TCS Daily


The Hezbollah Nexus?

By J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss - July 6, 2006 12:00 AM

The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has enjoyed a respite in Western news of late, even though it continues to augment its considerable weapons stockpile despite being required to disarm by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 and by anti-Syrian factions in Lebanon. The United States, the driving force (along with France) behind 1559, is preoccupied with Iraq and with Iran's nuclear program. Israel, whose northern border remains vulnerable to Hezbollah "kill an Israeli soldier" incursions, has its hands full dealing with the elected Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and with its own political debate about the determination of borders. But there is reason to believe that all these issues -- the insurgency in Iraq (which is certainly being fanned by Iranian meddling), Iran's nuclear ambitions, Palestinian terrorism, and Israeli security -- are interrelated, and that their nexus is in fact Hezbollah.

Last year, Hezbollah's "spiritual" leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, computed for the first time the scope of his group's arsenal: "They say [we have] 12,000 rockets...I say more than 12,000 rockets." Most of these fire 107mm and 122mm Katyusha missiles supplied directly from Iranian army stocks. These devices have small payloads and short effective ranges. But an increasing number of Hezbollah's rockets are of a more lethal variety. Intelligence analysts report that Iran has made large scale deliveries of Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets to its Lebanese clients, shipping them via passenger and cargo flights to Damascus International Airport where, with the approval of Bashar al-Assad's Ba'athist regime, they are collected by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and delivered to Hezbollah installations in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

Iran builds the Fajr missiles with Chinese and North Korean assistance. Fajrs are fired from hard-to-destroy mobile launchers, and can carry up to 200 pounds of explosives from 25 (for the Fajr-3) to 45 miles (for the Fajr-5). Israeli intelligence estimates that several hundred Fajr rockets have been delivered so far. Most are aimed at Israel's third largest city, Haifa, home to one of the Jewish state's two oil refineries and to Matam Park, the hub of its high-tech industry. To help with targeting, Hezbollah has access to Iranian-controlled Mirsad-1 unmanned aerial vehicles which can transmit live video footage.

Why is Iran so generous to its Lebanese friends? In addition to the obvious ideological affinities (a hatred of Jews and a desire to increase Shia influence), recent international pressure on Tehran has increased Hezbollah's value to the mullahs as a bargaining chip. As Eli Karmon of Israel's International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism elaborated to the Jerusalem Post recently, Iran has the flexibility to "use Hezbollah either before pressure is put on them, in order to deter the United States -- or else afterwards, once there are aggressive policies or actions by the Security Council, Hezbollah can be used to strike back." One might add that the Hezbollah arsenal also acts as a deterrent against an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities (an option that is, in any event, fraught with logistical difficulties).

To this point some object that, while Iran's interests in arming Lebanese militants are clear, Hezbollah has no interest in raising its international exposure at a time when it has achieved unprecedented political power. But this objection misunderstands Hezbollah's raison d'être. As it continues to leverage military force for political power in Lebanon, its impressive arsenal adds to Hezbollah's strategic and ideological luster. For example, the group can now literally use its rockets to shoot its way into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where its muscle contrasts starkly with the feckless Palestinian Authority. Consider Hezbollah's reaction to Israel's targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad chieftain Nidal Majdoub on May 26: "Three days ago Zionist intelligence services murdered the military commander of Islamic Jihad, along with his brother, in Sidon, Lebanon, without being aware that this would be reflected in the rapid fall of missiles of resistance."

While the Israel Defense Force has, in cooperation with Northrop Grumman and smaller Israeli and U.S. contractors working for the U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command, developed sophisticated anti-missile defense systems, it will be years before these can effectively counter Fajr rockets. Time is not on Israel's side here. Eventually, Israel may feel compelled to exercise its sovereign right to self-defense by preemptively attacking in a manner that not only eliminates the Fajr rockets, but also prevents Tehran from easily reestablishing them. While such a unilateral move will no doubt meet with publicly expressed consternation, the fact is that the nature of threat makes it hard to argue that there is a framework that legally binds the Jewish state to seek prior authorization to effectively defend itself against foes who revel in genocidal fantasies. And the fact is that should it take strong action, Israel, the U.S., and all those who fear a nuclear Iran will all be able to breathe a bit easier. For all our sakes, it's high time to bring Hezbollah back into the international limelight.

J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.


46 Comments

Your thumb is on the scale
What a welter of disinformation this article promotes! The first canard is that the Iranians are somehow behind the Sunni insurgency, opposing their fellow Shiites in the government. The author assumes everyone in here is really dumb. In reality such Iranian assistance to Iraq has been economic in nature, for instance helping to fund an oilfoeld development project out of Basra. I think they want the government to prevail, not the insurgents.

Second, let's not forget that from the git go, Hezbollah has had the prupose of defending South Lebanon from Israeli incursion. Given the events of recent years, can anyone see any sane reason they should give up their guns? They are in fact the government of South Lebanon, and enjoy the popular support of the people they protect.

The only occasion in recent years I can recall where H. was giving aid and support to Hamas in their liberation struggle was that shipload of arms that was interdicted out of Gaza a few years back. This is a possibility I'm sure the IDF is keeping an eye on, but you'll have to admit it's not happening that often.

The trouble with the formulation that Israel is vulnerable to having its soldiers killed on "its northern borders" is, of course that the Heights are actually Lebanon's southern border. Israel doesn't belong there. So why should we care if trespassers occasionally get shot?

There's much more, of course, but let me just close with this. It was only a few days ago that Israel was threatening to bomb Damascus in targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders. With a neighbor this agressively warlike, I don't think anyone could blame Hezbollah for ordering a few extra long range missiles. It's ridiculous to think they would use them for offensive strikes. But ehre is an obvious need for defense.

thumb up your behind
If not Iran, who do you think supports the Hezb, the Swedish girls soccer league, the Vienna choir boys? Do you also think that it was the Hiz. that drove the Isaelis out of Lebanon? Would that be just like the Palestinian terrorists recently drove the Israelis out of Gaza? Were the Isarais valiantly forced back from the 10 mile stip they had in souther Lebanon? If you think that Hiz main raison d'etre is to defend Lebanon, do you deny they have as their stated goal the destruction of Israel. Here's mental mind game; imagine that Israel deside to go the way of Mahatma Ghandi, eschew violence etc. they unilaterally disarm themselves and afterwords after they have disbanded all their armed forces, they ask to sit down at a negociating table, what do you think would happen real soon. I hope you will answer these questions so that the few remaining readers who don't already know, that you are off the wall. Great article.

Witty
Iran certainly gave Hezbollah help getting started, and for all I know still offers some support to them. But that was not the point of the article. The article attempted to prove the point that everything bad happening in the Middle East is their fault. And that is just ludicrous.

Hezbollah was founded for self defense, and they've done a very good job keeping South Lebanon free from Israeli domination. Do you think non-Jewish peoples do not enjoy a natural right to defend their borders?

I do not recall that Hezbollah's stated goal is to destroy Israel, although they may have indulged in such rhetoric. The point is, they have been doing nothing to implement such a goal. Nor has Hamas, nor has Iran, nor has Syria, all of whom hold Israel in odious contempt.

Things would be greatly different if any of these parties had any talent for military action. Israel dominates the dynamic amid a sea of people who hate them, merely because no one can focus their hatred into effective action. Thus I don't see either side standing down for the next hundred years. It will always be bad there, with no conclusion possible.

hamas
I notice you can't answer my question, but I'll try one more. You mention that hamas hasn't been doing anything to implement their goal(which you are a denier of) of destroying israel; then are the 1000 or so rockets they fired into israel so far since the israeli hand-over of gaza just a coy way of trying to make friends? Yes, i blieve that everybody has the right of self defense put the palestinians wouldn't need any if they just stopped sending their women and children into israel loaded with bombs. Are you sure you're not really a guy called Michael that I used to argue with all the time here, and that many other people also mocked for being on a different planet?

Iran is a regional predator and international terrorist
Iran’s is an oppressive Islamist Nazi-like warrior state gearing up for battle. It already supports terrorist activities around the world and in the region. It is setting-up frontline military and terror installations as it seeks to establish a nuclear umbrella. This is 1938 Rhineland-level danger … actually it is worse.

Iran is a threat by its very nature.

You haven't asked the question yet
First you're talking Hezbollah, next you're talking Hamas. Are you aware these are two different groups? For that matter, do you know who Islamic Jihad is?

During the Hamas cease fire there were a lot of rockets fired into Israel. Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for most. I know of none that were fired by Hamas-- or Hezbollah, or Iran, or North Korea for that matter. One thing you can say about Arab political factions in general is that they find it very difficult to enforce any kind of discipline. They're just not very organized, and this is a major element holding them back from success. But Hamas has been about as disciplined as they get in enforcing a truce among their own people.

But now the cease fire has officially ended. I'll bet you have no idea why that happened, do you?

Look it up. It was a terror attack against a Palestinian family on the beach one day.

Is "Michael" another of my many flags of convenience? That could be. I guess we'll just never know.

Roy's World: Hezbollah = Friendly Border Patrol
You are so very misguided on so many issues in the Middle East. It is a wonder you even try to comment on them.

Onto a quote:

>"Second, let's not forget that from the git go, Hezbollah has had the prupose of defending South Lebanon from Israeli incursion. Given the events of recent years, can anyone see any sane reason they should give up their guns? They are in fact the government of South Lebanon, and enjoy the popular support of the people they protect."

Let's look at the REAL Hezbollah, the "Party of God".

They are a group of Shiite militants that opposes the West and Israel, and seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state modeled on Iran. This they have stated. I would actually have posted links directly to their website but it seems to be down as of this writing.

While you try to make them out to be "defenders" who are only concerned with defending the borders, let us not forget a few dates and incidences that have seemed to conveniently slipped your mind.

Besides the numerous, smaller attacks and kidnappings against Israeli, American, and other Western targets there are these "defensive" actions:

The 1983 suicide truck bombings in Beirut that killed more than 200 U.S. Marines in their barracks.

The 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847.

The 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina that killed 29 people.

The 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina, which killed 95.

Yep. These guys are just like the Minuteman Project! Just protecting the borders.

The State Department reports that Hezbollah receives substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria. Although Iran initially helped the group form, since 1990, Syria has been in charge of the group's activities.

You make like to paint Hezbollah as a bunch of Boy Scouts but the fact is that their own charter calls themselves a Islamist struggle movement that openly condemns the "Zionist occupation" as well as allowing no legitamacy of Israel at all.

>"enjoy the popular support of the people they protect."

Is that why Hezbollah fought to keep the Syrians in Lebanon against the huge and active protests of the Lebanese people? It is quite a reach to say that they have popular support. They have some support of the population and the support of the occupying power, Syria, that really makes the calls. Although you seem to have no problem with this.

>"The only occasion in recent years I can recall where H. was giving aid and support to Hamas in their liberation struggle was that shipload of arms that was interdicted out of Gaza a few years back. This is a possibility I'm sure the IDF is keeping an eye on, but you'll have to admit it's not happening that often."

Your memory is quite convenient. If you recall, after the first Gulf War, at the start of the Oslo peace process negotiations with Israel, Iran pledged $30 million a year to "uncompromising Hamas" and agreed to train thousands of Hamas activists in Iran and in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon. You see, the leaders of Iran didn't like the fact that the PLO was sitting down with the Jews. Can't be having that! So I would say that Iran was instrumental in supporting violence over peace in yet another instance.

In conclusion I would say it is safe to say Hezbollah owes its existence to Iran, is friendly with Iran and Hamas, and receives support from Iran.

Sidenote: As for Iran funding the Sunnis, I was of the mind that they were funding Sadr and his group of loons. This also was a case of Iran choosing destabilization over stability if you ask me.

Now it does seem possible that Iran was funding the Sunnis since the majority of Iraqi Shiites are supporting the US presense in Iraq. This is the type of animosity that allowed Saddam to train and fund Islamic terrorists and for the Baathists of Syria to fund and support Islamic terrorists. They may hate each other but they hate us even more. I haven't looked into the Iran/Sunni insurgency connection yet so this is just my opinion.

Have a nice, informed day.

So you are a true supporter of Islamo-fas cism?
I do believe we've had this discussion before. Your ability to equivalize groups like Hamas and Hezbollah with Israel and the IDF is simply incredible to me. Show me one real instance where either of these groups, or Islamic Jihad or the PLO for that matter, started up, and through most of their existance operated, as anything but a terrorist group with the singular goal of harassing, dammaging and, ultimately, destroying Israel?

Which one of these groups started as a true defense force whose only goal was the defense of it's people? Let me give you a hint, it is the military arm of the Israeli government.

The rest, and all those who back them, are a bunch of criminals guilty of captial offenses and they should be treated as such.

Wow talk about being an under study for the mullahs!
I wonder how long one has to attend a madrassa in order to memorize a line like "in reality Iranian aid to Iraq has been economic in nature." Yeah the economy requires a hell of alot of IED's and Revolutionary Guard cadres for urban renewal.

But Roy has always stood out as a good dhimmie longing to spread the caliphate. And one has to applaud dhimmie Roy's pronouncement regarding the new redefined borders of the Middle East. One laughing contrasts Roy's protrayal of shooting Israeli soldiers as trespassers with his attitutde toward those trasspassers down on our southern border, and his valiant defense of illegals who just happen to tresspass. But who cares if a tresspasser gets shot right Roy?


Pathetic beyond believe as always.

One half the story
This doesn't cut it, Tlaloc. Israel has on one spectacular occasion, under Ariel Sharon, invaded Lebanon and committed atrocities against the civilian population. I don't recall a single instance when a Hezbollah raid has penetrated further than the Israeli border zone. Maybe you can help me out with an actual reference here, showing that Hez. has been playing offense and Israel defense.

To say that Syria has been in charge of their activities is unfounded. Safer to say that Syria allows them to operate out of a Damascus office. I'm sure they also offer material support to them. They certainly don;t control them.

Regarding the famous Beirut truck bombing, let me ask you a question: was Hezbollah in New York harbor shooting cannon into the city from offshore, or was it the USS Bowen and the USS Caron who were shelling occupied neighborhoods in West Beirut? I'm thinking that could make a difference.

Besides, that one was never pinned on Hezbollah.

The TWA flight 847 ordeal was an Imad Mughniyah job. The boy was a bad one all right, and did a lot of other bad things too. Kuwait Airlines flight 221 was another one of his jobs.

Had they been up to such shenanigans in recent years I'd have a much more prejudiced view of them. But I think the Mughniyah days are over. After all, wasn't the Irgun under Menachem Begin the original terorist gang, bombing the King David Hotel back when this whole thing was just starting up? And didn't Begin sort of mellow by the time he went political and became Israel's PM?

Or how about Ariel Sharon, giving the go ahead for the Sabra and Shatila massacre-- the worst single terrorist act in the entire history of Israel? Ever hear a word of condemnation about that?

I'll give you that Mughniyah was a bad hat. And everyone's glad to be rid of him. But I only see Hezbollah today as being a self protection force, patrolling the Golan Heights against further Israeli incursions.

I think Iran has fingers inside the Iraqi government on a lot more levels than just backing Sadr's militia. That's what we set ourselves up for by upsetting that particular apple cart. We started a train of events when we had no idea where they might lead. Sure, the Iranians don't belong there. For double sure, the Americans don't. Let's see how the middle game plays out. This one won't be over for another thirty years.

For all that I have a lot of confidence in al-Maliki-- if someone doesn't kill him. He's about the best outcome that poor country could ever hope for.

An old debate
We have in fact been over all this before, Paul. The Zionists all came over from Eastern Europe to a place their ancestors hadn't lived in for 2,000 years and took it over. Then they squeezed out the original inhabitants-- almost.

But the plan didn't quite succeed, and now their task is to learn how to govern with the consent of the governed. I don't think they're very far along that path yet.

Therefore I do incline to the idea that Israel has not yet justified its existence in Palestinain land. Maybe they will some day. But not the way they're proceeding. So my money's still on the freedom fighters.

Let me ask you a question. Has there been any single terror incident in this whole business that's had a higher civlian body count than Sabra and Shatila? Maybe you can think about that as you wonder what motivates these demons from the depths of hell.

Oh yes, You asked which group started as a true defense force whose only goal was the defense of its people. I recall that that group was Irgun-- the people who started the whole anti-civilian thing when they bombed the King David Hotel. Did I get it right?

Israel will be righteously victorious
RB/Michael wrote: "Hezbollah was founded for self defense, and they've done a very good job keeping South Lebanon free from Israeli domination. Do you think non-Jewish peoples do not enjoy a natural right to defend their borders?"
Things would be greatly different if any of these parties had any talent for military action. Israel dominates the dynamic amid a sea of people who hate them, merely because no one can focus their hatred into effective action. Thus I don't see either side standing down for the next hundred years. It will always be bad there, with no conclusion possible.
That may be partly true. But understand that Israel entered Lebanon for legitimate self-defense after being attacked by guerillas operating out of South Lebanon and bering rocketted from South Lebanon.

RB/Michael wrote: "I do not recall that Hezbollah's stated goal is to destroy Israel, although they may have indulged in such rhetoric. The point is, they have been doing nothing to implement such a goal. Nor has Hamas, nor has Iran, nor has Syria, all of whom hold Israel in odious contempt."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4314423.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1908671.stm

From the BBC: "The party's rhetoric calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. It regards the whole of Palestine as occupied Muslim land and it argues that Israel has no right to exist."

"Things would be greatly different if any of these parties had any talent for military action. Israel dominates the dynamic amid a sea of people who hate them, merely because no one can focus their hatred into effective action. Thus I don't see either side standing down for the next hundred years. It will always be bad there, with no conclusion possible."

No. Israel will eventually be victorious. Greater Israel will stretch from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. The Arab oppressors under Hamas will raise a conventional army which will eventually commit to a conventional invasion of Israel or commit some other act of war after a long series of attacks. Israel will then drive the oppressors over the Jordan or into Syria. Likely Syria will have a part in the aggression and will fall to Israel as well.

Self-defense against Arab aggression
Michael wrote:"But now the cease fire has officially ended. I'll bet you have no idea why that happened, do you?"

"Look it up. It was a terror attack against a Palestinian family on the beach one day."

No terror attack. Likely it was unintentional. The Israelis apologized. When was the last time any of the Arab murderers ever apologized for what are INTENTIONAL murders of Israeli civilians?

Understand that the Arab aggressors were making war upon Israsel by launching rockets at Israeli terrotory and at Israeli civilians. Israel responded and unintentionally may have sent a stry shell that killed the civilians.

But ultimate responsibility lies with the fascist Arab aggressors who launch rockets concealed within the civilian population. If the Hashemite Arabs want peace with Israel they should stop commiting acts of aggression. Then they could have a state of "Palestine". But I doubt that is what they want. They want Israel's destruction. If their civilians don't want to be at risk, then they can raise their sons and daughters to make peace with Israel rather than wage aggressive war upon Israel.

Ambiguous language
Michael wrote: "Therefore I do incline to the idea that Israel has not yet justified its existence in Palestinain land. Maybe they will some day. But not the way they're proceeding. So my money's still on the freedom fighters."

The above is somewhat ambiguous. Michael claims that Israel hasn't justified its existence, yet he bets on Israeli victory (his money is on the freedom fighters).

Let's clarify.

Israel's existence is justified because it is a free country and the surrounding lands are dictatorships of some sort or another. Also, the Israelis BOUGHT the land, and the Jews had a continuous presences there for more than 2500 years. The Arabs rioted in 1920 because they didn't like peaceful Jews buying land and living among them. They rioted in 1938 and as a result the British curtailed peaceful immigration and millions of Jews were left in Europe to die at the hands of the Arabs' Nazi allies. When the British abdicated, the Arabs again rioted and the Israelis rightfully concluded that force would be necessary to remove aggressors to prevent them from killing Jews.

Israel has since that time become a strong modern technologically advanced nation. So, Michael is right to put his money on the freedom fighters. They will eventually attain complete and total victory over the fascist, Arab, aggressors and oppressors.

And by the way, Sabra and Shatila were committed by Phelangist militias, not by Israelis, in a nasty civil war in which overall more atrocities were committed by the Muslim oppressors.

apologies
The Israelis said they were sorry the family died. They did not apologize for killing the family. They didn't need to, as the evidence has shown that the Israeli shell did not kill them.

Bruce and Roy
Thank you Bruce for clarifying the Sabra and Shatila.
Roy, you got it right and wrong. I'm of the understanding that group is considered the father of the MOSSAD not the IDF. Therefore the only correct answer available is the IDF. Sorry!

Typical arguement Roy, you always ignore the Jewish presence in the area, you ignore the land purchases, in fact you ignore any claim but that made by the Arabs (which has less validity than any). So my arguement is, or would be, much like Bruce's (though probably not a strongly worded).

Old Grudges
Roy,

In re that first canard about Iran stirring the pot in Iraq. Memories are long in the middle east. Persia long and long ago possessed the land between the rivers. An unstable Iraq suits their purposes just fine and offers a chance of recovering those lost lands.

Might makes right
Your moral argument consists of the invader being militarily superior. They were lucky to have found a subject race with three fatal flaws:

1) No military talent whatsoever.

2) No sense of public relations. Think of it. Foreign overlords come to crush indigenous people. How could the Pals manage to turn world opinion against them? Meanwhile the IDF continues killing Palestinian babies, most recently on the beach in Gaza, and no one says a thing. Just amazing.

2) No unity. Total inability to unite around a common cause.

This is a little different than giving the Zionists the moral high ground. They did, after all, come and conquer a land that was not theirs. Their mistake though was in not exterminating the race they hoped to rid themselves of. So as long as there are Palestinians there will be trouble.

It always strikes me as funny when pro-Israeli advocates say things like "Greater Issrael vill be victorious! Ve vill stretch from sea to sea!" without the slightest sense of irony. Haven't you heard Colonel Klinghoffer saying this exact line before, to the captive American pilot?

If the Zionists had been decent about escaping Europe and parking there they would have gotten along fine in a pluralistic state. Most peasant cultures are naturally empathetic toward refugees from oppression. But they weren't at all nice, or fair. So I don't think anyone will ever extend to them a right to exist. I know I wouldn't. So I think they've made their bed and now must lie in it.

What madrassa did you attend Roy?
Tell us about the peasant culture that taught you to mouth these platitudes Roy. Pathetic.

You're not about to move; neither am I
Israelis killing Pals is always unintentional, by definition. Even though they shoot for the face, and usually hit it. That's to avoid body armor. Even young boys get shot in the face.

I saw a chilling video one time, back during the Intifada. An IDF wagon appeared and a soldier jumped out the back. He aimed directly at the camera, and then the picture went blank. You don't have to ask me whether they do these things on purpose. In that case, body armor did stop the shell and the photographer lived.

Israelis invariably apologize. It's pro forma, and no one believes it. The next day, they're at it again. I see that whenever someone makes a concession, Israel takes it and demands more. Who's going to play that game more than once?

If it's the considered opinion of the locals that they can't live peacefully with the Israelis, and I don't see why that shouldn't be their opinion, the only thing left is to advocate for their destruction. They have really worn out their welcome over the past century.

Roy gives new meaning to "One mans terrorists are another man's freedom fighters"
Anyone care to guess how Roy sees Arab terrorists? Any surprises with the kind of comments he makes. One only hopes they really turn up the temperature for him when the time comes to make his maker.

Roy needs his meds
Yeah Roy, one can imagine what would have happened had it been an Arab Army advancing iinto Israel. The world can't even imagine what the world atrocity means until an Arab gets the opportunity to run riot. Just as we see in Iraq, your pals the jihaddies are capable of exceeding whatever limits the ***** set by far. And we wonder where Hitler managed to find people to man the ovens.

hamas et al
Yes I know the difference in names between these various terrorists groups that all want to destroy israel; but it was you who referred to hamas in your last message: "The point is, they have been doing nothing to implement such a goal. Nor has Hamas". The family on the beach was probably killing by one of their own incompetent bombers screws up. Whenever that happens, they always blame israel. Israel doesn't target women and children the way the palestinians do. You might be aware that school busses in israel must be armoured and guarded because of terrorist attacks, but school busses in pal. areas do not have to do that because they know that israelis don't target kids. Let's try this one on you; why did the palestinians pick up that hitchhiker the other week and toruture and kill him? That's not the soldier they just kidanapped and will likely torture too before they kill him.

Right makes right
RB/Michael wrote: "Your moral argument consists of the invader being militarily superior."


Israel's existence is justified because it is a free country and the surrounding lands are dictatorships of some sort or another. Also, the Israelis BOUGHT the land, and the Jews had a continuous presences there for more than 2500 years. The Arabs rioted in 1920 because they didn't like peaceful Jews buying land and living among them. They rioted in 1938 and as a result the British curtailed peaceful immigration and millions of Jews were left in Europe to die at the hands of the Arabs' Nazi allies. When the British abdicated, the Arabs again rioted and the Israelis rightfully concluded that force would be necessary to remove aggressors to prevent them from killing Jews.

So there is more than sufficient moral justification for Israel.

Roy/Michael wrote: "If the Zionists had been decent about escaping Europe and parking there they would have gotten along fine in a pluralistic state. Most peasant cultures are naturally empathetic toward refugees from oppression. But they weren't at all nice, or fair. So I don't think anyone will ever extend to them a right to exist. I know I wouldn't. So I think they've made their bed and now must lie in it."

How were they unfair or not decent? They never rioted nor attacked the natives. They BOUGHT the land. Only after continuing rioting and attacks upon Jews did they take an aggressive approach.

I'm not saying the Zionists couldn't have done better treating the locals in everyday dealings, like employment, economics and things like that. But they never treated them badly, nothing to deserve the enemnity directed at them. The problem is not that somehow the Jews alienated the Arabs. Rather that Muslims don't tolerate Jews in an equal or dominant political position, or tolerate in their midst an independent state in which Jews are politically equal or predominant.

At least I know your game now -- you believe Israel has no right to exist.

Roy/Michael wrote: "Their mistake though was in not exterminating the race they hoped to rid themselves of. So as long as there are Palestinians there will be trouble."

No, Jews don't do things like that. Most every nation was formed by conquest at some point, or settlement on virgin land. The Jews tried to BUY the land. That makes the Jews different, a cut above in my book. Eventually the Arabs will be swept along with the tides of modernity and come to appreciate Israel. Either that or be swept away by Israel if or when they commit a serious act of war.

Again, as a final note, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel for 2500 years, even though they have been the minority for much of that time. The Jews who have returned to Israel still bear genetic similarities to the native Jewish population, provable in DNA testing.

Perhaps
There are a lot of layers to the action over there, and that might be one of them. However I don't see the evidence. We have spooks on the ground in Khuzestan, and they don't see much clandestine cross-border traffic other than smuggling. If they did we'd be seeing it played up huge in the media.

Up north? The usual Kurdish faction stuff. But no pro-Iranian action that I've heard of.

The thing preventing a lot of overt Iranian influence peddling is that even in the Shiite areas people tend to dislike and distrust Iranians, who they suspect of sneaking in to influence them. In the Sunni areas, of course, this has become a paranoiac obsession. So if we had anything to worry about yet I think there'd be smoking guns on display.

Terror hits and targeted assassinations
Your comments would be more effective if they stuck closer to the facts. No one disputes that the family was killed by an Israeli missile. So to say "The family on the beach was probably killing by one of their own incompetent bombers screws up" is not only at odds with what happened, it's terrible English.

Israel leads us to believe they don't target women and children, yet they always run a higher anti-civilian tab from one year to the next in civilian deaths. Most of them are close range and personal. Many are kick-ins, where they kick in the door and murder every living thing inside. It's hard to envision a policy more callous toward noncombatants.

But those are merely incidents that can be looked up and checked. I know you will prefer to retain your baseless beliefs in Israeli purity.

Yes, the drive-by you refer to in one of the settlements was ugly. In fact the same thing just happened here in Durham, where gang bangers shot four kids outside a house. One died. Tempers run hot in the summertime. But I don't think the orders for that one came from any shadowy Hamas Mr Big. I think it was just neighborhood guys who hated Israelis.

Here's one I know you didn't see on Fox TV though, a teenager a couple of nights ago that was abducted and executed by the IDF. Tell me whether this is official policy (hint: the IDF tells us it is):

http://www.btselem.org/english/israeli_Civilians/20060629.asp

The Jews bought the land
This one deserves a more thoughtful response as you actually have read some history.

First, can we dispense with the "they have always lived there" argument? There is no collective title to land. 2500 years ago everyone's ancestors lived someplace else. That doesn't mean I can go back to wherever it was, kick people out and announce I'm back home now.

The Zionists lived in places like Germany and Poland. And they got on board ships, and moved to a strange land. They found people living there they had never seen before, speaking tongues they didn't understand. Your "continuous Jewish presence" is a bogus argument when it comes to kicking people out of villages they have lived in continuously for centuries. For real.

The problem was primarily a clash of cultures. The settlers wanted land and the local pashas wanted to sell it to them. No one had ben there in a very long time who wanted to buy anything. The only problem was that all the land was agricultural, and was worked by tenant farlers-- fellahin who came with it.

But not acording to European perceptions. It was just a simple matter to buy the land only for them, and just tell the tenants to get off it. And here is where things begin to get off the tracks.

Israelis are adamant, hostile about having done nothing wrong. Yet they will admit openly to devising the Plan, to evict all the farmers and to agre among themselves to give work only to other settlers, denying them even the means of becoming the usual urban proletariat that follows these kinds of land-sale events. The Plan was to push them out of the country altogether. And their god was telling them it was all right to do this.

It all depends on what you perceive as wrong. I would side with the Pals in seeing this as the ultimate injustice, to take everything they have and offer nothing in return. As early as 1908 Palestinians were aware of the Plan, but they were ignorant farmers against Europeans. They had no talent for resistance.

It didn't get better on the eve of independence. In a remarkable display of democracy as criminals imagine it, the Zionists wanted to declare themselves a real country and hold elections. But they couldn't, so long as they were in a minority. So they devised another brilliant Plan.

Announcing and then executing midnight raids on all the villages, they buffaloed sleepy Pals to flee with their bedrolls to become refugees out on the desert somewhere. Then they declared that the people had decided voluntarily not to join the new nation. Israel was born.

I have very little patience with people who can spin this as being a moral act. So believe me, we'll get along much better if you don't try to justify it.

If you're still looking for a homeland, there are ancient Jewish genes in a tribe in Lesotho, as covered by the National Geographic. I know you'll love it there.

Jews right to the land
Roy/Michael wrote: "I have very little patience with people who can spin this as being a moral act. So believe me, we'll get along much better if you don't try to justify it."

I won't TRY to justify it. I WILL justify it. You'll just have to get some patience. If we don't get along, then tough.

Roy/Michael wrote: "First, can we dispense with the "they have always lived there" argument? There is no collective title to land. 2500 years ago everyone's ancestors lived someplace else. That doesn't mean I can go back to wherever it was, kick people out and announce I'm back home now."

No, we cannot dispense with it. There were Jewish communities in Hebron and many towns in the Levant. If their bretheren want to come back and buy land, they have every right to. People have a right to freedom of movement and immigration so long as they respect the rights of others, which the Jewish immigrants did.


True, the Jews did buy some land from landlords that had peasant tenants, and they did evict tenants. But for the most part, they bought mainly unoccupied land, and city and town land also. True, many Jews only hired Jews. But the economy was still intertwined and the Jews also hired Arabs. No Arabs hired Jews.

Your burden is to prove that there is anything "wrong" with this, apart from being tough business practices, and that the practice was bad enough to justify the ensuing anti-Jewish riots.

Fact is, if one owns land, one has a right to do with it as one pleases and one has a right to hire and fire as one pleases. Some people may not like it, but the right still exists.

Sure, the Jews could have been a bit less tough traders and landlords. But the practice only took place on a portion of the land and did not justify the Arab response. The Arab response was because they feared the Jews would attain sovereignty.

Question: Do you think that the Arabs and their descendents would accept fair compensation? I think it should be given, regardless whether or not it is morally required, just to smooth things over. It would probably be cheaper in the long run then fighting continuous war. But I doubt the Arabs would take it. Why? Because it's all about sovereignty, not land.

There is a difference between property and sovereignty. Just because one has one does not necessarily entitle one to the other. Sovereignty is the power to rule. The party that will install the most free government is the party that has most moral right to soveriegnty. The Arabs have dictatorships in all of their sovereignties. The Jews have an imperfect, yet free, democracy. Therefore, the Jews have the right of sovereignty over the Land of Israel.

If the Arabs would install a more free government, then they would have the right to sovereignty. But they have not effected a free society anywhere they had a chance, not even in the PA. So, it is unlikely they would install one. Therefore, they do not have moral right to sovereignty.

Roy/Michael wrote: "It didn't get better on the eve of independence. In a remarkable display of democracy as criminals imagine it, the Zionists wanted to declare themselves a real country and hold elections. But they couldn't, so long as they were in a minority. So they devised another brilliant Plan."

At the time of Israeli independence, Jews were a majority on the land they claimed and that was part of the Partition Plan. The Arabs initiated attacks upon Jews and showed that they would never accept Jews living among them. The Israelis then chased Arabs out of certain towns where they posed a threat.

Should the Arabs who lost land and their descendents be compensated? Yes. Should they be given a right to return? Not if it involves sovereignty. A returning population does not have a right to impose tyranny, which would be the likely result. If they did a have a right to return, it would not necessarily confer citizenship where they could vote to impose tyranny.

Please also note that during the Israeli War of Independence, Arabs committed atriocities and would have chased the Jews out if they could.

Roy/Michael wrote: "If you're still looking for a homeland, there are ancient Jewish genes in a tribe in Lesotho, as covered by the National Geographic. I know you'll love it there."

I love it here in the U.S. But I won't have to go to Lesotho. There will be plenty of space in Greater Israel for people like me. Yeah, you'll be hating it, but that's tough.

My ancestral rights
A few years ago I went back home and visited my uncle, who showed me the house I lived in when I was two years old.

If I had some ancestral claim, I suppose I could just have walked up to the door, said "All right, I'm back. Everybody just pack up your things and leave now" it would have been acceptable under the doctrine of ancestral right. The people who had actually been living there, of course, would have had no corresponding right to the house.

But you might say "Suppose you did it properly and bought the house?"

If you bought it from them, fine and dandy. But the Zionists bought their lands from absentee landlords, and evicted peasants who were tied to the land. Had these peasants been able to find another place to live, or even enough work to scrape by, that would have ben fine. I'd be in agreement with you.

The fact that they weren't afforded that opportunity, and that Israeli apologists won't even talk about it, makes the whole argument look very suspect. To me, it reeks of hypocrisy and deceit. To your credit you are willing to see there is another side to the issue.

Yes, there were settlers who liked individual Arabs, and those who respected them as having some right of existence. But I don't think hoistory shows this was the dominant pattern. The prevailing current was "Out! Out!". I've gotten much of my history from Benny Morris, who notes that Jewish intentions were no secret to the Arabs from the earliest days. Thus there was certainly antipathy on both sides. Who started it?

Looking at the issue as objectively as I can, I compare it to my experiences in the renovation movement, back in the 1970's. Gentrification was occurring in many inner city neighborhoods, and I was among those who used to buy up old falling apart houses, telling the occupants to leave, then fixing them up and selling them to yuppies, who were a new phenomenon. The activity was very comparable.

And there was resentment, among poor blacks getting displaced by rich whites. There was even talk of "The Plan", by which Whitey was conducting a plot to empty the cities of black people and take them back over.

As it happens, American blacks had many other options, and most chose to move to the suburbs and start new lives in new homes. The refugees of 1948 didn't have that option open to them. For them the only option available was a rage unquenched. To me, this is poor people management.

Suppose instead that the black tenants I gave notice to had been so upset they retaliated by killing random white folks in the street? I would have known there was a serious problem, and could have responded by (a) moving out, (b) shooting back, or (c) trying to offer a deal that would satisfy, thus making the problem go away.

The Israelis couldn't move out and elected not to craft a deal that would satisfy their opposition. So they were left with (b) overwhelming firepower.

Look at how successful this approach has been.

So we're left with the facts on the ground. That anonymous sage said it best when he said "Every people gets the government it deserves".

May experience triumph over theory for once. May both parties, hopelessly in error, forget the blame and find a formula for living together. One side says they will destroy Israel, yet does nothing to actually bring that end about. The other swears they mean no one harm, yet has crafted an elegant and stealthy formula for destroying a community and a culture. Until they each recognize themselves for what they are they will be unsuccessful in representing themselves to the other.

The other half
What doesn't cut it? The facts? Let's take a looky!

>"I don't recall a single instance when a Hezbollah raid has penetrated further than the Israeli border zone."

I guess the hundreds of rockets flying over the Lebanese border as well as the great number of kidnappings that Hezbollah has claimed over the years do not register to you. Did I say that Hezbollah is stupid? No. They do not conduct "raids", they fire missiles and sneak into towns since they know the IDF would fall on them. International pressure keeps the IDF on there side of the fence these days.

>"To say that Syria has been in charge of their activities is unfounded. Safer to say that Syria allows them to operate out of a Damascus office. I'm sure they also offer material support to them. They certainly don;t control them."

Certainly? So the ones that hold the purse strings have no say over the direction of the organization? The closely coordinated actions of the two would seem to indicate a level of cooperation based on finance.

>"Regarding the famous Beirut truck bombing, let me ask you a question: was Hezbollah in New York harbor shooting cannon into the city from offshore, or was it the USS Bowen and the USS Caron who were shelling occupied neighborhoods in West Beirut? I'm thinking that could make a difference."

So as the war escalated in Lebanon with Syria and Israel at each other's throats as well as several other factions, it was irresponsible for a coalition of US, British, French, and Italian troops to go in a attempt to pacify the situation? This move passed what Kerry would call the "global test" and it had much support. If you wish to portray it as randomly lobbing shells into neighborhoods then so be it. Which begs the question, who was actually occupying those neighborhoods? Syrians? One of the other fighting factions? No, it doesn't matter to you since the US was at fault right?

So no, I do not look upon this terrorist attack as a "defensive" action since Hezbollah is an Iranian construct in the first place. Their stated goal was to create a sister state of Iran in Lebanon. That is something to oppose I think. If you were as committed to human rights as you claim you would think so to.

>"After all, wasn't the Irgun under Menachem Begin the original terorist gang, bombing the King David Hotel back when this whole thing was just starting up? And didn't Begin sort of mellow by the time he went political and became Israel's PM?"

Well, first of all, Begin actually called in the attack to the British in order for them to evacuate the building. They did not think he would do it so the bombs went off with them still inside. Not an excuse, mind you, and I am not happy that Begin remained in a position of power within Israel and he should have never have been allowed to become a PM no matter how much he "mellowed". The mistake the world makes over and over is allowing people such as this to become statesmen. Like Arafat.

>"Or how about Ariel Sharon, giving the go ahead for the Sabra and Shatila massacre-- the worst single terrorist act in the entire history of Israel? Ever hear a word of condemnation about that?"

You mean the Sabra and Shatila where the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia was responsible for the massacres that occurred at the two Beirut-area refugee camps? The Israelis had allowed the Phalange to enter the camps as part of a plan to transfer authority to the Lebanese, and accepted responsibility for that decision.

Any outrage for Lebanese killing other Lebanese? Sure. All on Israel's side. They created the Kahan Commission of Inquiry that found that Israel was indirectly responsible for not anticipating the possibility of Phalangist violence. Israel instituted the panel's recommendations, including the dismissal of Gen. Raful Eitan, the Army Chief of Staff. Defense Minister Ariel Sharon resigned over the whole situation.

Oh, outside the 300,000 Israeli citizens demonstrating in Israel to protest the killings there was no outrage at all Roy. It demonstrates the difference between Israel and its enemies: Israel punishes its own when they step over the line while suicide bombers and terrorist attacks on falafel stands are celebrated. Your moral equivalency knows no bounds if you see similarities.

>"But I only see Hezbollah today as being a self protection force, patrolling the Golan Heights against further Israeli incursions."

Is it "defensive" to launch rocket after rocket if you are only watching for Israeli incursions? Is it "defensive" to kidnap Israelis from their side of the border? You have an odd concept of defense.

>"For all that I have a lot of confidence in al-Maliki-- if someone doesn't kill him. He's about the best outcome that poor country could ever hope for."

At least you put something in your post I can agree with. Better check the tightness of your tie on the rest.

Or maybe North Korean puppets
So then, in light of your illuminating disclosure of the facts, I would say "I don't recall a single instance when a Hezbollah raid has penetrated further than the Israeli border zone."

What have you said that differs from what I said? I know you're just trying to find a straw so you can use it to hang an argument on, but you're just using my own facts to agree with me. Hezbollah today mostly just conducts border skirmishes in the Shebaa Farms area. Of Lebanon.

As for purse strings, what kind of budget do you think Hezbollah runs? Do you see any evidence of money being expended in the advancement of global terror? I sure don't. All the money they can come up with through Islamic charities mostly just takes care of widows and orphans and buys the occasional rocket. These dudes don't drive around in gold Lexuses wearing bling.

Maybe you could give me an example of some million dollar operation they're involved in. They're the kind of guys that when one brother goes out wearing the boots, the other brother has to stay home.

Re the shelling of West Beirut: Yes, I've heard the official version, where we were only in there to keep the peace and we were really the men in the white hats. But take a look at it how the story plays from the other end:

Here's an Israel that only exists because it's bankrolled by the Great White Pigs from across the water. So Sharon uses a factional squabble between the Christian Phalange and the various Muslim militias-- really all of them just junior mafias-- as a stalking horse to mount an invasion and expand the Motherland. The invasion culminates in two concentration camps for refugees being turned into extermination camps. The gun handlers may have been Christian gangsters but the brains are Jewish, what an irony.

Then the Yanks show up to set everything straight. But they're always jumpy around gunfire, and explosions in the city make them think everyone's shooting at them. So from offshore they shell a neighborhood full of Shiites, Druze, the occasional Greek, cobblers, card players... and a number of bad men with guns as well.

Several weeks later their Beirut Marine HDQ gets a little visit from the Committee. The Americans get the picture and beat feet out of there.

And you wonder what motivates Hezbollah?

As long as you take the quite irrational position that they are just Iranian stooges and not real Lebanese, or on alternate days Syrian stooges, you can convince yourself that they do not belong in South Lebanon whereas the Americans do. I'm not going to tell you where your head is at, but that ain't daylight down at the end of the tunnel. Hezbollah is as Lebanese as it gets.

I'm glad you like my assessment of al-Maliki. Would that you were as objective about Hezbollah. Shalom.

Footnote: Sharon's complicity (or lack thereof)
This one will have to fall into the realm of personal opinion, since no one will ever find a smoking gun, but do you read the younger Ariel Sharon as being the kind of mud wrestler who was so naive that he would hand over unarmed Palestinian DP's to a band of Lebanese gunmen who he knew hated them, without an inkling as to what might happen?

And if he did, do you think he would have just sealed off the area and given a nod to the head of this bunch of thugs without keeping an eye on the situation? Is this the military approach? Did he suspect, or care, that it might turn bloody?

Lebanese who knew the passions of the day say that anyone would know what was going to happen next. But okay. Sharon was just a babe in the woods. Let's ask ourselves

What do you suppose he did when the shooting started?

Okay then, what did he do the following day, when the shooting still continued? He couldn't hear the women's screams?

Answer me that and I can offer to you who bears the responsibility as the senior officer on the scene.

**

So now let's go to the issue of your choice: is there blame to spare for Lebanese groups who kill each other, and kill innocent noncombatants?

Of course there is. Any time a man with a gun kills someone with none, there is blame. And if it's just one bunch of guys shooting at another bunch of guys shooting back, then there's no blame. The boys are just having themselves a little fun.

But I do believe there is a general rule in life. If you willingly enter a fight between two guys you don't know, you don't get to be surprised if they both gang up on you. Some people are very possessive about their fights.

It's a good rule.

I said loosen the tie, not tighten it!
>"So then, in light of your illuminating disclosure of the facts, I would say "I don't recall a single instance when a Hezbollah raid has penetrated further than the Israeli border zone."

No. Just rocket fire into civilian populations and kidnapping jaunts over the border. Really nothing for those hostile Jews to get riled up about.

>"As for purse strings..."

It seems to me that because funding does not go into "bling" or "Lexus" does not mean that the money is not spent in the initiation, recruitment, weapons, and perpetuation of a terrorist group called Hezbollah. Like I said, those rockets are pretty inconsequential to you but you are not the target. You have a gift for creating a cartoonish version of a terror war.

>"Re the shelling of West Beirut: Yes, I've heard the official version, where we were only in there to keep the peace and we were really the men in the white hats. But take a look at it how the story plays from the other end:"

I really love the way you can communicate that conspiratorial whisper in your writing. Remember kids, the official version, established by facts, is NEVER to be believed. Uncle Roy knows what really happened! In fact you know the mind of Sharon so well that you know he plotted the massacre. No sir! That was no miscalculation! Everyone knows how those Jews can manipulate.

Don't get me wrong, the only reason any country is in the Middle East is because of their resources. That is why everyone is comfortable declaring the US the biggest human rights violator while conveniently ignoring Darfur, North Korea, Cuba, etc.

So yes Roy, we did go in for our own reasons. We wanted peace in Lebanon. Your version of it shows that you have an excellent mind for Jihadist propaganda.

>"And you wonder what motivates Hezbollah?"

Absolutely not. They will flat out tell you that they desire a government in Lebanon of the type created by Khomeni in Iran. Oh, and the full destruction of Israel, a democracy that is their unfortunate neighbor.

I don't believe I ever said they were not Lebanese, just that they do not represent the majority of the Lebanese population and yes, they are Syrian and Iranian stooges. That much is clear.

Nor did I say that the Americans belong there. I am very certain that the Syrian dictatorship, supported by Hezbollah, was a better protector of freedoms and human rights than we would have been. In your world, human suffering and oppression is okay unless the US is trying to stop it.

I know you believe your fantasies to be "objective" but they fall far from the mark. Often your type will claim "objectivity" as a refuge from reality. Such objectivity shields you from making any judgements that would place you on the side of US policy.

How long can Roy do the good dhimmie role?
I have read too much of Roy's crap to stand it any longer. Terrorist orgnizations operate on the pennies of widows and orphans? That's why Yassir Arafat had over 600 million in his bank accounts when he left for hell.

That's why terrorists are deeply involved in the drug trade around the world. That's why they operate blackmail and murder groups throughout the world, for donations. That's why they operate gun running operations and other illegal activities.

But to hear Roy talk they couldn't have bank accounts. Remmebre Roy telling us recently that US intelligence operations against such accounts didn't accomplish anything because the terrorists knew about them.

Duh, if you don't have any money why do you have bank accounts ace?

One tires of Roy's blantant racism and hatred.

Some possible agreement
Somehow, we seem to gotten out of adversarial mode. We may have substantial agreement and not have known it.

First, I'm a secularist -- an atheist -- even though I was raised Jewish and am of Jewish blood. I'm much more American than Jewish. I'm Jewish when I perceive anti-Jewishness. I don't run from it like the self-hating Jews. Otherwise, I'm an atheist, mainly because it's the most rational and true belief, and the concept of a supernatural is incoherent and contradicts known observation.

So, I'm not real enamoured of the concept of a specifically religious state, Jewish or otherwise. Though, I will concede that the Israeli Jewish state is much more tolerant of atheists like me than any propective Arab/Muslim state, as exists in the middle east currently, except for possibly Turkey (which has a majority Muslim population). If I lived in Israel, I would likely work to change the religious nature of the State of Israel, to make it like the U.S. with constitutional non-establishment of religion.

I have a good amount of agreement regarding tenant farmers' rights. I believe in the Lockean basis of property rights. And that on that basis, there is much basis for land reform throughout the world. Unless the landlord has made some real improvement and maintained the land, they have a lesser claim than a tenant who has improved the land, thereby mixing his labor with it and making it his own. Many land claims throughout the world are simply land grants made by rulers to favored or moneyed parties generations ago, but have no basis in natural law, as a Lockean claim would.

So here is my ideal solution to the problem.

1.) Change the Israeli constitution to implement non-establishment of religion. Require a huge super-majority to change it, say a 7/8ths vote of the people or some such scheme. Or make it set in stone so that it cannot be changed ever, regardless of what religion ever is a majority, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, etc. Set it up so that Israel remains forever a free, constitutional, democratic, republic, similar to the United States.

2.) Either offer the displaced Arabs and their descendents the freedom to return to their ancestoral lands or compensation. Citizenship and the right to vote would only be granted if the person swore allegiance to the secular Constitution as naturalized citizens of the U.S. do. To be fair, the same oath could be required of all citizens of the new republic.

3.) The new secular republic would stretch from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. The name would be the "Republic of Israel", but another name like "The Republic of the Levant" may be acceptable.

4.) All religions would have unimpeded access to their sacred sites. If the Jews wanted to build a "Third Temple" they'd have every right to do it on top of the Second Temple so long as they didn't interfere with the Al Aqsa mosque. All of the world religious leaders from the Pope, to the Rabbis, to the Imams amd Mullahs should be forced to get together in a big pow wow and hammer out their differences and come an agreement regarding respect for e4ach other's sacred sites and peace in the Levant/Israel, or else they'd all be taken into custody until they do so. Forced negotiations. Forced peace. Or something to that effect but a little bit more diplomatically acceptable. Intense diplomatic pressure for sure.

The U.S. has spent hundreds of billions on aid to the middle east, not just Israel but Egypt and the Arab states as well. Instead of being used for military and humanitarian purposes, that aid should be diverted into paying the Levant Arabs compensation for lost lands. It's better to pay in treasure than blood.

The above proposals would bring a fair peace to the region. However, they are unlikely ever to occur.

Given the current and most likely options actually open, for my part, I want the state most friendly to atheism. As it is, the Israeli Jewish state is much more tolerant of atheism than the Arab/Muslim states and any likely new Arab state. So if I'm forced to choose between the options open to me now only, I choose Israel, even though it is a religious state, because it is the most tolerant of atheists like me.

This conversation's falling apart
They need financial backing for initiation, recruitment, weapons and perpetuation? Man, what are you thinking?

How much backing does MS-13 have? This is not that dissimilar an organization, although in this instance gang bangers and criminals. For themselves, they need beer money and a garage.

The main expense for someone like Hezbollah goes to cover their community responsibilities, to support their local base. This, as I say, amounts to supporting widows and orphans. Count up a year's worth of armed forays, firefights and rockets and see if you can reach a quarter of a million. For a group this popular, the money's easy to come by. It comes from barbers and cab drivers. If you haven't noticed, Muslims are very prone to giving to what they believe are good causes. It's part of the religion to display charity.

Are there connections between people within Syrian intelligence and Hezbollah-- or Hamas for that matter? It would be very surprising if there were not. Those folks wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't talk to each other. But you'll never see the footprints. You can just assume they have understandings between one another.

At the same time, Syrian intelligence is even more labyrinthine than ours has been, with around a dozen different security organs, some of whom don't even talk to the others. This is not a simple world. But I think it is one where the notion that Hamas and Hezbollah are just puppets, while the grand ophthalmologist Assad pulls the strings from above, is simplistic and juvenile. I'm sure they get a big kick out of the idea that this is the kind of thing many Americans imagine.

Turning to the great danger their rockets represent-- is it not the case that the targets are IDF outposts at the perimeter of a contested area? Is this not a legitimate tactic in war? Or are such people not permitted to fight back?

So you readily admit we are in the Middle East to take from it what we want, yet if I say anything in defense of people who would like to keep us out of their country, that's Jihadist propaganda. I think you're too well defended to make any sense, most of all to yourself. Patriotism is obvious wherever it can be found.

Who'd have thought?
That was a profound document. Thank you for realizing the obvious before I did.

We're nearly in exact agreement. I have no Jewish genes but I grew up in midtown Manhattan, so early on I got used to my neighbors being Italian, black, Ashkenazi or Albanian eskimo. I tended not to identify with any gang but to look down on all gang behavior. I was raised by adults.

So religious and ethnic differences are something felt very strongly by many, due IMHO to poor upbringing. I see this as a social pathology that has damaged human history since our origins as an urban species at Jericho.

Your thoughts on the Israeli state are precisely my own. We are both in a minority, here as over there, in recognizing the only stable solution is what they call a single state solution. It requires that both sides grow up, meet in good faith, come to agreement and shake hands on a mutually binding deal. In the present state of affairs, I believe this is the unlikeliest outcome.

It is interesting to note that our position-- that there should be a unified, democratic state encompassing Israel and the OT's, with all eligible native peoples having citizenship or agreeing to renounce it-- is actually the first preference of about 30% of the Israeli public. Let's call them the liberal wing, and yes, they tend to be secular.

This is also the opinion of about 30% of the Palestinian public. They tend to write less than do the Jews, as Benny Morris has observed, so we know less about their inner feelings. But they do answer poll takers.

Still, 30% is not a majority. The remainder can't budge because they believe the other side to be acting in bad faith. And I think they are probably correct in this belief. So the prognosis is for Palestine to continue to be slowly ground to an exquisite death in the Israeli mill, all the while making certain Israel suffers as much as they do-- and for them to take far too long to die.

Because it must be obvious to everyone that this is no contest between equals. To me it's closer to the contest between a cat and a mouse. After a while it becomes so painful to watch you just want to take the mouse and set it free to die in peace. This past month's activities are a good example... the death of a thousand cuts.

It's fear that makes people do these things.

One would have to wash away all those generations of fear before he could come to both, take them by the hand and say "Come, let's find a way to build a land we can both own and share. And let's then live on it in peace forever, with no winners and no losers." Lots of luck there. I don't think even Dr Phil could find the charm for this transformation.

In closing, I don't want to destabilize our truce but would like to offer something that illuminates the struggle as many see it. Read this other side of the news, if just for educational purposes, so you can better understand those people who inexplicably appear to be standing up for the baby killers. Thanks.

http://www.thenation.com/docprem.mhtml?i=20060619&s=cockburn

For Peace. Shalom.

Are you talking to/about me?
Sabra and Shatila: senior commanding officer present was Ariel Sharon. The trigger men were local militias.

Paul, you say "I'm of the understanding that group is considered the father of the MOSSAD not the IDF." I've gone back to my original statement and I don't see that I've named a group, or touched on whatever this comment describes. What is this in reference to?

Finally, I do not ignore the land purchases. I point to an obvious factual disconnect, in that people who have come over from Europe during the past humdred years are said to have had a continuous presence there for 2,500 years, while people who have obviously been living there in contemporary times, many of whom still live there, have no claim. Do you perceive no bias in this?

In line with this approach, witness Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, while half its residents are not considered citizens, inhabitants, humans, or indeed anything at all. Thus they do not get to participate. Do you see no irony in this view?

As to ignoring various claims, who gets plaintiff status in any tort? I believe it's the person who has been injured. Show injury on the part of the aggressors commensurate with that of the victims, and we can talk.

Irgun?
You said - "Oh yes, You asked which group started as a true defense force whose only goal was the defense of its people. I recall that that group was Irgun-- the people who started the whole anti-civilian thing when they bombed the King David Hotel."

As for the land purchases, if I buy 1 city lot or 1,000,000 acres I expect it is my land to do with as I please. If you were a share-cropper or squatter under the old owner, you had better be ready to vacate when the sale goes down. this is very true of renters in any culture. Perhaps the Jews could have been a bit more sympathetic, but that is no justification for mass murder.

I never said all the Jews who live in Israel have some ancestoral claim. But to say the Jews "left the region 2,000 years ago" and imply that none have a claim is very incorrect. There has always been a factional Jewish presence in the region, especially in Jerusalem. They never left the area of their own free will, they were driven out or killed. When the time seemed right, they began trickling back in. First using land purchases, later in droves as the Europeans, and later the U.N., contemplated a Jewish homeland in the region.

I've said it before and I will say it again. If you have a problem with Israel, take it up with the real culprits; the Brits, French and the U.N. The U.S. wanted no real part of this deal int he beginning and only became a backer in the later years. The Jews are really not the culprit you assign them to be as any people want a place of their own and they just took what was given to them.

The fact that Israel survived the first 20 years, against all odds and largely without major support, is nothing short of stunning. The last 40 years have been spent trying to find peace with people unwilling to give it.

That's self deception
I know you're not dumb, and through all your obfuscation you know very well the issue is the marginalization of a group of people who were living in Palestine at the time the Zionists came over. You may develop sophistries to sooth your conscience, but you can't convince anyone the Israelis haven't consciously been running Palestinians off the land for the past century.

Of course maybe they have been, but someone else told them it was okay to do it. Right?

So you think it was not Irgun that developed as a Jewish self-defense force against the British. Okay, then, who was it?

What self-deception roy?
You think the first wave that purchased the land and drove the pals off were wrong? How? If you bought a house with renters in it that you were planning to live in, or perhaps demolish and build a new house on the land, would you just let them continue to stay there until they were ready to leave?

I don't think so.

As I said, the new Jewish owners could, perhaps, have been a bit more sympathetic, but they were not wrong in any book.

The later settlers came in droves because the U.N. said the land was theirs to move into. They immediately found themselves embroiled in a war, not with the displaced Pals, but with their Arab neighbors.

Where our paths most diverge on this issue is in the belief that the Palestinians were given nothing and driven off their land. From your perspective that is the undeniable fact uyou can't ignore. To me that is simply not the case.

First off, in the pre-Israel days, the Jews who moved to the area did so by legally purchasing the land they settled on or settling on land already purchased by another Jewish person. That is seperate from the final resolution the U.N. decided on. In fact, many jews had land on the other side of the Jordan River and took a huge loss to move across the river to Israel.

But the U.N. made a decision to give the Jews a homeland and to send them back to their ancestorial home region. That meant splitting Trans-Jordan (British Palestine) into two regions; the countries of Israel and Jordan. Therefore, everything that happened after 1948 can be laid squarly in the heads of the European countries involved and the U.N. as a whole.

While knowing the history of Zionism prior to 1948 is useful, but it isn't the main point that you hate. It, I think (hope) is all of what came after 1948 that you really dislike. (I do hope I'm right about that because, If I'm wrong, than you truely are just plain anti-semite. There is no way any rational person can get too upset about anyone legally buying land and doing what they want with it.)

Another difference is you see the Palestinians have naving little or no choice in the matter. Again, I disagree.

In the end, the Palestinians on the wrong side of the river may not have wanted to move, but the other half of the region was set aside for them. Instead, they decided to stay and to continue to kill and maim Jews. Granted, with a lot of cheerleading from their "so called" Arab brothers. In this case, why should Israel be forced to let them live in that country?

The Palestinians as a group did have choices.
They could have moved to Jordan 58 years ago, they chose not to. Then, when they did move, they caused a lot of trouble there and were chased into exile.
They could have tried to work and live in the Jewish nation and gain their place in Israeli society, they chose not to.

I could go on, but the point is these people have chosen the path they are on; it was not forced on them with no alternatives.

Dogged determination
You have the patience (and the method) of a Jesuit. To you it is only Palestinian obstinacy that made them dig in their heels instead of leaving voluntarily. Obviously, any intelligent person in the face of Israel's determination to conquer should have acquiesced.

It will not surprise you if your best efforts fail to convince. You are justifying evil. I will, however offer this observation from 1923, whose author will probably be familiar to you.

http://www.marxists.de/middleast/ironwall/ironwall.htm

Justifying evil? How does one say hipocrite?
Roys simply "has the ring of truth."

Again, all on the jews
This is tiresome. Yes, I will stipulate that the Zionist movement began long ago (some would even say 1,500 years ago) and that the plan was to take over the land of Israel through hook or crook.

Yes, I will stipulate that the Pals didn't want to move off "their" land when the agreement was reached in 1948. All I asked, in the end, was a statement from you as to whether or not our major points of disagreement dated from this time forward. Your answer is to post a paper from 1923.

Considering the text, I'm not sure if that is an affirmative or a negative.

If it is a negative, we have no more to discuss as this absolutely proves your anti-sematic, anti-Israeli feelings. Which means the real evil lies with you.

If it is affirmative, we have much to discuss. It will be entertaining and educational to continue.

As for justifying evil, what evil am I justifying? Every country ever in existance came into being and/or expanded either through unification of peoples, military conquest, or outside intervention. The paper you posted shows the Jewish desire for the first, the feelings of need for the second and we all know that the U.N. provided the third. How is this in any way illigitmate, illegal or immoral?

I give up
Paul, you may quite possibly be intelligent in other areas, but you're a real moron when it comes to this one subject. My views could not be more explicit. I reference Jabotinsky in his own words because you could not get any closer to the horse's mouth.

If all the effort and care I have expended in discussing this subject with you has had no more effect than the lack of understanding you are displaying, I certainly don't intend to shove any more words down the rat hole. You believe what you believe, and not even Ze'ev Jabotinsky can convince you otherwise.

Sorry you give up
Either you are talking in circles or I'm missing the point. I see no evil in the creation of a Jewish state. I see bad decisions and, yes, some evil on both sides in the conflicts since. What part of this two-sentence overview do you disagree with?

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