Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hezbollah and Lebanon: Hope against hope


By Ami Isseroff

31.05. 2008


Hope is an admirable quality and a vital ingredient in human life. The Zionist movement recognized the importance of hope when they made Hatikva - the "hope," their song, a song that was later adopted by the state of Israel as its anthem. In the depths of concentration camp despair, our people sang "Do not say this is your last trek, that daylight has been overcome by the clouds for the day that we have yearned for will arise and come..." and "Ani Ma'amin" - I believe. Soldiers fighting the desperate battles of 1948 sang "Believe me, a day will will come when it will be good - I promise you" - the promise of a big brother to his sister.


Eventually, for many, it really was good - but not all stories have a happy ending, and wishful thinking is not what made it good. The need to maintain hope should never be confused with, or subservient to, the need for a realistic understanding of every situation.


The revolting victory of the Hezbollah in Lebanon is insidious, because it is taking place on installments. The first installment was the takeover of Beirut by Hezbollah thugs. This was followed by the Lebanese army "compromise" that gave Hezbollah what it wanted so it could withdraw its soldiers and allow them, and all other wishful-thinking Lebanese, to pretend that they were not using force to get their way. This was followed by the Qatar agreement that put the stamp of approval on the "compromise," and additionally gave the Hezbollah veto power over any government action, as well as setting up the next elections so that Hezbollah supporters would have every advantage possible. The latest humiliation to date was the glowing approval of the shameful agreement was given by the UN Security council.


A number of commentators in Israel, the Arab world and elsewhere have insisted that the Hezbollah "lost" the encounter when they turned their arms on fellow Arabs, a view summarized by David Kenner in The New Republic. Eventually, it is argued, the right-thinking Lebanese of the majority will force the Hezbollah to lay down its arms.


However. the fantasy of the Hezbollah laying down its arms will probably never happen. Hassan Nasrallah and the Hezbollah are not stupid. They understood exactly how far they could go. We can also trust that they would not make an agreement that would put them out of business. They cannot exist without their guns, so they would not allow any agreement that disarmed them.


They have engineered the takeover in such a way that they no longer need force. They have veto power over any government decision according to the terms of the Doha agreement. In effect, they almost passed an "enabling law" similar to the one that Hitler used to take dictatorial power in Germany. The government will be packed with pliant politicians, and the army already proved its pliancy. Therefore, it is almost inconceivable that they will be induced to lay down their arms.


While their might be a lot of dissatisfaction with the Hezbollah in Lebanon, this is meaningless unless it can be translated into armed force. Many Germans were dissatisfied with Hitler. For that matter, many slaves - and others - were dissatisfied with the Roman Empire, but they did not have any political or military power. Spartacus, Tacitus, Bar Kochba and others challenged the power of the Romans or groused about the emperor. Sure enough, it only took about five hundred years or so (or a millennium, depending how you count) for Rome to fall. All that is needed is patience, I suppose.


In the showdown, the army sided with Hezbollah, working out a near-bloodless capitulation to Hezbollah demands, that only required that they remove their troops from the streets. Saad Hariri, leader of the pro-government and anti-Hezbollah forces, had no say in the matter. He was a prisoner in his own house, and his Future TV was put off the air. As Hezbollah had won all their demands, there was no reason for them to keep their troops in the streets. How many divisions has Saad Hariri's Future TV? None. It was shut down in fact by Hezbollah thugs. Political power in Lebanon grows out of the barrel of a gun, and the guns of the army have sided with those of Hezbollah.


Moreover, one must take into account the apparently limitless capacity of Lebanese and their politicians to delude themselves. One has only to read the Beirut Daily Star to understand that a significant element of Sunni Arabs and Christians are willing to make believe that the Hezbollah are really working for the unity of Lebanon and that the Qatar agreement is a "good thing." This is no doubt preferable to opposing the Hezbollah, which has often proven to be very bad for the health of journalists and politicians. Whatever solution is adopted, even if and when Hassan Nasrallah is president of Lebanon and Fadlallah supreme leader, this chorus will continue to maintain that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.


Hezbollah has managed to take power by terrorizing and assassinating its most important enemies and then using just enough armed force to make clear who is in charge. Rather than disarmament of Hezbollah, it is far more likely that if Hezbollah ever "surrenders its arms" it will be because its own troops have been absorbed in, and have come to dominate, the Lebanese army. At that point, there will be nothing left of Lebanese sovereignty. The issue of popular support doesn't matter. Islamic Republics like Iran are not dependent on the support of a democratic electorate. They maintain their rule at gun point. The Kalatchnikov assault rifle and the terrorists bombs, rather than the ballot and the public opinion polls, will decide the future of Lebanon, just as they have now decided the Doha"agreement."


The next stage in the Hezbollah show will apparently be a triumph similar to the ones enjoyed by ancient Roman duces and imperators. It will be, with little doubt, the humiliation of Israel. Israel and Hezbollah are apparently negotiating an agreement for "exchange" of hostages. If all goes as planned, in a few weeks, the vicious and unreprentant serial murderer Samir Kuntar will stand free in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, along with a Lebanese Jewish spy, and accompanied by the release of a large quantity of Palestinian prisoners. A gala victory celebration will enthrone Nasrallah and Hezbollah forever as the the saviors of Lebanon and heroes of the resistance. It is probable that preparations for this landmark event are already underway. Over a million people with a sea of Hezbollah banners and Nasrallah posters will throng the streets of Beirut. Nobody will forget it, nor will they be allowed to forget it. Nasrallah and Hezbollah will again be the heroes of the Arab world if they are not now, for nothing succeeds like success.


A 'minor' consequence of this prisoner exchange fiasco will be to declare that Israel lost the Second Lebanon War - a very humiliating retroactive defeat, as if the triumph of Hezbollah were not itself sufficient evidence of that defeat. Israel sacrificed the lives of over 150 soldiers and civilians precisely because of Israel's refusal to exchange Samir Kuntar and others for the kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. However regrettable it is, all evidence indicates that there is almost no probability that Regev and Goldwasser survived the attack on them. IDF analysts who examined the site of the attack and the vehicles surmised from the damage to the vehicles and the bloodstains. that they must at least have been quite severely wounded. It is unlikely that if they were alive then, they got reasonable medical care. There has been no sign of life from the supposed captives since. Even if the captives are alive, an unlikely contingency, the Hezbollah will be handed a huge victory by the exchange. It will tempt them to carry out further kidnappings, and endanger hundreds of lives for the two that were saved. It is difficult to understand what might be motivating the Israeli government to make any such deal. Human concern for our two captured soldiers should not be put above the lives of hundreds of people that will be lost in future wars that are made inevitable by capitulation to Hezbollah demands.


In these circumstances, those who continue to find a 'silver lining' in the Hezbollah coup in Lebanon are truly whistling in the dark. A very dangerous enemy with clear goals of the most sinister kind has achieved all of its objectives, frustrating and humiliating not only Lebanese patriots and Israel, but also the will of the Arab world as well as the international community. Hezbollah intends to set up an Islamic Republic in Lebanon by their own admission. This monster state will without a doubt be a poppet of Syria and Iran and an exporter of radical Islamism and terrorism, producing a very hazardous situation for Israel as well as for most of the Arab world. Deluding ourselves will only make matters worse. It would be far more constructive to make the most sober assessments, to recognize the damage that has been done, and to see what may be done about it. The least that we can do is make certain that all of us have a realistic appraisal of what happened - and will happen - in Lebanon.


The denial of the Hezbollah triumph by commentators and politicians is perhaps the most frightening aspect of the whole sorry mess. A person who has a minor ailment is concerned and treats it. A person who knows they have a terminal illness relies only on hope, and clings to it stubbornly, because that is all they have. A country that is successful but has the usual problems is blessed with a chorus of whiners and doom sayers. A country or a people that see themselves as doomed and desperate are usually the best candidates for singing "Do not say it is your last voyage" as they are marched off to their doom. The Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon is not inevitable, and it is not the end of the world. The sky is not falling yet, but we had better all wake up and do something before it does fall.


Ami Isseroff


Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.  

1 comment:

JeffMichell said...

The Murder of Jewish Toddlers!

On July 12, 2006 Lebanese Hezbollah militants crossed the border with Israel in an operation dubbed "Operation Truthful Promise," which was aimed at nabbing Israeli soldiers in exchange for Lebanese prisoners. Hezbollah succeeded in the operation and successfully took hostage two Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. During the operation, eight Israeli soldiers were killed. This ignited the sequence of events which led to the Israel/Lebanon summer war.

The story goes further back than July of 2006. It really began in April 1979! On Sabbath day, April 22, 1979, Danny and Smadar Haran met up with a monster named Samir Kuntar.
Danny and Smadar were a loving Israeli couple. They had everything they could ever hope for... love, marriage and two precious daughters, Einat, 4 and Yael, 2. That day Smadar was home anticipating Danny's return from work and preparing for the Sabbath. She had just picked up their two toddlers from day care. Danny, on the other hand, was looking forward to nothing more than getting home and spending time with his wife and his two young daughters.

Traditionally, the Sabbath is the most special day of the week, the day the family gets to spend time together and celebrate their bond to Judaism. It was especially important for Danny who, as a young father, had to work extra hard in order to provide for his wife and young children. Little did Smadar know that this would be the last Sabbath she would celebrate with her family because of a man named Samir Kuntar. Around midnight the nightmare began!

(Samir Kuntar; also spelled: Sameer Kuntar, Kantar, Qantar, Kintar, Quntar, Qintar, Cantar)

What's the deal with Samir Kuntar?

Since April 22, 1979 Samir Kuntar has been incarcerated in an Israeli prison. Samir Kuntar, a Druze from the Lebanese mountain village of Aabey , who currently holds the dubious distinction of being the longest held Lebanese prisoner in Israeli jails. Kuntar is currently ONE of THREE Lebanese prisoners still serving time in Israeli jails. Kuntar was convicted and sentenced to a 542 years prison sentence by the state of Israel . Israel even almost tried to pass a bill to have him executed! What did he do? What was his crime? The crime Kuntar committed was one of the most sickest, heinous, barbaric crime ever committed on Israeli soil.

The crime took place on April 22, 1979 when Kuntar led a group of 3 other terrorists, all members of Abu Abbas PLF (Palestinian Liberation Front), infiltrated the Israeli coastal city of Naharya and broke into the Haran family apartment and took Danny Haran and his 4 year old daughter Einat Haran hostage. When Kuntar and his gang broke into the apartment, the wife, Smadar Haran and her 2 year old daughter Yael, were also present in the apartment. Smadar managed to find a crawl space into which she, her younger daughter, 2 year old Yael, and a neighbor all hid. To prevent Yael from crying and giving away their hiding place, Smadar covered the child's mouth with her hand.

Kuntar and his group took Danny and little Einat down to the beach. At the beach Kuntar shot Danny in the back. Danny survived the gun shot but moments later was drowned personally by Kuntar. All this was witnessed by the young daughter. Kuntar forced her to watch her father's murder so that [in Kuntar's words] "his death would be the last sight she would ever see." Kuntar then laid the little toddler down on a rock and smashed her head with the butt of his rifle. She didn’t die right away, so Kuntar beat her with his rifle repeatedly, over and over again (all this done, while she was screaming and crying), to ensure that she was dead.

Meanwhile in the apartment, Smadar's attempt to muffle her daughter's whimpering proved fatal. Yael was accidentally suffocated and died within the hiding space.
And on July 12, 2006, the ONLY reason why Ehud Goldawasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hezbollah, was to force Israel to release/surrender Samir Kuntar.
Now the dilemma is, should Israel release Samir Kuntar in order to gain the release of Goldwasser and Regev? Unfortunately Kuntar might be freed in the next couple of days in exchange for these two soldiers, or their caskets, since there hasn’t been even one sign of life since their kidnapping on July 12th. For those who didn’t know, Samir Kuntar was the only reason that’s been holding back the release of Goldwasser and Regev, for almost a year and a half.

[Image of Einat Haran]
[Image of Yael Haran]

According to Smadar Haran, her last memories of Danny and Einat, that day, were when they were being led away at gun point by Kuntar. She could hear from her closet space Danny telling Einat, "Don't be scared, my baby, it will be alright" and Einat replied to him in her little voice, "Dad, where is Mommy? I want Mommy." Smadar's last memory of her 2-year-old daughter, Yael, was when her little daughter was taken to the apartment hiding space. Right before Yael had her mouth covered by her mother, she asked her mother "Where is my little pacifier." There was no time to search for the pacifier. Minutes later Smadar covered Yael's mouth to keep her from revealing the hiding space. Smadar soon felt her daughter's tiny tongue licks and lip sucking on the palm of her hand. She didn't know what to make of it at first but hours later was told by doctors and paramedics that the reason Yael was licking her palm while she covered her mouth was because she was gasping for air.

A Sad Gruesome Reality

After drowning Danny in the sea in front of little Einat, Kuntar, the brave Lebanese freedom fighter, then turned his attention towards the frightened little 4-year old. He took his rifle and then swung it across the little toddler's head, knocking her to the ground. As little Einat was knocked to the ground, she was screaming and crying hysterically "mommy daddy help me," while thrashing her little legs around in the sand. But unfortunately Einat was alone, and no one was there to save her. Kuntar then dragged the little toddler a couple of feet to the closest rock he could find, this was while she was begging him not to hurt her. Kuntar, then laid her head down on a rock, with the intention of crushing it with the butt of his rifle. Einat, instinctively covered her head with her little arms, Kuntar struggled with the little toddler until he finally managed to clear her arms out of the way so that he could aim for her head. Once her arms were out of the way, Kuntar proceeded on beating her on the head over and over with the butt of his rifle, and repeatedly stomping on her little body as hard as he could as well, until blood rushed out of her ears and mouth, and her little cries faded away as she was knocked into unconsciousness. Then, to ensure she was dead, Kuntar continued on beating her over the head, as hard as he could, several more times until her skull was crushed and she was dead.

The nerve of Hezbollah to honor a child killer like Kuntar. The nerve of Hezbollah to kidnap two Israeli soldiers in order to force Israel to release a child murderer from jail! This is what Hezbollah is all about.

The July 12, 2006 abduction was originally named "Operation Freedom Samir Kuntar," by Hezbollah. But days before the kidnapping Hezbollah changed the name of the operation to "Operation Truthful Promise," due to the fact that Nasrallah made a true promise to the family of Samir Kuntar to have him freed from jail.

In September 2000, three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbollah, along with an Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tennenbaum. Nasrallah immediately demanded Israel release all its Lebanese prisoners INCLUDING Samir Kuntar. In 2004 Israel was holding a TOTAL of 26 Lebanese prisoners. That same year, 23 out of those 26 prisoners were released, in order to secure the release of those 3 IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers as well and Elhanan Tennenbaum. This prisoner exchange also had a second phase, which involved Hezbollah providing solid evidence on the fate of Ron Arad (the Israeli pilot who went missing in Lebanon in 1986) and in exchange, Israel would release the 24th Lebanese prisoner, Samir Kuntar! Hezbollah failed to deliver the information on Arad, and the deal was off.

In 2006, when Goldwasser and Regev were kidnapped Israel was out of bargain chips, its only choice in order to gain information on the fate of these two soldiers is the release Samir Kuntar. Who even knows if Goldwasser and Regev are alive! Let’s not forget, the four years prior to the "infamous Israel-Hezbollah prisoner exchange of 2004," Israel had no idea on the fate of their soldiers until the day of the exchange. Only on the day of the exchange Israel found out, they would receive 3 caskets instead of 3 soldiers.

It is beyond sickening, a man who beat to death a little toddler is celebrated for his glorious deed. Kuntar has been dubbed by some parts of the Arab world as the "Dean of World Prisoners." Who would imagine? Hezbollah crossing the border into Israel, killing four Israeli soldiers and kidnapping 2 more, going through all this trouble, JUST to free a child killer!

There is another point worth mentioning. Hezbollah has never claimed that Kuntar was innocent or that he may have been framed. They only demand his release as if he were being held unlawfully and that Israel had no right to imprison him.

Kuntar is probably the most hated person by the Israeli public. He is known as the "killer of Nahrya" instead of "terrorist of Nahrya." And to think that this person is being released under the context of threat, extortion, and blackmail! If it wasn’t for kidnapping of soldiers, Kuntar would have continued to serve out his sentence.

Israel has an extensive history of releasing prisoner with blood on their hands, it has been done in the past and most expect that, it would happen again. This time with Kuntar. It is important to keep in mind that prisoners who are in Israeli jails are serving time for something. Israel is not a "gangster" or "lawless" state that imprisons people based solely on a whim. Every prisoner was charged, stood trail, convicted and properly sentenced. They were not kidnapped simply because they were Arabs. Hence, there is no justification in comparing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers to Samir Kuntar.

There is a fine line between a humanitarian release of prisoners or releasing prisoners for the sake of peace AND knuckling under to unadulterated extortion. There is also a huge difference between someone with hatred in his head and he who has blood on his hands! Nobody expects that someone like Kuntar who is released will become Lovers of Israel! But someone and others like Kuntar who have committed murder or collaborated in the planning of that murder should be considered an unacceptable risk. It goes beyond forgiving terrorism. It becomes an abetting in any future terrorism carried out by those released. Israel will viewed as a weak state that can be brought to its knees by extortion.

If Israel was to release Kuntar it would be the biggest thing they ever surrendered! The Sinai Peninsula, Israel gave back under negotiations, the West Bank and Gaza Israel also gave back under negotiations of the Oslo Accords. In 1985 during the famous "Ahmed Jibril Exchange" Israel released 1200 prisoners for the release of 3 IDF soldiers, some of those prisoners who were released had blood on their hands including Kozo Okamoto who killed 22 Israelis. BUT even all those 1200 prisoners put together, cannot compare to the savage murderous act committed by Samir Kuntar. Israel also currently holds 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of which have been incarcerated for conspiring, carrying out, and masterminding murderous terrorist attacks (suicide bombings, shootings, etc…), which targeted Jewish civilians in Israel. BUT even all those 10,000 prisoners put together cannot compare to Kuntar.

Kuntar could have shot little Einat or blown her up, but instead he took his loaded gun and just bludgeoned her on the head repeatedly for several minutes until she was dead! Lets not also forget, the fact, that several minutes prior to murdering Einat, Kuntar drowned her father in front of her, and forced her to watch.

Anyone, who reads this article and does not shed a tear, is not a human being.
What kind of country is this to release a child murderer from jail under the context of threat and extortion? If we release Kuntar, we know what message it sends to Hezbollah and other terror groups like Hamas, etc… But what obscene messages does it send to the families of those Israeli murdered, especially Smadar Haran whose daughter was beaten to death by a man who hates Jews. What Kuntar did was not only a terrorist act but should also be considered a criminal act. And what demoralizing message does it send to the Israeli troops and security services who risked their lives in order to capture and arrest the terrorists?
There is no doubt that Goldwasser and Regev need to be unconditionally released from Lebanon, Syria, Iran or from wherever they are now being held. Olmert's "good will gesture" has disaster written all over it. Appeasement didn't work with Hitler and it will not work with Hezbollah. "Negotiations" will not work either for over what exactly is there to negotiate? How far will Israel go to assure its own disappearance?

There will be nothing positive coming out of the release of Kuntar. There is no worst context of releasing prisoners than under the context of threat. But today October 15, 2007 there is chatter within Israel to drop the demand for Ron Arad for the exchange of Kuntar.

The Official Website of Samir Kuntar
Israel moots Kuntar prisoner swap
(AL-JAZEERA 9/17/2006)
Free the monster Samir Kuntar
(Haaretz article 09/04/2006)
Plot to free terrorist (Kuntar) may have led to fight
(Washington Times 8/8/2006)
Nasrallah says no deal without Samir
(9/12/2006 BBC article "Nasrallah Demands Militant Free")
"Hizballah Wants Israel to Free Child-Killer"
(Cybercast News Service, 7/18/2006)
More than 25 years later, militant still atop Hezbollah's list for swap
(Seattle Times 8/16/2006)
Why Hezbollah Attacked Israel
(Mens News Daily 8/09/2006)
Samir Kuntar to be released very soon
The Jerusalem Post 1/6/2007
Video of an interview with Smadar Haran on CBC
(RealPlayer required)

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