Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Syria

Nakba Day Controversies

A debate has emerged in the wake of Sunday’s tragic border killings, turning on the question of whether  the commemoration of Nakba Day (which led to a fence breach in the Golan Heights [check the video out here] and at least ten people killed in Southern Lebanon) was orchestrated by the Assad regime and its allies in order to draw attention away from the protests in Syria.

That was more or less the gist of the Western press’s coverage of the event, as summed up by Radwan Ziadeh in this NYT piece by Anthony Shadid, but many Israeli commentators are wondering whether this isn’t actually a sign that the fervor of the Arab Spring has reached Palestine.

I’d recommend reading the following bits of commentary:

  • Andrew Exum weighs in here, here, and here.
  • Sean, at The Human Province, was actually in South Lebanon on Sunday and witnessed the demonstration firsthand. He takes Andrew to task in a well-reasoned essay here.
  • Not on the subject of Nakba Day, Sami Moubayed argues that Syria should ratchet up its diplomatic efforts to re-ingratiate itself with Turkey and France by playing nice in Lebanon and fast-tracking reforms. (Too little, too late?)

I have to admit that my first reaction to the events was, like Exum’s, a cynical one. However, based on what Sean and others have said about their experiences on Sunday, it does look like the high turnout was much more the product of a genuine swelling of popular sentiment and political participation in the wake of the various regional revolts, rather than a carefully hatched plan by Damascus, Hizbullah, and Hamas.

On the other hand, who couldn’t help but notice the sad juxtaposition of the two marches scheduled for last Sunday in Beirut? A few hundred people marched in support of secularism and brandished some cute slogans, while thousands made the trek down to the border with Israel and braved bullets to commemorate a decades-old struggle.

A friend of mine regularly chides me for imagining that any of Lebanon’s problems will ever be solved before the Arab-Israeli conflict is settled. On days like yesterday, I think he’s probably right.

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203 thoughts on “Nakba Day Controversies

  1. The overriding purpose of Obushma is obfuscation. That becomes the goal when a leader temporizes, is indecisive and disinclined to make decisions on matters that entail risks and costs – be they diplomatic or domestic. Notice the Obumbler’s speech referenced “mutually agreed land swaps” not “1967 borders with land swaps of equal size and value.” The difference between those two is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. (Mark Twain.)! Roadmap officially terminated.

    All of American strategy is challenged thereby, its premises undermined, its aims misaligned with new realities, its tactics losing viability, America’s standing losing credibility Worldwide. Yet nothing in Washington’s mentality changes. That is confirmed by Obama’s high-minded and high sounding speech that uses the lexicon of change, of resetting, but instead leaves all the essentials in place. No one is fooled.

    Posted by HK | May 20, 2011, 8:17 am
  2. Posted by HK | May 20, 2011, 9:20 am
  3. I guess Glenn Beck already posted similar examples:


    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 20, 2011, 11:51 am

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