Friday, January 4, 2008

“Who needs Israel when you have Hezbollah?”

It is common that children who were abused by their parents will turn into child abusers themselves. On a national scale, the same effect can be observed. E.g., a Dutch movie shown during the European Film Festival in Beirut a month ago claimed that the Jews have become the new Nazis because of the way they treat the Palestinians, a notion that’s well spread in the Arab world. More in general, freedom fighters often become dictators once they grab the power.

It seems that people quite systematically follow bad examples, or rather, learn from their opponents. Just a few observations from the last few days in Lebanon will illustrate this point:

  1. Israel has been occupying part of Lebanon for the longest time. Hezbollah has been occupying downtown for over a year now.
  2. Israel has been blocking the airport and sea ports during the July War. Hezbollah is threatening to do the same in two weeks time.
  3. According to Hezbollah, Israel is behind the targeted killings of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians/journalists and yet has threatened warned Jumblatt to shut up or else risk being killed.

What to think of this? Is it a sad trait of the human character to imitate one’s enemies? Probably yes, however, one is better off taking comfort in the reassuring predictability of humans. A wary smile, a silent nod are enough to provide the illusion of understanding this stage and its actors; as usual, it doesn’t take much to be content with one’s self.

Still, there are some questions to be answered. Like, why would Hezbollah escalate the conflict? To celebrate the upcoming Ashura, which is always a good moment of Shiite group building? Unlikely. In fact, all is going well for them right now: the government has been paralyzed most effectively and all the tough talk of pushing forward with a simply majority vote for the new president, have proved to be idle poses of toothless politicians. So why rock the boat?

But somehow, most Lebanese are beyond nuances like this. Beaten down by daily stress, they are fed up and have had enough. Under such circumstances, it doesn’t take much to believe the worst and, granted, the news of a deepening of the crisis has been alarming the last two days.

Shooting in the air during New Year’s Eve is immediately explained as evidence that the Lebanese are arming up again; whereas Michel Hayek, Lebanon’s most famous fortune teller, is hardly believed because his predications for 2008 were too positive.

When listening to Walid Jumblatt and sayyed Hassan Nasrallah who gave a TV interview for different Lebanese stations two days ago, one could hear the same negativity, an endless flow of uninspiring pessimism. Coupled with the latest news of Hezbollah threatening to close the airports and sea ports, it is no wonder that you can now hear some Lebanese sigh: “Who needs Israel when you have Hezbollah?”


Tony said...

hezbollah occypying downtown? do u guys actually beleive yourselfs when you state these bullshits. they (anti-Syrian Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbolla, Amal, Al-marada & the Lebanese Democratic Party) are camping in a 5000 sqm area that looks like a parking lot and that is a mile away from the downtown where all the shops are. and they are camping to show their opposition against a goverment formed mainly of theifs that stole the public's money ($40b) during the last 17 years (when they where allied with syria and controlling everything)