November 11, 2006

A Few Final Words

Yesterday I published an argument between myself and a member of Hezbollah that was generated in the comments.

I regret being less polite than he when we first encountered each other. By way of explanation, I will say this. During my time in Lebanon I was treated viciously by Hezbollah officials because I cracked a joke on my blog and because they suspected a colleague of mine was a Jew. This, of course, is a trifle compared with what Hezbollah has done to others less fortunate than myself. But my history with them is what it is, and they made it personal.

I also am furious at Hezbollah for starting a war that brought air strikes and bombs to my old neighborhood, that killed innocent people -- many of them children -- in two countries. I lashed out at the first Hizbullahi I encountered after that war.

It may seem ridiculous to some of you that I would concern myself about something as trivial as online etiquette with a man who self-identifies as an enemy and who says the phrase Death to America comes from his heart. But I did meet supporters of Hezbollah who were nice to me despite our vast political differences (to put it lightly). I have spoken to members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who lied and dissembled, but who at the same time treated me decently and with at least formal respect. Arabs, for the most part, are courteous people. I admire that trait in their culture. Americans and Europeans can and at times do learn courtesy from the Arabs. Mr. Al Ghaliboon has conducted himself politely in the comments here, and it was fascinating to watch how almost every Westerner who interacted with him, myself included, became more polite over time.

None of this means those of us who participated are going to become Hezbollah supporters any time soon. Al Ghaliboon will not join Lebanon's March 14 Movement (ie, the Cedar Revolution) because of anything he might have learned here. Nor is there any middle ground we can work toward. I strive for moderation in my American political views. That's because Americans have common ground and common values to build on. Most of us agree on the basic political questions.

It is possible for mainstream Americans and mainstream Lebanese to find some common ground even though there are also vast political and cultural differences. Lebanon is an ally of sorts of the United States, and not in the corrupt and degrading way that Egypt and Saudi Arabia supposedly are. It's a tense alliance, and it is severely strained -- more so than you probably think -- because of the war in July and August. The alliance is not supported by every group in the country, and perhaps never will be. But it's something.

Hezbollah, though, remains on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Al Ghaliboon is an enemy. I do not mean to insult him by calling him this. It is simply the way things are. He self-identifies as an enemy, and it only takes one side to define that kind of relationship. As far as I am concerned, he is welcome to transform that relationship into something more productive at any time. Americans forgive more quickly and easily than he thinks, I suspect.

Anyway, I've given a lot more time and space to a member of Hezbollah than I ever expected I would or even probably should have. I'd like, then, to promote what I think is one of the strongest responses from this fascinating discussion to the main page. I don't agree with everything written below, but it's engaging and powerful and I do agree with a lot of it. It is an unabashedly hostile reponse. It is also, at the same time, a calm one.

I image Al Ghaliboon is at least partly interested in this discussion in the spirit of knowing one's enemy. He is free to correct me if I am wrong. Either way, Al Ghaliboon, here is your enemy:
Let us speak for a moment of practicalities. Of realpolitik, if you will.

alGhali, my name is Ric. I understand that means something amusing to you. I urge you to suppress that reaction.

I am, more or less in order of importance, an American, a Christian, a Texan, a military veteran, a Republican, and a descendant of American Indians. Whatever your goals are, you must convince me, and others like me, not to oppose them, or you don't have a hope in Hell.

The reason that is so is that you produce nothing for yourself. You and your people do not even make the explosives you kill people with; you must buy them from the West, or from the Persians. You and your people don't make the televisions you watch Nasrallah speak on; you must buy them from the Japanese and the Koreans. You don't make the studios or their equipment; you must buy them from us, or from the British or French. You don't make the cell phones you use as triggers for booby traps; you must buy them from the West, or again Japan and Korea. You don't make the pickup trucks that transport your "soldiers" to battle. You don't even make the guns you brandish so forcefully, or the ammunition you waste spraying at the sky. The rockets? Russia or Eastern Europe.

You don't even earn the money you buy those things with. You must depend upon the largesse, the generosity, of others, and if you believe that generosity is genuinely in your interest you are too stupid to take seriously, or else you depend upon Western desire for the oil, which was put there by Allah with no effort on your part; you did nothing to earn it.

We, on the other hand (and by "we" I mean the West and those who have copied us) make all those things. It is for this reason that we are strong. We learned, with the most painful lessons coming in the century just past, that both Mao and Machiavelli were wrong. Good soldiers may well get you gold, but for us gold is useful stuff for electronics and not much more; our wealth is elsewhere. The sort of power that flows from the barrel of a gun is transitory and not a little illusory. If you have the power of wealth, guns are so cheap they can be handed out to the likes of you for our entertainment. What we have learned is the deep truth of another aphorism: When you are strong you can forgive your enemies. When you are weak you can only kill them.

You, sir, are a weakling and a coward, and as such we will never support you. You prove yourself a weakling by announcing your intention to kill, thereby establishing that you are too weak to forgive. You confirm that by never producing anything of your own, only demanding that others provide your support. You have no strength, no power. You are not a slave, and we have no desire to have you as a slave -- a slave must at least be able to hew wood and carry water, and you have established that you have not the strength for that even on your own behalf, by demanding that others do it for you while you arm yourself to kill.

Therefore you have failed in your aim. You have not come close, with your glib recital of past vilenesses, to convincing me to support you. I mentioned that I am a descendant of American Indians. A century and a half ago, the invading whites ripped some of my ancestors from their lands, forcing them to walk almost three thousand kilometers to a a desolate untamed land where they were "resettled", and took the ancestral lands for their own. But I am a Westerner. That is in the past, and the reality for today is that if I wish a redress of those grievances, first I must amass the power -- and I understand that wealth is power, and all else is weakness. If I will not build real power I am simply a murderer if I seek to drive the descendants of the robbers from my ancestors' homeland. And, strangely enough, I find that as I amass real power the issue recedes. One bit of land will do as well as another. Speaking of "homelands" is simply an excuse for tyrants to gather political power from lazy people who are wistful for past glory but unwilling to make new glory.

The guns, the rockets, the bombs, all the warstuff you amass is worthless so long as you must get it by trusting the largesse of others. It will never gain you the strength you want. The ability to kill is not power. The ability to build is power, power we can respect. If you have real power, the warstuff is toys and bagattelles.

And if you are seeking "honor" from us, you have failed again. "Honor" as you understand it means that we recognize your ability to kill or damage who or what you like, when you like, without effective reprisal. We call that "bullying" and consider it the behavior of jackals. By insisting upon it you class yourself with those.

Save your rhetoric. You have failed, and will continue to fail. Your every presentation that you consider as influencing the West to favor you instead reminds us of what we consider our dishonorable past; you disgust us because you remind us of our primitive origins, which we have done our best to suppress. Even the word "jihad", which you use among yourselves and in your propaganda as a term of approbation, for us is quite different. An attempt, by military or other violent force, to extend the reach of one's beliefs or religion is a crusade. That's what the English word means. The fact that today's Crusaders wear a crescent-and-star instead of a cross makes no difference. Hassan Nasrallah, and you, are Crusaders. You should change your name to Geoffrey.

It's fun to read your apologias and what you consider to be your arguments, but I am one of the ones you must convince, and you have not only failed to advance that cause, you are farther from it than you were when I had never heard of you. If you want my support -- and you cannot come close to your goals without it, and you know it, or you would not make the attempt -- you must change your tactics. I don't care to advise you on what tactics to use, except to let you know that several others upthread have offered useful hints, because frankly you disgust me. Your presentation has made it more likely that I will shoot you or your followers when I encounter you, not less. You are a failure. Accept that and learn.

Regards,
Ric Locke
Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 12:14 AM
Comments

A very powerful piece - echoes some arguments in "Civilization and its Enemies" by Lee Harris, one of my favorite commentators on the subject.

I wish I could agree with it. Ali Ghaboon and his ilk are ultimately on the wrong side of history, but history can take a long time. In the meantime, the "tactics" that Ric disparages drove the Israelis out of Lebanon, are keeping them bogged down in Gaza, and will undoubtedly drive the Americans out of Iraq. America has exhausted itself militarily and politically eliminating Iran's chief enemy to the west, leaving that wonderful country with the initiative and freedom of action, which no one in the west seems willing to oppose.

I'd say things are going to get better for Ali and his friends before they get worse.

Posted by: MarkC at November 11, 2006 01:26 AM

Ric Locke writes And if you are seeking "honor" from us, you have failed again.
We have here a clash of the most basic kind: the meaning of "honor." The longer I live in the Middle East, the more I realize that Disneyland represents everything both good and bad about the West, but the difference (from the Middle East) is you can leave when you've had enough. Myths are important, but they're not enough. The West defined "honor" as achieving redemption through building useful things.

Posted by: savtadotty at November 11, 2006 01:51 AM

Yes, Hezbollah MUST and WILL disarm.

However, it is important to remember that it was Israel that made enemies out of Southern Lebanese to begin with. These same people were throwing rice at them when they drove the PLO out of Southern Lebanon in 1982, and it is because of Israel's actions and methods that the people there rose up against them. The tolerance of Southern Lebanese being occupied by the Israeli military is about the same as as Texans' tolerance for occupation by Chinese troops.

Hezbollah is not an enemy of the United States. It has never targeted U.S. interests nor harmed U.S. citizens. The U.S. embassy and Marine Barracks bombings were mainly the work of Imad Mugnieh who is a tool of Iranian intelligence and he currently resides in Iran. In 1983 Hezbollah did not even exist as an organization. Hezbollah's only problem with the U.S. is its unconditional support for Israel.

When you are in conflict with someone, and you want to see why and how your enemy is able to do to you what they do, and realize is it because the United States is backing them up, you can be forgiven for being sort of angry at the U.S.

It seems most of you do not know much about Hezbollah. The launching of Katyusha and other rockets by Hezbollah is based on a very simple strategy. The launching of such rockets is not done as a military strategy but rather as a strategic one. Hezbollah's policy, and looking at their past they have held trut to this, is to only launch rockets at Israel when Lebanese civilians are targeted by the Israeli military. During the July War, Hezbollah did not launch a single rocket at Israel until Israel started killing Lebanese civilians and targeting civilian infrastructure.

Mark C says that Hezbollah are on the wrong side of history. I disagree. They are wrong for keeping their weapons up until 2007 almost, however, history will judge them in a positive light. This is not Hamas you are talking about here. Hezbollah only targets Israel's military unless Lebanese civilians are targeted first, which seems to be a fair response to me.

This blind support of Israel is not going to get you anywhere. Also, please do not confuse the war on terror against Al-Qaeda and lump it together with this conflict. Not all Islamists want to see the end of the U.S. Whoever chants "Death to America" is doing so for domestic consumption and to express anger at U.S. policies. However, actions speak louder than words, and like I said, Hezbollah does not target Americans nor American interests.

MJT, I have a question. When you say the March 14 Cedar revolution, do you mean the spirit of what happened on March 14, 2005, or the "March 14" of today?

Posted by: Omega80 at November 11, 2006 01:51 AM

Things will get worse, though. For sure.

The problem for Al is that if things get better for him and his friends in Tehran, we in the West will get more pissed off. He will like us even less when we get pissed off again.

Right now we're pretty mellow on average. The Democrats won the election, etc. But Hillary Clinton defended Israel's ass-kicking of Hezbollah. Watch what happens when they fire missiles at cities again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 01:53 AM

Last comment was in response to MarkC.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 01:54 AM

To continue the thought for a moment, it is actually their lack of wealth/power, that makes them strong - no factories, no infrastructure for us to hit. Greed will ensure that the flow of weapons will never cease. Western notions of morality constrain us from taking actions that will inflict excessive civilian casualties, limiting our freedom of action against them.

They have chosen the model of the parasite. A parasite cannot create the means for its own survival, but draws strength from its host at the same time that it is killing it. A parasite may inspire disgust and loathing, but it is dangerous and deadly effective. To indulge in a hollow triumphalism of the West, is to be blinded to this danger, as we were in Iraq.

Posted by: MarkC at November 11, 2006 01:54 AM

"When you are strong you can forgive your enemies. When you are weak you can only kill them."

I would like to comment on this, which I believe is very true. However, the opinions of one person do not represent the reality on the ground. Hezbollah does not seek the elimination of the United States of America, nor do they really seek the elimination of Israel. If that is said sometimes, it is for a domestic audience, and has to do with internal Lebanese dynamics and nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict nor the United States.

Most of what you see today that Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon, including the events that led to the war in July, have to do with jockeying for political power in an internal Lebanese context.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 11, 2006 01:56 AM

Come on, Omega. Hezbollah self-identifies as an enemy of the United States. You know, Death to America, Great Satan, and all the rest of it.

Incidentally, your Free Patriotic Movement is bloody foolish to make even a tactical alliance with these people. The US government is getting ready to put you on the list of terrorist organizations. I think that's a ridiculous idea, but it's not my job to officially classify Michel Aoun's party one way or the other and there's not a damn thing I can do to stop it.

Anyway, Hassan Nasrallah recently said "Death to America is not a slogan. Death to America is a policy, a strategy and a vision."

I realize he hasn't fired rockets at us, and we haven't fired missiles at him. That does not mean he is friendly or neutral. Or France.

I don't want to get into yet another argument over whether or not Israel targets civilians. Yes, Israel kills civilians. That is the hell of asymetrical warfare. Please tell us if and when you or anyone else comes up with a way to fight a guerilla army without killing civilians at the same time. The US and the Israelis will both adopt it. Citizens in my country and theirs will demand it.

My saying this does not mean I approve of everything the IAF blew up in the air war.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 02:11 AM

Omega: Most of what you see today that Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon, including the events that led to the war in July, have to do with jockeying for political power in an internal Lebanese context.

Yes, I am aware of that. Which is why I worry that Lebanon heading toward two more wars.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 02:13 AM

Michael,
The FPM's agreement with Hezbollah to be quite honest is probably the single most important factor why up until now there has not been renewed civil conflict in Lebanon.

Hezbollah believes that their weapons are a substitute for their community's historical position as being the underdog in Lebanese society, especially relating to the fact that they only hold they #3 post in the country while without a doubt demographically they are the most numberous.

The hand holding the gun in Hezbollah's flag has more to do with Hezbollah's feeling of fighting injustices within Lebanese society and being a revolutionary movement in that regard than with fighting Israel. Hezbollah's war with Israel ended in 2000. Everything after that date is just an excuse to keep its weapons, but not for any reason having to do with Israel, but like I said, because of internal Lebanese dynamics.

Hezbollah feels that it has led its community out of its psychological state of feeling weak and vunerable into a position of strength within Lebanese society. They direct their attention towards Israel as opposed to directing it against other Lebanese.

At one point in Lebanon Hezbollah was pushed into a corner and isolated to the point where it was inevitable that there was going to be a backlash. The FPM made sure that this did not occur by making them feel that they are cared about as fellow Lebanese and that we care about their concerns and feel that they do indeed make up an important part of the country. To be honest, this has calmed them down a great deal. They are slowly but surely learning to direct their problems where they should be directed, which is internally in Lebanon. They are also learning how to do it without threatening.

Why do you think the U.S. government does not repeat every 2 seconds anymore that Hezbollah should disarm? Because they no know that their weapons remain because of Lebanese issues, and know that they will only go away as a result of what happens inside Lebanon.

The best thing the U.S. can do for us is to do all it can to make sure Syria leaves us alone. I believe George Bush is wise enough to know that dialogue with Syria is fruitless because it has been done before and nothing has come out of it. Syria can never be at peace with Israel because the nature of their security regime demands that there is always an external enemy to justify the intense security paranoia in the country.

The Syrians also want to get Lebanon back. So please go and tell Hillary Clinton to read some history before she says that the U.S. government should engage Syria. Engaging Iran is a wise idea because they have shown that they are willing to give things in return, like how they helped the U.S. during the Bonn Conference that decided the fate of Afghanistan after the U.S. war over there.

Either way, to understand things better, please read this: http://www.mideastmonitor.org/issues/0609/0609_1.htm

and try to see things from a slightly different perspective. Hezbollah is no longer a threat to Israel in any way, period.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 11, 2006 02:24 AM

One more thing. The U.S. government never intended to put the FPM on any terror list. That was a rumor created by our domestic political adversaries. The FPM has good relations with the U.S. government and there are many FPMers that reside in the United States.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 11, 2006 02:27 AM

Mr. Totten,

You say you in the West will get more pissed off (assuming the West is one monolithic bloc in as far as popular perceptions and beliefs go - which is far from the case; but let me give you the benefit of the doubt on this point), but I highly suspect that this anger will add anything new to your list of Middle Eastern successes, which is pretty much empty. Until you stop viewing history as merely a tool to justify the actions of the present and the plans for the future, and start seeing it as something that starts way before the time that U.S (or western) interests were dealt a blow, until you start viewing history as a record that explains our anger towards your country's policies, rather than consider it as something that started on 9/11 or July 12, 2006 (for Israel), you will not understand the roots of our anger (at least beyond Mr. Lewis's simplistic explanations that place the blame - as usual - on Islam) and consequently fail to achieve anything - and I do mean anything. However, learning from the past by admitting the wrongs is not a weakness, and we, Hizbullah, have done it on more than one occasion. At least learn that from us.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 05:00 AM

Omega,

It's not very complicated.

There were pluses from HA-FPM alliance as you say. Unfortunately the pluses all went to HEZBO. Yes HA had some Christian cover which eased internal tensions but them what? Aounists-FPM got nothing and Lebanon got the war.

You and HA apologists: STOP this idiocy of saying it's about getting the Shia community its rights etc.

The day HA, and it had a choice after 2000, says we want all these internal things for our community (run the state, new constitutio, positions, money for the south etc) no one can or will seriously say NO.

What people are saying NO to is a group who cares nothing about Lebanon and who is ON RECORD it won't stop WAR. Not after Shebaa is back, not after its prisoners are back and not even after Syria and the Palestinians make peace with Israel.

What frigging group on the planet wants internal gains by threatening EXTERNAL war on an enemy which will clobber it everytime?

Stop deluding yourselves.

Posted by: JoseyWales at November 11, 2006 05:11 AM

~~~Anyway, I've given a lot more time and space to a member of Hezbollah than I ever expected I would or even probably should have.~~~

On the contrary Mr. Totten. To write ABOUT opponents with like-minded people I find a waste, to speak with your enemy however transforms things into writing WITH opponents and therefore way more constructive than the average nodding-head-agreement discussions that'll get people more settled into ideas and views they had in the first place anyway and drifts them into not reaching out to what the real issue is.

Posted by: tsedek at November 11, 2006 06:28 AM

therefore way more constructive than the average nodding-head-agreement discussions that'll get people more settled into ideas and views they had in the first place anyway and drifts them into not reaching out to what the real issue is.

Well put, tsedek. Though I profoundly disagree with AG's arguments, I personally found the way he made them a refreshing change from the comical and cartoonish screeching about the "Zionist entity" you read in a lot of Arab blogs.

Incidentally I also found his argument with you on the right of return in the last post fascinating. In particular that whether the refugees will return in 10/100/1000 years, he believes they will return (which of course automatically leads to the end of Israel).

He, like a lot of people in the Middle East, has a long view of history that most of us in the West no longer have.

Israel has been around for 60 odd years. A lot of Arabs are very aware that the crusader states (which they see Israel as the successor to - notwithstanding the fact that the Crusaders killed Jews!) lasted for around 200 before they were finally pushed into the sea. Hence their confidence that the same will eventually happen here.

It's also, I believe, why Palestinian and Islamic groups are willing to provoke Israel into actions that directly lead to suffering for the civillian population. These are "sacrifices" that are ultimately for the greater good and make sure that the temperature is constantly kept nice and high.

Posted by: Dirk at November 11, 2006 07:34 AM

al Ghali,

You will note that, in the screed Mr. Totten reprinted, I made no representation as to whether or not I approved of your goals. I have not and will not make such a representation. I am simply advising you what the response of a large portion of American thought is and will be to your tactics.

In reading your apologias one thing becomes clear: you have a remarkably distorted view of what Western goals actually are, and draw completely inaccurate conclusions from our actions based on those assumptions.

So let me be frank. We don't want you. We don't want you as slaves, because you produce nothing of sufficient value to justify your upkeep. We don't want to steal the oil, because we can get it much more cheaply by buying it from the oligarchs and tyrants you support and empower. We are willing, grudgingly, to have you as neighbors, but we don't really want that, because you inevitably trash the place and engage in cruelty to our pets and children.

Do not trust John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Juan Cole, and their allies and co-religionists. They are Leftists. Their brains are so fried by almost a century of doctrine switches that they have no concepts to apply to Western actions except "imperialism". The United States is not imperialist, and has not been imperialist since at least 1945, arguably 1929. Despite gleeful adoption of the word by its practitioners, the United States is not even "capitalist" in the sense that (e.g.) Fisk and Galloway use the word.

We have no desire and no intention to take over your country, run your affairs, take your resources, and defraud your labor. Our economies are so structured that none of those things would return a profit in our terms, and we have no ideological reasons to impose our will on you. People who tell you otherwise are fools and liars, and following their advice will lead you to a bad end. The worst possible end would be that we would, in frustration, decide to adopt the very policies you rail against. If that happens you're in deep trouble.

Note that the growing consensus in Washington is that more troops should be sent to Iraq to "provide security". The whole reason there are so few Americans in Iraq is that the concept from the very beginning was that Iraq must provide its own security, after Americans had removed a severe impediment Iraqis had allowed to establish itself. Sending more Americans will be the first indication you will have that your mistaken efforts have borne poisoned fruit.

Your and your apologists' arguments that such things as "Death to America!" slogans are internal matters which we should ignore are fruitless. We have done so in the past, and in fact the last half-century is a more or less continuous record of our ignoring "Death to America!" and "Yanqui go home!" in favor of going on with business. But we do not favor neighbors who keep their yards clean by throwing garbage over the fence, and when the said garbage is not merely dirty but poisonous and explosive we are likely to react badly. The tactic is not viable in the long term.

On the other hand, if you settle down and start producing in the economic sense, certain things will inevitably occur. The concomitants of prosperity appear to be universal -- people who are able to do so choose detached housing in suburbia, want cars and mobility, and develop interests that are trivial and egotistical, among other things. The United States was the first in the world to get that far, so the frustrated failures of the Left have defined those things as deliberate policies of the United States to be exported by force: "cultural imperialism". You had better wake up and smell the sewage. Those who advise you to resist "cultural imperialism" are demanding that you acquiesce to tyranny, preferably theirs and their clients', in order to shadowbox against an opponent who isn't even there. We don't want to impose a way of life upon you, and people who tell you otherwise are liars. The only dog we have in that fight is that we believe that if you do become prosperous you will inevitably develop a lifestyle that makes you more comfortable neighbors, and we wish to encourage it on those grounds. Our economy is not zero-sum; your riches do not impoverish us, and insisting that the reverse is true is harking back to Leninist propaganda that has been obsolete for a generation.

You have real enemies. I am one of them, although that is because you have chosen the role -- I would prefer to ignore you, and your posturing and violence simply make you contemptible. This is not to say you could not respectably oppose me. The French are in some ways my opponents, the Chinese even more so; both of them manage to be competitors without weapon-waving vainglory, and we trade vigorously, all of us getting rich, while despising one anothers' guts. That's how it works. For long-term success, join the program.

Regards,
Ric

Posted by: Ric Locke at November 11, 2006 07:51 AM

Omega80,

A couple of months ago I would have believed that you are sincere. After reading your posts on the FPM forum it is quite clear to me that you and FPM tolerate racism and genocide when applied to Jews.

To me, your initial answer to Al in the "nuke Israel debate" was very telling. You never said to him that his opinions are racist and genocidal only that they are not practical. You don't even realize what you have become.
Just tell me if you disagree and would like me to post the link.

If you think everyone is fooled, think again. If FPM is not on the terror list this year, it will be next year. The beauty of the Internet is that many people can voice their ideas. But it makes it very difficult to play the game of voicing one opinion while really holding another.

You cannot dance with the devil without becoming like him. You think you are changing him, while he is really changing you.

All in all, the antisemitism and hate tolerated by the moderators on the FPM forum, where Alghalibon is a star, is a clear sign of where FPM and their US supporters stand, and this position will be made clear to people who decide on lists.

e

Posted by: e at November 11, 2006 08:03 AM

Dirk, from a totally different outlook I DO understand AlGhaliboon's demand that the choice should be at the hands of the ones defeated (the Palestinian refugees) because that would implicate (seen in that perspective) that the honor is returned (self-determination, not having others decide your fate). BUT it would be indeed the end of Israel if such a basic principle would be taken up on and therefore out of the question. That's what's so sad about it... it's a cul-de-sac (a point that leaves no alternatives then keep on fighting)

Posted by: tsedek at November 11, 2006 08:13 AM

It is indeed an interesting concept, the engagment of one's enemies in dialogue. I believe that it is never about convincing people of a 'truth'. Not really. It is all quite irrelevant. With fascists, it is only about creating an advantage for the next opportunity.

Hizbo is first and foremost a "religiously" based organization and as such, the comments of anyone associated with such fundamentalist organizations must be taken in the context of their prime directives, be they salafi-wahabbi sunnis or persian-inspired shiite nazis.

They will use any means to accomplish their prime directives. Even they are not so deluded that they think that they will conquer us directly. That is not the immediate aim. They believe that in time, they will infiltrate and out-populate us and in the recent words of an Norwegian imam employ their propensity to 'propagate like mosquitos.

Our buddy here can pretend that he is only interested in Lebanon. That's like the islamo-nazis saying that they are really only interested in the Jews. They always have the large, ultimate prizes in mind, but it is usually intentionally unsaid in order in the employment of their ultimate weapon--deception.

Change of direction in the few apostate muslims that exist, --and indeed their turning on the whole hypocricy of the koranic manifesto, if you read their stories, seemed to have come about from some epiphany that had it's genesis in a long sequence of their personal histories. It at least appears to have been the case for people like Walid Shoebat, Anwar Shaikh, and Salah Choudhury.( The truely spirtual refutation of this pseudo-religious body politic finds its form in the words of courageous muslim saints like Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi).

So let's not get all carried away with the dialogue amongst enemies. It serves a specific purpose for this species of human.

Oh, one more comment about that response to our Hizbo buddy: Those of his ilk, aside from their exclusively catabolic approach to life, their sources of hard cash do not come exclusively in the form of charity from their persian puppet-masters or the tithes of their expatriate minions--these also include the vast revenue from their extensive commerce in the trade of drugs. This is of course just one of the many significators of the depth of the true spritual basis of such pseudo-religious nazis.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at November 11, 2006 08:17 AM

I read your blog because of your first hand experience traveling in the middle east. Regardless of the political spectrum those experiences are filtered through, the first hand accounts on this site give an added flavor and depth not available in the mainstream media.

Having said that, your conversations with Al Ghaliboon (and Ric's response) seems like a text book example of two people talking past each other. It reminds me of two partisan talking heads on cable television, both unwillingness to acknowledge that the other sides point is in anyway valid.

From my reading of history, it seems that wars end when one or both sides are so exhausted that political speeches demonizing the enemy loose their ability to motivate the populous. It would appear that we have not yet reached that point.

Posted by: Bob J Young at November 11, 2006 08:46 AM

Hmmm..
I think that I should have used “populace” not “populous”.

Posted by: Bob J Young at November 11, 2006 09:09 AM

They are Leftists. Their brains are so fried by almost a century of doctrine switches that they have no concepts to apply to Western actions except "imperialism"

I don't agree with Robert Fisk and (especially) John Pilger but that's quite a sweeping generalisation. You could just as easily say that there are "rightists" whose brains have also been 'fried' by blinkered and doctrinate views.

Al Ghaliboon (and Ric's response) seems like a text book example of two people talking past each other. It reminds me of two partisan talking heads on cable television, both unwillingness to acknowledge that the other sides point is in anyway valid.

I don't think for a moment that any minds are going to be changed here. But, as has already been said, it's healthy and positive that there's a reasonably civil discussion going on. At the very least we'll have a better understanding where each of us is coming from.

Posted by: Dirk at November 11, 2006 09:18 AM

Just a thought, but why was our Hezzi Islamist friend posting on the internet all day Friday? Is that allowed in Islam?

Posted by: Mertel at November 11, 2006 09:31 AM

Arabs, for the most part, are courteous people. I admire that trait in their culture. Americans and Europeans can and at times do learn courtesy from the Arabs. Mr. Al Ghaliboon has conducted himself politely in the comments here, and it was fascinating to watch how almost every Westerner who interacted with him, myself included, became more polite over time.

For the most part, male Arabs are polite to other males. But, let's face it, present-day Arab societies are quite famously discourteous towards all women.

The most frightening thing about these open attacks against women, vieled or not, is the reaction of the police and the media. They did their best to ignore it.

Of course, treating women as equals is forbidden by Islamic/Sharia laws.

Speaking of courtesy, I tried to engage Mr. Al Ghaliboon in conversation many times, but was consistently ignored. It may have been an oversight, but it was a very consistent one. More consistent than I have ever encountered from a commenter. Given Hezbollah's Sharia-centric views, I have to guess that Mr. Al Ghaliboon is not accustomed to treating uncovered meat with respect.

Posted by: mary at November 11, 2006 09:35 AM

@Dirk
Yup!

Posted by: Bob J Young at November 11, 2006 09:35 AM

Dirk

I don't think for a moment that any minds are going to be changed here.

Someone once said that ideas are never defeated in debate, but rather when their catastrophic consequences come roosting home.

I find that very true. And in the Middle East, even catastrophes are not enough to open eyes or minds.

tata

Posted by: JoseyWales at November 11, 2006 10:09 AM

Mary, not in the least, I do not object to responding (I have even responded to an Israeli), and if I have missed your comment/question, I apologize. What was your question at any rate, to spare me the trouble of looking through the 3 posts?

Mertel, please educate yourself on Islam, especially Shi'ite Twelver (Twelve Imams) Islam. It might spare you some embarrassment.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 10:16 AM

Mary, not in the least, I do not object to responding (I have even responded to an Israeli)

My goodness, that is an accomplishment.

What was your question at any rate, to spare me the trouble of looking through the 3 posts?*

One question was:

"[Hezbollah's] psychology and your perceptions are very easy to understand. Your attempts to disguise your warmongering efforts by calling them a "struggle", calling your Iran-financed war "indigenous resistance" is just reheated marxism, nothing new.

Your motives are old too - you want more money, power and land, just like everyone else who has ever waged war.

Our motives, however, are so complicated, they're a mystery even to us. The best way to fight an asymetric war is asymetrically. The only mystery is - why don't we do that?

In your educated opinion, why haven't we figured that out yet?"

[* just helpful web hint - to find something quickly on a web page, click on that page, then enter CTRL-f. A 'Find:' box should appear on the lower left-hand corner of your browser if you're using Firefox. If you're using Explorer, you'll get a pop-up 'Find' box. Type or copy the name, phrase or word you're looking for into that box and hit enter. It's a quick way to scan large pages for one comment, commenter or topic. If you're obsessed with something, like, say, Israel, it's a quick way to find every reference to Israel on that page]

Posted by: mary at November 11, 2006 10:34 AM

...talking past one another...

Perhaps. But you're making an assumption there, namely that I have not read or heard and understood "the winner's" presentation, and that he has not heard or read and understood mine. On my part, understanding does not equal acceptance, let alone agreement, and as I have said I make no representation one way or the other as to whether I agree with al Ghaliboon's goals. His troubles come from forces outside his direct control, which he knows well and complains about with some bitterness, and as a practical matter he needs something that affects those forces to change his fortunes. I am simply trying to inform him, as simply and directly as I am able, that his tactics to achieve that are not working and are in general counterproductive -- beginning with the cargo-cult absurdity of his chosen pseudonym. If that's "going by him" it isn't my fault.

I don't agree with Robert Fisk and (especially) John Pilger but that's quite a sweeping generalisation. You could just as easily say that there are "rightists" whose brains have also been 'fried' by blinkered and doctrinate views.

Well, certainly. But brain-dead rightists are not in positions of power or influence, despite the shrieks of the Left when one appears and tries to make his case. The Pilgers and Fisks, the Guardian, George Galloway, ANSWER, et al are not only the apparent directive organs of the visible Left, they are the loudest and most visible, and are rarely argued with by more "moderate" people.

If you consider yourself a Leftist, and continue to analyze American aims, intentions, and actions in terms of imperialism, you are projecting concepts that have been obsolete for half a century and obsolescent for a full one into modern discourse; you are displaying your obliviousness to the course of events as it actually unfolded and is unfolding. Most of what you are promoting is not, in fact, recognizably "left" in the first place. It is the result of Russian propagandists using sophistry to establish that starting up a hamburger stand with an American company name on it is "imperialism", and the arrival of a brigade of Soviet troops to take control in pursuance of their own goals is not.

I will admit that "brains fried by doctrine switches" is an inference. Something influenced the Left to abandon its stated ambitions and ideologies in favor of warping them to support oligarchs over labor leaders, mass-murderers and genocidists over those desiring trade and intercourse, and "well-run tyrannies" over the desire of peoples for self-determination. What that force may be is still in question, but I consider my hypothesis at least plausible.

Regards,
Ric

Posted by: Ric Locke at November 11, 2006 10:52 AM

Mary,

I will make this quick since I am busy (and my request for the re-posting was due to this, and not due to the fact that I do not know how to search - you underestimate us, we know much more than this, so much so that you would be surprised. But this much about that).

Do you even know the most basic tenets of Marxism? From what I can see, you do not. It seems that anti-Marxism (and anything to do with communism) has become the battle cry of many right-wingers (who ironically advise us to "get over" the past when they themselves show no signs of it).

However, to answer your accusations of us wanting power, land, and money. Money is a material thing, and our belief is in things that transcend these. We cannot thus be slaves to such materialism. It is against our beliefs. Land is something we are attached to, and cannot give up on. Power is a means to an end, not an end in itself. We do not, absolutely not, believe in power in and of itself. The only time that we accept to "compete" for power is for the sake of serving God.

I am not sure what you mean by asymetric war; but if you mean by your question, why you have not adopted the same set of motives as we allegedly have, the response would be, the question is invalid, because you HAVE (but think or want us to think that you haven't). What you haven't figured out yet is that we are not inferior (as many have outrightly expressed - in a way that would be deemed racist if we were of the politically correct ethnicity and religion), and that our faith is a choice and not indoctrination or compulsion; why is that so hard to understand, and even harder to accept? We respect your lifestyle, but we also expect that you respect ours. We do not think there is an inherent clash of civilizations. What is missing is mutual respect. This is largely missing from the American (and generally western) scene, because our religion and faith are deemed as a fanatic manifestation; we on the other hand, respect all faiths, especially so the 2 other monotheistic religions, Christianity and Judaism. In Islam, all 3 are intertwined, and we accept Jesus (Issa) as a Prophet and celebrate the revelation of the Torah, and the Bible, in addition to the Holy Qur'an. I think it is unfair to paint us all with the same paint, because you would then tend to paint the image of fanatics, because that is what sticks in your mind (understandably so) due to the actions of terrorists like Bin Laden & co.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 10:52 AM

"Mertel, please educate yourself on Islam, especially Shi'ite Twelver (Twelve Imams) Islam. It might spare you some embarrassment."

It was a genuine question AlGhaliboon. A derogatory reply is unhelpful. I will never be embarrassed to ask questions. It's how I learn.

"I have even responded to an Israeli"

Wow. Did it hurt? Haven't you just broken a Lebanese law that forbids any contact with Israelis?

Posted by: Mertel at November 11, 2006 11:22 AM

"After reading your posts on the FPM forum it is quite clear to me that you and FPM tolerate racism and genocide when applied to Jews."

E, your comments are disgusting. If you want to go back and read that thread, you will see the countless number of posts I put up aruging with him about his points regarding nuclear war with Israel. It seems as if you just want to find any reason to critisize or try and put a label on me so it can become easier for you to dismiss my points. As a result, I won't be replying to your comments anymore.

The forum is a place where people express their opinions. Yes, there are anti-Israeli opinions on the forum, which do not break the forum rules, if you bother to read them.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 11, 2006 11:54 AM

Mertel,

Fair enough; Friday is a day we congregate at the Mosque for prayers (this is obligatory for men) and listen to the "khutba" (sermon). Needless to say, it does not last the whole day, which is why I took your sentence as merely an attempt at mockery.

Haven't you just broken a Lebanese law that forbids any contact with Israelis?
Including on the battlefield? Or when dealing with captured soldiers? The law itself is a travesty, I would say; it was merely meant for those who might collaborate and pass on information (this is why it's a travesty, because in Lebanon you always have people willing to collaborate with Israel); it was not meant for those who have fought against the Israelis. At any rate, the days of closed-mindedness whereby stupid leaders thought they could win without even knowing the language of their enemies and what they were saying about developments, etc., are long gone. We are a new generation of educated, dedicated fighters and partisans, who have made it their task to beat the enemy at his own game. You would be surprised to see that our partisans (not all units though) know better Hebrew than the Palestinians, and even a great many Israelis. Our accomplishment is in our aspiration to study and educate, develop and advance. These, along with our faith and belief in martyrdom, have brought us victories.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 11:54 AM

You, Alghaliboon, claim to respect all faiths. I find that a little hard to swallow. The intensity of the hatred you have for the Jews is frankly insane. Over at MEMRI.org there are clips from all over the Middle East that include children's programming in which 5 year olds are taught to hate the Jews. Your media and culture and educational systems are absolutely brimming with hatred for the Jews. You know this. What on Earth are you talking about when you say you respect our religions? And as far as us respecting yours, you have to earn respect. We see your religious leaders fomenting, encouraging, and glorifying the worst tendencies of humanity- hatred, violence, revenge. This is evil. Sorry. The rhetoric coming out of the mouths of your Hezbollah leadership is about as anti-Christian as you can get. Jesus preached forgiveness, peacemaking, and loving one's enemies. In Hezbollah propaganda I see babies dressed up as suicide bombers and an absolute glee over the most violent of acts. Respect for this? It makes me sick.

Posted by: Cristobal at November 11, 2006 11:56 AM

~~~(I have even responded to an Israeli)~~~

And an Israeli woman for that matter as well LOL :)

Mr. AlGhaliboon, can you, please, confirm that the conclusion I drew in my message to Dirk of 08:13am hereabove is correct?
Thank you.

Posted by: tsedek at November 11, 2006 11:59 AM

Omega80,

An interesting, nice set of comments.

It is rather characteristic of those who do not have a point to make, to accuse and dismiss, and to do so relentlessly and vigorously, until they simply kill the discussion. We have a word for such people: trolls. The best they can manage is to cheer others on, for the sake of boosting their otherwise miserable egos. In real life these people seek to find a group to incite against, and usually, given their unwillingness to take up challenges, they strike at the weak - minorities and politically marginalized groups. This is the dynamic of the Israeli lobby, too. This is the dynamic also of groups that openly espouse and preach racism, and practice it as a way of life. The irony of the anti-anti-Semites' and anti-Semites' close collaboration and sharing of operational guidelines, is not lost on us, least of all in our midst. We view this with astonishment but not incomprehension. Desperate times, after all, call for desperate measures, and even stranger friendships.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 12:06 PM

The idea that one should respect religions or beliefs is absurd. If you don't agree with some belief, you cannot respect it. At best, you might grudgingly admit that some people do believe it.

What we can respect is individual people, and their right to hold any beliefs that are not threatening to others.

The actual beliefs are and must be fully open to criticism and mockery. A person and the beliefs he hapens to have are different things.

Posted by: Don Cox at November 11, 2006 12:11 PM

Mary: For the most part, male Arabs are polite to other males. But, let's face it, present-day Arab societies are quite famously discourteous towards all women.

I am not a woman obviously, so my experience here is rather indirect. But I have heard from women I know and have traveled with, including my wife, that the Arab countries of the Levant (Lebanon and Syria specifically) are very comfortable places for women. At least foreign women. The Arab countries of North Africa, on the other hand, are awful.

I have never heard a single (Western) woman complain that she was treated with anything short of the utmost respect in Syria and Lebanon. I have seen for myself what a royal pain in the ass it is for women in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.

I don't know what explains the vast difference, but I do know that it's there.

The Kurds of Iraq are supposedly also extremely courteous to women. But I have not traveled with women there, and I could be wrong.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 12:14 PM

my request for the re-posting was due to this, and not due to the fact that I do not know how to search - you underestimate us, we know much more than this, so much so that you would be surprised. But this much about that

LOL. If I've misrepresented Hezbollah's place in the worldwide Geek Hierarchy, I apologize.

However, to answer your accusations of us wanting power, land, and money. Money is a material thing, and our belief is in things that transcend these. We cannot thus be slaves to such materialism.

Oh, now here you underestimate our intelligence. Hiding behind the skirts of religion, for shame. You think we don't about Hezbollah's extensive, worldwide financial network?

For instance, their involvement in the African diamond trade:

..and, like every other 'pious' Islamist/terrorist group, Hezbollah is active in South America. And the drug trade.

If you ignore what Hezbollah says and pay attention to what they do, Hezbollah is like any other power-hungry militia. They just have a LOT more money (thanks to Iran) They use religion as a recruiting tool, but they use that tool to get what they want - money and the power to oppress.

However, you have answered some of my question. We in the West are often distracted by things that we consider to be new or different. The Islamofascists are putting a new spin on the very old concept of propaganda and warmongering, pretending that their terrorism is somehow pious and holy, an article of faith. It's a new and improved savage spiritualism, dressed up with delusions of martyrdom and an outre fashion sense. You've even got your own line of scarves.

It's a millionaire's version of Joseph Kony's LRA using savage spiritualism to disguise mundane political goals. Like Kony, you want what we've got, and you think you can use guns to get it.

Some of us get distracted by the religion (in this case, Islam) that you use to hide your political motives.

Posted by: mary at November 11, 2006 12:16 PM

These conversations and debates over the last few days have been fascinating and eye-opening, and I have spent more time than I really have reading them. Many of the responses have been far more articulate than I am, and I have learned a lot from reading this forum. I appreciate the exposure to different points of view, although I may disagree at times and don't often make comments.
AlGhaliboon's responses and comments haven't changed my mind, really, but I suppose I understand a little bit better where he's coming from. I don't buy the argument that they just want "justice", "honor," etc., and I still wonder what it'll take for all the defensive arguments and circular reasoning to give way to really understanding a different viewpoint. I hope that day will come at some point, but we have a long way to go, and civil dialogue is at least a step in the right direction!

Posted by: sallyo at November 11, 2006 12:26 PM

Yo, folks, don't stick Omega in the same category as Al Ghaliboon. There are vast political differences between them. I know Omega from here and elsewhere.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 12:26 PM

I have heard from women I know and have traveled with, including my wife, that the Arab countries of the Levant (Lebanon and Syria specifically) are very comfortable places for women. At least foreign women.

Do the majority of people in those woman-friendly places call themselves Arabs? (I know the Kurds don't).

Posted by: mary at November 11, 2006 12:27 PM

Mary,

In Syria and Lebanon, yes.

The Kurds are obviously not Arabs. They are Kurds. I mentioned them because they are also located east of the Mediterranean. It may be a regional thing rather than an ethnic thing. I don't know. What I do know is that Arab culture is extremely varied. Egypt is not Lebanon is not Yemen.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 12:31 PM

"We respect your lifestyle, but we also expect that you respect ours. We do not think there is an inherent clash of civilizations. What is missing is mutual respect. This is largely missing from the American (and generally western) scene..."

AlGhaliboon, one of the reason I think this blog is so essential is because people like you will come and post and dicuss your views. We can both read what the other side believes, not just what someone else says the other side believes.

Regardless of where we stand on the issues the fact that we can talk, even if it is a ruse, provides some sliver of hope for a peaceful outcome.

"...because our religion and faith are deemed as a fanatic manifestation; we on the other hand, respect all faiths, especially so the 2 other monotheistic religions, Christianity and Judaism."

A significant number of people from your religion are working very hard to convince us that they are nothing more than fanatics and bloodthristy barbarians. These people are also working very hard to convince us that your religion has no respect for any other religion, including more moderate versions of your own.

A greater number or people make apologies and excuses for the barbarians. Some of us think the apologists are suicidal.

These destructive people, whether they represent 1% or 50% of your religion, get pretty much 100% of a very sympathetic western media. Therefore we only learn about the fanatics. I'm sure you understand this perfectly. I think your organization uses this understanding very well.

So while there may be some mutual respect (thanks to blogs like this one) it does seem like our goals are incompatible, which Ric explained better than I can.

Perhaps it's just a fantasy of mine, but I believe that if organizations such as yours really wanted peace then there would be peace.

Posted by: Greg at November 11, 2006 12:40 PM

Ghalib,
If your most recent comments are directed towards me, be a little more straightforward about it.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 11, 2006 12:45 PM

The Pilgers and Fisks, the Guardian, George Galloway, ANSWER, et al are not only the apparent directive organs of the visible Left, they are the loudest and most visible, and are rarely argued with by more "moderate" people. (Ric)

We're getting off topic here and I guess most people would rather hear what our Hezb. friend has to say, but that's simply not so.

Leaving the Guardian out of it (which is a good newspaper, even though I sometimes disagree with its columnists), there are plenty of people prepared to argue with these guys. Just one example: http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/

Posted by: Dirk at November 11, 2006 12:52 PM

It is rather characteristic of those who do not have a point to make, to accuse and dismiss, and to do so relentlessly and vigorously, until they simply kill the discussion. We have a word for such people: trolls. The best they can manage is to cheer others on, for the sake of boosting their otherwise miserable egos. In real life these people seek to find a group to incite against, and usually, given their unwillingness to take up challenges, they strike at the weak - minorities and politically marginalized groups.

Ah sweet irony! You perfectly described the entire mindset of the Wahhabi/Salafi/Deobandi/Khomeini inspired death cults of the Religion of Peace™. If the "Zionist entity" and its evil henchmen were even half as ruthless as you claim them to be, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. You and the rest of their enemies would have been annihilated long ago. Interesting that you keep avoiding most of the issues brought up with blabbering irrelevant nonsense. Still, one has to admire your skills in deflection and propoganda. After all, it is the only way you cowards stand any chance. Direct confrontation with the West, Israel, Russia, China, India or anybody else that has "insulted" or "victimized" the poor poor Arab/Muslim pride, ego or whatever other pathetic nonsense (sorry, see various lists of so-called legitimate "grievances"), leads to your destruction. So run along and hide behind your women and children. When there's nobody around to kill you, torch US or Western flags and shoot your ammo in the air like dipshit morons. Our compassion and in many cases, well-meaning though misguided naivety, is the only chance you really got. Because once we lose those, you guys will really begin to understand what it means when the Western juggernaut is unleashed against you and no amount of Allahu Akbars will make any shit-load of difference whatsoever. We still view most of you as human beings, not homicidal and fanatical terrorists, maniacs and enemies, and most of us still believe there is hope for peaceful co-existence with Islamic civilization, but keep pushing our buttons...

The Middle East and much of the Muslim World (with the possible exception of Turkey) is living in about every way that matters in a social, cultural, economic, political, technological swamp and sinking even further down. Only sub-Saharan Africa is worse. What a tragedy that the fate of hundreds of millions of human beings should be placed in the hands of the likes of you and your fellow travelers. What a waste of the God-given talents of hundreds of millions of peoples for the vanity, ego and pride of miscreants, misogynists, theocrats and fanatics. Your fanaticism will lead to only more suffering for your people, not that it matters to you, only what you think you need to do for your fanatical version and interpretation of Allah. There is nothing about you or any of your fellow travelers that inspires or deserves respect, only contempt and destruction which is what you will get.

Posted by: Finn at November 11, 2006 12:57 PM

Ghalib,
If your most recent comments are directed towards me, be a little more straightforward about it.

LOL. I was just gearing up to get all indignant about your complaint - that the Jews weren't willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for Lebanon's internal politics - when along comes Al Ghaliboon himself stridently denying your slander!

Posted by: Yafawi at November 11, 2006 01:02 PM

Ghalib,
If your most recent comments are directed towards me, be a little more straightforward about it.

No, it was directed towards the person who was accusing you and FPM of anti-Semitism.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 01:03 PM

"We respect your lifestyle, but we also expect that you respect ours. We do not think there is an inherent clash of civilizations. What is missing is mutual respect."

Here's the thing Al G, when your slogans (which you continue to defend) are "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", it really doesn't sound like you're giving us a whole lot of respect. In fact, it doesn't really sound like you respect anything except your desire for, well, death. And hence, in most cases, you won't get any respect back.

What really seems to be lacking is self-respect. If you had some of that perhaps you wouldn't insist on martyring yourself (and others) as a way of supposedly gaining dignity.

Posted by: Mertel at November 11, 2006 01:12 PM

when along comes Al Ghaliboon himself stridently denying your slander!
I hate to disappoint, but Omega80's reply was not slander. It was a well-thought-out response, and I referred to that in my first sentence. The rest was aimed at those who were accusing him of anti-Semitism.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 01:13 PM

AlGhaliboon,

You said that "until you start viewing history as a record that explains our anger towards your country's policies, rather than consider it as something that started on 9/11 or July 12, 2006 (for Israel), you will not understand the roots of our anger." I don't know if it was your intent, but that really goes a long way towards demonstrating the fundamental difference between your worldview and ours.

Was our country wrong in the past? Probably. Was that my fault? No. Even if one assumes that it's all our country's fault, I refuse to pay the price for any of those errors/misjudgments by being slaughtered or enslaved by our enemies. I will no sooner be punished for the sins of my forefathers than I will willingly pay reparations to descendants of slaves.

You, on the other hand, and your fellow Middle Easterners, tend to hold grudges for sins against your forefathers. That is one reason why your civilization is stuck in the 14th century. Rather than moving on, you stay stuck on stupid.

Who is alive today that had anything to do with ousting the Iranian Shah in the 1950's? Who is alive today that had anything to do with cleaving up the mideast after WWI? Not too many, if any, in our country or theirs. My advice to you is to get over it. Why am I so callous? Because you and your ilk want to kill me and my countrymen! So long as you seek to kill me, I will not care about your real or imagined grievances.

Now, I understand that can present problems for the west in the short term. I am certain that your ilk will execute another terrorist attack on the US. And it will be a big one. And I'm not too worried about it. Why? Because I view that as a necessary step, in the same pragmatic terms in which you view civilian casualties and asymmetrical warfare. I am not too worried about your short-term actions when viewed against the backdrop of the long war. The USA, the greatest country that has ever existed, has the capability to destroy every living thing in the Middle East. We retrain ourselves out of a sense of humanity, decency, and hope that we can defeat the threat of radical Islam with minimal loss of life. Many of our Soldiers die in this noble pursuit - essentially dying to spare innocent Arabs. You are going to keep pushing. And one time you're going to push too far. And that will finally be our wakeup call to destroy your backwards civilization.

We can do that. You can't. Keep pushing.

Warm regards and bite me.

Posted by: schmedlap at November 11, 2006 01:37 PM

Actually the 14th century is much too advanced.

For Ali G and the rest of his species of blackshirts, the good times were the seventh century.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at November 11, 2006 02:05 PM

Omega80,
I read very carefully your answers and the answers of other FPM'ers on your site. Never did anyone say to Al: You are a racist or an antisemite. Never did one of you say: You are genocidal.

In that specific thread you had many chances to do it yet you didn't. You were telling him that nuking Israel is not practical, not that it was immoral and genocidal.

I am not claiming you are an antisemite. I am claiming though that for political purposes you have agreed to sell your morals. Aoun's personal ambitions have pushed him to accept a antisemitical and genocidal party. Actions speak stronger than words.

You can put this argument to rest very easily by answering the following question:
Is Al an antisemite or not?

e

Posted by: e at November 11, 2006 02:19 PM

E, I've read through many threads on that forum and have seen plenty of Lebanese FPMers arguing with the bigots.

Give Omega a break.

A friend of mine who often posts in my comments here argued with a right-wing asshole colleague of ours who wanted to nuke Afghanistan by also saying it was impractical rather than objecting because it was genocidal. I overheard this conversation and was, at first, horrified. But it was the only way to get through to the guy. Mr Nuke 'Em flat-out didn't care that it was genocidal.

That does not mean my friend thought the mass murder of Afghanis is okay.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 02:33 PM

MJT,

I don't know Omega80 and trust you that he is a decent fellow.

What do you make though of the fact that the FPM forum, which is strongly moderated, is tolerant of antisemitic posters?

e

Posted by: e at November 11, 2006 02:39 PM

Ask yourself this, E. If all Lebanese were like Omega, would there be any more war between Israel and Lebanon? It is obvious to me that there would not be.

I think Omega is a fool for joining a party that allied itself with Hezbollah. But you must understand that this "alliance" is internal Lebanese realpolitik. It is not because the FPMers are jihadis. Most of them are Christians.

Aoun is a buffoon (sorry Omega) and he is part of the problem. But he could just as easily become part of the solution sometime in the future. Omega thinks he is part of the solution right now. (See above.) I think he's wrong about that, and so does Josey Wales (who is also Lebanese.) But Omega means well and can be reasoned with in a way that Al Ghaliboon probably never can be.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 02:43 PM

What do you make though of the fact that the FPM forum, which is strongly moderated, is tolerant of antisemitic posters?

FPM (foolishly) made a tactical alliance with Hezbollah. So there is absolutely no way to purge anti-Semitism from that board.

There would some anti-Semitism there even without that alliance, but it would be less. And in any case, Lebanese anti-Semitism is considerably weaker and less common than that found in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

One of my friends in Beirut was Jewish. He never had any trouble there and never hid his religion. Tom Friedman spent five years in Lebanon during the civil war, and only had trouble from one PLO guy.

Clearly anti-Semitism exists in Lebanon. There is no doubt. But it's not as bad as it is elsewhere in the region, and it is more prevalent among some groups and areas than others.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 02:53 PM

In any case, E, I think it's more important to convince Lebanese and Israelis to stop killing each other right now than it is to convince them to like each other or be PC about it. First things first.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 03:01 PM

Mr. Totten,

First and foremost, there is no "alliance" between Hizbullah and FPM. There is dialogue (which ought to be present among all Lebanese parties, but is not) and there is a Memorandum of Understanding, but that's about it. The MoU is a piece of paper that outlines the common ground we have (check it out). It remains to be seen whether we would agree to turn this into a much bigger thing, namely an alliance. At any rate, I would also point out that in terms of internal humanitarian crisis during the war, in addition to the domestic backstabbing that was taking place throughout it, the FPM proved to be the only political party to engage in volunteering to provide and distribute humanitarian aid and provide shelter and all forms of help to our people (other than the NGO Samidoun and our activists/partisans). They also showed willingness to denounce any and all attacks on and marginalization of the Shi'ite sect; I dare say that if they had joined the chorus with the rest, the situation would have degenerated into yet another civil strife, if not total seccession on our part. Where previously we had no daily interaction with Christians, we now have a working relationship on a grassroots level, and this is good in terms of preventing the repetition of 1975-1990. The only worrying part remains the Shi'ite-Sunni split, which seems all too obvious at this point, to dismiss or deny. However, here again, we have attempted, and extended our hand to them, and called upon them to accept a national unity government (though I personally disagree with this gesture, because I happen to think we have given them too much room to maneovre in already), but they continued to treat us as mere slaves or slave-to-be's. Frankly, after all that they did to us during the war, and on top of all that, this type of condescending treatment, that will not go down too well with us, and we will not forget about it any time soon. If our ministers backtrack on this, we will make sure that they will not, because we, partisans and supporters, cannot accept a backstabber in our midst, especially ones that are willing to risk bringing Syria back to Lebanon for their adventures in regime change in other countries, whose affairs are none of our business.

We are not willing to accept any shape or form of backtracking. We cannot possibly swallow such a thing. If our ministers do, we will rebel against them and if need be against the party leadership. Hizbullah's support base functions on the bases of principles, and is willing to bend these principles very little, where bendable of course, for the sake of accommodation and compromise. Beyond that, any further compromise is deemed as an abandonment of our values and beliefs and standards. I personally cannot support such a thing. If it will mean the end of my membership in and support of Hizbullah, then I am willing to go down that road. The reason I am saying this is to show that things are at a crossroads in Lebanon, especially so for the Shi'ites. What happened in Lebanon today, with the courageous resignation of our ministers, is monumental to say the least.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 03:03 PM

I'm in agreement with your quoted Westerner.

Posted by: spmat at November 11, 2006 03:04 PM

Oh well, so far for getting a hizb response to an israeli (and woman as well LOL)

Pffffffff

Posted by: tsedek at November 11, 2006 03:05 PM

MJT,

I agree that if all Lebanese were like Omega80 there would not be war. However, because some are like Al and many are like Omega80, there will never be peace even though the majority is perhaps in favor of peace.

Would "fool" be an accurate description for somebody that joined a German party that was in an alliance with the Nazis? (The analogy is not perfect but it helps explain my position) Would I have been comforted knowing that this person would have wanted peace instead of war in Europe or that it is easier to reason with him than with a Nazi or that this was only for internal purposes? I don't think so.

Omega80 and his ilk are strengthening HA while knowing full well what its ideology is. What should my attitude towards people like him be?

e

Posted by: e at November 11, 2006 03:06 PM

Tsedek, apologies, I forgot all about your question.

The Palestinians should have the say - that's pretty much the same thing as calling the return of refugees an unconditional necessity. I do tend to disagree that it would necessarily mean that there cannot or will not be a Jewish state. You will find more people willing to accept the idea of a Jewish state than you will by continuing to deny them the right to return (it could also be a phased return, and if it creates problems, it could be halted indefinitely - just one scenario among thousands one can come up with).

Unfortunately Israel will not accept such a thing, not in a thousand years.

We can pretty much say that we are prey to and victim of circumstances. Unfortunately, often we cannot avoid war, even if it is peace we want.

As for the internationalization of Al Quds (Jerusalem) suggestion - to the person who replied to that - internationalization would mean that no one would have control over it, except perhaps an international mandatory authority, or some sort of committee of religious representatives from all 3 religions.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 03:19 PM

AlG:
"especially ones that are willing to risk bringing Syria back to Lebanon for their adventures in regime change in other countries, whose affairs are none of our business."

Can you be more clear? I genuinely do not understand who you are talking about in the paragraph above.

While we are at it, what is your opinion on the court that is being set up to try the Hariri killers?

Posted by: Bruno Mota at November 11, 2006 03:20 PM

E: Omega80 and his ilk are strengthening HA while knowing full well what its ideology is. What should my attitude towards people like him be?

Be nice and suggest that life is better on your side than it is on Hezbollah's. I know a lot of FPM people and -- trust me on this -- most are instinctively a lot closer to the West than they are to Iran.

Don't be hostile to Omega or people like him and I think you will find it very easy to find common ground and build on it.

He has posted links to some of my work before on the FPM site, and my articels went over very well with that crowd. Hezbollah will never publish my work on their Web site, and if they did it would be hated.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 03:38 PM

Thank you for your answer, Mr. AlGhaliboon. To have the say - is exactly what I pointed out in my previous message that would make it 'dangerous' if implemented. You must understand that Israel will do everything to secure its existence and that it won't take chances that in the future it won't be able to defend itself anymore.

Honestly speaking: can't you even for a little bit imagine this and that there were wars fought in the meanwhile and time elapsed and a new reality exists that - with the cooperation of all sides involved could lead to peace - after all this bloodshed and manipulations and propaganda and each-and-everyone having their own account of history? Time to move on, and look to the future?

Posted by: tsedek at November 11, 2006 03:44 PM

Bruno,

I am referring to feudal chieftain Walid Jumblatt, Saudi billionaire Sa'ad el Hariri (Rafiq el-Hariri's son) who does not know how to speak proper Arabic (I wonder what language he speaks in??), and warlord Samir Geagea, and their minions. These people continue to lead a self-destructive (by self I am referring to Lebanon of course; though they would see to it that if they are to go down, Lebanon would go down with them) policy of provocation against Syria. Jumblatt and Hariri have openly expressed the wish to see a regime change in Syria, and the replacement of the Alawite leadership with a Sunni one. They also hailed Khaddam's defection and exile; this guy Khaddam was one of the chief architects of Syria's presence and continuation (and oppression) in Lebanon. He was, and continues to be, their ally, hero, whatever you want to call him.

The court... is a joke. A joke because it is a travesty of justice. Nevertheless, we do not oppose it. But we say, let those who are concerned with crimes also hold investigations into and trial of the perpetrators of the assassination of Sheikh Ragheb Harb, attempt to assassinate Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (80 civilians killed instead), disappearance of Imam Mussa al-Sadr, assassination of Samir Qassir, assassination of Mr. Gebran Tueni, Mr. Georges Hawi (Lebanese Communist Party), assasination of Sayyed Abbas Al-Mussawi and his family, Mr. Elie Hobeika, Mr. Dany Chamoun and his family, and countless other figures, not to mention the civilians who were killed by these same people who are calling for the court.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 03:45 PM

Al G

This is getting stupid. There's no discussing with you guys.

1) 9/10 of those you mention were killed by Syria, your frigging ally.

2) You have to start somewhere with justice, you can't let go of every case becuase some other cases remain unsolved. Furthermore if you don't understand that the Hariri case is about Syria assassinating Lebanon, not ONE man, you undertstand nothing.

Posted by: JoseyWales at November 11, 2006 04:34 PM

But Omega means well and can be reasoned with in a way that Al Ghaliboon probably never can be.

And yet you've been reasoning with him on your site. It costs very little to reason with anyone on a blog. The benefits are as unpredictable as social dynamics, which are very unpredictable things. So it's a good thing that you've contradicted your statement here in practice.

Omega thinks he is part of the solution right now. (See above.) I think he's wrong about that, and so does Josey Wales (who is also Lebanese.)

I think, from the perspective of a Lebanese Christian looking out for the interests of Lebanon, both Omega and Aoun are wise. It's pretty clear that Lebanese Shiites are heavily motivated and influenced by a basically legitimate set of political grievances about how their state was run for two generations prior to the Israeli invasion.
Hizballah is armed, popular, supported by bloodthirsty bastards, and wants power it demographically deserves and would naturally have in the democracy that Lebanon claims to be.

Aoun's way is the way that Lebanon could be a democratic state where Hizballah, as befits its plurality with the voting public, has the chance to run the show once in a while. Hopefully, if that control rests in the alliance with Aounist Christians, that will moderate their behavior.

If the Sunni, Christians, and other sects continue to form a wall-to-wall anti-Shiite bloc in government, given Sunni-Shiite relation trends at the moment, there will be another civil war. Which will be a lot worse for Lebanon than whatever tinkering at the margins Hizballah engages in with Israel.

Posted by: glasnost at November 11, 2006 04:47 PM

JoseyWales,

I list them:

-Sheikh Ragheb Harb - Israel
-Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (80 civilians killed instead) - USA (CIA)
-Imam Mussa al-Sadr - Libya (and -???)
-Samir Qassir - undetermined
-Gebran Tueni - undetermined
-Georges Hawi (Lebanese Communist Party) - undetermined, communist party accuses Israel -Sayyed Abbas Al-Mussawi and his family - Israel
-Elie Hobeika - undetermined
-Dany Chamoun and his family - Geagea (a copy of the Frangieh episode)
-150,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians - Jumblatt, Geagea, Ariel Sharon (man of peace)/Israel, Hobeika, Syria, USA, Bahrain, & countless others.

Spare me the philosophizing about Syria assassinating Lebanon by assassinating Hariri. Hariri never was, never will be, Mr. Lebanon. He brought us $40 billion debt and sold half the city to the Saudis. His son is determined to continue in his father's steps. The blackmail has gone on for too long, remember that our patience is not eternal because we are not Prophets, as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said during the victory rally referring to the UNIFIL. They really have messed up big time; for me, it would not have been a zero-sum game if they did not stab us in the back during the war.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 04:52 PM

Watching hours and hours of arguing with a self-declared Hezbollah supporter is both baffling and hilarious.
To me, terrorists and their supporters must be dealt with in a completely different way, and I'm sure it won't take a lot of imagination to figure out which way that is.

But feel free to amuse me and carry on the discussion.

Posted by: Kim Hartveld at November 11, 2006 05:07 PM
Whoever chants "Death to America" is doing so for domestic consumption and to express anger at U.S. policies.

Anyone who believes this will believe anything.

Posted by: Abu Nudnik at November 11, 2006 05:11 PM

Al G

You still don't get it. It's NOT about Hariri. It's about state relations with a criminal state that does not recognize us. Familiar to you?

Over and out, cuz you sounded reasonable initially but really you are not. Should have known from your using useless terms like "Orientalist".

Enjoy Edward Said and your dim future under Nasrallah and Assad.

Posted by: JoseyWales at November 11, 2006 05:11 PM

"Aoun's way is the way that Lebanon could be a democratic state where Hizballah, as befits its plurality with the voting public, has the chance to run the show once in a while."

Aoun's way is the way in which HA will seize power and never let go. Show me one case in which armed "bloodthirsty bastards" where accomodated by an unarmed minority or majority and the result was a liberal democracy. How about a case of Islamists taking control and then agreeing to peaceful change of power? Why are you so optimistic in the case of Aoun and HA?

e

Posted by: e at November 11, 2006 05:19 PM

Joseywales,

Familiar - yes. But we do not wage war or provoke Israel so that it would recognize us. What kind of logic is that? If you're going to beat the drums of war at least ask for something less laughable than that.

And what did you base your conclusion about me not being reasonable, on? I did not know Orientalism were a useless term (but in your world view, scholasticism is something to be used and bragged about only in defense of supposed Western superiority and an attack on eastern, Arab and Muslim in particular, inferiority. Quite Orientalist, too.) Also did not know that usage of the term made one unreasonable.

Posted by: AlGhaliboon at November 11, 2006 05:20 PM

Notice all of AlGhaliboon's insane talk about being "slaves" or "treated like slaves"? He's said that Israel makes all of the middle east slaves, he's said that peace would make his children slaves and he's said that Sunnis treat his people like slaves.

The important thing to notice is that every mention of this insane talk was accompanied by a threat or as an excuse for war. He could not, when pressed, say a single word that substanciated this insane rhetoric.

It should be clear what "slave" means when AlGhaliboon says it. It's always a combination of threat and excuse for violence. His idiology pretends victimhood every time it commits a crime, every time it kills, every time it threatens, every time it oppresses.

This is the common mark of a fascist thug. Be aware that this is what AlGhaliboon is.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 11, 2006 07:00 PM

One other point about AlGhaliboon. AlGhaliboon's surprisingly westernized rhetoric, threatening war until Palestinians get this "Right of return" is much darker that it seems.

It ignores the obvious fact that under Arafat and after, a couple of generations of Palestinians have been taught, completely successfully, that God wants them to kill the Jews. The have made suicide bombings into their national sport, celebrating every slaughter.

It should be completely obvious that if Israel allowed millions of Palestinians who've been taught that God wants them to kill Jews into Israeli neighborhoods, that's exactly what many of these Palestinians would do.

Israelis should shoot their own children before letting murders into their neighborhoods, it would be more merciful than leaving them to the hatred of the Palestinians.

The theology that makes killing Jews a requirement (perhaps learned from the Salafis), the theology that makes killing Jews a sacrament has killed "the right of return" more completely than any Zionist aspirations ever could. Jews will not put their people, their families their children into that kind of danger. Palestinians can't live with Jews. It's not possible anymore.

Everyone in the middle east is close enough to that horror that they should be able to see that I'm right.

AlGhaliboon, you demand the impossible. Have you simply never noticed the obvious, that the idiology of hatred has made your demand impossible years after it was first made? Or is there some darker reason, that hatred has made you need to see limitless blood spilled?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 11, 2006 07:37 PM

... By the way this is a point that deserves to be widely noticed and repeated. And it's always missed in arguements about the middle east, so I'm going to repeat it again, with the main sentence highlighted, I hope I will be forgiven, but I think this is so important:

Under Arafat and after a couple of generations of Palestinians have been taught, completely successfully, that God wants them to kill the Jews. The have made suicide bombings into their national sport, celebrating every slaughter.

It should be completely obvious that if Israel allowed millions of Palestinians who've been taught that God wants them to kill Jews into Israeli neighborhoods, that's exactly what many of these Palestinians would do.

Israelis should shoot their own children before letting murder-indocrinated Palestinians into their neighborhoods. Killing their own children would be more merciful than leaving them to the hatred of the Palestinians.

The theology that makes killing Jews a requirement, the theology that makes killing Jews a sacrement has killed "the right of return" more completely than any Zionist aspirations ever could.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 11, 2006 07:47 PM

Glasnost, you hit it right on the money.

To talk about it in a sectarian way, Lebanese Shias were never the enemy of Israel, otherwise there would have been problems on the border since 1948. However, the problems only started after 1982.

Anyone can say whatever they want. There are no real issues between Lebanon and Israel that can't be solved, and whether he wants to admit it or not, Ghaliboon knows it too. There will be peace on that border in the very near future, because things in Lebanon are moving to the point of a solution to Hezbollah's weapons, the question is only the time frame, but all roads are leading to the same point: a solution, and everyone will forget that there ever was a problem on the border.

For some reason, E likes to think that life is very simple, black and white, while in fact it is not. What the FPM is doing is helping us to reach that point.

MJT for some reason, you like the "March 14" gang a lot, who have recently re-invented themselves as democratic. Remember, they were the same people for the most part that were highly integrated into Syrian occupied Lebanon, and it is because of them and others that the Syrians were able to stay for so long and do all the damage that they did.

Maybe Walid Jumblat could explain where all the money went from the coffers of the Ministry of the Displaced? Or what his PSP was doing back in the late 1980's attacking Lebanese Army positions in Souk el-Gharb along with Syrian support?

Lebanon has the highest debt-to-gdp ration in the world. I could have built a city out of Gold with that money, however, where has most of it gone? The "March 14" gang were Syria's number one allies in Lebanon. Their only problem was not with the Syrians, but with Emile Lahoud, who was their only direct Lebanese competitor when it came to the spoils of corruption.

They are the ones who made sure the Made in Syria electoral law was applied to the 2005 elections, because they knew that was the only way to get them a majority in the Lebanese parliament. They were the ones that had an alliance with Hezbollah during the last elections, while not the FPM only has an MOU. However, I don't here E mentioning anything about that.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 11, 2006 08:06 PM

By the way, I've expanded the above into a short article on my blog.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 11, 2006 08:23 PM

Not including the bit above that about what Hezbollah means when it complains of "slavery". That needs an article written too, but one by someone more familiar with Hezbollah rhetoric than I am.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 11, 2006 08:25 PM

Repost from an earlier thread I didn't realize had moved here:

Al G,

I'm late to this conversation, but have read almost all your responses if not the originators.

I'm one who recognizes that Arab, Lebanese, Palestinian and other people have legitimate grievances against Israel. The reverse is also true in my opinion.

What I really don't understand is why you use the tactics you do because in the West, and Israel, they are viewed as barbaric. As a result the focus of most Americans and others in the west is on the way you conduct your resistance and not the resistance itself. It seems to me this is a counterproductive strategy for you. You state you want to change US policy, but your tactics do nothing but reinforce the policy and justify it in the eyes of Americans and the West. Americans are willing to forgive Israeli atrocities because they see your atrocities as worse. In the case of the recent war in Lebanon, Americans viewed your tactics as war crimes that were designed to create civilian casualties. Placing your artillery/rocket pieces next to apartment buildings is one example. If you're so concerned about your own civilians why do you not make an effort at keeping them away from the conflict? A common perception in the west is that you purposely use civilian areas and the UN compounds to complicate Israeli targeting. When the Israelis miss and civilians are killed, your crocodile tears seem hollow. By the same token, your tactics and those used by the Intifada consistently strengthen the right-wing and marginalize the more moderate and peaceful elements in Israel. You are giving them ammunition and hurting your cause – surely you can see that from the reactions and polls taken after your attacks.

Add to this the images Americans see of you indoctrinating your youth into violence by dressing them in toy weapons, uniforms and suicide belts. This is particularly repulsive to Americans who try to keep violence out of their children’s lives. Even in Iraq American soldiers have sacrificed themselves to save Iraqi children when Al Qaeda “martyrs” kill them. Although you may not believe it, Americans and American soldiers take great care in avoiding killing civilians and especially children. Certainly Israel is not free or innocent of committing atrocities and at least they apologize when mistakes are made.

I can see how you would be angry that America supplies arms and support to Israel since Israel is your enemy. Can you also understand why Israel and American would be angry with Syria and Iran for supplying arms to you? I think you claimed that no alliance exists between you and Syria or Iran, but how else are you supplied with advanced weapons? The anti-tank missile systems you used to great effect against the Israelis did not come from some third-world arms bazaar, nor did the C-802 missiles that hit and damaged the Eilat and sank an innocent merchant ship off the Lebanese coast. By all accounts they came from Iran via Syria.

Finally you mention that for peace there must be the right of return but the 1948 borders are acceptable. Aren’t these two conditions at odds? Please explain in practical terms how this would work.

Posted by: Andy at November 11, 2006 08:31 PM

Watching hours and hours of arguing with a self-declared Hezbollah supporter is both baffling and hilarious.
To me, terrorists and their supporters must be dealt with in a completely different way, and I'm sure it won't take a lot of imagination to figure out which way that is.

That's like saying that the police shouldn't waste time investigating a crime, they should just go out and arrest someone.

You can't fight a war without knowing your enemy. This is one of the few political discussions that make sense if we're fighting a war against terrorism.

Posted by: mary at November 11, 2006 08:40 PM

What fascinates me most in this whole discussion is AlGhaliboon's belief that people in the West, specifically America, hate or fear or are otherwise opposed to all Muslims. And yet that is not at all what I see living here. Certainly there are bigotted fools, as there are everywhere. But in general people are not particularly opposed to Muslims -- just to those Muslims who proclaim their intention to kill us.

There are a fair number of Muslims in America. And there were some reactions directly after the September 11 attack -- although many of those who bore the brunt were Sikhs (Americans being frequently ignorant about other cultures). But Muslims generally receive the same treatment everybody else does here: mostly people are not aware of what religion they follow (as we mostly don't pay any attention to anyone else's religion). Amazing, perhaps, to those from societies where sect is all-important, but true.

Indeed, the most wide-spread behavior I have seen is when people from all religions (or none, for that matter) gather to gether to express support when some scum-bag has apparently attacked someone because they are Muslim. That has happened just recently here in northern California. A woman was attacked, and there is no obvious reason, other than her head scarf identifying her as possibly Muslim. And the reaction thruout the community has been outrage at the attack, and sympathy and support for her family. That's "community" as in "everyone living in the area," not just Muslims.

AlGhaliboon, next time you are feeling put upon by Americans on account of your religion, ask yourself this: would you or your fellows show the same concern and support if a Jew or a Christian (or, for that matter, as Sunni) in Lebanon was attacked on account of his religion? Think about it.

Posted by: wj at November 11, 2006 08:59 PM

Omega80,

Nothing is simple and I share wholeheartedly your yearning for peace and hope with you that it will come soon. If the solution in Lebanon is disassociated from the Palestinian issue, peace is quite feasible. However, my impression is that FPM'ers seem to think that peace will only come when Israel takes back the Palestinians in Lebanon and are strongly against their naturalization. If true, this means we have a long road ahead of us before we get to peace.

HA are in the camp of Iran and Syria. March 14, whatever their sordid history, are firmly in the western camp now and against HA. In which camp are you? Unlike HA, my memory is very short and if you decide that the West is a better option than the Ayatollahs, I would be delighted to consider you my ally. Until then, whatever your intentions, and I believe you that they are good, you are aiding and abetting an antisemitic and genocidal party that wants to destroy me and I have to act accordingly.

e

Posted by: e at November 11, 2006 10:26 PM

E: my memory is very short and if you decide that the West is a better option than the Ayatollahs, I would be delighted to consider you my ally.

Every non-Westerner in this discussion needs to pay particular attention to what E just said. This is true for at least 95 percent of us.

That said, I do sympathize a great deal with what Omega says about corruption, collaboration, and civilians killed in Israeli air strikes. No one should expect him to shrug at these things.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 11, 2006 10:40 PM

Michael's right. From our point of view, what we can't understand about the middle east is it's unwillingness to move on and end the hatred, war and conflict.

Forgiving and forgetting is a virtue that we're very good at in the west. You should try it sometime.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 11, 2006 10:46 PM

~~~~~The theology that makes killing Jews a requirement (perhaps learned from the Salafis), the theology that makes killing Jews a sacrament has killed "the right of return" more completely than any Zionist aspirations ever could.~~~~~

You're right on the spot, Mr. Josh Scholar....

unfortunately.

Posted by: tsedek at November 12, 2006 12:30 AM

MJT,
As an Israeli I am the first to admit that Israel lacks the finnese to be a force for good in Lebanon.
Israeli leaders come from a pool of middle class individuals with a western oreintation. It is unrealistic to expect them to understand the subtleties of Lebanese politics which involve sectarian warlords that have been wrangling for 200 years. And even if somebody like Lubrani comes along once in a while, the fact that there are so many moving pieces makes predicting outcomes very diificult if not impossible. In addition, Israel will never be as committed as Asad and allow the ends to justify the means (if you understand what I mean).

Put the two together, and whatever Israel does is going to be sub-optimal to say the least. Israel will always be a bull in a china shop in its dealings with Lebanon. This is not an excuse not to keep trying, but the best way forward is to make sure that Israel is forced to deal with Lebanon as little as possible. Anything else is not realistic.

e

Posted by: e at November 12, 2006 08:29 AM

Mr. AlGhaliboon,

I suspect you are a professional foreign relations person charged with the job of making people believe that Hizbullah is fair, moderate, humane and reasonable.

You have been polite and seemingly reasonable but not able to bridge several great gaps of logic.

I have seen photos on this blogsite of big poster pictures of Palastinian youth who were walking bomb martyrs.

That lends truth to this comment.

===============
**It should be completely obvious that if Israel allowed millions of Palestinians who've been taught that God wants them to kill Jews into Israeli neighborhoods, that's exactly what many of these Palestinians would do.

Israelis should shoot their own children before letting murder-indocrinated Palestinians into their neighborhoods. Killing their own children would be more merciful than leaving them to the hatred of the Palestinians.

The theology that makes killing Jews a requirement, the theology that makes killing Jews a sacrement has killed * the right of return * more completely than any Zionist aspirations ever could. **
=========Josh Scholar at November 11, 2006 07:47 PM

Is there any posibility that you and your group will ever move away from brain washing Palastinian children to kill Israelis ?

I have seen the Hamas web sites that encourage 9 and 10 year olds to wear a bomb vest into Iraeili filled restaurants and shopping areas. Hamas by permission of Hezbullah.

Also I have seen pictures of grieving Palastinians who miss their martyred children. = TG

Posted by: TG at November 13, 2006 12:23 AM

TG, AlGhaliboon has been given half a dozen promptings to respond to that point which demolishes the phony appearance of morality of his entire case for unending warfare.

If he hasn't responded yet, he obviously isn't going to.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 13, 2006 07:55 AM

Guess you are correct.

There may be no possible rebuttal when logic and truth are laid so bare.

Christian ethic is to admit everyone has sinned but to stop fighting and begin to tolerate each other without violence.

Hezbullah ethic is to continue killing until no Jew and eventually no Christian is left.

The Hezbullah ethic is impossible to complete and seems designed to create a vacuum to be filled by Iranian / Persian Shiite.

I consider all religions to be man made clubs for cooperative gain. Forgive me. I am not very well educated.

Choosing between the two; the non-destructive Christian ethic seems to be a healthier plan.

After thirty plus years of hate training, I wonder what percentage of Palastinians can begin to see the better life that the laying down of arms could bring.

Seems as though many were enjoying a very good lifestyle with tourism and wealth.

Sad to say, I can not see how Hezbullah can contribute to the happiness of Lebanese / Palastinians.

Maybe Mr. AlGhaliboon can explain how that will come about. = TG

Posted by: TG at November 13, 2006 09:50 AM

Well I suspect that Arafat knew that he was killing the right of return by promoting this theology, he wasn't an idiot. He wanted to be the father of an ethnic cleansing NOT the father of a nation. And given that it took over a hundred to expel the crusaders, I don't think the fact that he couldn't achieve his goal in his lifetime bothered him.

Anyway the PLO charter reads like a declaration designed to prevent the possibility of any peaceful settlement. So I think that was always the main purpose, to prevent the danger of a peaceful society forming, thus insuring that ethnic cleansing will never become impossible.

Maybe I'm wrong. There's something oddly aimless about Muslim hatred. Muslims almost seem to have hatred as a goal rather using hatred to attain a goal. They're just so strangely accepting of hatred.

Of course the Salafis say that hatred of all nonmuslims is an absolute religious requirement.

Anyway we can see the insanity that results. If you promote hatred, the result is evil.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 13, 2006 10:21 AM

AlGhaliboon,

I wonder if you'd care to read, and respond to, this article on fundamentalism/relativism? Do you see any opportunities - socially, politically, intellectually or otherwise - for common ground or a common language upon which a basis for civil life, despite other disagreements, could proceed?

Posted by: Michael B at November 13, 2006 03:15 PM

Al Ghaliboon sounds a lot more balanced, intelligent and compassionate than you do.
I'd rather have him as a neighbour than the selfish stupid know-it-all americans.

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