Norman Finkelstein: I was of course happy to meet the Hizbullah people, because it is a point of view that is rarely heard in the United States. I have no problem saying that I do want to express solidarity with them, and I am not going to be a coward of a hypocrite about it. I don’t care about Hizbullah as a political organization. I don’t know much about their politics, and anyhow, it’s irrelevant. I don’t live in Lebanon. It’s a choice that the Lebanese have to make: Who they want to be their leaders, who they want to represent them. But there is a fundamental principle. People have the right to defend their country from foreign occupiers, and people have the right to defend their country from invaders who are destroying their country. That to me is a very basic, elementary and uncomplicated question.
My parents went through World War II. Now, Stalin’s regime was not exactly a bed of roses. It was a ruthless and brutal regime, and many people perished. But who didn’t support the Soviet Union when they defeated the Nazis? Who didn’t support the Red Army? In all the countries of Europe which were occupied – who gets all the honors? The resistance. The Communist resistance – it was brutal, it was ruthless. The Communists were not… It wasn’t a bed of roses, but you respect them. You respect them because they resisted the foreign occupiers of their country. If I am going to honor the Communists during World War II, even through I probably would not have done very well under their regimes… If I’m going to honor them, I am going to honor the Hizbullah. They show courage, and they show discipline. I respect that.
Interviewer: That is an accurate description of the situation before 2000, but after 2000, the Israelis withdrew from South Lebanon. There was a rift within Lebanon between the Lebanese political players on the issue of the future of the weapons and the issue of the resistance. This rift, which has taken place… You are now taking sides. After all, you are saying that you are only visiting Lebanon, but you don’t see the ramification of the July war for the people.
Norman Finkelstein: Listen, if you want to close your eyes and believe it was all over in May 2000, you can do so. You can play that game. But the reality was – and everyone understood it – that the Israeli attitude was: We are going to knock out Hizbullah. They began planning for a new war right after they were forced to leave in 2000. They found their excuse, their pretext, in July 2006, but there is no question among rational people that Israel was never going to let the Hizbullah victory go by. They were determined to teach their…
Interviewer: The war could have been avoided.
Norman Finkelstein: It could not have been avoided. There is no way that the United States and Israel are going to tolerate any resistance in the Arab world. If you want to pretend it can be avoided, you can play that game. But serious people, clear-headed people, knew there was going to be a war sooner or later.
Do you think there is not going to be another war? Do you think Israel is going to allow that defeat in July 2006? Do you want to pretend it is Hizbullah that is causing the trouble? No, there will be another war, and the destruction will probably be ten times worse – maybe even more – than July 2006, because Israel is determined, with the United States, to put the Arabs in their place and to keep them in their place. Now, how can I not respect those who say no to that? You know, during the Spanish Civil War there was a famous woman – they called her “La Pasionaria” – Dolores Ibárruri, from the Spanish Republic. She famously said: “It’s better to die on your feet than to walk crawling on your knees.”
Interviewer: But that is up to the Lebanese people in its entirety.
Norman Finkelstein: I totally agree. I am not telling you what to do with your lives, and if you’d rather live crawling on your feet, I could respect that. I could respect that. People want to live. How can I deny you that right? But then, how can I not respect those who say they would rather die on their feet? How can I not respect that?
Israel and the United States are attacking, because they will not allow any military resistance to their control of the region. That’s the problem. If Hizbullah laid down its arms, and said: “We will do whatever the Americans say,” you wouldn’t have a war – that’s true, but you would also be the slaves of the Americans. I have to respect those who refuse to be slaves.
Interviewer: Is there no other way than military resistance?
Norman Finkelstein: I don’t believe there is another way. I wish there were another way. Who wants war? Who wants destruction? Even Hitler didn’t want war. He would much prefer to have accomplished his aims peacefully, if he could. So I am not saying that I want it, but I honestly don’t see another way, unless you choose to be their slaves – and many people here have chosen that. I can’t really say… I can understand it – you want to live. I can’t really say I respect it. You know, so many dead, so much destruction… Before the bodies are even buried, before the buildings are even rebuilt, the person who is responsible for it all – you can’t wait to welcome him. You can’t wait to roll out the red carpet. I can’t respect that.
In that respect, I like the Jews much more. I like their attitude. Do you know what the Jewish attitude is? Never to forgive, never to forget. I agree with that. Who roll out the red carpet less than two years after your whole country was destroyed by them? The Secretary of State said it was the birth pangs of a new Middle East. That’s the statement of a freak. A human freak would compare the birth of a child with the destruction of a country, and yet, there are people here who are so anxious to welcome her. They are trying to figure out what the Americans are thinking. They can’t wait for their banquets. How can anyone respect that? I respect the Jews a thousand times more – never to forgive, never to forget. All the death and all the destruction – and you can’t wait to welcome him.
Norman Finkelstein: It’s disgusting!
Who the hell cares if Bush is coming?
Interviewer: But you say there will be another war.
Norman Finkelstein: You should have declared him persona non grata. He’s not welcome here. He destroyed your country. He was responsible for the war. You know full well that resolution could have been passed three weeks earlier. He destroys your country, and you can’t wait to greet him. You have no self-respect. How can you expect other people to respect Arabs, if you show no respect for yourselves?
If the Lebanese people overwhelmingly vote to let the Americans and Israelis have their way, I guess you have to accept that. I could see that. I couldn’t possibly say that they don’t have the right to make that choice. Listen, in Nazi-occupied Europe, you have to remember, most of the populations made the choice to live under the Nazis. All this talk about a French Resistance is just a joke – it never happened. The French Resistance… About 20% of the French population read the Resistance’s newspaper. There were maybe 10% of the French who resisted. The rest said: “Don’t resist,” because the Nazis were ruthless. You resist – four hundred are killed for each soldier who’s killed. That’s how the Nazis operated. So most of the French said, like you: “We want to live.” “Don’t resist.” But now I have to ask you, in retrospect: Who do we honor? Do we honor those who say: “Let us live,” or do we honor those who said: “Let’s resist”?
Leaders come last. There will be a leader who comes to power in Israel, who is willing to make the concessions, after the conditions have been created – namely, Israel has to suffer a defeat.
Robert Anthony Pape is an expert on suicide terrorism and is the founder of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism. On 7 February 2008 Pape joined Ron Paul’s presidential campaign as a foreign policy advisor.
Noam Chomsky mentioned his work in a talk titled “War on Terror“
There is broad agreement among specialists that al-Qaeda-style terror “is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries” (Robert Pape, who has done the major research on suicide bombers).
Watch the full interview with Robert Pape.
What we still don’t understand about HizbollahThis week, world terrorism expert Robert Pape will share with the FBI the findings of his remarkable study of 462 suicide bombings. He concludes that such acts have little to do with religious extremism and that the West must engage politically to halt the relentless slaughter
Sunday August 6, 2006
In terms of structure and hierarchy, it is less comparable with, say, a religious cult such as the Taliban than to the multi-dimensional American civil rights movement of the 1960s. What made its rise so rapid, and will make it impossible to defeat militarily, was not its international support but the fact that it evolved from a reorientation of pre-existing Lebanese social groups.
Evidence of the broad nature of Hizbollah’s resistance to Israeli occupation can be seen in the identity of its suicide attackers. Hizbollah conducted a broad campaign of suicide bombings against American, French and Israeli targets from 1982 to 1986. Altogether, these attacks, which included the infamous bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, involved 41 suicide terrorists.
Researching my book, which covered all 462 suicide bombings around the globe, I had colleagues scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and biographies of the Hizbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. We were shocked to find that only eight were Islamic fundamentalists; 27 were from leftist political groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union; three were Christians, including a female secondary school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.
What these suicide attackers – and their heirs today – shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hizbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.
Previous analyses of suicide terrorism have not had the benefit of a complete survey of all suicide terrorist attacks worldwide. The lack of complete data, together with the fact that many such attacks, including all those against Americans, have been committed by Muslims, has led many in the US to assume that Islamic fundamentalism must be the underlying main cause. This, in turn, has fuelled a belief that anti-American terrorism can be stopped only by wholesale transformation of Muslim societies, which helped create public support of the invasion of Iraq. But study of the phenomenon of suicide terrorism shows that the presumed connection to Islamic fundamentalism is misleading.
There is not the close connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism that many people think. Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist campaigns have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.
Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective. Most often, it is a response to foreign occupation.
Understanding that suicide terrorism is not a product of Islamic fundamentalism has important implications for how the US and its allies should conduct the war on terrorism. Spreading democracy across the Persian Gulf is not likely to be a panacea as long as foreign troops remain on the Arabian peninsula. The obvious solution might well be simply to abandon the region altogether. Isolationism, however, is not possible; America needs a new strategy that pursues its vital interest in oil but does not stimulate the rise of a new generation of suicide terrorists. The same is true of Israel now.
The new Israeli land offensive may take ground and destroy weapons, but it has little chance of destroying Hizbollah. In fact, in the wake of the bombings of civilians, the incursion will probably aid Hizbollah’s recruiting.
Equally important, Israel’s incursion is also squandering the goodwill it had initially earned from so-called moderate Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The countries are the court of opinion that matters because, while Israel cannot crush Hizbollah, it could achieve a more limited goal: ending Hizbollah’s acquisition of more missiles through Syria.
Given Syria’s total control of its border with Lebanon, stemming the flow of weapons is a job for diplomacy, not force. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, Sunni-led nations that want stability in the region, are motivated to stop the rise of Hizbollah. Under the right conditions, the US might be able to help assemble an ad hoc coalition of Syria’s neighbours to entice and bully it to prevent Iranian, Chinese or other foreign missiles from entering Lebanon. It could also offer to begin talks over the future of the Golan Heights.
But Israel must take the initiative. Unless it calls off the offensive and accepts a genuine ceasefire, there are likely to be many, many dead Israelis in the coming weeks – and a much stronger Hizbollah.
· Robert Pape is professor of political studies at the University of Chicago. His book, Dying to Win: Why Suicide Terrorists Do It, will be published in the UK by Gibson Square this month, £18.99
By Dan Lieberman
Special to PalestineChronicle.com
They speak English, carry I-pods and listen to Santana and Guns and Roses. They don’t approach with anger and don’t behave overbearing. They seem well-educated, mostly from Beirut’s American University, and are alert to world happenings. They impress as being more secular than pious. They are spokespersons for Hezbollah – the Party of God.
Maybe they are a selected group of well-trained talkers for foreigners; a subtle means to convince the unwary that Hezbollah’s followers are just every-day guys and gals. Maybe, but observations and events were inconsistent with the media’s drastic descriptions of the militant Lebanese Shiite movement. The Party of God has insufficient support for exercising political control of Lebanon and knows it doesn’t have the numbers or the strength to turn the Levant into an Islamic Republic. Hezbollah’s clerics don’t indicate they intend to force Shari’a upon their constituencies. More an amalgam of differing viewpoints – religious, social, political and militant – Hezbollah is solidified by a common struggle for the dispossessed and a battle against corruption.
War Crimes Airbrushed from History
By JONATHAN COOK
January 4, 2008
It apparently never occurred to anyone in our leading human rights organisations or the Western media that the same moral and legal standards ought be applied to the behaviour of Israel and Hizbullah during the war on Lebanon 18 months ago. Belatedly, an important effort has been made to set that right.
Whose Mission is it fulfilling?
Ever since one of this student’s favorite Professors, Dr. Ruth Widmeyer, an accomplished and rare beauty still, who was the first woman to receive a PhD in Soviet Studies from Harvard nearly a half century ago, announced to our Political Science class at Portland State University that our class would be representing France at the Model United Nations Session in San Diego, Lamb was smitten: both with Professor Widmeyer and with the United Nations.
Filed under: civil war, France, Franklin Lamb, Hezbollah, Israel, July War, Lebanese Army, Lebanon, Murder, Occupation, Qana, Shebaa Farms, UN, UN Resolution 1701, UNIFIL, USA, Wars, Welch club | Leave a comment »
- Produced for Radio Tadamon! by Stefan Christoff.
Terrorism is a contested terrain, a political landscape on which the highest levels of international military power engage in a deadly war. In 2007 terrorism remains an ominous threat, a political ghost invoked in the foreign policy rhetoric of Canada’s Conservative government surrounding the ‘War on Terror’.
In 2002 Canada unveiled an official list of ‘terrorist’ organizations, strikingly similar to the US governmental list of an equivalent nature. Today the Lebanese political movement Hezbollah, both the military and political wings, is officially considered a ‘terrorist’ organization by the government of Canada, a policy only endorsed by two additional countries internationally, the US and Israel.
In the Middle East, from Lebanon, to Palestine, Hezbollah is commonly viewed as a national liberation movement, which in 2006 successfully halted Israel’s major military assault, to the shock of the world. As a political and social force in Lebanon, Hezbollah remains a major player at the highest levels of government and in the most impoverished sectors of society.
In Canada a public debate on the listing of Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist’ organization was ignited in 2006 as Israeli military forces attacked Lebanon killing over 1100 civilians. Debate on Hezbollah’s categorization as a ‘terrorist’ organization draws attention to Canada’s post 9/11 ‘national security’ laws and regulations which included the formalization of a Canadian list of ‘terrorist’ organizations in 2002.
In the context of the debate on Canada’s categorization of Hezbollah as ‘terrorist’ I had an opportunity to interview novelist, historian, political campaigner Tariq Ali on Hezbollah. This interview was conducted in Montreal, touching on the history of Hezbollah as a political force in Lebanon & the Middle East, while also addressing Canada’s designation of the movement as ‘terrorist’ in the post 9/11 political environment.
* Radio Tadamon! is produced by the Tadamon! collective, a group of social justice activists working to build ties of solidarity between movements for social / economic justice in the Middle East / Montreal, while organizing within the Diaspora community of Montreal.
* Tadamon! Montreal is current organizing a political campaign to challenge Canada’s listing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.