The 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah marks a watershed in the campaign to discredit Israel by reversing morality. Most people have the impression that the war began with Hezbollah's kidnapping two Israeli soldiers in Israeli territory and killing several more. This did happen, but it was not all. On the same day, July 12, Hezbollah also launched rockets and mortar shells at Israeli military posts in Shebaa Farms and at the northern Israeli town of Shlomi. And this was not Hezbollah's first cross-border attack. Since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon Hezbollah violated Israel's border repeatedly, with rocket attacks, sniper fire, and kidnappings. Israel did exercise restraint, but Hezbollah's provocations continued.
Hezbollah took advantage of Israel's absence from southern Lebanon to accumulate an arsenal of rockets all along Israel's northern border. Since Hezbollah's self-proclaimed reason for being is Israel's destruction, its clear intention was that some day those rockets would be used. Israel found itself living under a threat of rocket attacks that could and did occur at any time the enemy chose. No country would be expected to put up with that indefinitely.
Hezbollah seemed determined to provoke a war with Israel. When it finally succeeded, Israel discovered it was not simply fighting a band of terrorists but a well-trained army, essentially an extension of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This army came equipped with highly sophisticated weapons supplied by Iran and shipped through Syria. For all practical purposes Israel and Iran were at war, with Iran hiding comfortably out of sight behind its proxy.
Nevertheless, in a masterstroke of arrogance Hezbollah tried to claim the moral high ground. Its incessant rocket attacks drew the Israeli army into Lebanon, after which Hezbollah justified those attacks by saying it was "resisting" a "foreign occupation." Hezbollah launched rockets from the tops of apartment buildings, then accused the Israelis of "terrorism" if they fired back. In spite of its cynical tactics Hezbollah knew it could count on widespread hatred of Israel throughout the Muslim world to sell successfully its message of moral reversal.
Hezbollah bills itself as a movement of "resistance." But what is it resisting? Israeli troops in Lebanon? There were no Israeli troops in Lebanon until Hezbollah attacked Israel across its own border. Occupation? The only "occupation" Hezbollah talks about is Shebaa Farms, a small slip of land close to where Israel, Syria, and Lebanon meet. But no one fired any rockets at Syria when that area was under Syrian control. The U.N. ruled that Shebaa Farms is Syrian, not Lebanese, and certified Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon as complete. Shebaa Farms is a contrivance by Hezbollah to accuse Israel of occupying "Lebanon," providing Hezbollah with an excuse to kill Israeli civilians.
The extreme edge of the Muslim world, gaining strength from Western failures in Iraq and now the Israel-Hezbollah war, is on its way toward legitimating genocide.
Is it an exaggeration to use this word? In both word and deed Hezbollah has proven it appropriate.
Here is Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in his own words:
"It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth." (Hezbollah statement, 1992)
"The Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities... Anyone who reads the Qur'an and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out throughout history... Anyone who reads these texts cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine, because they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment." (April 9, 2000)
"Throughout history, the Jews have been Allah's most cowardly and greedy creatures. If you search the entire face of the Earth, you will find no one more miserly than the Jews, or more greedy." (Sept. 28, 2001)
"If the Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." (Oct. 22, 2002)
And there is this from the Hezbollah Program:
We see in Israel the vanguard of the United States in our Islamic world. It is the hated enemy that must be fought until the hated ones get what they deserve....
We vigorously condemn all plans for negotiation with Israel, and regard all negotiators as enemies, for the reason that such negotiation is nothing but the recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Therefore we oppose and reject the Camp David Agreements, the proposals of King Fahd, the Fez and Reagan plan, Brezhnev's and the French-Egyptian proposals, and all other programs that include the recognition (even the implied recognition) of the Zionist entity.
The message is clear. Hezbollah will under no circumstances recognize Israel's right to exist, and not only does it wish to annihilate the State of Israel but also the Jewish people wherever they may live. To call Hezbollah's program genocide is no exaggeration.
As for Hezbollah's deeds, we need only mention its repeated unprovoked attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians, progressing to a war of rockets against Israel's cities. What will happen when Hezbollah manages to obtain from its Iranian patron even more sophisticated rockets and missiles, with a range that will make not just northern Israel uninhabitable?
It is important not to forget who stands behind Hezbollah and helped it become such an effective fighting force. Iran has also called for Israel's destruction many times. Iran also attacks not only Israel but the Jewish people. Its recent exhibition of cartoons mocking the Holocaust is meant to revise history, denying the old Holocaust to help set up the new one. "After the Holocaust was questioned by the President [Ahmadinejad], now I have real doubts about it," said one Iranian graphic artist. While billed as a counterpunch against the cartoons of Muhammad that appeared in the Danish press, these anti-Holocaust cartoons have a deeper purpose: to paint the Jews as a people of liars, whose fears of a new Holocaust should be taken no more seriously than their grief over the old Holocaust, which never happened.
We hardly need reminding that Iran is on the threshold of nuclear capability. The leader of an increasingly powerful nation is threatening genocide and acquiring the means to carry it out. Ahmadinejad is no mere lunatic who can be easily dismissed. He is a head of state, and he knows what he is saying.
How will the world react to this looming threat? The signs are not encouraging. The Islamic extremists have succeeded in exciting much of the Muslim world into a frenzy. Europe is once again responding to the threat of tyranny with fear and appeasement. The European Union refuses to call Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The French Foreign Minister calls Iran a stabilizing influence. The U.N. is worse than useless. It tries to impose phony solutions guaranteed to keep the flames smoldering until one day they erupt more ferociously than ever.
U.N. Security Council 1701 is a joke. It calls for Hezbollah to disarm, but no one is willing to ensure that will happen. France has slashed its troop commitment by 90%, and has announced that it would not send troops unless Hezbollah first guarantees it will disarm willingly. Hezbollah has repeatedly refused to do so. Who with a modicum of sanity would have expected otherwise? Hezbollah believes it has emerged from this war victorious and stronger than ever. So now it is supposed to disarm? No political entity has ever relinquished power willingly, especially when it feels its power is increasing.
And Israel, in spite of trying to put a good face on it, gets nothing from this resolution. So far the only countries that have agreed to send substantial numbers of "peacekeeping" troops are Muslim countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and whose sympathies lean toward the other side. Iran has already been trying to resupply Hezbollah with weapons, a clear violation of the resolution, but nobody protests. Only Israel is slammed by a very partisan Kofi Annan for trying to stop those arms shipments. Israel does not even get its kidnapped soldiers back. This is a lopsided resolution, based on provisions that anyone with any political wisdom should immediately see have no teeth. It is being selectively enforced to Israel's detriment. The notion that such a resolution will solve the problem is either cynical or stupid. The resolution paves the way for a reconstituted Hezbollah with more advanced and destructive weapons, guaranteeing that round two of the Hezbollah war will be even more devastating.
One can only suspect the thinking is this: It is the Jews' problem, so let's just have some peace and quiet for now and let the Jews deal with it later. But when "later" comes it will not be only Jews who are affected. The more Hezbollah and Iran are allowed to strengthen themselves for their war against the Jews, the worse will be the devastation on all sides, and the greater the consequences that war will have for the entire world.
There are many enablers besides Europe and the U.N. Human Rights Watch believes Israel should be tried for war crimes, but not Hezbollah because Hezbollah is not a state. Yet Human Rights Watch does not suggest going after those states that empower Hezbollah: Iran and Syria. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International blame Israel for failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets, but assign no responsibility to Hezbollah for intentionally blurring that distinction by using civilians as human shields, which clearly violates international law. Whether or not it is the conscious intention, such a position amounts to taking sides in this conflict.
And it is taking the wrong side. There were reasons for Israel's actions. Israel did not intentionally target civilians. It did not attack Beirut's water or electricity, though it could have flattened the city if it wished (as Syria did in Hama). Israel did target roads and bridges used by Hezbollah for supply and troop movement. It did attack areas from which rockets were launched at Israeli cities. Unfortunately civilians were killed, and that is indisputably tragic. It is not an excuse, simply a truism, that in war mistakes are made and innocent people hurt. But Israel has nothing to gain by killing civilians. Every Lebanese civilian casualty brings Israel no strategic advantage but only inflames world opinion against it, so why should Israel intentionally go after civilians? In fact, Israel's efforts to reduce civilian casualties may well have caused it to lose the war. Israel deprived itself of the use of surprise, so important in battle, by warning through leaflets and broadcasts which areas it was about to attack.
Israel has no desire to wipe out the Lebanese people, no genocidal program like Hezbollah's. Israel is no more guilty of war crimes in Lebanon than was the U.S. in Afghanistan and in Kosovo, where many more civilians perished.
Deliberately firing rockets into civilian areas, on the other hand, is a war crime by any estimation. Hezbollah's war is by its very nature a war against civilians. Hezbollah stood up so well against the IDF because it fought its war guided by different values. Hezbollah values dictate that the lives of civilians on either side count for nothing, save as pawns of war. Dead Israeli civilians are trophies of war, and dead Lebanese civilians are martyrs for the cause. Hezbollah intentionally places Lebanese civilians in danger's path, to inhibit the Israelis from firing back, and to inflame sentiment against Israel when any of those civilians are hurt. Thus Hezbollah fighters wear no uniform; they blend with the local population and use people's homes as magazines and launching pads. Why should Hezbollah care about the Lebanese? It has no real allegiance to Lebanon, though pretending to defend it. And since the world, deceived by notions of moral equivalence, cannot distinguish between attacks on terrorist victims and attacks on the terrorists themselves, Hezbollah sees no reason to temper the depraved and nihilistic values from which it draws inspiration.
Hezbollah can only feel encouraged and emboldened by the reaction of the world. By far the majority of world reaction either cheers Hezbollah or fears and appeases it. Even the U.S. has pressured Israel to accept a resolution that practically guarantees to restore the status quo ante, reinstating the conditions that led to the war, in spite of Condoleezza Rice's optimistic assurances that would never happen. Resolution 1701 will not disarm Hezbollah and does not promote Israel's safety. Hezbollah gives up nothing. It gets a chance to regroup and become even stronger, ready to fight another day, when the stakes will be much higher not only for Israel but for the world.
I stake no claim for Israel's moral perfection, nor do I need to in order to reveal Hezbollah's agenda. Israel has committed some serious blunders, and some of its policies have been woefully misguided. I have expressed sharp criticisms of those policies even on this web site. I say this to dissuade those who would accuse me of justifying everything Israel does simply because I am calling Israel's enemies what they really are. It seems that only Israel is judged by a standard of having to be morally perfect in order to justify its right to exist. Israel is not morally perfect. No country is, not by a long shot. But Israel is also not the moral equivalent of its enemies. Israel is imperfect, but those out to destroy Israel cross the line from imperfection into evil.
This becomes clear when we consider just what each side is fighting for. Israel does not want to occupy Lebanon, and was not occupying any Lebanese territory. It was Hezbollah that repeatedly violated Israel's border. "Occupation" is a trumped-up charge Hezbollah uses to justify calling itself a "resistance." Israel's memories of the last Lebanon war, which was also caused by cross-border terrorism, are very bitter ones. Israel's reluctance to reenter Lebanese territory contributed to its ill-fated decision not to send in ground troops until it was too late.
Israel is fighting to protect its towns and cities from infiltration and the threat of rocket attacks. To those who blame Israel for this war, I would ask: What would you do if confronted by an enemy who has amassed huge numbers of lethal weapons all along your border and has demonstrated a willingness to use them?
Hezbollah is fighting to destroy Israel and to kill Jews for the sake of killing Jews. Hezbollah admits this, as we have already seen, and who is anyone to doubt its members mean what they say?
The charge of "occupation" is not only ironic, it is diabolical. Even the United Nations ruled that Israel occupies no Lebanese territory. So what does Hezbollah do? It fires more than a hundred rockets each day at Israeli cities and villages, drawing in the Israeli army to try to stop them, and when the Israeli army arrives Hezbollah accuses Israel of occupation! Talk about a setup. Nevertheless, Hezbollah knows that "occupation" and "resistance" are buzz words that resound throughout the Muslim world, and so the great lie works. Hezbollah draws Israel into a war that Israel never wanted, resulting in terrible destruction on all sides. Then Hezbollah claims it is defending Lebanon! And with God's blessing yet!
Hezbollah is fighting for precisely what it says it is fighting for, when it talks to its own people in their own language and not merely for the benefit of the Western press. Hezbollah has made its methods and goals very clear:
I am no philosopher, and cannot tell you exactly where the line between good and evil is drawn. I only know this crosses the line by a considerable distance.
Peace with Realism