The following is continued from part 1 of the series, in which a Lebanese Beirut resident expresses his candid and very frank views with one of our writers. The issues are both the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, and Israel’s historical role in the region; which he feels has contributed to events as they are today.
Well, it was a good initiative from you to start the discussion with your views about the conflict, especially Hezbollah.
Allow me to share my views as well. I will be as comprehensive and objective as possible.
Let me begin by expressing my sorrow and sending my condolences for all the innocents who died as in this conflict on your side. I hope this nightmare ends soon.
So, looks like your people and your government are very much angry at Hezbollah. You might be right, you might be wrong. I will not go into the argument of whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organization or not, or whether they should exist or not… since this wouldn’t form a fruitful discussion. Instead, I’ll tackle the issue from this question:
Why was Hezbollah created in the first place?
Hezbollah was founded in the early 80’s, backed by the Iranian revolution, and motivated as a direct response to the Israeli invasion of 1982. Ever since then, Hezbollah had the main target of resisting the Israeli aggression, and then went on and “tried” to implement the “Islamic State” target in the Lebanese Civil war, yet did not succeed in doing that. After the civil war, Hezbollah spread, and got strengthened, supported from so many sides, greatly motivated, and most importantly got very popular in Lebanon as a result of the continuing Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. All through the 90’s and until now, Hezbollah has been known to be a “resistance” group more than anything else. I am not denying their ambition to form an Islamic state (which is no longer their priority anyway) and neither denying their strong ties to Tehran both ideologically and militarily. Rather I am explaining what made them become sooo popular, strong and even legitimate with Lebanon and even around the Arab and Islamic mainstream: It was the long Israeli aggression on Lebanese lands. This is what gave Hezbollah its ultimate legitimacy in Lebanon and its number 1 reason to obtain weapons of all kinds, take control of the south and have an overwhelming unprecedented public support…until it became an actual part of the society itself. And all those are facts, not views.
So, in other words, if you hate Hezbollah that much…do realize that it is your country’s ILLEGAL and BRUTAL actions are the main reasons behind what Hezbollah is today. Those actions 1) created a motive for Hezbollah to start 2)made Hezbollah popular 3)gave it legitimacy 4) made it more and more powerful.
Regardless of what justifications you might give for Israel’s actions in Lebanon, by an undeniable fact they were 1) illegal 2)brutal. And those two adjectives are more than enough to generate so much hate for Israel and its people (unfortunately) and so much support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other similar groups. Hezbollah did not become popular all of a sudden, or out of the blue sky. Neither was it created for no reason in the first place. There were driving forces for that, and the Israeli actions in the region and Lebanon in specific were the biggest driving forces.
I’ll quote one southern citizen as I heard her scream out loud:
” Israel destroyed my house!! killed my children! I’m homeless and injured! What did I do?! MAY GOD PROTECT HEZBOLLAH! MAY GOD BE WITH THEM! HEZBOLLAH SHALL BE VICTORIOUS!”
(pay attention to the first parts of the quote, and you’ll find out why she praised Hezbollah in the end of it)
So to conclude, Hezbollah in Lebanon is a natural, public reaction of resistance and revenge towards the Israeli long-term-aggression on Lebanese land. Does that mean that if Israel did not occupy Lebanon, Hezbollah wouldn’t be there?? No. Not necessarily. Probably Hezbollah would’ve been founded anyway, but it would have definitely been in a different form and with no such public support as it has today, not at all. It would be nothing more than some Shiite political party just like other parties in the country.
So what’s the root of the conflict? Simply put:
Israel’s continuous violation of International Law. Here’s how:
Ever since the early 40’s, Israel, unfortunately, has consistently, and repeatedly violated UN resolutions, Geneva conventions, Humanitarian laws and a lot more. This has resulted in more and more hatred, rejection and desire for revenge among the public against Israel and whatever it represents. And this all started happening before Hezbollah, before Hamas, before Aqsa, before Al-Qaeda…before them all.
In case you don’t know, there are up to 68 UN resolutions were announced against Israel. 68! Big number isn’t it? Can you name me ONE other country that had such a big number of UN resolutions against it? I can’t think of any. This, without mentioning the many UN resolutions that were VETOED by the Uncle Sam. The most recent one was in this war.
Currently Israel violates many UN resolutions, and I will limit my focus on two main ones: resolutions 194 and 242.
194: The return of the Palestinians that were deported.
They were deported out of their own homes…you expect them to accept it as a fact and shut up? No. It’s their home. Their shelter. I mean if you kick an animal out of its shelter, it will react by attacking you. How do you expect humans to react?
Now you might tell me, “it’s impossible to implement 194. It’s unrealistic. There are far more Palestinian refugees around the region than the whole Israeli population.” I’ve heard those arguments lots of times. But no matter what, this doesn’t change the fact that Israel mainly made this problem, and Israel should be responsible for its consequences, no one else. You can’t make 4 million Palestinians return, at least DECLARE their right to return, acknowledge it, affirm it, confess that they have the right to share land with you, and that would be better than denying them their rights.
242: The return of the occupied 1967 territories (Golan heights)
Israel even has settlements in the Golan Heights. How legal is that? I mean it’s not just a violation; it’s a manifestation of a totally new existence on an occupied territory. Of course, Israel has bunch of justifications for that, mainly strategic: Access to the Tiberias lake and the strategic locations of the Golan Heights are vital for Israel’s future security. So, it’s Israel’s security on Syria’s expense? To you it might sound right, but to me, and the international community, it is ILLEGAL. i.e., no excuses are ever valid.
Above all that, in each and every war, Israel makes sure to violate all sorts and kinds of humanitarian laws. Bombing civilian areas, using forbidden weapons, mistreating prisoners, occupying land…and the list goes on.
So it’s violation after violation…and not any kind of violation…MAJOR violations that are related to the people’s safety, land, dignity and existence. And Israel does all that, with pure, blunt, ever-existing, continuous American support. This explains the root cause of the widespread anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic world.
So with all those obvious violations to what matters the most to humans: their land, their home, their security, their future and well-being. How do you expect the people to react??
I’ll tell you how they reacted:
Hamas. Fatah. Hezbollah. Al-Qaeda. Al-Aqsa Birgades..and more.
Yes, those groups are fanatics, sometimes evil, have goals beyond justice and are politically oriented. But what kind of result would you expect after decades and decades of no justice? of humiliation and aggression? They did not materialize from nowhere.
Resolution 425: Wait! Israel implemented that. That’s true..but only after 22 years.
When Israel stays 22 years in Lebanon. On Lebanese land. Violating international law. How do you expect the people to react? Sit and watch? Never. Even if not 1 bullet was fired by Israel (like in the Golan Heights), the people have every single right to hold a weapon and fight every single Israeli soldier on their own land. 22 years is a long time. During that time, hatred was being accumulated, tension was rising, and fanaticism looked to be the most effective way of sorting out the problem…and you wonder why Hezbollah is so strong and popular and still legal in Lebanon? Well to the Lebanese, it wasn’t diplomacy that forced Israel to withdraw, and it wasn’t a truce. It was Hezbollah.
You may tell me “well, Israel needed to secure its borders from Palestinian militants and other terror organizations, so we had to remain in Lebanon for security reasons”. So you violate international law? And for 22 years?
You want to secure your borders, secure your borders WITHIN your borders, not on somebody else’s land. It’s common sense. So, this “security excuse” that Israel declared for its occupation of Lebanon actually backfired on its own security by making Hezbollah so popular and strong until it became the biggest threat on Israel’s borders so far.
And here I’m only dealing with the Israel-Lebanese side of the conflict. I won’t go much through the Palestinian-Israeli part of it, because it has the same story: violations, violations, occupations, occupations, humiliations, humiliations and the same result: Hamas, Al-Aqsa, terrorism and so on. It saddens me that Israel is the only country in the world that does not have fixed borders.
It is the only country in the world that has made so many wars with its neighbors ever since it was created, and still does so 55 years later. It also saddens me that Israel is the greatest violator of various sorts of International law. And then..it declares itself a “democracy” ?
Talking about Qana…which is the second massacre by the same aggressor in the same village in 10 years, I’ll just say this: It is such massacres that put an eternal end to peace. It is such massacres that plant deeply rooted feelings of hatred and revenge in the hearts of children as they grow. It is such massacres that make peace unachievable.
It’s more than just a “mistake” by the IAF. It has long, long, long lasting effects.
Well…. The air-strikes cease-fire (which didn’t take effect by the way) is about to end in a few hours. So I’d better head to bed. Though I’m not sure it will be safe.
Sorry for the too-long e-mail. But I had a lot to say, and I hope it wasn’t a waste of your time. What I mainly want to tell you is this: Don’t simply narrow it down to Hezbollah and Iran. The conflict is far beyond that. It is your government’s persistent illegal and inhumane policies that are making this big mess, and I showed you how, based on international law. Not Lebanese law and not Iranian law, rather a law that you and I and the civilized world should abide by. And this did not start in July 2006. It started long, long ago…and would last for as long as your government continues to plant seeds of violence among the people of this holy land.
I would be more than happy to receive your blunt and honest feedback and criticism.