Monday, July 24, 2006

Why don't the Lebanese rise up against Hezbollah?

Hezbollah did one thing that was very smart. Could Israel apply those same tactics in the occupied territories?

Helping Hand of Hezbollah Emerging in South Lebanon
New York Times
May 30, 2000
Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, May 30 -- The Hezbollah militia, known for its rockets and bombs, is back in southern Lebanon in force -- this time with an army of doctors, nurses, veterinarians, bulldozers, agronomists and engineers.

One week after the last Israeli soldiers abandoned the rocky hillside villages that they controlled for nearly 18 years, the business of keeping the water pumping and the hospitals running for an estimated 75,000 Lebanese civilians has been taken on by Hezbollah....
Koppel on NPR, 2006 (audio)

Ted Koppel says the Lebanese government is corrupt and unable to supply needed services to the Lebanese. Hezbollah, for all its evilness, is corruption free, and has stepped into the breach. Oddly, the Shiites in the south feel more loyalty to the organization that provides all those hospitals, schools and so forth than to the Lebanese government, which as always given short shrift to the Shia.

Why shouldn't Israel use a Hezbollah tactic?

What if the Israelis went into Gaza and the West Bank and built hospitals and schools, rebuilt destroyed neighborhoods, helped replant the olive orchards, and helped the Palestinians build factories and start industries?

Die-hard pro-Israelis will say that you can never trust the Palestinians, they are all terrorists and will never change, and so forth, but reconciliation efforts have shown that when Arab and Israeli get to know each other, they get along just fine. A lot of the mutual hate depends on them being isolated from each other.

Jews have been in Palestine for centuries. Many never left the region during the diaspora. It was a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution all over Europe. They felt safe in Palestine because Islam was very tolerant toward Jews until recent history. Ethnically, the Jews and Palestinians are practically the same people. Both name their kids Abraham (Avram, Ibrahim). Words from similar languages name a common hope for the Middle East: shalom (salaam).

All that began to change when the British got involved and made a series of decisions calculated more to cover their own asses and boost their interests in the Middle East than to solve the Jewish-Arab problem. The results generated a frustration that turned Jews and Arabs againste each other. Palestinian groups attacked Jews, and Jews organized defense forces and attacked Palestinians.

Since then there has been an escalating tit-for-tat of atrocities from both sides. The atrocities from the Israelis happen to be greater than the Palestinian atrocities mainly because Israel is a powerful nation backed by the United States, while Palestinians have no state, no army, and no real support from the Arab community. They are thus not as effective at applying their hate as Israelis.

Evil begets evil, and has in the Holy Land since before 1948. Good begets good, at least after an initial period of disbelief and distrust. And it's good for your soul. Ancient conflicts end in one of two ways: both sides decide they've had enough of the hate and distrust and reach out to each other; or one side completely wipes out the other side. Let's hope for the first possibility.


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