January 19, 2007

The Blitzing of Haret Hreik

HARET HREIK, LEBANON – I have been to Haret Hreik, Hezbollah’s dahiyeh and de-facto “capital” south of Beirut, many times. But I didn’t expect to see it on my most recent trip. Every Lebanese person I know warned me to stay out of there. The destruction from the summer war is severe and Hezbollah’s fear and loathing of visitors, especially Americans, is even more so. The most paranoid party in Lebanon is more paranoid than ever before. Best to steer clear of their base.

Welcome to Haret Hreik.jpg

That was before I met the resident moderate Shia cleric Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini, an outspoken enemy of Hezbollah from within the community. I interviewed him in his modest apartment, and afterward he showed me around the bombed out parts of his neighborhood.

“You can take pictures,” he said. “Don’t worry. No one will do anything or say anything to you if you are with me.”

This was important. Hezbollah’s media relations office explicitly warned me never to take pictures in the dahiyeh. Even local people aren’t allowed to take pictures. You never know who might be working for the CIA or the Mossad. Lebanon has more Israel supporters and “collaborators” than any other Arab country by far.

Husseini is a Sayyed, which means he is supposedly a descendent of the Prophet Mohammad. He can take pictures if he damn well pleases, and so can anyone who is his guest. He is as close to untouchable as a person can be in an assassination-plagued country like Lebanon.

So we went downstairs and hopped in his sporty SUV outfitted with tinted black windows.

Sayyed Husseini in SUV.jpg

Our first stop was only a few streets from his house. Whole blocks of towers were missing.

Dahiyeh Damage 1.JPG

“Did you stay here during the war?” I said and shuddered at the thought of hunkering down while whole towers exploded just down the street.

“No,” he said like I was crazy for asking. “No one could stay here. Everyone had to leave.”

Dahiyeh Damage 2.jpg

The Israeli Air Force dropped leaflets over the neighborhood warning residents to get out of the way of the incoming air strikes. Many times more people would have been killed if they hadn’t done this.

Decapitated Dahiyeh Tower.JPG

Haret Hreik is vertically packed with civilians, including the liberal cleric who was my guide and who is completely innocent of this war. Tens of thousands of people live in the area. Some of their homes were destroyed. Those whose homes weren’t destroyed now fear theirs could be next.

Haret Hreik also is packed with the infrastructure of a warmongering militia that unilaterally instigated the conflict on purpose. That’s why it was hit harder than any other urbanized section of Lebanon.

Dahiyeh Rubble 1.JPG

Some Lebanese Shia support Hezbollah because they actually want war with Israelis.

Others (wrongly) believe that Israel will continue to invade and attack even if Lebanon and Hezbollah sign a peace treaty. Hezbollah, in their view, is their only defense. These people have not, apparently, noticed that Israel has had no military trouble with Egypt or Jordan since peace treaties were signed. The price they paid for this misunderstanding was a grave one, indeed. The last war will more likely prolong that misunderstanding than counter it. The cause-and-effect relationship between Hezbollah’s casus belli on the border and the Israeli reaction has been lost in Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s bombastic pronouncements.

I have been to Israel four times in the last nine months and I know very well that Israelis, left-wing and right-wing alike, overwhelmingly prefer peace to war. But when your only exposure to Israelis is through racist and phantasmagoric Hezbollah propaganda, and when that propaganda is underscored by air raids with blockbuster bombs, it can be a bit hard to believe that Israelis would rather leave you alone.

Dahiyeh Crater 1.JPG

The Israeli government hoped the destruction in Hezbollah strongholds would deter any plans for future attacks. Perhaps Hezbollah has quietly decided not to provoke Israel from now on. Anything is possible, but there is little or no evidence that this is the case. Hezbollah has restocked its weapons supply from Iran via Syria. Hassan Nasrallah insists the “resistance” will continue. His supporters applaud him for that even though huge numbers are homeless or live next to piles of rubble.

Dahiyeh Rubble 2.JPG

I was in Northern Israel in August while Hezbollah bombarded the area with Katyusha rockets. I returned to the city of Kiryat Shmona the day after the war ended so I could survey the damage slowly, carefully, and in safety.

Katyushas are World War II era rockets that only do serious damage when they strike a single location in a barrage. Hezbollah packed these rockets with shrapnel (the better to kill you with, my dear) and fired them randomly at civilian population centers.

Shrapnel Kiryat Shmona Apartment.jpg
Katyusha shrapnel, Kiryat Shmona, Northern Israel

Kiryat Shmona was sprayed with hundreds of rockets and tens of thousands of shrapnel holes, as though machine gun battles had erupted everywhere in the streets. It’s right on the border, too, so there was no time to get to a bomb shelter when incoming rockets were picked up on radar. The air raid sirens came on and the rockets exploded at the same instant.

The city was a ghost town during the summer, almost completely emptied of people. I didn’t dare spend much time there. It was a perilous place for human beings. Katyusha shrapnel will tear you apart. But the physical damage was limited. It would take years for Hezbollah to physically destroy that city with the arsenal they currently have. And Katyushas are useless against armies. They can’t slow the Israeli Defense Forces for even a second. In the modern era they only work well as terrorist weapons.

Meanwhile, the Israelis dropped tower-busting bombs on Haret Hreik.

Dahiyeh Crater 2.jpg

They could have flattened all of Haret Hreik in a day if that’s what they wanted to do. There is nothing Hezbollah can do to stop that kind of assault.

Hezbollah’s supposed “victory” is a Pyrrhic one, if even that. And it should serve as a warning. Military historian Michael Oren explained it to me this way at the end of the war: “If [Nasrallah] has enough victories like this one, he’s dead.”

Broken Dahiyeh Tower and Bulldozer.JPG

If Hezbollah ever acquires the ability to do to Israel what the Israelis did to Haret Hreik, Hezbollah and the strongholds they control could very well cease to exist. Hezbollah can’t win a total war. They can only “win” if the Israelis don’t feel like they have to fight to the finish. I would not want to be anywhere near South Lebanon or Beirut’s southern suburbs if Hezbollah decides to launch skyscraper-shattering missiles at Tel Aviv instead of long-range souped-up hand grenades at Kiryat Shmona.

This is what scares the Israelis, after all – that missile war may be replacing terrorist war. Their ability and willingness to launch an overwhelmingly disproportionate response means Hezbollah had better not dare ramp it up.

Dahiyeh Crater from Car.JPG

None of this means Israelis won the last round. Hardly any of their war objectives were met. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may end up the most internally despised leader in Israel’s history. But they only actually lost if different standards of winning and losing are applied to each side.

Hassan Nasrallah says Hezbollah won because they survived. Well, Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces survived. By that standard of winning, Israel won.

Shattered Dahiyeh Tower 1.JPG

No one, though, seems foolish enough to believe that both Israel and Hezbollah won. Destructive and inconclusive wars are never win-win. They are always lose-lose.

My guide Sayyed Husseini’s gas was running low, so we pulled into a station to fill up the tank. We stepped out of the SUV as the attendent inserted the pump. A group of children ran up to Husseini and excitedly yelled “Sayyed! Sayyed!” as though he were some kind of black-robed Santa Claus figure. The attendent smiled as though he felt lucky to be in the presence of a great man. If anyone who recognized him detested him for his stance against Hezbollah, it didn’t show.

Shattered Dahiyeh Tower 2.JPG

The gate that lead to what was Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV station headquarters still stands. Attached to it is a poster thanking Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his support.

Chavez Dahiyeh.jpg

Chavez could, like most of the rest of the world, support Lebanon’s elected government instead of the illegal militia that unilaterally – and at the height of tourist season, no less – strapped a suicide-bomb belt around the waist of the country. But that would mean siding with the United States, the country he most loves to hate. So there he is, hanging up in the dahiyeh along with the Baathist Assad and the theocratic Khomeini.

Khomeini Poster Dahiyeh.JPG

Facing the Al Manar gate is the remains of Hezbollah’s “Security Square.” The hole in the ground pictured below is where their media relations office once stood.

Destroyed Security Square.jpg

I wish I could show you a “before” shot as well as the “after” photograph. But there was no way I could take pictures of the Security Square the first time I went there. I had no protection, and that place had more surveillance than the Panopticon.

Here, though, are satellite photographs showing the center of Haret Hreik before and after July. I pulled the first off Google Earth. The second is from Amnesty International.

Haret Hreik Before Google Earth.JPG

Haret Hreik After Amnesty International.JPG

My old nemesis Hussein Naboulsi worked there, in that Security Square office that now is a crater, before Hezbollah fired him after the war. At least I heard from my fixer that he was fired after the war. For all I really know he was killed in the air strike.

He was Hezbollah’s media relations liaison, the guy who set up interviews for journalists, who creepily kept photocopies of our passports on file, who monitored everything we published and wrote, who threatened me with violence for cracking a joke about “the party” on my blog, and who infamously led CNN’s Nic Robertson around by the nose in the dahiyeh during the Israeli bombardment.

Hussein Naboulsi, former terrorist spokesman, minder, and issuer of threats against journalists

I can’t help but wonder: What do you do after being downsized by a terrorist organization? Do you work at the local CD store? Al Jazeera? Perhaps the Syrians will have something for him, though the pay grade may be a bit lower.

Even before the war broke out in July I marveled at Lebanon’s ability to hold itself together when no common values unite the people who live there. Lebanon belongs to the Arab world, and also to the Mediterranean world. It is Eastern and, in some ways, it is Western, as well. French- and English-educated Christians look to the US, France, and the West. Most Sunnis take their cues from the wider Arab world, though they also are a part of the broader Mediterranean culture with its open and tolerant ways. Many, if not most, Shia look to Persian Iran.

Enormous forces pull this tiny country (only half the size of tiny Israel) in violently opposing directions at the same time. Lebanon cannot be in the Western and moderate Arab orbit and be absorbed into the Syrian/Iranian axis. Civil war, as well as war with their southern neighbor, will hang like the Sword of Damocles over the country until this is resolved.

Since the war in July the Shia experience in Lebanon is even farther removed than it was from that of the Sunnis, Christians, and Druze.

Haret Hreik, like much of the South, has been devastated. Rubble abounds. The economy, which wasn’t much to begin with, is as broken as the harsh urban landscape.

Meanwhile, downtown Beirut looked better than it did last time I saw it in April of 2006.

Saifi Village from Air.jpg
Saifi Village, downtown Beirut. The construction in the lower-left corner is now finished.

Saifi Village 2.jpg
Saifi Village 2 is under construction

Glass Tower Beirut.jpg
New hotel under construction

Lebanon’s capital is in the midst of a boom, even if it’s dampened now because of the war and the ongoing instability. But the “capital” of Hezbollah looks like World War II just blew through there.

Rubble Pile in Dahiyeh from Car.JPG

The two Lebanons are moving, at great velocity, in opposite directions physically and economically as well as culturally and politically now. “National unity” is a castle in the air, more so than at any time since the civil war ended 16 years ago.

The Shia have always been the poorest and most marginal of Lebanon’s sects – and not just in Lebanon, but elsewhere as well. Fouad Ajami aptly describes them (and he is one of them, too) as the stepchildren of the Arab world. They need and deserve better than this, as all human beings do. Hassan Nasrallah has promised to lead them out of the darkness. Instead he brought ruin and a violent catastrophe down on their heads.

The Shia of Lebanon must find another way, if not with Sayyed Husseini then with someone who is very much like him, someone who can help them lead lives of dignity and prosperity and of normal relations with others. Instead of bringing Haret Hreik to Beirut they need Beirut in Haret Hreik. As Abu Kais, himself a Shia who grew up in the South, said during the summer war on his blog: Iran’s Shia farm must be shut down, and its residents set free.

Post-script: If you like what I write, please click the Pay Pal button and help make it happen. These trips are expensive, and I have to eat and pay bills. Your donations are the only thing that makes my work possible. I would do this for free if I could, but we don’t live in a Star Trek money-free universe yet.

If you would like to donate money for travel expenses and you don't want to use Pay Pal, you can send a check or money order to:

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Many thanks in advance.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 02:45 AM

I wonder what it will take for the Shia of Lebanon to eschew the politics of hate, racism and warfare, and embrace love, life, tolerance and modernity.

Another must-read entry on my biggest must-read site. Thanks, Mike.

Posted by: Nate at January 19, 2007 06:24 AM

Wow! Great picture essay.
By the way, did you see any signs that rebuilding has begun? It seems that even the half destroyed buildings have still remained instead of being demolished.

Posted by: e at January 19, 2007 07:59 AM

Saifi Village looks beautiful.

From February 2005:

In a defiant response to US pressure, Hussein Nablousi, a spokesman for Hizbullah, said: "We are a sword that prevents Israel attacking Lebanon. Without Hizbullah, you would see the Israelis back in downtown Beirut."

Um, no. Because of you, the Israelis destroyed much of Beirut.

Without you, Beirut would have been left completely alone.

These people are deluded.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at January 19, 2007 08:43 AM

Do not be surprised that the re-construction is verrrry slow in happening. In the south, pertaining to residential mainly. The photos tell the story right away. Commercially based rebuilding is well on its way because it brings in revenue. That means hotels, upscale residential, and retail operations. The devastated south? Where's the money to made? I doubt there's a lot of rent money involved in that area. Who has the money to loan, or rather, donate? Which is more valued at present from the perspective of Hizb and Iran, weaponry or housing? Important questions one would think. Iran may have lots of oil money now, but they will want some sort of return in exchange regardless. What would that be?

And something else to think about is whether it's in Iran's best interests to fund productive ventures over political ones. Is it better in their eyes to allow the southern inhabitants to endure the devastation for an indefinite time to allow bitter resentfulness to fester even more? One of those cliched win-win deals it seems.

Posted by: allan at January 19, 2007 08:51 AM

I expect the (comment section) attacks from Hezbollah supporters to come quickly now and to be completely incoherent. How can Hezbollah's ideology survive if people look at those pictures and talk honestly about what they mean?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 09:30 AM

Jordan and Egypt have peace treaties with Israel and oppressive authoritarian governments necessary to implement these unpopular treaties.

Saniora is clearly less popular in Lebanon than Nasrallah. You don't like Nasrallah and can give every reason you want that Lebanese should agree with you, but you don't vote there.

Lebanon's governmental structures have within their constitutional powers the ability to meet Hezbollah's demands, which include that the Shia have representation in cabinet reflective of their population.

The non-violent steps Hezbollah is taking to pressure Lebanon's governmental structures to meet its demands are legitimate democratic actions, despite the fact that you, a non-Lebanese voter, hope they fail.

The main argument of this essay, that might makes right, that Israel can destroy Arab countries and Arab countries cannot destroy Israel so Arab countries have to do whatever Israel wants not only insults the dignity of Arabs but is not stable.

You say the right course for the Arabs is to acquiesce. The Arabs say the right course is to neutralize Israel's military advantage. That's not what you'd vote for, but you don't vote.

Fortunately for Israel and you, unfortunately for the Jordanians and Egyptians, the populations of those countries do not have a voice in what course their countries choose. You also want to deny that choice to the Lebanese people.

**This is officially a pro-Hezbollah comment. Feel free to delete it. I honestly hope you do because the laughter I would get from seeing it deleted would be more valuable to me than anything I could get from actually reading through and shooting down the rationalizations of your hostility towards democracy in countries whose populations do not accept Israel.

Posted by: Arnold Evans at January 19, 2007 09:33 AM

"You say the right course for the Arabs is to acquiesce. The Arabs say the right course is to neutralize Israel's military advantage. That's not what you'd vote for, but you don't vote"

If that is what the Lebanese want, then Israel is justified in conducting a preemptive attack on Lebanon. If that is what the Lebanese want, then why are they complaining about Israel's actions during the war? You both want to allow HA to start a war AND decide how the opponent will react? In what dream world do you live?

Posted by: e at January 19, 2007 09:42 AM

A quibble:

Katyusha's can destroy cities, but you have to use all of them at once. They are designed to be fired en masse, not en dribble. Firing them en dribble is a method developed during the Cold War to stretch the effect of a individually ineffective weapon.

When used 20,000 per war, Katyusha's are incapable of stopping anything. When they are used 20,000 per hour or per minute, they can break modern armored forces. The idea is that modern counterbattery fire makes traditional tube artillery, like the Israeli's use, a sitting duck target. You get one shot off and before it lands, harm is returning to you.

With a Katyusha battery in a mechanized and supplied army, three soldiers can shoot 60 rockets twice in a minute and then run like hell in the truck that launched them. When you multiply this by 60 trucks, or 6,000, a considerable amount of hell is going downrange before you can shut any of them down. An hour later when all the trucks are reloaded, you can do this again ten miles away...with the 30-50 trucks that survived. Katyusha's are designed to punch a great big hole in the front of one army, but only when they are used en masse.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at January 19, 2007 09:46 AM

It's ironic that Evans whos argument seems to be that it's morally wrong to consider consequences - ie. to take reality into account - calls his blog "middle east reality"

His view of the rest of the situation and its morality is extremely biased, but there's nothing remarkable about that.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 09:52 AM

A better explanation for this can be found here:
Please note that everybody used to use them in WWII.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at January 19, 2007 09:53 AM

The main argument of this essay, that might makes right, that Israel can destroy Arab countries and Arab countries cannot destroy Israel so Arab countries have to do whatever Israel wants not only insults the dignity of Arabs but is not stable.

I didn't read it that way. MJT wrote that Israelis on the left and right prefer peace with Lebanon over war. For whatever reasons that is not the case with Hezbollah, who successfully dragged the entire country into a confrontation with Israel this summer.

What is "it" that Israel wants the Arab countries to do that you are so worried about? Answer: Make peace with Israel. Unfortunately people like yourself consider peace with Israel to be an insult to your dignity.

Posted by: Zak at January 19, 2007 09:54 AM

Zak, take a look at Evans' blog before you waste too much time arguing with his like. Lots of apologism for the Ahmadinejad (and even for his "Holocaust conference") etc.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 10:06 AM

I really don't want to do this. This debate has been done before, by me, by people smarter than I am, against people brighter than you, against people less bright than you. There is nothing new. At this point this debate bores me.

The only interesting feature here is that Totten promised to ban pro-Hezbollah posters and delete their comments. I really want to see that. Really for the laugh.

But "it" is that every Arab population wants Israel to accept the refugees even if the effect of that acceptance is that Israel stops being a Jewish state, the way what would become Israel did not have a Jewish majority in 1895 when political Zionism was born.

(I don't feel like debating you on how voluntary the expulsion was or any other aspect of the validity of Zionism, but I've always won that debate in the past when I used to engage it. Maybe you are the brilliant rhetoritician who would win against me on these points. I don't care.)

It doesn't matter what "it" is though. You can disagree with "it". You can say "it" is any foul characterization or mischaracterization you'd like - the point is that you advocate authoritarian dictatorships, or at least removing foreign policy from democratic control - rather than allow Arabs to vote for "it" no matter what "it" is.

Posted by: Arnold Evans at January 19, 2007 10:08 AM

Mike, I thought this was one of your best. Wish I had time to say more.

Posted by: glasnost at January 19, 2007 10:11 AM

the point is that you advocate authoritarian dictatorships

Ah yes, to oppose Hezbollah, a militia, using its arms to ursurp the authority of police, army and goverment thus destroying a democracy is to "advocate authoritarian dictatorships" and your proof for this is that Michael says that war isn't viable...

Given what passes for reasoning in your arguement, I'm sure that you do win all of your debates, in your own mind.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 10:16 AM

I also noticed a number of key lies about Ahmadinejad's statements on your blog. When you're willing to simply lie, no doubt it is easy to win all of your arguements.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 10:18 AM

The personal attacks have started. Not by the Hezbollah supporter. Maybe the solution is for the Hezbollah supporter to be banned and his comments deleted.

I just want to see it. Please Michael Totten, ban me and delete my comments. Now I'm directly asking.

Posted by: Arnold Evans at January 19, 2007 10:36 AM

Arnold Evans is banned for supproting terrorism and fascism.

Laugh all you want, Arnold. You're a sick person, and I'm finished with you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 10:37 AM

Ah, poor Arnold, another Martyr for the cause. There's nothing like a good banning for the sake of one's dignity.

Posted by: mertel at January 19, 2007 10:42 AM


Posted by: Arnold Evans at January 19, 2007 10:45 AM

AE can say all the crap he wants on his own blog, which we can all then proceed to ignore. Franky, this 'I'm being opressed' routine gets old very quickly.

Posted by: Bruno at January 19, 2007 10:46 AM

Future comments will be deleted, Arnold.

Obviously anyone who wants to be banned has nothing of value to contribute around here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 10:49 AM

Well that was pointless.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 10:59 AM

Guys, don't waste your time with him. He is beyond hope. After all, what do you expect? As an official Hezballah supporter, he is fed and sheltered bu Hezballah...

What? you didn't know? 30 USD a day for being in downtown Beirut, and puking the crap he is telling us here.

Posted by: don't waste your time at January 19, 2007 11:00 AM

Arnold brought up a good point. Jordan and Egypt are dictatorships with very hostile populations. Egyptians were involved in 9/11 and Jordan is a major route for sunni insurgents attacking the US.

US gives billions to Jordan and Egypt yearly to keep the systems in place so perhaps it might be more cost effective to simply add Lebanon to the bribe list, especially since Iran's financial support of Hezbollah is a mere pittance compared with the money Egypt receives from the US.

Posted by: NM at January 19, 2007 11:42 AM

NM: Arnold brought up a good point. Jordan and Egypt are dictatorships with very hostile populations. Egyptians were involved in 9/11 and Jordan is a major route for sunni insurgents attacking the US.

Yes, but my point in mentioning Egypt and Jordan is that Israel hasn't gone to war with them after peace treaties were signed.

Israel has only invaded Lebanon when Israel is attacked from Lebanon. The cause-and-effect relationship here is extremely straightforward and obvious.

Anyway, bribing Lebanon won't work. The Lebanese government can't forge a separate peace with the Israelis without Syria going first. And Hezbollah doesn't want peace.

Maybe Hezbollah could be bribed (I doubt it, but maybe), but bribing Seniora won't do anything. He would make peace if he could. I'll be writing more about this later on the main page.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 11:50 AM

Im just currious to ask:

When is a hizbollah supporter never a brainwashed and a bigot living in propaganda-abundant worlds?

Such as the many arabs who support hizbollah.
Or the many europeans and considerebly alot of other people from other countries.
Or the many, many asians who identify with and accept the cause of hizbollah.
Or the EU parliament which doesn't think hizbollah is a begoted, fascist, racist nor terrorist entity...

I prefer the answer to be clear and straightforward please...

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 11:52 AM

Powerful and important as usual. Thank you Michael for your reporting!

Posted by: zellmad at January 19, 2007 11:59 AM

Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini

I won't pretend to know more about this topic than I really know. I'm tired of internet bullshitters and smart asses.

Sayyed Husseini is a landed baron with no land. He has position but no power and he's thirty years late to the party.

I wish him luck because men like him seem to get dead fast.

Posted by: Cal at January 19, 2007 12:03 PM

Arnold, you're banned. Get out and stay out. I deleted your last comment (without reading it), and I'll delete all your future comments as well.

Anyone who wants to talk to the creep can do it as his site.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 12:39 PM

I just noticed something,

Whatever you may think, it seems that throughout history the sunni's have had the dictatorships, the tyranny of the minority and the internal terrorism as well as international terrorism to no avail or any decisive victory or even achievement.

Meanwhile, in other headlines, the Shi'a have proved to be by far the most oppresed people but have come from under the rubble to become now one of the most feared powers in the middle east, the most democratic and by far the most peaceful.

In Iran, it was a bloodless revolution powered by the people, rather than leaders since khaminei was in exile, In lebanon their is the democratic hezbollah party as well as the government-legitemised (in 2004-05) shia resistance which has achieved much more than any other sunni resistance/militia/terror group i.e. taliban and al-qaeda as well as fatah and hamas, and their is now Iraq, which also to a certain extent, is led by the shia and is a democracy.

But what do i know, im just another christian 'Aoun supporter...

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 12:41 PM

+1 to Bruno's comment about the tedium of martyr complexes by pantywaisted arguers.

On the other hand, NM makes an interesting point that I hope Michael fully explores in his promised forthcoming comments; the question being, in light of the purported hostility of the countries' citizenry towards their regimes, given that Egypt and Jordan haven't waged war on Israel since signing their treaties, how much of this is attributable to the US/western "bribe" of those two countries' regimes, and how much of it reflects the genuine will of the people (considering the stuff in their textbooks, media, etc.)?

Asking that reasonable question does not make one a Hezbo lover, terrorist sympathizer or anti-semite, as I'm sure Michael and others commenting here understand. This disclaimer is only included as against flaming by illiterate nincompoops who spoil for fights by ignoring the meaning of what's written.

I'll look forward to hearing what Michael has to say about this, as I enjoy and find very valuable all of the work he's doing.

p.s. the piece on Libya that was in LA Weekly a few years ago was one of the finest things I've ever read; I really lived the experience of the country through your eyes and pen. Thanks!

Posted by: vic s at January 19, 2007 12:42 PM

Dearest Uncontested:

The followers of fools are rightfully referred to as foolish. There is no place on Earth that does not have at least a few of those—although some places have greater numbers than other places. Imagine a deck of cards consisting of nothing but Jokers, who in reality are warlords whose belligerence is sure to isolate followers from the rest of the economic world order. Name one? Hezbollah.

Is that clear and straightforward enough for you?

Posted by: JAS at January 19, 2007 12:43 PM

OOOps. I posted this on the wrong thread - here is where it belongs (with some editing and more thoughts):

A pity Evans was banned as he could probably answer a question that has been bugging me for a while that at first I thought was stupid but now think is not. There are enough critics of Israel and Arabs and Muslims on this board that could still, I hope, give me a thoughtful answer. I really want the non pro-Israel perspective.

The question is: Why exactly to the Arabs care about the Palestinians? Is it because they are fellow Muslims? Is it because they are fellow Arabs? Why, especially, do the Iranians care about the Palestinians? They are not the same ethnicity (Persian v. Arab) or the same religion (Sunni v. Shia)? The question first occurred to me as I was lining up the players in this conflict in mind, and, initially, the teams were obvious. The Arabs are all on the Palestinian side and it is stupid to question further. But then I thought "Why?" Arabs have suffered tremendously in the Middle at the hands of parties other than Israel (usually each other) without the same attendant fixations and certainly without the same pan-national/ethnic fixation. Why rally around the Palestinians? And if the Palestinians are so important to the Arab world, why are they otherwise treated so badly and locked in to suffer in the refugee camps instead of just being free to walk into the neighboring countryside and become a local citizen? To make a crazy analogy, it is sort of like driving in your car and seeing your neighbor beaten and homeless because a street gang took over his house and instead of inviting him in, you let him sleep in your yard (but he can't come in to pee) and occasionally toss him some food through the window, all the while telling him how much you hate that street gang and occasionally encouraging him to attack the gang and reclaim his house even if it only results in him getting beat up again. You never help him find his own house or get a job and encourage him to stay where he is (although you get strong locks on your own house because you saw him looking in the window). Eventually, there are three generations living on your lawn so you build a cage around them saying they can't leave except to get their house back.

Perhaps the answer is as simple as blood ties - we can treat our people like XXXXX, but if Israel or the Jews do, we will rally around them? That must be a big part. But somehow, the fixation on Israel seems bizarre to me in the context of the rest of the region. I always assumed the issue for the Arabs was the Palestinians, but it seems more likely that the issue for them is really Israel. If the Arab world spent as much time and money on the Palestinian refugees as they do on hostility with Israel, the issue would probably vanish. Certainly, Evans made it seem like "it" is the return of refugees to Israel. I don't understand why that would be the case if the issue was really the refugees - there are easier ways to solve that problem than this 50 year war.

So why exactly do Arabs care about the right of refugees to return to Israel but not about their lives in general? How do they see the refugee issue? Is it the heart of the matter? Would there be peace with Israel if the residents of the refugee camps all said they were happy where they were (wherever that was)?

Posted by: dontgetit at January 19, 2007 12:44 PM

"The followers of fools are rightfully referred to as foolish."

That didn't answer my question. You are now saying that every government in the world is foolish exept that of 6 countries, excluding the UN (which isn't a country anyway)

And thats, in my p.o.v, i dunt know about anyone else, what you just said is an insult to millions and millions of arabs across the arab world.

Anyway, it wasn't very wise of me to ask that question in this blog anyway.

SO! Tell me what you lot think about Aoun and his followers + what you think of the choice he made + what his followers make of that choice.

I love hearing other people's p.o.v's

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 12:50 PM

Uncontested: the Shi'a have proved to be by far the most oppresed people but have come from under the rubble

It looks to me like they're back in the rubble.

They deserve better than rubble. It seems we agree on that much at least.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 01:00 PM

Arnold Evans said:
"Egypt and Jordan would do such things if they were democratic. They would definitely make life more difficult for Israel. Would Israel go to war over them? Maybe. But the repressive dictatorships remaining repressive dictatorships is absolutely part of the agreement, part of the peace."

This is clearly not true. Natan Sharansky's book "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror" is evidence that people in even the highest levels of Israel's government want a democratic Middle East. If the Arabs got a true democracy they would want jobs, paved roads, good schools, lower taxes etc. These are the things on people's minds everywhere in the world; people always think of themselves first, and I am glad they do.

Posted by: Keith at January 19, 2007 01:02 PM


I agree with much of what Aoun says about corruption in the Lebanese government, and I wish him well on cleaning it up if that's possible.

Aligning himself with Hezbollah, though, was very foolish I think. Hezbollah's is the root cause of Israel's attacks on Lebanon.

Aoun would be wiser to fix that problem first and then deal with corruption.

The Shia, especially, would be better served by leadership that does not make them a target for air strikes.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 01:06 PM

"The main argument of this essay, that might makes right, that Israel can destroy Arab countries and Arab countries cannot destroy Israel so Arab countries have to do whatever Israel wants "

No, not "whatever Israel wants", just "Don't attack Israel." Neighbors that attack Israel get poinded. Neighbors that don't attack Israel don't attack Israel get left alone. Learn from experience already.

And yes, I know you've lost some territory to them. Realistically, you're gonna get it back about when the Japanese get Etorofu back from the Russians (i.e. never.) You don't see them picking fights they can't win and getting their country wrecked over a war they lost 60 years ago. You see them building the worlds best cars and electronics and getting stinking rich doing it. One thing they learned from their contact with Americans: "living well is the best revenge."

Again, watch and learn.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at January 19, 2007 01:06 PM

Do not respond to Arnold Evans. He is banned from this forum and all his future comments will be deleted.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 01:07 PM

"how much of this is attributable to the US/western "bribe" of those two countries' regimes, and how much of it reflects the genuine will of the people"

It may be that the will of the people is that they hate Israel, but don't hate it quite enough to get pounded into rubble.

From Israel's point of view, that's sufficient.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at January 19, 2007 01:12 PM

The Shia of Lebanon must find another way, if not with Sayyed Husseini then with someone who is very much like him, someone who can help them lead lives of dignity and prosperity and of normal relations with others. Instead of bringing Haret Hreik to Beirut they need Beirut in Haret Hreik. As Abu Kais, himself a Shia who grew up in the South, said during the summer war on his blog: Iran’s Shia farm must be shut down, and its residents set free.

That's very true.

Great description of Hussein Naboulsi's former career - and nice aerial shot of Saifi Village.

Posted by: mary at January 19, 2007 01:12 PM

When is a hizbollah supporter never a brainwashed and a bigot living in propaganda-abundant worlds?

When that hizbollah supporter has a definite and workable plan to disarm hizbollah.

As it exists now, Hizbollah isn't just a political group, it's a state within a state whose existence threatens the sovereignty of the elected government of Lebanon. That's why nearly every government on the planet wants Hizbollah to disarm. So does the UN. So do the majority of Arabs.

Do you?

Posted by: mary at January 19, 2007 01:15 PM

Arnold Evans, you will not come in here and post under somebody else's name and get away with it.

You are out and you will stay out. Good riddance to you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 01:17 PM

Very true, they sure do deserve much more.

As a lebanese christian who has observed her country very well, my sympathy goes very much to the shi'a decision, whatever it is, as well as my understanding to their choices.

This may seem strange to say this, but i say it because i understand what they have gone through. They were the only people/religion to be under war and occupation circumstances for 40 years whithout being looked at by neither France, the "mother" of lebanon, nor the international community.

But believe me Mr. Totten, if you actually live in lebanon and were here during the immigration of the shi'a (mostly) from the south and dahiyeh into the jbeil (including rweis where i live), you will not believe their high spirits, their willingness to sacrifice and their desire for recognition of the international and muslim and arab community of being as human as everyone else and that enough is enough.

They have endured very difficult circumstances, more than i could imagine. If i was so effected by the lebanon war without a bullet being fired into my town, how about the shia who are already poor and in bad circumstances made worse by IDF.

That is how i see things and that is why i respect and admire their choices.

As well, believe me that the power and capability as well as popularity of hizbolah is far from under the rubble and the same goes for Iran...i hope you understand and see my perspective when looking from my angle.

NOTE: Some say hizbollah is sectarian because it is shi'a. I would like to say 1) All sunni (with all due respect and no offense or racism intended what so ever, i consider all people my brothers and sisters + try to understand them as much as i can) parties and military forces have never been able to penetrate nor deter any israeli attacks.

PLO for example had a force of 40,000 fighting at one time and were taken out as well as kicked out from lebanon in a few weeks/months.

2) nearly all christian and druze resistance groups start as resistance, first week 2nd week 3rd week, they're OK. After that, their self-interest blinds them, makes them all turn guns against each other and then depend on the target enemy i.e. israel in the middle of war. Therefore they turn from resistance into militias in a matter of days.

3) Amal tried to not become sectarian by recruiting sunnis+christians+druze (believe it or not, it did happen in 86 to counter hizbollah+call it sectarian) but ended up as the biggest corrupt party + military and ended up becoming a militia too.

Hizbollah, being shi'a, have made mistakes, big mistakes in the past and maybe also in the present. One must remember that they in effect have learnt from their mistakes big-time, have learnt what is good and what is bad for lebanon, they have moderated themselves to suit lebanese interests such as dropping the manifesto of an islamic state in lebanon and instead joining mainstream politics in lebanon. They are not infallible, but are more correct and just than any other military presence ever in lebanon, including the army which fought itself in its last stages of neutralisation.

Hizbollah has proved itself to all of lebanon, especially the shia, that they are the only capable force to deter israeli attacks. More than any other military. They have unified, from my p.o.v, than split. This is seen through their social activity, if you follow lebanese knews you would know.

Please understand + post back if you can. I nor support nor hate. Also what are your views of the stand of aoun and his supporters from the christian block.


Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 01:19 PM

UNcontested: they are the only capable force to deter israeli attacks.

Um, no. Hezbollah is the cause of Israeli attacks. Why can't you see this?

If Hezbollah did not attack Israel, Israel would not attack Lebanon.

Believe me, Israelis never want to go to Lebanon again. They don't understand your country, and every time they get involved it is a disaster for them.

But they will hit back if they are attacked, and next time they will probably hit back much harder.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 01:24 PM

Mary - "Do you?"

Personally...No. But what i do want is that Hizbollah be allowed to become an independent defense division within the lebanese army - something which was offered by the Hezbollah leadership in the past and has been rejected by the current government.

This is in no way a crack in lebanese sovereignty - it's what the french did to their national resistance Le Resistance and some other resistance party (forgot the name) whom led military campaigns against the Nazi's after the liquidation of the French army. They still exist this days, this time they are not independent from the army but have their own commander and division within the french army's ranks.

What do you think? Good or bad idea?

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 01:28 PM

This article points out in an unintended way something that has been a tough nut to crack in Baghdad, Iraq. That is that Muqtada al-Sadr is also a Sayyed. Just as Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini in Lebanon can speak out against Hezbollah and remain unharmed, so can al-Sadr do pretty much whatever he wants without being touched. For us to kill him would cause a cultural explosion that I don't think we would ever recover from ... just as if Hezbollah were to harm el Husseini in Lebanon, Hezbollah would probably not recover.

But I hope that pointing this out puts why we are concentrating on the people around al-Sadr rather than al-Sadr himself into a better perspective.

Posted by: crosspatch at January 19, 2007 01:35 PM

"But they will hit back if they are attacked, and next time they will probably hit back much harder."

I regularly follow israeli media, and i personaly believe that is not the case especially after israel admitted it had lost the war, olmert admitted nasrallah was the bravest man in the world, and peretz admitted israel is incapable of another war for at least another year or so.

And im sorry if im clogging up your blog im just new and really excited to comment on alot of things i read earlier on :(


Oh ye, and the problem with lebanese with the israelis is, after being hailed as liberators when they first came in, they not only overstayed their visit, but also decided to occupy land, abuse citizens for no reason, create the most apartheid military regimes in the south, ie SLA, build the most horrific prisons in marjayoun and khiam as well as humiliate alot of innocent people by improsenment + torture + beatings and killings.

The lebanese problem with the israeli, is that we believe from thei actions, they pretend to care about lebanon, but their actions prove otherwise.

Let them release all prisoner (lebanese) and all lands (lebanese) and stop threatening sovereignty and let us do what we wish with our own water. I don't see any reason for hizbollah to exist nor will any other lebanese and that will be the end of that. Hizbollah will leave israeli's alone, in return with israeli's leaving them and their country alone. PS Your explanation above doesn't explain why israel took the Sabi' Qura in 1948 (the seven villages).

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 01:40 PM

To dontgetit,

to understand what is going on in the near east take these steps; Follow the history of the Koran, the Hadiths, etc, mix in the 1000 years of the Byzantine civilization (remember them?) go to the muslim brotherhood from before the Egyptian and Stanford university graduate Sayid Qutb, backtrack to Iraq in the 1930s when the arabs have sided with the Nazis and are murdering 1000s of Jewish arab citizens in Baghdad at the instigation of the sheihk al-amin al-huseini of Jerusalem and the Nazi Himmler, fast forward and research a USSR communist meeting in Czechoslovakia in 1968 when Brezhnev first made anti-semitism a part of USSR foreign propaganda, now shift to moscow's oriental university where you will see a youthful abu mazen (the so-called moderate president of FATAH) writing his then doctoral thesis called 'the other side' in which abu mazen supports Brezhnev's propaganda that the holocaust didn't happen (Abu mazen is a documented holocaust denier and his book 'the other side' was published in Jordan in arabic)now move sideways to the good old USA in 1977 and you will come upon Edward Said's orientalism,(which was nothing more than a plagiarism of the French book 'the oriental renaissance' written by a jewish cultural critic forty years before Ed Said's book came out) mix in anti vietnam war leftists, review the anti-american crowd, remember the 1967, 73 wars, don't forget ma'alot, kiryat shemona when the PLO murdered a lot of young girls, throw in southern babtist christian hippocrites like Jimmy carter, Jews who hate Jews, the angryarab (a hizbollah sleeper teaching political science at csustanislaus) and you will get the idea how people who have fear and loathing of Jews don't need any evidence to support their prejudices against them. Just trying to help, anti-semitism has a big history all its own, nothing in the world like it at all.

Posted by: james Just at January 19, 2007 01:42 PM

Ah so that's why the Iraqi government noted that al-Sadr was guilty of murder early on, saw his millitia grow, and did nothing at all, except maybe surrender.

If the middle east has a class of nobility, the "Sayyeds" who simply can not be touched, then there can be no rule of law, ever and the middle east is doomed to be a sewer forever.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 01:43 PM

If the middle east has a class of nobility, the "Sayyeds" who simply can not be touched, then there can be no rule of law, ever and the middle east is doomed to be a sewer forever.

That wouldn't be true if all the Sayyeds got their act together like Husseini has.

If they were all like, say, the Pope, this wouldn't be a big deal. The Pope is untouchable, but he isn't a fascist. So who cares?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 01:55 PM

"angryarab (a hizbollah sleeper teaching political science..."

LOL. This guys a self proclaimed anarchist as well as an athiest after unconverting, if you like, from islam to athiesm. Hizbollah would never accept him what so ever lol.

And you should check out his blog now, see what he said in two comments yesterday (or before, something like that).

"And in other news, hizbollah invites saudi arabia to invite hizbollah to a new conference" - angryarab

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 01:56 PM

UNcontested, do you really think the revolution in Iran was bloodless? What happened after the islamists were in power? If I were a christian Aoun supporter I would take a closer look at post-revolution Iran.

Posted by: mikek at January 19, 2007 01:59 PM

"If they were all like, say, the Pope, this wouldn't be a big deal. The Pope is untouchable, but he isn't a fascist. So who cares?"

LOL, as a christian i can tell you it's known these priests and popes are some of the most corrupted people to ever roam earth. Especially this benedict guy, i never likes him. Go wikipedia and research relationships between catholic church and jews + see how past popes and priests have covered the crime of the nazis so that they are no endagered.

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 02:02 PM

I think UNcontested may actually be "Hezbollah Lover." He is making the exact same arguments, and no Lebanese Christian talks like this that I've ever met, Aounist or not.

Also, Hassan is a Shia name, not a Christian name, in Lebanon. The guy's email address says his name is Hassan.

If I'm wrong, UNcontested, give me some evidence, please, and I'm sorry if this is offensive.

If I'm right, I'll figure it out for sure soon enough.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 02:04 PM

You're talking about post-revolution and different people show different facts and opinions. I personally don't care, it's iranian business and what they do about it is upto them. Im talking about in-revolution. It wasn't a very peaceful revolution, considering it wasnt a democratic country, ruled by a maniac who often ent on tv to teach the "white man" about principles and talk about his popularity (???), but it ended without bloodshed...

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 02:05 PM

Which country are you in, UNcontested?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2007 02:07 PM

No, i'm a christian lebanese, from Rweis, my names ronya and my husbands name is hassan and that above is his email, not mines, i don't like giving my own personal e-mail online. You know, just security and comfort reasons.

I dont know why i sound like "Hizbollah Lover". I did read some posts. He started off pretty well in older stories, but kind of went mad on the jewish thing....

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 02:08 PM

But what i do want is that Hizbollah be allowed to become an independent defense division within the lebanese army - something which was offered by the Hezbollah leadership in the past and has been rejected by the current government...
What do you think? Good or bad idea?

Like the United Nations, most of the countries on the planet and most of the world, I don't think Hizbollah's offer is such a great deal.

Resolution 1559 called upon Lebanon to "establish its sovereignty over all of its land and called upon "foreign forces" (generally interpreted as referring to Syria) to withdraw from Lebanon and to cease intervening in the internal politics of Lebanon. The resolution also called on all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias to disband and declared support for a "free and fair electoral process"."

To function, nation/states require a monopoly on the use of force.

The UN has its faults, but it is very concerned with the issue of nation/state sovereignty. They recongnize that Hizbollah's military strength is a threat to the state of Lebanon, and they also recognize that every demand that this state within a state makes is de facto extortion.

Posted by: mary at January 19, 2007 02:09 PM

So...? Am i a "Hizbollah Lover"? Lol

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 02:16 PM

Josh said:
"Ah so that's why the Iraqi government noted that al-Sadr was guilty of murder early on, saw his millitia grow, and did nothing at all, except maybe surrender."

Yes, that is pretty much the case. In addition to being a Sayyed himself, he is also the son of a very much loved and respected Grand Ayatollah and son-in-law of another. It isn't exactly "untouchable" but in practice, is nearly so. It would probably take a fatwa from someone very high up or more likely a council of very high people (to include the current Grand Ayatollah Sistani) to arrest him, let alone harm him.

Sistani is probably the only one who can put the hammer on al Sadr and probably already has to some extent by a tacit agreement not to balk at the government stopping the protection of his militia.

That guy in Lebanon is allowed to exist because he is just one person without any kind of organization or access to the media. al Sadr in Baghdad may soon end up the same way.

Of course, al Sadr could be convinced to leave the path of evil and join the path of good but the Iranians will probably convince him that he is on the right track as they have with Hezbollah.

Posted by: crosspatch at January 19, 2007 02:34 PM

I don't think UC = HL, based on a look at rhetorical and grammatical style and specific spelling errors -- however if, as some here suggested, HL was not a 17-yr-old jerk but was by 'committee' -- and there were some inconsistencies in style to support that -- then all bets are off.

MJT, this essay is even finer than the preceding articles, and that's really impressive.

Having visited Israel in June (and going back soon) it became clear so quickly that most Israelis, even in IDF, would all but break themselves in two for a true, sustainable peace on all sides that safeguards a Jewish nation. How so many people simply will not even consider that the vast majority of Israelis just want peace and a place to finally be safe as Jews bewilders me.

I have no idea what Carter's problem is, but I assume Arabs can't get their heads around it because they typically ARE after territory or hegemony. Thus they can no more grasp Israel's fairly modern, Western point of departure, than we (or Israel) can fully grasp the Arab's rather tribal, outcome-only psychology.

I thought it very telling that some Egyptian officials took it upon themselves last summer during the early Shalit affair to try to 'translate' to other Arabs about 'Israel-think.' One guy made the point that if Israel doesn't get a clear, firm statement of cause-and-effect that is quickly backed up by concrete or official action, they become anxious and mistrustful! Therefore, the offical advised, do not bother with vague, wide-open discussions of multiple players and possibilities and an array of potential outcomes. All that might seem like a good opening position to an Arab, but it will just make the Israelis confused, and then they get paranoid and mad and stubborn.

I forget who the US envoy was that got praised because he could sit in Damascus sipping coffee and talking about nothing substantive for days, then land in Israel and have a fifteen minute loud discussion with the Israelis, and both were considered highly successful trips by the respective hosts.

Posted by: Pam at January 19, 2007 03:21 PM

Pam the Arabs can't get their heads around peace (with the Jews) because such a peace would be considered sinful, and the religous fanatics will always make up new (or more likely old) lies and fill the heads of another generation with those lies. In other words the problem is hate, hate, hate, hate, hate and hate.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 03:29 PM


Your dispatches from Lebanon are some of the best Mid East reporting work that I have ever read. Kicks ass over the mainstream media reporting. Keep up the great work, and keep safe.

If there was no powerful Israeli military right next door to act as a deterrent, I truly believe that Hezbollah would have no qualms trying the cleanse Lebanon of its Christian, Druze and Sunni populations. In their 'open letter' of 1985, Hezbollah makes no secret of its true goals for Lebanon (i.e. its demand of total subservience by Christians, its desire to create an Islamic fundamentalist state, etc.). I sincerely hope the majority of Shia wake up before it is too late.

Posted by: Philip Sommers at January 19, 2007 03:33 PM

Oops, Hezbollah is planning to harrass UNIFIL.


Hizbullah forces were closely monitoring UNIFIL to learn about their scope, location, and logistical activity; the information gleaned is to be used as incitement or as preparation for activity.

The sources predicted that in the coming days, the campaign of raising doubts about UNIFIL would be stepped up, and by Hizbullah's political allies as well, in advance of striking them on the ground.

"Incitement," that sounds like Hezbollah.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 03:35 PM

In other Memri news, http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD143107

Former Hizbullah secretary-general Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufeili is attacking Hezbollah as a tool of Iran for destabilizing Lebanon. His solution? That Hezbollah focus all of its attention on liberating Jerusalem. That'll help! Though since he did say that abducting the Israeli soldiers was REALLY STUPID that leaves me wondering, if attacking Israel is stupid, how does he plan to liberate Jerusalem without attacking Israel?

These people make no sense.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 03:44 PM

What does Lebanon possess that could possibly interest Israelis ?

99.999% of them would hardly miss a step if Lebanon were to detach itself one day, and drift towards Cyprus.

Posted by: Ron at January 19, 2007 04:12 PM

What does Lebanon possess that could possibly interest Israelis ?

Water (claim the usual suspects who are always looking for a reason to slam Israel/excuse Hizballah).

Scroll down for:

Annexing southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, the waters of which Israel has long coveted, could also be undertaken with no consequences, they probably think, once Hizbullah in Lebanon could no longer count on Iranian support.

Since you have an American "history" professor proclaiming that disarming Hizballah will lead to the annexation of Southern Lebanon by Israelis, it's no wonder that conspiracy-prone types in the region feel the same way.

Pretty sad.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at January 19, 2007 04:27 PM

ONE THING WE CAN DO IS FIND HIZBULLA WEAPONS OURSELVES: Set up a web site showing where Hiz has hidden weapons in Lebanon. Use free sat photos to locate, get witness reports from Israelis, Lebanese, tourists, anon UNIFIL soldiers, anyone, who has seen anything. Use web site maps to verify and cross check GPS locations. Ask every web site visitor to contact their elected leaders to act on this info. Ask big blogs to help.

Posted by: DemocracyRules at January 19, 2007 04:30 PM

"Its demand of total subservience by Christians, its desire to create an Islamic fundamentalist state"

Im not sure about the accuracy of this statement,

1) They allied with Aoun (woohoo, go aoun lol) in order to unify the lebanese from all sects, to sidestep any criticism of it being a sectarian group as well as accusations of looking for shi'a dominance.

2) They explicitly overthrew Tufeili for the same reason...because after finding out lebanon is no way compatible with an islamic state, and the ignorance shown by tufeili because he thought otherwise, left hizbollah ditching one of their sub-creators.
Also hizbollah sent a letter to khomeini in i think 94 to ask permission for hizbollah to join mainstream lebanese politics and i think to stop all foreign manipulation of the party, i.e. i guess iran, and was accepted by the ayatollah. Therefore, their very participation in the lebanese politics, which far from guarantees any shia majority in govmnt or parliament, shows they have abandoned such ideology (the islamic state - very old fashioned excuse to be against hizbollah and very rhetoric).

No-one get me wrong please, i am not a hizbollah fanatic, maybe a aoun fanatic and franjiyeh. I have sympethy for the group, i believe they are also very honest and intent only good-will on the lebanese, though i disagree with them being a sectarian party. Then again, i don't see one party in lebanon not being sectarian, including my own party lol. Hizbollah would be perfect if they integrated into the army, that way they are legitimate, but they should be able to keep their generals and secrets, because thats the power of being hizbollah - they're hidden (BOO)

Posted by: UNcontested at January 19, 2007 04:33 PM

The "sayyid" title doesn't actually mean much, at least in Iran anyways.

Posted by: NM at January 19, 2007 04:34 PM

Oh no, not again
Excerpt from an A.P article:

(Nasrallah) said the resignation of Israel's military chief proved that his group had won the July-August war with Israel, and forecast that the country's prime minister and defense minister would also have to resign.

"It is natural and logical," he said, for Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz to quit. "I expect him to resign. He will be the next victim.

He predicted that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would also pay the price of Israel's failure to crush Hezbollah and secure the release of its soldiers in the 34-day war.

"In the end, (Olmert) will either resign or be overthrown," Nasrallah said.

The chief of Israeli armed forces, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, resigned Wednesday, saying he had to take responsibility. Internal inquiries by the Israeli military found widespread problems in the forces' performance during the conflict.

His resignation generated Israeli calls for Olmert and Peretz to step down as well. The three leaders were widely blamed for the war's shortcomings.

Nasrallah said that Halutz's resignation showed that Hezbollah achieved a "historic, strategic victory" in the war.

"What is happening now confirms that," Nasrallah said, adding that when he heard of the resignation, "I felt happiness."

He said the deterrent power of the Israeli armed forces had "collapsed."

"There is a crisis of confidence in the Israeli army, unprecedented since its inception," he said.

This is a perfect and sad example of a Middle Eastern leader mistaking Israel’s strength for weakness. The resignations are part of the process of taking responsibility for mistakes made during this summer’s war. It is clear from Nasrallah’s comments and Hezbollah sympathizers in the comments section here that they haven’t learned a thing.

The war began on July 12 after a Hezbollah cross-border raid in which two Israeli soldiers were captured. Israel launched a ground invasion of southern Lebanon and a massive aerial bombardment that destroyed huge chunks of Lebanon's infrastructure and hundreds of homes.

Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into northern Israel. More than 1,000 people were killed in Lebanon and about 160 Israelis.

Posted by: Zak at January 19, 2007 05:18 PM

This is a perfect and sad example of a Middle Eastern leader mistaking Israel’s strength for weakness.

Not exactly. In the middle east there is never any connection between what's said and reality (nor much connection between decision making and reality, unfortunately), so I'm sure Nazrallah never considered for a moment whether what he was saying was true or not. It sounded good, that's all that mattered.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 19, 2007 05:45 PM

Perhaps, Josh, but as we've seen in the region before, bellicose rhetoric that may or may not be unconnected to reality can result in unwanted outcomes. Just look at how Nasser's bravado resulted in the defeat of the Arabs in the Six Days War.

Posted by: Zak at January 19, 2007 05:49 PM

In the end, (Olmert) will either resign or be overthrown," Nasrallah said.

..umm..no, there will be an election, and Olmert may win or he may lose. That's what happens in a democracy.

Nasrallah doesn't seem to get the whole 'democracy' concept at all.

Posted by: mary at January 19, 2007 06:13 PM

UNcontested, I take issue with your characterization of Israel's supposed 'invincibility' prior to fighting HA. The HA fighter interviewed in the video you posted also made a similar claim. Obviously HA fought well and imaginatively, but history shows that on occasion so did other Arab forces. Note that HA talks a lot about Israeli invincibility, but Israelis never do.

Just to give a few examples, the Jordanian Arab Legion managed to surround and expel the Israelis from East Jerusalem in 1948, despite repeated attempts to lift the siege. In 1968 the Egyptians sank one of the most modern Israeli destroyers with a guided missile. The Egyptian crossing of the Suez in 1973 was brilliant, and subsequently, their infantrymen successfully repulsed Israeli armored attacks using ATGMs, fighting similarly to HA, and just as bravely. They inflicted more losses on one day in the Chinese Farm than HA did on the whole of the previous war.

Obviously Israel never lost strategically, or it wouldn't be around. But my point is that while HA (and to some extent, you) see Israel as an arrogant local superpower attacking its neighbors out of spite, Israelis sees themselves as vulnerable and under threat. It is important to realize that it is largely this self-perceived weakness, nor strength, that motivates their actions in Lebanon. If HA really wants peace (a big if IMO), it must develop an understanding of Israel that goes beyond one-dimensional 'doing evil for evil's sake' caricature.

Posted by: Bruno at January 19, 2007 06:22 PM

Here's the Ynet article from yesterday which I found interesting, by contrast to Nasrallah's self-important ravings.

Dan Halutz's resignation caught the Arab world by surprise, particularly after the question of whether Hizbullah won the last war or not was ostensibly decided among the Arab public. The prevailing view today, six months after the war, is that Hizbullah did not win, and wasn't defeated. This view is largely prevalent among leaders, among the large Sunni institutions, and among the more educated strata of Arab society in general.

Then all of a sudden Dan Halutz's resignation came along and ostensibly reopened the discourse in wake of what appears to be Israel's ongoing quandary. This debate of course impacts the level of deterrence Israel creates and the questions pertaining to perceived power and weakness in the Middle East.

Formal responses are not expected to be made by key Arab leaders, who would have preferred this war had never taken place, because it strengthened their sworn enemies, so to speak – the Shiites and political Islam. Deep in their hearts, they had hoped that Israel would strike a heavy blow at these forces, and in so doing cut them down to size. This didn't happen, and therefore they would do well not to refer to the war in general or to Halutz's resignation specifically.

Hizbullah and the Islamic organizations were quick to announce Wednesday that Halutz's resignation presents clear evidence of their victory. However, it is this bragging that actually demonstrates the extent of their demise in local opinion polls, so much so that they were forced to take pride in such a belated resignation.

On the Arab Internet, visited by millions of surfers, Halutz's resignation set the stage for another development with Hizbullah regarding the arguments pertaining to its victory, and not for anti-Israeli celebration. There were, however, surfers who expressed their satisfaction at the resignation, but the lion's share of surfers visiting key news sites expressed surprising readiness for soul searching.

"Arab logic is commendable," wrote a surfer from a Cairo neighborhood. "The Israelis distanced Hizbullah from its borders, killed 1,200 of its combatants, destroyed its infrastructure and positioned the Israel Defense Force in the north. Is this deemed a victory?"

Another surfer wrote a long article in which he explained why it is Israel that won the war, later adding: "Ask the Lebanese people who lost this war. They know the truth all too well." A third surfer, apparently from Yemen, wrote that Hizbullah's popularity plummeted to almost zero in his country.

"Only Hizbullah claims that this was a divine victory," said another response.

However, an even greater surprise appeared on the Arab Internet: The majority of surfers didn't ridicule Halutz. On the contrary, they expressed understanding and support for his actions. Many wrote that this is a lesson that should be learned by the entire Arab world and that when mistakes are made they should be rectified. Another surfer wrote that the ability to recognize faults is a virtue, and another from Egypt noted: "If only the Arab leadership would learn from Israel."

"Well done to democracy and democratic states," wrote a surfer, "when will they realize here too that a failed leadership must go?" Another wrote: "What's the connection between Halutz's resignation and Hizbullah's claim of victory. Is anyone willing to explain that?" And another response: "It's about time we learned about responsibility from our enemies, no one is above the law and national interest is above any personal interest. If only this was the situation in the Arab world."

Another surfer wrote: "I respect democracy that is implemented during difficult times." Another views it as a true Israeli achievement. "If only our failed leaders would learn that when they make mistakes, they have to step down."

Posted by: Pam at January 19, 2007 06:29 PM

Uncontested: "...i am not a hizbollah fanatic, maybe a aoun fanatic and franjiyeh. I have sympethy for the group, i believe they are also very honest and intent only good-will on the lebanese..."

Nasrallah was responsible for the provocation which was both intentional and clear act of war. Where is the "good-will" in that?

Posted by: JAS at January 19, 2007 06:49 PM

Doesn't look like Nasrallah will be stepping down any time soon. It's really difficult for me to fathom how so many people can be awed and inspired by this man and his policies, especially when you consider what his polcies wrought this summer.

Posted by: Zak at January 19, 2007 06:54 PM

dontgetit. I am not sure what you are looking for but just in case it might be interesting to you here is "pro-Zionist" point of view:

PDF: http://www.frontpagemag.com/media/pdf/BigLies.pdf
HTML: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1501222/posts

It probably touches each and every subject of contention between Jews and Arabs.
Oh, does anyone know anything of similar quality representing "pro-Arab" point of view? I am restricted to English only.

Posted by: leo at January 19, 2007 09:02 PM

"This is in no way a crack in lebanese sovereignty - it's what the french did to their national resistance Le Resistance and some other resistance party (forgot the name) whom led military campaigns against the Nazi's after the liquidation of the French army."

Hmm... gotta love that analogy. France, of the great resistance myth, was the only country in Europe that wasn't de-nazified.
After all, there was no need to make a big fuss amongst themselves after the war...it was mostly Jews that were the recipients.

Come to think of it, maybe the French model is the ticket for hizbo.

Btw, I just love that comment about the Iranian revolution being bloodless. Oh, it only became full of blood afterwards. Yeah, after the holy rollers co-opted the revolution and started killing everybody. One hundred thousand murdered political prisoners since the "bloodless revolution, according to the PMOI site.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at January 19, 2007 10:22 PM

Very interesting forum MJT, your travelogue reminds me of when I traveled through Lebanon into Syria and Turkey. It was easy to do back then. Two comments: First, it is easy to find out where someone is calling from within a radius of one km but I can't say how to do it here because you know Hezbollah monitors your blog and they are the enemy. secondly, the best kind of sleeper is one who is hiding in plain sight and yes, yes, yes, the angryarab is a sleeper.

there was a suggestion that some of you could combine our computers to create a large array of hizbollah weapons monitoring and I think that is a great idea. Lets all work together and pool information to find these weapons, or nature reserves as they call them to the UN- and create a report. title it the CITIZENCIAERS. Farfetched, sophomoric, blase? You make the call MJT.

Posted by: James Just at January 19, 2007 11:51 PM

Great reporting MJT. Just keep up the good work!

Posted by: Furica at January 20, 2007 12:13 AM

Lets all work together and pool information to find these weapons

That is not possible.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 12:23 AM

Lets all work together and pool information to find these weapons

I agree with Michael. You can't spy on an organized crime operation like Hezbollah publically for two obvious reasons:

1. When Hezbollah finds out that they're being spied on, they'll respond by not only killing everyone they suspect (whether actually involved or not) but they'll also respond by trying to increase their invulerability by make examples of everyone who might possibly be seen as opposition and with incitement...

2. If such a program is actually public, then Hezbollah will know EXACTLY who to kill and which families to make examples of.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 12:46 AM

The real reason this is impossible is because only Lebanese civilians who live in South Lebanon can gather meaningful intelligence on Hezbollah. Many of them do this, but they won't pass it on to you or me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 02:19 AM

UNcontested, don't speak for Christians please, and don't pretend to be Christian please. Your religion is your right, but don't decide you're Christian just to give more weight to your poor argument.

I am a Lebanese Christian, and I won't allow you to lie.

So stop saying "As a Christian", or I'll publish on this page your full name.


Posted by: and more lies from hezballah at January 20, 2007 02:20 AM

The real reason this is impossible is because only Lebanese civilians who live in South Lebanon can gather meaningful intelligence on Hezbollah. Many of them do this, but they won't pass it on to you or me.

Well obviously. That they won't tell you or me is just another way of saying that they're not stupid.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 02:25 AM

I also have a hard time believing UNcontested is a Christian. I've met some strange and extreme Christians in Lebanon, but none who use that kind of rhetoric. Not ever.

Still, I don't see how the person above could possibly know this person's full name unless that email address is a known one. I checked it on Google and came up with nothing.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 02:29 AM

I don't care what religion uncontested professes, her ideas are nuts.

Posted by: Zak at January 20, 2007 08:07 AM

"Nasrallah was responsible for the provocation which was both intentional and clear act of war. Where is the "good-will" in that?"

You need to have lived in lebanon to know what they have achieved both politically and to a certain extent militarily.

"and more lies from hizbollah" i don't really care who you are, you must be one of them blood-sucking GaeGae/Gemayel people who were made famous by the sabra and chatila as well as killing by ID. Aoun never did that in his life. His only enemies were not lebanese, they were occupiers.

As for you bruno, i certainly agree with you. At least you make sense, and yes i agree. lol. But one thing, if israel's people feel like that, how do you think the lebanese would feel about war? Just give it a thought. Alot of people would agree that lebanon was dealt bigger blows in wars than israel ever did during it's existance.

Now me, i always talk to israeli's on hotmail sometimes meet them on blogs or other chat rooms, and i can say for sure alot wish they come to lebanon, it's like a dream to many of the israeli's i chatted to them - other than the one's who started to insult every political leader in lebanon, excluding GaeGae ofcourse lol, they would tell me how they just wanted to be accepted as a nation, so they feel they posses something. I told them that lebanese feel the same way, we love our country and want it to become the paris of the middle east yet again, but the israelis are doing it wrong - very wrong.

Just like bruno said, israelis feel insecure, so do the lebanese from their grim history - especially the shia who suffered the most. You all have no idea what dahiyeh used to look like, but now when you see it you think it's been like that since creation, but believe me it used to be as beautiful as any other christian or druze or sunni (tripoli + saida) place. And since i'm a christian and entitled to what-ever opinion i may have, i also have a dream to visit jerusalem and bethlehem, both holy lands and places with the holiest shrines of christianity. Unfortunately, circumstances don't allow.

As for you Totten, i know myself very well. If you accept me for who i am on this blog is up to you, it's your blog not mines. But the christians you meet are the rich, right wing ones. If you don't accept pro-hizbollah people on a blog i really wouldn't expect you to accept any real life ones with similar p.o.v, which is why you could be dis-illussioned about us sometimes.

Michelle Aoun had 69.8% of the votes in 2005, and a recent poll showed he had 71% of the christian vote and i'll try find it too to prove it. As for what i say, it isn't rhetoric, it's common sense. Israeli's have feelings? yes. Lebanese? yes. Including the shia. If you thik i talk rhetoric and pro-hizbollah, then you should see a Aoun political leader called ibrahim (seriously forgot his second name but he's always on TV doing interviews), you should see what he says.

If he's not enough, go see what Franjiyeh says, who's parents and brothers and sisters were killed by the LF (GaeGae group) in front of his eyes, he also admitted it on live TV, on the LBC chanel as well lol. You have no idea what this franjiyeh guy says. He says what's in his mind, he doesn't care who gets offended and he's a christian and is pro-hizbollah all the way, so is Aoun for any of you who think he just wants the presidency, he could've stayed with the 14th march, or would've at least deserted/distanced himself from hizbollah in the war, but he didn't, nor did arselan, nor did franjiyeh, nor the other political parties in the opposition.

As for the email, i hardly know any of you so the most personal stuff i can tell you is that my name is ronya and i'm from Rweis, that's it.

Posted by: UNcontested at January 20, 2007 08:32 AM

~~"Hizbollah Lover". I did read some posts. He started off pretty well in older stories, but kind of went mad on the jewish thing...."~~~
If I may be so impertinent and ask 'where' (so I can read it) would that be terrible? Excuse me for interrupting but I'm always so interested in the 'reasoning' behind such thoughts and I can't find it....

Posted by: tsedek57 at January 20, 2007 09:46 AM


What you fail to recognize is that Iranian money spent on arming an independent militia, Hezbollah, is money not spent on investments within southern Lebanon that would open prospects for a brighter future for the shia. The maintenance of a welfare state and belligerence that incites a war is hardly something to crow about. The PLO and Arafat did exactly the same for all those decades.

Posted by: JAS at January 20, 2007 09:57 AM

Ok, UNcontested. You're just nuts. :)

And no, most of the Christians I know in Lebanon are liberal and left, not right-wing. I spend most of my time in Hamra and Gemmayze, not Bcherre and Jounieh.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 10:04 AM

I haven't had time to read the article or the comments, but the pictures are heart-breaking. I've shared a few meals and conversations with some good people in Hret Hareik and Chatila and seeing this makes me want to cry (as it did over the summer when I realized that surely some of these people are now dead).

I'll reserve judgement, but I expect to be disappointed by the abject callousness of the "see, look what Hezbollah made Israel do" content of the comments.

Anyhow, thanks for the pics.

Posted by: Naha at January 20, 2007 10:29 AM

Haret Hreik...pardon the dyslexia.

Posted by: Naha at January 20, 2007 10:31 AM

Speaking of banning, if I were a newspaper editor, there are certain words whoes use I would make a firing offense: "amid" (because it's always used to imply a causal connection without actually drawing one), "utilize" (in place of "use"), etc.

May I suggest that non-word "lol" be banned from this comment section (with a filter or something) because it's phony (not actually implying mirth but rather, disdain), annoying and it's overused by HL and his clones.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 11:32 AM

Tsedek, for HL's wit and wisdom, see here

And all I ask in return is one measly F-16...

Posted by: Bruno at January 20, 2007 12:28 PM

"What you fail to recognize is that Iranian money spent on arming an independent militia"

And how many independent militia's and unlawful armies has the US and Israel armed and financed in the future? Don't be a hypocryt and focus on where one simple group called hizbollah gains it's money from.

"Hezbollah, is money not spent on investments within southern Lebanon that would open prospects for a brighter future for the shia."

Who told you they don't invest? I seriously don't imagine where the already poverished shia would be without hizbollah support. In a way they are supporting themselves, because obviously, hizbollah is shia too, made of lebanese staff, lebanese soldiers, lebanese leadership but multi-national and multi-ethnical and multi-religios support.

The more you ignore the fact hizbollah is a power, an important power at that, and the longer you ignore their popular support, the longer you focus on the people who hate hizbollah living in an abundance of people who love them, you will not get anywhere anytime soon. Michelle Aoun realised that and acted accordingly. Ibrahim Kan'an, an MP in the lebanese paeliament representing the Free Patriotic Movement (worth asking about him, totten, explained this on anb, a lebanese TV channel.

When he was asked about why they had made an allegiance with hizbollah, who actually opposed them in the elections, he clarified the fact that hizbollah was un-willing to co-operate with a man who was assumed to have little or rare support, who was also opposed by the 14-march alliance. After the elections, hizbollah was ditched by the 14th march alliance, starting with jumblat with the rest following suit. Hizbollah could not afford being seen as a sole warrior opposing every other party in lebanese main-stream politics because then it would look like a sectarian party working for shia domminance.

This also applied to the FPM. Michelle Aoun, after gaining landslide victory of the christian vote, realised the Hizbollah-Amal parties had basically gained every single seat in the south and much of the bekaa with some christian and sunni areas as well (out of 12 Hizbollah MP's for the south, one is christian and 2 are sunnis). He, also, couldn't afford to be seen as a lone party fighting off the rest and as a result isolating much of the christians against the rest of the lebanese and even creating divisions among christians themselves. This is where the alliance had to come.

He, just like Aoun, explained that this would be for the better rather than the worse of the country. He said we have our popular support, and they have their popular support and that they don't see anything wrong with trying to unite these people. Eid and Christmas was celebrated for the first time in lebanese history by christians and muslims hand-in-hand enjoying themselves and having fun. Nobody had been able to pull this off before the opposition team. Furthermore, Ibrahim is staunchly anti-government, and so is aoun. They are not anti-president. To add to this, Ibrahim Kan'an once also noted that it is actually evil to have not formed this alliance. It would be evil for his people and the people of the shia because they would have then effectively divided the country into four rather than 2. At least now its a muslim-christian vs muslim-christian thing in lebanon. Thats much better off than christian vs muslim or whatever.

"Hamra and Gemmayze"

It's very funny you don't think these two places do not hold rich people, whom all are either christian or sunni, all of whom would rather support the gov rather than opposition. If you look at the 2005 polls, you will see that all rich christians voted for Gemayel and LF, while the well-off/poor christians voted FPM and Franjiyeh (he had 80,000 christian votes, most were non-maronite). The same applied to sunnis. All middle-upper class sunnis voted Future Party, the poor knew damn well to vote other minor parties allied to hizbollah-amal party.

The government and it's ministers have been in power since 1992. This was no revolution, all this was is an international community overthrowing the corrupt syrians, but they also overthrew alot of the wrong people. This is an international coup with mustard on top. Nothing changed in the government. The new taxes they are introducing are in effect forcing the poor to stay poor and the rich to stay rich because believe it or not rich people, business men and land-lords or factory owners/enterpreneurs do not need to pay any of the taxex introduced, only the poor consumers of lebanon do.

This is nor justice nor fair on any of the impovrished people of the south. Both Nasrallah and Aoun have said it in the past, the easiest way to raise money, is to introduce taxes. And the problem with that is the poor become poorer and the rich become richer. It discourages any attempt by anybody to lift themselves from the cycle of impovrishment.

I know many of you dissagree with hizbollah on internal affairs and their policies concerning israel etc, but in lebanon and in internal affairs they have done alot of good. Enough good to cancel out their bad points etc. While hizbollah was fighting a devastating war, our government did nothing to help anyone. The FPM housed 50,000 refugees and hizbollah housed much of the rest, while seniora was crying and begging rice to stop the slaughter, and she didn't listen until the israeli's told her they can't take it any longer that they decided to reach a deal in the UNSC.

Hizbollah is unable to occupy land or regain lost arab territories and have made that very clear to everyone in lebanon and around the world. They are a deterent for the lebanese and guarantee for the shia who have been subjected to oppresion and de-classified since the creation of lebanon and who have hardly ever been the cause of any of lebanon's problems, but too many times payed the price for them. That's why i sympathise with them.

For anyone denying Hizbollah/Aoun support, then all you need to do is go ask Fisk what he thinks. He's pro-government and a new staunch anti-hizbollah (after for so long being pro-hizbollah. I think the israeli's killed his driver Abed or he missed the chance to sun bathe this summer) journalist whose writing technique is the same as yours totten. He admitted 2 million people had attendet the 10th december protest. Please do not convince me that 2mill people are 70% of the shia who make up 35% of the country. Because if you do think thats how it is, then you have a problem doing maths. Mach 14th was nothing bigger than 1million and they admit it. It's called the "one million march" and i was at both, trust me 10th of december was immaculately and spectacularly different and larger.


Posted by: UNcontested at January 20, 2007 03:21 PM

It's strange how much UNcontested fervently loves Hezbollah, when even Aoun admits the alliance is purely political rather than ideological. From today's New York Times:

“It’s not like I love Hezbollah,” General Aoun said in an interview. “I am not trying to defend Hezbollah as much as I am trying to find a solution with them, because a clash with them would ruin us.”

Posted by: mertel at January 20, 2007 05:18 PM


Save your taqiyya for Robert Fisk and Jimmy Carter. The dhimmi Christian vote counts for nothing and is totally meaningless, other than to score propaganda points. Both the Sunni Islamists and Shiia Islamists have taught the dhimmi Christians that they better sing whatever tune they want them to sing, or else. Aoun's dhimmi political maneuvers are NOT a product of free liberal politics in a democracy, but a product of fear and terror. A product of centuries long Islamic Fascism.

Here's Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian from the Levant that now lives in the States, telling it like it is:


Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 05:23 PM

I would also nominate "taqiyya" for a banned words list, not because the implication (that lying is surprisingly acceptable to some Muslims) is entirely wrong but because most Muslims have never heard of that particular word and so westerners use it embarrass themselves. If you want to accuse someone of lying, then support your contention and use the English language. We have LOTS of words for dishonesty.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 05:30 PM

"And how many independent militia's and unlawful armies has the US and Israel armed and financed in the future?" What? This is pure HL. Totally inane!
Uncontested is a our friend HL. Who else would make a counter argument of this nature?

Posted by: Ruth at January 20, 2007 05:33 PM

Taqiyya and dhimmi are both words that should be used way less often than they are. I instinctively roll my eyes when I come across them because the user is almost always being hysterical.

Christians in Lebanon are not dhimmis. Not even remotely.

The Copts in Egypt are.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 05:39 PM

"how many independent militia's and unlawful armies has the US and Israel armed and financed in the future"

Must be an example of time-travel verb forms that Douglas Adams outlined in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

It would be so cool to be able to answer questions about the future that way. If only my computer could access the database that wikipedia will have in the year 2500, I could answer that question.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 05:41 PM

Though HL did like the word dhimmi which may say something about what Hezbollah aims for. But whatever-his-name (the actual Hezbollah member we had commenting for a while) was much more scary since he mentioned "unpatriating" [expelling] Christians from Lebanon. I'm sure Hezbollah doesn't talk about that in public or they'd have no Christian allies. I wonder if they talk about it in private.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 05:48 PM


Why are you so afraid to use the term? I would not use the term(s) if there was no truth to it. What few Christians are left in the ME are all dhimmis. Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Palistan, it's all the same. The Christian dhimmi is not mastersof his own home, or his free destiny. The existence of the dhimmi Christian in the ME depends on the whims of the muslim overlord.

Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 06:21 PM

There is no "Muslim overlord" in Lebanon. That's not how the country works at all. Not even close! There is no overlord of any kind, Muslim or not. Part of Lebanon's problem is that there is no authority, Christian, Muslim, or otherwise.

It is a libertarian and even anarchic place.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 06:28 PM

Right, no Muslim overlords. So why don't your dhimmi Christians sign a peace treaty with Israel? Instead, they sing Jihadi songs.

Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 06:54 PM

Hehehe i just noticed i said future!! I'm sorry, i don't know what i was thinking. I ment in the past, obviously.

"Uncontested is a our friend HL. Who else would make a counter argument of this nature?"

Well, don't even think for one second that during the civil war that more christians died than muslims, because with people like GaeGae and Gemayel family, they would've been willing to kill another million if they had the weapons.

Furthermore, do not think for once that muslims killed more christians than the christians killed each other. My family very well knows and remembers what happened, and believe me when I oppose other christian barbarics it's not for the sake of defending Hizbollah, it's for the sake of pointing out what b.s some people here like to talk about, especially Brigitte Gabriel. I watched her video many times and have watched her talking in many other interviews.

Civil war's are always grim and ugly, and everyone who fights in a civil war, will lose. In a civil war their are no win-win or win-lose situations or outcomes. It's always a lose-lose one. The biggest losers from the post-civil war era has to be the christians because of the ammount of people they killed, biggest non-lebanese losers were palistinians also for the same reason, biggest losers from the lebanese muslim community was Amal also because of their killing machine.

Then we come to hizbollah. From my eyes, they were the only victors. They managed to lose for a bit at the very begining of creation after the clashes they had with Amal, but they actually proved to be over-all victors of the civil war for the simple fact of killing the very fewest lebanese, did not engage in sectarian war at all (Amal was shia and so were Hizb, they didn't fight the jews of lebanon, nor the christians and certainly not the sunnis).

Even now after all these provocations coming from the governmental alliance and political leaders, they have shown immense restraint in dealing with internal affairs as well as have proved themselves to be a resistance of the nation rather than the shia or the resistance of whoever supports them.

Jumblat the madman, who has switched sides more than i could keep up with, claimed a month ago that Hizbollah may be involved in the assasinations. The rest followed suit, including Hamadeh who insulted Hizbollah by saying that they were responsible for the assasination-attempt for his life in 2005/2006 because it happened in an area Hizbollah controlled and actually tried to file a law-suit.

Hizbollah then released a statement that they will file a much bigger law-suit convicting the government of co-operating with the Israelis in the past war and holding them responsible for the rest of the assasinations which actually worked on all of the targets because the rest all happened in government controlled spaces, with both state army and police presence.

Hamadeh dropped the case because he knew that if hizbollah knew he co-operated with the Israelis, they would definitely have evidence to prove it. Even then, Nasrallah still refrained from taking legal actions against the Lebanese figures and political leaders in conspiracy of trespacing and being un-patriotic, owning allegiance to an enemy state as well, having constant communication with a banned state as well as conspiracing and intent to murder (Nasrallah).

Aoun never did this in his life. He always owned his allegiance to Lebanon and all it's people. He once said that the person who used to buy his food was Christian, the one to deliver was Shi'ite and the one to serve it was Sunni.

To all of you who are starting to act kind of weird and calling me a dhimmi, I for one and i'm sure i can say this on behalf of every christian would say, I feel better living in lebanon which is half controlled by hizbollah and half controlled by the state, than living in any of the states who are allied themselves to america such as saudi arabia or any other arab state to have made a peace treaty with Israel. Hizbollah at least looks after their people, allows them to free elections and recognises the christians' right to exist as well as be partners in ruling the country.

As for the other person quoting what Aoun said. I beg of you to scroll up and read what i write. I did not praise hizbollah for whatever reason it may be. I recognise and sympathise their cause. They have adapted to lebanon for the people. I know many in Hizbollah who would like a lebanese islamic state including nasrallah.

In 1984, he was appointed to be the ba'albeck commander for that region after the creation of Hizbollah. When the leadership polled to see whether or not to have an islamic state included in their manifesto, Nasrallah voted "yes". Then again, he is the same man to drop this factor from the organisations' manifesto because of his recognition and respect for all other religions of the country. He is a wise and clever man.

I for one believe that Hizbollah causing a war with israel was wrong. Then again, morally it was right because if my brother was to be on that other side of the border in the other half of the ghajar under occupation, or kfar shouba or shebaa village or my brother was to be in those israeli jails rotting because he resisted for the sake of me and the state and then abandoned by his own nation...i would feel discusted of being lebanese.

Even looking at history and past events, Nasrallah made it very clear in every speech he gave that he has an intent to kidnap more soldiers in order to strike a deal with the israeli's for a prisoner swap. He has said it clearly and on many occassions asked the government to object if they didn't accept this. No-one from the government did accept.

Even at the failed Ghajar Operation, they did not object but rather praise the resistance for their heroic actions. During the war, 87% were with the resistance. The thing people have to learn about lebanon is that we may love you and like you for what you do, but/or hate you for what you don't do or for what you want to do in the future. In normal words, we may like your actions but hate your politics, or policies, or ideology, or principles etc. Hizbollah is honest in politics, too honest for lebanese liking. They will come to you and tell you "da, da, da, da. Full-Stop. You do not like it, tell us who you are to object it, and why should we listen to you. What have you done for the country..."

This is the only thing wrong with Hizbollah. Other parties tell you what they want to do, but then tell you we are ready for compromise but thats a lie. They either end up doing it anyway, or not doing it because they didn't have the capacity. Everyone loves Hizbollah militarily, but are dreadful politically. This is where the Amal alliance came in. Then after the war where the Aoun alliance came in. They are both clever and smart. But being a mainstream political party for the first time in 2005 is very hard.

Hizbollah had it's very first minister in 2005 and that was the very same year they were actually engaged in their politics. Aoun knows too well that Hizbollah accepted Syria leaving lebanon not at the expense of having the Americans try to dominate the country through a proxy government.

Hizbollah would rather commit suicide than do that because they know too well what would happen the day this occurs. Aoun also knows that he will be defied as well as degraded and probably humiliated and mocked by the lebanese and the arab world if he so staunchly opposed external influence but then submitted to american influence. It would contradict his ideology and principles.

As much as you may think this pact between hizbollah and FPM is a forced one, it's at least both effective in unifying the lebanese, and it's working. Aoun has had the courage to defy his ideological beliefs and his political beliefs for the sake of morallity and doing his nation a favour. Hizbollah too, being their first time effectively participating in mainstream politics as well as working to it flat-out, i also respect their courage to actually take such a step as making a pact and understanding with a political party for moral reasons rather than even political one's, with a guy who's just returned from exile, a man they didn't trust at all but had to for the sake of lebanon and the lebanese as well as the very same man who declared war against syria.

If syria or iran truely were the masters of hizbollah, they wouldn't have dared make a pact such as this one. Now Aoun understands, syria is out he mustn't be hostile against it any more. He made it clear, we have a problem with occupation and with oppression, but once those opressive and occupying forces leave, we will no longer have a problem with them.

You all may have other views, but the way I see it is Hizbollah is the only party in the world, the first part in history of mankind actually, to have been created the way it was and to have spearheaded so effectively to become such a big icon in the world today considering their size and the size of their operations field i.e. lebanon.

They have become an inspiration to many and have become very, very, very successful in every campaign. They have been the only party so far to regularly stress the need for understanding and unification between muslims of different sects under the name of understanding and harmony. They, to this day, avoid sectarian talk. Yesterday, after the insults gathered by Nasrallah and Hizbollah, the man went on TV to tell the world that this is nothing to do with sunni-shia etc. Hizbollah has helped millions of people during it's existance.

It has become the word that rings so much pride into a whole religion. I mean, nearly every single shi'ite person from lebanon to iraq to iran at least respects Hizbollah let alone the huge number that support them, excluding the sunnis of the arab world. Hizbollah, despite being of a sect oppresed by the sunnis, were and still are the only people who help the palistinian resistance in every possible way.

Whether it is to finance them, to equipt them, train them, give them logistical or command and control support or whether it's running charities for them and giving them media + political support and coverage. Their willingness to achieve is phenominon in itself considering the state of the Arab world and it's characteristics in recent and maybe even ancient history. Whether anyone in or outside lebanon likes it or not, Hizbollah is there to stay and it's justification for staying, to my standards, is correct and just in every sense of the words until a final resolution is settled.

I did not go camp 20 days in 2005 for Marh 14th, the government, become a puppet of another country more ruthless in its foreign policy than syria has ever been.

When the Americans and Israeli's + Allies stop denying and ignoring Hizbollah for what they are, a powerful, smart, dedicated political and resistant group with abundant popular support, will be the day any understanding will be made with those countries and the lebanese people. To simply deny them for a fascist, racist, evil defacto puppet working for world domination will insult more of the non-supporters than the supporters.

It will result in higher determination of hizbollah members in the group, it's support and loyalty from the population will increase and non-supporters will become increasingly angry for your increasing remarks and accusations and less willingnes to do anything about it will be seen as the weaknes. These people will then sympathise with Hizbollah because they will see that hizbollah claims suit the turn-out of events such as America is scared of the powerful or israel only understands with the language of war, America doesn't want a democracy, it want's a puppet etc.

If you accept and reason with Hizbollah they will accept and reason with you. Saudi Arabia did this and they were getting somewhere. America didn't like it, therefore Saudi all of a sudden lost interest and here you have it, very tense momment between two sects consiting no less than 70% of my own people.

Posted by: UNcontested at January 20, 2007 06:55 PM

Anyways, i will leave now because alot of people do not appreciate me. Even the owner of the blog thinks i'm a lier of some sort as well as believes he talks on behalf of the lebanese and the christians in particular. He also believes he knows exactly well how the mind of Aounists works as if they are all just one person instead of unique persons entitled to their own beliefs and opinions as if it's a crime or unconventional.

Lebanon, as long as it's your second home and as long as you don't even talk it's language, will never be a matter of understanding to a person like you, mr totten. Especially not with a mind-set like yours. No way.

Once you understand that desiring for something is not the same as wanting it, you might come close. You seem to believe that lebanese people who desire to have peace with the jews of israel actually like the state. Every single lebanese, probably apart from GaeGae whose militia men were caught plotting to kill Aoun a week after Gemayel, hates israel with every meaning of the word hate because every lebanese has lived and experienced the torment of their country at the hands of the israeli's.

All of us know if it wasn't for Israel, we would be a prosperous, civilised, westernised, coexistant country whose democracy and freedom would prosper and become an inspiration for the middle east whose capital and paris would have been beirut.

You must know that lebanon would rather kill itself than have made peace at any time period with israel. Not unless israel gives back the land, our prisoners, leaves us alone and pays off our debt and war reparations and compensate the thousands of families whose lives have become hell because of the words of their old men at the price of our young ones. Maybe then we will stop hating them, and maybe from then a hundred years later a genuine peace treaty would have been signed.

Israel either is stupid and does not understand how to achieve this and therefore does everything the wrong way, or is doing it on purpose for the sheer fun of destroying and torturing the arab population of lebanon for even thinking of competing with israel in tourism, economy, hospitality ot whatever it is. So far i seriously don't know what to think, until the recent war that is.

Anyways, bye. Until Totten decides my opinion is apreciated, i will continue to comment. If not, then im not defying him.

Posted by: UNcontested at January 20, 2007 07:11 PM


Your arrogance is typical of a Jihadi gangster. And no, your supremacist imperialist ideology cannot be, and should not be, reasoned with. It should be wiped out. And it will be.

Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 07:13 PM

I think UNcontested is HL, putting some effort in writing grammatical sentences this time. There is the same hint of delusion and complete disconnect from reality. I'm willing to guess that very little of history and none of the judgements made are correct or even reasonable.

...You are old, said the youth, and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak--
Pray how did you manage to do it?

In my youth, said his father, I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.

You are old, said the youth, one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose--
What made you so awfully clever?

I have answered three questions, and that is enough,
Said his father; don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!

`That is not said right,' said the Caterpillar.

`Not QUITE right, I'm afraid,' said Alice, timidly; some of the words have got altered.'

`It is wrong from beginning to end,' said the Caterpillar decidedly, and there was silence for some minutes.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 07:44 PM

Yes, taking some time to read, the rant degenerates into total madness.

Time to delete the kid's ranting again.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 08:39 PM

I'm not a Jihadi gangster. Sorry for breakin it to you but i'm not.

I've had enough of war and would like to live in peace. When people like yourself, arrogant and ignorant, stop suggesting what the lebanese do or should think.

It's our country and not yours. Instead of accusing try resolving. Accusing and name calling never resolves anything. If Israel under stands that their right to defend and "one for all and all for one" applies to both them us, then maybe we can conclude the dark and violent history between the arabs and the jews of israel.

Christian or muslim or jews, we all believe in more or less the same thing - why anyone would bring religion into political debate i yet do not understand. In lebanon, you incite on sectarian lines when you are weak or have week arguments. Maybe thats why alot tend to use jihadi the whole time. Jihad is an arabic, not islamic word. It means to struggle. Physically, or verbally or psycologically, it's all the same and has the same meaning and uses the same word to describe it - Jihad.

Posted by: UNcontested at January 20, 2007 08:47 PM

Anyways, bye. Until Totten decides my opinion is apreciated, i will continue to comment. If not, then im not defying him.

Ignoring the usual Israel- is- to- blame- for- every- problem- in- the- world madness, UN can't even write a sentence that doesn't contradict itself, let alone two sentences in a row. So is he pledging to comment when not wanted, or to go away? Was he asked to go away in this guise or only in the previous one? What has the US and Israel done in the future?

It's time for the nut-cases.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 08:49 PM


Independent militias are illegal in the United States. No civil wars here since 1861-1865.

Every government in the world does whatever under the umbrella of "sovereignty" which sometimes includes mass murder with impunity within their own borders. Sound familiar?

Posted by: JAS at January 20, 2007 09:16 PM

JAZ, you obviously have no idea how to talk to a mad man. He's already overheated far past all rationality, so you can't expect to expect an extremely emotion laden argument like your one about soverienty to do anything but excite him to further hysteria. Anyway, he's obviously already a lost cause. Don't feed the insane. Don't let his rants take the place of any interesting conversation we might have. Let him go.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 09:24 PM

Do people in Lebanon call it math or maths? In the U.S. it is math, in the U.K. (HL) it's maths.

UN: "Because if you do think thats how it is, then you have a problem doing maths."

Posted by: mikek at January 20, 2007 09:27 PM

A google search of the daily star shows that they say "math" most of the time (9 articles use "math" and one person quoted said "maths).

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 09:35 PM

"What has the US and Israel done in the future?"

1) Stop being such an ignorant idiot, i said it was a mistake and meant the past. Maybe you're not reading very well these days.

2) Stop reffering to me as a man, saying "his" and "he".

For the person with the maths thing. I don't really care to how you or the british reffer to the word. It's known anyway that America is probably a million years behind in spelling and using analogy. Such as a billion, is it a million million or a thousand million? The US thinks it's million million and the British is thousand million. World definition of a billion is thousand million. That doesn't mean a US billionaire is richer than a british billionaire, does it? In definition it's different but in currency-terms it's the same.

In lebanon, most lebanese use the french term, which is maths. Nice try their to try link me to HL by using verbal similarities. Didn't quiet work did it? Another difference between US and Britain is the use of "z" instead of "s" in words such as "civilisation" or "civilization". In Lebanon they teach British english spelling, because the british english is the correct and original spelling and grammar of the english language.

Posted by: UNcontested at January 20, 2007 09:51 PM

It's known anyway that America is probably a million years behind in spelling and using analogy.

Well at least you're amusing.

Nice try their to try link me to HL by using verbal similarities.

Actually it was your completly hostile, paranoid, arrogant and unbalanced world view that tipped me off.

There are cultural divides between religions that you're obviously unaware of. I'm not a Christian, but I come from Christian countries and know the culture of that religion enough to recognize that you're not a Christian.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 09:59 PM

"Christian or muslim or jews, we all believe in more or less the same thing - why anyone would bring religion into political debate i yet do not understand."


Because Muhmud told them to. Because according to Caesar, Yeshu told the people to accept and turn a blind eye to evil imperialist swine, like Caesar. Because Israel was a confederation of Hebrew tribes that was united into becoming one nation under one invisible god and one law.

Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 10:00 PM

There's a somewhat obscure use of the word "passing". A light skinned man from a black family who convinces people that he's white is "passing" a homosexual pretending to be heterosexual and convincing other people is "passing".

If you don't succeed in fooling people then you're "not passing"

You're not passing.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 20, 2007 10:06 PM

UNcontested, you are Hezbollah Lover. I knew it all along.

I traced your information and busted you, just like I told you I would.

You are still banned. You are also a liar. It's obvious that you are not a Lebanese Christian.

I am not as stupid as you think I am.

Future posts by you will be deleted, no matter which fake name you use. You can't fool me. I am smarter than you, so don't try.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 10:21 PM

Redaktor: Right, no Muslim overlords. So why don't your dhimmi Christians sign a peace treaty with Israel?

Because the Syrian regime (which is Alawite, not Muslim) won't let them.

Also, a peace treaty with Israel can't be signed by 40 percent of the population. 51 percent won't work either. It will require the majority of support from each sect, or it won't hold or mean anything.

Anyway, the Christians of Lebanon don't sing jihadi songs. Don't be ridiculous.

And don't be fooled by Hezbollah Lover pretending to be a Christian. I just busted his lying ass, and I was right when I accused him in the first place of not being a Christian. It's obvious to me, even though he apparently fooled you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 10:26 PM

Sorry Michael, but you're contradicting yourself on several fronts:

1/ The Alawi, also known as Alawites, Nusayris or Ansaris, are a sect of Shi'a Islam.

2/ Lebanon is not a free agent. It is under Jihadist authority, if not the Saudi, than Syrian/Iranian.

3/ Lebanon is not an anarchic place. If it was, then the Christians would sign a peace treaty with Israel.

4/ I was never fooled by UNcontested. I knew he was a Jihadi from the start, and said so.

5/ Christians in Lebanon do sing Jihadi songs. This is part of the public education. I know this for a fact. And so should you.

As it is, the Christian dhimmi of the ME (Lebanese or otherwise) is not master of his own home, or his free destiny. The dhimmi Christians of the ME live a totally subordinate existence, that is dependent on the whims of their muslim overlord.

Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 11:00 PM

Redaktor, there is no point in having this discussion with you, so I'm out. Carry on believing whatever you like.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 11:19 PM

Yey, I win. You can now sign over to me the deed to your Lebanese summer house. :D

Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 11:41 PM

When I make enough money blogging to buy a summer house, I'll let you win all the arguments you like. (But I keep the deeds.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2007 11:44 PM

You're lucky I'm not a Jihadi, or you'd also have to fork over your wife and youngest daughter, and a couple of sheep as well, just for the mix.

Posted by: redaktor at January 20, 2007 11:48 PM

Tsedek, for HL's wit and wisdom, see here

And all I ask in return is one measly F-16...
Posted by Bruno at January 20, 2007 12:28 PM

Thanks Bruno, I read it. Priceless how some people doubt their own faith that much that they need to slander someone else's instead of pointing out the goodness of their own... not realizing that it is all backfiring on them and they are certainly not doing their religion a favor.

I just read the specs of the F16I - not bad at all.... as a defence - just in case...

Posted by: tsedek at January 20, 2007 11:55 PM

I'm still amused to be a million years behind HL in spelling and analogy. "It is known."

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 21, 2007 12:08 AM

This just confirms that my policy of banning all Hezbollah supporters was the right call. I should have ran "UNcontested" (who is really Hezbollah Lover) out of here instantly. I didn't because I'm trying to be a good sport, but it clearly doesn't work.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 21, 2007 12:11 AM

HL is actually Hassan Nasrallah in disguise.


Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 21, 2007 12:23 AM

Pam, I think you're referring to Philip Habib.

UNcontested, one might appreciate your heart-rending request to be sensitive to Hiz'bullah and its supporters--- just as one might try to be sensitive to Jews, Christians, Muslims, Shi'a, Sun'i, Israelis, Lebanese, etc.

But what is one to think of Nasr'allah's calls for Israel's destruction? (Or of Hizb'ullah's intimidation of those who don't support that organization, especially in S. Lebanon?)

Ignore it? Applaud it? Understand it in its "proper context"?

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 21, 2007 05:33 AM

Thanks, UNcontested, for shedding such light on the matter.

And for your clarity.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 21, 2007 07:12 AM

LOL, as a christian i can tell you it's known these priests and popes are some of the most corrupted people to ever roam earth.

ROFLMAO, as a christian I can say with a fairly high degree of certainty that you aren't a christian, but a poser. For no real christian would support such a destructive terrorist mafia as Hesbollah, nor would he further the Leftwing lie about the Catholic church vis a vis the Nazis. Pope Pius dissavowed the Nazis many years before Neville Chamberlain and his Liberal ilk were still trying to coddle him.

Posted by: Carlos at January 21, 2007 07:55 AM

Christians in Lebanon are not dhimmis. Not even remotely.

True, but ONLY because christians are still numerous there. Yet in other Arab countries where christians are a small minority, the word 'dhimmi' is more than appropriate. So using the word doesn't imply hysteria, it implies knowledge. And so does the word 'taqiya.' Even if most muslims don't know what it signifies, it doesn't mean they don't engage in it. And it is not just a "lie," by the way. It is religiously permissible deception justified by the Koran. It is shameless lying blessed by Allah himself.

Posted by: Carlos at January 21, 2007 08:09 AM

If you want to discourage a troll, it's not a bad idea to not only delete every post he's made in the thread, but to delete the responses too. And keep it up. He'll get tired of the game because he has nothing to show for it.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 21, 2007 09:53 AM

Regarding the concept of dhimmi, it is important to understand that the dhimmi, such as the Copts in Egypt ,the Zoroastrians in Iran, the various Orthodox groups in Turkey, and the Assyrians in Iraq were once the overwhelming majority in their own countries.

It should be remembered that the concept of dhimminitude was deliberately devised to effectively ethnically cleanse all conquered territories of all non-Muslims, eventually, over long periods of time.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at January 21, 2007 10:36 AM

UNcontested is Hezbollah Lover. And Hezbollah Lover is banned. Do not respond to either of these people because I'm deleting the comments. I don't want to encourage him.

And he will not get away with faking an identity again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 21, 2007 10:44 AM

I know what dhimmis are. This concept just doesn't apply to Lebanon. Everyone is a minority in Lebanon, and the state is terribly, dangerously, weak.

It's not hysterical at all to refer to Egyptian Copts as dhimmis. Most of the time on the Internet I see that word used to describe Europeans, and that is hysterical.

And it's ridiculous that every time I interview a reasonable Muslim -- even a sworn enemy of Hezbollah -- somebody has to yell TAQIYYA!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 21, 2007 10:51 AM

That's because Arabs lie. They lie all the time. The lying never stops. You should never ever believe what an Arab tells you, or how he behaves towards you. I say this from experience.

Posted by: redaktor at January 21, 2007 11:55 AM

You should never ever believe what an Arab tells you, or how he behaves towards you.

Then I might as well stop interviewing Arabs, stop listening, stop trying to learn, and just assume I have everything all figured out.

But I won't do that because it's irresponsible.

Arabs do lie more than Westerners. It is true. That does not mean all of them lie all the time.

When my friend Samir Kassir was killed by the Syrians for opposing the Syrians, I think it's safe to assume his opposition was genuine.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 21, 2007 12:05 PM

Arabs do lie more than Westerners. It is true. That does not mean all of them lie all the time.

When it comes to Israel, even the most moderate 1% cannot admit the truth. That's what I've learned from meeting Arabs in these comments. It's depressing.

Posted by: Yafawi at January 21, 2007 12:21 PM

When my friend Samir Kassir was killed by the Syrians for opposing the Syrians, I think it's safe to assume his opposition was genuine.

That's a non-sequitor, as occassionally an Arab may not find it necessary to lie. But when he does find it necessary, he will. No second thoughts about it. Is that racist? No, it's culture. Two different things.

Posted by: Carlos at January 21, 2007 12:28 PM

"That's because Arabs lie. They lie all the time. The lying never stops. You should never ever believe what an Arab tells you, or how he behaves towards you. I say this from experience."

"When it comes to Israel, even the most moderate 1% cannot admit the truth. That's what I've learned from meeting Arabs in these comments. It's depressing."

you're trying quite a few anti-arab commentators now.

Posted by: NM at January 21, 2007 01:22 PM

"When it comes to Israel, even the most moderate 1% cannot admit the truth. That's what I've learned from meeting Arabs in these comments. It's depressing."

First of all, emnity isn't Arab to Israel, it's Muslim to Jew and in the United States most Arabs are Christians.

Second of all I think there's a quiet minority of Muslims who support Israel. There was one meta study that came to the conclusion that 1/4 of Canadian Muslims tend to take Israels side when questioned on the conflict. That study sounded a bit messed up to me in how it worked, but there may be some truth to the idea.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 21, 2007 01:39 PM

Bernard Levy said the Arab/Israeli conflict was a clash between the rudest culture in the world and the most polite.

The Arabs, being polite, will tell you what they think you want to hear - even if it's not true, whilst the Israeli's will tell you exactly what they are thinking - even if they know you don't want to hear it.

Posted by: mertel at January 21, 2007 01:46 PM

Well I think that politeness is a necessity if you live in a culture that doesn't automatically grant everyone their rights in every relm of life - where abuse of power is the norm. So Arabs have to be polite to survive and Americans and Israelis can be completely rude and expect to suffer no concequences.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 21, 2007 02:12 PM

Josh: First of all, emnity isn't Arab to Israel, it's Muslim to Jew

I don't think so. Iraqi Kurds, for example, overwhelmingly support Israel and are hostile to the Palestinians. 99 percent of them are Sunni Muslims.

This is for two basic reasons, the first of which is that Kurds and Israelis are both victims of Arab Nationalism.

Second, the Kurds have something in common with Palestinians: statelessness. And the Kurds are aghast at how the Palestinians go about resolving that problem. Even faced with a genocidal assault from Baghdad the Kurds fought honorably against military, and not civilian, targets.

Also, I recently read somewhere (Slate, I believe) that Kazhakstan (which is majority Muslim) has very warm relations with Israel. Turkey is a sort-of ally with Israel. I'll bet other Central Asian "-stan" Muslims are okay with Israel, too, but I'll admit I'm just guessing and don't know for certain one way or the other.

Modern Arab anti-Semitism has been traced to World War II by many historians, Bernard Lewis for instance. It is a result of top-down indoctrination, the reverse of Europe's grass-roots level anti-Semitism which filtered up to leadership levels over time.

Second of all I think there's a quiet minority of Muslims who support Israel.

Oh, definitely. I know Arab Muslims (even Lebanese Shia who grew up in Hezbollah areas) who support Israel. Without a doubt they are a minority, though, and they have to be very careful about who they "out" themselves to.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 21, 2007 02:23 PM

Mertel: The Arabs, being polite, will tell you what they think you want to hear

This is true only up to a point. There is a perfunctory sort of "say what you want to hear" tendency that immediately breaks down when political arguments come up. It can be startling when it first happens if you aren't used to it.

Some Arabs will say the craziest things in the world without being even slightly embarrassed at how it comes across. In person they usually are very polite when they do this, and they don't seem ruffled at all when I say something back that sounds equally crazy to them.

Online arguments are much less genial and polite, but that seems true regardless of culture. It's the same way, for the most part, when Americans argue about politics.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 21, 2007 02:35 PM

Re: Arab v. Israel/Muslim v. Jew...

Some of the most viciously anti-Israel Palestinians are Christians, and they are definitely coming from an Arab nationalism perspective - although some have cloaked it in Marxism/socialism to appeal to European Leftists/Third Worlders, etc...

Posted by: SoCalJustice at January 21, 2007 03:13 PM

The intense animosity toward Jews and Israel emanates, in my opinion from movements that have been historically pan-Arabic nationalism, and expanded to pan-Islamism from places like Malaysia and Indonesia (and the previous president of Malaysia disseminated some of the most vile anti-semitic propaganda in recent memory).

The whole Palestinian thing has been a convenient hot-button for this type of stuff.

However, it is important to distinguish these movements which are visceral and emotional and do not appeal to anything intellectual, as opposed to the attitudes of Muslim cultures that have diverse histories and cultures. The Kurds are a prime example and although MJT has obviously been there and I have not, it was my understanding that it is anything but a monolithic Muslim society, but an amalgam of various sects that consist not only of the sunni and shia varieties but other Zoroastrian derivatives and combinations of other muslim subsets. Perhaps this diversity has engendered more of a tolerance of other perceived minorties, like the Jews and Israelis in addtion to the more obvious political similarities?

The president of Kazakhstan( despite Borat's stuff) is in fact the host of an annual inter-faith symposium.

While Christian Armenia's ethinic cleansing of Ngorno-Karabakh of a million predominantly Shia Azeris was supported by Iran who continues to arm it, Shia Azerbaijan has very strong military and economic links with Israel. I'm sure some of the affinity has a basis in Azeri culture and historic links, as well as for the obvious political reasons.

While it may be a fact that lying is more prevalent in Arab cultures, I don't think it is particularly useful to describe it in terms of a concept that Arabs lie. Complex cultural influences are so easliy lost in slogans. While the "Arab steet" has some serious problems, in essence they can't really be blamed because they have been brainwashed for so long.

I have no idea where Josh got the idea that 25% of Canadian Arabs support Israel. That is about the most bizarre concept that I have encountered in a long time. It is beyond my realm of experience and I have never even heard of such a thing. No way.
The only pronouncements about Israel (and they are well supported by their consituent communities) come from the usual front organizations like CAIR and the Canadian Islamic Congrees.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at January 21, 2007 03:33 PM


I'd like to add that from my personal experience Persians can be quite warm towards Jews, despite their unfortunate rulers.

A few years ago I did my own little experiment of sorts and visited yahoo Arab Chat and Persian Chat regularly. When I let my interlocutors know I was Jewish, more often than not the people in Arab chat usually became angry and abusive whereas Persians usually didn't care or were fascinated to chat and learn about me.

As I am sure you know, prior to 1979 Israel and Iran had diplomatic relations. Should, god willing, the mad mullahs lose power, I am sure Iran will rekindle its ties to Israel.

Posted by: Zak at January 21, 2007 04:17 PM


First time poster here. I was reading the comments regarding Arabs tell more lies than Westerners . Here is what the Mufti in Australia thinks:

Egyptian-born Hilali also accused his non-Islamic countrymen of being liars.

"They are the biggest liars, the western people, especially the English people," he said.

Here is the Link:

I live in Australia and these sort of rants were not the norm 5-6 years ago. He represent the Lebanese Muslims in Australia even though he is Egyptian. There is also another Lebanese (Australian Born)cleric who is preaching some vile stuff:

"Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid," or holy warrior, the cleric said in the videos. "Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom."

Here is the link.

Posted by: Charlief at January 21, 2007 04:18 PM

Regarding the propensity for Middle Easterners to lie, at least with regards to Persians, there is a type of etiquette called "tarof." Perhaps to the Westerner who experiences Persian tarof it that their interlocutor is lying. But tarof is a form of Persian manners where each party keeps heaping rediculous amounts of praise on the other. Both make and or accept offers that no one has any intention of keeping, or wanting to keep.

Even in Israel I have caught Jews of Middle Eastern origin stretching the truth in ways that would be considered unacceptable in the West. I lived with an Iraqi Jewish family years ago and the father of the house, who was born and raised in Baghdad, gave me a gift he claimed made. I later saw the exact same challah cutting board and knife at a store.

I also spent a little time in Korea. Koreans, like the Chinese I am told, are big into saving face. They will feed you misinformation (lies?) in order to save face.

Posted by: Zak at January 21, 2007 04:32 PM

The whole concept of a shame-based or face-saving cultures vs. (typically more Western) guilt-based cultures is fascinating.

The Japanese will not lie, but they will shift responsibility or reframe problems in ways that seem bizarre and border on irrational to Americans, in order to protect the immediate group from public embarrassment. They value a proper, good process, however, in reaching a goal. (They also have a release valve, which is that to some extent if they are out getting drunk, they are permitted to say what they really think and it is overlooked.)

Patai's book 'The Arab Mind' reveals a similar cultural shame-based torquing of raw reality, which he links in part to a love of language -- not as communication, but as a common, universal art form -- the content, and certainly the accuracy of speech, is much less valued than the presentation, which should be dramatic.

He also says Arab cultures tend to have an outcome-oriented disposition, not a process-oriented one. HOW foully you behave (or lie) to achieve a goal doesn't matter, as long as the end result is considered a success, because the issue isn't self-appraisal (guilt) but Other-appraisal and reflected public self-image -- e.g., shame. Nor does an honorable process matter if the result is failure; there you will feel shame, not self-respect.

But since 'facts' and objectivity are culturally immaterial, as long as you can claim success and put a big shiny bow on it, all is well!

We used to say about alcoholics -- they don't lie... They tell themselves the lie and believe it, so when they tell it to you, it feels like the truth!

Treppenwitz's blog had some interesting stuff on this several months ago, too. An Arab in a waiting room broke a little plastic keychain puzzle apart and re-assembled it to get the right end result, showing it off to all, clearly as proud of himself as if he had spent time logically figuring out how to solve it and had succeeded after real effort. If anything, he felt more smug satisfaction at having 'outsmarted' the puzzle.

Posted by: Pam at January 21, 2007 05:32 PM

"Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid," or holy warrior, the cleric said in the videos. "Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom."

Strange that the Australian used those exact words because the recent Dispatches show (BBC) showed a British preacher (from a DVD) using the same exact words.

Funny thing I recognized that preacher too. He was one of the people photographed during the cartoon demonstrations, he was carrying a sign that read "Democracy, go to hell!"

I wonder if these wahabi preachers have an approved script.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 21, 2007 07:31 PM

They always say they are taken out of context.

What part of "Jews are Pigs" was taken out of context. He actually tries to explain why he called them pigs. This guy is also the head of the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Sydney. I would say that he came out of the same school and continuing the tradition. That is the scary part. Young children are being taught incompatible values for the society that they live in. If you become incompatible with your society, you often blame the society for you feeling of isolation, with sometimes terrible consequences as we have seen elsewhere.

Posted by: Charlief at January 21, 2007 08:13 PM


as MJT pointed out, just stating that Arabs in general are liars dose not help anybody.

It also has been said above, that there are different cultural "standards" why one would rather tell you something wrong than tell you "no" for example. (As well as other "misunderstandings", or at least irritating interactions.)

So what is to do?
I think that either I see the other culture only by my own standards and concepts and decide, that the others lie, so I cannot trust them.
Or I try to understand more of their concepts, to be able to understand (and differentiate) better. (My guess would be that Arabs are probably much better in picking up hinds how serious or polite something is to be understood, than those from outside the culture.).

This does not mean to give up one's own concepts. It only means to be more flexible with one's own thinking and judging, if you are together with people from a different culture.

In my view this is the only way to be able to really come together: When both sides are able to understand the other (not only words but the meaning of the communication).

Unfortunately this is much easier said than done, because it asks of oneself to be able to give up the security of one's own concpts being the "true" and only way to see things.

I am always happy and interested when I meet people who grew up or lived for a long while in two different cultures and know about both of them (one of them being my own culture usually helps a lot, too). Asking them helps me understand, when I am irritated by a certain behaviour, because often they can translate not only words but at least part of the "cultural" context, too.

Posted by: a from berlin at January 22, 2007 04:45 AM


The lying is malicious, and is purposefully malicious. It has nothing to do with being polite. The lying is designed for one express purpose, and that purpose is Jihadi subterfuge. This has become so widely spread throughout that society and so deeply entrenched, that is has become a "cultural" trait. But it is nothing more than a systematic application of Jihadist Taqiyya.

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 05:34 AM

A test for Lebanese Christians:

What would St. Francis of Assisi have said should govern relations between Christians and Hezbollah?

Posted by: Solomon2 at January 22, 2007 05:59 AM

This has become so widely spread throughout that society and so deeply entrenched, that is has become a "cultural" trait.

The point is, you're putting the cart before the horse. Verbal goal-directed lying is a cultural, even tribal characteristic that preceded Islam, and has roots and uses apart from Islamic Jihad.

Think of it as self-protective and/or self-aggrandizing spin. This has proven invaluable to diplomates and sycophants across the globe of all persuasions, not just Arab jihadis. No one is immune -- 'White man speaks with forked tongue,' 'Honey-tongued, soft spoken, malicious, and unprincipled in conduct,' etc.

I've read that Mohammed's biggest cultural step was to prescribe explicit and unbreakable contracts between the men of his new religion, enforced by God across clan and tribal differences -- a very novel concept at the time.

So lying is endemic to and codified into Islam -- and useful to Jihadis. But it's a widely-used strategy in business, politics, etc. -- just that we in the West regard it as a moral failing albeit a very common one, and act offended, while many other cultures consider it an essential social and economic lubricant.

Posted by: Pam at January 22, 2007 06:49 AM

Or I try to understand more of their concepts, to be able to understand (and differentiate) better.

There is a fine line between a cultural relativist like yourself trying to "understand" negative aspects of a culture vs apologizing for it. When it comes to the Arabs there is far too much of the latter. I understand very well why a car salesman bullshits you, and why a palestinian lies to you about Israel. They want something and they'll pull the wool over your eyes to get it. That it may be "cultural" does not make it even slightly more acceptable to me. In the West, a liar has a "tell" because he is socialized from infancy not to lie and the guilt gives him away. But in the middle east there is no guilt and there is no tell. In a way, it's sociopathic the way they can do it shamelessly. Do you understand that?

Posted by: Carlos at January 22, 2007 07:06 AM

No, Pam. The point is to simply take it as a given, knowing who we are dealing with, and act accordingly. We can start with media organizations that employ "news" stringers that are arab muslim.

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 07:49 AM


The bottom line -- yes, we must take it as a fact. Your indignation OR others' cultural relativism about it are both equally limiting to our ability to develop broad, effective strategies and tactics.

By attributing it to an extreme or Jihadi subset of the ME culture, you imply it is alien to 'moderate' or normal Arabs. That lets our ignorant belief persist that really, 'good' Arabs are misplaced Westerners at heart, and as long as we continue to make that culturally arrogant and idiotic mistake we are looking ahead to failure. Know the enemy and how they think -- but accurately, not with dramatic catch-phrases.

Posted by: Pam at January 22, 2007 08:08 AM

Jihadism is not a subset of the arab culture, Pam. That's just more Taqiyya. Jihadism and Taqiyya is the culture, in its entirety, Pam.

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 09:01 AM

Redaktor: it is nothing more than a systematic application of Jihadist Taqiyya.

I encountered this when I interviewed the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Opponents of jihad do not engage in this practice, though, obviously. And, really, it's pretty easy to figure out who is lying to me about this stuff. I'm not stupid.

What's stupid is dismissing everything every Arab says. I'm not accusing you of doing this, but I've run into people who do.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 22, 2007 09:31 AM

redaktor: Jihadism and Taqiyya is the culture, in its entirety, Pam.

Oh, that's just bullshit. You haven't been to Algeria lately, or to Beirut and its northern suburbs.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 22, 2007 09:35 AM

If we didn't all tell lies our society would fall apart. Americans lie all the time - constantly bestowing compliments on people who don't deserve it. Just yesterday I heard a young woman telling her friend how "wonderful" her hair looked even though it was obvious to the world that a family of pigeons could have made their home in the shocking mess that sprouted from her head. Mostly we just call it "being fake".

This sort of lying is totally acceptable to Americans, and indeed telling the truth would be a major social faux pas.

A different level of tolerance is adopted for lying in many Arabic cultures. Mostly it is for social, "face saving" reasons. To suggest that it is always motivated by evil jihadist imperatives is simply racist.

Posted by: mertel at January 22, 2007 09:50 AM

What's stupid is dismissing everything every Arab says. I'm not accusing you of doing this

Why not accuse him/her? This is what redaktor said:

That's because Arabs lie. They lie all the time. The lying never stops. You should never ever believe what an Arab tells you, or how he behaves towards you. I say this from experience.

Posted by: mertel at January 22, 2007 10:00 AM

Mostly we just call it being "fake".

In Arabia they don't call it being "fake" because the line between fake and real over there is so blurred. Here in America our eye twitches or we look at the ground when we tell an ugly slob how great they look. Not so in Arabia. They'll look you straight in the eye. That's the difference.

Posted by: Carlos at January 22, 2007 10:14 AM


I am not so sure if I would call myself a cultural relativist.
I did not say that I would change who I am or what my goals and convictions are in my life.

Look, I am (obviously) not a native english speaker. Yet, I am writing this in english, because I want to communicate with the people around here. This does not mean that I start talking or thinking english in my everyday life.
But if I would stick to my own native language you probably would not understand a word of what I say and I could not get what you say.

For me with the cultural differences it is similar. If I try to understand someone (also in my own cultur btw) it does NOT imply that I am of the same opinion. (this is something which is mixed up very often, and a great problem in understanding, because people think they would have to agree when they start to understand).
So understanding cultural differences does not automatically lead to the change of my convictions. But it gives me the possibility to better understand other people and on that bases to discuss certain ideas, concepts, what not.
(Well, yes, sometimes I even learn something new and so somtimes I would change my way of seeing things, but that's true for every other discussion, too.)

So, to put it short:
I think, being able to (or at least trying to) understand a different culture is the bases you need to start a discussion about what you want.
Step one: Understanding
step two: seeing where you can come together, share same goals etc. and seeing where not.

I don't want to say that there is no deceit in the world. Of course there is and in every culture. But I do believe that as a basic rule it does not help you to stereotype a whole (and pretty diverse) people as liars if you want to understand something.

If your goal is to "know" who is right and wrong, it might help you though to stick to your stereotype.

Posted by: a from berlin at January 22, 2007 12:13 PM

sorry Carlos,

last part of my comment (stereotyping) was directed to redaktor..

Posted by: a from berlin at January 22, 2007 12:14 PM

..and one more thing:

I think it is a little sad that the discussion about culturl traits or not etc. above is (as far as I can tell) mostly or even exclusively done by non-Arabs.

At least I am missing some points of view here..

(but I also realize that this is MJT block and the discussion is already about something pretty different than the post..)

Posted by: a from berlin at January 22, 2007 12:20 PM

from berlin,

you did quite well considering english isn't your native tongue.

Re "understanding", for some reason the term "understanding" another culture has come to mean apologizing for it, looking the other way, excusing it, minimizing it's negativity, etc. It's the kind of politically correct claptrap I've come to expect from certain people with a particular worldview.

Objectively speaking, "understanding" another culture may imply seeing both it's positive AND negative aspects-- not merely excusing it's negative ones. But it seems objectivity can sometimes be confused with racism these days. And nobody wants to be called a racist so they just stfu.

In conclusion, if we can admire certain cultural traits that are positive (we do that all the time), then we should also be able to objectively recognize other cultural traits that are not so positive.

And by the way, no culture is lacking in negative cultural aspects, nor good ones either.

Posted by: Carlos at January 22, 2007 12:45 PM


I don't consider the few surviving Christians that still live on their conquered lands to be arabs. In fact, to call them arabs, I think, would be deeply insulting to them.

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 03:14 PM

redaktor: "to call them arabs, I think, would be deeply insulting to them."

This is utter nonsense. What would make you think this?

Posted by: Dizzy at January 22, 2007 03:25 PM

These Christians are the descendants of the Phoenicians that live in the area predating the Arab invasion. They are not Arab.

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 03:32 PM

Even if that were true, although I am doubtful that the indigenous Muslims and Christians are descended from different races, you still have no reason to think this.

I've met plenty of people who proudly call themselves Christian Arab.

Posted by: Dizzy at January 22, 2007 03:38 PM

Well, they shouldn't.

And as far as I'm concerned, if you're an Arab, you have nothing to be proud of.

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 03:41 PM

Redaktor is right that the Maronites, but not the Orthodox, Christians of Lebanon do not self-identify as Arabs.

Nevertheless, Redaktor, I need you to reign in the sweeping anti-Arab attitude here. Don't make me be a hard-ass about this, alright?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 22, 2007 03:51 PM


I've had twenty years of living amongst and surrounded by "Arabs". I think I've had enough exposure to know and understand exactly who and what they are.

(This was originally addressed to Berliner, but obviously Michael, it could well be addressed to you in your last comment. Anyway, we know where this is headed. I'll soon be called a RACIST by the Jihadi PC police, so I'll quit while I'm still ahead. Good night).

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 04:04 PM


Where and how were you surrounded by Arabs for 20 years?

Arabs vary a great deal from country to country, and even within countries. If you spent a lot of time with, say, Egyptians or Palestinians I'm sure that explains why your view would be dimmer than if you spent that time in, say, Tunisia, Kuwait, or Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 22, 2007 04:27 PM

Phoenician vs Arab DNA studies ongoing:


National Geographic working on studies:


Posted by: JAS at January 22, 2007 04:39 PM

I lived in Haifa, Israel. I still do. Although now I work in Canada, so my English is as broken as that of the typical Israeli.

Posted by: redaktor at January 22, 2007 04:52 PM

[...] You are out and you will stay out. Good riddance to you.

Another blog that I once read found a novel, entertaining, and effective way of dealing with his type. Just edit his comments to say something contrary to the intent of their post and utterly hyperbolic, say, something along the lines of "I want to bear your children, even though I'm not female, or even strictly speaking, human".

Trolls with delusions of martyrdom absolutely cannot stand being mocked.

Posted by: rosignol at January 22, 2007 08:51 PM

May I just take this as an example for one more comment:


what you previously said surely made me think "racist" and not take you very seriously in the end.

Knowing that you lived/live in Haifa makes it different for me, because even though I have not lived there myself, I can understand that the situation is totally different for you and that I even might have the same opinion as you have, if I grew up there myself.

Does this change my opinion about the importance of differentiating and being against stereotyping etc.?
I am from a different place with different experiences.

Thus I bet chances are huge that we both will never agree about that topic. So it may not change the result. But for me it changes a lot, because I understand better where you come from and I take you more seriously and still am more open to what you say, because you speak out of experiences I have never had.
(being open here in the sense of trying to understand, not in the sense of changing my opinion).

Otherwise I would just have thought you're nuts or stupid or whatever and also missed some important part of the whole picture.

But again this does not change my opinion about the fact that I personally find those remarks somehow racist. (Note: I said "remarks", not you as a whole person. And it also does not imply for me that I would not talk to you again.. "understanding" helps me to see the person behind the opinion and to think further - at least sometimes).

I completely agree with your response.

Posted by: a from berlin at January 23, 2007 01:17 AM


Our brain works by identifying pattern. The world is a chaotic place, and not everything will fit into the pattern. But that doesn't mean that the pattern does not exist, or is invalid. Stereotypes can reflect two kinds of truths. One of the truths, reflects on the group or person being stereotyped. The other truth, reflects on the group or person doing the stereotyping.

In the end, you have to make a choice. Either I am accurate and justified in my truth, or I am a liar and a racist, and my truth is nothing more than a black reflection of my soul. But you do have to decide. Because I wont allow you to straddle the fence.

Posted by: redaktor at January 23, 2007 04:30 AM


I agree with you that the human brain works by using patterns (and stereotypes) in order to be able to have an orientation at all.

I am not against doing this as a means for orientation. What I am personally against is to let the stereotype be stronger than any evidence against it.

So if I don't know someone from a certain culture, I will still have my thoughts about these people, because of stereotyping. That usually does not hurt anybody. My problem starts when I meet someone from this culture and no matter what this person says or does, I rather believe my stereotype than the person.

Now there are different reasons why to cling to a stereotype. And if I would feel that a certain group of people is out there to kill me, I won't be interested in understanding them or learning why, but I will just try to defend myself as good as I can. And the deadlier the threat the less I will differentiate, because for me the mistake to incorrectly "stereotype" someone as my enemy is much less a problem than the other way round. The difference might mean my survival...

Thus I would not agree with the second part of your post. Because I believe (as far as I can tell without knowing you really and without having the same experiences as you do) that from your point of view you have good reasons for seeing it the way you do.
Maybe I am wrong, but until now I found it a good hypothesis.

What if I would decide that you are simply racist and that there is no point in talking to each other?
I could do. I would feel "good", because I stayed on the "right" side and what not (given I would believe in a black/white world).. But in my eyes it is not as simple as that.
Human beings are more complicated than black and white. At least that's what I've learned so far.
I never met anybody being intirely one of both.
And in this case I would not be able to learn anything.

Who would be "right" in the end? I don't know. I know that I rather stick to my opinion and try to work with it as long as I can, because this is the only way I see (for myself) to make changes in a direction that I would like better, but I know that this is not the only possible way to see things and not an "absolute truth"and also that it is very much influenced by the world I live in.

and just to add something:
I pointed out before, that I am NOT calling you as a whole person a liar or racist. I found your remarks racist. Maybe I am wrong. but my definition of "racism" is, to put a stereotype of a people above all (possible) individually different experiences (as I put it above).
And thus in my eyes stating that all Arabs are liars is "racist".
And about the "liar": until now you did not give me the feeling that you were lying about what you say. I can be wrong, but I would think that you just honestly stated your opinion. So why should I call you a liar?

Isn't there a possible third way? We disagree on that point, yes. And it may be difficult to accept, because (at least for me) it is something that means a lot to me. But does this automatically have to mean that one of us is totally black and the other one totally white?
I personally doubt it.

Posted by: a from berlin at January 23, 2007 05:01 AM

"The difference might mean my survival..."


If you think the difference is not your survival, than all I can say, Berliner, is that you have your head stuck deep deep in the Eurabian sand.

Posted by: redaktor at January 23, 2007 09:16 AM

Sorry to be rude, but that's how we Israelis are. ;)

Posted by: redaktor at January 23, 2007 09:27 AM

You are hot Michael

Posted by: Jess at January 23, 2007 10:03 AM

JPost.com » International » Article
Jan. 23, 2007 3:53 | Updated Jan. 23, 2007 5:31

Islam converts change face of Europe

As many as 100,000 French and British citizens have converted to Islam over the last decade, according to a new book by an Israeli historian.

The figures cited by Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Israeli in his upcoming book The Third Islamic Invasion of Europe are representative of the fast-changing face of Europe, which the Islamic history professor says is in danger of becoming "Eurabia" within half a century.

He noted that about 30 million Muslims currently live in Europe, out of a total population of 380 million., adding that with a high Muslim birthrate in Europe, the number of Muslims living in the continent is likely to double within 25 years.

Israeli also cited massive immigration and Turkey's future inclusion in the EU as the primary reasons why the face of Europe will be indelibly changed within a generation.

Posted by: redaktor at January 23, 2007 10:07 AM

Lying cheating Arab Jihadis. Like I said, they never stop.


3ashoura = HL + proxy server to fool ip detection

Posted by: redaktor at January 23, 2007 05:59 PM

There are no Arabs in Haifa, that's why we get all get along. We have Druze, Christians, Bahia, but thankfully no Arabs.

Posted by: redaktor at January 23, 2007 06:06 PM

Whoever posted as 3ashoura used Proxy Cave. So that person is banned and their comments were deleted. Redaktor is probably right, and this is Hezbollah Lover.

You can't get away with this crap on my blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 23, 2007 06:36 PM


Please erase my replies to 3ashoura as well. (And this one too). Thanks in advance.

Posted by: redaktor at January 23, 2007 09:30 PM


what does the billboard say in the last 'hotel under construction' picture?

Posted by: frank martin at January 23, 2007 09:42 PM

Dear Mr. Totten,

as you met Mohammad Ali El Husseini in Beirut, would you think that he is able to hold a lecture in English?

Best regards and thanks a lot for your writings

Jonathan Kriener

Posted by: Jonathan Kriener at January 24, 2007 03:10 AM

Echoing Frank Martin's question, what's up with that billboard? It appears to be about one of the Iraqi elections with the purple-finger, abaya-lady.

As to hating Israel being Muslim-Jew or Arab-Jew, I would suggest that it's neither, it's totalitarian-democrat. Usually hatred of Jews is strongest in dictatorships or incipient dictatorships. Even though Europe has a high incidence of Jew hatred, it's mostly left over from totalitarians who needed a scapegoat, like tsars, popes or kings from the Middle Ages, so its inception is totalitarian-based.
The Jews are different, generally better off than the rest of the populace and used to not fight back, a perfect target of the totalitarian.

In the middle east it has an ever greater totalitarian bent as they are trying to keep people from wondering why Israelis grow huge oranges in a desert that's exactly the same as the rock-strewn wilderness that's 100km away. That's why the neighbors aren't too happy about a democratic Iraq, it makes them look bad and it makes it harder to blame their problems on Israel and the US.

Posted by: Veeshir at January 24, 2007 02:00 PM

Michael, I think I will start dedicating more time to reading your comments. I just had some free time and managed to read the comments of this post.

204 comments to reply to!!!

Don't worry I won't do so now... but it is obvious that I really need to start working more on a typical Lebanese life instead of simply writing about the politics of the country. For example, Jihadi tunes are not taught in schools... whether public or private. Well, am not sure about the Private Islamic institutions but its not in 99.9% of our schools. I can state that much.

Posted by: rampurple at January 28, 2007 02:02 AM
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