Last friday I attended a round table discussion at CAABU (Council for Arab-British Understanding) with anti-Israel polemicist Norman Finkelstein.
Mr Finkelstein was coming to the end of his week’s speaking tour of British Universities.
Before he arrived CAABU’s education officer detailed CAABU’s recent trip to Gaza. They took two Lib Dem MPs, one Conservative MP and a Labour Lord and crossed into Gaza via the Rafah crossing.
There are two sets of schools in Gaza; those of a higher standard run by the UN and those run by “the government”. The government schools have their own syllabus which has a strong religious theme with no emphasis on human rights, unlike the UN run schools.
The CAABU party left behind “an expensive piece of medical equipment” which they are now trying to retrieve via the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt. Basically, one of the politicians left his dentures behind.
Eventually Mr Finkelstein walked in with the air of Norman Bates and proffered his theory on where the Middle East could be going in the next 12 to 18 months.
It centred on Lebanon.
He thinks there is a United Nations plot brewing to wipe out Hezbollah as follows:
Israel had recently left the town of Ghajar in Lebanon only so it could claim that as it was now in full compliance with UN Resolution 1701 Hezbollah should be fully disarmed.
Michael Williams, the UN’s representative to Lebanon, has reiterated this call.
Israel will now try to escalate resolutions at the UN which call for Hezbollah to be disarmed.
Sanctions against Lebanon will be announced and once they start to bite the Lebanese people will call for Hezbollah to be disbanded.
Conveniently, the UN’s Special Tribunal on Lebanon is about to indict several members of Hezbollah over the killing of Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri in 2005.
This will ratchet up sectarian tensions in Lebanon as Hariri was a Sunni Muslim while Hezbollah is Shia.
Finkelstein’s own sources tell him that Hezbollah was not involved in the killing of Hariri, but it could have been Sunni extremists.
Meanwhile, CBC has just played a documentary in Canada, approved by the Harper government, detailing evidence linking Hezbollah to the assassination (view here).
Inevitably Iran will want to support Hezbollah.
But Hezbollah will be portrayed as a demonic power and a threat to international security making it impossible for Iran to support Hezbollah.
It will be similar to before the 1991 Gulf War when Sadaam was made to look like Hitler.
But the Lebanese will want to avoid 2006 again and so will comply with demands to disarm Hezbollah.
But Israel won’t want Hezbollah to disarm. They will want to show they have militarily defeated Hezbollah.
Israel is reconciled to Hezbollah rockets hitting Tel Aviv. There could be several hundred casualties but Israel will then destroy everything in Lebanon. It could be Armageddon.
Nasrallah thinks that Israel cannot absorb significant civilians lossed but he is mistaken. After the bungled operations on the Mavi Marmara and in Dubai Israel needs to prove its military prowess to deter others.
Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and Turkey are tightening the noose around Israel. It is like the build up to 1967.
But Israel will deliver a big blow to cut the Muslims and Arabs, who only understand the language of war, down to size.
In 1967 Israel was fighting radical Arab nationalism. Now it is Islamic fundamentalism.
Israel has already stated it will apply the Dahiya Doctrine. This is “the use of pulversing force against a civilian population” as happened in Dahiya in 2006 when Israel destroyed the poor Shia town.
The first application of this doctrine was in Gaza.
Israel will then gloat that “we beat Hezbollah” and it will be like the miracle of the 1967 war again.
The war will probably come one June as June seems to be Israel’s “favourite month for raining death on neighbouring Arab countries”.
But it won’t come for a while yet as the UN resolutions will take time. The “UN lends legitimacy to these outrages” as in the Balkans, Iraq 1990-91 and Iraq 2002.
Nasrallah is “smart, competent and incorruptible”, exactly the sort of person the West doesn’t like.
Mr Finkelstein said he can understand why the Lebanese will want to avoid their country becoming like Gaza. In Gaza there were 650,000 tons of rubble and you’d have to multiple that several times for Lebanon next time.
“Israel will want to smash Lebanon to show the Arab world not to mess with us. Therefore, it won’t work by disarming Hezbollah.”
The 2006 war was unavoidable as Israel had been planning it since 2001 and is again working to re-establish its deterence capacity. Their mentality is to be patient and to slowly build up the facts like they did when they came to Palestine at the turn of the nineteenth century and in 1967.
Israelis are “crazy” and they will “send in everything. If everything doesn’t look like it is working and it looks like Israel is losing it won’t accept a third defeat. They will threaten the ultimate”.
He confirmed this as meaning nuclear.
In the meantime, if anyone finds a set of dentures in Gaza please contact CAABU……