Israel hits the right nerve in Lebanon
After striking inside of Lebanon in retalliation to a Hezballah attack-which the latter used- mortars and rockets toward the Israeli-Lebanese border andwounding 11 Israeli soldiers- Israel planes went all the way to Beirut and dropped leaflets denouncing Hezballah. Earlier in the day, Israeli planes dropped thousands of leaflets over Beirut and its suburbs denouncing Hezbollah guerrillas. Lebanese security officials said the roar of jets was heard over the city before dawn, followed by thousands of leaflets falling from the sky. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters. "To the Lebanese citizens, who protects Lebanon?" read the small leaflet written in Arabic. "Who is lying to you? Who is sending your children to a battle they are not ready for? Who wishes the return of destruction? Who is the tool in the hands of his Syrian and Iranian masters?" Then in bold letters, it said: "Hezbollah is causing enormous harm to Lebanon," and added that Israel was determined to protect its citizens. The note was signed "The State of Israel." Here is what the leaflet looks like:
Hezballah of course denounced the leaflets: Hezbollah dismissed the leaflets as "an expression of Israeli failures in facing Hezbollah," the group's media chief, Mohammed Afif, said in a statement. But that was expected. What I wanted to know was what the lebanese bloggers thought of all of this, since they are the Beirut dwellers who Israel targeted with those leaflets. They, as expected, have hit a nerve, but one that interestingly was in agreement with Israel's point of view. Here is what Raja from Lebanese bloggers had to say of the israeli leaflets:
It is a thought that most Lebanese have in their minds. Israeli propagandists hit the bull's eye.
Mutapha from Beirut spring also agrees and starts lamenting that the lebanese government is losing the propagnda war and should've had a tougher anti-Hezballa rhetoric before Israel's leaflets.
If Mr. Seniora had been saying all these things since the beginning, Israel wouldn’t have dared to write that leaflet. But because our government ignored the propaganda war, many Lebanese are now put in an awkward position of finding their opinions voiced in a piece of paper thrown on us like dogs by Israel. Talk about adding insult to injury.
There will be negative consequences to that fact he believes:
Hezbollah has pre-empted us , no matter what we now say, they'll say that we're talking like Israel!
And no one wants that.
But the Truth is Hezballah is Iran and Syria's puppy no matter how many times they claim otherwise and the majority of the lebanese people have grown weary of them. The lebanese have grown angry at the fact that their own independence day was marred by hezballah's attack on Israel and the fact that it was politically motivated.
It is indeed hard not to make that connection, as it's so consistent with the Party's rhetoric and positions since the March independence movement. Nasrallah and HA have been singing (solo) the tune that the "real" enemy and occupier is Israel, not Syria. Meanwhile, the focus of the rest of the Lebanese scene has been, naturally, on Syria. It was also obvious that the speeches in the celebrations of Independence Day were going to be focused on Lebanon's independence from Syrian occupation, and the recently restored sovereignty and freedom. Indeed, PM Seniora delcared that "Syria has to get used to the fact that Lebanon is an independent sovereign country." Furthermore, as I noted in my post yesterday, Walid Jumblat again emphasized the need for border demarcation with Syria, and its official recognition of the Lebanese ownership of the Shebaa Farms (which it still has not done, and the Farms remain officially Syrian territory. More on that below.)
So it was expected that HA would refocus attention on itself and its agenda, in order to try and dictate domestic discourse: independence is from Israel, not Syria. The Farms are Lebanese. The "Resistance" will continue. The UN and Seniora (with emphasis on Seniora), should never forget who has the final say and who has the weapons. It also falls in line with HA's campaign against Seniora, and its pressuring him to reject UNR 1559.
Basically they are pressuring their own people for their benefactor's sake: Syria. Lebanon be damned.
But hey, maybe I am being too harsh on Hezballah. Maybe they are patriotically motivated and have no business/financial reasons whatsoever to support Syria. But how would we find out? Oh, I know, they should let us see their sources of income, as this blogger suggested:
If Hezbollah claims it defends all of Lebanon, then all of Lebanon should have the right to see Hezbollah's sources of income.
This would not compromise their capability to defend the nation. It will reassure all of the other questioning Lebanese of Hezbollah's sincerity, and it will prove to us that we should be more appreciative of Syria and Iran who only have Lebanon's interests at heart. It will reassure us that Hezbollah has the means to resist an advanced army with access to nuclear weapons.
The Lebanese Army's budget is publicly known. Israel's budget is publicly known, and the world knows which countries support the Israeli military. It does no harm to Israel for it to be publicly known that the United States gives it billions of dollars in military aid. It does no harm to the Lebanese Army that the public knows that the United States is the single largest defense donor to Lebanon.
Hezbollah must come clean. They are asking us to trust them, but we cannot. They are asking us to trust Syria and Iran, but we cannot. Perhaps our minds have been warped by the conspiring Western nations and Zionists, as President Lahoud told us today in his Independence Day speech. The best way to bring us back into the fold of the fully aware and competent is to show us the evidence that the United States is wrong, rather than berate us for being patsies. That merely insults us. Prove to us, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria, that you are the true defenders of Lebanon; that we need you.
Hezbollah claims it has nothing to hide, and yet it lurks in the shadows. Hezbollah claims that it is fighting a righteous fight for eternal peace, and yet they kidnap innocent civilians. Hezbollah claims that the party does not hate Jews, only Israeli actions, and yet they denigrate other Lebanese using Rabbi as an epithet. Being a man in the service of God cannot be a bad thing to a bearded cleric, so what does the insult Rabbi mean?Hezbollah has not stood up in support of freeing Lebanese prisoners from Syrian prisons. Hezbollah has not asked Syria to return Lebanese fishermen Syria unlawfully detained. Hezbollah has not offered to dialogue with other Lebanese parties about the election law.
If they want to continue speaking for Lebanon, then they must be accountable to the Lebanese people. We will gladly use their free services if we think they are needed. Hezbollah hospitals do great things for poor people. But we are not convinced that their military service is to our benefit. In fact, we worry that it is to our detriment. Therefore, they must come clean.