Sunday, August 13, 2006

We Are All Hezbollah

Today, on another blog which I will not name, in order to spare the poor tired fingers of the operatives of GIYUS et al, I was privileged to see what is to my knowledge, the first instance of an American even hesitantly approaching the momentous and terrible utterance of the Forbidden Phrase:

Lebanon has a right to defend itself

Hezbollah, like "Al Qaeda," has "morphed;" as a Lebanese lady said the other day to a western reporter, asking some predictable question probably on the order of "but of course you don't support the people who dare to defend you against the Sacred Israel?," to which the lady replied, "We are all Hezbollah."

And all over the Majority World, in the same spirit that so many there, as well as in the more affluent 15% world said on one day in September not so long ago, "We are all New Yorkers," many, many people are saying "We are all Hezbollah."

Hezbollah, having "morphed," is no longer a struggling little band of guerilla fighters, no longer a political party in Lebanon, no longer even the only entity in Lebanon that has provided the nation what infrastructure and services it has had for the past far too many years.

Today Hezbollah has, and not by its own hand, but by the hand of the Enemy, undergone a magical transmorgification into that most powerful, yet ephemeral and yes, dangerous thing an entity can be.

Today Hezbollah is a symbol.

And not just any symbol. It is a noble symbol, a symbol of something very laudable, at least in the minds of the Majority World, namely Resistance against the tyranny of the US and its fat little pitbull there in the Levant, it is now a symbol that trumps and transcends the luxury concepts of politics or theology, it is now a symbol of the most primal and basic instinct we have: protecting our children, our future, preservation of our species from the fearsome beast, protecting our babies from the predator's talons, from the hungry tiger of the night, the horde of brutes from the tribe across the river, across the Blue Line.

When someone, somegang, anyone, anygang, rushes snarling into our cave, gaping maw set to devour our young, We are all Hezbollah.

And frankly, the Majority World has been in sore need of a little Hezbollah for quite some time.

Considering the Situation, we need all the Hezbollah we can get.

(Crossposted from Enemy of the State )


Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

Thank you both for honoring me with "xp" requests, I think I have complied with both.

I sat there for a while though, wondering what Xicanopower had to do with it all... ;)

8/14/2006 12:08 am  
Blogger supersoling said...

Of course Lebanon has a right to defend itself. The same as Iraq has a right to defend itself against an illegal invasion and occupation. The resistance fighters aren't terrorists or insurgents, what a ridiculous label. They're defending their own countries from invaders. Under the insurgent label, American forces would've been called insurgents during the Revolution, though they were only defending their homes against invaders. If anything, the invaders in all these cases are the insurgents, not the defenders.

Here's a Link to a Skye news (British) interview with George Galloway, the British MP, as he annhilates a reporter who is labeling Hezzbolah as terrorists. It's long, 9 mins.

8/14/2006 11:11 am  
Blogger NLinStPaul said...

I wonder if someone can help me with something. Every time I hear it pointed out the number of Lebannese who have been killed, someone responds with the statement that Hezbollah uses people/babies as human sheilds, as if that justifies their killing. This idea is being thrown around as if it were an absolute truth, but never demonstrated. Since I, like many citizens of the US, have been left pretty ignorant of Hezbollah until this happened, that idea has taken root and I don't know enough to challenge the thinking - but it stinks to me of carefully crafted propaganda. Can someone help me with this by giving me more information or pointing me to a place where I can learn more? I'll own my ignorance as my problem and am sorry for that - but I need some education.

My thinking on it is that, from what I've learned, Hezbollah IS the people, much like people in Veitnam clung to the Vietcong for safety from US forces there and were then labelled "enemy sympathizers" as a justification for killing them. But I don't know - I just cring every time I hear that argument.

8/14/2006 1:55 pm  
Blogger dove said...

I'm glad you posted this here DTF.

As I've mentioned, to the extent that I manage non-violence -- well there is nothing natural about it. At some point I guess I should try and spell out what I take non-violence to be: I don't think it's about giving up all of the means at one's disposal to make change which is I think the constructiton often put on it; I do think it means refraining from killing.

Anyway, I would be lying if I said that the temptation to cheer Hezbollah on in this particular conflict was not strong.

There's a Henry Lawson poem about the Second South African War, part of which I think is apt in many ways:

"Till your gold has levelled each mountain range where a wounded man can hide,
Till your gold has lighted the moonless night on the plains where the rebels ride;
Till the future is proved, and the past is bribed from the son of the land's dead lover –
You may hold the land – you may hold the land just as far as your rifles cover."

Lawson was an Australian poet: the 'you' is the British Empire; the 'rebels' are the Boers. Obviously this was an edgy poem in its day: Australia fought in that war as part of the British Empire.
And had I lived in that time or place, it would probably be the Boers whom I would have been strongly tempted to cheer on: certainly that's what many people who were anti-empire were doing about that time.

But I think that the outcome of this will be the same as that of most wars, including that one: militaries 1; civilians 0.

Nanette's analogy of a dance is right I think: strike a pose, there's nothing to it. Who leads and who follows in the dance might change: but it and the music do not.

And thus the Boers go from being incarcerated in concentration camps to designing and implementing apartheid in partnership with their erstwhile enemies (in order to repress people who suffered far more than either the Boers or the British in that war).

Thus the French decline from Resistance so that Sartre must write:

"In 1943, in the Rue Lauriston, French people were crying out in anguish and in pain; the whole of France heard them. The outcome of the war was not certain and we did not want to think about the future; one thing seemed impossible to us, though: that one day, in our name, people could be made to cry out.
But nothing is impossible for the French: in 1958, in Algiers, people are being tortured regularly, systematically; everybody knows . . ." (Sartre, A Victory, Colonialism and Neocolonialism)

And ". . . we were proud of ourselves because we did not understand. Now we know that there is nothing to understand: everything occurred unnoticed, by imperceptible abdications; and then when we looked up we saw in that mirror an unfamiliar, hateful face: our own."

And there is another very obvious parallel which one might draw about how the positions shift in that dance.

In those places where there are some indications, albeit fragile and far from complete, that the music is grinding to a halt (such as, for example, South Africa, which is why I think the ANC might be the most hopeful of the analogies on offer), it has been because of moves towards mediation, reconciliation and atonement, for lack of a better word.

Which isn't to say that this reduces to some kind of 'everybody's equally to blame' tripe: the main responsibility to change lies with the U.S. empire and its colonies, poodles, pitbulls, terriers and all. It is towards them that pressure for change should primarily be directed. After all, people living outside S.A. who were working for a non-violent end to apartheid there did not, so far as I know, make telling the ANC to mend its ways their first priority. Or even their second.

Well, you've set heads spinning exorcist-style elsewhere. ;) Mine is spinning too, I guess, though hopefully there's a difference -- a lack of cherry stones, that sort of thing.

I guess what this boils down to is that I don't support militaries or at least I try not to. A while ago, I said something in passing about non-violence being a destination that people don't necessarily approach from the same side: it was in the context of discussions of 'supporting U.S. troops by bringing them home' and that for me being non-violent is fairly obviously not about that at all -- I guess in a way, this is the flip-side of that coin.

Obviously I think supersoling is correct with respect to nomenclature vis a vis terrorists / insurgents / invaders and so forth.

More topically, the whole thing has the stench of September 1939 about it. Have you seen this yet? Not that it's surprising in any way: this had the words 'pretext' stamped all over it in great big letters from the outset.

8/14/2006 1:57 pm  
Blogger dove said...

I think it is probably fairly carefully crafted propaganda, in part because of which western newspapers are making that claim: I think WAPO has picked it up, outside of the 'letters to the ed' pages the Guardian has not to my knowledge. Not that the Guardian is the be all or end all, but WaPo doesn't exactly have a stellar reputations for its foreign coverage.

Human Rights Watch has a FAQ that might be of interest. Certainly the evidence available indicates claims that the Qana massacre involved the use of human shields are false. So if that example comes up, it can be debunked.

8/14/2006 2:20 pm  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

NLinStPaul, I will be happy to explain the human shields thing.

Do you by any chance live near a military base?

If so, the US is using you as a human shield.

Israel is using its entire population as human shields. It is a small country with many military installations. It is impossible to live in Israel and not be a human shield.

And because Lebanon is also small, Hezbollah is also obliged to use babies and old people as human shields.

dove, I would "totall" as they say, prefer a non-violent resolution to any conflict.

It is more than a belief - I KNOW that human beings have the capacity and the ability to resolve absolutely any conflict without violence.

And I agree with you, that the outcome of war is seldom if ever a better situation.

Even when the US is removed, Lebanon is just one small part of a region with unsettled issues that go back to Ottoman days, and some beyond, issues that have nothing to do with the west, aside from their having been, like everything else there, crushed under the heel of the west for decades.

So yes, even when the US is removed, Lebanon will be a mess. "Iraq" will be a mess. And the issues, the problems, the conflicts, will have to be solved by the Lebanese and the Iraqis, as will the problems and conflicts in every part of the region, have to be solved by the people who live there.

It is my hope that this will be done without violence. However, I recognize that the likelihood of that is small. The wounds of colonialism are grave ones, slow to heal, and the scars themselves are pesky.

We can hope that this region will do better than others in terms of moving beyond that caveman model of conflict escalation that has been so consistently visited on them by the west, and evolve and upgrade to the more effective practice of conflict resolution without violence, and that even if some do not, that the success enjoyed by those who do will serve as an example.

And I also recognize that given the Situation, these are opportunities that are unlikely to be had. And I recognize the absurdity of trying to defend one's family from bomber planes with a rifle or an old rocket.

But I also recognize the right of the mother or father to throw even a rock, if that is all she has, at the beast who would burn the flesh from her little one.

8/14/2006 2:46 pm  
Blogger NLinStPaul said...

Thanks dove. Here's the money quote from the Human Rights Watch report:

Of all the cases of civilian casualties included in the report, Human Rights Watch found, none involved Hezbollah deliberately using civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack. Hezbollah has occasionally stored weapons in or near civilian homes and placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near United Nations observers. Such acts are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. However, those violations did not account for the many deaths recorded in the Human Rights Watch report. Nor do those cases justify the IDF’s extensive use of indiscriminate force, which has cost so many civilian lives.

8/14/2006 2:47 pm  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

And I will add that I certainly hope that no Resistance movement, in any of the theatres, will ever sink to the IDF practice of tying "enemy" young people to tanks, which they then proceed to drive into refugee camps.

The IDF does not deny this, it is on record as explaining that it is done to protect Israeli "soldiers."

Hezbollah does store weapons and fire them near areas where there are civilans sometimes. It's a small country.

BTW, Israel does not move its gunmen on military transports, it uses civilian buses.

So there are "De facto" human shields, such as the US, and just about every other country in the world placing military installations near civilians.

And there is the deliberate practice of literally using human shields in the commission of crimes against humanity, such as invasion or occupation, and the insidious use of human shields, such as transporting military personnel on civilian buses, during a time when such invasion, occupation, etc, is taking place, and it is reasonable to assume that military personnel will be targetted by Resistance movements.

I hope I have explained this as objectively as I can be expected to do under the circumstances.

8/14/2006 9:30 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Yes -- certainly I'm talking about organised violence, militarised violence (I'd say statist violence except that's not quite the right word, though obviously the U.S. and its colonies are by far the biggest culprits). I am not saying individuals shouldn't defend themselves against rape, for example, or against attempts to kill their children or themselves.

I think some of what you've said about Hezbollah becoming a symbol has been missed -- certainly elsewhere and probably in my first response here. Although that's why the French Resistance came to mind and the Boers for that matter: I take both to have been similar symbols in their day as were / are the ANC.

As a statement of fact, I think you're right: they have become a symbol of resistance throughout much of the world. One might argue about whether that's a good or a bad thing or just a complicated thing, but it is demonstrably the case.

Making any organisation a symbol necessarily involves papering over and simplifying their actual messy, contradictory, imperfectness, because complex things don't function well as symbols. In a way, this is where idealised histories come from, I think.

Like you, I want this to stop. That's why I don't want 'resistance' to become synonymous with 'armed resistance.'
If We Are All Hezbollah, where 'Hezbollah = Resistance' what sense do we make of the refuseniks, for example, the Trident Ploughshares, the Women in Black, the CodePinks? What sense do we make of non-violent resistance? Does it even continue to be seen as resistance or does it fall out of the picture?

I think that if there is to be a chance, however slim, of stopping that music, it's important that non-violent resistance is not delegitimised or made more invisible than it already is.

A problem with symbolism is that the symbol comes to be seen as identical with the thing itself. Thus, for example, the ANC came to be seen as identical with the anti-apartheid movement: with that symbolism in place the Pan-African Congress, to name but one other, falls out of the picture.

"The wounds of colonialism are grave ones, slow to heal, and the scars themselves are pesky."

Are they ever.

I just saw your last DTF. Here are a couple of links to specific instances of the IDF deliberately using Palestinians as human shields.

2002: IDF gunmen in Jenin using Palestinians as human shields deliberately "fired at Palestinian gunmen, while resting their rifles on the shoulders of the Palestinian civilians." according to HRW

And from AI.

"In April [2004], Israeli soldiers used 13-year-old Muhammed Badwan as a “human shield” during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Biddu. The soldiers placed the boy on the hood of their jeep and tied him to the front windscreen to discourage Palestinian demonstrators from throwing stones in their direction.

I'd note too that IDF is /has lodged an appeal against a judgement that would limit their use of human shields.

Not that your summary isn't plenty objective enough -- just that I thought the links might also be useful to those who find themselves in these discussions.

8/14/2006 11:35 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

I have found the headspinners, and it's interesting how often that happens. Not just with Ductape, but most definitely with him, where people don't actually read a word he says (or maybe read one word and the extrapolate the rest). It's like they were just waiting for him to appear in order to pile on him all their grievances that they've had with everyone else on the Israeli/Lebanon topic, no matter what he is actually saying.

That is pretty freaky... very definition of having a scapegoat or sin eater, I think. Disgusting behaviour.

I'm afraid I trust MLW even less than I do BT because for all their blathering on about 'safe spaces', I've noticed that the people who make them feel most unsafe are not those that bring up the poor and oppressed and post pictures of them for people to light candles to, exactly, but those who attempt to, in any way, present the actual views or thoughts of those who are poor and oppressed, (unless the views are presented in the form of supplication or "respectfully"). In other words, to have them part of the conversation as well.

Which also goes to one of my issues with charity work, ones that work for people as opposed to with... such as the last Live Aid concert which, until someone questioned it, had not one actual African person (or even dark skinned person, if i recall correctly) involved in the planning, the speeches or the entertainment (you know it's bad when black folks aren't even the entertainment.. even yearly kos had that).

Also some of the reactions go to help me with a post that I've had bubbling around in my head about power and our perceptions of it.

I find it interesting that some compare Hezbollah to the KKK as opposed to teh ANC or the IRA or even the Black Panthers or such.

8/14/2006 11:39 pm  
Blogger supersoling said...

Well there was one there who equated Hezbollah with the IRA, but that was quickly shot down because DTF didn't present his views in the proper language. Now the "manifesto" is posted on the front page because of DTF pointing out a few uncomfortable truths.
How tiresome and still disturbing. I smell a banning coming. Friggin children.

8/15/2006 12:10 am  
Blogger dove said...

I just went over there again to take another look: about what I expected unfortunately. But yes, definitely scapegoating in spades.
I think the safe space stuff is part of why I'm very wary there: safe space for whom? And to what end? Here has been keeping me pretty busy anyway (we hit 5000 tonight -- not that I'm keeping track or anything ;) ).

DTF -- on rereading my last I fear I've committed the sin of implying something I don't mean. So let me try again: I don't think that you are delegitimising non-violent resistance. (Elsewhere I take you to be saying that one should be prepared to hold to whatever position vis a vis non-violence that one counsels for others: I think so too).

I do tend to think that it is generally true that when any military/paramilitary/armed organisation becomes a symbol for Resistance, resistance that doesn't fit that model is less likely to be understood as resistance. But certainly I agree that

"Today Hezbollah has, and not by its own hand, but by the hand of the Enemy, undergone a magical transmorgification into that most powerful, yet ephemeral and yes, dangerous thing an entity can be.
Today Hezbollah is a symbol"

So yes, this has happened, but it's not you, me or for that matter Hezbollah that made it so.

8/15/2006 1:31 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

dove, this has come up before, the question of non-violent Resistance, specifically in Palestine, and this is every bit as brave as the violent kind - more so, since the "violent kind" as I mention in the article, frequently tends to involve instincive protection of one's young.

However, what would have happened had the followers of Gandhiji faced an entire army of General Dyereses?

What would be gained by a nation of Rachel Corries?

Until we evolve more, and this is a lame answer that reflects a lame situation, but until we evolve more, there will of necessity be violent Resistance.

What I am saddened to see so little of in those gated communities is so much anger and hatred directed toward those who resist, as opposed to the aggressors. Not that I would like to see hatred directed at anybody, but I would like to see a bit more outrage. It is their money that is being spent to slaughter all those Lebanese children, and there has been some very measured and careful criticism along the lines of "maybe Israel might have possibly over-reacted."

Compare that to how they feel about anyone who would dare to try to defend those children. Oh, no, I feel a rant coming on, and Madame says it is time for me to puncture myself, eat dahl, and watch White Trash TV. So it will have to wait!

LOL supersoling, well I had unbanned THEM just for the afternoon, if they ban me, I will have a descendant Living With Graphical Nerdism make me a kewl icon for my blog: BANNED by My Left Wing!


8/15/2006 9:11 am  
Anonymous scribe said...

I'd like to see more outrage expressed toward the agressors, too, DTF. But until it all hits much much closer to home, until it's Amercian children being threatened, it's just not going to come.

Ww are far too isolated and insulated from the rest of the world, and we have been lied to, and "programmed by" the very best for far, far too long. We've been lulled into a coma of consumerism by this Anerican dream crap, and propagandized into believing we're somehow more worthy than anyone else for whole generations of lifetimes.

Now, drugged into obliviousness by materialism, we've slept right through the incestous copulation of our government, neoconservatism, corporatism, and religious fanatism and allowed the deformed offspring of it to rise to the highest positions of power.

For many Americans to reach the level of needing to express outrage against the killing of brown children, it would mean having to acknowledge, personally, our own role is allowing it all to get this bad.

Denial is not only NOT just a river in Egypt, it is one hell of a powerful protective mechanism, as is scapegoating and projecting.

For the first time ever, when at the post office the other day to get stamps, I had to decline the ones with the American Flag on them. I knew I could not bear to use them.

There is enough outrage in me to fuel the sun. NOW I understand I was lied to and duped for two thirds of a lifetime. And now I cannot look away, or cuddle up and take a snooze wrapped in the security blanket of my "Americanism".

8/15/2006 12:10 pm  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

How many times have we seen them say it is insensitive to mention that US is murdering and torturing people? Sure, you have to laugh, it is so absurd, but it is also very frightening.

They are poisoned.

And it is because of that poison that we have The Situation, and we are all now empowered to try to see the bright side of a species-wide do-over.

8/16/2006 5:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From poco:

Okay, I am going to jump right in because my mind has been wrestling with this issue for a while now and I think that maybe just putting the words out may help to make some sense of it for me. So what I write is not going to be particularly sensible, or even particularly coherent, and may just be repeating what others have already said in a much better way. (Haven't read much around the blogs or done my homework, can't link to MLW, just got my computer and home back from the parental units:-))

I will admit (with trepidation) that everytime I heard about the 200 plus rockets fired by Hezbollah, just after the news that Israel had vanquished the group, I felt like cheering. In fact, I did cheer. Hezbollah's ability to fight and to continue fighting gave the lie to all of the propaganda coming from the media and diplo-speak here in the US. But, I will also admit, that every time I cheered, I also felt uneasy and unhappy. I tried to rationalize my response thus:

1) we are all trained to cheer when an underdog takes on a big bully and hurts the bully. Ergo, there was nothing to feel bad about my response.

2) DTF says, and very rightly, that "today Hezbollah has, and not by its own hand, but by the hand of the Enemy, undergone a magical transmorgification into that most powerful, yet ephemeral and yes, dangerous thing an entity can be." The transformation of Hezbollah into this symbol is a result of what Israel and the US were doing. (Correction--are doing--the ceasefire has been broken, big surprse!) The Enemy's actions made Hezbollah into this symbol of resistance and an icon to be cheered and embraced.

3) In some ways, I think, it was easier for me to cheer Hezbollah, because I was in Ireland during some of the fiercest fighting and the Irish Times carried a daily tally on its front pages: Israeli Civilians Killed/Lebanese civilians killed/Israeli soldiers killed/ Lebaneses fighters killed. That tally reassured me that even if we depended on the US- -speak for a definition of a terrorist, it was clear that Hezbollah could not be defined as such.

So, why was I still feeling a guilty unease at my cheering?

I think I understand when newspapers report that Hezbollah "has returned a sense of manhood to the Arab masses." Its the same feeling you get when an underdog stands up to a bully. But this inter-meshing of manhood and militarisation is one of the traps that we need to be wary of. dove's numerous posts on how we need to make the concept of valor, honor, military virtue, blah blah blah, into an object of ridicule and contempt resonate very strongly with me.

My instinctive reaction to Hezbollah brought me face to face with the insuperable difficulty of trying to do what dove suggests....

And yet, how can we--anti-colonials all--not fully embrace Hezbollah's resistance at this moment?

As I said earlier, my post is not going to be sensible or coherent--all I have are questions and dilemmas....

8/20/2006 1:40 am  
Blogger dove said...

poco -- I just wrote a long comment which blogger promptly ate. Just wanted to say 'great to see you' and I've been struggling with many of the same incoherencies and dilemmas you describe

more soon.

8/20/2006 8:38 pm  

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