Sometimes basic facts get blurred in a fierce, image-filled conflict such as the one spawned by Hezbollah’s July 12 cross-border attack in which Israeli soldiers were killed and others kidnapped while a rain of rockets descended on homes and fields. An unprovoked act of war, this Hezbollah assault followed 19 others since May 2000, when Israel pulled out from a security zone in southern Lebanon that had been created to protect against earlier terrorist incursions. In response to those first 19 incidents, Israel had essentially held its fire.
What does Hezbollah, with some 10,000 katyushas and other long-range missiles, really want? Some say Israel’s pullout from south Lebanon was incomplete (though fully certified as complete by the United Nations) and that handing over Shebaa Farms would quiet the Iranian-funded Jihadist group. But as a New Yorker story noted, even Hezbollah spokesman Hassan Ezzeddin admitted: “If they go from Shebaa, we will not stop fighting them. Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine.” What he means, of course, is the destruction of Israel.
Genocide seems to be the goal. This too may be lost when media focus centers on Israel’s retaliation for aggression and its army’s advance against Hezbollah fighters dug deep into the Lebanese hills. But listen to the words of the group’s leaders and consider the relentless message of Al-Manar, the organization’s richly funded satellite television network that reaches tens of millions around the world and is designated a terrorist entity by the US State Department.
Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah describes being asked whether “the destruction of Israel and the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem were Hezbollah’s goal,” and replying: “That is the principal objective of Hezbollah.” He terms Israel “an illegal state; it is a cancerous entity and the root of all the crises and wars. . .”
On Al-Manar television, Jews are termed pigs and monkeys and the Holocaust is denied. Participants in a network-sponsored symposium urge that Israel “be completely wiped out” and “just like Hitler fought the Jews” the “great Islamic nation of Jihad” should “fight the Jews and burn them.”
In May, Nasrallah appeared on the network to explain that “our nation’s willingness to sacrifice their blood, souls, children, fathers, and families” is an advantage over the Jews “who guard their lives.” (All translations by the Middle East Media Research Institute.)
This blunt admission too should be remembered in the rush of reports; for there is, indeed, a crucial difference in valuing human life, whether Israeli or Arab. The innocent Lebanese behind whom Hezbollah gunmen wantonly shelter, knowingly inviting Israel’s defensive return volley, have surely been sacrificed. And not by their own choice. One news report told of Hezbollah murdering a Lebanese man who sought to flee the fighting and escape being used as a human shield. Lebanese citizens, especially Christians, speak of rage at Iran and Syria for the ruin of their country caused by Hezbollah’s proxy militia and of helplessness at the hands of the armed thugs. Many in the Lebanese Christian diaspora, beyond the reach of Hezbollah intimidation, speak out even more forcefully against turning Lebanon into a Shia theocracy emulating Iran.
Israel has, in fact, tried to “guard” the lives of Lebanese civilians, dropping warning leaflets and announcing ahead its intention to target missile launchers, explosives, and gunmen. In contrast, Hezbollah fills its katyushas with lethal ball bearings to spread death and suffering as far and wide as possible.
A Boston native, David Lalchuck, was killed just days ago by this weapon as he rushed to safety from tending a kibbutz orchard. He was only the latest American to die at the hands of Hezbollah. Two-hundred-and-forty-one were killed in 1983 by a Hezbollah truck bomb at the US Marine barracks in Beirut. The Marines were part of a peace-keeping force. Until 9/11, Hezbollah had kidnapped, hijacked, tortured, and murdered more Americans than any other terrorist group.
The Great Satan and the Little Satan — America and Israel — are the obsession of Hezbollah, Iran, Al Qaeda, and other Islamic fascists. Closing our eyes to their brutality only assures more innocent lives will be lost before the threat is overcome.
Andrea Levin is executive director of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
This column originally appeared in the Boston Globe on August 8, 2006