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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hezbollah: Dissent over the party of God

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/05/hezbollah-dissent-over-party-of-god.html

"Let's have a party" - Party of God that is. Intentional blindness about the declared genocidal intent of both Hezbollah and Hamas is amazing. They say "genocide" "right on the label, in their charter documents.

Goodheart takes London Review of Books to task for refusing to acknowledge anti-Semitic statements by Hassan Nasrallah. But Hezbollah program, like the Hamas Charter, openly proclaims their intent:

Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.

Allah hu Akbar!

Don't forget that Al Andalus (Spain) is also built on lands wrested from their Muslim owners -- with far less justice, and much more brutally. Anyhow, one doesn't need to scrutinize the sayings of Nasrallah to understand that Hezbollah is a genocidal organization, and it was so from its inception.

Ami Isseroff


The London Review of Hezbollah
By Eugene Goodheart
Dissent Magazine
Winter 2007
(excerpted)

Critics, mostly though not exclusively European, who hammer away at Israeli misbehavior often show no concern about the dangers that beset Israel. Their one-sided animus verges on scandal. Criticism of Israeli behavior may be justified, but it loses credit when it is not balanced by an unequivocal repudiation of the rhetoric and actions of Islamic fundamentalists: Holocaust denial, fantasies of genocidal anti-Semitism, the elimination of the state of Israel, suicide bombings, and indiscriminate killing of civilians.

The London Review of Books is an egregious instance of this one-sidedness. Almost every issue contains several articles devoted to attacks on Israel, and the target is not simply the governing party, but the whole spectrum of Israeli political life. Absent from the columns of the Review are the injustices and cruelties of political Islam. In an article by Charles Glass, Lebanon's Hezbollah is eulogized for its capacity to learn from mistakes, its decency in treating prisoners, "its refusal to murder collaborators," its intelligent use of "car bombs, ambushes, small rockets and suicide bombers." Glass speaks of Hezbollah's uncompromising political program, of which he apparently approves, without mentioning that at its core is the destruction of Israel...In a letter to LRB printed in the September 7, 2006, issue, I pointed out that Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is not simply a resistance fighter, he is also an anti-Semite with genocidal fantasies. I cited the following statements attributed to him: "If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." "They [the Jews] are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment." I also noted that the name "Party of God," should worry anyone of enlightened, democratic persuasion, but does not seem to bother Glass. (Would he be equally indulgent of the religious fanatics in Israel who assert their divine right to Greater Israel?) Parties of God, wherever they are to be found, mean tyranny should they ever acquire power. In the article, Glass mentions the fact that he had been kidnapped by Hezbollah at a Syrian checkpoint. Wanting to prove that the movement was independent of Syrian control, he writes that when "Syria insisted that I be released to show that Syrian control of Lebanon could not be flouted [1] Hezbollah, unfortunately, ignored the request." What virtue! In my letter, I wondered whether he had not succumbed to Stockholm syndrome.

His response, printed in the October 5, 2006, issue, focused on the anti-Semitic statements attributed to Nasrallah, which he dismissed as fabrications, "circulated widely on neo-conservative web sites." ...


I wrote back to the LRB, first noting that in invoking the nefarious neocons as the vehicles of fabrication, Glass reminded me of the apologists for the Soviet Union who denied the existence of anti-Semitism in their beloved country, because the reports of its existence came from the bourgeois press. I challenged the LRB to make a disinterested effort to determine whether these statements were fabrications. Its animus against Israel was clear and bad enough; a willingness to indulge anti-Semitism, a much more serious matter. If they are not fabrications, the journal has a moral obligation to say so and to repudiate the kind of article that Glass has written.

While waiting for a reply, I decided to look into the literature on Hezbollah, and what I found left no doubt about its view of the Jews. Here is Nasrallah in one of his diatribes against Israel: "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli." [1]
Quoted in Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Hizbu'llah: Politics and Religion, University of Michigan Press, 2001, p. 170. Original source, televised interview, Muhammad Fnayash. Wuhhat Nazar Future Television (FTV, July 2, 1997).

Naim Qassem, the deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, author of Inside Hezbollah, which Charles Glass cites for its humane view of how collaborators with Israel should be treated, has this to say: "The history of the Jews has proven that, regardless of the Zionist proposal, they are a people who are evil in their ideas" (Quoted in Saad-Ghorayeb, p. 174; original source, Abbas al-Mussawi, Amiru'l-Zakira, Dhu al-Hujja 1406). Hezbollah's denial of the existence of the Holocaust takes many forms. "The Jews have never been able to prove the existence of the infamous gas chambers." Only "160,000 civilians died [and this was] as a result of US bombing of Germany." Jews collaborated with the Nazis in killing their brethren: "From what we know about the Jews, their tricks and their deception, we do not think it unlikely that they partook in the planning of the Holocaust." Saad-Ghorayeb, the source of these quotes, is a Briton of Muslim Lebanese extraction, who is sympathetic to Hezbollah. "As a Lebanese, I was appalled by the apparent ease with which this movement was accused of sundry terrorist activities by Western journalists and policy-makers, and on their insistence on referring to its guerrilla fighters, who were practicing their legitimate right to resist a foreign occupation, as terrorists." She writes favorably of Hezbollah's political evolution in Lebanese society, so there is no reason to doubt the scholarly accuracy of her representation of the movement's unreconstructed view of Israel and the Jews. (As I write this, I am pleased to see a letter to the LRB from the distinguished lawyer and literary scholar Anthony Julius, citing Saad-Ghorayeb as evidence for Hezbollah's anti-Judaism. Julius invited Glass to confirm the implication of his response to my letter that I am wrong in attributing anti-Semitism to Hezbollah and to comment on the "material assembled by Saad-Ghorayeb." So far there has been no reply from Glass, nor any statement from the editors on the matter.)

Unlike Bernard Lewis, Saad-Ghorayeb characterizes Hezbollah's view of the Jews as anti-Judaism rather than anti-Semitism. She contends that unlike Christian anti-Semitism, the radical Islamic animus against Jews, which has its source in the Koran, is not racialist. And yet she speaks of the "scriptural basis" of Hezbollah's depiction of the Jews as a people "whose blood [a racialist trope] is full of enmity towards mankind." In any event, it is not clear to me that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism makes any practical difference. What is interesting is that Saad-Ghorayeb sees Hezbollah's animus against Jewry as not deriving from its anti-Zionism (Lewis's view), but from a deeper source: its inveterate hostility to Judaism. The enemies of the movement are Jews who adhere to Judaism and to Zionism, which, Hezbollah believes, has its source in Judaism, despite the existence of secular Zionists. Because they believe that Jews who have no commitment either to Judaism or Zionism are a negligible constituency, they have no inhibitions about demonizing Jewry as a whole. Saad-Ghorayeb cites passage after passage demonstrating Hezbollah's hatred of Judaism and its desire for its disappearance. The movement arose as a reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, but its hostility is not confined to Israel and its supporters. Can we then take seriously Glass's benign view that the movement, in becoming "a sophisticated and successful political party . . . [has] jettisoned its early rhetoric about making Lebanon an Islamic Republic," and now speaks "of Christians, Muslims and Druze living in harmony"? Apparently the Jews, having no place in this harmony, will simply disappear.

Alas, Charles Glass appears to be either ignorant about his subject or writing in bad faith. He is an example of moral obtuseness or callousness (it is hard to find the right word for it) in what has become an influential view among a group of American and European intellectuals. The moral logic of this view goes something like this. Israel is militarily powerful, supported by the United States, the most powerful nation in the world. Its adversaries in the Islamic world are weak, and when one measures the relative devastations caused by confrontations between the powerful and the weak, the burden of guilt falls on the most powerful. Whatever violence or cruelties issue from the weak are then morally justified by weakness. Here is Glass again: "Like Israel's previous enemies, Hezbollah relies on the weapons of the weak: car bombs, ambushes, occasional flurries or small rockets and suicide bombers. The difference is that it uses them intelligently, in conjunction with an uncompromising programme." Glass says nothing about the devastation caused by weapons of the weak. He ignores the fact that the strength of "the weak" lies in elusiveness, in the capacity to hide behind the civilian population, and in the code of martyrdom. In placing a lower valuation on human life than does the adversary, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups have a distinct strategic advantage. How do you deter a person willing to die for his cause from committing an act of violence?

What, one might ask, is accomplished by the glib and unthinking support of the use of "the weapons of the weak"? Sympathy for terrorist groups only encourages war-perpetuating intransigence on both sides. Has Israel been guilty of the use of disproportionate use of military power? I believe it has and should be held to account. Israeli power has been a response to the provocations of "the weapons of the weak," and the response has too often been destructive and self-destructive in its excesses. In its recent incursion in Lebanon, it has achieved a result similar to our misadventure in Iraq: a large number of civilian casualties, widespread devastation of the land, burgeoning resentment from a large portion of the Lebanese population that had been angered by Hezbollah's provocations. Israel failed to achieve its aims at great cost to Lebanon and to itself.

But then the question arises, "What should be the appropriate response to suicide bombings and Katyusha rockets?" There is no easy answer to this. But it is a mark of callous indifference to the fate of a country, indeed of one's own country, when another contributor to the London Review of Books, Yitzhak Laor, chastises two of Israel's most prominent critics of their own government, Amos Oz and David Grossman, for asserting the right of Israel to respond to violence against it. Grossman, for example, writes, "There is no justification for the large-scale violence that Hezbollah unleashed this week, from Lebanese territory, on dozens of peaceful Israeli villages, towns and cities. No country in the world could remain silent and abandon its citizens when its neighbor strikes without provocation." To which Laor replies irrelevantly, "We can bomb, but if they respond they are responsible for both their suffering and ours" ( LRB, August 17, 2006, p. 11). What would Laor advise as a response to such an attack? He does not say. Apparently, all that is required is for Israel to flagellate itself for what it has inflicted on others.

Let us say that Israel did not respond to provocations. Would that change Hezbollah's behavior toward Israel? Not if, as Glass tells us, its program is uncompromising. Nothing that Israel can offer the Palestinians short of its self-eradication will satisfy Hezbollah. Indeed, it has even expressed a preference for a hard-line, Likud-led government to that of the Labor Party—for that would justify its intransigence. The movement has a long view. "Even if hundreds of years pass by, Israel's existence will continue to be an illegal existence" (Saad-Ghorayeb, p. 135). It is hard to fathom what sympathy for Hezbollah by critics of Israel like Glass and Laor can accomplish in the way of achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict. On the contrary, they would seem only to foster a hardening of attitudes on all sides. In all the talk about the asymmetry between powerful Israel and its weak adversaries, what is overlooked is the asymmetry that strongly favors its adversaries. Israel has only one war to lose for its existence to come to an end. Its adversaries, miserable as their condition is, can survive war after war. In its one-sided obsession with Israeli transgressions, the London Review of Books, offering no constructive advice for ending the conflict, contributes to its perpetuation by supporting one side of the intransigence. Its indulgence of a virulently anti-Semitic movement is simply shameful.



Eugene Goodheart is Edythe Macy Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Brandeis University. He is the author of many books of literary and cultural criticism as well as a memoir, Confessions of a Secular Jew .




Footnotes:

1.) Quoted in Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Hizbu'llah: Politics and Religion, University of Michigan Press, 2001, p. 170. Original source, televised interview, Muhammad Fnayash. Wuhhat Nazar Future Television (FTV, July 2, 1997).

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