Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, March 14

Too Much Information

Say what you will about Hizbullah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, but at least give him credit for his consummate skills in political messaging.

Next week’s press conference, in which the entire world will be treated to what Nasrallah has called “material evidence” that Israel was behind the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, is something of a cross between a WikiLeaks media scandal and the finale of American Idol. Hizbullah is not content to simply pass on its evidence to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; the whole point of the exercise is to reshape public opinion in Lebanon, in a made-for-TV special.

The result of this effort will be that the Lebanese will have two different sources of authority on the question of who killed Rafiq al-Hariri. Just as the old binaries of the 2005-09 period were fading away (March 14 vs. March 8, loyalists vs. opposition, etc.), a new one has arisen to take their place. “Do you believe the U.N. or Hizbullah?” is what we’ll ask each other. “Which story is more convincing? Which evidence is more compelling? If both organizations aired their findings in primetime specials on two different channels, which one would you watch live and which one would you TiVo?”

At the end of the day, is there such a thing as too much information?
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74 thoughts on “Too Much Information

  1. Looks like AIG was right again…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10864861

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 4, 2010, 11:13 am
  2. David,

    This is an answer to your question from a previous post. The censoring system works because of the good will of all participants. The Israel based press does not need any approval to quote foreign sources. So basically, they could leak something they know to a foreign source, and then quote it. This rarely happens as people understand why censorship and self restraint is required. I am sure the NY Times can figure out ways to game the system but they don’t. In each case they use their judgement based on the actual facts. The guidelines for making decisions are pretty clear after all. If it may endanger human life directly, do not publish. This, the censor monitors. Otherwise, it is just a gentleman’s agreement between the press corps and the Israeli government: If it will bring unwarranted pain to the families or would be disrespectful for the injured or dead or their families, do not publish.

    Posted by AIG | August 4, 2010, 1:04 pm
  3. “The censoring system works because of the good will of all participants.

    Hahaha!
    So next time anyone complains about censorship, just put the blame ontheirown lack of “good will”.

    “(…) it is agentleman’s agreement between the press corps and the Israeli government (…)”
    Again : Hahaha!

    Good manners, courtesy, graciousness : according to AIG, censorship in the apartheid state he lives in is merely “un art de vivre”. Hey Nadine de Rothschild, leave this kid alone!

    “The guidelines for making decisions are pretty clear after all. If it may endanger human life directly, do not publish.”

    In your pretty clear vision, “Human” probably doesn’t include “non Jewish people”.

    Posted by quelqu'une | August 4, 2010, 2:39 pm
  4. quelqu’une,

    Your frustration is getting the better of you.
    You completely misunderstood what I wrote.
    Take a deep breath and count to 10.
    Just remind yourself that the crusaders were gone after 200 years so you still have hope… 🙂

    Posted by AIG | August 4, 2010, 3:56 pm
  5. AIG,

    I only quoted your sentences about censorship – working thanks to “all the participants good will”, and honestly it made me laugh.
    Call it “frustration” if you like. This elegant assumption only shows your conception of what a “gentleman’s agreement” is.
    Tout compte fait, Nadine de Rothschild should not leave you alone : it won’t help you to improve your knowledge of the Crusades history though.

    Posted by quelqu'une | August 4, 2010, 4:27 pm
  6. quelqu’une,

    I explained how the censorship can easily be circumnavigated. The reason that does not happen often is because of the good will of the participants. You just do not understand the issue.

    Posted by AIG | August 4, 2010, 4:34 pm
  7. I think this whole tree business is begging for a Qnion story…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 4, 2010, 5:52 pm
  8. BV,
    Robert Fisk’s column today sounded in part as if it was an Onion piece. Truth stranger than fiction.
    Why did the army object to the cutting of the tree yestwerday but they allowed the trees to be cut/uprooted/pruned today? The Unifil claims that the Lebanese army was informed of the Israeli plan yesterday just as it was informed today. Had this not be so tragic (five have lost their lives) it would have been funny. Is it possible in such a jingoistic atmosphere to hold anyone responsible ?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 4, 2010, 6:25 pm
  9. Such is the nature of stupidity, Ghassan.

    I know it may sound callous of me to say that in the light of loss of life. But it is truly idiotic, from everyone involved, across the board, to allow what you correctly termed as “jingoism” to claim the lives of people, who surely have families, loved ones, children, etc.

    Great job! Pats on the back for everyone!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 4, 2010, 6:40 pm
  10. “At the end of the day, is there such a thing as too much information?”

    Qifa Nabki:

    One has to wonder what are the reasons behind Hizbullah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s discovery of the power of TV post July 2006 war. The man doesn’t have much to do. He needs to re-invigorate his followers on a monthly, and recently bi-weekly, basis and keep reminding enemies and “allies” alike that he is still around. What is going to be fun to watch is episode 3 (or 4?) of the “made-for-TV special”. HA “evidence” that Israel killed Hariri? Isn’t he starting to sound like the ex-Iraqi (mis)Information Minister, Mohammad Saeed Al Sahhaf?

    Posted by Ayman | August 4, 2010, 7:52 pm
  11. “…but at least give him credit for his consummate skills in political messaging”.

    Qifa,

    The Israeli media in Hebrew totally ignores this promise of his, to reveal the “Grand Evidence”. If I wasn’t following your site, I wouldn’t have heard of it.

    This shows that (1) the Israeli media matured, and (2) too much trying to draw attention, makes your potential audience yawn.
    .

    Posted by Amir in Tel Aviv | August 4, 2010, 9:02 pm
  12. Amir

    Nasrallah’s audience, in this case, is primarily Lebanese, not Israeli.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 4, 2010, 9:13 pm
  13. The real threat to freedom of press in Israel nowadays lies not in the threat of government censorship but of censorship applied by the tycoon owners of the media outlets, who often have a conflict of interests when reporting many stories of economic importance.

    I numerous cases one could se the connecting line between a media outlet covering / not covering or biased coverage and the owner’s economic interests.

    As long as the Media keeps criticizing our leaders and generals for corruption scandals or judgment mistakes, I know that government censorship is more or less properly contained.

    G

    Posted by G | August 5, 2010, 12:30 am
  14. Move over Napoleon, General Aoun now thinks he’s Jesus, apparently…

    “Even Jesus had treacherous followers, Aoun says”.

    I laughed…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2010, 12:58 pm
  15. BV,
    You must have either forgotten or never seen the i minute clip that OTV was running about Aoun for the elections last year.It was pure insanity:
    They managed in 50 seconds to compare the megalomaniac to:

    John F Kennedy, Gandhi, Einstein, Mother Theresa, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mandela, Marie Curie, Roosevelt and Pope John Paul II
    So now the picture is complete, he has added Jesus!!!

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 5, 2010, 4:10 pm
  16. Well, the picture will be truly complete when he becomes God!
    One more step to go, General!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2010, 4:17 pm
  17. LOL BV,

    When I heard that I wondered not about the village idiot’s mental health; but about his followers! Now there’s a group of voters who are living in supreme bliss (totally devoid of intelligent life)!!!

    Posted by danny | August 5, 2010, 4:20 pm
  18. More from the same news story:

    “Three of Christ’s 12 disciples betrayed him … and many will fall in the coming phase.”

    Three, eh? So, who’s next? That Abu Jamra fellow’s sure been a bit of an upstart lately.
    This is the perfect opportunity to purge the FPM of all dissent and pave the way for a smooth transition to Gebran Bassil…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2010, 5:13 pm
  19. In their true democratic form the FPM forum has closed the thread discussing the arrest of Karam. It is in times of adversity and distress that the true commitment to freedom of speech is measured and they do not pass the test.

    Posted by AIG | August 5, 2010, 5:19 pm
  20. Agreed with AIG. It’s easy to make claims when you’re not under the gun.
    Then, when you are, the hypocrisy reveals itself.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2010, 6:08 pm
  21. Qifa Nabki quoted in Financial Times:
    “[…]Others, however, had a much simpler explanation. “Nasrallah’s strategy – familiar to any West Wing devotees out there – was a shrewd one: to break the story yourself so as to control it as best you can,” commented the political blog qifanabki.com.[…]”
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6f4585be-a0d5-11df-badd-00144feabdc0.html

    Posted by Umm iDriss | August 6, 2010, 5:21 am
  22. The latest twist in the unfolding story:

    “اللواء”: السيد نصر الله سيقول بأن حزب الله كان بمهمة بالسان جورج والرائد عيد علم بها قبل اغتياله
    06 آب 2010 06:33
    بقي السؤال الكبير الذي يلفح بشدة اذهان اللبنانيين، عن السر الكبير الذي وعد الامين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله بكشفه في مؤتمره الصحافي مساء الاثنين المقبل، وما هي العملية النوعية التي تحدث بأنه سيكشفها في هذا المؤتمر، والتي قال انها كانت تستهدف احباط خطة للعدو الاسرائيلي للايقاع بين الرئيس الشهيد رفيق الحريري و”حزب الله”؟
    المعلومات المتوافرة لـ اشارت الى ان السيد نصر الله سيقول في هذا الامر بأن هناك مجموعة من الحزب كانت في منطقة السان جورج، وانها كانت تقوم بمهمة دقيقة وبالغة الاهمية، وانه تم ابلاغ الرائد وسام عيد بتفاصيل هذه المهمة ومبررات وجودها في المكان قبل اغتياله، لكن المعلومات لم تكشف تفاصيل اكثر.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 6, 2010, 7:00 am
  23. For those who don’t read Arabic and want to know what Mr. Karam posted, here’s a summary in English: Nasrallah to admit Hezbollah members’ presence during Rafik Hariri assassination
    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=192066

    And another interesting story was published today by Nabil Haytham from As-Safir:
    Bellemare Uncovers: Indictment Not Based on Conclusive Evidence
    Arabic: http://www.assafir.com/Article.aspx?ArticleId=540&EditionId=1613&ChannelId=37705
    English: http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/0/8F1FEA00702C4F86C2257777001C9C8E?OpenDocument

    STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare has reportedly said that charges facing suspects in the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri are not based on conclusive evidence. As-Safir newspaper on Friday said Bellemare made the revelations before diplomats at the United Nations. […]

    As-Safir said a report recently received by a Lebanese political side cites that diplomats who met Bellemare asked questions about the evidence upon which the STL Prosecutor relied on to accuse Hizbullah members.
    Bellemare, according to the paper, replied that the charges are not based on “conclusive,” but rather “circumstantial” evidence.
    The STL Prosecutor explained that circumstantial evidence was not based on direct witnesses but on “expert” witnesses.

    Too much information, indeed – but not for everyone.

    Posted by Umm iDriss | August 6, 2010, 8:07 am
  24. the tree

    qn,

    sorry for being off-topic, and perhaps you’ve noted this elsewhere, but this from the arab american institute site.

    “Lead-up to the Clash:

    On the morning of the incident, some reports indicated that when head of the UN peace keeping operations Alain Le Roy conveyed to the Lebanese the IDF’s intention to carry out its landscaping mission, Lebanon objected to the operation, citing reservations about the route of the blue line in the area in question (Lebanon claims that area). As a result, Le Roy asked the Israeli side to delay the tree-cutting operation until the dispute is resolved, but Israel did not wait to that point. Undisputed by both parties, when the IDF proceeded with its operation, Lebanese soldiers fired warning shots in the air to get the Israeli soldiers to retreat. Lebanon later said that it considered Israel’s decision to disregard Lebanon’s reservations and unilaterally move ahead with the operation without the presence of UNIFIL troops to be a provocation. As to who fired directly at the other first, that remains in dispute.”

    http://www.aaiusa.org/blog/…/the-volatile-situation-on-the-israel-lebanon-border/

    Posted by j anthony | August 6, 2010, 12:14 pm
  25. It would be very strange if Nasrallah admitted that his people were in the area when Hariri was murdered. That would make his assertion that call information cannot be trusted because of Israeli infiltration look bogus. Why would he need to claim that if in any case he agrees that the information is correct?

    Posted by AIG | August 6, 2010, 1:23 pm
  26. This is slightly off topic but it has a lot to do with the question of the allegiance of Hezbollah. This is a quote from the Farsi news agency: The representative of the Grand Ayatollah at the Revolutionary Guards council , Mr, Saidi said yesterday
    “”لبنان اليوم إضافة إلى فلسطين والعراق, يمثل خط المواجهة الأمامي لإيران ضد أعدائها”.

    Which translates into: ” Lebanon today, in addition to Palestine and Iraq, represents the front line of resistance for Iran against its enemies”

    The above says nothing about the relationship between Hezbollah and Rafic Hariri but it says a lot about whose interests it serves. How can we keep ignoring such statements and those of Wiam Wahab who se only legitimacy is the impression that he represents the interests of the Syrian regime whose tanks are ready to roll int Lebanon to protect the resistance according to Mr. Wahab.
    The question that begs to be answered is whether there is a independent sovereign state called Lebanon or whether that is only part of a charade designed to benefit regional players.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 6, 2010, 4:49 pm
  27. Ghassan,

    This was(is) the plan all along. Total frontal assault on STL and hope that it will scare the Sunnis enough to capitulate.

    Here’s what Khameini’s top adviser’s declaration as well:
    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=192183

    Now we have all the Iranian masters calling all shots and cards; Syrian attack dog Wahab threatening; Seyyed coming up with “missions” of his crack teams monitoring the mossad hit squads LOL…

    It is frustrating to us to listen to this constant barrage of nonsensical misinformation and garbage overload!

    However my friend as we have said it time and again that Lebanon does not exist as far as the allegiance of these sects are to their religion’s ‘home base”!

    Pity the nation!

    Posted by danny | August 6, 2010, 5:29 pm
  28. There was once this big thug in the middle east who had tamed all into submission. He has been at it for many years plowing through land he did not own, razing houses that belonged to poor and defenseless families, taking out his anger on the weak, stealing the farmland from their rightful owners, acting arrogant, racist, and mean. He went on building war machines, and acquiring nukes. He is above all.

    At first all wanted to resist him but non was able to as he annihilated and disposed them one after the other with no mercy. Who dares look him in the eye.

    This thug became so arrogant and so powerful that people around him started fearing him and wanted to be on his good side. They were willing to turn a blind eye on his tyranny and oppression of their own family and neighbors. Most even wanted to become friends with this thug although he treated them as inferior people. They could manage that if they felt safe and if he supported them to also dominate their other friends and neighbors. The day came when all accepted this tyrrant for who he is as a fact of life. Some even invited him to sleep with their sisters.

    Then another day came when a young middle eastern man with a different attitude came about. He did not like the tyrant actions and wondered what he could do about it? He started studying this tyrant trying to know him inside out. He trained on some fighting tactics with his low end means and all and hoped to stand a chance to fight this tyrant. He received his blows but delivered his own to the tyrant surprising his own family. Most his family and neighbors disowned him for he was rugged and rough sometimes and inadvertently got them in trouble they thought, for fighting the tyrant. Who in his right mind would pick a fight with the tyrant they said. But the young man was determined now to fight to the end, not only fighting the tyrant, but also dodging bullets and stones from his own neighborhood. Many thought he was a tyrant himself and swore that he is the real enemy, not the well established big thug of the middle east, for that big thug was already a fact they had accepted. Did the young man act as he did due to the tough circumstances in the neighborhood or was it partly due to his own imperfections and youthfulness?

    The main question now is will the young man survive to fight another day? Stay tuned.

    It indeed is ironic that his whole neighborhood that was once up in arms fighting the big thug and trying helplessly to throw him out has now turned on their young {and somewhat rogue in their perception} brother who is having success at that.

    Posted by r | August 7, 2010, 3:24 am
  29. r,
    Its a wonderful fable but may I make two brief remarks:
    (1) No one should ever have the right to invite anyone to sleep with his/her sister. She is not a commodity.
    (2) As the young man was preparing for his fight he operated like a vigilante. That was his biggest mistake and he keeps on insisting that he has the right to act as a vigilante since he is preparing for a fight against the tyrant. An illegal act does not become legal just because of intentions.
    When the acts of the young man have implications on the whole community then the community should have a say in determining its communal good. Again, no one has the right to take unilateral action when the results of the act are communal. That would be similar to saying that second hand smoke is fine since the smoker is willing to take the risk . The smoker, in this case the young man, commits two wrong (a) exposes the community to the deadly effects of his smoking habit and (2) once his smoking habit sends him to the operating room the community has to foot the bill for a personal indulgence.
    I guess that one can argue that means are at least as important as ends. They do not justify them.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 7, 2010, 6:41 am
  30. Ghassan Karam rou7 nem baqa bala sakhefetak. halaq wa7ad jarbou3 metlak wa metel ghairak badou yghaber 3ala sormayet al-Sayed Nasrallah wal mouqawame al-eslamiyi 2aw natrin minak ta3tihon shar3iyit. wain haida al “whole neighborhood that was once up in arms fighting the big thug”. 7ej bala tafehetak. min 1940 alsahaini nezlin dak biljanoub wa bi 2ahel aljanoub wa sahainet aldekhil metlak ma ferqeni ma3on. kul 2al2a7azeb alyassariyi 7erabet bi 2eben eljanoub la7ita bil niheyet wa7ad mitel george hawi yeji badou ybi3 tife7 3ala dahron bi libya.

    al-ness ba3da mtawli belah min 2akhlaqiyeta mish la2anou khanazir bteste7iq yensakat 3ana.

    Posted by Lebanon | August 7, 2010, 7:35 am
  31. 2ekher kelmeh. bi hayk dawleh min 2assessa. lezimla tahbit 3ala rass al-sahayni yali fiha. 3ala kolen al-2iyem la 2idem mish la wara

    Posted by Lebanon | August 7, 2010, 7:40 am
  32. At first all wanted to resist him but non was able to as he annihilated and disposed them one after the other with no mercy.

    r,

    Which country are you describing? I am not aware of a country where “all wanted to resist” their “thug” leader.

    The only cause which unites Arabs enough to put their lives at risk is ALWAYS the same one.

    And all one has to do is see what cause Arabs/Muslims feel strongly about and the numbers that demonstrate publically against it. The whole routine is predictable if not sad.

    Frankly, the people deserve the leaders they have.

    If the people can put their lives at stake for an enemy that hasn’t affected their lives in any way, they can put their lives at stake for a regime that has ruined their chances for freedom and prosperity.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 7, 2010, 8:10 am
  33. Lebanon habibi shoo 2awlak minkhalli al-takhween lil-siyasiyeen? shukran.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 7, 2010, 8:22 am
  34. Lebanon,
    It would help to read before you start your rant and personal attacks just because you do not happen to share a set of beliefs. Ad hominem abuses will not save you because it is obvious that you do not want to engage the issues but insist on acting like a “thug” just like the thug that “r” wrote about in this case however, the thug is a person and not a country.
    If you had taken the time you would have noticed that the quote that you have used, and the one that has caused you lots of consternations from the previous post by “r” and his fable was meant to support Sayed Nasrallah.
    You have failed to say anything meaningful, except to betray your venim and hatred to those that do not share your outlook, and so I stand by every word in my post until you can demonstrate that it is not factual.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 7, 2010, 8:54 am
  35. Did Some One say that General Aoun’s next step is becoming God? Now that is stepping on my toe. LOL, JK. I thought I’d add some humor to the debate….

    Posted by Prophet | August 7, 2010, 12:21 pm
  36. Hey! I just though I’d let you know that this post is featured on Mind Soup’s Blogger’s Round-up for the week of August 1. Check the post here: http://is.gd/e7CeA

    All the best 🙂

    Posted by moudz | August 7, 2010, 12:23 pm
  37. Ok Lebanon, Relax and keep the debate civil. Personal insults add nothing intelligent to any debate. You may disagree with anyone , but trying to prove him or her wrong might serve your point much better.

    Posted by Prophet | August 7, 2010, 12:28 pm
  38. Ghassam.

    If you were a colonist in what would later become America, you would have been on the side of the Brits.

    AAIG.

    “If the people can put their lives at stake for an enemy that hasn’t affected their lives in any way, If the people can put their lives at stake for an enemy that hasn’t affected their lives in any way,”

    Surely you’re not describing Lebanon…are you?

    Posted by lally | August 7, 2010, 12:29 pm
  39. QN,

    Why has al-Manar been so happy to run with the Karam story so strongly and hurt one of their allies? Clearly, this is politically motivated. But why?

    Posted by AIG | August 7, 2010, 12:44 pm
  40. lally,
    And how did you arrive at this brilliant conclusion:-)?You were able to deduce all of this based on the fact that I am opposed to Hezbollahs illegitimate armed wing? I am glad that youy are not my financial advisor LOL

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 7, 2010, 12:55 pm
  41. AIG

    In my opinion, the more Israeli spies uncovered in Lebanon, the stronger a case Hizbullah has for arguing to the Lebanese that the evidence upon which the STL bases its indictments is faulty.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 7, 2010, 1:09 pm
  42. From Ha’aretz:

    “In private army forums, Eizenkot often presents the following assessment: The Second Lebanon War was a tactical failure that led to a strategic success, and Operation Cast Lead was a tactical success that ended up as a strategic failure. He is referring to the implications of the Goldstone report: The IDF’s use of extensive force amid Gaza’s civilian population drew scathing international criticism, which could tie the army’s hands in the next confrontation.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 7, 2010, 1:38 pm
  43. QN,

    I agree with Eisenkot though I think we may have to wait a little before passing final judgement on Gaza. The extent to which this will tie Israel’s hands is not clear yet. With every new revelation that Nato has used as much force if not more in Afghanistan, Israel’s case grows stronger. There was great outcry about Israel’s use of targeted assassinations but these have almost disappeared because of the wide use of this method by the US and Nato. Once people understand the complexities of dealing with foes like Hamas or the Taliban, they tend to gravitate towards Israel’s position.

    Posted by AIG | August 7, 2010, 2:37 pm
  44. Targeted assassination policy is operationally senseless because assassinating Palestinian militants only brings harsh retaliatory action, resulting in even more Israeli casualties. It’s regarded as illegal, since it infringes on the sovereignty of foreign political entities and because it gives the security services discretion to decide on the killing of certain individuals without due process. Most important, claim the critics, there is no compelling evidence the killings are effective in reducing the effectiveness of Palestinian actions against Israel. And that is where the theory of “an eye or an eye comes in”. that by itself is another debate subject. Gibran’s opinion on this subject is this: an eye for an eye, and the whole world goes blind.

    Posted by Prophet | August 7, 2010, 3:07 pm
  45. With every new revelation that Nato has used as much force if not more in Afghanistan.

    Where are you getting this from?

    I’m certainly not one to defend civilian deaths in any conflict, but the numbers I’ve seen put all civilian deaths during the recent NATO “surge” in the Afghan war at around 8-9 people a day, whereas Operation Cast Lead averaged around 63-64 civilan deaths a day. How does that equal “as much force” as in Afghanistan?

    Posted by sean | August 7, 2010, 3:14 pm
  46. “We created terror among the Arabs and all the villages around. In one blow, we changed the strategic situation.”
    Sound familiar?

    Those are the words of Menachem Begin boasting about the Israeli massacre of over 250 unarmed men, women and children at Deir Yassin in 1948.

    Posted by Prophet | August 7, 2010, 3:31 pm
  47. So Much for AIG’S claim of democracy in Israel. A terrorist building a state through terror, and massacres can’t be building a democracy or civil society. You harvest what you plant and in this case a terror state.

    Posted by Prophet | August 7, 2010, 3:39 pm
  48. Ghassam.

    I don’t offer anyone financial advice beyond “Why do you feel you need that useless & expensive frippery when you can’t even begin to afford it?”

    On the other matter, the Brits didn’t consider the armed revolutionary militias to be “legitimate”, either. La plus la…

    Posted by lally | August 7, 2010, 3:54 pm
  49. “Once people understand the complexities of dealing with foes like Hamas or the Taliban, they tend to gravitate towards Israel’s position.”
    Comparing Hamas with the Taliban is totally inaccurate.
    Hamas is a democratically elected party – whether “people who understand complexities” like it or not.

    Posted by quelqu'une | August 7, 2010, 4:20 pm
  50. I’m catching up on reading this blog and I’m quite appalled by the “un-courageous” whose handle is “Lebanon.” I recall having asked that that person change their handle before. Now it’s clear that the rantings are really not worth any response. Time for quality control, QN?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 7, 2010, 5:07 pm
  51. Lally,
    I do not think that you can possibly be serious by suggesting that there is a parallel between the relationship of the Lebanese government to Hezbollah and that of the American revolutionary forces and King George? You are kidding, right:-)
    Lally, a position , any position, needs to be internally consistent if it is to be taken seriously. Hezbollah wants to be an opposition and yet participate in governement but at the same time it wants to maintain its own military wing that does not answer to the state in of which Hezbollah is an integral part.
    I have stated this earlier but since you bring it up I will state it again. Hezbollah is free to act as an opposition bloc or to rebel against the rotten order as it stands but it cannot do both. This is not a cafeteria line where you take a little bit of this and mix it with a little bit of that.There are issues that cannot co exist with each other since they are the antithesis of each other.The American revolutionary forces rose against the mercantilistic policies of King George , they sought a split from King George they did not form a militia in order to join King George in governing the colonies.

    BTW, I would hope that analysis and forecasting, both financial and otherwise, is more than just frippery 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 7, 2010, 5:12 pm
  52. Ghassan Karam,

    You’re the only poster I’ve read that puts “rule of law” above wanton, anti-Israel resistance.

    So my question is, what gives you the right to be a free thinker?;) But really, is yours a dangerous ideology if one lives in the ME?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 7, 2010, 6:19 pm
  53. I won’t defend the ideology of the Taliban or Hamas, Nor do I support them. But I do understand the support they both get in their own communities. It has to do with the leadership both Palestinians and Afghanis has had for years before the emergence of both organizations. Both early leadership had failed to do what they were supposed to do for their people. In Afghanistan, the Taliban filled a political and social vacuum after the withdrawal of the invading soviet. There wasn’t any stable government to offer any stability or services. In the case of Palestinians, similarly, there was no political authority that local Palestinians , living under brutal occupation, can relay on to accomplish any of the Palestinians aspiration of freedom from an abusive occupation and /or self determination. So it was the mosque, where the poor, and humiliated people turned to. Basically, Israel harvested what it had planted. It planted violence, hatred, humiliation, abuse, and imprisonments, and it harvested community that is poorer, more humiliated and willing to do any thing to make a change . whether you call it violence, terror, resistance – all depending on how you view the conflict- the end result is the same ,violence in respond to state violence.
    I say to quelqu’une , Once people understand the complexities living under occupation, and facing humiliation and imprisonment by a state that was built by terror, and lives by terror, they tend to understand the frustration of people that turn to vote for Hamas.
    The sad irony is that all countries that promote democracy and free election, didn’t acknowledge the result of that election, So much for the claim that the usa is fighting for democracy in the middle east.

    Posted by Prophet | August 7, 2010, 6:37 pm
  54. QN,

    I am still perplexed (and am seeking a guide for the perplexed 🙂 ). It doesn’t make sense for al-Manar to trash their only substantial other sect ally so strongly. It seems that HA is in a very defensive mode and have decided to go all out in order to achieve a very limited goal which is to keep the loyalty of the Shia. It seems as overkill unless really the Saudi-Syria agreement has taken violence off the table?

    Posted by AIG | August 7, 2010, 7:43 pm
  55. Sean,

    Come on, people killed per day? I am sure you can find a statistic under which Israel is the worst in the world. The one you picked does not even work. Why don’t you try civilians killed per square meter? I think that one is a winner.

    There were far more civilians killed in Afghanistan than in Gaza since the beginning of the Afghanistan war. In fact, more than killed in Gaza since 1967.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_of_the_War_in_Afghanistan_(2001%E2%80%93present)

    Posted by AIG | August 7, 2010, 8:19 pm
  56. AP
    It is very difficult for me to speak about myself but I don’t want you to think that I am dismissing your remarks.
    I guess that the best that I can say is that I have a set of beliefs , just like most other people, but I am not an ideologue. What I mean by that is that I avoid taking a position on a knee jerk reaction basis. Formally I am an economist and an Environmentalist but my positions do not automatically favour Marxism, dialectics being the biggest influence in my life. I am often a Keynesian although at times I can see the benefit of moneterism.(See todays Op Ed in the NYT by Phelps, he makes lots of sense as an anti Keynesian).
    What is important to me is to choose positions that are not in contradiction with each other, at least in my mind, but yet are not taken only for the case of ideological purity. ( I can agree/disagree with Marx, Keynes, Smith, deep ecology, anarchism… whenever I think that they are not being consistent/inconsistent).
    As you can see this kind of thinking leaves me more often than not at odds with all political parties and especially regimes in the ME.

    Posted by ghassan karam | August 7, 2010, 8:33 pm
  57. Excluding events like May 7th and the positions of Hezbollah that aren’t really in the interest of a pluralistic Lebanon, how is Hezbollah’s military presence in South Lebanon any different from the role of US troops in S. Korea FROM A MILITARY PERSPECTIVE? Is Nasrallah’s army more of a deterrent coupled with the LAF or does Hezbollah put Lebanon @ risk? In my mind the US army’s presence in South Korea is clearly a deterrent to N. Korea, and part of me thinks that the same can be argued for the resistance.

    Posted by tamer k. | August 7, 2010, 9:01 pm
  58. Right, and there has been continuous war in Afghanistan for about 9 years now. So if Israel manages to kill fewer civilians in the space of a 3-week war than NATO has in 9 years, that’s really the bar you’re setting? I’m afraid that’s kind of juking the stats, habibi. You need to compare apples to apples, here.

    If you wanted to compare Israel in Gaza to, say, the US in Falluja, that’d be a much more apt comparison, which seems about right to me. Even the battle of Falluja, which lasted a month — April-May 2004, resulted in fewer than half the number of casualties of Gaza. Another comparison would be the Marja offensive in Afghanistan, which started in February and has resulted in fewer than 100 civilian casualties.

    But those comparisons wouldn’t serve to let Israel off the hook for ruthlessly killing huge amounts of civilians, would they?

    Posted by sean | August 7, 2010, 9:03 pm
  59. Ghassam.

    I was comparing you to the Loyalists and the attitudes of the Crown toward the revolutionary upstarts in the colonies.

    I see that HA is evolving and according to the Israelis, becoming uncomfortably intertwined with the LAF. Given that Nasrallah has offered to share his weapons cache, one could argue that he’s offering to disarm…..after a fashion. ;~()

    It’s ironic that A. Palace praises you for your adherence to the rule of law. Perhaps his admiration will lead him to emulate you some day.

    BTW…I wasn’t making any larger point about fripperies other than as stated. Certainly not impugning you at all.

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.”……RWE

    OT..the Israeli business publication, Globes, has some interesting articles concerning the difficulties encountered by the American partner Noble Energy in dealing with the Israelis re the offshore gas deposits. The Noble CEO was so infuriated that he nearly walked out of a meeting. You could say the Israelis are foolishly inconsistent…..

    Posted by lally | August 7, 2010, 9:15 pm
  60. Lally,
    I have to stop this tit for tat:-) An internally consistent argument does not mean that you stick to a position for all time. As Keynes once said: When I learn new facts I change my mind sir, don’t you?”. Internally consistent means that the presentation/position must not suffer of internal contradictions. One cannot favour enforcing a law when it is beneficial and then take a position against it when the judgement goes against you. Have a pleasant week end.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 7, 2010, 9:55 pm
  61. It’s ironic that A. Palace praises you for your adherence to the rule of law. Perhaps his admiration will lead him to emulate you some day.

    Lally,

    What makes you think I do not favor rule of law? Because I’m an American Jew? Believe me, Americans and Israelis have more respect for “rule of law” than you HA and Hamas bullies.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 7, 2010, 10:30 pm
  62. Ghassan Karam,

    Please participate on Syria Comment. I’m getting a headache watching videos from Middle East “experts” (based on the owner’s opinion)like this Qunfuz chap.

    (AIG was there at one time, however he was banned for being too smart;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 7, 2010, 10:35 pm
  63. Sean,

    I am not trying to get Israel off the hook for anything. It is you that has started with the stupid statistics. Even if one civilian dies, it is one too much and an effort must be made to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel for over 8 years now but for you the war in Afghanistan is “continuous” (which it is not) while that of Israel isn’t. Over the same period of time, Israel has killed and injured much much less civilians and has been under much more scrutiny. Of course, you can slice it dice it and make Israel look awful by deciding arbitrarily how long the fighting took place. Whatever Israel does, for you it is the worst in the world when in fact it does no worse than the US army. That does not mean that both the Israeli and US Army don’t need to improve, but the fact that you are singling out the IDF makes your criticism suspect.

    The fact is that since Obama has taken a liking to targeted assassinations nobody is concerned about them too much. But when Israel does them, everyone was a critic. Seems that you are only worried when Palestinians are targeted but not Afghans or Pakistanis. Give me a break.

    Posted by AIG | August 7, 2010, 11:02 pm
  64. AIG, please realize that just because a country is at ‘war,’ does not make any assassination, they deem necessary, justified or appropriate. There is a difference between Hamas & Hezbollah and Alqaeda & the Taliban.

    There is also a difference in the wars the US wreaks and those of Israel’s. Israel is always targeting the same defenseless and hopeless people. I laugh as I write this, but the US spreads the pain around – at least they allow people to rebuild. Meanwhile, the US actually has an attainable goal – whether it be the removal of a dictator (not democratically elected)or the destruction of a REAL terrorist network. It isn’t surprising though, that you interpret the statistics in the most convenient way for Israel. Poor Israelis, living under the reign of fire that is those powerful Katyushas which are launched so often!

    Posted by Nasser V | August 8, 2010, 5:20 am
  65. “There was great outcry about Israel’s use of targeted assassinations but these have almost disappeared because of the wide use of this method by the US and Nato. Once people understand the complexities of dealing with foes like Hamas or the Taliban, they tend to gravitate towards Israel’s position”

    I am sorry to be following you around AIG, but I thought this required a response.

    Yes, it is true. Countries engaged in a military occupation of a resisting population have to resort to serious violence, or the threat of it, to maintain control and suppress resistance. NATO, if it didn’t know that already, is learning it now. Before them, the Russians also learned they would not be able to control Afghanistan without great violence. Earlier still, the Americans learned that, in order to control Vietnam, a high degree of violence, to include assassination, was required. They relearned that lesson in Iraq. Before them, the Germans realized that they could not control Yugoslavia without killing a lot of people. In attempt to be fair and reasonable, I must admit that my own country of origin learned the same lesson the hard way in Yemen.

    And it is also true that Israel has needed, and will continue to need violence in order to, um… I will use the word “disposes” the Palestinians. Feel free to come up with a better sounding term, though. Concurrently, Israel needed violence to try to keep control of Lebanon.

    So in fact, I think we are in partial agreement. Israel is similar in some ways to other countries engaged in violent occupations/invasions. Where we differ is that you seem to consider that a perfectly good rationale, whereas I do not.

    Posted by Lysander | August 8, 2010, 8:49 am
  66. Nasser,

    Of course Hezbollah and Hamas are different from Al-Qaida and the Taliban. While all four want to kill me, only the last two want to kill you, so you are not worried about the first two.

    Also, my enemies are right across the border while yours are thousands of miles away.

    Lysander,

    I do not think you learned anything as what you want is to “disposes” Israelis from their country and you think we will agree to that. How is Hamas shooting at Sderot not an attempt to “disposes” Israelis? How is Hezbollah and Iran preaching for the end of Israel not an attempt to “disposes” Israelis? How is discussion of the “seven villages” not an attempt to “disposes” Israelis?

    Just imagine what could have been if after Israel left Gaza, Hamas would have unilaterally declared a 10 year hudna and focused on developing Gaza instead of shooting rockets at Israel.

    Your mental block is that you think Israelis are “invaders”. We are not thousand of miles from home like the Americans in Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam. We are in are homes. I was born in Israel and so were my parents. And until you fathom that there will not be much improvement in the situation.

    Posted by AIG | August 8, 2010, 11:11 am
  67. You may have seen this article. I thought it’s worth reading. ihttp://www.yalibnan.com/2010/08/06/welcome-to-lebanon-graveyard-of-the-arrogant/t is worth reading .

    Posted by prophet | August 8, 2010, 12:11 pm
  68. Another article is also worth reading – by Tony Judt – initially published in the Financial Times : “Israel must unpick its ethnic myth” (7 décembre 2009)
    http://warincontext.org/2009/12/08/israel-must-unpick-its-ethnic-myth/

    Posted by quelqu'une | August 8, 2010, 2:46 pm
  69. quelqu’une,
    Good article. It should be read by everyone, especially Americans,and young Israelis.

    Posted by prophet | August 8, 2010, 3:14 pm
  70. @ prophet : glad you appreciated the article.
    Tony Judt died yesterday : he will be deeply missed.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/08/tony-judt-obituary
    http://www.nybooks.com/contributors/judt-tony/
    The full version of the article previously mentioned is available on the link below – for those who don’t want to register on FT.com
    http://www.andalous.ma/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1258&Itemid=32

    Posted by quelqu'une | August 8, 2010, 3:28 pm
  71. A.Palace.

    Nice try but no cigar. Sorry, but your lame attempt to include all American Jews in your self-pity party doesn’t fly. You are a Jewish American Zionist. As you well know, or should know, “your” segment of the general population of Jewish Americans is shrinking as attrition and assimilation take their inevitable tolls.

    You insult non and anti-Zionist American Jews by presuming they share your curious notions as follows:

    “Believe me, Americans and Israelis have more respect for “rule of law” than you HA and Hamas bullies.”

    Tell that to the Israelis dealing with the rabid anarchist settlers (a disturbing portion of whom are and supported by, Americans) and the dangerous claque of MPs in the Knesset who are waging a war of new laws that will gut Israel’s claims to belonging to the family of “Western” democracies once and for all.

    Spare us the faux piety.

    Rest assured (or not?) that when I single you out, I am singling YOU out. No more, no less.

    Posted by lally | August 8, 2010, 3:54 pm
  72. quelqu’une,
    You might be interested to know that Tony Judt passed away at the relatively young age of 62 last Friday. He will be missed.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 8, 2010, 4:27 pm
  73. Pro-Israel Zionist at the Beach

    Nice try but no cigar. Sorry, but your lame attempt to include all American Jews in your self-pity party doesn’t fly.

    Lally, I’m not sure what “self-pity party you’re referring to.

    You are a Jewish American Zionist. As you well know, or should know, “your” segment of the general population of Jewish Americans is shrinking as attrition and assimilation take their inevitable tolls.

    My “segment” may be shiking or not. I don’t know. However, I think most of my “segment” is pro-Israel. I imagine its a similar situation for the Palestinian community.

    You insult non and anti-Zionist American Jews by presuming they share your curious notions as follows:

    “Believe me, Americans and Israelis have more respect for “rule of law” than you HA and Hamas bullies.”

    Too bad.

    Tell that to the Israelis dealing with the rabid anarchist settlers (a disturbing portion of whom are and supported by, Americans) and the dangerous claque of MPs in the Knesset who are waging a war of new laws that will gut Israel’s claims to belonging to the family of “Western” democracies once and for all.

    Most Israeli settlers are law-abiding people who work hard and pay their taxes. It isn’t solely Israel’s fault that some of her borders are still in dispute.

    Spare us the faux piety.

    Just giving you my honest opinion. You can take it or leave it. I won’t take it personally.;)

    Rest assured (or not?) that when I single you out, I am singling YOU out. No more, no less.

    Ditto.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 8, 2010, 6:09 pm

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