Home > "Stop that shit!"

"Stop that shit!"

by Open-Publishing - Sunday 23 July 2006

Wars and conflicts International Uri Avnery

By Uri Avnery

A WOMAN, an immigrant from Russia, throws herself on the ground in total
despair in front of her home that has been hit by a missile, crying in broken
Hebrew: "My son! My son!" believing him dead. In fact he was only wounded and
sent to the hospital.

Lebanese children, covered with wounds, in Beirut hospitals. The funeral of
the victims of a missile in Haifa. The ruins of a whole devastated quarter in
Beirut. Inhabitants of the north of Israel fleeing south from the Katyushas.
Inhabitants of the south of Lebanon fleeing north from the Israeli Air Force.

Death, destruction. Unimaginable human suffering.

And the most disgusting sight: George Bush in a playful mood sitting on his
chair in St. Petersburg, with his loyal servant Tony Blair leaning over him,
and solving the problem: "See? What they need to do is get Syria to get
Hizbullah to stop doing that shit, and it’s over."

Thus spake the leader of the world, and the seven dwarfs - "the great of the
world" - say Amen.

SYRIA? BUT only a few months ago it was Bush - yes, the same Bush - who
induced the Lebanese to drive the Syrians out of their country. Now he wants
them to intervene in Lebanon and impose order?

31 years ago, when the Lebanese civil war was at its height, the Syrians sent
their army into Lebanon (invited, of all people, by the Christians). At the
time, the then Minister of Defense Shimon Peres and his associates created
hysteria in Israel. They demanded that Israel deliver an ultimatum to the
Syrians, to prevent them from reaching the Israeli border. Yitzhak Rabin, the
Prime Minister, told me then that that was sheer nonsense, because the best
that could happen to Israel was for the Syrian army to spread out along the
border. Only thus could calm be assured, the same calm that reigned along our
border with Syria.

However, Rabin gave in to the hysteria of the media and stopped the Syrians
far from the border. The vacuum thus created was filled by the PLO. In 1982,
Ariel Sharon pushed the PLO out, and the vacuum was filled by Hizbullah.

All that has happened there since then would not have happened if we had
allowed the Syrians to occupy the border from the beginning. The Syrians are
cautious, they do not act recklessly.

WHAT WAS Hassan Nasrallah thinking of, when he decided to cross the border and
carry out the guerilla action that started the current Witches’ Sabbath? Why
did he do it? And why at this time?

Everybody agrees that Nasrallah is a clever person. He is also prudent. For
years he has been assembling a huge stockpile of missiles of all kinds to
establish a balance of terror. He knew that the Israeli army was only waiting
for an opportunity to destroy them. In spite of that, he carried out a
provocation that provided the Israeli government with a perfect pretext to
attack Lebanon with the full approval of the world. Why?

Possibly he was asked by Iran and Syria, who had supplied him with the
missiles, to do something to divert American pressure from them. And indeed,
the sudden crisis has shifted attention away from the Iranian nuclear effort,
and it seems that Bush’s attitude towards Syria has also changed.

But Nasrallah is far from being a marionette of Iran or Syria. He heads an
authentic Lebanese movement, and calculates his own balance sheet of pros and
cons. If he had been asked by Iran and/or Syria to do something - for which
there is no proof - and he saw that it was contrary to the aims of his
movement, he would not have done it.

Perhaps he acted because of domestic Lebanese concerns. The Lebanese political
system was becoming more stable and it was becoming more difficult to justify
the military wing of Hizbullah. A new armed incident could have helped. (Such
considerations are not alien to us either, especially before budget debates.)

But all this does not explain the timing. After all, Nasrallah could have
acted a month before or a month later, a year before or a year later. There
must have been a much stronger reason to convince him to enter upon such an
adventure at precisely this time.

And indeed there was: Palestine.

TWO WEEKS before, the Israeli army had started a war against the population of
the Gaza Strip. There, too, the pretext was provided by a guerrilla action, in
which an Israeli soldier was captured. The Israeli government used the
opportunity to carry out a plan prepared long before: to break the
Palestinians’ will to resist and to destroy the newly elected Palestinian
government, dominated by Hamas. And, of course, to stop the Qassams.

The operation in Gaza is an especially brutal one, and that is how it looks on
the world’s TV screens. Terrible pictures from Gaza appear daily and hourly in
the Arab media. Dead people, wounded people, devastation. Lack of water and
medicaments for the wounded and sick. Whole families killed. Children
screaming in agony. Mothers weeping. Buildings collapsing.

The Arab regimes, which are all dependent on America, did nothing to help.
Since they are also threatened by Islamic opposition movements, they looked at
what was happening to Hamas with some Schadenfreude. But tens of millions of
Arabs, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf, saw, got excited and angry
with their government, crying out for a leader who would bring succor to their
besieged, heroic brothers.

Fifty years ago, Gamal Abd-el-Nasser, the new Egyptian leader, wrote that
there was a role waiting for a hero. He decided to be that hero himself. For
several years, he was the idol of the Arab world, symbol of Arab unity. But
Israel used an opportunity that presented itself and broke him in the Six-Day
War. After that, the star of Saddam Hussein rose in the firmament. He dared to
stand up to mighty America and to launch missiles at Israel, and became the
hero of the Arab masses. But he was routed in a humiliating manner by the
Americans, spurred on by Israel.

A week ago, Nasrallah faced the same temptation. The Arab world was crying out
for a hero, and he said: Here am I! He challenged Israel, and indirectly the
United States and the entire West. He started the attack without allies,
knowing that neither Iran nor Syria could risk helping him.

Perhaps he got carried away, like Abd-el-Nasser and Saddam before him. Perhaps
he misjudged the force of the counter-attack he could expect. Perhaps he
really believed that under the weight of his rockets the Israeli rear would
collapse. (As the Israeli army believed that the Israeli onslaught would break
the Palestinian people in Gaza and the Shiites in Lebanon.)

One thing is clear: Nasrallah would not have started this vicious circle of
violence, if the Palestinians had not called for help. Either from cool
calculation, or from true moral outrage, or from both - Nasrallah rushed to
the rescue of beleaguered Palestine.

THE ISRAELI reaction could have been expected. For years, the army commanders
had yearned for an opportunity to eliminate the missile arsenal of Hizbullah
and destroy that organization, or at least disarm it and push it far, far from
the border. They are trying to do this the only way they know: by causing so
much devastation, that the Lebanese population will stand up and compel its
government to fulfill Israel’s demands.

Will these aims be achieved?

HIZBULLAH IS the authentic representative of the Shiite community, which makes
up 40% of the Lebanese population. Together with the other Muslims, they are
the majority in the country. The idea that the weakling Lebanese government -
which in any case includes Hizbullah -would be able to liquidate the
organization is ludicrous.

The Israeli government demands that the Lebanese army be deployed along the
border. This has by now become a mantra. It reveals total ignorance. The
Shiites occupy important positions in the Lebanese army, and there is no
chance at all that it would start a fratricidal war against them.

Abroad, another idea is taking shape: that an international force should be
deployed on the border. The Israeli government objects to this strenuously. A
real international force - unlike the hapless UNIFIL which has been there for
decades - would hinder the Israeli army from doing whatever it wants.
Moreover, if it were deployed there without the agreement of Hizbullah, a new
guerilla war would start against it. Would such a force, without real
motivation, succeed where the mighty Israeli army was routed?

At most, this war, with its hundreds of dead and waves of destruction, will
lead to another delicate armistice. The Israeli government will claim victory
and argue that it has "changed the rules of the game". Nasrallah (or his
successors) will claim that their small organization has stood up to one of
the mightiest military machines in the world and written another shining
chapter of heroism in the annals of Arab and Muslim history.

No real solution will be achieved, because there is no treatment of the root
of the matter: the Palestinian problem.

MANY YEARS ago, I was listening on the radio to one of the speeches of
Abd-el-Nasser before a huge crowd in Egypt. He was holding forth on the
achievements of the Egyptian revolution, when shouts arose from the crowd:
"Filastine, ya Gamal!" ("Palestine, oh Gamal!") Whereupon Nasser forgot what
he was talking about and started on Palestine, getting more and more carried

Since then, not much has changed. When the Palestinian cause is mentioned, it
casts its shadow over everything else. That’s what has happened now, too.

Whoever longs for a solution must know: there is no solution without settling
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And there is no solution to the Palestinian
problem without negotiations with their elected leadership, the government
headed by Hamas.

If one wants to finish, once and for all, with this shit - as Bush so
delicately put it - that is the only way.


"Someone has to be the first to break the silence and it will be me"

The Lebanon 2006 war has produced its first conscientious objector - Staff
Sergeant Itzik Shabbat, a 28-year-old TV producer, who is a resident of
Sderot. "I know people will attack me and ask how could I refuse to take part
in this war when Qassams are falling on my hometown and Katyushas on the towns
in the north. But only this type of opposition will put an end to the ongoing
madness and shatter the false feeling that the entire home front supports this
unnecessary war. Someone has to be the first to break the silence, and it will
be me. It is a shame that my mobilization order was signed by a fellow Sderot
resident, Defense Minister Peretz."