FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Invasion of Lebanon

by URI AVNERY

Q. Who is winning this war?

On the 15th day of the war, Hizbullah is functioning and fighting. That by itself will go down in the annals of the Arab peoples as a shining victory.

When a featherweight boxer faces a heavyweight and is still standing in the 15th round–that is a victory, whatever the final outcome.

Q. Can Hizbullah be pushed out of the border area?

The question is based on a misunderstanding of the essence of Hizbullah.

Not by accident is the organization call Hizb-Allah (“Party of Allah”) and not Jeish-Allah (“Army of Allah”). It is a political organization, with deep roots in the Shiite population of South Lebanon. For all practical purposes, it represents this community. The Shiites are 40% of the Lebanese population, and together with the other Muslims they form the majority.

Hizbullah can be “moved” only if the whole Shiite population is moved–an ethnic cleansing that (I hope) no one is thinking about. After the war the population will return to their towns and villages, and Hizbullah will continue to flourish.

Q. What would happen if the Lebanese Army were deployed along the border?

That has been one of the slogans of the Israeli government from the first moment. They will announce this as the main victory. That is very convincing–for anyone who has no idea about the complexities of Lebanon.

Anyone who was in Lebanon in 1982 and saw the Lebanese Army in action knows that it is not a serious army. Furthermore, many of its officers and soldiers are Shiites. Such a force will not fight Hizbullah.

Its deployment in the South would depend entirely on the agreement of Hizbullah–and that also applies to every day it stays there.

Q. Would an international force help?

Ditto. That is a slogan especially tailored for diplomats, who look for an idea they can easily agree on. It sounds nice, especially if one adds the word “robust”.

What exactly is the robust international force supposed to do?

It is proposed that it will remove Hizbullah from the border area. Not by words–like the hapless UNIFIL, that everyone ignored right from the beginning–but by force.

If the deployment of this force were to take place with the agreement of both sides–Israel and Hizbullah–alright. It may serve as a ladder for the Israeli government to climb down from the tree it has climbed up.

But if the force is placed there contrary to the will of Hizbullah, a guerilla war against it will start. Will the international force stand up and fight in a place which the mighty Israeli army fled with its tail between its legs?

For Israel, there will be a special dilemma: what will happen if Hizbullah attacks Israel in spite of the force? Will the Israeli army enter the area, risking a clash with the international force? With German soldiers, for example?

Q. Olmert has said that we will not negotiate with Syria. Is that practical?

So he said. He has said a lot of things, and his tongue is still wagging.

Syria is a central player in this field. No real settlement in Lebanon will succeed without the participation–direct or indirect- of Syria.

True, Hizbullah was created by us. When the Israeli army invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Shiites received the soldiers with rice and sweets. They hoped that we would evict the PLO forces, who were in control of the area. But when they realized that our army was there to stay, they started a guerilla war that lasted for 18 years. In this war, Hizbullah was born and grew, until it became the strongest organization in all Lebanon.

But this would not have happened without massive Syrian support. Syria wants to get back the Golan heights, which have been officially annexed to Israel. Therefore, it is important for the Syrians not to allow the Israelis any quiet. Since they do not want to risk trouble on their own borders with Israel, they use Hizbullah to cause trouble on Israel’s border with Lebanon.

The Lebanese border will not become quiet until we reach an agreement with Syria. That is to say: until we give the Golan back.The alternativeis to start a war with Syria, with its ballistic missiles, chemical and biological weapons and an army that has proved itself. President Bush is pushing Israel to do this, perhaps in order to divert attention from his fiascoes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Q. How can one evaluate the conduct of the military campaign?

Dan Halutz will not enter the history books as one of the greatest captains of all time.

He pushed the government into this war, partly in order to cover up two embarrassing military failures: the Palestinian commando action in Kerem Shalom and the Hizbullah action on the Lebanese border. No officer has been called to bear responsibility for them. The ultimate responsibility rests, of course, with the chief-of-Staff.

Halutz, the first Chief-of-Staff who rose through the ranks of the Air Force, was convinced that he could finish it off by aerial bombardment, with the assistance of the artillery and navy. He was vastly mistaken. Even after sowing havoc in Lebanon, he did not succeed in vanquishing the opponent. Now he is compelled to do the one thing that everybody was afraid of: sending large land forces into the Lebanese quagmire.

On the 15th day of the war, not one of the aims is any nearer to being achieved. As far as Halutz is concerned, both as a strategist and as a commander, his marks are close to zero.

Q. Have the civilians at the head of the government proved themselves?

After the elections, many people in Israel thought that a civilian era had begun, since both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense are complete civilians, without a military background. As it turns out, the opposite is the case.

History shows that political functionaries who succeed strong leaders are capable of doing terrible things. They want to prove that they, too, are strong leaders, that they have guts, that they can wage war. Harry Truman , who replaced Franklin Roosevelt, is responsible for what is perhaps the biggest war crime in history–the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Anthony Eden, who succeeded Winston Churchill, started the foolish Suez war, in collusion with France and Israel.

The Olmert government started this war in shocking irresponsibility, without serious debate or deliberation. They were afraid to oppose the demands of the Chief-of-Staff, afraid to be branded as cowards.

Q. Olmert has promised that after the war the situation in the region will be different from what it was before. Is there a chance of this?

Absolutely. But the new situation will be very much worse for us.

One of Hassan Nasrallah’s aims is to unite Shiites and Sunnis in a common fight against Israel.

One has to realize that for centuries Sunnis and Shiites were mortal enemies. Many orthodox Sunnis consider the Shiites heretics. By coming to the aid of the Palestinians, who are Sunnis, Nasrallah hopes, among other aims, to forge a new alliance.

In the Middle East, a new axis may be coming into being, one that includes Hizbullah, the Palestinians, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Syria is a Sunni country. Iraq is now controlled by the Shiites, who wholeheartedly support Hizbullah. But the Iraqi Sunnis, who are waging a tough guerilla war against the Americans, also support Hizbullah.

This bloc enjoys a wide popularity among the masses throughout the Arab world, because of their fight against the USA and Israel. The opposite bloc, which includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, is losing popularity by the day. These regimes are considered by the masses as mercenaries of the Americans and agents of Israel. Mahmoud Abbas is strenuously trying to avoid being included in this category.

Q. So what can be done about this?

To put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which causes ferment throughout the Middle East.

To draw Hamas out of this hostile front, by negotiating with the elected Palestinian government.

To reach a settlement in Lebanon. For it to last, this settlement must include Hizbullah and Syria. This will oblige us to give the Golan back.

It should be remembered that Ehud Barak had already agreed to that and almost signed a peace treaty, similar to the one signed with Egypt, but unfortunately chickened out at the last moment for fear of public opinion.

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is one of the writers featured in The Other Israel: Voices of Dissent and Refusal. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s hot new book The Politics of Anti-Semitism. He can be reached at: avnery@counterpunch.org.

 

 

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail