Tag Archives: beirut

The Poetry of Hizbullah.

To say that my question “Is this book pro-Hezbullah?” wasn’t well received on Tuesday night at SOAS is an understatement.

I was at the book launch of The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication written by Lina Khatib, Dina Matar and Atef Alshaer.

After I had asked my question Dina Matar said “I knew you were going to ask that” and Lina Khatib waved the book at me and said “Why don’t you read it?”

The book explains how Hizbullah has been successful in staying relevant since its 1982 inception by adapting itself to changing situations and communicating these adaptations through various means such as poetry and social media.

Hizbullah are poets? Who knew.

One can imagine: “To kill a Jew, or not to kill a Jew. That is the question.”

So, according to the authors, Hizbullah’s 1980s narrative was one of “victimisation” to attract Lebanon’s marginalised Shia Muslims.

During the 1990s it was one of “resistance” against Israel and connection with “Palestine”.

From 2000 onwards it was focused on “defence” after Israel had left south Lebanon with Hizbullah disseminating the narrative that the Lebanese army is not strong enough to defend Lebanon from Israel.

Now Hizbullah is back to a “victimisation” theme after being implicated in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and also due to its fighting alongside Bashar Assad in Syria.

Dina Matar said that although Hasan Nasrallah has lost some credibility because of Syria he is still popular, and people in the Arab world listen out for his speeches.

She said there’s a sense that Nasrallah is “just like us, he’s approachable, he speaks the language of the people, he’s funny, he jokes and he’s humble in appearance”.

If this is true then it is a sad indictment on the Arab world that with Hasan Nasrallah complicit in the deaths of over 200,000 innocent Syrians he is still thought so highly of.

I wasn’t trying to be controversial when I asked whether this is a pro-Hizbullah book. I was concerned by this comment by Lina Khatib at the beginning of her presentation on the book to the large student audience:

“Books on Hizbullah seek to frame Hizbullah as a terrorist movement. This is primordial. We have evidence to the contrary. But this is the dominant discourse in America.”

Khatib lives in America. One might forgive Americans for thinking such a thing with the murder of 241 of their fellow citizens by Hizbullah in Beirut in 1983.

And what about the 200,000 dead in Syria and Hizbullah’s attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aeries in 1992 (29 dead) and on the AMIA builing in Buenos Aeries in 1994 (85 dead), the Burghas Airport bombing in Bulgaria in 2012 (6 dead) and Hasan Nasrallah, true to his word of going after Jews worldwide, is now targeting Jews in Peru.

This book is worth reading (if you can stomach the 30 page chapter on Hizbullah poetry) but only with a view to finding out how a modern day Nazi group, totally funded by Iran, portraying itself as a positive force continues to hold a beautiful country like Lebanon to ransom while bringing death and destruction both to Lebanon’s citizens and to Syria all with the final objective of destroying Israel and the Jewish people that live there.

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Palestinians destroy children’s summer camp, Israel to blame.

John Ging is 2nd from right (ph: thejeruselamfund)

Exactly three years ago Hamas’ violent ousting of Fatah from Gaza left the terrorist group a free hand to create an Islamist entity where no dissent is allowed.

As Sarah Honig has noted the anniversary came and went with scant critical appraisal anywhere.

“Nobody demands even a modicum of good behaviour from it (Hamas). Hamastan gets such pampering press that it seemingly cannot set a foot wrong,” she writes.

The latest expression of this involved the recent destruction of a United Nations children’s summer camp in Gaza, which was attacked by two dozen masked Palestinian armed men. This is the second such attack in just over a month.

Islamist Palestinians in Gaza accused the United Nations of corrupting Gaza’s youth with its summer programme of games, sports and human rights lessons for 250,000 children.

Hamas would prefer the children to attend their own “summer camps” with their sinister military training side.

John Ging, the director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, came out with an implausible statement. (UNRWA is responsible for 70% of Gaza’s 1.5 million population).

While going through the motions of condemning the attack Ging went on to cite it as further evidence of growing levels of extremism in Gaza and called for a change in the circumstances on the ground that generate such extremism.

What he meant is that Israel has caused Hamas et al to act like this because of its blockade of Gaza. Ging has repeatedly called for the blockade’s complete lifting, which would inevitably lead to a further rocket onslaught on Israel.

Time after time we have seen influential people like Ging allow Hamas to get away with brutality.

It seems that there is nothing that Hamas or the Palestinian community are forced to take responsibility for whether it be voting for a terrorist group like Hamas in the first place (it was said that the Palestinian people had no choice due to the corruption of the incumbent Fatah regime), suicide bombings (according to many, including Ken Livingstone, there wouldn’t be suicide bombings if it wasn’t for the occupation), firing thousands of rockets into Israel (the defence to this being the rockets are ineffective and haven’t killed that many Israelis) and now repeatedly destroying another children’s summer camp (but if the blockade was lifted this might not happen, apparently).

The list of excuses reeled off for the Palestinians is exceedingly long.

It does the Palestinian people no credit in implying that such acts of barbarism are all just a reaction to anything Israel does. Suicide bombings, firing rockets into civilians areas in Israel and destroying children’s summer camps are wrong and should be condemned outright instead of letting the Palestinians repeatedly off the hook.

Ging and Livingstone etc. cannot, or do not want to, grasp the true nature of Hamas. What Hamas does is not because of the occupation or the settlements or the blockade. They would commit such barbaric acts if such situations did not exist. That is the nature of an Islamist group.

Hamas answers to a higher power alone.

Even the brutal Hamas takoever of Gaza and the accompanying massacres of Fatah activists were blamed on Israel and America.

According to B’Tselem 660 Palestinians have been murdered by Palestinians in the last ten years. No doubt these atrocities are also pinned on Israel.

At least in Beirut Palestinians are taking responsibilty for their actions and doing something they are not allowed to do under Hamas’ rule; protest against their rulers.

On Sunday outside the United Nations building in the Lebanese capital some 6,000 Palestinians demanded basic civil rights 62 years after they first arrived in Lebanon.

The 400,000 Palestinians that live in Lebanon are not allowed to own property and are excluded from 72 different forms of employment.

It is ironic that while there are more flotillas destined for Gaza to try to alleviate a non-existent humanitarian crisis, Palestinians living in Lebanon in dire conditions are virtually forgotten by the international community, including the flotilla activists.

Fisk/Hari

It was a good old Independent doubly-whammy to nicely finish off International Israel Apartheid Week.

Robert Fisk

Last Friday (12 March) Johann Hari had a piece Palestinians should now declare their independence.

On Saturday (13 March) Fisk recommended books to help you understand the Middle East.

Fisk recommends and quotes from George Antonius’s The Arab Awakening:

“The cure for the eviction of Jews from Germany is not to be sought in the eviction of the Arabs from their homeland …”

Fisk sees this as “the first truly eloquent warning of what was to come”.

He didn’t recommend Benny Morris’ The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem but he mentioned it in passing:

“Benny Morris was the most prominent Israeli researcher to prove that it was indeed Israel’s intention to evict the Palestinians from their homes in their tens of thousands in 1948 – the fact that Morris has since gone completely batty by claiming the Israelis didn’t ethnically cleanse enough of them does not detract from his seminal work.”

But Morris did not prove any such intention!

Morris, for starters, quotes Ze’ev Jabotinsky, leader of a right-wing Zionist movement, who said in 1931: “We don’t want to evict even one Arab from the left or right banks of the Jordan. We want them to prosper economically and culturally.”

If anything it was the 1937 Peel Commission, which was under the auspices of the British government, that first recommended transfer of the Arab population out of areas earmarked for the Jewish population on partition.

Morris’ view is that there was no specific Zionist policy of transfer although there had been unofficial “transfer thinking” that preceded the war. But it was only once the Arabs rejected the 1947 UN partition resolution, civil war between the Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs and then the full-scale Arab invasion of Israel ensued that “Jewish hearts hardened towards the Palestinian Arabs who were seen as mortal enemies, and should they be coopted into a Jewish state, a potential Fifth Column”.

To be fair to Fisk has lived in the heart of Beirut for 30 years and so he is highly biased out of necessity.

Johann Hari does not live in the heart of Beirut and so has no such excuse for his bias (or is it just ignorance?).

Johann Hari

Hari suggests the Palestinians should declare their own state forthwith to concentrate the minds of the West and he narrates his own version of the Arab/Israeli wars including, like Fisk, that of 1948:

“Until 1948, the Palestinians were living in their own homes, on their own land – until they were suddenly driven out in a war to make way for a new state for people fleeing a monstrous European genocide.”

Again there is no mention of the total Arab rejection of UN partition resolution 181, the consequent civil war started by the Palestinian Arabs against the Jews and the Arab invasion after Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948.

For Hari one side is evil while the other side is totally innocent. He continues this theme throughout the piece.

He quotes Golda Meirs’ “there are no Palestinians”. Well to Meir there were no Palestinians 40 years ago just like there were no Palestinians as such to the Jews that came to Palestine 100 years ago because they did not view the Arabs living there as a nation. But that doesn’t mean to say there is no Palestinian nation now. There is and one deserving of a country.

But it is a common anti-Israel tactic to take an ancient quote of an Israeli or Jewish leader and put it in today’s context to make the speaker look evil.

Hari also writes of “some heroic Israelis who argue back”, so painting the rest of Israel’s citizens as weak, ignorant and cowardly.

But Hari thinks he has found the answer to why there are so few “heroic Israelis”:

“It may be that surviving the most horrific atrocities doesn’t make you compassionate, but more often makes you hard, and paranoid. It may make you see the ghost of your murderer even in your victims: Adolf Hitler in a Gazan child.”

For Hari Jews are still so obsessed by the gas chambers that every one of us, apart from his “heroes”, has turned into our own self-contained irrational killing machine.

Not for Hari do Israelis fight back against thousands of deadly Kassam rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza towards Israel’s southern towns or against Katyushas hitting nothern Israel from Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon.

And Hari thinks that Hamas, “the ugly fundamentalist group”, tacitly accepts a two-state solution but how ignorant can one be.

Accepting a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, as Hamas does, is not the same as accepting the existence of Israel.

But Hari has fallen for Hamas’ rhetoric hook, line and sinker.

Hari finishes off urging the Palestinians:

“They should declare independence. Then it is up to us – the watching billions – to pressure our governments to make it real, rather than a howl in the dark.”

Hari doesn’t understand that Palestinian society is in no state to declare independence. While building consruction is swiftly taking place in West Bank towns the hatred that persists between Hamas and Fatah will mean that civil war, bloodshed and revenge killings would not be far away.

Hari hasn’t thought the consequence of his logic through but, then again, for Israel’s haters the demonisation of Israel and Israelis far outweighs any concern they really have for the Palestinian people.