Hezbollah, Interviews, Israel, Lebanon

An Interview with Thanassis Cambanis

A friend of mine, Thanassis Cambanis, has a new book out about Hizbullah. Between 2000 and 2007, Thanassis worked as a reporter for the Boston Globe, and served as the paper’s Iraq bureau chief from 2003-05 and Middle East bureau chief from 2005-07. He’s also worked for The New York Times and various other media outlets, and currently teaches journalism at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

QN: The academic and mainstream literature on Hizbullah is vast. Why another book? What do you feel was missing from the public discussion about Hizbullah that needed to be said?

TC: I’m only half kidding when I say that I set out to write a book about the Middle East that was fun to read. This book should be of interest to scholars of Hezbollah, but it’s not a work of scholarship — it’s a work of narrative journalism. I set out to answer the question of why Hezbollah was growing more popular, more compelling to its fans, and more influential. Who joins Hezbollah? Who supports the party? Why? I spent the better part of three years following rank-and-file members and supporters, and they opened a window on the belief structure, motivations and daily life of Hezbollah’s soccer moms and scout leaders. Their worldview substantially advances our understanding of Hezbollah, I believe.

QN: The Western discourse on Hizbullah tends to lump this group in with organizations like Hamas and al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, you argue that “no other group has mastered the formula for radical strength as Hizbullah has done.” Where does Hizbullah fit on the Arab political landscape, and what makes it different from other Islamist groups?

TC: Some of the differences are easy to spot. Hezbollah has governed multitudes of its supporters for nearly 30 years, and it has participated in electoral politics in Lebanon since 1992. More than any other Islamist non-state actor, it has experience providing services and taking part in politics — and learning from its mistakes. Other differences are less easy to delineate, but important. For instance, Hezbollah and Iran share a belief in wilayat al faqih, or the rule of the jurisprudent, the foundational concept of Iran’s clerical regime. But one could argue that Hezbollah has remained closer to the radical basis of the Iranian revolution than Iran’s own clerics.

But you asked about Arab politics and you mention two other bugbears that happen, like Hezbollah, to be listed as terrorist groups by the United States. Al Qaeda is a different kettle of fish — a nihilist group that has virtually no territorial responsibilities and whose ideology diametrically opposes modernity. Hezbollah embraces modernity, capitalism and prosperity. It doesn’t want its followers to recreate medieval times; it wants its followers to grow rich, obtain political power, and use that platform to spread Islam and support the fight against Israel.

Unlike Hamas, Hezbollah has changed its approach to shed the terrorist label it acquired with the suicide bombings and kidnappings of the 1980s. Since the 1990s, Hezbollah’s guerilla operations have studiously focused on military targets. Hezbollah’s indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas in Israel is calibrated in response to what Hezbollah sees as indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas in Lebanon by Israel. Hezbollah doesn’t send suicide bombers after soft civilian targets or plant bombs on buses.

QN: Neither, for that matter, does the Muslim brotherhood. What makes Hizbullah different from the MB?

TC: The most significant thing that differentiates Hezbollah from other Islamist groups is the credibility and thoroughness with which it cultivates the loyalty of its community. It neither buys nor bullies support from its core audience (although it is by no means shy about using brute strength against detractors); it trains, convinces, and inculcates them through a layered web of classes and activities — scouts, primary schools, summer camps, weekend courses for working parents, college and career counseling, and the mosque.

Arab regimes — and many of the Islamist groups that oppose them, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan — in practice have accepted the reality of Israel. They might not like it, but they’re looking for ways to coexist, if grudgingly. Hezbollah has stood that approach on its head. The “axis of resistance,” led by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, opposes Israel; Hezbollah has convinced many of its fans and followers that Israel can, in fact, be defeated by force. That perception is new, and reinvigorates a maximalist strain of militancy that had been on the wane.

QN: In your reading, how beholden is Hizbullah to the foreign policy agenda of Tehran?

TC: Iran’s relationship to Hezbollah is symbiotic. Without Iran’s weapons and money, Hezbollah would simply not pose the military threat it poses today. To a large extent, Hezbollah’s reach and resilience depends on Tehran’s cash. On the other hand, much of the revolutionary zeal that has faded in Iran remains vibrant among Hezbollah’s followers. Ahmedinejad talks a lot about fighting Israel, and his government funds and trains plenty of paramilitaries. Hezbollah, however, has been fighting Israel continuously since 1982, actually doing what Ahmedinejad mainly just talks about. Hezbollah, in this read, gives legitimacy to Iran’s mullahs, in addition to allowing Tehran to project military power right up to Israel’s border.

There’s not much daylight between Tehran and Dahieh, so we haven’t seen a real test of what would happen if Hezbollah’s foreign policy interests diverged from Tehran’s.

QN: What if Iran’s nuclear program were threatened or attacked?

TC: Good question. I asked Mahmoud Komati, on Hezbollah’s politburo, that question and he laughed. Foreign diplomats keep asking the same question, he said — and Hezbollah doesn’t really want to give a clear answer. “You don’t declare something which would reduce your enemy’s fears,” he said.

An attack on Iran could test the “special relationship.” Iran might want to retaliate via Hezbollah. But Hezbollah would have lots of trouble selling to its own public an unprovoked attack on Israel simply at Tehran’s bidding. If Hezbollah could engineer the perception of an Israeli provocation or attack, that’s a different story; it would then be able to rally support for a war. Iran, I think, values Hezbollah not only as an asset but as a strategic partner, and wouldn’t ask Hezbollah to do something that would destroy its long-term prospects.

QN: What do you believe the party will do in the event that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicts some of its members for the assassination of ex-PM Rafiq al-Hariri?

TC: They’re already preparing a maximalist response. One scenario (which you’ve discussed) is that Hezbollah could choose to distance itself from indicted party members, calling them loose canons. But Hezbollah appears uninterested in such an outcome. Instead, it seems, it will deny the Tribunal’s legitimacy and jurisdiction. The entire Hezbollah presentation about Israel was largely intended for its own supporters, to build the case for later refusing to hand over any indicted party members.

On my most recent visit to Lebanon in September, I saw that Hezbollah had recruited a lot of rough shabab in Haret Hreik. My Hezbollah-supporting sources there (including some party members) found these new members disquieting and even alarming; they lack Hezbollah’s potential discipline. As one Hezbollah member told me, “I can’t imagine any use for these kids except in an internal street clash.”

QN: You spend a good deal of your book discussing Hizbullah’s masterful communications strategies. How successful do you believe the party has been in promoting its theory that Israel was responsible for Hariri’s murder? How seriously is this theory taken beyond Lebanon (say, in Egypt, Jordan, etc.)?

TC: Again, they’re not trying to convince you or me; they’re talking to an audience like the dozen men I sat with in Srifa on Eid. These men told me that the CIA was responsible for 9/11 and that Israel was clearly responsible for all the assassinations in Lebanon. So the presentation about Israel and Hariri’s assassination reinforces something these Hezbollah supporters already are inclined to believe. Bizarrely, I interviewed a secular Shia human rights activist in Bahrain earlier, during Ramadan, and at the end of our conversation about the government crackdown there, he brought up Nasrallah’s presentation about Israel and Hariri. He, to my surprise, was completely convinced. “If an outside power were trying to start a civil war in Lebanon,” I asked him, “why would they only kill only members of one side?” His answer: “They know what they’re doing.”

I’m more interested in whether Hezbollah can continue to spread its gospel of Islamic resistance — perpetual war plus a committed religious lifestyle — beyond the confines of Shia Lebanon. Al Manar Satellite Television plays a key role here, but I’m not sure how heavily it is viewed during calm periods like the present. It’s only must-see TV during wars and other Lebanese crises.

QN: Who listens to Hebollah outside Lebanon?

TC: In Gaza, the deputy foreign minister Ahmed Yousef spoke to me at length about the lessons he’s learned from Hezbollah as an organization and Nasrallah as a leader. He’d like to build a Hamas television and radio network modeled after Al Manar and An Nour. He’d also like to build a diplomatic corps modeled on Hezbollah’s office of international relations.

Further afield, Hezbollah is trying to sell the idea that war is the answer, that Islam can guide all elements in one’s life from politics and parenting to war and education. The party is trying to bridge a lot of divides — between Muslim and non-Muslim Arabs; between Arabs and Persians; between Sunni and Shia. They’re trying to deepen Islam among their constituents while simultaneously appealing to non-believers who like Hezbollah’s anti-Israeli resistance. It’s not a balance that can survive forever.

Game-changers might include a Syrian peace deal with Israel; a change in Iranian regime; changes in Israeli strategy; and possibly, but less likely, a wholesale loss in credibility if Hezbollah clashes too much with its Lebanese rivals or falls prey to run-of-the-mill nepotism, za`im-ism (is that a word?), or corruption.

You can buy a copy of Thanassis’s book at Amazon here.
wordpress stats


142 thoughts on “An Interview with Thanassis Cambanis

  1. I have not read the book yet but I read today the book review by Joe Klein in the New York Book Review .

    The impression that I am left with, based on the NYT book review and QN’s interview with Mr. Cambanis is that the book avoids the deep questions and concentrates instead being a “work of narrative journalism” as he describes his work. I wish that he had asked the deeper questions besides the the why is it growing and who supports it.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 3, 2010, 11:37 pm
  2. GK,

    What deeper questions do you have in mind?

    I haven’t read the book yet but in general I like good raw data. I think the book should be viewed as an anthropological work. I would like to understand the Hizballah cult better and I think this book would help.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 1:18 am
  3. A better attempt at and depth of understanding than most. A few things I disagree with:

    “The entire Hezbollah presentation….was largely intended for its own supporters”

    I’m surprised at this statement. The resistance abhors showing its hand at anything and yet they confirmed Israeli suspicions about their ability to monitor drone activity so that they could preach to the choir? That is highly doubtful.

    This was a message to say that their accusations were not simply a knee-jerk reaction of blaming Israel and as such could not have been aimed at their own constituency who really don’t need any evidence to suspect Israel was behind it.

    “I saw that Hezbollah had recruited a lot of rough shabab……As one Hezbollah member told me, “I can’t imagine any use for these kids except in an internal street clash.”

    Its true that all these “new” recruits are causing disquiet, especially in Dahyieh because they have no discipline and are even strating to use the “dont mess with me I’m Hizballah” line that you would never have previously heard.

    However, making the leap from this to “I can’t imagine any use for these kids except in an internal street clash” is sensationalism.

    In fact there is a better (and more accurate reason) which sufficeth to say is explained by the fact that the guys that used to do the jobs these guys have been taken on to do were needed on other projects.

    “that war is the answer”

    Not quite. Its that Resistance is the answer. There is a subtle difference.

    “The party is trying to bridge a lot of divides….They’re trying to deepen Islam among their constituents while simultaneously appealing to non-believers who like Hezbollah’s anti-Israeli resistance. It’s not a balance that can survive forever.”

    Yes, the party is trying to bridge a lot of divides. The one group of people most difficult to contact in any research on Hizballah would be the non-Shia members who keep their membership even more secret than the rest. However, I’ve neither seen nor experienced any attempt to deepen Islam amongst its constituents.

    Is there examples of this in the book as I would be curious to read them.

    And finally to better answer Mr Cambanis’s question of “why would they only kill only members of one side?”

    (Please note, before you all jump in, this is an answer to a hypothetical, not a statement of fact)

    If you kill members of both sides, you cannot portray the side you are trying to alienate the public from as the bad guy and you cannot portray the side you are rooting for as innocent. And when hell breaks loose, you cannot point the finger at one side and blame it all on them – Hypothetically speaking….:)

    Posted by usedtopost | October 4, 2010, 8:18 am
  4. Good points, usedtopost.
    I’m still going to buy and read that book.
    Why don’t YOU write one too??
    Wow. Do you get all this, AIG?.
    Together with your deep interest in HA I’m afraid you’ll end up as a convert!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 9:06 am
  5. AIG,
    Please keep in mind what I said earlier, I have not read the book yet and so it would not be wise on my part to be making anything beyond the general statement that I made earlier.
    There is nothing wrong with “narrative journalism; it can be valuable and informative. Yet in the case of Hezbollah I would like to see an analytical book that goes beyond the merely descriptive.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 4, 2010, 9:11 am
  6. usedtopost, as HA advocate (member?) can you help us understand how the 2006 war was a Divine victory given the deaths and destruction in Lebanon and that as a result HA operations from South Lebanon have been eliminated?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 9:12 am
  7. and, usedtopost, do you think that without International pressure from countries that HA hates, Israel would have stopped before wiping out Lebanon?
    And were Syria and Iran cowards by not “defending” the resistance? or were they geniuses who knew how to play the game?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 9:16 am
  8. AIG

    The Hizbullah “cult” ? 🙂

    The best way for you to understand the Hizballah cult is to look at the Neocon cult.

    They are mirror images of each other.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 4, 2010, 9:17 am
  9. I just reconfirms what is already known. HA brainwashes the people from the crib to death and enforces this by their total military domination of their statelet. I believe that game changer scenarios are accurate as well. I will read the book.

    Mo, those Shabab were already used on May 7th 2008; so your assertion of sensationalism is sensational in itself.

    Also, Mo, if you think that Israel did not know that HA had “accessed” their feed in 1997; you must be a Rip Wan Winkle. Nassrallah just spew out that rhetoric for his constituency to justify what they plan to do once the STL indictments are announced.

    Yes HA killed members of the M14(most likely in collusion with Syrian mukhabarat) to liquidate their leadership and subjugate their followers by brute force. I guess it has worked to some extent. But don’t bet on a smooth takeover.


    Posted by danny | October 4, 2010, 9:19 am
  10. For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting….
    – Gen. George C. Patton

    Suffice it to say that the WEST has been on a downwards spiral for years, because of utter corruption, imperial HUBRIS, unnecessary brutal force and sheer cowardice… their time is up and they know it…, hence they resort to sensational journalism,empty rhetoric, charade and stupid foreign policies globally, failed military extravaganzas, skewed and politicized courts and fake International Justice. Hizbullah had nothing to do with any of the assassinations, and it will be proven shortly….

    Posted by cvghfx | October 4, 2010, 9:37 am
  11. Peter,

    What is the neocon cult? What sect do they represent?

    Neocon is just a political view which you may or may not agree with. It is totally different from HA.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 9:55 am
  12. HP,

    I will assume that you get that the whole “Divine victory” line was a play on Nasrallahs name.

    Victory is measured by who occupies the land being fought over when the fighting stops, not on whom is able to kill more civilians and destroy more bridges. But 2006 was more than just Hizballah holding the ground. It was about the fact that the infantary battles were being waged by the “Village battalions” and not the full time fighters and they were able to hold off the “mighty Israeli army”.

    It was about the fact that the Israelis were not able to take and hold a single village that resisted.

    But if it wasn’t a defeat for Israel, why I wonder did they need a commission to figure out what went wrong?

    Read the writings of Col. Patrick Lang if you want an indpendent view of the war – He is after all a US Colonel and staunchly anti-Hizballah.

    As a result HA operations from South Lebanon have been eliminated? Seriously? You still do not get who Hizballah are, who their cadres are and what the relationship is with the people of South Lebanon if you really believe that.

    Do I think that without International pressure from countries that HA hates, Israel would have stopped before wiping out Lebanon?

    You are joking right? We are talking of countries that refused to allow a ceasefire until the Resistance was wiped out? And fyi, HA hates no countries at all – None that it recognizes anyway…:)

    HP, seriously, do some legwork. No one wanted that ceasefire as much as the Israelis did. Look it up, you’ll find corrobaration of that statement.

    And were Syria and Iran cowards by not “defending” the resistance?

    And if they had, would your question be about they were meddeling in Lebanon?

    The fact is, Lebanon was being attacked and it was Lebanese defending their country. As our American friends like to say, they can help or they can get out the way.

    Oh and hey Danny,
    If Hizballah had used THOSE shabab in 08, your lot may have stood a chance. Unfortunately for you, they didn’t. Get over it already. Your heroes massacred people by the truckloads during the war, we dont keep on about it…yet

    Posted by usedtopost | October 4, 2010, 9:58 am
  13. Good interview in general, I will agree with UTP that it is “a better attempt than most” to understand HA.

    I haven’t read the book yet, AIG commented that the book might be a good anthropological work: anthropological, socio-political, socio-religious, it doesn’t matter which kind of analysis you want to apply: after a dozen years in Lebanon, and coming myself from a deeply divided society, I don’t need much to “understand” how the organization works: a rigorous military organization, a strict discipline, a halo of sanctity, martyrdom and sacrifice without limits…coupled to an extremely faithful society of followers, with a feeling of always having been the victims of History. And no hesitance to use violence (“brute strength”) against its “detractors”. As other organizations before them in other times, they fit perfectly in the frame of the wrong and utterly unjust international handling of the endemic conflict of the ME.

    Understanding HA is not a problem, the problem is finding a solution for Lebanon’s mess.
    Another point of contention I would have with the author is the concept of non-state: what is something that acts like a state, and looks like a state, and is treated like one by some other states? Of the three organizations mentioned in the interview, only Al Qaeda can be taken as a non-state (and maybe not everywhere) . Hamas rules Gaza, HA rules large parts of Lebanon. That doesn’t make Gaza a state? True, but it doesn’t make it a non-state either. On the other hand, A failed state (one that looks like a state, but doesn’t act like one) shouldn’t be taken for a state, much less by someone who has academic pretensions. Isn’t the very definition of a failed state the fact that some other forces can and do act as states in parts of its territory?.

    Posted by mj | October 4, 2010, 10:05 am
  14. As it is clear from the above discussions and comments the posts are not related to the book of Mr Cambanis but instead are using “A Privilege To Die” as a platform to make comments about HA. The following are two links to two reviews of the book in question: The NYT review:
    and the review of the Christian Science monitor

    Posted by ghassan karam | October 4, 2010, 10:41 am
  15. “‘You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. ‘That may be so,’ he replied, ‘but it is also irrelevant.'”

    Amazing how Americans like Honest Patriot never seem to remember that story.

    Calling Hezbollah a cult makes it easier to demonize an adversary, that’s all. The Vietnamese communist party was not the Khmer Rouge, Hamas and Hezbollah are not Al Qaeda and not all Israelis are religious fundamentalists living on the West Bank. But lunatic extremists rouse less the extreme behind related causes. If that sounds like I might be defending those “less extreme” Israelis, I’m not. http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/09/21/bill_clinton_russian_immigrants_and_settlers_obstacles_to_mideast_peace

    I said, ‘Natan, what is the deal [about not supporting the peace deal],'” Clinton recalled. “He said, ‘I can’t vote for this, I’m Russian… I come from one of the biggest countries in the world to one of the smallest. You want me to cut it in half. No, thank you.'”

    That a self described Russian should claim a “right” of “return” to Palestine is absurd, but politics is politics, and politics is negotiation so there you have it. What’s obscene to me as an American Jew is the combination of of arrogance condescension and intellectual laziness of blowhards like American Honest Patriot [Christian?]. I have more sympathy for Israelis who are after all the adult children of psychopathic parents. European Jews spoke German at home once. But you, American Christian boy, have no understanding of that betrayal.

    Israel is falling apart. Hezbollah could be practical and bide it’s time and become more an more a political party, or it could go for a sectarian victory which would mean the end of democracy (such as it is). That would be bad. But the biggest criminals in all this remain the US and Israel, who practice extremists policies in the name of moderation, meaning no more or less than their own “moderating” control. Control is their first principle.

    “Steven Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations has published a ‘contingency planning memorandum’ in favour of continued support to the regime, which, as he describes it, ‘has helped create a regional order that makes it relatively inexpensive for the United States to exercise its power’. ”

    Google that one, Patriot Boy.

    Posted by disgusted | October 4, 2010, 10:55 am
  16. mj,

    I think that understanding Hizballah is critical to solving Lebanon’s problems.

    The critical question as it pertains to Lebanon is the following:
    Would Hizballah agree, in exchange for a more equal political voice, to become a political party only and let go of its militia?

    Based on what I know, my answer is no. QN, at least a couple of years ago, thought this was quite possible. So, any work that helps answer this question should be helpful.

    HA is not going away. It is a fact that has to be dealt with. For me as an Israeli this means that we have to expect a war every 10 years or so and we need to prepare. We need to try to deter Hizballah, but even then we have to understand that an organization such as HA will have to attack Israel or lose its raison d’etre. Also, one has to expect that leaders on both sides make mistakes and are not fully in control of situations. When you live on the edge, you occasionally fall off. For example, the tree cutting incident could easily have become a war.

    As to what the Lebanese should do, well, it is up to you to figure out. But I think the first step is to make sure that you really understand Hizballah well.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 11:05 am
  17. HP,

    HA doesn’t care about Lebanese that are not cowed by them. I would bet the farm that HA is scared of being disarmed as it would provide its current “supporters” the freedom to chose.
    What happens to Lebanon is inconsequential to people like Mo. They would rather see Lebanon destroyed as far as their idea of “resistance” worshiped even if we live like cavemen and women.

    Yalla Mo. When your next “divine” intervention happens, I am certain you will rejoice on the body bags of all Lebanese. Since for you better off “matyring” all Lebanese as far as Israel does not hold a “village”.


    Posted by danny | October 4, 2010, 11:11 am
  18. Hey disgusted,

    Thank you for staying in the US and not coming to Israel. Your very existence is a good argument against the law of return…

    Now excuse me while I go visit my parents in the closed ward of my nearby mental care facility.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 11:16 am
  19. AIG

    The Neocons represent the White Anglo Saxon Protestant cult.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 4, 2010, 11:18 am
  20. Just a confirmation of what we already know:

    Syria, Iran and HA stand alone in their defiance of the STL.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 12:23 pm
  21. Easy, Peter, WASPs??
    How anachronistic !!
    They are screaming reverse discrimination in the U.S. What century/decade are you referring to?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 12:30 pm
  22. Good, informative Q&A. Thanks.

    Posted by mas | October 4, 2010, 12:30 pm
  23. Very interesting. I liked this interview a lot and found it informative. I think it adds some further dimension to the Hezbollah current story. I especially liked Thanassis’s simply comparison/delineations between Hezbollah and other “groups” they get thrown with… because I find the frequent mainstream media undifferentiated grouping of HA with things like Hamas or worse, al quaeda, so irritating. He made the articulation so simple and obvious.
    I hope i get a chance to read the book sometime.

    Posted by Zenobia | October 4, 2010, 12:45 pm
  24. Peterin Dubai Says: The Neocons represent the White Anglo Saxon Protestant cult. If you are not joking you are wrong. All Arabs that I talked to think that they are 100% Jews. In reality many are, and some of them are religious. So that cult should be defined differently.

    USA Jew
    Perhaps as the Jew from the USA pontificated “Israel is falling apart”. In the ME so is now Iraq and Lebanon and may next day or week Egypt too. Also look at the rate of the $, the gold, the USA politics,unemployment, money owed to China and think. Not that it is good for Israel, but still. Here in the ME no Syrian Judge is issuing a warrenty for Israeli politicians. Israel is now an oil-gass country. True, the whole world is a mess. And some things in Israel dont look so good, but the economy is good or very good and at the end every body dies, even the Jews in the USA.
    As a fact, now, Israel does not want one shiber of Lebanon. On all issues of border and land the UN is 99% on the side of Israel. True, next day the HA can clain the seven or ten or so villages in Israel as a resistance defense situation and start a resistance operation. But that will be done only under Iranian umbrela. So, even in that HA & Lebanon are now, practically, a part of Iran. As the Iranian leader declared, south Lebanon is the border of Iran.
    As for the next war that AIG talks about, well it will be very very destructive that for sure. Perhaps again Nasralla will say that if he knew what will happen he would not have started it and call it a victory.
    Does Lebanon look very very victorious? perhaps to some.

    Posted by Rani | October 4, 2010, 1:03 pm
  25. Thanks GK for the links.I’ve read the reviews now, I’ll wait to read the actual book to comment farther. My comment was referring to Elias’s interview, in which the Mr Cambanis calls HA a non-state actor.

    AIG, I’m not Lebanese, so I will restrain from giving them advice, even if I had any, which I don’t. While writing my last comment #13, I was thinking of similar movements that have been successful (social, religious, whatever) in other times. The word “legion” took me back to the Spanish Civil War, in which, helped by another group that later would sound familiar in Lebanon, the Spanish Phalange, hot blooded youths were convinced that their religion was in danger and they were ready to give their lives for it. Plenty of them did. Of course those groups, and their military leadership, were immediately discarded as fascist, which they were, by progressist intellectuals all over. But there were also movements that generated as well lots of sympathy among leftist circles in the West. Like the Zionist Movement. It did take a lot of faith to create the state of Israel, a lot of unconditional dedication, a lot of shrewd leaders, a lot of violence against “detractors”. A lot of victim-hood too. Or did it not?
    On the other hand, I understand that it must be shocking to have your parents called “psychopathic”. In any case, that would be the case of the children, today’s adults, not of the parents, whom I assume would suffer more likely from “post traumatic disorder”, after what they went trough. You can rightly discard my judgement as the digressions of a dilettante. Although I do think most of the ME societies are very sick, included the Israeli one. And before all of you jump to my colonialist throat, I will state too that I think the crime sickens the criminal as well as the victim, so yes, Europe is very sick until today, it is.

    Posted by mj | October 4, 2010, 1:06 pm
  26. The next episode of Lebanese Idol is due this Saturday it seems.


    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 4, 2010, 1:08 pm
  27. AIG,
    I’ll visit your country when it becomes a binational state, not before.

    Hamas wanted to include non-aligned officers in its government, Israel threatened assassination. Ask Helena Cobban for the details. And ask Uri Avnery for details on the founding of Hamas.

    In any event Hamas is now more practically minded than Israel is,
    and frankly less extremist. Push-button terrorism by remote control is still terrorism, and more deadly for that.

    Posted by disgusted | October 4, 2010, 1:15 pm
  28. Peterindubai #20,
    So Leo Strauss is a White Anglo Saxon Protestant? 🙂

    Posted by ghassan karam | October 4, 2010, 1:19 pm
  29. Disgusted,

    Of course Hamas is less extreme than Israel. In Israel we believe that the human spirit is limited. Hamas are less extreme and believe anyone can fly. That is why they threw Fatah supporters from high rises in Gaza. In fact, their anthem is “I believe I can fly… or at least that Fath supporters”.

    But you know, talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is and go live under Hamas rule. Why do you even bother with all those American and Israeli imperialists?

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 1:33 pm
  30. “Israelis who are after all the adult children of psychopathic parents. European Jews spoke German at home once.”
    I wasn’t clear. The psychopathic parents were the Nazis.

    And I made HA into Hamas rather than Hezbollah. That wasn’t lack of clarity, simply a mistake.

    AIG- “HA is not going away. It is a fact that has to be dealt with. For me as an Israeli this means that we have to expect a war every 10 years or so and we need to prepare.”

    You could grow up a little instead. That might help.

    Posted by disgusted | October 4, 2010, 1:35 pm
  31. No Ghassan.

    Strauss was probably agnostic.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 4, 2010, 1:35 pm
  32. peterinDubai #32
    But if Leo Strauss was neither a Protestant nor an Anglo Saxon then how can neocons be a White Anglo Saxon cult ?:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 4, 2010, 2:16 pm
  33. Sorry Gus … I’m not following your trip.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 4, 2010, 2:22 pm
  34. Disgusted,

    Of course! That is the solution to all the mideast problems. If we were all mature like you, all our problems would go away.

    I am sure Nasrallah is thinking right now: If only the Israelis were not such adolescents, we would of course respect their right for self-determination.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 2:53 pm
  35. Wow very interesting discussions.
    A dumb question on my part here, does anyone think HA’s Theological/Ideological motivation has anything to do with their reasoning, objectives, plans and M.O?
    “Scientifically” analyzing HA and forgetting the “Coming of Al Mahdi” element behind much of what they do is perhaps incomplete analysis?

    Posted by V | October 4, 2010, 3:14 pm
  36. The cure for cancer lies in the depth of your belief and your adherence to the “correct” interpretation of the ancient texts.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 4, 2010, 3:42 pm
  37. The original plan for Partition gave 56 percent of Palestine’s territory to immigrants, less than a third of the population who owned 7% percent of the land. And 3 million Russians since 1990.
    But Jews want to live alone on stolen land. You want the “right” of “return” you deny the natives you kicked out. And they’re more Jewish than we are.

    Don’t pretend I don’t know the history you pretend to forget kid. The pretensions just makes things worse. Like Hussein’s Iraq, Pahlavi’s iran and the Turkey of the generals, your country is a Potemkin village version of modernity. And you believe your own lies. The people of Iran are more modern than their leaders, and you and your leadership are united in reaction. It’s sad.

    And I’m done.

    Posted by disgusted | October 4, 2010, 3:44 pm
  38. Great comments. Thanks. I hope you’re intrigued enough to read the book (you too, Ghassan; I think you’ll find it worth your time).

    usedtopost (Mo?) wrote, “However, making the leap from this to “I can’t imagine any use for these kids except in an internal street clash” is sensationalism.
    In fact there is a better (and more accurate reason) which sufficeth to say is explained by the fact that the guys that used to do the jobs these guys have been taken on to do were needed on other projects.”

    It was actually two Hezbollah members that I interviewed who said these shabab were being recruited for street clashes, and that it disturbed them. I don’t think they meant to sensationalize; I think they’re worried about their own party. From what I could see, these kids weren’t backfilling key jobs; they were popping wheelies on the street.

    Also, you wrote: “I’ve neither seen nor experienced any attempt to deepen Islam amongst its constituents.”

    I think you’ll enjoy some of the stories in the book, like the characters who through Hezbollah have adopted a Mahdist view, expecting the Mahdi to return within the next few decades.

    A minor clarification: Nasrallah’s presentation on the assassinations was in part aimed at other Lebanese and Israel; what I meant was, the main thrust of the argument – that Israel conducted the assassinations – was a case aimed at the audience already sympathetic to the argument. Nasrallah wasn’t trying to change the minds of those already certain the Syria (and perhaps Hezbollah as adjuncts) is responsible.

    In general, I think much of Hezbollah institutional dynamics stem from its ideology and theology, which are shaped by the dynamic relationship between the party and its followers.

    Zenobia, thanks for your comment; I hope you not only get the chance to read the book sometime, but I hope you get the chance to buy it as well, and soon!

    Posted by Thanassis Cambanis | October 4, 2010, 3:50 pm
  39. Disgusted,

    Its actually 15 million Russians since 1990. Most of them are high tech stealth ones.

    The partition did not take any land from anybody. If you owned land before the partition, after the partition it would still be yours. The partition only determined in which country the land would be. You lack a basic understanding of history.

    I am always thoroughly amused when someone who has never been to Israel knows better than the people who live here what we REALLY are.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 4:06 pm
  40. Mr Cambanis,

    Firstly thanks for taking the time to read through the reactions.

    You said “I think they’re worried about their own party”

    Actually, that is true for a lot of Hizballah supporters today. The hiring of these kids is hurting the party, even in the Dahyieh, but there is no choice in the matter.

    But I am surprised they would, if they know Hizballah, use the phrase “I can’t imagine any use for these kids except in an internal street clash”.

    Hizballah doesn’t do brawls. So these kids would be useless for any internal clashes. Still, I could be wrong.

    Also, to clarify, you said “From what I could see, these kids weren’t backfilling key jobs; they were popping wheelies on the street”.

    Unfortunately that is sort of the point. If you had been monitoring the people they replaced, you would have said they were just doing normal jobs. They are paid to be what one would term “on call”.

    However, therein lies much of the problem. With the guys they replaced, you would never have known that they had anything to do with Hizballah.

    You say that there are “characters who through Hezbollah have adopted a Mahdist view, expecting the Mahdi to return within the next few decades.” Yes, I know a number of people who have become more religious due to the party, but they and what you describe sounds like “upstream” conversion. Are there examples in the book of Hizballah using their position to push “downstream”?

    In regards to Hariri’s assassination, I can only tell you that those you say the presentation was aimed at were calling it an “Israeli” job about a tenth of a second after they heard about it – Hence why the movie Syriana will come up quite often in conversation 🙂 – so I still don’t understand why Nasrallah would show a card like that to convince people who were convinced from day one?

    Anyway, as an avid collector of books on Lebanon, I’m sure I will get many answers from the book itself.

    Posted by usedtopost | October 4, 2010, 4:32 pm
  41. Peterindubai #34,
    What is there that you cannot follow. You are the one who made the assertion that neocons are WASPS and I pointing out to you that arguably the founder of neoconservatism ; Leo Strauss; is neither an Anglo Saxon nor a protestant. That is also true of many of his followers. I guess that I am asking you not to make these very general, unsubstantiated and false statements just because they happen to serve your purpose.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 4, 2010, 4:48 pm
  42. “Hizballah doesn’t do brawls.”

    Tell that to the Ahbash…

    Posted by sean | October 4, 2010, 5:30 pm
  43. et tu sean? Even you are going to go with the whole “lets just repeat all the propaganda we hear”?

    Posted by usedtopost | October 4, 2010, 5:41 pm
  44. usedtopost @ #13 —
    I like the UTP acronym that someone used for you, or are you actually “Mo” ??

    Anyway, thanks, as usual for your comments on my post. May I please clarify a few points:
    – First on the 2006 war, it started because Israel wanted to put a stop to attacks from Lebanese soil. Israel, as best I can tell, has no desire to acquire any part of the Lebanese land to occupy it. Their previous invasions were to stop attacks from that soil. Now, the resolution of the 2006 war resulted in a halt to these attacks. Do you quibble with that fact? Hence the Israelis achieved their objective. Hence the Israelis won, not the other way around.
    – Do I believe Israel wanted to end the war? Absolutely not. Israel was ready to flatten all of Lebanon, HA and non-HA, turning it into hell. Without American and European pressure they would have done just that. They have the capability. And no one wants them to prove it.
    – That reasoning about Syria and Iran not wanting to meddle with Lebanese affairs hence not getting into the 2006 war doesn’t stand muster. It’s not as if Syria and Iran are hands-off anything in Lebanon. They just interfere in cowardly ways that don’t expose them to risk. Why? because they know they will then suffer huge defeats.
    – I am no fan of Israel. Anyone who has been on this blog for some time knows it, including, of course, AIG. But facts are facts. There is a reality on the ground and it has to be dealt with. There needs to be a complete separation between the Palestinian cause and Lebanon. Most Lebanese under the Palestinian plight and would argue for it in strong, rational, and effective way. I do that every now and then. But the Palestinians have lost all credibility and all rights to have more than moral support from Lebanon when they destroyed the country by bearing arms and creating a state within the state and attacking Israel from Lebanese soil.
    – I’m also a realist and know full well that HA, using the analogy I mentioned before, is like a spilled container of ink that is soon going to engulf all of Lebanon and turn it into its color. Why, with a mode of 12 children per family, it’s simple demographic dynamics. Which, by the way, is exactly what Israel wants to avoid by acquiescing to the 2-state solution. However, their radicals are too stupid to understand that their long-term chances depend on making peace soon. Otherwise it will be lost and end up eventually in one of 2 choices: Armageddon or Disappearance of Israel as Jewish state.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 5:46 pm
  45. disgusted, @ #16:

    I’m sorry but you got me all wrong. I assume you’re new to this blog (?).
    There is a big difference between HA and Lebanon and Israel and the Palestinian cause. I have different views on the two.
    There is no territorial conflict between Israel and Lebanon (other than the made-up excuse of a couple of villages – which can be settled promptly as soon Syria makes an official acknowledgment that they are Lebanese – something Syria won’t do out of self-interest). HA is a militant organization which, although does a great deal of good in helping the Shia in Lebanon in many ways, yet espouses a fundamentalist belief in the rule of the faqih which is currently dormant, but only until they achieve, with time, larger majorities with the sheer birth rate differential. This is a purely Lebanese internal affair. The conflict with Israel is being used as an excuse to maintain their weapons and hence be able to enforce by fiat and intimidation what they cannot achieve otherwise. They hold the cards and they know it.
    – I am not going to go into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict here again in detail. Suffice it to say I even got AIG to admit that what in effect was (even if indirectly) ethnic cleansing is what helped create the state of Israel. There was something morally wrong in all that when it happened. Then the Palestinians and all Arabs reacted stupidly and savagely to try to reclaim their rights, and they failed. Now we have facts on the ground and the best accommodation for the new generations is to develop a peace agreement were people can move on, carry on, and prosper thanks to the future and not be tied by the past. Some of the realities include the outstanding military superiority of Israel, its full backing by the U.S. (which is something that Anwar Sadat fully understood). Israel knows that it must maintain unchallenged military superiority for the foreseeable future, maybe forever, in order to ensure survival — at least until enough generations pass so the deep animosity and spirit of vengeance disappear. Israel is going to do that, maintain that superiority. Egypt understood that, Jordan understood that. At some point, the others will and will settle, or as I said in #45, brace for Armageddon.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 5:58 pm
  46. UTP, usedtopost, Mo (which do you prefer??),
    I had not realized the play on words in the Divine Victory. Thanks for pointing it out. Of course, in hindsight, it’s obvious. However, was it only a play on words or do most HA folks actually believe it? What say you?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 6:05 pm
  47. HP,

    Don’t try to hide it. You are a huge fan of Israel! No need to apologize.

    As for our options, we prefer Armageddon (har Megiddo – in Hebrew mountain of Megiddo). Megiddo is quite nice. The archeology there is very interesting.

    I highly recommend visiting.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 6:09 pm
  48. GK #42: General unsubstantiated and false statements are the meat and potatoes of Lebanese political “debate”. You expected something else?

    Sean #43: Indeed.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 4, 2010, 6:09 pm
  49. AIG, just in case you wanted to point to my separation between Lebanon and the Palestinian cause in the above two posts being in contradiction with my claim that settlement of such cause will ease tensions in Lebanon, I will preemptively point out that there is contradiction there.
    Settlement of the Palestinian problem takes away a major, if not THE major claim by HA of Israeli aggression. There will be nothing left to complain about except the 2 villages, and there, the culprit is not Israel but Syria who refuses to recognize officially that they are Lebanese. Let me ask YOU this. If Syria says those territories are Lebanese, allows a UN mission to delimit the boundaries clearly, would Israel be then willing to give them back to Lebanon? I hope you answer yes, because if no (and I realize you’re not the one making these decisions) then it would be the dirtiest game ever played, and a stupid one at that.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 6:11 pm
  50. Habibi, AIG, don’t out me, or I’ll out you!
    (confused? refer to my joke about the Lebanese of the early 1970’s who made a computer explode!)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 6:14 pm
  51. BV
    Thanks for keeping up with these conversations.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 4, 2010, 6:35 pm
  52. Since many have made references to the warrants issued in absentia by Syria and since these warrants are very closely related to HA’s efforts to delegitimize the STL . I thought that you might be interested in the following opinion by S. Honain:

    شدد النائب السابق صلاح حنين على وجوب الاستناد في موضوع مذكرات التوقيف السورية الى الاتفاق القضائي الموقع بين لبنان وسوريا في العام 1951، والذي ينص على:

    – إن “التسليم يكون واجبا إذا ارتكبت الجريمة في أراضي الدولة الطالبة (سوريا) أو خارج أراضي الدولتين (لبنان وسوريا).

    – يجوز الى الدولة المطلوب إليها التسليم (لبنان) الامتناع عنه إذا كان الشخص المطلوب من رعاياها، وهذا هو واقع الحال اليوم إذ إن جميع المطلوبين من الرعايا اللبنانيين باستثناء القاضي ديتليف ميليس.

    – لا يسمح بالتسليم إذا ارتكب الجرم في أراضي الدولة المطلوب إليها التسليم أي لبنان في هذه الحال.

    – لا يسمح بالتسليم إذا كان المطلوب تسليمه من موظفي السلك السياسي المتمتعين بالحصانة الديبلوماسية وهذا ما ينطبق على النائب مروان حمادة.

    – تقدم طلبات تسليم المجرمين من النائب العام في الدولة الطالبة التسليم (سوريا) الى النائب العام في الدولة الثانية (لبنان) لكن في هذه الحال يعتبر الادعاء على القاضي سعيد ميرزا المفترض أن تقدم إليه طلبات التسليم بمثابة المساس بسيادة الدولة اللبنانية.

    I cannot vouch for the validity of what Mr. Honian is claiming but if he is right then this whole exersize of warrants is nothing more than a charade.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 4, 2010, 6:46 pm
  53. HP,

    Really, it is time to put to rest the notion that Israeli-Palestinian peace will help with HA. They will just find another excuse. Did you hear of the Sheba farms before the Israeli withdrawal in 2000? HA will just say that the peace treaty is really a “surrender” enforced by western imperialists on Palestinians collaborators.

    As for letting the UN decide the border. Israel has already agreed to that.

    Let me reiterate that I think that putting your faith in the Israeli-Palestinian peace is just a form of denial. You want to hold on to the last glimmer of hope that maybe Hizballah will change. Sorry, ain’t going to happen. Deal with the facts.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 6:54 pm
  54. HP,

    Let me clarify a few things:
    – First on the 2006 war,
    You say:
    “it started because Israel wanted to put a stop to attacks from Lebanese soil”

    So are you accepting that the capture of the 2 soldiers was just a smokescreen or has Israeli propaganda worked so well that you have forgotten about them?

    But to answer your salient point.

    If you are interested in facts rather than just being happy repeating Israeli talking points, you are welcome to go check every UNIFIL report submitted to the UN between when the Israelis fled in 2000 and the 2006 war.

    Count how many cross border attacks are attributed to Hizballah. Heres a clue: You will have unused fingers by the time you finish.

    Then count how many Israeli attacks over that period and you will need a host of hands (and toes). In fact, if you wish to include all violations of Lebanese sovereignty, there are is one for each and every day in those 6 years.

    Oh and after you have done that, see if you can find a Hizballah attack on Israel that was not preceded by the death of a Lebanese citizen.

    So when you say “Now, the resolution of the 2006 war resulted in a halt to these attacks. Do you quibble with that fact? Hence the Israelis achieved their objective. Hence the Israelis won”

    You betcha I want to quibble. If anyone “won” by stopping cross border attacks its Lebanon. And if anyone by achieving their aims on the battlefield, Hizballah did.

    You say “Israel, as best I can tell, has no desire to acquire any part of the Lebanese land to occupy it”

    Ah so those 18 years they were here was temporary? You really believe that were it not for the Resistance, we wouldn’t have Israeli “settlements” in Southern Lebanon? Have you studied their water problems and how those water problems would be solved forever if they had access to the Litani?

    – You say “Israel was ready to flatten all of Lebanon, HA and non-HA, turning it into hell”

    To what end? The point is they were having “it” handed to them on a plate on the battlefield. They could blow every structure in the country to smithereens, absolutely. But it wouldn’t have made their troops seem any more competent – It would just have shown the world their true face. Furthermore, every diplomatic and intelligence source has stated that by August 10, it was the Israelis scrambling for a face saving ceasefire.

    “Without American and European pressure they would have done just that”

    Seriously, are you going to insist on this? The same Americans and Europeans who were going to endow us with a “new Middle East” for which the death of over 1000 Lebanese were mere “birth pangs”?

    – “That reasoning about Syria and Iran not wanting to meddle with Lebanese affairs hence not getting into the 2006 war doesn’t stand muster”.

    i didnt make that reasoning. I said if they had, instead of berating them for not interfering you would rather be berating them in other ways – My point was simple. This is Lebanon, and the only people with a responsibility to fight for it are the Lebanese.

    “There needs to be a complete separation between the Palestinian cause and Lebanon”

    I have no quibble with that. That doesn’t necessarily translate to there having to be seperation between the Palestinian cause and any Lebanese to choose to aid it – As long as it does not hurt those that do not.

    But lets not lump all Palestinians under the Fatah banner please. You cannot generalize about them based on the actions of one group.

    – “HA…..is soon going to engulf all of Lebanon and turn it into its color”

    How exactly?

    “Why, with a mode of 12 children per family, it’s simple demographic dynamics”

    Hmm, I and every Shia I know must be missing a whole raft of brothers and sisters – 12 Children per family? You want to be using any other cliched stereotyping?

    Posted by usedtopost | October 4, 2010, 7:18 pm
  55. HP,

    What would I do without usedtopost? I completely forgot the Litani bobe-maise.

    Will you now concede that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not help? Hizballah will just claim Israel wants the Litani (did you see the water problems we have?) How are you going to disprove that if usedtopost believes that even after Israel left Lebanon and has agreed that the UN delineate the border?

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 7:58 pm
  56. Hmm, two smart, otherwise reasonable guys, arguing to persuade HP. Good for the ego, eh?

    But on a serious note, UTP, I have to give it to you that you make your points effectively and clearly. You refer to facts about the number of attacks from HA on Israel and the number of attacks by Israel on Lebanon. I have to confess I don’t know these statistics and I’m not sure how to get hold of a neutral and reliable summary assessment. One thing is clear, that if someone had such an assessment it would make the evaluation much clearer.

    I also don’t have the scientific surveys about birth rates, etc. I do know that SHN himself referred to the growth numbers in his speeches, one in particular where he was refuting the accusation that HA was trying to convert sunnis into Shia (it is on youtube). Isn’t it a fact, though that a majority of Shia have very large families? I don’t want to be the one to stereotype based on wrong information. To your knowledge, are there any statistics on this?

    On engulfing Lebanon, I’m going by the words of SHN himself in youtube videos where he declares the goal to be an islamic republic in Lebanon. I know that this no longer the official goal but how do you address the concern of those who feel that it is simply dormant and will awaken as soon as they have more control ?? I know that SHN has gone on record saying that his views have changed but you have to forgive me if I feel that a devout believer does not shed his faith based on reasoning, he may change tactics, but unless he renounces his earlier beliefs — derived, I think, from religion — which something he shows not temperament or history of doing, then I fear the goal is what I stated.

    I have to say that were the HA leaders to speak with the logic and words you use, one would somehow start reconsidering, but have you listened to their declarations lately?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 8:31 pm
  57. AIG,

    They can say what they want but where there is no excuse, then there is no excuse. How in the world is Israel going to be accused of wanting the Litani when, as you say, the border is officially delineated and not a drop of the Litani makes it to anything that’s part of Israel?

    I would concede to usedtopost that Israel mistakenly overstayed its welcome in Lebanon. If I’m not mistaken, many Shia were relieved when the PLO was chased away. But the mistake of overstaying is always made and the reality is that HA successfully inflicted death and pain on Israeli soldiers to the point that it was no longer worth it for Israel. At the same time, I wouldn’t put it past extremists in Israel to covet the Litani and parts of Lebanon, etc. This is where extremists everywhere have to be reigned in. To some extent extremists in opposing camps give each other the excuse for existing!!!!! The extreme right-wingers in Israel must secretly love that HA is there to give them excuses for abuses. By contrast, I betcha HA and Iran want absolutely no agreement to succeed between Israel and the Palestinians (hence they support the extremist Hamas) exactly to keep their raison-d’etre, at least the armed portion of it. I hope I can persuade you, AIG, that if Israel takes certain steps (before it’s too late) by getting a peace deal with the Palestinians and hopefully one quickly to follow with Syria, the whole HA and Iran problem become easier to solve and will get solved without any interference from Israel.

    Finally, going back to UTP, I need to make the distinction between Shia and HA. The Shia are Lebanese, as are the members of HA. However, HA represents, in its military wing, an advocacy organization with a (hidden or not-so-hidden) agenda that is scary to many Lebanese. Many Lebanese want a secular country where every person has one vote and everyone is dedicated to the best interest of the country and the prosperity of its people, where everyone is free to practice his/her religion BUT where religion is entirely, completely, utterly separated from the state. The day HA becomes friendly to this ideal is the day the party will win all Lebanese and then can achieve all the influence it wants through the democratic process, BUT with the sanctity of the separation of church/mosque/temple and state preserved. Do you sign up for this, UTP??

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 8:42 pm
  58. HP,

    Got to go after this but I will try to answer your questions.

    Re. the facts on cross-border attacks, they are (were?) on the UNIFIL site somewhere. I’ll have to try and track them down.

    You said “I do know that SHN himself referred to the growth numbers in his speeches, one in particular where he was refuting the accusation that HA was trying to convert sunnis into Shia”

    Actually, if you listen to it again, he states that the accusation is silly because if he really needed the extra head count all he need do was ask the Shia women to have more children.

    Yes, historically, the Shia, as is the want of the poorest section of any society, had the largest families. I have no statistics but in general that is becoming less and less prevalent.Mind you, I still don’t think 12 has been the norm for a good number of decades!

    Ok, so you are going by the words of SHN himself. Let us assume for a second that you are right, and for once, Nasrallah is lying. The simple fact is that not only would he have to take on all the Sunnis, Druze and Christians in the country, he would also find that good deal of his own supporters would turn against him.

    Contrary to what some people on this blog believe, a good many of Hizballah supporters are quite capable of independent thought and would oppose such a move. For evidence of this, I need only point to you the fact that while the majority of Shia look to HA as their political guide, a fair few, if not a majority, looked to Fadlallah for spiritual guidance, a man who was staunchly against the Iranian model and an proud advocate of a co-existence.

    In regards to what Hizballah say, I would say two things. Yes, some things that are said shouldn’t be (but I guess we should all hope not to have to make public announcements in the pressure cooker environment of Lebanese politics) but I would also caution you on the sources for what you believe is said.

    In regards to the final point.

    You say “Many Lebanese want a secular country where every person has one vote and everyone is dedicated to the best interest of the country and the prosperity of its people, where everyone is free to practice his/her religion BUT where religion is entirely, completely, utterly separated from the state. The day HA becomes friendly to this ideal is the day the party will win all Lebanese”

    Well it all goes back to believability I suppose, but the secular one man one vote is part of their manifesto! In fact, if you think about it, which party, especially when allied with the FPM would benefit most from a secular system with a one man vote set up? And yes I do sign up to this – I hope I live to see it.

    But like you say, its a question of convincing people like you, who are open to debate, that not only is there no “Islamic State” goal, but were anyone to try to impose one, I would be racing you to the highest rafters to shout my opposition to it. As a Muslim and as a Shia, I have no more a desire to live under a theocracy than you do.

    Posted by usedtopost | October 4, 2010, 9:08 pm
  59. One should begin by questioning the utterly racist and historically false statement flashed on the the front cover: Inside Hezbollah’s legions and their endless war on Israel (sic)!

    Posted by Reader | October 4, 2010, 9:44 pm
  60. UTP, “As a Muslim and as a Shia, I have no more a desire to live under a theocracy than you do.”

    Unless you live in London you can’t be honest about the above statement and yet refuse any criticism of HA and portray them as being such an idealist secular romantic resistance group.

    I am a Shia from South Lebanon too, I know and have seen many in South Lebanon living under the tyranny of HA’s theocracy and this isn’t repeating propaganda.

    Posted by V | October 4, 2010, 10:08 pm
  61. Thank you UTP. Good stuff in there. I think, in the end, we agree a lot more than we disagree. The devil will be in what the real facts and the real intentions are. I can’t claim to know but we all have our biases, our fears, and our hopes. At least our hopes are aligned!


    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 10:17 pm
  62. To go back to the post,

    Cambanis’s project is quite important: it is a study of how people relate to HA and of how HA relates to people (through the eyes/lives of those people). It is thus not a study of the party structure or HA’s aims and/or geopolitical connections (for that, I think the work of journalist Haytham Mouzahem may be helpful, Ghassan). It is a study of popular social imaginaries: the desires, drives, hopes, needs, and affects of those people affected by HA–and who, in turn, support HA.

    Many posts refer to some kind of indoctrination by HA: but isn’t this the definition of politics since Aristotle? Ancient politics has always been about habituation and forms of governments that guarantee (through laws and institutions) the creation of a “citizen” of a sort–through rgeir “experience” and “goals/values”. Medieval politics continued with the privileging of ethics as a political philosophy. Modern politics transposed habituation and ethics to forms of producing political “subjects”–state institutions took on the socialization and acculturation processes in order to produce subjectivity and transform social imaginaries.

    Hizbollah is merely continuing in this tradition of politics, although as a “non-state actor” it is experimenting with something new–how a movement can take on the tasks of the modern state but not become a state.

    The production of “social reality” has always been the cornerstone of politics. The question is how is “politics” changing: since 1945, capitalism has been developing based on “non-state” forces that are global or transnational and not localized or regional. Whether through the various media (from Hollywood or Bollywood, to Advertising and “news” outlets, from TV shows to Games, to internet sites, etc.) discourses and practices, as well as forms of producing subjectivites, have been produced at a trans-national level and a global culture (of liberal and/or neoliberal capitalism) had been shaping social imaginaries (with freedom being sold as free choice, and equality sold as opportunity or possibilities). Studying regional and localized forms of “resisting” global ways of producing subjectivities is important and the study of the “HA effect” could be one of the important projects doing so (since the case of HA is quite different from the typical “religious nationalism” of the Indian BJH for example, and is also different from Lula’s workers party movement strategy).

    I do think that the potential of HA is in how it can create alternative “values” (while it cannot counter “purchase power” as value, it can still revisit the dominant meaning/values of “justice”, of “equality”, or of “freedom” and “democracy”..). I am not saying that this is happening, or that it will be happening; it is merely a potential that may not be realized if HA falls back on the very common “realpolitik” in the ME. Cambanis’s book may help us trace what is really happening on the ground: in the “social imaginary” of people and in their subjectivity (affects, needs, desires, etc.).

    Posted by Parrhesia | October 4, 2010, 10:55 pm
  63. HP,

    Yes, I am sure there are extremists in the US that want to take over Canada, after all, the Canadians have so much oil…

    When it comes to Israel you tend to lapse into these weird assumptions. Can you provide any proof for this ditty:
    “The extreme right-wingers in Israel must secretly love that HA is there to give them excuses for abuses”. Don’t tell me you have come under the power of conspiracy theories also?

    “I hope I can persuade you, AIG, that if Israel takes certain steps (before it’s too late) by getting a peace deal with the Palestinians and hopefully one quickly to follow with Syria, the whole HA and Iran problem become easier to solve and will get solved without any interference from Israel.”

    You can’t persuade me because you have no leg to stand on. UTP clearly says the opposite. It is just wishful thinking on your part. Why don’t you ask UTP directly if indeed this will solve your problem??? It seems you do not want to hear the answer.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 11:40 pm
  64. OK, here goes…

    UTP, a few questions for you, to answer when you’re back on this blog.

    – If a peace agreement is signed between Israel and the Palestinians creating a sovereign Palestinian state and is then followed by a peace agreement with Syria which regains the Golan in exchange for full peace commitment, would you then support the full merger of any HA arms and soldiers into the Lebanese Armed Forces under full authority of the Lebanese government? Would there be any reason then for the “Resistance”?

    And here are my questions:

    – Do you believe in the full and complete separation of church/mosque/temple and state?
    – Do you believe in complete religious freedom with no political or other consequences for the individual just because of their belief?
    – Do you believe in full state control of a country with no state-within-the-state permitted by anyone, local or foreign?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 4, 2010, 11:57 pm
  65. HP,

    As for transgressing the blue line, I am surprised that your memory is so short. Israel withdrew in May 2000. The UN approved that Israel had indeed withdrawn. Then on October 7 of THAT year, Hizballah made a cross border raid and captured 3 Israeli soldiers (which were killed in the attack or executed by Hizballah). Naturally, Barak was shown to be an idiot for believing that the blue line would be respected.

    You of course also don’t remember the Lebanese who said to Israel: Just withdraw to the blue line and all will be ok.
    You are trying to sell the same BS again.

    Posted by AIG | October 4, 2010, 11:57 pm
  66. AIG,

    I’m not inventing right-wingers in Israel. You know full well that there are zealots who believe in the grand Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile. You can’t deny that, now, can you? Many of the fanatic settlers display that belief any time there is a land concession. Is that not the case?
    And there’s nothing wrong for a state to have extremists. They are every where. If you believe in the normal distribution of virtually everything in life, there’s always going to be folks beyond the 1 or 2 or 3 sigma with increasing degrees of fanaticism. What matters is what the state decides and enforces.

    You’re arguing that regardless of what settlement happens in Israel/Palestine, HA will always find an excuse to keep its arm and still want to fight Israel. You probably think ditto of Iran. Is that correct?

    I don’t know about Iran. They have their own agenda. But HA members are Lebanese, not Persian, not Iranian. In UTP you see an example of reason, based on different opinions, but reason nonetheless. Let’s see what his answers are to the questions above and we can then pick up the opinion debate.

    If I remember correctly, your prediction is that things will get worse, eventually radical regimes will take over (in Syria, Lebanon), then after suffering the people will decide it’s no good, then democracy comes in, then everybody is ready for peace. Is that essentially right?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 12:05 am
  67. HP,

    “You know full well that there are zealots who believe in the grand Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile.”

    No, I don’t know of any political party, movement, Rabbi that advocates this. Where did you get this crazy idea? The settlers believe the West Bank is part of Israel, not anything else. All the right wing parties in Israel, bar none, accept the peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt.

    Posted by AIG | October 5, 2010, 12:29 am
  68. HP,

    “You’re arguing that regardless of what settlement happens in Israel/Palestine, HA will always find an excuse to keep its arm and still want to fight Israel.”

    Yes, in fact it is a no brainer. I am frankly surprised that you even think there is a possibility that this is not true.

    “You probably think ditto of Iran. Is that correct?”

    With the current regime, yes.

    My prediction is that Egypt, Syria and Jordan will eventually have Islamic regimes. This may take 10 or 20 years. Lebanon and Iraq will move from crisis to crisis with a good chance of civil war in the 5-10 year range. I do not think the populations will suffer more under the Islamic regimes. The current regimes are quite awful. They will just learn that Islamism is not a good solution either and will seek an alternative.

    Posted by AIG | October 5, 2010, 12:41 am
  69. AIG, what do you think HA’s agenda is?
    How will it be affected if indeed the peace process succeeds, in your opinion?

    As far as the events you talk about in 2000, I’m sorry that I’m not familiar with them. I also don’t know how the withdrawal was arranged and who promised what to whom. You seem to know certain facts there. Not sure what an incident which can be considered limited has to do with the strategic changes and moves I’m asking about.

    Here’s where one needs to reconcile what you say with what UTP says. You’re complaining bitterly about deception in the 2000 withdrawals which was followed by, in your version, a wanton attack that killed 3 Israeli soldiers.

    UTP is saying there were many more violations of Israel and incursions into the Lebanese territory than by HA. Who’s right ? UTP says they were posted on some UNIFIL site ?
    Why can’t the facts in that stuff be objectively known?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 12:53 am
  70. @usedtopost

    I don’t understand your question. Are you suggesting that the street fight in Bourj Abi Haidar in which Hezbollah and Ahbash guys shot it out (over what seem to be a fight over a parking spot) didn’t actually happen? That it was just propaganda?

    You said Hezbollah didn’t do street brawls, and I brought up an example of a recent one. I didn’t actually see it, because I was in Mexico at the time, but I read about it. Is there something I missed while I was out off the country?

    Brutus 😉

    Posted by sean | October 5, 2010, 1:41 am
  71. I still say that the Israeli redeployment in May 2000 was a masterstroke for the Israelis. The only question was would they have the patience to enjoy its strategic fruits.

    To my mind, it is literally impossible to imagine the mobilization and deployment of anti-Syrian sentiment absent that strategic shift. In addition, it pushed HA to redefine itself on the Lebanese scene (an evolving phenomenon). Will HA survive its adventure in the Lebanese mud, I don’t know, but would argue it is in many ways more forbidding than Israeli tank columns.

    Also, easy on Mo, or UsedtoPost or whomever, the comment section is more interesting when it includes non-M14 perspectives, and you guys gang up on him (not that you should not argue his points, but …). Also, let’s not have the Syria Commentification of QN, if possible. While I do not wish to deny anyone their blogging fun or curtail QN’s stats, I am pretty sure some thoughtful people don’t post here because the thread gets overrun. Again, nothing personal, as I enjoy reading all of your thoughts, but maybe some moderation to encourage more wide-ranging participation? Mission Impossible? Perhaps.

    I have a question for Mr. Cambanis. A number of English-language commentators sympathetic to the M14 cause have written that the Western press in Lebanon is too sympathetic to Hizbullah, M8 and its arguments. This would include M. Young, T. Badran, E. Hokayem and others (Lee Smith has perhaps taken this argument to another level, basically arguing that if you don’t have a stiffy the size of a WTC tower for the State of Israel you are unfit to write about Lebanon). Badran and Hokayem have described this purported phenomenon in conspiratorial terms, speaking of a “coterie” of uncertain intent. And M. Young went absolutely apoplectic over Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article (although his analysis of the piece in his recent book was more or less reasonable).

    I find this argument dishonest in the extreme, although I am sensitive to issues of structural bias (ie, my opinion on matters Lebanon shifts when I am in country, and then out, and is definitely colored by my take on American politics). Why dishonest? Well, if you have guys working for an advertising firm that does millions of dollars with the USG in information campaigns and sponsors junkets for American journalists, it is a bit rich to turn around and call people who disagree with you “publicists.”

    So my question:

    1) Is Mr. Camnabis aware of this argument? How does he assess its merits? I am not so interested in a Journalism 101 response about professionalism, bias, sources, etc., but something more specific on matters related to Western coverage of Lebanon, including his own.

    Danka … d

    Posted by david | October 5, 2010, 1:55 am
  72. Yes Sean, it didn’t happen according to Nasser Qandil this whole episode was orchestrated by German and Jordanian Agents
    Don’t ask me why the Germans!


    Judas 🙂

    Posted by V | October 5, 2010, 1:56 am
  73. V, why the Germans? 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 3:32 am
  74. If this book is half as informative as this interview, it’s more than worth the price.

    Posted by Dan Stevens | October 5, 2010, 3:42 am
  75. I repeat …

    The only way Lebanon can settle the issue of Hizballah’s militia and weapons is for Lebanese to vote on this issue through a national referendum that should only pass by a 60% majority.

    Hariri needs to have the balls to propose such an initiative.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 5, 2010, 4:59 am
  76. why 60% and not simple majority? curious…

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 5:19 am
  77. I know my English is bad, yet I kind of expect any Lebanese writing about Israel, here, in this blog to know that two, so called, facts are not. I would not use stronger terms but I have the right to.

    1.”There are zealots who believe in the grand Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile”. No ! there are no such people who say that as a political statement. People also “believe” in aliens from space or lock ness monster.

    2. “Israel is trying to get the water of the Litani river”. No she is not!

    Posted by Rani | October 5, 2010, 5:24 am
  78. V,
    I’m not sure why I would have to live in London to able to make statements that don’t have you calling me a liar but I have never refused all and any criticism of HA, nor do I portray them as being an “idealist secular romantic resistance group”.

    I merely counter all the bull that is repeated ad nauseam, esp. bull that has been crafted outside Lebanon.

    But Ok, if you know and seen examples of the “tyranny of HA’s theocracy” can you enlighten me? Obviously I have never seen it nor heard about it (unless of course we are talking about the 80s and the Hizballah of Toufeili), so I would be very interested in your experiences.

    The street fight in Bourj Abi Haidar was not between Hezbollah and Ahbash guys. It was an argument over a parking space yes, but the Shia involved in the actual fight had nothing to do with Hizballah (bar being supporters). One of the guys shot was Hizballah, but he was trying to stop the fight.

    Lets not call “Hizballah” every time someone who happens to be Shia draws a gun!


    To answer your questions:

    I actually dont require a peace agreement is between Israel and anyone to support the full merger of any HA arms and soldiers into the Lebanese Armed Forces under full authority of the Lebanese government. All that I require is for the state to step up and actually fulfill the duty that everyone seems to believe is its right. All you need for there to be no “reason then for the “Resistance”” is an army that is capabale of defending the people.

    However, as your interlocutor observes, I would still oppose a peace treaty with Israel.

    Do you believe in the full and complete separation of church/mosque/temple and state?

    Yes, (in theory though as in practice I doubt if any non-communist state has ever managed that) especially in a melting pot like the one we have.

    Do you believe in complete religious freedom with no political or other consequences for the individual just because of their belief?

    Not believe in it, I demand it.

    Do you believe in full state control of a country with no state-within-the-state permitted by anyone, local or foreign

    Now this is not simple to answer. In an ideal world, where a state fulfils its obligations and duties to the people, absolutely. But where it doesn’t it is the right of the people to be able to do it themselves.

    Hariri would never get a 60% against. So from his point of view, what would be the point?

    Posted by usedtopost | October 5, 2010, 5:51 am
  79. Rani, I agree with 2 but what makes you so sure of 1?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 5:53 am
  80. UTP

    Sorry. I meant …

    The prime minister of Lebanon should have the balls …

    It doesn’t matter actually who proposes it. But it should be proposed and debated.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 5, 2010, 6:19 am
  81. Peter,
    My point was those in favour arent looking for yet another flashpoint and those against wouldnt get their 60%.

    Irrespective of Israeli howls of derision, I personall prefer logic to trusting the world reknowned sincerity of Israelis.

    My logic?

    Almost half of the water currently used in Israel is captured, diverted or preempted from its neighbors.

    Its coastal aquifers are at breaking point in terms of salination, its major source of water, the Sea of Galilee is well below the levels considered sustainable.

    Its in talks with the Palestinians over a state that would demand far more than the 10% of water the Palestinans currently get

    Its groundwater sources are increasingly brackish.

    The Litani could provide anything from 25% to 50% of Israels water requirements

    Chaim Weizmann, head of the World Zionist Organization : “Lebanon is well-watered and the Litani is valueless to the territory north of the proposed frontiers. They can be used beneficially in the country much further south.”

    “the Litani was essential to the future of the Jewish national home”

    Moshe Dayan, after the 1967 war
    “Israel has acheived provisionally satisfying frontiers, with the exception of those with Lebanon”

    David Ben Gurion
    “the waters of the Jordan River and the Litani Rive must be included in the borders of the future Jewish state for it to survive”

    Now hey, I could be wrong. Their fabulous desalinization tech may yet prove enough, but I’m not willing to take the chance. Are you?

    Posted by usedtopost | October 5, 2010, 6:40 am
  82. UTP, hmm good answers up there! If you would continue to oblige me…

    – you say “the state to step up and actually fulfill the duty that everyone seems to believe is its right […]All you need for there to be no “reason then for the “Resistance”” is an army that is capabale of defending the people.”
    What’s wrong with the army now? and/or what will be wrong with if HA merges with it under the authority of the official government?? Also, how does the state “step up and actually fulfill the duty that everyone seems to believe its right” ?
    – If the shoe was on the other foot and some kind of Christian militia, uh, let’s say, for the sake of argument, Greek Orthodox (to avoid the implication, in saying Maronite, that it is the Lebanese Forces which it is not), so let’s say such a militia had better military capbilities than the Lebanese Army, there was no military part to HA, and this Christian militia was getting all its support from Greece and had a beef with Turkey that it was fighting from across the northern border, infiltrating into Syria, and launching attacks across the Syrian-Turkish border, intimidating the unarmed population, staging sit-ins until its representative get veto power in any government under the claim of governance by consensus, threatening to “cut the arms” of any one who dare challenge its weapons, etc., how would YOU feel about that?

    – the following is not a question. I need to make clear, and maybe apologize if anything I wrote intended otherwise, that I don’t equate Shia with HA, that I have full respect for the religion (of course the religion is Islam, but I mean the Shia version of Islam), for the rights of its adherents, for the intellect, discipline, and poise of many of its adherents, for those who identify with it while perhaps not being devout. HA is an activist political movement which draws some of its inspiration from parts of the Shia faith, including, as SHN himself indicates, the rule of the Faqih. I mean no disrespect to any individual Shia nor to Shia as a group, and certainly not to you.

    – I wonder whether the above is widely reciprocated by members of HA ? What say you?

    – Why is it that you oppose a peace treaty with Israel? What is your view of how the conflict should be resolved?

    – On the last point you addressed, I respect your opinion but I strongly disagree with you.
    What precipitated much of the catastrophes that befell Lebanon is the state-within-the-state that the PLO created starting in 1969. State-within-the-state is a recipe for disaster. What wrong did the Lebanese government do then?
    What wrong is the Lebanese government doing now that we need a state-within-the-state? Was it not democratically elected according to the existing constitution?

    – Why do you think some people have a deep seated fear of HA and don’t trust their long term intentions?

    – You are genteel in your approach and you elicit an impression of reason, logic, and decency. I see this neither in the declarations nor in the actions of any official from HA. And it is not because of lack of clarity or of eloquence or of erudition of any of those spokespersons. Do you appreciate why I view those declarations with suspicion of a hidden agenda?

    Thanks again for engaging.

    And David, sorry for contributing so much. If you think the back and forth I elicit is hijacking somehow this blog or for some reason is getting in the way of sensible people to contribute, please reiterate this point and I’ll look into taking a long break.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 6:42 am
  83. UTP, @81, very interesting, I didn’t know this stuff about the statements you quote. Well, definitely Lebanon should defend its borders. Defense is one thing however, and offense and carrying the flag of the Palestinian cause when the country is the smallest and weakest of those who could or should be doing this makes absolutely no sense. Regardless of what some one-time wishes may have been, is it at all reasonable to expect any jeopardy of the Litani by Israel now ?? On what grounds? Under what pretext? Is the world community going to stand by idly in case of such aggression? How different would such an aggression be from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iraq? Sorry, I don’t see it.

    Then again, HA threatening Israel may well be the excuse they need, no?

    Here’s a question, during the 1982-2000 period, did the Israeli do anything to divert the Litani or make use of its waters? Did they try to install settlements? Their behavior is not consistent with your concerns. Again, I don’t see it.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 6:50 am
  84. HP,
    What’s wrong with the army now? Seriously? You mean other than the fact that it is ill equipped, its best tanks are Korean War era, it has no air defence and very little heavy weaponary?

    and/or what will be wrong with if HA merges with it under the authority of the official government?

    Simply put, HA’s success is based on secrecy. Considering the number of spies caught in the last year, including army officers, how long would that secrecy be manintained?

    How does the state “step up and actually fulfill the duty that everyone seems to believe its right” ?

    Build a capabale army. Maybe accept the offer from Iran for the same weaponary it provides the Resistance rather than the firecrackers it gets from the US?

    In your “If the shoe was on the other foot” scenarion, you leave out one important aspect (despite including actions that I have stipulated are untrue). If in your scenario, Turkey had been guilty of launching repeated attacks on the towns and villages that this militia represented then I would probably support them they way I do Hizballah. My support for the Resistance and the fact that I am Shia is not mutual.

    What aspects of my thoughts are shared by members of Hizballah is not a question I can answer unfortunately.

    I oppose a peace treaty with Israel because I do not accept or recognize a colonial state built on the corpses of fellow Arabs. How the conflict is resolved is up to the Palestinians. Lebanon, as you wish, does not need to be at war with Israel, but that does not mean I accept them or want anything to do with them.

    In regards to the state-within…question. Firstly, in regards to the PLO and what happened to percipitate the civil war, I strongly recommend you read the book Beware of Small States. The Palestinians have become the scapegoat for that war, but that war was going to happen, PLO or not.

    Today, the complaint is to do with Hizballah. I presume you do not mind the services it provides that the state usually does (as the state probably cannot afford to do it) and I presume you are specifically referring to the weapons?

    If so, let me put it you like this:

    You live in a house. The house is attacked by vandals. The vandals live very close and you fear they will return. You go to the police but the police tell you that they dont have the ability/willingness to take on the vandals. So the vandals return and damage your house again, and again the Police tell you the same thing.

    Ae you within your rights to then decide to find a way to protect your own house yourself?

    If you say no, then that i where we differ. If you say yes, then lets take it a step further. The vandals not only attack your house but every house on your street. So everyone on your street decides to defend their own home.

    Does it then not make sense for the street to work together? To pool resources? To take turns standing guard rather than everyone doing so at the same time?

    Now it wouldn’t be that you actually want to be doing this would it? you have a live to lead, a family to feed and nothing would make you happier than for the police to show up and say they will after all stop the vandals.

    Does this make sense?

    Why do I think some people have a deep seated fear of HA and don’t trust their long term intentions?

    Well you said it yourself. Their initial goals of an Islamic state dont help. The hook up between its political enemies and its international enemies means the resources available to spread fear about them are huge – In fact considering the strength of their enemies and the resources at their disposal perhaps the question is why they continueto have the support they do have.

    I appreciate that you see things differently. The framework of our discussion is not a life or death struggle. For them it is, because the end goal is the removal of the arms. Have you wondered why the US is so eager to see these arms removed? For the sake of the Lebanese? Where was that worry for the Lebanese in 78, 82, 90, 96 and 06?

    Or to put it another way, would the discussion be this genteel if our mutual debater was a “danny” type of debater?

    You ask is it at all reasonable to expect any jeopardy of the Litani by Israel now? My response is hope for the best, prepare for the worst. It may never happen is no reson to give up any defence to it happening is it?

    You ask if the world community is going to stand by idly in case of such aggression?

    Ok, let me answer with a question. Has the world community ever stopped Israel from doing what it wants to do?

    HA don’t threaten Israel. They threaten to take on Israel if it attacks Lebanon. What other threats are you aware of? Hizballah has threatend to invade Israel? And if these arms are not an existentialist threat to Israel and if we beleive that Hizballah does not as a matter of course do cross border attacks without reason, then why are they so threatend by the arms? If invasion of any kind is not on the agenda?

    Between 82 and 2000 the South was never safe enough for them to start any settlements. There were reports of use of some the water, but as I understand it, they did not control enough of Lebanon to adequately exploit the river.

    The odd thing is this. You fear hidden agendas from Hizballah that I do not see, while I fear the same from Israel that you do not. But I understand why you fear the things you do, even if I don’t agree with them. Do you?

    I also apologise for this thread hijack. Maybe we should take it elsewhere….:)

    Posted by usedtopost | October 5, 2010, 7:45 am
  85. Mo,

    What comes first? the chicken or the egg? HA hijacks all the institutions; forbids the army from entering south of Litany (till 2006…when they were forced); colludes with Syria to make castrate the army through 1990-2005; uses money attained from selling contraband; gets bought by Iran in the tune of millions per year;…then you ask where is the state?
    Has HA EVER been held accountable on HOW they can afford to provide those services? Please let us know how many thousands of HA & Amal “cadres” are on state payroll as ghost employees?

    Please spare us the circuitous logic of trying to explain the existence and brutality of HA. You don’t want peace with Israel? Really? Do you live in a vacuous time continuum in the Star Trek Generations?

    Live long and prosper.

    Posted by danny | October 5, 2010, 9:22 am
  86. HP,

    You are being intellectually unfair. You want Rani and me to prove a negation to you. You claim that some parties in Israel want a greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates. We tell you, there is no such party because we never heard of such party and we live in Israel. If you have proof otherwise, show us the evidence. Otherwise, you have just fallen for propaganda.

    Posted by AIG | October 5, 2010, 9:31 am
  87. About Litani and water.
    Presently 100% of the Litani river water is utilized by Lebanon. If you live in Lebanon you can go now to the river mouth, it simply does not flow, what is trickling by the end of summer does not have the quality of drinking water.
    The whole ME is short of water. It will be getting dryer. Turkey has taken much of the Syrian and Iraqi water and very little was said, Turkey is strong and that is the ME. Water wise Syria is in a very bad shape. So is much of east Lebanon. Israel is presently supplying water to Jordan and Gaza, based on various international agreements. The water supplied to Gaza is desalinated sea water. Israel is planing its future water supplies on desalination. It is not expensive taking in account pumping expenses etc.
    The citations given above about Israel and the Litani are not dated and are obsolete.
    No body in Israel is planing to use the Litani river and the plans are for the next 15 – 20 years. It is clear that much of the middle east will be using manufactured water more and more. Supplying water needs is based on long term planing.
    I guess it can be claimed that Israel is planing to kill all the Lebanese and take their water and on that premis base the national policy of Lebanon. If learned Lebanese believe that one early morning there will be no water in Israel and then the Israeli army will invade Lebanon, kill the people and steal the water and on that base their international relations it is their problem and serious one.

    Posted by Rani | October 5, 2010, 9:41 am
  88. HP,

    So now you hit the dead end. All the Arab nations combined cannot defend against Israel but the Hizballah condition for disarming is that the Lebanese army can defend Lebanon.

    When will you concede that peace is irrelevant to the issue?

    In any case, it seems that Hizballah’s current line is that they won’t attack Israel unless Israel attacks them. If that is true, Hizballah’s weapons are not a problem whatsoever for Israel.

    Posted by AIG | October 5, 2010, 9:47 am
  89. UTP, thank you for all the posts. You’re a true gentleman. We’ll have to agree to disagree on a few items and time will clarify things hopefully. I learned a lot from reading your posts and as someone else said it’s refreshing to hear opposing points of view expressed clearly and politely.

    AIG, OK, I can’t say that I know anything for certain so I’ll let go of pushing the fact that extremists exist everywhere.
    Interestingly, did you notice that you and UTP agree that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is separate from the HA arms issue and that one need not affect the resolution of the other. It goes to show you that sometimes one agrees strongly with folks hat one otherwise disagrees with very strongly (on other matters). I’ll let you and UTP duke it out if you guys are still in the mood. I’ve read and written a lot here lately. I guess it will take some time to digest all this and maybe be helped by some clarifying developments on the ground.

    One sure is clear, the Middle East is a pretty messy place and as impervious to understanding as ever.

    Best to all…

    Your message was heard loud and clear, david, we’ll now enjoy reading your posts and maybe posts of other interesting folks who, now that the hijacking is going to end (or at least be suspended) might, if you’re right, begin chiming in.

    Cheers david!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 12:24 pm
  90. AIG

    I used to hear that a lot of Israelis were looking a way out of having to live in Israel.

    A hypothetical question.

    If given the opportunity, how many Israelis would rather live in Europe and the US than in Israel?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 5, 2010, 12:39 pm
  91. Isreal may not be siphoning any of the Litani right now but that is only a matter of geographic circumstance. Israel has shown that when it comes to water everyone has to play by their rules. Case in point wazzani river


    Posted by tamer k. | October 5, 2010, 12:51 pm
  92. Peter,

    I don’t know. I’ll try to find some polls. I think it changes with the economic and security situations. There is less unemployment now in Israel than in the US and Europe. I have a friend that manages a construction project in Romania but his wife and kids are in Israel and he flies home every weekend. Just like from Lebanon, central Europe is just 3-4 hours flight away and the Tel-Aviv-Haifa-Jerusalem triangle as a quality of living comparable to most Western European cities.

    Posted by AIG | October 5, 2010, 1:29 pm
  93. HP,

    I do not “agree” with UTP. Unlike you I listen to him and interpret what he says in the most straight forward manner. I do not live in denial. UTP is not an extremist in Lebanon, his views represent those of 30%+ of Lebanese.

    His views I have learned to live with. What I always find disappointing is liberals like you not being able to stand up for your own ideas. There is nothing for me and UTP to duke out. We understand each other very well. We have irreconcilable world views and value systems and we are both willing to bear arms to protect our way of life.

    It is YOU that do not understand him. It is you that is trying to paint a rosy picture that just by sitting and talking or by others doing something your problems will be solved. In the battle of wills between liberalism and the Hizballah world view, you have been squarely defeated. Another fact one has to accept.

    Posted by AIG | October 5, 2010, 1:48 pm
  94. AIG, ??, I don’t know how you are so sure of yourself painting a picture of folks from your interpretation of blog postings. I’m not sure what you mean by liberal, etc., and it’s quite strange that you say you understand UTP but have a beef with me. Anyway, maybe you’re playing a game or maybe you’re just too young to understand that being polite in posting doesn’t imply any of the things you think they imply. Frankly, AIG, I think you’re not consistent and on occasion you’re very strange. I’m tired. I don’t want to argue any more.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 2:06 pm
  95. From observation I think HP is willing to give even Ahmedinajad the benefit of the doubt and this I think originates from good intentions and the will to find solutions.

    It is true world affairs are not black or white but when it comes to Israel’s right to exist HA is very black on this issue. So trying to find common ground here is an exercise in futility.

    Posted by V | October 5, 2010, 2:28 pm
  96. When the history of America’s decline in the new millennium is written, I imagine scholars will marvel at how much time and effort U.S. leaders spent trying to influence the behavior of enemies who seemed beyond the reach of our threats…. Iran and Hizbullah are a case in point. It appears our frequent threats have served mainly to raise that stature of the theocratic Iranian regime at the expense of American credibility in the region….

    Posted by cvghfx | October 5, 2010, 2:29 pm
  97. cvghfx,
    What stature and what credibility are you talking about? What is it that you are inhaling? 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 5, 2010, 3:12 pm
  98. About greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.
    In such supper state the Jews will be a minority. Most Jews that like to live in Israel, I personally knew Israelis that gave back a “Green card”, do so because they like to live among their people on their land. Some Lebanese on this blog are like that. In such super state the majority of the population and the way of life will be different and it will be rulled by the Islamic majority. If I, or others like me, who fought and lost members of their family in fighting for Israel will have to live like Dahimies, like the Jews now in Iran or Yeman we will fight like mad against any Israeli who will try to put us in such situation. As I told you, there is no political party in Israel that suggest such stupidity.
    I am named after a Grandfather who died fighting Arabs in 1929. And as I told you some of my family left south Lebanon to the Galilee starting at about 1860 to go and live among Jews. Others from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Libya had to do the same or live like Dahimies or be exterminated as was the case in Lebanon. We have no wish to go back to that situation in so called greater Israel.
    If some of you care to remember Lebanon was created also to give the native Christians in the Levant a place of their own. Now they are a minority, many of them are showing their opinion about it by buying air plane tickets. In a greater Israel that will be the fate of the Jews.
    Just a question. I have never heard the word “Shia” in my house, always “Metualis” this or “Metualis” that, why was it so?

    Posted by Rani | October 5, 2010, 3:15 pm
  99. Rani,

    Good question (and good point you make). See the following text taken from this link:

    “The term “Metwali” actually means “Shiite”… The two words are “technically” interchangeable. In arabic, “Shiite” originally means “follower” (loose translation) as in the “Shiites of Ali”, but can also be used with a more mundane meaning as for the “Shiites of olives”, or the teams of villagers hired seasonally to pick the olives, for example. Over time, the word Shiite became used to describe the followers of Ali.
    “Metwali” comes from “Moutawall li Ali”, another version of “followers of Ali”… But over time, the use word was often used in a derogatory manner.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 5, 2010, 3:33 pm
  100. Just like the Jews were (are still sometimes) discriminated against and given various degrading names and references, the Shia also have suffered this in Lebanon and rest of the Arab World.

    Posted by V | October 5, 2010, 3:34 pm
  101. In answer to David’s question about the criticism that non-Lebanese journalists, writing in English, are captive to Hezbollah or paint a rosy picture: yes, I am quite familiar with the argument and have seen it deployed at me and at colleagues at various junctures. There’s often a shrill ad hominem element to the attacks, but there’s a serious element to it as well.
    Sure, most of the people making this argument are opinion journalists or ideologues with their own axe to grind (and not rarely, their axe might have been sharpened or oiled by the Lebanese Renaissance Foundation). But the question remains, does the Western press pull its punches when writing about Hezbollah? Does it give Hezbollah a free pass?
    There’s certainly a totalitarian strain in Hezbollah, and it is a theocratic party. In areas under its control, Hezbollah manages the street tightly. Some parts of the Dahieh and the Bekaa feel more restricted, more like a police state, than Damascus or Cairo. Other parts of the Dahieh and of Hezbollah’s areas in the south are far freer, both for the locals and for the working foreign reporter.
    Now if you take Western mainstream media coverage of Hezbollah on the whole, you’ll probably find that if anything Hezbollah’s police-state-like apparatus and totalitarian behaviors are overemphasized. In other words, if there’s a structural bias to the coverage, it runs against a full and accurate portrayal of Hezbollah’s activities and ideology. You’ll read a lot more about Hezbollah’s fire-and-brimstone about Israel in the Western media, but you won’t find much about their views on electoral districting, telecommunications, or defense reform.
    Then again, if you look more broadly at some of the documentaries and longer-form work out there, you’ll also find a small current of work whose efforts at empathy and fairness tilt into something that sounds like rosy admiration, something like romanticism.
    Frankly, such work is the exception and it’s still useful. If a documentary maker wins access to Al Manar’s headquarters, or to the Mahdi Schools, or to the inner sanctum of the Martyrs Foundation, because the documentary maker actively sympathizes with Hezbollah, that’s fine; the bias will be clear to the viewer, and the viewer still will encounter information that more fully fleshes out the portrait of Hezbollah.
    On a slightly different level, in my time in Beirut, I have encountered a lot of what I call “Hezbollah groupies,” sometimes Lebanese and sometimes foreign, who think that Hezbollah has never done anything untoward, anything wrong, or had a single bad motive. These folks don’t live anywhere near a Hezbollah neighborhood, and they often harangue me about Hezbollah without bothering to learn what I actually think, and usually, I learn, they’ve spent hardly any time inside Hezbollah’s community. These groupies, though, aren’t writing about Hezbollah in the mainstream media.

    Posted by Thanassis Cambanis | October 5, 2010, 3:41 pm
  102. Thanassis,
    I am afraid that romanticism plays a much bigger role in some western press coverage of some revolutionary/rogue elements than you are willing to admit. And that is understandable.
    The reason that I am cautious when I read descriptive material, about any topic, is that it does not contribute much to my understanding of the dynamics of an issue. Many

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 5, 2010, 5:06 pm
  103. Thanassis,
    I have no idea what happened; the internet ate 3/4 of my post. Sorry about that but I am not in a position to repost at the moment.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 5, 2010, 5:13 pm
  104. The ignorance here is depressing. And AIG, if I wake up one morning and discover that my nationality has changed and that I am now a member of a legally mandated minority in a new country and that all public lands are now the property of the the “National Fund” of the community of immigrants that have founded this country of which I am not quite a citizen, then how would you define what has happened?
    And “honest patriot” [patriotism being the last refuge of a what now?] How is the dream of a “Jewish state” any different than the dreams of Jorg Haider or any other European nativist? How is Israel modern? From Haaretz

    Nothing was done about the rumors of beatings and lootings of Arabs and the everyday abuse of the local population; but telling the press about it was considered unconscionable. One soldier in the unit, who now works in marketing, says without sarcasm, “All that happened was that a few soldiers decided to call themselves the ‘Mengele squad,’ to set themselves apart from the others – a kind of branding.”
    In a follow-up story, Haaretz correspondent Dan Sagir interviewed a deputy company commander in the armored corps whose unit served in Jenin at the start of the intifada. “The battalion knew we were a company of ‘killers,'” the officer – the son of Holocaust survivors – related. “We were for an aggressive solution. We tried to shoot using all means, we injected gas into schools from which stones were thrown at us. In the battalion we were known as the ‘Auschwitz company’ or the ‘Demjanjuks’ because we made such extensive use of gas.” (Sagir also mentioned another, far older example: the facility where paratroopers are taught to deal with the jolt of the straps when the parachute opens is called “Eichmann” by the soldiers. )

    Rani if you want your little home you better get the settlers out of the west bank. Likud is giving you a “greater israel” whether you want it or not.
    And the tiny group of idiot who dream of the greater greater Israel:
    Bead Artzein.

    And who said this?: “Iran needs to remove the mullahs from power once for all… and return to a great civilization without the Arab-style clerics who have tainted and destroyed the country for the past 31 years.”
    Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff.
    The both probably want to be Putin.

    Some guides for the perplexed.

    http://www.jeremiahhaber.com/ -Orthodox Jew
    http://conflictsforum.org/- What is sounds like
    http://www.raceforiran.com/ – The Leveretts
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/ – Stephen Walt
    http://justworldnews.org/- A nice quaker lady who’s tasked now and then with sending messages from the IDF to Hamas.
    http://tonykaron.com/ -A south African Jew
    http://www.arabist.net/- An Egyptian Journalist
    http://electronicintifada.net/- Yes

    Posted by disgusted | October 5, 2010, 11:08 pm
  105. GK,

    The coterie is all powerful; attempt to engage it and your words will be stricken from the universe. More seriously, a request: please refer to specific examples in the case of Lebanon to make whatever your point.


    You would be wise to ignore anything I have to say. My point, actually, was just trying to keep the comments related to the post, so that some casual readers could contribute without having to spend 40 minutes going through the comment section. But like I say above, continue on, as I enjoy reading your thoughts, you are a paragon of civility, and you cannot quit QN anyway … 🙂


    Thanks for your reply, and 1000 apologies for mangling the spelling of your name. Many of your impressions are mine. I am entirely sure how “totalitiarian” any part of the Dahiyeh is, though. I am a former resident of DC, and there one cannot escape some rather Kafkaesque security environments/conditions. The comparison, however, is probably not apt for any number of reasons (perhaps the American fortress at Awkar is a better one?). Regardless, I have actually always found HA to be almost naive in their security precautions. Almost.

    As a side note, probably best to distinguish between the Lebanon Renaissance Foundation and NowLebanon (Quantum). Obviously, Khoury and some others link the two, but until the sources of their respective funding become more clear, conflating the two may (repeat: may) be a descriptive error.

    I also found much humor in Barry Rubin’s suggestion that you were chairing weekly NSC meetings on engaging Hizbullah.

    Thanks again, and good luck with the book.

    Posted by david | October 6, 2010, 12:13 am
  106. One further thought:

    The totalitarian extent of Hizbullah should probably be broken down into three (all of Gaul, some guy said after vacationing in France): rhetoric, security and organization. With room for how the three interact (an extremely complex phenomenon). IMO, HA is so constitutively sectarian in such a very Lebanese way, it cannot be totalitarian, even if it wanted to be, which I doubt for the constitutive reasons: Lebanon’s gordian knot, and all that.

    Posted by david | October 6, 2010, 12:56 am
  107. David,
    The descriptive narratives concentrate on the visible day to day developments and activities of a group. A description of a charismatic leader, an interview with supporters and attending rallies organized by a group are informative but they do not deal with the real issues that are essential to the understanding of the phenomenon. As interesting as iy might be to visit the Dahyeih or have an encounter with Sayed Nassrallah it is vastly more important to ask whether there is room for a theocracy and further more whether such a movement is sustainable. What does Hezbollah want and can it become a legitimate movement when it acts as a rogue group with selfish interests . To tell me a few anecdotes about what happened during the 2006 war is interesting but not as much as an analysis of why did Hzbollah seek the war, can their actions that inflicted damage all across the country be justified. Can their tactics of paralyzing government and affecting the welfare of millions be justified? Are the “gains” wort the price that is being paid? How does one explain the contradiction that the movement whose aim is the destruction of the state of Israel has not been either generous or hospitable to the Palestinians in Lebanon….. I guess that I am looking for a book about Hezbollah that would be similar to the books authored by Tarik Ali and Ahmed Rashid. In the second prologue to War and Peace Tolstoy states we :” should study not the manifestations of power but the causes that produce it.”

    And BTW, I do agree with the point about the comments vis a vis the post to which they are attached. It does seem that very often readers write about whatever they feel like saying irrespective of whether the comment is related to the post or not. At times it is difficult to stay within the confines of the host’s poat but maybe we should try harder to address the issues raised by the posted opinion.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 6, 2010, 1:45 am
  108. GK,

    1) Agree as to self-moderation on content of comments.

    2) I sincerely hope you appreciate how easy it would be for me and/or others to crack all the assumptions built into your questions. I won’t do so, because while I very much believe in a “first things” approach, I intend to respect #1, and because these formulations are largely the fodder of Lebanese political debates over the last four years (ie, manifestations).

    3) That being said, once QN posts again, I will provide a more full answer in this space if I get the time.

    4) Of course, it is best to have both analytic and descriptive together, but it is rare, and hard to do. Indeed, most intelligence agencies bifurcate in exactly this way: those who gather, don’t analyze. (Unless, of course, your planning to invade Iraq — yuk, yuk, yuk).

    Posted by david | October 6, 2010, 3:01 am
  109. Thanks for the information. How little we know of each other. I, as a child, was under the impression that “metuali” was the correct, respected, name and you were not supposed to call some body “Shia”.
    As we deal with “episotic” book here is a story, an early Levantine memory. Now you will be able to guess at my age. Many years ago, as a small child, in an unpaved street, here came this rider, beautifully dressed on a beautiful horse, decorated and all that. He stopped and called, rather commanded, a bystander totally strange to him, and the fellow came meekly to the horse. He then bent, on the not very clean street soil, with one hand on the dirt, like a bench, and the rider went off the horse by stepping on his back. The rider then tapped the man very lightly, gentely, with the “Kurbach” and went away. And my grandfather said, in admiration and respect: “look at the great Metuali Bek”. Now: when you talk about the deep poverty among the Shia it should be remembered that South Lebanon was realy a feudalistic society till very very late and on top there were some supper rich great Shia-Metuali land lords. Some later became “nationalistic” members in the Leb. parlament and some of their grandchildren or great grandchildren are now preaching Marxism in France and the USA. Much of the inequality suffered by the Leb. Shia was internal, within their society.
    Thank you for the time and the place.

    Posted by Rani | October 6, 2010, 3:09 am
  110. 1.David, Thanassis, Ghassan, is your discussion about embedded journalism?

    2.David #106, could you explain how “being so constitutively sectarian” would be a safeguard for becoming totalitarian?

    3.How is it that the “opposition” journalism in Lebanon is never scrutinized about it’s funding , unlike the pro-M14?

    Posted by mj | October 6, 2010, 3:49 am
  111. When the history of America’s chaotic decline in the new millennium is written, I imagine scholars will marvel at how much time and effort U.S. leaders spent trying to influence the behavior of enemies who seemed beyond the reach of our threats…. the Taliban, Iran and Hezbollah are a case in point. It appears our frequent threats have served mainly to raise that stature of the theocratic Iranian regime at the expense of American credibility in the region and the World for that matter….

    Posted by cvghfx | October 6, 2010, 8:24 am
  112. TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    William Butler Yeats

    Posted by cvghfx | October 6, 2010, 8:38 am
  113. cvghfx,
    This is the second time in two days that you cut and paste the same paragraph and then post it although it is not related to the current thread on the blog. As if that act of inconsideration is not enough, you follow that by a poem by Yates and then by another tirade.
    I hope that you would limit your comments, if any, to the topic on hand and that you will refrain from using this platform to simply spread propaganda. As you well, know, I am only one of the readers of this Blog and I can assure you that the practices that you are embarked upon are bound to have a very negative effect on the readership and could eventually suffocate this platform. Unfortunately I have seen this sad process happen over and over again only when the readers abuse the freedom that they have been given.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 6, 2010, 10:32 am
  114. Yes, and please use a real email address.


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 6, 2010, 10:34 am
  115. WOW, all of you guys ganging up because you don’t like someone telling something you don’t agree with…Y’all are spewing M14th propaganda here day in and day out and frankly what you say is so repetitive it is beyond boring…You also have a tendency not to respond to core issues when you don’t agree with someone’s views by resorting to cheap tactics, hate speech, trivializing, attacking the messenger or simply…it’s a conspiracy theory…..

    Posted by Jhon | October 6, 2010, 11:16 am
  116. Which blog are you reading Jhon? There are many different opinions here and the standards, by and large, are some of the best you can see on any blog of this nature. “cvghfx” doesn’t use a real email so the moderator can’t email him, posts poems, re-posts by cut-and-paste earlier items he already said, and engages in endless tirades without substance. We get the points he’s making about someone who is a Jew and who has different perspectives. This and arguments related to it are fine. It’s the harrassing extraneous material, repeated over and over, that makes it tiring and irrelevant. We would react the same way to someone with opposing views who behaved in the same manner.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 6, 2010, 11:38 am
  117. With all the hubub about the Syrian arrest warrants of late, one has to wonder why the Lebanese judiciary doesn’t (or can’t) issue summons or warrants on Rustom Ghazaleh or some of his lackeys, in relation to the many disappearances between 1990 and 2005.

    (Yes. I know. That’s not related to the topic at hand. But the Syrian arrest warrant issue hasn’t been discussed much around here)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 6, 2010, 12:49 pm
  118. GK,
    I have to disagree
    On the topic of Leo Strauss HA and other fundamentalists, may I point you to a BBC documentary “the power of nightmares” which tries to highlight the similarities between them.

    As for the book, I will definetly get and read it, hopefully in time to be able to share (I’m a slow reader)

    Posted by IHTDA | October 6, 2010, 12:55 pm
  119. Neither has Ahmedinajad’s upcoming visit to Lebanon.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 6, 2010, 1:55 pm
  120. BV,

    Raad would call that incitement of sedition although there are live witnesses (who were subjected to the beatings) to the torture administered by Mr. Ghazali and Jamaa Jamaa of the Syrian mukhabaart.
    Every time we ask for Justice and fairness we are labeled as Traitors!

    Whatever happened to the warrant issued for Jameel Sayyed?

    Posted by danny | October 6, 2010, 3:01 pm
  121. Danny,

    Indeed. Sedition works both ways. I wish people would start seeing some of the ridiculous double standards in play on a daily basis.

    Either the law is the law, and warrants should be served (be it Sayyed or Ghazali or whoever the Syrians have summoned), or there is no law, in which case, let’s stop pretending there is one.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 6, 2010, 4:00 pm
  122. mj,

    3) Don’t you read HuffPost? If you do, you would know ICG dude Peter Harling moonlights for Champress on the weekends?

    More seriously, do a little work, name some names, and I will look into it.

    Posted by david | October 6, 2010, 11:07 pm
  123. The only reason why I would buy this book, regarding the interview, is to get one more example of how academics/experts/journalists are digesting Hizbullah and turning it as a new item in their “champ scientifique”.
    In some way, the publication of this new essay is a non event – with all due respect to the author and to the excellent questions asked by QF – because in such books, you learn more about academia/expertise than about the object academics/experts claim to investigate.

    Though, it is always interesting to see how an object is transformed to fit in the expertise discourse.

    You also learn for whom the expertise discourse about Hizbullah is truly useful : not surprisingly, AIG claimed he was interested in reading that stuff.

    I would rather advise – as already suggested another commentator – the reading of Beware of Small States.
    The chapter devoted to Hassan Nasrallah’s transformation of Hizbullah is much more nuanced than Thanassis Cambanis’ essentialist and biased judgement that “Iran’s relationship to Hezbollah is symbiotic”.

    Posted by quelqu'une | October 7, 2010, 11:25 am
  124. Interesting book recommendation, quelqu’une.
    I might pick that up for a read.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 7, 2010, 2:14 pm
  125. BV,
    It is a superb book.

    Posted by ghassan karam | October 7, 2010, 3:21 pm
  126. Picked it up at lunchtime. Will be reading that tonight.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 7, 2010, 4:51 pm
  127. QN, HP,

    Great to visit after a long time away. This blog has developed so much (QN mabrouk on all the media locations where this blog is quoted). Before I join, could someone bring me up to date a bit? Have we Israelis already “hijacked” QN’s blog, as we used to do on SC? I need to know how much hijacking I’m about to partake in myself… 🙂

    On a serious note, great to see some of you guys here again – Zenobia, that includes you too!!! Will try to contribute whenever I can. Hopefully, not too much nonsense…

    Posted by Shai | October 10, 2010, 8:43 am
  128. Welcome back, Shai. No hijacking here. Good exchanges and a good dose of sense of humor. Good diversity of opinions although some have accused the blog of being dominated by “rabid M14ers” which is not really reflective of the reality.


    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 10, 2010, 9:35 am
  129. Shai, welcome back. Good to see you here.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 10, 2010, 10:48 am
  130. HP,

    I didn’t read all the comments on this post, but I read most. I want to make a few points regarding Israel and Lebanon, and to ask a question or two.

    First, I believe if Syria clarified that the 2 villages belong to Lebanon, Israel might still hold on to them, until a final agreement is reached with Lebanon (presumably still after Syria). What might occur, logically, after such a declaration by Syria, is renewed but limited pressure by HA on Israel. Perhaps a few rockets here and there. Nothing major. And Israel would retaliate with artillery, also nothing major. But HA will be able to come back to the Lebanese and say “You see, we’re going to liberate our land from the Zionists”, and Israel will be able to say to the Israelis “You see, we’re continuing to fight that Hezbollah (that wants our destruction)…” Almost win-win for both sides.

    Why do you believe Syria isn’t making this point clear? After all, in theory and in practice, this is a Syrian-Lebanese issue that has to be dealt with. What “card” does Syria maintain by keeping this issue ambiguous?

    Second, I do want to go back to the Palestinian issue. I seriously doubt Israel can sign a Peace treaty with the Palestinians as long as Hamas is not involved or gives its blessing. If a joint-government is formed, and Hamas is somehow represented in Talks, then an agreement is absolutely possible. It would mean, at the end of the day, implicit recognition by Israel of Hamas, and vice versa. It’s probably the only way to get to a comprehensive Peace Agreement. But two questions: First, will HA disarm if a Peace Agreement is reached with the Palestinians (with or without Hamas involvement)? And second, will HA disarm if Israel and Syria sign an agreement, and arrangements are underway for Lebanon to follow suit (i.e. before the Palestinian issue is concluded)?

    At the moment, I am clearly for progress along the Syrian/Lebanese tracks, even before Hamas and Fatah mend their differences. Assad is giving every indication that he doesn’t see the establishment of a Palestine as prerequisite for Peace with Israel. From Syria’s point of view, if the Golan was promised to them tomorrow morning, I believe they’ll sign an agreement tonight. Would the Lebanese people allow Lebanon to remain the last Arab neighbor not to sign an agreement with Israel, simply because HA is still armed?

    In Israel, of course, business as usual. The Right keeps thinking that building in the West Bank betters our chances of “getting more” in some future two-state solution, The Left (all 13 out of 120 that’s left of it…) keeps crying Wolf, but prefers the fine-leather seats of the Coalition over the simple-leather ones of the Opposition, and on the ground a one-state solution is nearing us all faster than we care to notice. The McCarthyist anti-Liberals are barking “Anti-Zionist” at any Israeli that dares mention the concept of Human Rights, while actively destroying the Zionist Dream with their own hands.

    I’m still waiting for Abu Mazen to announce the End of the Dream of Palestine, and the Acceptance of Israel as the sole sovereign of this territory. I’d pay good money just to see the faces of a few members of Parliament here, like Lieberman et al. Problem is, they really think it’s a joke. And it is, until it’s not.

    Posted by Shai | October 10, 2010, 4:16 pm
  131. Hi, Shai, all good points. It’s interesting and somewhat instructive that you are making many similar points as AIG, mainly that there is no expectation that HA will be willing to disarm or merge with the Lebanese Armed Forces regardless of any peace agreement with either the Palestinians and the Syrians. I would have thought otherwise, since the peace treaties remove the argument of “Resistance” but maybe I’m not seeing the totality of the issues like you seem to do. So I’ll concede that we simply won’t know until such treaties/agreements happen.

    As far as the 2 villages, I do think Syria is purposely refraining from providing the UN with an official declaration that they belong to Lebanon with, importantly, agreement to demarcate the borders so that an official request of withdrawal of Israel from the UN can be issued. It’s a game of interests, obviously, and I don’t think Syrian officials have any interest in mind other than what they perceive to be Syria’s and, perhaps more importantly, their own interest in preserving their power.

    At any rate, it’s very instructive for us here at QN (in my humble opinion) to read your perspectives…
    Note that the latest post is https://qifanabki.com/2010/10/06/lebanon-false-witness/#comments



    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 10, 2010, 9:10 pm
  132. Shai,

    Here is what happens if by some miracle Abbas gets the majority of Palestinians to accept Israeli sovereignty. Israel will accept temporary sovereignty and establish a committee to decide if in fact it wants to accept sovereignty or not and to figure out how to unite the two entities. After a year of deliberation, the committee will recommend accepting sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, and to relinquish sovereignty of others. In effect, if they followed your advice the Palestinians would be giving Israel carte balance to unilaterally implement the two state solution without having to negotiate with the Palestinians and without having to remove even one settlement. There is nothing in international law that states that a nation can decline to be sovereign over certain areas that belong to it (and all the West Bank will belong to Israel according to international law following your recommended move). In the areas Israel decides to keep, the Arabs will be given the right to accept Israeli citizenship if they want it (like in East Jerusalem).

    On another note, one of the main obstacles to peace is the right of return. By accepting Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, he will be relinquishing the right of return. Another reason he will never do it.

    Also, Assad is indeed open to a peace agreement before the Palestinian issue is solved, but he clearly said that he is not open to normalization while the Palestinian issue is not solved. So, we get the situation as it currently stands, but we don’t have the Golan. It would be very hard to sell Israelis this kind of deal.

    Posted by AIG | October 10, 2010, 9:24 pm
  133. HP,

    I’m not at all sure HA won’t disarm. I am interested in the Lebanese perspective. Will most Lebanese demand HA disarm if/when any of the above development occur?


    You said: “the Palestinians would be giving Israel carte balance to unilaterally implement the two state solution without having to negotiate with the Palestinians”

    I disagree. And that’s really the whole point here – that Israel thinks it can pressure the Palestinians into a two-state solution on our terms, where in reality, as long as the Palestinians reject our offers, two states cannot be borne. Only Israel exists, and if the Palestinians give up on their dream of a Palestine, and instead demand to be recognized as Israeli (for having lived under Israeli control and occupation for over 43 years), Israel will have to choose either to incorporate all those Palestinians (4 million of them, if you include Gaza), or withdraw. It is unlikely that Israel can simply withdraw from “certain areas” and not from others. The security issues, of protecting settlement blocks, are way too difficult to just leave up to the good will of the state-less Palestinians left across the fence.

    And that’s where the catch lies – that by giving up on their State, Israel cannot force the Palestinians to accept one “de facto”, and yet we wouldn’t be able to unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank, even if we wanted to. It’s the same with the Golan. If for some odd reason Israel wanted to withdraw, it simply couldn’t, not without agreement by Syria, security arrangements, etc.

    Personally, I don’t think Abu Mazen is strong enough to “give up” on the Palestine dream. But I do think with each day that passes, the Palestinians are thinking more and more along those lines. Better to “give up”, and NOT agree to a separate state, and wait. The minute that happens, your Liebermans’ will be lining up en route to Ramallah, begging the Palestinian leader at the time to accept not only a two-state solution, but Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim along with it. Most Israelis simply have no concept of what is approaching us ahead – a single binational state – if we don’t get our act together quickly. I think Hamas is well aware of that.

    As for Syria, Assad is interested first and foremost in Syria’s interests. And if those include normalizing relations with Israel after an agreement on the return of the Golan is reached, then that’s what they’ll do, just as Egypt and Jordan have. It’s true, and Assad doesn’t have to declare it, that the people on the street are obviously not going to suddenly love Israelis, as long as their Palestinian brethren are under continued occupation and suffocation. But diplomatic, economic, and other relations are very likely to develop, with or without progress on the Palestinian front. Syria is waiting for Israel now, not the other way around. Btw, an interesting latest comment by Assad took place at the recent conference in Libya, where the Syrian President told the Arab League that, unlike Abu Mazen, he does NOT require the League’s “permission” to negotiate with Israel. To me, that’s more-than-a-hint that the Arab League’s interests do not always coincide with Syria’s, and Assad is more than ready to talk business with us.

    Maybe one day, someone here on the Israeli side will actually hear those messages, and interpret them correctly. That would require first getting rid of a good bit of arrogance which, as you know, is not an easy thing to do when you feel you’re “riding on the horse”.

    Posted by Shai | October 11, 2010, 2:06 am
  134. Shai, I used to think that Ankara was Israel’s gateway to the neighborhood. If those Israelis who can see advantages of regional cooperation and markets have more to say about the shape of Israeli relations with those states concerned…..No more US “brokered” cold uneasy peace agreements a la the Hashemite and Mubarak regimes.

    Enough already w/that model.

    HA’s full integration into the Lebanese defense sectors is a possibility @ some point. Be careful what you wish for.

    Posted by lally | October 11, 2010, 3:45 am
  135. Shai, my perspective is that if you held a referendum today in Lebanon (which is not possible) you will see that a majority of Lebanese will vote to have HA become a purely political (and social) movement and have its military wing be integrated with the Lebanese Armed Forces under the full authority of the Lebanese government. This will not happen, however, and as long as HA intends to keep its arms, it will be virtually impossible to force them to do it since they have shown willingness to use the arms internally and they have no military competition internally (the LAF will split if it’s forced to fight HA).

    Now, if a settlement occurs with the Palestinians and/or Syria, the popular pressure for HA to disarm will mount and may reach a point where it is successful, despite HA’s potential military intimidation.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 11, 2010, 5:13 am
  136. Shai,

    Israel can withdraw unilaterally from anywhere it wants. It did so from Lebanon and it did so from Gaza. We are certainly able to do it and we can do it. If the Palestinians make the mistake of giving us sovereignty over the West Bank, they will find themselves ruling small disconnected enclaves, exactly what they don’t want.

    Posted by AIG | October 11, 2010, 9:45 am
  137. lally,

    I agree with you that “cold” peace is something no one’s interested in. But I don’t know of someone better than the U.S. to broker peace talks between any of the sides. Even President Assad recently confirmed this, in reference to Turkey’s inability to again broker between us. The U.S., for better and for worse, will apparently have to be part of any solution.

    As for HA’s “full integration”, I don’t think Israel can have it be any worse than it already is. Any integration will, presumably, entail responsibility towards Decision Makers that today HA does not have. It is a powerful group that runs itself any way it wishes, unaccountable to anyone above it. I can’t see how any future accountability be worse for Israel than an independent HA today.

    Honest Patriot,

    Makes sense what you say.


    Israel cannot withdraw from the West Bank or from the Golan, like it did with S. Lebanon or Gaza. On the Golan, Israel would never accept Syrian forces without agreement (and also after an agreement it is doubtful), and Israel would not risk militias in the West Bank, mere kilometers away from central Israeli cities and heavy population centers, that are not under control of someone on the other side, that made an Agreement with you and can deliver. It will never happen, and you know it.

    Therefore, time only plays in favor of the Palestinians, because the more we build, the less likely a two-state solution becomes.

    Posted by Shai | October 11, 2010, 12:50 pm
  138. Shai. You are a sabra, are you not?

    My government acts as a brake to your government making deals with everyone from Hamas to Syria.

    As long as zionist operatives such as Dennis Ross and Elliot Abrams hold sway, this will continue to be the case. Assad knows the score and that weak Israeli leadership depends on the crutches/cover provided by those in America who are firmly convinced that they know Israeli interests better than Israelis do.

    HA’s integration into the LAF would turn the later into the most formidable “Arab” fighting force in the region. Do you imagine that the Lebanese commanders would shun adaption of the skill sets acquired and refined by Hezbollah’s years of practice on the IDF? Au contraire, their tactical and strategic integration would prove transformative to the much-maligned LAF et al.

    The above scenario is causing much alarm among certain circles of the concerned in DC.

    Posted by lally | October 11, 2010, 2:37 pm
  139. lally,

    Good points. Yes, I am a “sabra” (born in Israel). But I do think you’re giving HA a bit too much credit. Look, one of the major critiques of Olmert during the War (and afterwards) was that he didn’t react harshly enough. That he didn’t enable the Army to really fight a war. There was a good documentary on it a few days ago in Israel, where the soldiers said they were given orders to stay inside buildings, rather than fight as they were taught to fight in war. There was a feeling, dropped down straight from the top, that we should fight, but with minimal cost of lives to our side. You can’t fight a war that way.

    Why am I going on about this point? Because in a “real war” (such as the 1973 one), you’re not going to see 1 million Israelis living underground in shelters for 34 days, because of a group of 2000 combatants that don’t even have a single tank or airplane. If Israel felt it was under an “existential threat” (I put that in quotes for a reason), then it will fight a war like it used to – with no gloves on. We both know, that if Israel wanted to, it could not only destroy most of HA’s capabilities, but it could destroy most of Lebanon’s, as Honest Patriot pointed out. The IAF could have destroyed all of Lebanon’s major infrastructure, completely unchallenged by HA. And if tomorrow god-forbid we have a major war in the region, and HA starts throwing thousands of missiles our way again, I’m sure Israel will not make the same mistake twice, and it will hit Lebanon very hard. I hope it never comes to that of course.

    So HA’s integration into the LAF is not going to create a “formidable” force that can come even close to the armies of Israel, Egypt, KSA, or even Syria (that isn’t equipped with the best Air Force). But HA is still no match for any of the regular armies in the region, if it came to all-out war.

    I very much agree with you, however, that HA still causes much concern in DC. I believe it is more due to the notion that Iran is establishing a Shia foothold in corners of the ME that were otherwise controlled by Sunnis. The U.S. finds this a destabilizing threat that is growing by the day, and since it has not yet “forgiven” Hezbollah for the bombing of the Marine Barracks, it cannot bring itself to recognize HA, or to even communicate with it. The Europeans can, but the U.S. has yet to do that. The U.S. also knows, that HA has the ability to light the match that will blow this entire region into another horrific War, quite possibly dragging Iran, Syria, and Hamas, into all-out scenarios with Israel. The U.S. doesn’t know how Israel would respond, and it is afraid of the possibilities (and rightly so).

    It’s not enough to blame the Jewish Lobby in DC (as many do). There are also non-Jewish reasons for America’s concerns in the region vis-a-vis HA.

    Posted by Shai | October 11, 2010, 3:14 pm
  140. Shai,

    Yes, militias in the west bank are a potential problem, but since Israel would be able to control and divide the territory as it wants, the Palestinian enclaves will be isolated which would make smuggling weapons to the militias very difficult. Israel would still be on the Jordan valley and so none of the Palestinian enclaves would have access to the sea or to an Arab entity. So, your concern about this issue is overblown.

    Posted by AIG | October 11, 2010, 3:56 pm
  141. Mohamad Bazzi, adjunct senior fellow with the powerful Jewish think tank, Council on Foreign Relations (headed by Obama’s senior adviser on ME, Zionist Jew Richard Haass) in an interview from Lebanon said that “the United States must eventually reach out to Hizbullah”, in order to save Israel from another bloody war. He stated that Washington would fail to create a rift between Dmascus and Tehran and that Hariri government has no muscle to control Hizbullah militia. He suggested that in order to control the power of Hizbullah, Washington must arm the Lebanese military, which now is seeking help from the Islamic Republic.

    The occupation of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) were both initiated by the neocons (mostly Jewish) for the theft of oil/gas and to create a new Middle East, a region of small and militarily weak tribal states, always looking for US-Israeli help for their survival. When this dream failed – Washington gave green light to the Zionazi Jews to destroy all secondary threats before attacking the Islamic Republic in the future. The aim was to wipe out Lebanese Islamic resistance Hizbullah and bring a regime-change in Damascus. However, after 34-days of indiscriminate aerial bombing, killing over 1200 Lebanese civilians and losing its 137 ‘bravw Jewish soldiers’ – Israel decided to bite the dust and retreat. That defeat created the vacuum to be filled by new powers.

    The Jewish Army’s defeat in Summer 2006 at the hands of Hizbullah freedom-fighters ended not only the myth of the ‘invincibility’ of the Jewish Army but also proved that a morally-driven resistance movement doesn’t need F16s or nuclear bombs to defeat a corrupt, dis-illusioned but heavily armed army. Israeli defeat also spelled the end of its ‘gaurdian-angel’s’ supremacy in the Middle East. Within the next four years, the military, economic and diplomatic situation in the region has given birth to the new regional powers, Islamic Republic and Turkey – and Turkey-Iran-Brazil at the international level.

    French political analyst Theirry Meyssan, wrote that after the un-expected military humiliation of Israeli forces, several top US military officers agreed with Admiral William Fallon and senior General Brent Scowcraft that after American military failure in Iraq, it would be a suicide to attack a “well armed and organized state – Iran – potentially setting the entire region ablaze”. The same group hoisted Obama to the White House on the condition that their ally Robert Gates will remain in the Pentagon”.

    The ‘Israel-First’ neocons in Washington “thought that the dismantlement of Iraq would be contagious. The Sunni-Shiite civil war (the Fitna, in Arabic) was supposed to pit Iran against Saudi Arabia and split the whole Arab-Muslim world. The virtual independence of Iraqi Kurdistan was expected to cause a Kurdish secession in Turkey, Syria and Iran.

    But the opposite happened. The easing of US pressure on Iraq sealed the alliance among the enemy brothers of Turkey, Syria and Iran. All three realized that in order to survive they had to unite and that once united they could exert regional leadership. In fact, Turkey, Syria and Iran, together, cover all crucial aspects of the regional political spectrum. As the heir to the Ottoman empire, Turkey incarnates political Sunni Islam. As the only remaining Baathist state after the destruction of Iraq, Syria embodies secularism. And, finally, since the Khomeini Revolution, Iran represents political Shi’ism.

    In just a few months, Ankara, Damascus and Teheran opened their common borders, lowered customs tariffs and paved the way for a common market. This opening provided them with a breath of fresh air and a sudden economic growth which, despite the memories of prior disputes, has also garnered genuine grassroots support.”


    Posted by rehmat1 | February 23, 2011, 12:09 pm


  1. Pingback: Thanassis Cambanis , Archive » Tribunal bedeviling Hezbollah - October 3, 2010

Are you just gonna stand there and not respond?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Browse archives

wordpress stats plugin
%d bloggers like this: