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Arab World Heroes
By Yisrael Ne’eman of Middle East on Target (reprinted with permission)
After yesterday’s catastrophe at Kfar Kana in south Lebanon where civilians were mistakenly killed in an IAF bombing, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah’s popularity has soared to new heights in the Arab world. After having fortified terrorist positions inside south Lebanese villages, Nasrallah then initiated the conflict with the full knowledge of endangering the same villagers along Israel’s northern border. Furthermore Hezbollah continues to launch rocket attacks from within those villages in an effort to hide behind the human shield of civilians. The idea is to enjoy the best of both worlds; either Israel will not bomb the launchers and rocket arsenals and Hezbollah can continue firing unhindered or eventually there will be civilian casualties. For Nasrallah both options are excellent, as the first affords him freedom to fire at Israel and the second gives him a media victory. Furthermore the second option brings Lebanon (and Hezbollah) world sympathy due to civilian suffering.
Despite the destruction he reigns down on Lebanon, Nasrallah is now an Arab World hero. Some compare him to Gamal Abdul Nasser who led Egypt from 1954-70. Other great Arab heroes of the last decades include Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, PLO leader Yasir Arafat and of course the elusive Osama bin Laden. Heroes embody the highest values of a society and are to be emulated. None of the above ever led a democracy, nor was such a form of government ever desired in the Arab world. All of the above preferred war and military might over the betterment of their societies, and where monies for social welfare were distributed, it was done as a means to gain adherents and not for the objectives of closing economic gaps or working for social harmony. This is obvious when reading the hate filled textbooks, covenants and charters published by these leaders and their followers. All were viciously anti-West (even if the French had some influence and connections) and rejected universal human rights as a value.
All initiated unnecessary wars (Nasser – 1967 Six Day War and War of Attrition 1967-70, Saddam – War against Iran 1980-88 and First Gulf War with the invasion of Kuwait 1990-91, Arafat – Continuous terrorism from the 1960s, War in Lebanon 1982 and Conflict against Israel 2000-04 and bin Laden - War against the USA on 9/11/2001, brought another war to Afghanistan and terror attacks world wide while massacring Shi’ites in Iraq). None particularly developed their societies and although both Nasser and Saddam did make efforts in that direction, military glory and modern weaponry were always a greater priority. Their own people suffered terribly and all repressed any possible opposition. In general they were quite beloved by many in their own societies (except possibly Saddam) but all are seen by the vast majority of the Arab world as authentic heroes.
On the other hand, leaders like Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan who made peace with Israel and worked to bring economic prosperity and a bit of democracy to their peoples are reviled and seen as traitors by many. For aligning themselves with the West they are branded as American lackeys.
Nasrallah now joins the Arab Pantheon after many in the Arab world initially distanced themselves from Hezbollah’s ideology, terrorist activities and initiation of hostilities with Israel. The Shi’ite neighborhoods of Beirut containing Hezbollah’s security complex and its Baka’a Valley strongholds and villages in south Lebanon are in a shambles as is the Lebanese economy, after 20 days of confronting Israel. However, a rising number of Arabs and Moslems throughout the Middle East and the world display his picture prominently, showing great reverence.
Similar to those before him, he is seen as restoring honor to the Arab/Moslem world in his never ending battles against the West (in this case Israel and even the US). Although following an Iranian Khomeinist Shi’ite line, the man in the street sees him as one who will never relent, even if it means total destruction for Lebanon. After Kana his opposition in that country must remain mute for the foreseeable future or be deemed traitors. Even the pro-West Lebanese PM Fuad Seniora and his government have lined up with Hezbollah’s demands for an immediate unconditional ceasefire with no concessions made by Nasrallah.
Lebanon was on its way to a more prosperous, democratic lifestyle until Hezbollah initiated its war against Israel. Today Lebanese society faces destruction and dislocation as Hezbollah enjoys full official support. When Nasrallah and the above mentioned are no longer presented as heroes to Arab children there will finally be hope for permanent peace and development in the Middle East.
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This article and related articles are archived in the topical categories terrorism, foreign affairs.