Hizbullah Do The Right Thing?
By Joshua Frank
21 July, 2006
it’s hard to look at the latest string of violence in the Middle
East objectively, especially if you’ve been on the side of criticizing
Israel’s vicious policies toward the Palestinians over the past
years. Indeed the government of Israel has recently taken an outrageous
and murderous response to the kidnapping of its soldiers within Israel,
first by Hamas and more recently by Southern Lebanon based Hizbullah.
Ariel Sharon’s departure seems to have not changed a thing: Israel
always reacts with hostility.
Hizbullah has refused to
back down from Israel, but that doesn’t mean you have to agree
with their means. Not that their means in any way reflect a more serious
crime than those of Israel, which may well be the point of Hizbullah’s
orchestrated abduction of two Israeli soldiers last week. The one, and
perhaps only problem I have with Hizbullah’s abduction is that
they must have known that Israel would react in the fashion they have:
by bombing Lebanon and in fact targeting civilians and their infrastructure
outright. If you can say anything about Hizbullah’s kidnapping,
on the other hand, it is that their first actions were purely military.
They captured two soldiers without harming or targeting any civilians.
And if collateral damage is the issue, it’s pretty clear given
the media reports from the area that far more civilians in Palestine
and Lebanon have been killed in the last few weeks than in Israel.
There have been several misconceptions
that seem to be spreading fast around Hizbullah, the first being that
they are acting on behalf of Iran. Surely that’s the way the Bush
administration and many leading Democrats would like to spin it. They’d
like nothing more to blame Iran for what’s transpired. But more
likely, Hizbullah provoked Israel because of the government’s
vile response to the taking an IDF soldier captive by Palestinian military
last week. No question the asymmetry of the violence inflicted upon
the Palestinians, which Hizbullah has long been in solidarity with,
demands some sort of response. And given the history of Hizbullah and
Israel, it’s pretty clear that Israel has only responded to these
sorts of matters when threatened. Currently Israel is holding thousands
of Hizbullah and Hamas members in Israeli prisons, and one of the demands
of Hizbullah is for those prisoners to be released. The group is also
calling for an end to the violence inflicted upon Palestine. These are
prisoners of war on both sides.
The dubious United Nations
has called on a ceasefire, which of course isn’t likely to happen
anytime soon, especially without the weight of the United States standing
behind it. And if the Iraq invasion three years ago taught us anything,
the United States will do what it wants regardless of what the UN says.
One thing goes without question;
Hizbullah’s response was bold and timely. Given that most Arab
countries have failed to lift a finger against the nuclear-armed nation
of Israel, they have not backed down and have proven they are far more
prepared to challenge Israel than intelligence operatives in the US
and Israel had expected. Hizbullah is the only organized armed resistance
to Israeli aggression in the region, and that alone should stand for
something even if their means cannot be wholeheartedly supported (not
that their goals aren’t laudable, especially when compared to
Israel who simply wants to eliminate both Hizbullah and Hamas, even
though the latter was elected democratically).
Whether or not Hizbullah
will prevail waits to be seen. They may, but it won’t be at a
light cost to civilian life on either side. And we can be sure that
it will be innocents in Lebanon who suffer the greatest.
Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals
Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits