[sixties-l] Re: Hezbollah - the new Partisans?!

From: Jvaron@AOL.COM
Date: Wed May 29 2002 - 00:27:23 EDT

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    Dear Mr. Blankfort,

    Long a reader of this list, I've long been fascinated by -- and learned much
    from -- your very studied and informative posts. Your latest, responding to
    Mr. Lerner, however, gave me tremendous pause. This line in particular:

    "The notion that Hizbollah is a terrorist organization is as valid as
    calling the French and Italian partisans terrorists which, of course, is
    exactly what Israel's Third Reich predecessors did."

    By speaking of the Nazis as "Israel's Third Reich predecessors," you seem to
    imply that Israel is somehow the successor of the Nazis, who, as we all know,
    tried to annihilate Jews anywhere its malevolent armies and influence
    reached. The analogy, if you intended to draw it in any strict or even loose
    sense, seems to me ill-advised and insupportable. All kinds of states act
    abusively towards internal minorities, those they see as external enemies,
    and populations whom they can abuse or exploit. Assuming, for the sake of
    argument, that this describes in part Israel's relationship to the
    Palestinians, I don't see why Israel's conduct must somehow be put on any
    kind of par with that of the Nazis. Oppression is always ugly and immoral;
    but it varies in degree and kind, and I needn't, I think, even deign to
    describe the obvious differences between the Third Reich and the Israeli
    state. It's become sadly popular lately to brand Israel as the Nazis reborn
    -- whether you intended it or not, your phrase suggests this facile and
    reductive equation.

    Moreover, your reading of Hezbollah seems rather naive. It was spawned by
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard in 1981-2 and, so far as we know, continues to be
    funded by Iran. It's main mission -- a valid one, I think -- was to expel
    the Israeli occupiers from Southern Lebanon, which it succeeded in doing,
    supported, at least in principle, by various UN resolutions and much of the
    international community. Its official ideology, however, is Islamic
    fundamentalist; its ultimate, stated goals (found in its original and
    enduring charter, from which I would quote if I had the appropriate texts at
    hand) include destroying the state of Israel (dubbed "the Zionist entity" so
    as to deny rhetorically Israel of any legitimacy); to establish a theocratic,
    Shiite-dominate state in Lebanon (something to which the Syrians objected, to
    the point of a civil war in Lebanon); and to spread\the Islamic revolution of
    Iran's Khomeni -- to whom Hezbollah orginally pledged a kind of fanatical,
    "we will follow and die for our supreme leader, the Ayatolla" support. None
    of these goals seems good ones, unless one advocates a war for Israel's
    destrcuction (a leader of Hamas recently suggested that there are plenty of
    wide open spaces in the US where Jews can resettle once Israel is driven into
    the sea) and the kind of religious repression/terrorism that has been
    wielded against Iranians for over 20 years, and in whose name hundreds, even
    thousands of members of the Iranian left have been assassinated, tortured,
    and persecuted (FIRST they came for the Iranian Marxists! Does no one weep
    for them?).

    If one insists on analogies with the World War Two era, one might choose the
    right-wing nationalist resistance in Poland. They wanted and did a good
    thing -- attack the Nazi occupiers by means of guerrilla war. But they made
    war also against the communists and joined the Nazis and many common Poles in
    being aggressively, even murderously anti-Semitic. Not exactly my heroes.

    Bear in mind also that Hezbollah was perhaps THE pioneer of suicide bombing
    -- though typically aimed at military targets, a crucial distinction, it
    seems -- and that brutal kidnappings -- including of clergy and members of
    int'l NGOs -- was another of their chosen means. The FLN, NLF, Sandanistas,
    FSLN, Pathet Lao, etc. waged wars of liberation by both necessary and
    unnecessary, at times insavory, but most often defensible means. The kinds
    of actions depiced in the Battle of Algiers are disturbing -- at the
    absolute, outer limit of what one might consider morally acceptable.

    The current craze of sending teenagers with bomb belts to blow civilians to
    bits -- in its relentless intensity and the righteousness accompanying it --
    may well have crossed the line, whatever we think of the Israeli occupation.
    Hezbollah must also be judged with respect to this disturbing and complicated

    And does "arms for hostages" ring a bell? These "heroic" liberation
    fighters, akin, you seem to think, to Italien and French Partisans (!),
    seemed to get on well (via Iran) with Ollie North in his sick effort to
    overthrow the Sandanistas.

    We, as a left, can argue better, I'm sure.


    Jeremy Varon

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