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

From: jeffrey blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: Fri Jun 07 2002 - 01:23:50 EDT

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    Dear Mr. Varon

    Thanks for your kind words and I hope you will take the following in the
    same spirit.

    There have been a number of Israeli Jews who survived the Holocaust who
    have compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians
    thus far with the treatment of the Jews in Germany from Hitler's rise to
    power in the Thirties to the point where the Nazis
    decided on the Final Solution. After that is another matter. Both Hitler
    and Eichmann had, in fact, read Hertzl's Der Judenstaat and agreed with
    him, for
    different and the wrongest of reasons, that Jews were unable to live in
    harmony with non-Jews, that anti-Semitism was a
    natural occurrence when that happened, and consequently Jews needed to
    find a separate state of their own.

    Thus, the Nazis, through Eichmann, assisted the minority of German
    Zionists in their efforts to emigrate to Palestine even
    while they were making life unlivable for the non-Zionist Jewish
    majority, allowing young Jewish pioneers to train on German
    soil before leaving for Palestine. David Kimche, who would later be the
    head of Mossad, wrote an article at the time,
    bragging at how he had won over Eichmann to the plan.

    There is more, including the Haavera or Transfer Agreement, in which the
    Nazis allowed German Jews to take their liquid
    wealth out of the country by buying German products which were then
    sent to Palestine on Nazi flagships where the goods were
    then resold, but I wanted to make the point that extermination of the
    Jews was not Hitler's original plan, but developed as
    the German war effort took a turn for the worse.

    There are obvious differences between the Nazi treatment of those who
    resisted its occupation in Europe and that of the
    Israelis towards Palestinians and Lebanese, but it is the similarities
    that should concern us.

    The most striking of these are the sadistic treatment of their
    respective occupied populations the use of "collective
    punishment," a form of oppression deemed a war crime under the Geneva
    Conventions, but which Israel has openly and proudly
    employed on virtually a non-stiop basis since the founding of the State
    as a means of eliminating, first, the Palestinian
    presence in 1948, and then resistance to its expansionist policies in
    the succeeding years.. .

    I have only read and heard first-hand stories about what happened under
    the Nazi's occupation, but I have witnessed that of
    Israel's in Lebanon, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.. There is also
    the time difference. The Nazi occupation was only a
    matter of several years and that time difference is, I believe, crucial
    in considering the escalation of the Palestinian
    resistance into suicide bombing in the current intifada, although
    Russians were considered heroes for sacrificing their lives
    when they blew up German tanks with Molotov cocktails. True, these
    Germans were soldiers not civilians, but Israel, as well
    as the US, do not make that distinction when Israelis are killed,
    considering an attack on soldiers, suicide or otherwise, to
    be an act of terrorism. And the US and Israeli media also conflate the
    two, so after a few days, if not a few hours, the
    Israeli dead are all described as if they were civilians. There are, of
    course, no justifications for killing of civilians
    under any circumstances, but we only seem to hear and read of the horror
    when the dead are one of "us" and we are provided
    with the grim pictures that revolt our senses.

    Hezbollah, contrary to what you have read, was born out of Lebanese
    resistance to the Israeli occupation and the failure of
    the secular forces in Beirut to respond to the occupation in any
    meaningful way. To attribute its birth and success to
    "outside agitators,"
    the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is just to buy into the US and Western
    propaganda line and fail to give the Lebanese Shi'a,
    the poorest of Lebanon's poor, the dignity of fighting and whipping a
    foreign occupying army that, ironically, they had
    initially welcomed, believing that Israel would drive out the PLO and
    then leave. They didn't, and when the Israeli soldiers
    steeped in anti-Arab racism, began treating the Lebanese as they did the
    Palestinians, they soon had a fight on their hands.

    Here is a little piece of history you're not liable to find in the
    accepted texts. Up to October, 1983, a year after the
    invasion, I arrived in Lebanon after interviewing members of Yesh
    G'vul, the Israeli reserve group made up of soldiers that
    had either refused to serve in the invading force in 1982 and chose jail
    instead, or who, though opposing the war, thought it
    was better to go and argue with their fellow soldiers about its
    validity on he front lines, and then, realizing they had
    made a mistake, chose jail rather than returning for a second tour. They
    gave me a good insight into the atrocities they had
    seen their fellow IDFers commit during the invasion. But I digress.

    A week before I arrived, the Shi'a were celebrating their most important
    holiday, Ashoura, in Nabitya, the largest city in
    Southern Lebanon. During the festival, in which the celebraters become
    very worked up, two Israeli jeeps approached the
    square where the celebration was taking place. According to a
    photographer friend who was there, as well as the mayor, who I
    later interviewed, the Israeli jeeps drove into the crowd, ignoring the
    mayor's request that they respect the celebration and
    drive around. The jeeps were burned, reinforcements were called, and
    some Lebanese were killed, and the resistance was born.
    The outrage was so great that one religious leader after another
    competed in their calls for vengeance. There were no
    Iranian Guards present to give them instructions.

    Up to that point, there were very few portraits of Khomeni in Beiruit's
    Shi'a quarter. For every one of the Ayatollah,
    there were a half dozen of Mousser Sadda, a liberal Shi'a theologian who
    was the acknowledged leader of their community.
    Unfortunately, he had disappeared on a trip that he made to visit Moamar
    Khadafy, a mystery which never had been explained
    but did not endear the Libyan leader to the Lebanese Shi'a.

    After the Ashoura attack, things began to happen very quickly, and this
    is where Iran and Syria assisted, in providing
    weapons and ammunition. By the time I left Lebanon and returned to
    Israel two months later, the Israeli soldiers were afraid
    to do foot patrol and had clear cut wide swaths on both sides of the
    road. And, as they have done, with the Palestinians,
    they escalated their sadistic behavior and their use of collective
    punishment on the civilian population.

    At one point, after the resistance had blown up the Israeli Intelligence
    Hq in Sour (Tyre), an event cheered by most of the
    western press, exclusive of the US who hung out at the Commodore Bar),
    the Israelis decided to punish the entire population
    of Southern Lebanon, blocking all traffic including food shipments, at
    the bridge over the Awali River.

    On the fourth day, I went down to the bridge where long lines of
    traffic, including trucks with decaying food, were unable to
    turn around. A large role of barb wire stretched across the bridge and,
    if that wasn't sufficient, an Israeli tank was
    sitting with its barrel pointed at the huge traffic jam. I decided to
    walk around the barbed wire, past the tank, to take a
    picture of the Israel and Lebanese flags next to a Mobil Oil sign. After
    I took one photo, an Israeli soldier fired a shot
    which creased my hair and luckily didn't hit anyone else. I took one
    more photo of the two Israeli soldiers who were now
    advancing my way. I turned around and left with the two other
    journalists I had come down there with. After 12 days, the
    Israelis let the traffic pass.

    What seems to be forgotten, given the attention to Sabra and Shatila, is
    that the Israelis killed 20,000 Lebanese and
    Palestinian civilians and wounded and maimed five times that many. Their
    use of US made cluster bombs against civilians in
    the refugee camps, with the anticipated results, caused even Pres.
    Reagan to suspend shipment of the bombs. Later, in an East
    Jerusalem Hospital, I photographed six children who were victims of
    those bombs who had come to a small Palestinian hospital
    to be fitted with artificial limbs. The six children had, altogether,
    only two legs left, among them. So I make no apologies
    about comparing Israel's behavior with that of the Nazis, who committed
    other barbarities besides the Holocaust.

    That war, by the way, was initiated by Israel, not to stop the shelling
    of its Northern borders by the PLO--that had stopped
    for 11 months thanks to a truce negotiated by the US's Philip Habib--but
    because Begin and Sharon were afraid that if the PLO
    was seen as keeping to an agreement, Israel would have to negotiate. So
    Israel began to provoke the Palestinians with its
    own cross border attacks and when that didn't work, they used the
    attempted assassination of Shlomo Argov, the Ambassador to
    London, by the renegade Abu Nidal group, as an excuse to launch the war.
    This was well known in Israel, but like most facts
    about that conflict, the truth gets twisted as it crossed the water.
    That Israelis elected Sharon doesn't say much for its

    I never supported Khomeni and I don't support Hezbollah's religious
    beliefs or political goals, but I supported its
    resistance to Israeli occupation as I support the Palestinian
    resistance. No one should be surprised that Israel's Arab
    neighbors see it as their arch enemy that must be destroyed. Israel has
    been bombing Lebanon intermittently since 1964,
    before the PLO existed, and time and again,, Israel's attacks have
    forced thousands of Lebanese to flee their homes and the
    Palestinians have had more than enough reasons that should be obvious..
    This attitude, of course, reinforces the belief of
    most Israelis that their existence is threatened, which is nonsense.
    Hezbollah still continues to attack Israel in a spot in
    Lebanon that Israel insists is in the Golan Heights and still occupies,
    and the Palestinians have little to hope for as long
    as the US Congress remains in thrall to the Israeli lobby and the
    corrupt Yasser Arafat .represents them.

    Long ago I supported a democratic secular state, but that is so remote
    as to be inconceivable after what has gone down
    between both sides in the current intifada. And it will only get worse.
    If the Palestinians, or at least a significant
    number, see that suicide bombing is the only form of resistance left to
    them, and that seems to be the message that Sharon is
    sending with the destruction off Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah, and the
    killing and arrest of fighters who are not the suicide
    bombers (over 6,000 are currently being held at the moment), the
    situation will only become deteriorate, to put it mildly. Only the US
    can stop it, and
    Bush doesn't want to suffer the same fate as his Dad when he challenged
    the Israel lobby in 1991.

    I know that I haven't responded to everything you wrote, but I think
    it's probably enough.

    Jeff Blankfort

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

    > 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
    > legacy.
    > 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.
    > Respectfully,
    > Jeremy Varon
    > ------------------------------

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