regimes is an entirely different ballgame.

Finally, maybe when Israel's name and existence stops being so synonymous of death and violence, I might criticize those who call "death to america" in the same manner than those who say "death to israel"....the intensity of objection is different.

Lest you think Lira represents only a miniscule minority of public opinion in Lebanon, here are some things to consider:

In a online poll at the Web site of the Free Patriotic Movement (the most popular Christian movement in Lebanon, but also fairly inclusive of disgruntled Shia who can't stomach the Amal and Hezbollah parties), 78 percent voted for peace with Israel under certain conditions.

In another online poll at the Web site of the Future Movement (the most popular Sunni political party in Lebanon headed by Saad Hariri), respondents answered this way on the question of peace with Israel:
Yes and Now: 34.38 percent

Yes but after israel get out of shebaa valleys: 37.50 percent

Yes but after palestinian case is solved: 12.50 percent

No peace with Israel: 6.25 percent

Israel should be erased from the world: 9.38 percent

These polls are obviously not scientific. But I think they show that Lebanese public opinion isn't some monolithic anti-Zionist hate machine. Dialogue with Lebanese is possible. One of these days it can and probably will take place beyond the comments section of blogs.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 11, 2006 04:10 PM

Comments

Thanks for posting this Michael. And thanks for Lira for writing it. At a time when I'm discouraged by both Israelis, Palestinians and even the Israeli peace camp (to which I belonged), it is good to read something like this.

Lira was right not to speak against death to Israel. It is necessary that her voice be as effective as possible.

Posted by: Micha at June 11, 2006 05:35 PM

Lisa is completely sensical here. All too rare in this hysterical atmosphere. Yet it would be completely believable that this earnest statement will fall on blind eyes and deaf ears. That's my brain talking. But my heart is still hoping that this new "discussion" you refer to will get some traction. Sure does seem like there's a lot more hot spots of violent confrontations than I can remember in my lifetime, Nam era included. It sure does make me worry that WWIII is in the making. What keeps that nightmare at bay is all the discordance in evidence. Muslims are splintered into a bewildering hodgepodge of tribal alliances. They are actually killing each other, which at least the Euros and Americans haven't succombed to as yet, no matter how much they, we, are at each other's throat lately. That's over the top, but you hopefully know what I mean. Seems like everybody's got a beef with someone else. Where's old Rodney King when we need him?

Posted by: allan at June 11, 2006 10:43 PM

Lira was right not to speak against death to Israel. It is necessary that her voice be as effective as possible.

This is so ludicrous as to be almost funny!(And there's plenty of absurdity out there to choose from.) Profiles in courage, indeed!

DEATH TO ISRAEL!!!

(I mean, why not, as long as we're establishing our credentials for thoughtfulness, reasonableness and discernment---and yes, effectiveness too.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 11, 2006 11:33 PM

At the end of the day, who on Earth would rather live in a state of war than in a state of peace? The thing is though, that a just, fair, and lasting peace is the one that we seek to achieve. One that doesn't effect our pride and dignity.

Why should Lebanon bear the burden of continuing this hollow version of Arab Nationalism while one of the most powerful Arab countries (Egypt) decided many years ago to look out for its own interests and do what it felt it had to do? Surely a country of 70 million is more suited for such a fight than a nation of 4 million.

So while many nations (including Israel) enter the 21st century knowledge economy, why should we continue to be held back from our full potential by those that can't grasp the realities of the changing world around us?

Lebanon played its part in the struggle, so no one can accuse us of betraying the cause, because we suffered more than any other Arab country in its fight. Now it is time that our sacrifices are acknowledged are we start to move forward at great speed towards our destiny of being an example of coexistance among different religions and ways of life for others in the world to follow.

Posted by: Omega80 at June 11, 2006 11:46 PM

She writes:

"We would like to remind you that International Law is above everyone."

I suspect Hizbollah, a non-secular party, would disagree with this. Do they consider Israel to be an Islamic waqf as Hamas do?

N

Posted by: Neil at June 12, 2006 12:21 AM

I would like to thank Lira and Omega80 for responding to my invitation on this thread. For reference, here is what they said:

Lira: The Israelis invaded Lebanon out of their perceived need (correctly or incorrectly) to self defense, and will not accept large numbers of Palestinian refugees for the same reason, and that that's their right, because all people have the right to self defense.

This however does not make it right that those Palestinians will not all return to their homeland, but we as Lebanese are ready to accept around 50,000 to 75,000 refugees while the other 400,000 should be divided between Israel, the Arab states and Western countries (not in particular order).

However Israel and the US must cooperate and help us in providing such a solution, along with such arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia (admitantly the 2 most powerful Arabs), all of the above share a responsibility in the Palestinian refugees issue and Lebanon has paid alot because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Our view is that a 2-state solution of Palestine/Israel as a fair solution .

Omega80: Obviously Israel invaded Lebanon because they thought it would bolster Israel's security by dealing with the PLO and putting a favorable President in power in Lebanon. It is not chance that the invasion occured during a Presidential election year in Lebanon.

"Even they can't recognize the humanity of Israelis long enough to let them defend themselves from people who want to murder them."

It seems that you have fallen into this trap that you speak of, otherwise, why do you only view Hezbollah as a terrorist organization? Why can't/won't you view it as a group that defended and fought for the liberation of Southern Lebanon? Just as you are entitled to fight for your security and freedom, so are we.

However, like I said, the war is over now and there is no reason for it to come back. Maybe one day we can even do business together.

Now, I would like to say, first and foremost, that this is an attitude that Israel can surely work with, and if Lira can deliver the Arabs to support her plan, surely Israel will comply and there will be peace in the Middle East.

But I cannot help feeling the weight of asymmetry pressing down on me. Almost all Israelis fully understand the Lebanese right, as human beings, to self-defense. Yet Lira and Omega80 don't acknowledge this right, they merely assert that Israel will, in fact, take these actions. It makes me sad that while Israelis must defend their actions by showing how they in fact acted in self defense, Lira and Omega80 defend their actions by showing how other Arab nations gave up "the struggle" in their own self interest, therefore Lebanon is entitled to do so likewise.

So I will now, I hope clearly and unequivocally, give Lira and Omega80 what I would like to hear from them.

Lebanon has every right to act in its own self defense. The right to self defense supercedes all other rights. Any action which Lebanon genuinely sees as self defense is a moral act, regardless of the truth of their perception.

In other words, if someone threatens you with a toy gun, and you kill him, this is a morally justifiable act of self defense, since you perceived the gun as real. As far as I know, this is the law in every country in the world, and it applies here too. The standard of evidence used in such a case is whether the person in question could "reasonably think" that his life was in danger.

You can debate forever whether Israel's invasion of Lebanon was correct, and the debate continues in Israel to this day. But it should be without doubt that Israel could "reasonably think" that the overtly-hostile PLO mini-state in Lebanon was a dangerous threat. There should be no doubt about Israel's moral right to attack an entity that is officially and overtly at war with Israel.

Of course, the converse is also true, if Lebanon can "reasonably think" that Israel is a danger, then it has a moral right to defend itself.

Having gotten that out of the way, we can turn our attention to reality. Is Israel really a danger to Lebanon? It is my opinion that it is not, and never was. The real danger to Lebanon is first and foremost its internal politics, second Syria. The PLO used to be on this list, but thanks to the Israelis, it is no longer.

PS: For the record, Lira, I think that your letter was perfectly okay for a Lebanese audience. You debate the points that you might win, and concede the points you can't. But for this forum, it leaves very much to be desired.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 02:29 AM

Yawafi, what is it exactly that you seek more while we're still "at war"?

Feel free to outline your vision of the things that need to be achieved from both sides in order to attain peace.

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 03:21 AM

while we're still "at war"

Lebanon is at war with Israel. Israel is not at war with Lebanon. As soon as Lebanon stops being at war with Israel, Israel and Lebanon with be at peace.

My vision? That Lebanon will end its senseless war with Israel.

That's all.

And yes, I realize, that as a practical matter, Lebanon can't do that until it fixes some of its own internal problems. But at least you can acknowledge this instead of blaming Israel.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 04:24 AM

As you have noticed I have specifically noted in many of my comments that all parties share responsibility.

Your vision should be practical, we should help each others in achieving peace, how can Israel help us along with the US in achieving peace?

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 04:39 AM

But how can Lebanon stop being at war with Israel?

Israel may have exited Lebanon (though one can argue about Sheba Farms---i.e., sacred Lebanese territory); but Israel continues to occupy Arab lands---the West Bank, Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheva, etc.

It is Israel's existence---and her intransigent insistence on continuing to exist (and occupy Arab lands)---which is the cause of the conflict. Hizbullah, member in good standing in the sovereign government of Lebanon, understands this. Hamas too. And the Iranians. And many Palestinians and Jordanians and Egyptians. Even quite a few Israelis, most of them academics.

Why is it so difficult for others to understand?

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 12, 2006 04:46 AM

Lira,

Once Lebanon recognizes Israel as its ally, not its enemy, a world of possibilities opens up. Ganging up on Syria and Hizballa is an obvious place to begin.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 05:09 AM

Yawafi I hope that you realize that there are different political masses in Lebanon, those "ganging" on Syria and Iran and the others with neutral positions or pro-US, pro-Israel.

How does Israel and the US help the non "gangers" in achieving peace?

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 05:49 AM

Lira,

Sanity is an unequivocal commitment to the truth, no matter how hard. The Middle East is insane because so many people here are not committed to the truth.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 06:00 AM

Yafawi, how about working together to reach that unequivocality or do you want us to do it on our own? :)

Working together will be much better IMO.

The truth is viewed by many parties differently, let's work it out... How can Israel and the US help in forming an independent Lebanese team to negotiate with Israel on peace?

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 06:24 AM

The truth is viewed by many parties differently, let's work it out...

Isn't that what we're doing?

How can Israel and the US help in forming an independent Lebanese team to negotiate with Israel on peace?

If it were up to me, I'd accept your previous proposal, and I think that Israel would too.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 06:44 AM

Lira: what do you think ordinary Israelis can do to help ordinary Lebanese achieve peace?

Posted by: ilana at June 12, 2006 07:25 AM

Ilana, they can start by unlabeling Hezbollah as "terrorists".

Please understand that keeping on calling Hezb militants as terrorists makes it very hard for us Lebanese to deal with the party.

Hezb is entrenched in a large segment of the Lebanese population, mainly the Shiites, and their relationship is substantially developed. Quoting Rami Khoury:

Hizbullah's credibility and power have rested on five broad pillars: delivering basic social-welfare needs mainly to Shiite communities in different parts of Lebanon; resisting and ending the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon; being part of the Iranian-inspired pan-Islamic movement that also challenges American hegemonic aims; providing efficient, noncorrupt governance at the local level; and, more recently, emerging as the main representative and protector of Shiite communal interests within Lebanon's explicitly sectarian and confessional political system.

It is all these things, and always has been. Local or global parties that want to nudge it toward more involvement in national democratic politics, and away from political and armed militancy, should resist the simplistic tendency to paint it in one-dimensional terms that are politically convenient, but factually and historically wrong. End of Quote

So please, if dialogue between Lebanese and Israelis in general is important, think of how important it is to join Lebanese Shiites and Israelis; this would be key.

We should learn to differentiate between the population's support to Hezb (1), the Hezb base (2) and the Hezb leadership (3).

By pulling towards us the population and base, the leadership will not be able to exert Syro-Iranian influence on the country.

Hence we need to take into consideration the Shiites' demands (which cross with the Lebanese and Israelis demands in general):

Economic Well Being
Overall Stability
Peace & Security

The Southerners always criticize other Lebanese on a number of points (when speaking of peace with Israel) and they are:

1. The Shebaa Farms
2. The Lebanese Prisoners in Israel
3. Palestinian Refugees Issue
4. Mine maps
5. Military Deterrence against any Israeli agression (this is their fear, you cannot deal with fear but by providing concrete solutions)

Those issues are supported by all Lebanese factions and constitute the key to peace, I personally believe that the Farms are justly Lebanese but effectively Syrian since 1957; hence my reply to Nasrallah "the farms are not Lebanese", my focus was on the need to stand by international law as a bearer of common understandings with other nations.

It is only after resolving those issues that a couple of pillars of Hezbollah's control on the Shiite community will be removed.

Thus the focus on the 5 pillars will help you in knowing how to minimize Hezb's size; it is no secret that in Lebanon HA is the staunchest opponent to peace with Israel... this is the path to unequivocal commitment to peace in Lebanon.

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 07:48 AM

Question: Now that it has been established that Hizbullah is not a terror organization, how can we ever figure out how to prevent Hizbullah from terrorizing the Lebanese?

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 12, 2006 08:04 AM

Barry, by gaining its power base to Lebanese mainstream thought (population + base); the party will be neutralized or greatly weakened.

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 08:11 AM

I get it! Co-opt them!! (Still, maybe someone ought to inform Hizbullah href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/08/opinion/edyoung.php"> Hizbullah?)

Posted by: Bary Meislin at June 12, 2006 08:26 AM

I get it! Co-opt them!! (Still, maybe someone ought to inform Hizbullah?)

Posted by: Bary Meislin at June 12, 2006 08:27 AM

Okay, Barry, what's your idea?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 12, 2006 08:37 AM

Arabs are always bleating and beating their breasts about how Israel should understand why they feel the way they do; yet not once have I seen any indication on the part of the Arab posters here to really try to understand why Jews in general, and Israelis in particular, view Hizb'allah and other organizations of its type as terrorist organizations. All they do is insist that it is not a terrorist organization because social programs, schools, clinics, broad support, lack of corruption, etc., etc., yada yada yada blah blah blah.

Hizb'allah is publicly and officially dedicated to the destruction of Israel. If an organization publicly dedicated to politicide and genocide is not a terroriist organization, what is?

This obstinate, obtuse, and, seemingly, willful clulessness on the part of the Arabs is the main reason there is no peace.

Arabs want Israel to acknowledge Arab rights? Fine. Let the Arabs acknowledge the legitimacy of Jewish rights in Israel and Jerusalem.

And I do not mean grudgingly acknowledge the de facto existence of Israel and the fact that they cannot do anything about it right now because Israel is just too strong. I mean accept the de jure right of the Jewish people to a state of, by, and for the Jews in the homeland of the Jewish people, Eretz Israel.

Once that happens, peace would happen so fast that it would make your head spin. There is no peace because the Arabs cannot find it in themselves to do that.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 12, 2006 10:07 AM

Ephraim,

1. How does constantly labeling Hezbollah as a terrorist help in reducing its nuisance on Lebanese and Israeli communities?

2. The de jure recognition will come after people mix and learn about each others, how many Lebanese and Israelis are living together and exchanging their take on life? Does it come as a surprise to you that grudges exist in that case?

Let there be peace and allow people to get to know each others better.

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 10:29 AM

OK, let's do this:

We'll stop calling Hizb'allah terrorists when the Arabs stop calling Israel "the Zionist entity" and call it by it's proper name: "Israel".

Real peace depends on recognizing the truth. The truth is that Hizb'allah is a terrorist organization because it actively works towards the destruction of Israel. What, do you think saying so is going to hurt their feelings or something?

Anyway, if you think calling a spade a spade will somehow set back the cause of peace, you have a problem. Either that, or you actually don't think Hizb'allah is a terrorist organization, which means we have an even bigger problem.

Please answer the following questions with either a simple yes or no:

Do you think that Hizb'allah is actually a terrorist organization but that for the cause of peace it would be more effective to stop calling them names?

In your opinion, is or is not Hizb'allah a terrorist organization?

Posted by: Ephraim at June 12, 2006 10:44 AM

First of all, I’d like to thank Michael Totten for all of the excellent work he’s done, and for allowing us to have this dialogue on his website. Frankly, this is the type of exchange I’ve been looking for. In the past I have participated in different dialogue groups and list serves and what-not but stopped years ago because it felt like everybody was talking to a wall, their own walls. There was too much talk of old grievances and not enough talk about realistic future peace plans.

That said, I think the key to stability in Lebanon between sectarian groups AND between Israel and Lebanon is out of our hands. Ironically, this mess might only be able to be resolved if there are serious changes hundreds of miles to the East beyond the Arab realm; I refer to Iran.

Iran is the lynchpin. A democratic revolution in Iran would immediately change the dynamics in the region. Hezbullah would lose its major financial and ideological backer. Syria would lose its closest ally. Iran was the first Islamic country to have a radical Islamic revolution. A democratic revolution in Iran would mean the rejection of the ideology of the Islamic revolution. This would send an important signal to people in the region.

From what I understand, partly based of Michael’s reporting in Lebanon, the Shia there are strongly influenced by Iranian-style Islam. Pictures of the Ayatollah hang all over the place, etc. Just as the Islamic revolution in Iran helped to later radicalize Lebanese Shia, the rejection by Iranians of that ideology will affect (in a positive way) the Shia of Lebanon.

Further, a change in Iran would mean the end of financial support for some of the rejectionists in the Palestinian camp. In fact, Iran would probably renew diplomatic relations with Israel and most certainly the U.S.

Syria, isolated and alone, will slowly weaken and eventually the Ba’athist government will disappear because let’s face it, there is no future for Ba’athist ideology.

Ironically this problem between Jews and Arabs as far as Lebanon and Israel go might not be resolved unless the Persians can get their act together.

Posted by: semite1973 at June 12, 2006 10:55 AM

We are calling you Israel here Ephraim, why do you need to bring the Arabs between us Lebanese & Israelis every time we need to talk? :)

For me a Zionist is one who does not share a 2-state approach.

Everybody knows the situation of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Lebanese cannot call HA a terrorist otherwise they risk another civil war.

If Hezb is involved in funding/aiding attacks on Israeli civilians in Israel, then definetely they're terrorists in the same manner the Israeli Army is a terrorist when its gunboats killed the family of that young Palestinian girl a couple of days ago.

If Hezb is involved in the Argentinian bombings then it is definetely a terrorist in the same manner the CIA is a terrorist when bombing a civilian neighbourhood in a false attempt to assassinate Fadlallah.

Yes I think one of Hezb's aspects is terror so are one of the IDF/CIA aspects but for the cause of peace it would be more effective to stop calling them names.

In my opinion, Hezbollah's terror is one of its aspects.

Let us focus on Israelis needs and the Lebanese needs as name calling does not help.

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 12:25 PM

Semite, the demise of the Iranian regime would help however it is not the only factor.

The Shiites of Lebanon need to be integrated in the Lebanese state otherwise there will always be problems in the south of lebanon and at the northern border of israel.

Remove the leverage HA has on the shiites and they will grow into a peaceful people like any aspiring men and women.

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 12:29 PM

they can start by unlabeling Hezbollah as "terrorists"

You might have noticed that I didn't say anything about terrorists anywhere on Michael's blog. (Omega80 seems to have some kind of problem with this too, I don't know where that came from.) But you must understand that Israel is a free country, where people are free to speak their minds. If Hezbollah continues to lob Katyushas into Israeli cities for no particular reason, Israelis will call them terrorists, no matter how many good works they do at home. (Michael didn't make Hezbollahland seem like it was full of good works... nevermind.)

Frankly, I think it's almost psychopathic to expect the intended victims of genocide to spare the feelings of their would-be murderers. But maybe that's just me.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 12:35 PM

Yafawi if each party wanted to remember its dead then we would have loads of reasons to keep on fighting.

If only the label "terrorist" would help in taming Hezbollah, I'd say give it a shot, however please tell me what kind of effect it is having other than lobbying more supporters around HA as a self-righteous decrying consternation of terrorist labeling whereby the self-righteous Hezbollah points fingers to violence in Palestine and Iraq and tells his supporters "look, look and they call us terrorists, death to america, death to israel, etc"?

If you think that labeling Hezbollah will decrease violence then by all means do so.

I really don't know what's your strategy to eliminate Hezbollah's influence, you know mine, what's yours?

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 12:49 PM

If Hezb is involved in funding/aiding attacks on Israeli civilians in Israel, then definetely they're terrorists in the same manner the Israeli Army is a terrorist when its gunboats killed the family of that young Palestinian girl a couple of days ago.

Lira, here I thought that everything was going really well, and you come up with this garbage. Either you are wildly misinformed, or you really are a psychopath. Israel tries so hard not to harm enemy civilians even though its enemies intentionally target them, and make no effort to keep their own civilian population safe. And when, despite of Israel's best efforts, the inevitable mistake occurs, you call Israel terrorist. What a joke. It's because of people like you that there's no peace in the Middle East, and I'm not talking about peace with Israel, I'm talking about peace among yourselves. If all you care about is terrorism as a dirty word, and not as a real action, you deserve to be terrorized by each other.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 12:51 PM

Yafawi, I choose not to trust in the good intentions of the Israeli Army as much as you do, I really don't think there were any enemies on that beach on that day. Repeated mistakes such as Qana's, Chatila's and the grapes of wrath are not garbage, they're for real.

Is it a crime to accuse the IDF of intentionally targeting civilian population?

I choose to forego such incidents in order to seek peace however in the same time you keep on calling a partner in my nation a "terrorist", how am I going to get the message to him or to his constituency?

Try answering those questions and others that I raised above while keeping it down on the name calling :)

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 01:01 PM

Lira, you are a good example of the frustration Israelis and Jews experience when we try to talk to seemingly rational people like yourself.

Israel does not deliberately target Arab civilians when it attempts to defend itself against Arab terror and you know it. The fact that you belive that Israel deliberately kills civilians as groups like the PLO, Hizb'allah and Hamas do, simply shows that you are delusional.

A Zionist is one who does not believe in a two-state solution? What planet are you living on? From the minute that Israel accepted the UN partition resolution in 1947 everything it has done has amounted to little more than begging the Arabs to accept a compromise solution, only to have the Arabs refuse again and again. The whole idea of Oslo was based on Israeli acceptance of the idea of an independent "Palestinian" state. The reason this has not happened is completely the fault of Arab rejectionists. They lie to the West about accepting Israel, only to impose conditions (e.g., the "right of return") that renders their "acceptance" of Israel a sham. Israel was stupid enough to gamble that Arafat wasn't lying, and they were wrong. But acording to your definition, Israel is not a "Zionist entity" at all then, so perhaps this is progreess.

It is true that innocent Arab civilians are sometimes killed when Israel retaliates after terrorist attacks against it. This is very sad. However, this happens because the terrorists deliberately hide among civilians and emplace their military assets in civilian areas, such as in schools, mosques, and hospitals, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions. They want their civilians to be killed so that they can cry to the world about "Zionist genocide". But they are almost always lying, as in the case of the staged "death" of Mohammed al-Dura and the "massacre" at Jenin.

The unfortunate deaths of innocent civilians as a result of legitimate acts of self-defense by Israel are categorically different from the deliberate attacks upon innocent Israeli civilians that are the preferred modus operandi of the Arab terrorist groups. Hamas, the PLO, Hizb'allah, etc. are terrorists because their declared aim is the destruction of Israel and the murder or extirpation of the Jews who live here now. That is, their raison d'etre is politicide and genocide.

The fact that even a seemingly reasonable person like you cannot see this fundamental difference is the real reason that there is no peace.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 12, 2006 01:32 PM

Yafawi, I choose not to trust in the good intentions of the Israeli Army as much as you do, I really don't think there were any enemies on that beach on that day. Repeated mistakes such as Qana's, Chatila's and the grapes of wrath are not garbage, they're for real.

Mistakes in war happen all the time. Read this and tell me why it doesn't make sense. We don't even know for sure that Israel is responsible, and already you're spewing blame. Shame on you. And you talk about me being unhelpful when I speak the truth! But you're willing to tell unhelpful lies. The same goes for Qana. Did anyone ever tell you that a rocket was fired from a few yards away from Qana - intentionally, since the terrorists knew that Israel is reluctant to return fire when civilians might get hurt? And you bring in Chatilla against Israel?! Israel didn't touch a single person at the time, but the leader of the murder rampage, the guy with actual blood on his hands, became a member in good standing of the Lebanese Parliament. Yes it's for real, but a real indictment against your people. Look in the mirror when talk about Chatilla. Finally, you bring in Grapes of Wrath to show that you don't know the difference between a military operation and an act of terror. Yes, people got hurt. If you want to write like Perpetual Refugee about how much you suffered, that's okay. But terrorism is about motives and targets. The motive and target was Hizballah.

Is it a crime to accuse the IDF of intentionally targeting civilian population?

It is a lie. If you ever want to solve your own problems, you have to stop telling yourself lies.

I choose to forego such incidents in order to seek peace however in the same time you keep on calling a partner in my nation a "terrorist", how am I going to get the message to him or to his constituency?

As long as he is a terrorist, he is not interested in peace. In any case, look at all the lies you tell about Israel, and Israelis still want peace. You're the one using language as a weapon, not me. I note that you still haven't granted me the right to self defense.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 01:39 PM

Lira, Arab civilian deaths occur Arab terrorists move among the civilian population, and the Israeli military cannot perfectly target only the latter. Israeli civilian deaths occur because Arab terrorists seek them out to murder them. You are not being high-minded when you propose to absolve both Israeli mistakes and Arab atrocities.

It is not a crime to accuse members of the IDF with criminal behavior. Israel does so on occasion, tries the suspects, and punishes those found guilty. Any civilized nation does the same. Surely Lebanon has put Hezbollah members on trial once or twice?

Posted by: bgates at June 12, 2006 01:52 PM

In my opinion, Hezbollah's terror is one of its aspects.

Gosh that's right. And the Soviet system produced some terrific ballerinas and some fantastic hockey, vodka and caviar. We could also spend months talking about the phenomenal Soviet health care system, etc!

For me a Zionist is one who does not share a 2-state approach.

In that case, there are (though in some cases, were) lots 'n lots of Islamic Zionists out there. Zarqawi, Bin Laden, the Hamas leadership, Aminejehad, Kaddoumi. Lots 'n lots.

Okay, Barry, what's your idea?

Telling the truth, for starters. But that seems to be pretty nigh impossible, things being what they are (you know, the power of narrative; "Palestine from the Jordan to the sea"; "I'm ok, you're ok"; "The Zionists stole our land"; "The Israeli army targets civilians"; "Israel presents an existential threat to Lebanon," "Israel treacherously spreads disease"; "Jews run the world," etc., granted we are all captives of our backgrounds). So that the chips will have to fall where they may---usually, where delusion and fantasy intersect (i.e., collide) with the brick wall of reality. And unfortunately, lots of people are going to get hurt.

It should be recognized, though (no matter how much we enjoy castigating Israel, and need to do it) that Hizbullah hurts Lebanese a lot more than they hurt Israelis. But that's par for the course for those regimes who hold their citizens hostage so that the regimes can stay in power (fairly common in the neighborhood). But then, suffering for The Goal of Israel's, um, disappearance is all worthwhile, noble, necessary. Justice must be done. And Paradise beckons.

Some of us might be able to respect those narratives, beg forgiveness for existing, and agree to disappear. Problem is, not all are willing to do that. Which spells eternal impasse.

Still, the Iranians are working on some ideas of their own, and Syria along with Hizbullah are anxious to assist. They all dearly want to find a solution. Hamas, too is trying to be helpful, and even Al Qaida has offered to lend a hand.

But until a solution is found, don't expect Syria to respect a free Lebanon or Hizbullah to disarm. (Obviously, this would mean that, from a Syrian or Hizbullah point of view, keeping the crisis on slow, never-ending flame would be most desirable---keep on promoting that "threat"; keep on postponing that "afterwards"; keep on controlling Lebanon--actually, Greater Syria.)

Because afterwards, if there is an afterwards... who knows who'll have survived to pick up the pieces?

(Still, this all might be a bit too grim. So we could always smile, recognize Hizbullah's need---and right---to call for Israel's destruction, while we whine and wonder, about why we can't just all get along.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 12, 2006 01:54 PM

Ephraim, certainly the manner through which the IDF operates is different from Hamas and the other groups, it commits mistakes same as the US Army's mistakes in Iraq, that is perfectly understandable :)

There is a difference still I certainly hope that you're not considering many generals and other officers of the IDF and the US Army as angels who do not hesitate to take out civilian population while seeking to target military objectives, I hope that you do not view things are either black or white because frankly I do not and all of my posts have shown a focus on seeking the middle truth.

This gentleman here showcases exactly the type of commendable auto-critical behavior of a citizen whose army has committed such an atrocity:

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2006/06/09/israeli-artillery-murders-7-palestinian-civilians-gaza-enjoying-day-at-beach

Now you can dramatize this all you wish, I notice a pattern of "this is exactly because of such mentality that there is no peace", give me a break; I have never participated in a war and will always support peaceful means as a way of dialogue and as I previously stated, I am more than ready to consider bygone be bygone in order to reach a durable agreement between our two countries.

Now getting back to the Arabs this and that, the Arabs argument has been brought up more often than once; when I consider in 2006 that anything short of a 2-state solution is a zionist solution, this is my own opinion, one of a free citizen of this world. The Arabs on the other hand have done so much harm to Lebanon and they're so messed up in their governments that neither myself or my country were ever able to play a role in their antics. If you remember well, Syria hijacked our role in the Oslo negotiations and thins were left at a standstill here:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/Israel-Lebanon%20Negotiations

Getting this thread back to its main course:

If only the label "terrorist" would help in taming Hezbollah, I'd say give it a shot, however please tell me what kind of effect it is having other than lobbying more supporters around HA as a self-righteous decrying consternation of terrorist labeling whereby the self-righteous Hezbollah points fingers to violence in Palestine and Iraq and tells his supporters "look, look and they call us terrorists, death to america, death to israel, etc"?

If you think that labeling Hezbollah will decrease violence then by all means do so.

I really don't know what's your strategy to eliminate Hezbollah's influence, you know mine, what's yours?

Valid question.

Posted by: Lira at June 12, 2006 01:56 PM

From a Lebanese and Arab perspective, Lira, Perpetual Refugee and Omega80 have come a long, long way.

Come on, there must be plenty of Israelis who are embarassed by Yafawi's somewhat aggressive posts and can do better in engaging the Lebanese bloggers in more reasoned debate.

Posted by: Nana Poku at June 12, 2006 01:58 PM

Getting this thread back to its main course:

If only the label "terrorist" would help in taming Hezbollah, I'd say give it a shot, however please tell me what kind of effect it is having other than lobbying more supporters around HA as a self-righteous decrying consternation of terrorist labeling whereby the self-righteous Hezbollah points fingers to violence in Palestine and Iraq and tells his supporters "look, look and they call us terrorists, death to america, death to israel, etc"?

You keep coming back to this. Frankly, this is such a trivial point that it's hard for me to take it seriously. If I lie about Hizballah to my wife, friends, etc. it will really make a difference to Lebanon?

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 02:44 PM

Lira wrote: "If Hezb is involved in funding/aiding attacks on Israeli civilians in Israel, then definetely they're terrorists in the same manner the Israeli Army is a terrorist when its gunboats killed the family of that young Palestinian girl a couple of days ago."

First of all, it’s not clear at this point what exactly killed the Palestinian family on the beach in Gaza. Either way, Israel has apologized and shown deep regret for what happened IF, in fact, an accidental Israeli shell was the cause of the explosion.

I don’t ever remember Hezbollah showing regret over the deaths of Israeli or Jewish civilians, which they have caused in the past.

I think terrorism has more to do with the intent than anything else. The Israelis did not intend to kill innocent Palestinians in Gaza (if they were responsible to begin with), whereas Hezbollah has intended to kill innocent Israelis and Jews in the past, and threatens to do so in the future.

So, I have to disagree with your definition of terrorism, Lira. Nevertheless, I commend you for having dialogue and being open-minded. We may disagree on details, but we agree on the big picture, and that is the most important thing.

Zak

Posted by: semite1973 at June 12, 2006 02:48 PM

I think you guys are going a little hard on Lira. She's not a "psychopath." She's trying to learn and understand and she supports peace with Israel. What more do you want from her? She's obviously not going to give us the Israeli foreign ministry talking points!

Imagine growing up in an Arab society, where Jews are demonized and both sides of the story usually aren't told. There is no risk in being a peacenick in Israel, but that's not necessarily the case in many parts of the Arab world.

Yes, I disagree with some of Lira's ideas about what a Zionist is or what a terrorist is, but if we want to explain our side and get her to see our point of view, I think it would be more productive and polite to be a little less heavy-handed.

Posted by: semite1973 at June 12, 2006 02:56 PM

Yafawi's somewhat aggressive posts

Well, there I thought that things were going really well, when out comes this garbage about of course Israelis are also terrorists. And Lira still hasn't recognized the rights of Israelis to self defense. I recognized his rights to self defense and what do I get in return? Sophism.

It's very sobering to realize that the moderate voice on the other side of the internet really thinks you should bare your neck and let people who shouldn't be called terrorists cut your head off.

Okay, so I wasn't very sober...

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 02:57 PM

I don't really see what your strategy is to eliminate Hizb'allah's influence actually is, Lira. Do you really think that if we stop calling them terrorists that they will somehow lay down their arms and stop being terrorists? Dream on.

My "strategy" is for Lebanon to get a government and an army worthy of the name and to disarm Hizb'allah itself. If Lebanon is too weak to do it, they should get someone to do it for them, such as the UN.

Not possible, you say? Well, too bad then. I guess you'll just have to live with the high likelihood that Israel will invade again at some point when Iran orders Hizb'allah to attack Israel, as they are sure to when it suits them. If you don't want this to happen you had better figure something out pretty quick. Maybe La Belle France can help you. After all, they created Lebanon, so aren't they responsible for it?

But like I and others have said, Iran is the key. Overthrow Iran's mullahs, and Hizb'allah will wither on the vine, along with Syria.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 12, 2006 03:02 PM

Finally, maybe when Israel's name and existence stops being so synonymous of death and violence,

Give me a break.

These are the "moderates"?

If so, there's very little hope.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 12, 2006 04:11 PM

the racism in these comment threads is very disheartening-- can you imagine the backlash if some bigoted commenter made similar generalizations substituting "blacks" or "jews" for "arabs"? i guess i was mistaken, but i thought more of michael's readers.

Arabs are like donkeys: if you told them Gaza sea-water was wine, they'd drink it.

(yes, michael promptly blocked her, but a lot of other comments aren't too far from this kind of filth. several comments actually made me swear out loud, and i NEVER swear.)

there are so, so many other points i'd like to respond to, am already responding to in my head, etc., but i lost my strength just reading through the comments. anyways, i know i'd get the same old knee-jerk responses-- why bother? but bravo to lira (who, btw, i always thought was a guy-- am i wrong?) and omega for sticking it out :)

Posted by: carine at June 12, 2006 04:37 PM

Stop ganging up on Lira. You Israelis are nuts if you think she's going to see things the way you do. And whoever called her a "psychopath" (I forget who it was) seriously needs to calm down.

Find the common ground on build on it. You can't do that with Hassan Nasrallah, but you sure as hell can with Lira - unless you can't, and then it's your fault not hers.

I tell my Lebanese friends that it's possible to engage (most) Israelis in rational dialogue. I realize one or two over-the-top blog commenters can't make a liar out of me, but it can sure make me look like a liar.

Yafawi: It's because of people like you that there's no peace in the Middle East, and I'm not talking about peace with Israel, I'm talking about peace among yourselves. If all you care about is terrorism as a dirty word, and not as a real action, you deserve to be terrorized by each other.

What bullshit. If it were up to Lira there would be peace right this minute. If you can't recognize your own potential friends in the region, then maybe you're part of the problem. When someone from an enemy state reaches out an earnest hand you are well advised not to slap it.

In the meantime, perhaps you should go tune in to the hysterical racist garbage on Hezbollah's Al Manar TV and come back with a little perspective.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 12, 2006 05:15 PM

Ephraim, Yafawi, did it ever occur to you guys that maybe Lira isn’t a hardcore ideologue with an agenda but perhaps somebody who is learning about the Israel, the country she was brought up to believe was her“enemy”? I think Lira is in the process of changing some of her views as she encounters Israelis and Zionists, albeit online. I get the impression that Lira is genuinely interested in dialogue and understanding our side. She has some misperceptions, to be sure, but her heart is in the right place. So, instead of chastising her in a heavy-handed manner, we should be calmly explaining why we think she is wrong on certain issues. She is a rational human being. She will most likely respond rationally to a fair, well-reasoned argument.

Lira, I for one disagree with a lot of what you said, but as I wrote before, I believe we share the same goal regarding the bigger picture—peace between Israel and Lebanon and a two-state solution to the problem with the Palestinians. I just hope that you do not feel unfairly under attack. This is an emotional issue for us too. Many Jews and Israelis take our reputation seriously; meaning that we strongly believe that one of Israel’s greatest virtues is its respect for innocent human life. When people not only question our morals and ethics, but maybe even put us in the same category as Hezbollah or some other similar group or regime, we get really defensive and insulted; hence the reaction from some of us here.

I was in Israel during Operation Grapes of Wrath and I remember the Qana tragedy well. At the time Israelis viewed the military operation as something that was a long time coming and there was a lot of anger at Hezbollah and Syria. As soon as the tragedy at Qana occurred, the operation stopped immediately—far short of Israel’s security objectives. From the Israeli point of view, stopping the military operation before it was finished was not the desired goal, but that’s what happened once Qana got shelled.

So, not only did Qana run completely contrary to our morals and ethics, it also prevented Israel doing what it needed to do to Hezbollah. From Hezbollah’s perspective the deaths at Qana were a God-send because it forced the Israeli army from any further action as a result of the tragedy. In other words, Hezbollah was helpless to stop the IDF, but the tragedy of Qana did. So, just from a real-politic perspective you can see that it doesn’t make any sense for Israel to indiscriminately kill innocent Arabs.

Zak

Posted by: semite1973 at June 12, 2006 06:38 PM

Semite, I am sure that Lira thinks he/she is being reasonable, even-handed, objective, etc. And it is true, he/she seems more reasonable than many, if not most, Arab posters on this subject.

But as you say, as a Jew (if not as an Israeli) I take the reputation of my people very seriously indeed.

And Israel is not Hizb'allah, Hamas or the PLO. If it were, there would not be a single Arab left between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. Israel would have taken everything they owned and expelled them, just as happened to almost all of the Jews who once lived in Arab lands.

So, yes, when Lira equates Israel's attempts to protect itself from Arab terror with the nakedly racist and genocidal policies of the Hizb'allah/Hamas/PLO, I get very, very angry. It is not true and Lira knows it. But if Lira believes that it is true, then, as I said, he/she is not actually reasonable but only appears to be so.

As I have said, it seems to me that other than Hizb'allah, there are no outstanding issues between Lebanon and Israel, and except for the weakness of Lebanon and the presence of Syria and Hizb'allah, I think that peace between Lebanon and Israel would be quite simple. However, it will not happen until Hizb'allah and Syria are removed from the equation.

Lira is always complaining that Lebanon should not be lumped in with all of the other Arab states when it comes to speaking of peace between Israel and Lebanon. I agree, it would be ideal if Lebanon were really free and capable of pursuing an independent foreign policy. Until Hizb'allah and Syria are neutralized, however, for all practical purposes it is impossible to see Lebanon as anything other than an adjunct of Syria and Iran, unfortunately.

The poll Michael quoted is very encouraging. But if it actually accurately represents the feelings of the Lebanese people, it is obvious that the government of Lebanon cannot give the feelings of its people any practical expression. And you can blame Syria and Hizb'allah for that.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 12, 2006 07:07 PM

Finally, maybe when Israel's name and existence stops being so synonymous of death and violence, I might criticize those who call "death to america" in the same manner than those who say "death to israel"....the intensity of objection is different.

Come on you've got to be joking !?
Israel's name is only synonymous with death and violence because Arab public opinion, reflected by media coverage, is stacked heavily against it. There may be a lot of moderate sentiments, but there is no reason to remain silent whilst people call for death to Israel.

This is not an issue about pragmatism or helping get your point across. Calls for the destruction of Israel should be opposed fiercely, on moral grounds. And from a pragmatic point of view, Israel bashing should be opposed even more fiercely then America bashing.

A superpower located thousands of miles away is less likely to be concerned with Lebanese anti-Americanism, compared with Israel.

As Israel is a tiny democracy with a small population, and already the prime target of murderous violence and terrorism, I would think that moderate voices should be calling for nothing more than simple peaceful relations with Israel.

An abandonment of crazed "death to Israel" rhetoric would do far more to improve prospects for peace and security than focussing on other issues.

Posted by: Jono at June 12, 2006 10:20 PM

Lira, I apologize for the tone of my comments (though not for the substance). But surely, though you might have been misinformed about the incident in Gaza, Grapes of Wrath, and Qana, I can't believe that you were misinformed about Chatilla. You know very well that Lebanese were much more involved in that than Israelis, and the Lebanese murderers were never held responsible, and never even lost their leadership position in Lebanese society. It seems hypocritical, to say the least, to bring that up against Israel.

If it were up to Lira there would be peace right this minute. If you can't recognize your own potential friends in the region, then maybe you're part of the problem.

Michael, I think you are right about peace, but I'm not so sure about the "friends" part. Remember the adage about states not having friends, only interests? Lira seems to be pursuing peace out of his/her perception of self interest, not out of a desire for friendship. For now, that's good enough for me. Still, the contrast between Israelis seeking friendship, and Lebanese/Jordanians/Egyptians seeking hudna is striking.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 12, 2006 11:26 PM

'When someone from an enemy state reaches out an earnest hand you are well advised not to slap it'.

I'd have agreed with you unreservedly around 15 years ago. To an extent, I still do. But there's a reservation now. During the Madrid talks in 1991, there was a feeling of really opening out on the ground. Palestinian kids were showering Israeli soldiers with olive branches. As it turned out, good will was not enough. Even recognizing that good will exposed us to the extremists. We gave things up (control over territory, for example) only to face ever more stiff and uncompromising opposition.

I do not doubt the initial readiness of some Palestinians then or of some Lebanese now. But historically, it's always the extremists who eventually call the shots, and they (mis)use the open doors gained for them by the sensible moderates. So Nasrallah does not make the liberal blogger more appealing by comparison, as you'd like it to be. He makes her more threatening, because we suspect that he's riding on her back.

I think that most of the questions directed to her by Israelis here (barring the provocations which you have rightfully banned) are meant to test Lira's back for the additional charge she might be carrying, if only inadvertently.

Posted by: Disk on Key at June 12, 2006 11:52 PM

Yafawi: Michael, I think you are right about peace, but I'm not so sure about the "friends" part.

I don't know what motivates Lira. But you'll note I put the word "potential" in front of "friend" so I don't speak for other people.

I never hear Lebanese people speak of anything like a hudna, by the way. They either want peace now, peace later, or no peace.

Remember the adage about states not having friends, only interests?

Of course. But Lira is a person, not a state.

It is in the interest of my country, the United States, that Lebanon and Israel not be at war with each other. But I like Lebanese people personally, and I like Israelis personally, so I have my own reasons for wanting this stupid thing to end that have nothing at all to do with the interest of states.

I'd like our sort-of war-like situation with Iran to end, too (which will probably require a new Iranian government) rather obviously for personal reasons: I live in one of the countries involved.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 12, 2006 11:53 PM

But Lira is a person, not a state.

Yes, which is why I flew off the handle (and I apologize for that) when he/she started acting like a state with interests rather than a person seeking friendship. I have already accepted his/her peace plan, and thought I was building a friendship. Now I think that I was in error.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 13, 2006 12:16 AM

"For me a Zionist is one who does not share a 2-state approach."

I don't mean to gang up on anyone, but it is probably best if one uses a definition of "Zionist" that actually describes most people who think they are Zionists. I'm a right-wing Zionist for heaven's sake, and I have a 2-state approach.

Posted by: maor at June 13, 2006 04:05 AM

Hezbollah is on the path of giving up its weapons in some shape or form. Whether that means giving them up completely or putting them under the control of the Lebanese Army. The only other option in the long term is war in Lebanon again. The first to suffer from such a war would be the Shia of Lebanon. Thus, it is not in their interests for such a war.

Now, Hezbollah views its weapons as compensation for Shia underdog status in Lebanon, historically being the weakest and poorest of Lebanon's communities. Thus, Hezbollah's weapons now are an internal Lebanese issue that will be dealt with internally.

Israel can make this whole process easier by showing restraint and showing that they have no interest in interfering in Lebanese affairs, etc. Either way, nothing will move forward until the UN investigation is over and Syria is off our backs for good.

Posted by: Omega80 at June 13, 2006 06:48 PM

Omega, believe me, if Hizb'allah stops shooting at Israel, Israel will leave Lebanon alone.

I hope what you say is true. What I am afraid of is Iran ordering Hizb'allah to heat things up on the border in order to divert attention from Iran's nuclear activities. Iran has already said straight out that if anybody tries anything, they will use Hizb'allah to attack Israel.

And I join you in hoping that Syria's opprerssion of Lebanon will soon be a thing of the past. Once that happens, Hizb'allah will be a spent force, and Israel and Lebanon can normalize relations.

May that day come soon.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 14, 2006 09:20 AM

All this thread provides many great insights to unwashed non-academic Canadian. {That*s me].

I see powerful motives that stem from wealthy men in Iran, Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and even Egypt. Powerful Motives that are based at stopping the advancement of democracy at all costs.

Seems as though Iran*s support of Hezbollah is to further Shia interests. Interests that lend power to clerics and Mullahs and tend to oppose open democracy.

There are Sunni and other group interests that are very violent and forceful being played out as well and this seems always to happen at the expense of the poor citizens in Lebanon.

Is it not time for these conflicts to take place in Iran and in Syeria. Is it not time for Hezbollah to clear out back to Iran and allow Lebanon people to rest and repair in the peace that Israel will certainly give them?

If my views are confused, you are welcome to help me see things more clearly. TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at June 14, 2006 10:02 AM

Hey Hotten-Totten, Nordic Stud,
You've been remarkably silent on the news that that Israeli spy ring was busted in Lebanon. Yup, and the ringleader, Rafeh, was PSP, your March 14th bumchum Jumblatt's party. Great news for Israeli relations. What do you think of the fact that the wife and son ratted on their treasonous husband/father? He has blood on his hands, and he got caught. And the timing couldn't be better: because if it wasn't painfully obvious to nearly all the Lebanese (except the former-collaborators-turned-Gemmayze-bar-scene-lushes that you talked to), Israel is a threat to Lebanon, and Israel has been trying to de-stabilize Lebanon. There is talk of this Mossad affiliated network being responsible for Samir Kassir's assassination, your very own hero.
And now Brammertz isn't that sure about ultimate responsibility for $Hariri$s murder lying with Bashar al Assad, is he? What else...
Oh you also failed to mention the juicy piece of news that the so-called mass grave that was uncovered in December in the Bekaa and which was immediately blamed on the Syrians, was actually a regular graveyard from the Ottoman period! What did Tueni compare it to? The Rwandan Genocide? Also worth noting that Damascus' denial, at the time, was as suspicious and dubious as all their denials. They said something like, this is meant to harm and destabilize Syria. Sounds a lot like all their weird excuses. But doesnt that make you doubt their guilt for a second when it comes to the death of the Big H?
keep up the good work. i know mossad and aipac pay a goyeshe-tool like you well.i respect them for that, exploiting knuckleheaded aryans to do their bidding.
Mazel Tov.

Posted by: tottentool at June 15, 2006 05:40 AM

Looks like somebody's off their meds.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 15, 2006 09:04 AM

This "tottentool" person is banned for trolling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 15, 2006 10:49 AM

i think the problem in lebanon is that we dont trust each other, muslims and christians dont trust 100% each other. we still steriotyping each other at a certain level that make us stay away and of course this is a result of 15 years of war and an other 15 years of syrian occupation, we need to make peace with each other first than make it outside, otherwise it wont work.

Posted by: katia at June 15, 2006 11:13 AM

Hey Tool, Why wouldn*t Israel have some people agthering info here and there? Never heard of any Country, corporation or group that didn*t.

Guess with 32 plus years of shootings and bombings there is bound to be a complex web of rage and hatred that is blind to reason, rules, justice or logic. TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at June 15, 2006 07:07 PM

Tony,

While I refuse any Lebanese support to the military militancy of Palestinian factions in Israel/Palestine, the answer of Israeli Intelligence by booby trap bombs and assassinations isn't exactly "some people gathering info here and there" abd wouldn't be something that I support.

By the way, rage and hatred that is blind to reason, rules, justice or logic is applicable to both sides of the border.

Posted by: Lira at June 15, 2006 09:11 PM

Seems as if tottentool has been reading Syria Comment way too many times.

Although I am angry at Israel placing car bombs in Lebanon, they are sure different than the car bombs that Syria puts in Lebanon. Not too many people in Lebanon were very sad to see a PFLP-GC member blown to bits (besides the fact that it shows the poor state of security around). However, most of the country was when an MP and a journalist were killed.

So to be honest, Syria's bombs are more destablizing to Lebanon than Israel's, how ironic no? To clarify as well, Brammertz is pretty sure that Syria killed Hariri which is why he is focusing on Syrian cooperation in the probe, not Israeli cooperation, and besides, he is saving the juicy stuff for the UN Tribunal that should be coming around pretty soon.

One more thing, there are many Syrian mass graves in Lebanon, such as there are mass graves as a result of Israeli aggression in Lebanon. Whether the ones found in Anjar were one of them or not doesn't mean that they don't exist.

Posted by: Omega80 at June 16, 2006 12:19 AM

This thread is so fascinating.

Lira, about calling the Hizbullah terrorists:

"Terrorist" isn't only a label, it is a status. An organization recognized as a terrorist group will face many difficulties in the international arena- financial, political, public relations and other. Do you not agree that the Hizbullah could become an even MORE formidable political force were they seen as a legitimate representative of Lebanon (or a part of Lebanon) in Europe and the US? If they could legally found their "embassies", publish editorials in the Western press, initiate public campaigns and flaunt their ideology the way the FATAH was able to after the Oslo accords? If Nasrallah's people became, like Arafat, a de-facto legitimized representative of the Lebanese Shias in the UN and other world political and economic forums?

Posted by: Womble at June 17, 2006 06:34 AM

Womble, you look at it internationally, I also look at it locally.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah is already a formidable political force were they are seen as a legitimate representative of the Shiites of Lebanon, they have members of parliament, ministers and what-have-you's.

My question: How can we Lebanese deal with Hezbollah and ask it to move in the path of normalization while it is still being considered terrorist?

Does the terrorist label apply differently locally and internationally? Is Hezbollah a non-terrorist in Lebanon but a terrorist elsewhere?

How is the "fight against terror" helping in reducing violence instead of creating more and more strife?

Are people born terrorists? What makes a terrorist? How can we prevent the multiplicity of terrorists? Those are the questions that we must ask and answer.

Posted by: Lira at June 19, 2006 06:55 AM

I think I see what you are getting at, Lira: you want to co-opt the Hizb'allah and bring them into the Lebanese government as a legitimate political organization. So you figure if you simply stop calling them terrorists, they'll stop being terrorists and start behaving like normal, responsible people.

It worked prety well in Germany when they brought the Nazis into the government in 1933, so there's no reason to think that it shouldn't work with the Hizb'allah. I mean, the Nazis didn't cause any problems when they were legitimized, so why can't we expect the same thing from the Hizb'allah?

Posted by: Ephraim at June 19, 2006 01:32 PM

Ephraim, Hezbollah are ALREADY in the Lebanese Government.

Posted by: Lira at June 19, 2006 08:19 PM

"... the Web site of the Future Movement (the most popular Sunni political party in Lebanon headed by Saad Hariri), respondents answered this way on the question of peace with Israel:
Yes and Now: 34.38 percent, etc...."

The most popular Sunni political party's site could only muster 32 people to take the poll.
Only 11 respondents said Yes and Now.

Yay.

Posted by: tina at June 19, 2006 10:18 PM

tina, the website is still a young one and growing + as mike said, those results are far from being scientific

Posted by: Lira at June 20, 2006 12:22 AM

I know Hizb'allah is already in the Lebanese government, Lira. That is precisely the problem. You've been hijacked by a gang that makes the Lebanese army wet itself in fear. So of course you've got to pretend that they are a legitimate political party instead of a bunch of thugs. Because if you don't they might, you know, shoot you.

However, pretending they aren't terrorists isn't going to make it so.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 20, 2006 09:54 AM

Ephraim, do you have a solution in your perfect world?

Posted by: Lira at June 20, 2006 01:49 PM

I have already told you.

Either Lebanon disarms Hizb'allah by itself, or someone else will do it for you.

Hizb'allah is a de-facto independent entity in Southern Lebanon. It takes orders from Iran and Syria, from which it gets all of its money, arms, and support. Iran in particular aims to destroy Israel. They have signed a mutual defense pact with Syria which will put Iranian soldiers on the Golan. At some point they will order Hizb'allah to attack Israel. If Lebanon doesn't want to see another war on its soil, they need to disarm Hizb'allah.

I know you think this is impossible. But at some point the chickens will come home to roost, and it is Lebanon which will have to pay the price (again).

I do not say this because I want it to happen. But until Hizb'allah is disarmed, this will always be a danger.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 20, 2006 01:58 PM

"Either Lebanon disarms Hizb'allah by itself, or someone else will do it for you."

Where did you see me support the notion of an armed Hezbollah? :)

Posted by: Lira at June 20, 2006 02:28 PM

I'm not speaking about you specifically, Lira. I guess when I say "you", I'm speaking of Lebanon. I thought that was obvious, but perhaps not.

I'm glad you don't support the idea of an armed Hizb'allah. But like it or not, Hizb'allah is armed, and it seems that Lebanon can do nothing about it. No good can come of it. I hope Lebanon can find a way to disarm them peacefully. But I doubt if that will be possible.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 20, 2006 03:02 PM

Ephraim even when you speak of Lebanon, it seems that you view it as one block. Half if not more of the Lebanese do not support the weapons of Hezbollah, in fact the only real-hardcore people who might want to keep the weapons for good might be Hezbollah leaders and cadres.

The position of the Lebanese Government as a whole is a delicate one when knowing that a forced removal of the weapons now will probably include civil violence and maybe war.

I understand your hope that Lebanon would disarm them peacefully however do you have an idea on how to disarm them in another manner and have you thought of the repercussions.

Posted by: Lira at June 21, 2006 02:32 AM

Lira is right. Lebanon absolutely is not a block. And if it were a block, it would be an anti-Hezbollah block.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 21, 2006 02:34 AM

Michael, both you and Lira seem to me to be almost purposely missing my point.

I believe you when you say that most Lebanese would like to see Hizb'allah disarmed. I am not accusing the Lebanese people, either individually or en masse, of being foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semitic troglodytes (although this sobriquet does apply to Hizb'allah).

If you want them disarmed, so, good, disarm them then.

But, wait, that will cause a war, you say.

So we're back to square one. According to you, everybody in Lebanon except Hizb'allah hates Hizb'allah and wants them to be disarmed. But they either will not or cannot do anything about it.

This is just like at school, where the schoolyard is ruled by the bully everyone hates but whom everyone fears to oppose because it will cause, you know, a fight. And people might get hurt. So we'll curse the bully behind his back but give him our lunch money anywyay because he'll beat us up if we don't and we're too scared to do anything about it.

Well, what about the teachers (the UN, France, the US, whomever)? Where are they? Oh, right, you don't want them to do anything, because if we ask them to send the bully to detention or maybe suspend or expel him, then he'll really get mad and who knows what he might do? Walking home from school wouldn't be safe. And what if he tells his big brother (Iran and Syria)? Then we're really screwed. And besides, if we asked the teachers to do something about it, the bully might think we're squealers and collaborators, and we can't have that, can we?

As a human being, I am sad that Lebanon is held hostage by Hizb'allah and feels helpless to do anything about it. I sincerely hope that you guys can figure out how to bring them to heel. Good luck.

However, as a Jew and a supporter of Israel, I am primarily concerned with the danger that Hizb'allah poses to Israel. If and when they decide to attack Israel (again), Israel will have no choice but to defend itself, no matter how the Lebanese feel about Hizb'allah.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 21, 2006 09:29 AM

Would Israel want to work on a peaceful attempt to disarm Hezbollah (1) or does it want to wait for the next attack to strike back (2) or will it launch an all-out war to destroy it (3)

Posted by: Lira at June 21, 2006 12:27 PM

Given the nature of Arab/Islamic politics,I doubt very seriously that it would be possible for Israel to publicly work with Lebanon to peacefully disarm Hizb'allah. The Arab/Islamic world would undoubtedly see it as a Jewish/Zionist plot to humiliate/occupy/ oppress/etc. the "legitimate resistance against Zionist occupation and genocide" or whatever, and it would be the kiss of death for Lebanon to be seen to cooperating with Israel.

And, anyway, what more does Israel need to do? It has withdrawn from Lebanon completely, and this has been confirmed by the UN, hardly the most pro-Israel of organizations. Lebanon, as Lebanon, has no more claims on Israel. It occupies no Lebanese territory.

As I have said, Hizb'allah, is, essentially, the advanced guard of Syria and Iran in their continuing war on Israel. Internally, in Lebanon it may be seen by some as the champion of the Shia. But it is for all intents and purposes an agent of foreign powers in Lebanon.

Syria is weak and needs Iranian support to withstand world pressure to relinquish its stranglehold on Lebanon. And Iran, in its turn, is hell-bent on destroying Israel. Syria and Iran cannot afford to lose their only way to attack Israel on the ground. They can lob missiles at Israel, but as things stand now, the only way for Iran to actually fight Israel on the ground is through Hizb'allah in Lebanon. They will not give this up without a fight.

Given that 1) Hizb'allah is nothing more than an arm of the Iranian government, 2) Iran wants to destroy Israel, and 3) Hizb'allah is the only way for Iran to maintain a "frontline" against Israel, I don't see that there is any way for Israel, or anyone else, to disarm Hizb'allah peacefully unless Iran is neutralized first.

Finally, you seem disturbed by the idea of Israel destroying Hizb'allah. Leaving aside the fact that this would mean a war on Lebanese soil, which would of course, be a bad thing for Lebanon, and looking at this strictly from a theoretical point of view, don't you think that Israel has a right to destroy Hizb'allah? It is an Iranian-sponsored terrorist group which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. On that basis alone, Israel is perfectly within its rights to destroy Hizb'allah regardless of any other considerations.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 21, 2006 01:02 PM

I am thinking of the last time Israel "destroyed" the PLO and all of its repercussions, one of those being the birth of Hezbollah. I can only wonder what kind of results a new Israeli offensive could produce.

Surely the Israeli leaders are thinking the same, otherwise they would have launched their offensive a long time ago.

Posted by: Lira at June 21, 2006 03:56 PM

The problem with the last offensive against the PLO is that Israel let the world talk it into not finishing them off for good. They should have gone straight into Beirut and killed Arafat where he sat. Instead they let him get away. It was one of the biggest mistakes Israel ever made, a collossal failure of nerve. But with the US and Europe still stupidly and cravenly refusing to see the PLO for what it is and doing everything they can to keep this blight on humanity alive, what can Israel do? Perhaps one day they will wake up. One can always hope.

Israel is not holding off its offensive against Hizb'allah because they are afraid that something worse could take its place. Such a thing is not possible. Believe it or not, Israel wants peace. The rubber will meet the road when Hizb'allah starts something, which they are sure to do whenever Iran feels the time is right. Once that happens, all bets are off.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 21, 2006 04:39 PM

So this time Tsahal will drive all the way to Baalbeck huh?

Posted by: Lira at June 21, 2006 05:44 PM

Doubt it. The Isreali posters should be able to answer this better than I, but if Hizb'allah's military assets are only in the South, and if the Syrians have really withdrawn from the Beka'a, there should be no reason to go that far north.

But, like I said, if Hizb'allah behaves, Israel will sit tight, most likely.

However, it is obvious that Iran is set on creating a South Lebanon-Golan front to confront Israelfrom the North and the East. This is very worrisome, and it is shenanigans like this that can cause things to fall apart. If Lebanon is wise, it will do everything it can to stop this nonsense, since it will be the one to pay the price of Syrian and Persian adventurism.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 21, 2006 06:19 PM

Are you suggesting an air campaign or a ground invasion too? I mean, it's very nice to talk about those things however as you know reality differs on the ground.

I will only assume that many assets are in the Northern Bekaa, you have just stated that Israel's mistake was to let the PLO survive in the 1982, what good would it be if you lauch a costly war just to keep your opponent's readiness for a counterstrike?

Posted by: Lira at June 22, 2006 03:51 AM

Lira don't bother, they got ur point but they're stuck in their own idiology

Posted by: bach at June 22, 2006 06:44 AM

If Hizb'allah has assets in the Beka'a, then Israel should destroy those as well.

Bach, I get Lira's point, I just don't agree with it. She's stuck in her ideology, I'm stuck in mine. So what else is new?

As far as I can tell, she dislikes Hizb'allah and would like to see them disarmed (very nice), but says, essentially, that Lebanon is too weak (or too afraid) to actually do that. That is, the price of disarming Hizb'allah is too high. Therefore, she is willing to let them occupy Southern Lebanon and dictate de facto Lebanese policy vis-a-vis Israel while pretending this is not Lebanese policy but only Hizb'allah policy. Believe me, I understand that Lebanon is in a really tough spot, caught as it is between the Scylla of Hizb'allah and the Charybdis of trying to face them down and establish Lebanese sovereignty throughout the country. But until Lebanon does that, it really can't be considered a proper soevereign state.

I feel Lira's pain, etc. As far as Israel is concerned, however, this is an internal Lebanese debate and it really doesn't make any difference whatsoever in the realm of practical politics.

The same thing is true in the "Palestinian" arena. Abbas says that he wants peace with Israel and makes a big show about opposing Hamas, but he is either 1)lying and just playing a "good cop/bad cop" charade for the benefit of the gullible Western media (the most likely explanation), or 2) he is too weak to oppose them. It really doesn't matter what the real reason is; the practical result is that Hamas carries on its war against Israel with impunity, all while the world stands around wringing its hands and saying "Somebody do something!" This is pointless.

It's the same thing with Hizb'allah in Lebanon. All of Lira's protestations about how the Lebanese hate Hizb'allah and want them stopped don't mean a damn thing if Lebanon is not willing to take the bull by the horns and face them down. Until they do that, Israel has the right and the duty to protect itself from Hizb'allah with all the means at its disposal.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 22, 2006 09:45 AM

So you're suggesting an aistrike on Baalbeck, excellent; how efficient will that airstrike be and how far could it reach in Hezbollah's fortifications? (they're entrenched in the Eastern Lebanon Mountain range).

How many Hezbollah militants will the IDF be able to eliminate?

What will happen when Syria starts providing Hezbollah with more weapons to replace those it has lost?

Would Israel be back to square one or would there be more violence on the Galilee?

Posted by: Lira at June 22, 2006 11:21 AM

Lira, I really don't understand why you are asking me these questions. They are rhetorical and foolish. Are you simply trying to score points or have a serious discussion?

I get the impression it is because you think that violence is useless to solve this problem, but since Hizb'allah is dedicated to the destruction of Israel regardless of what policies Israel may or may not pursue, I do not see what other choice Israel has. It may not be a perfect solution, but the alternative is for Israel to simply allow Hizb'allah to attack Israel with impunity. Can you tell me why Israel is obligated to sit back and allow its people to be murdered by anti-Semitic Islamist fanatics?

You have not addressed what is the real issue here: the belief on the part of Hizb'allah that Israel has no right to exist and should be destroyed and its willingness to use violence to achieve this goal. This is Hizb'allah's publicly stated goal, it makes no apologies for it, and everyone knows it. That is the real problem, not Israel's acts of self-defense.

So, you tell me: what other option, other than defending itself from such terrorism, does Israel have?

Posted by: Ephraim at June 22, 2006 12:20 PM

You should ask yourself this question: What's important here, the act of self-defense or the results of that act?

You speak of self-defense, fine; however a little analysis of the cases of self-defense that you presented show that the results of such act will not create more security.

Hezbollah has assets in South Lebanon, Beirut Southern Suburb and Baalbeck.

Assuming that the IDF performs only air strikes at all those locations, this will not be enough to destroy Hezbollah, a wounded Hezbollah will prevail and strike back, does Israel want that?

Assuming that the IDF invades South Lebanon and air strikes South Beirut and Baalbeck, this will keep Hezbollah able and ready to strike back.

Assuming that the IDF invades Lebanon all the way to South Beirut, that leaves Baalbeck again and subjects Israel to a risk of war with Syria, does Israel want that?

Finally, assuming that Israel wants to invade Baalbeck, this means a direct war with Syria, again does Israel want that?

And you can give a rest to the right of Israel for self-defense, I haven't even denied this issue in this thread; I am just debating the results of various "self-defense" scenarios on the security of Israel and how strong the security of Israel will be before and after such scenarios.

Posted by: Lira at June 22, 2006 02:31 PM

You should ask yourself this question: What's important here, the act of self-defense or the results of that act?

Sorry, I don't understand what this means. You might as well ask yourself "What's important here, the act of self-defense or the consequences of not defending oneself?"

It seems to me that all you are saying is that Israel's acts of self defense might not get rid of Hizb'allah once and for all and might have unforseen consequences. The implication of that is that Israel's acts of self-defense might be worse than Israel not defending itself. This is tantamount to saying that Israel should not defend itself.

You're not serious, are you? If you are, there is no point in continuing this discussion. This fear of fighting an enemy because you might make things worse is precisely why Lebanon lies prostrate before Hizb'allah. If this kind of fear starts to infect Israel, then it is truly all over.

No solution is ever perfect. But the alternative is to allow Hizb'allah to build up its capabilities until such time that a war with them will directly involve Iran. So I have a question for you: do you want that?

As for Syria, Israel could defeat them blindfolded. Syria is nothing. That is why Assad has hitched his star to the Iranian wagon. That is what should worry you. Israel will not sit still and let Iranian troops mass on its borders.

You still have not addressed my question: Hizb'allah and Iran are sworn to the destruction of Israel. What should Israel do about this? Worry that defending itself from potential annihilation might lead to a wider war? You've got to be kidding.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 22, 2006 03:14 PM

I have already stated what we should do about Hezbollah, the fact that you did not like my proposal does not mean that I did not state it :)

What Israel wants to do with Iran and Syria is its own decision, however attacking Hezbollah while keeping Iran and Syria in a position to re-arm Hezbollah is just vain in my opinion, that is if you want to follow a military solution.

Cheers

Posted by: Lira at June 23, 2006 04:28 AM

To this day I still don't understand what your proposal vis a vis Hizb'allah really is, Lira. It just seems to me that you don't like them, would like to see them disarmed but can't think of a way to do it, and that since that is so, people should treat them nicely and stop calling them terrorists in the hope that things will somehow be all right. If you call that a "policy", OK, but I just don't see what it will accomplish.

I agree that there may be no permanent military solution so long as Iran is left to pursue its intrigues. That's why I have said that the key to this is overthrowing the mullah-ocracy in Tehran. If the warmongering nutcases in Iran can be eliminated and a sane government established, Syria and Hizb'allah will dry up and blow away. Israel cannot do this by itself, so it has, unfortunately, no choice but to defend itself as best it can. This may necessitate the occasional mini-war. But the alternative for Israel is to just sit there and take it, which is no alternative al all.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 23, 2006 09:49 AM

By the way, please check post # 6 on this thread:

Lira said: The Israelis invaded Lebanon out of their perceived need (correctly or incorrectly) to self defense, and will not accept large numbers of Palestinian refugees for the same reason, and that that's their right, because all people have the right to self defense.

I and many other Lebanese acknowledge Israel's right to exist and for self-defense, this is the basis of peace; let us work together on getting the rest of the Lebanese to believe in this.

Posted by: Lira at June 23, 2006 03:16 PM

I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I'm glad to know that there are other Lebanese who feel the way you do.

Now, if we could just get Hizb'allah to agree, everything would be solved.

Posted by: Ephraim at June 23, 2006 03:53 PM

If Hezbollah is the Agent of Iran, Syria and Qatar, then reasonable seems entirely out of reach.

The basis of peace. Understanding and Accepting Israel*s right to exist, does seem a long way off into the future.

We in North America prefer quick, convienient push-button problem solving.

32 years and counting.. how many more years to go? TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at June 24, 2006 08:04 AM

Ephraim, we might not be able to get Hezbollah as leaders and cadres to accept peace anytime soon, however we could certainly work on gaining their popular constituency, namely the Lebanese Shiites.

So if non-Shiite Lebanese and Israelis could figure out how to get the Shiite population to their side, Hezbollah's powers and influence will be greatly reduced.

Posted by: Lira at June 25, 2006 09:50 AM

The world needs a brilliant Muslim leader who while Shiite is able to miimize old Sunni and intra group hatreds and cause Muslims to pull together for everyone*s common good.

There seems to be no such leader that I am aware of. So far there seem to be many chieftans who shoot, kill and be-head to advance their cause, yet are really reaping a harvest of world hatred.

Keep poking and eventually there will be an event that will be devastating. Devastating to no single group, but to all of us collectively.

Seems as though diplomacy is progressing once again with Iran and North Korea. I wonder how often we must go through the rattling of weapons and the special talks that result. TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at June 25, 2006 04:45 PM

TG, it really comes back to socio-economic reasons. With the availability of quality education and better economic conditions, people will be less enclined to support fundametalism.

Posted by: Lira at June 26, 2006 02:04 PM
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