Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Raimondo’s Bizarre Equivocations over Hezbollah.

Updated August 28, 2006

Raimondo’s Proposition of the Moral Equivalence between the Jos, Osma bin Laden, and Hezbollah.
Justin Raimondo’s analyzes of the role played by the Jewish lobby in America, and of the Jewish neocons’ influence on America’s foreign policies, are usually insightful but he seems to have drifted off target when it comes to the war on Lebanon. He condemns Osama bin Laden, the Jews-only state in Palestine (Jos), and Hezbollah, for holding similar views about the legitimacy of slaughtering of civilians and their disdain for the principle of proportionality.

Firstly, as regards slaughtering civilians. Raimondo points out that the Jews’ slaughter of civilians is rooted in Judaism by quoting a recent statement issued by the Yesha Rabbinical Council: "According to Jewish law, during a time of battle and war, there is no such term as 'innocents' of the enemy. All of the discussions on Christian morality are weakening the spirit of the army and the nation and are costing us in the blood of our soldiers and civilians." He then highlights a quote from Osama bin Laden to show what he believes is the similarity between bin Laden, the Jos, and Hezbollah. He then concludes, "The Middle Eastern "morality" that allows the Israelis to target the Beirut airport, where tourists ducked and covered, and permits Hezbollah to lob Katyusha rockets into Haifa, is given its dark voice by bin Laden .." (Justin Raimondo ‘Israel and 'Moral Equivalence'’ August 2, 2006. However, Raimondo rightly points out that Hezbollah doesn’t hide behind civilians whilst it is attacking the racist Jos. "Hezbollah doesn’t trust noncombatants, and for that reason keeps well away from them no matter what their religious, ethnic, or political affiliations." (Justin Raimondo ‘Israel and 'Moral Equivalence'’ August 2, 2006).

Secondly, Raimondo also believes that Osama bin Laden, the Jos, and Hezbollah, have a similar disdain for the principle of proportionality. "The principle of proportionality doesn’t apply in the Middle East or North Africa – where history and culture have conspired to produce a socio-political milieu in which a disproportionately violent response to the least provocation is required." (Justin Raimondo ‘Israel and 'Moral Equivalence'’ August 2, 2006).

Raimondo manages to conflate these three groups only through a racist perspective. He talks about the "Middle Eastern morality" of slaughtering civilians and the propensity in "the Middle East or North Africa" for disproportionate attacks. Whilst it is true that both of these accusations apply to the Jos, it is absurd to believe that they also apply to every other country in the Middle East and North Africa! And, by implication, that they apply only to countries in the Middle East and North Africa! From Raimondo’s racist perspective, since Hezbollah exists in the Middle East then it too must be as bad as the Jos and Osama bin Laden!

This article explores the profound differences between Osama bin Laden and Hasan Nasrullah, leader of Hezbollah, The first part of this article suggests that Raimondo is wrong to accuse Nasrullah for being as bad as Osama bin Laden. Hezbollah’s tactics and strategy are just about as different from those promoted by Osama bin Laden as it is possible to get. The second part of this article explores the issue of disproportionality. In what was clearly a military operation, hezbollah arrested two Jewish soldiers who’d trespassed into the Lebanon. The Jos used this as a pretext to launch a pre-planned, totally disproportionate, attack on Lebanese civilians, turning increasing parts of southern Lebanon into a wasteland. The Jos’s racist attacks culminated most infamously in the slaughter of Lebanese civilians, many of whom were children, in Qana. It might have been thought the Jos’s disproportionate attack on Lebanese civilians was as blatant an example of a black and white moral issue as it is possible to get in international politics. But, to Raimondo, Hezbollah is just as bad as the Jos.

The Political Differences between Nasrullah and bin Laden.
Politically, Hasan Nasrullah’s tactics and strategy are at the opposite end of the political spectrum from those pursued by Osama bin Laden.

Firstly, Nasrullah condemned bin Laden’s 2001 Pentagon and New York bombings.

Secondly, whilst bin Laden has encouraged a civil war in Iraq between Shiites and Sunnis (to the great benefit of the Jews and Americans), Nasrullah has pursued a strategy of uniting the two branches of Islam in Lebanon. The leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi used to condemn Nasrullah for trying to bring about such religious co-operation. However, the benefit of Nasrullah’s strategy became apparent during the Jos’s attack on Lebanon. "On July 21, nine days after his forces captured the two Israeli soldiers, Nasrallah answered Zarqawi and Tartusi. Looking relaxed and reasonable, in a carefully staged interview with Al Jazeera, he mentioned Zarqawi's statement. "Today, we are Shia fighting Israel," he pointed out, in a peroration not unlike the one he made the day his son died. "Our fighting and steadfastness is a victory to our brothers in Palestine, who are Sunnis, not Shia. So, we, Shia and Sunnis, are fighting together against Israel, which is supported, backed, and made powerful by America."" (Annia Ciezadlo ‘Sheik Up’ July 28, 2006). (1)

Thirdly, Nasrullah is a religious pluralist. He has not merely fostered good relations between Shiites and Sunnis, he has sought a political rapprochement with Lebanese Christians. "Like Sadr, however, he (Nasrullah) fully understood the multitude of Lebanon's confessional system, never once calling for an Islamic state in Lebanon, and always proclaiming to be a firm believer in the right of all Lebanese, regardless of religion, to live in harmony." (Sami Moubayed ‘Lebanon guided by the Nasrullah factor’ Asia Times February 26, 2005). Earlier this year, Nasrullah reached a rapprochement with the former exiled leader of the Lebanese Christians, General Aoun. "Last week Ya Libnan reported that general Aoun declared that Hezbollah is his closest ally. Yesterday he made it official. Aoun and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary General met to ink their agreement. Aoun and Nasrallah were on opposing ends. Aoun was a main proponent of anti-Syrian protests in the wake of former Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination last February. His organization supported the Cedar Revolution of March 14 while Nasrallah organized the pro-Syrian demonstration of March 8. But Aoun broke with other anti-Syrian groups and charted his own middle-of-the-road course with Syria and with its allies in Lebanon. Nasrallah, meanwhile, broke an old alliance with anti-Syrian politician Walid Jumblatt, and with other partners in the coalition. The Shiite-Christian embrace, which Nasrallah and Aoun repeatedly insisted was "not a political alliance or front against other parties, but rather a political rapprochement," was held at Mar Mikhail Church, located a few blocks from Hezbollah's headquarters in Beirut's southern suburbs. Nasrallah said the meeting did not cover the issue of the presidency, but insisted his party will support Aoun's candidacy for president. "We see in Aoun a serious and competent candidate who enjoys wide popularity," Nasrallah said." (It's official: Aoun and Hezbollah are allies’ February, 7th 2006). In other words, Nasrullah propped up the Lebanon’s confessional political system by supporting a Christian candidate for presidency even though he knows that under this political system the Shiites are considerably under-represented. Since the Lebanese Shiites are by far the largest ethnic group in Lebanon then, under a normal democratic system, they would stand a good chance of winning the presidency. (2)

Just in case it might be thought that Nasrullah was engaging in diplomacy simply to disarm his opponents it ought to be pointed out that he refused to allow the slaughter of Christians who’d collaborated with the Jewish occupation. As Charles Glass has pointed out, after world war two, the French resistance slaughtered thousands of French people who’d collaborated with the Nazis but Nasrullah resisted the temptation to do something similar after they’d pushed the Jewish military out of Lebanon. "But what impressed most Lebanese as much as Hizbullah’s victory over Israel was its refusal to murder collaborators – a triumph over the tribalism that has plagued and divided Lebanese society since its founding. Christians I knew in the Lebanese army admitted that their own side would have committed atrocities. Hizbullah may have been playing politics in Lebanon, but it refused to play Lebanese politics. What it sought in south Lebanon was not revenge, but votes. In the interval between its founding in 1982 and the victory of 2000, Hizbullah had become – as well as an armed force – a sophisticated and successful political party. It jettisoned its early rhetoric about making Lebanon an Islamic republic, and spoke of Christians, Muslims and Druze living in harmony. When it put up candidates for parliament, some of those on its electoral list were Christians. It won 14 seats." (Charles Glass ‘Learning from Its Mistakes’ London Review of Books August 03.2006). To suggest that Hezbollah is an Islamic fundamentalist party when it some of its candidates for election are Christians is clearly absurd.

Once again, just how much this rapprochement paid off for Nasrullah is transparent from the fact that Lebanon’s Christian community did not turn on Hezbollah after the Jews’ started blitzing Lebanon. "When Israeli bombs start landing in Christian Lebanon, the Christians did not blame Hezbollah. If this was a war on Hezbollah, they reasoned, then why were they being attacked? Attacking them meant that this was a war on Lebanon - all of Lebanon, not only the Shi'ites and Hezbollah." (Sami Moubayed ‘Hezbollah banks on home-ground advantage’ July 26, 2006). Both the Jos and America promoted the blitz to trigger off a civil war that would make a Jos ground invasion of Lebanon that much less costly in terms of military casualties. It didn’t work because Nasrullah had succeeded in winning allies across Lebanon’s religious groups. "While neo-conservatives believed the destruction of Lebanon and the death of civilians would incite the Lebanese to act against Hezbollah, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Speaker Nabih Berri, Saad Hariri (son of assassinated prime minister Rafik Hariri), General Michel Aoun, President Emile Lahoud and other major leaders of Lebanon have predictably rallied against Israeli actions, despite Hezbollah's initial steps." (Neda Bolourchi ‘Iran's changing fortunes’ August 9, 2006). (3)

Fourthly, Nasrullah is a Lebanese nationalist whose prime political objectives are firstly, regaining the freedom of the innocent Lebanese people being held illegally in Jewish prisons (including members of the South Lebanon Army who collaborated with the Jos’s invasion after 1982) and, secondly, ending the Jos’s occupation of Lebanese territory. He has sought political co-operation with all those who support the same objectives. When he became head of Hezbollah he opened up the organization to all Lebanese citizens. "Nasrallah capitalized on this moment of popularity, opening the ranks of Hezbollah to Lebanese from all sects and forming the Lebanese Brigades, a unit with several thousand non-Shia recruits." (Annia Ciezadlo ‘Sheik Up’ July 28, 2006); "Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Hezbollah is principally neither a political party nor an Islamist militia. It is a broad movement that evolved in reaction to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. At first it consisted of a small number of Shiites supported by Iran. But as more and more Lebanese came to resent Israel’s occupation, Hezbollah - never tight-knit - expanded into an umbrella organization that tacitly coordinated the resistance operations of a loose collection of groups with a variety of religious and secular aims." (Robert Pape ‘Ground to a Halt’ August 3, 2006). Nasrullah continues to promote Lebanese nationalism. "God forbid, if the roof collapses, it collapses on all of us," Nasrallah told at least 100,000 Shi'ite Muslims gathered for Ashura, the most solemn event in their calendar. "Today we are responsible for a nation that came out of the civil war ... but we face acute problems, especially this year and in the past few months," the black-turbaned cleric said. "As Lebanese, we have no choice for remedying our crises and problems except to discuss and meet, even if we are angry and tense," he said. "We must not repeat the mistakes of the past."" (Alistair Lyon ‘Hizbollah Tells Lebanese to Cool Anti-Syria Line - Feb 19 2005).

Nasrullah has sought co-operation even with his so-called enemies, "Even Hezbollah's fiercest Lebanese foe, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who during the ''Cedar Revolution'' praised Bush's transformation strategy as ''the start of a new Arab world'' comparable to the fall of the Berlin Wall, told the Financial Times this week that he was forced to support the Shia militia against ''brutal Israeli aggression'' that would result in the weakening of the central government and the strengthening of Hezbollah and, through it, Syria and Iran." (Jim Lobe ‘U.S. Watches Dreams of Transformation Dissolve’ August 03, 2006).

Fifthly, Nasrullah has turned Hezbollah into an organization that provides health care, education, social services, and small scale investments for local businesses. "They cover medical bills, offer health insurance, pay school fees, and make seed money available for small businesses," said the Times." (Saturday's New York Times quoted by Thalif Deen ‘Israel's Military Invincibility Dented by Hezbollah’ August 9, 2006); "The growth of Hezbollah’s charitable operations increased non-state-level financial support for the organization not only from Iran, but from the rest of the Shi’ite world, since formalized charity is a religious duty. As this charitable activity increased, Hezbollah was on the road to ceasing its activities as a terrorist group and gradually assuming the role of a political organization. Even in its current engagement with Israel, its "terrorist" activities have been reframed as national defense, especially as Hezbollah began to use conventional military forces and weapons." (William O. Beeman ‘Examining Iran’s ties to Hezbollah’ August 15, 2006).

Sixthly, Nasrullah has also turned Hezbollah into a political party to fight Lebanon’s local and national elections. If the 2005 national elections had been contested on a ‘One Person, One vote’ system then Hezbollah would have ended up with far more seats in the Lebanese parliament and in the Lebanese cabinet. "Hezbollah's political wing controls 14 of 128 seats in the Lebanese parliament, two Cabinet ministries ." (Thomas Frank and Yaakov Katz ‘Hezbollah Maintains its Rocket Barrage’ July 27, 2006). Nasrullah supports democracy - unlike Osama bin Laden.

Incidentally, the ridiculous apostle of democracy, George Bush, had tried to deter Lebanon from allowing Hezbollah to take part in the 2005 elections. "The US under Clinton had consistently warned Beirut not to admit Hizbullah to the government, and even the Bush administration had adopted that position as recently as January of 2004." (Juan Cole ‘Is the Arab Spring turning to Dust under Israeli Bombardment?’ July 14, 2006).

Seventhly, Nasrullah has given up on his terrorist past, "The main question raised by this Arab Spring is whether Washington will be able to continue to view Hizbullah as nothing more than a terrorist organization. Whatever else it is, it clearly is an important Lebanese political party. And evidence for its having carried off an international terrorist strike in the past 7 years seems slim." (Juan Cole ‘Hizbullah Wins Big in South Lebanon’ June 6th 2005); "Investigations by the US Congressional Research Service, the State Department and independent think-tanks failed to identify any major act of terrorism by Hezbollah for more than a dozen years." (Stephen Zunes ‘The logic of war’ Aug 23, 2006).

Finally, Osama bin Laden’s main priority is attacking America and Americans. Nasrullah does not regard America as Lebanon’s main enemy. As far as he, and thus Hezbollah, is concerned Lebanon’s primary enemy is the Jos. "During the recent crisis, Hezbollah has not attacked U.S. targets. Hezbollah has no interest in attacking the United States because "our response would be swift and pretty definitive," says State Department counterterrorism coordinator Henry Crumpton. "Hezbollah is, no doubt, Israel's most formidable opponent," says Bob Baer, a former CIA operative in the Middle East who investigated Hezbollah in the 1980s. Baer says Hezbollah wants to "signal to Muslims the war is against Israel. The idea is not to destroy Western civilization but rather to fight an enemy who is oppressing the Palestinians." (Thomas Frank and Yaakov Katz ‘Hezbollah Maintains its Rocket Barrage’ July 27, 2006).

One security expert has even suggested that Hezbollah would be willing to discuss issues of mutual interest with America. "In a career spanning three decades, Bearden headed the CIA's Soviet and Eastern Europe Division, and served as station chief in places like Pakistan and Sudan. He also ran the CIA's covert war in Afghanistan from 1986-1989. Yahoo! News consultant Milt Bearden stated, "But they've always been willing to try to broaden the dialogue quietly. In the last year I've been in many hours of meetings with some of them, to where I can guarantee you that they would have welcomed a quiet dialogue with the United States, and they have repeatedly said they have no great quarrel with the United States." (Quoted in Robert Padavick ‘Going the Distance’ August 2, 2006). That such a dialogue has become impossible has nothing to do with Hezbollah but is solely due to the demonization of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization by the Jos and America’s Jewish dominated media, Congress and Presidency.

As a result of its extensive business, social, educational, health, and political, activities Hezbollah was becoming increasingly integrated into Lebanese society and politics which, over the course of time, would have led to its complete moderation. "After all, Hezbollah is a part of Lebanon's coalition government and, per an Israeli media report, only two months ago an Israeli general stated that Hezbollah was moderating and integrating in Lebanon's political process." (Kaveh L Afrasiabi ‘A war without borders in the making’ July 29, 2006). "Although many of the Christians, Druze, and Sunni Muslims I met in Beirut before the bombing started saw the militancy of Hezbollah as a threat to this future, they were also optimistic that Hezbollah’s increasing participation in the country’s political process would lead to the gradual attenuation of the movement’s militant stance. Some progress in this direction was already evident: the number of active Hezbollah fighters had declined significantly since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, and the greater part of the movement’s activities were now focused on social and political issues, providing welfare services to the poor in Shiite neighborhoods, building schools, and taking part in electoral politics. Anxieties about its armed militias aside, Hezbollah had increasingly shown itself to be a positive social force in the country. And while most Lebanese I met had no wish to see their nation again entangled in a conflict with Israel, they viewed Hezbollah’s militant posture as an unfortunate but natural outgrowth of Israeli belligerency - after all, Hezbollah first emerged in the aftermath of the 1982 Israeli invasion so as to free southern Lebanon from the Israeli occupiers. While the disarming of Hezbollah’s military wing - as called for by UN resolution 1559 - was an imminent goal for most of those I spoke to in Beirut, they also realized that this could not be forced on the movement without pushing the country over the brink of another civil war. The consensus among critics of Hezbollah was that the only avenue for disarming the movement’s military wing was through political pressure and dialogue." (Charles Hirschkind ‘"Doing the Lebanese a Favor" August 9, 2006).

Hezbollah’s increasing integration into Lebanese politics would have boosted the prospects for the survival of the country’s fledgling democracy which the Jos, with approval from George Bush, did so much to undermine by launching such a devastating attack on the country. Hezbollah has done more to bring democracy to Lebanon than Bush or the Jos combined. "In essence, Bush and his administration have decided that the primary goal of US policy at this juncture should be to buy time for Israel so it can keep pummeling its hapless neighbor. At the same time, however, the United States claims an unshakable commitment to the Lebanese people and professes to be concerned about the survival of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government. This self-evident contradiction is just the latest permutation of America's long history of trying to have it both ways, so it has not exposed a sinister "secret angle" of US policy. It has intensified speculation, however, as to precisely what that policy is." (Marc J Sirois ‘America's credibility will be a casualty of Israel's war’ July 27, 2006); "The Lebanon that Israel, with Bush's blessing, is smashing up has a pro-American government, heretofore considered a shining example of his democracy crusade. Yet, asked in St. Petersburg if he would urge Israel to use restraint in its air strikes, Bush sounded less like the leader of the Free World than some bellicose city councilman from Brooklyn Heights." (Patrick J. Buchanan ‘Where Are Bush's Critics Now?’ July 19, 2006).

It has to be suggested that Hezbollah’s increasing integration into Lebanese society was something the Jews could not tolerate. Ironically, the Jews had invaded Lebanon in 1982 precisely because Arafat was on the verge of capitulating to the racist Jos. "In 1982 Israel had a problem. Yasir Arafat, headquartered in Beirut, was making ready to announce that the PLO was prepared to sit down with Israel and embark on peaceful, good faith negotiations towards a two-state solution." (Alexander Cockburn ‘Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: Everything You Need To Know’ July 21, 2006). What the Jos are currently trying to do is to force Hezbollah into becoming a terrorist organization again so that it can use this as an ever available pretext to continue oppressing Lebanon and eventually annexing southern Lebanon up to the Litany river. "De Clermont (a retired pastor of the Reformed Church of France) who spoke for the two other delegation members who joined him at a news conference in the World Council's headquarters, said Israel would not want the existence of a democratic Lebanon where Jews, Christians and Muslims were peacefully living side by side, because it does not want to see its neighbor state succeeding in what Israel is unsuccessfully trying to achieve." (Eliane Engeler ‘World Council of Churches: Israel planned to destroy Lebanon’ August 17, 2006).

The Jews are desperate to force Nasralluh into terrorism – its politically embarrassing for them to denounce Nasralluh as a terrorist without any evidence. They support such a tactic, even though if successful, it could pose a serious threat to the United States. "Hezbollah, however, is an anti-Israeli Lebanese Shia group (al-Qaeda is extremist Sunni Arab). Given that the al-Qaeda threat has not been eliminated (most notably, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are both still thought to be at large somewhere in Pakistan), the last thing the United States can afford to do is needlessly make new terrorist enemies and give groups such as Hezbollah (considered by some analysts to be the A-team of terrorist organizations) reasons to attack U.S. targets." (Charles Peña ‘The Lebanon Conundrum’ August 3, 2006).

Nasrullah is thus at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Osama bin Laden. It has been concluded, "Neither Hizbullah nor Hamas are driven by a desire to "wipe out Jews," as is so often claimed, but by a fundamental sense of injustice that they will not allow to be forgotten." (Anders Strindberg ‘Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon’ August 01, 2006).

It is much easier to make the case that the Jos is a terrorist state than it is to make such a case about Hezbollah, "They (Hezbollah) also provide a wide range of welfare services to the Lebanese people, and they are not terrorists. The largest terrorist organization in the Middle East is the state of Israel, which kills civilians by the hundreds." (Charley Reese ‘Disaster in the Making’ July 22, 2006). Under the influence of Jewish power both America and Britain are also more like terrorist states than Hezbollah, "On the face of it, it seems as if the British PM doesn’t really know the difference between terrorism and freedom fighting. Terrorism is all about scoring points by spreading fear. This is obviously something Britain, America and Israel are practicing daily in Beirut, Baghdad, Basra and Kabul. Freedom fighting, on the other hand is to oppose Zionised Anglo-American terrorism. Freedom fighting is to claim your land and to fight an invader. This is exactly what the Hamas, the Hezbollah, and the Taliban are engaged with. Yes Mr Blair, Hezbollah’s war isn’t terrorism, it is a purely legitimate struggle grounded on a consistent humanist approach. As we all know, Hezbollah vowed to disarm when Sheeba Farm, occupied by Israel, is returned to Lebanese hands. May I tell you Mr Blair, if you were not a compulsive liar lacking any moral integrity, you would probably find yourself supporting the Hezbollah like most Arabs and Muslims do. You would as well support Arab resistance very much like every free spirit humanist on this planet. But somehow instead, you prefer to support the Zionist criminal tale. No wonder you have chosen a wealthy Zionist to be your prime fund raiser." (Gilad Atzmon ‘Tony Blair: The Orator is Naked’ August 9, 2006).

Nasrullah’s Growing Stature.
Nasrullah has transcended his status as a Shiite cleric and leader of a Shiite organization to become a political and religious pluralist, a nationalist, and a democrat. As a consequence, the Jos’s attacks on Lebanon have united the country around Hezbollah, and turned Nasrullah into a national hero. Those fighting against the Jewish empire’s imperialist adventure in Lebanon include all Lebanese nationalists not merely Shiites but Sunnis and Christians. Nasrullah is a nationalist not a religious fundamentalist, "Pragmatism, nationalism and charity networks, rather than Muslim ideology, are the secrets of Hezbollah's success. Hezbollah enjoys authority and commands unwavering loyalty among Shi'ites because it always appears to be a confident political party that is doing an honorable job in fighting Israel. Adding to the nationalist aspect is the social one, which is that many people in the Shi'ite community, mainly at the grass-root level, rely on Hezbollah for charity and welfare. Hezbollah has succeeded in promoting itself through the media, igniting confidence, safety and security among the 10 million viewers of al-Manar television, for example. Many of those viewers are Shi'ites. Not once does al-Manar, for example, show viewers a member of Hezbollah defeated. Rather, it shows pictures of dead Israelis, real footage of Hezbollah operations and programs highlighting Hezbollah's charity organizations. Hezbollah is a movement inspired by nationalism rather than religiousness." (Sami Moubayed ‘It's war by any other name’ July 15, 2006).

Nasrullah has also become a hero throughout the Middle East. "A quintessentially Shia leader -a cleric, even -had transcended his sect to become a national hero. The more Israel pounds Hezbollah and Lebanon's Shia, the more it burnishes Nasrallah's image as defender of the umma." (Annia Ciezadlo ‘Sheik Up’ July 28, 2006). But, it is misleading to conclude, "Nasrallah has outgrown his Shi'ite identity and transformed himself into a pan-Lebanese, pan-Arab and pan-Islamic leader. The fact that he is a cleric, a Muslim and a Shi'ite is actually of little importance at this stage of his war with Israel." (Sami Moubayed ‘Nasrallah and the three Lebanons’ August 3, 2006). It is more accurate to suggest that Nasrullah has become a universalist, "In a televised speech last Saturday, Sheik Nasrallah tried to assuage fears about Shiite dominance. "I say to the Lebanese that none of you should be afraid of the victory of the resistance, but you should be afraid of its defeat," he said. "It will be a victory for every Arab, Muslim, Christian and honorable person in the world who stood against the aggression and defended Lebanon."" (Neil MacFarquhar ‘Hezbollah’s Prominence Has Many Sunnis Worried’ August 4, 2006).

Just how many more political differences do there have to be between Nasrullah and Osama bin Laden before Raimondo stops equating the two? It is quite legitimate for Raimondo to equate Osama bin Laden with the Jos. But to equate Osama bin Laden with Hasan Nasrullah is preposterous. Raimondo is just reinforcing the propaganda tactics of the Jewish dominated media around the world which is smearing Nasrullah and Hezbollah as an agent, or offshoot, of Osama bin Laden. Juan Cole has also bizarrely denounced Nazrullah and Hezbollah as "the hard line Shiite fundamentalist party, Hizbullah" (Juan Cole ‘Is the Arab Spring turning to Dust under Israeli Bombardment?’ July 14, 2006).

Raimondo’s changing Analyzes.
In his ‘Moral Equivalence’ article published on August 02, 2006 Raimondo alleged, just like the Jewish neocons he detests, that Hezbollah is just as bad as Osama bin Laden. However, on a number of occasions, both before and after his article, Raimondo has pointed out some of the fundamental differences between Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden.

In an article published July 28, 2006 Raimondo pointed out that, "Nasrallah has denounced terrorist attacks against the U.S., including the 9/11 attack. "We reject those methods, and believe they contradict Islam and the teachings of the Quran, which do not permit this barbarity." (Justin Raimondo ‘Lebanon: Are the Yanks Coming?’ July 28, 2006). So, why did he argue the following week that Hasan Nasrallah was as bad as Osama bin Laden?

A couple of weeks after his ‘Moral Equivalence’ article Raimondo acknowledged Hezbollah’s vital social and economic roles in Lebanon. "When you think about it, Hezbollah puts into practice some of the main tenets of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" – what else is Hassan Nasrallah's extensive network of social and charitable agencies other than an enormously successful "faith-based initiative"?" (Justin Raimondo ‘About Those 'Birth Pangs' August 16, 2006). Al Quaeda does not provide such services.

The week before his ‘Moral Equivalence’ article Raimondo had pointed out that Hezbollah wasn’t a terrorist organization like al Quaeda. "this (Hezbollah) is no guerrilla group, but a highly organized political party, which, as President Lahoud of Lebanon reminded us the other day, is "part of the government of Lebanon."" (Justin Raimondo ‘Danger! Legacy Ahead!’ July 24, 2006). A few weeks after his ‘Moral Equivalence’ Raimondo stated, "The president (George Bush) parrots the Israeli line that Hezbollah is a "terrorist" organization that represents a mortal threat to Americans worldwide, but the reality is quite different, as the U.S. intelligence community recognized in a National Intelligence Estimate prepared in April, which, according to Laura Rozen, "says that Hezbollah is the only major terrorist group with global reach currently not trying to kill Americans."" (Justin Raimondo ‘About Those 'Birth Pangs' August 16, 2006).

The week before his ‘Moral Equivalence’ article Raimondo had pointed out the critical difference between Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden in terms of their primary enemies, "Hezbollah, on the other hand, has in the past disclaimed any intention of attacking America or American interests abroad. Nasrallah has denounced terrorist attacks against the U.S., including the 9/11 attack. Hezbollah's ire is aimed exclusively at Israel ..." (Justin Raimondo ‘Lebanon: Are the Yanks Coming?’ July 28, 2006). So why did he claim that Hezbollah is the same as Al Quaeda even though the latter focuses overwhelmingly on America and americans?

The Gross Disproportionality between the Jos’s War Crimes and those committed by Hezbollah.
Raimondo believes there is a moral equivalence between Hezbollah and the Jos. "The Israelis, as we have seen from the first days of this bloody war, are no different than Hezbollah in their tactics or their intentions: they’re both bloody murderers, the only difference being that the Israelis are better-armed – and receive much more aid from their Western allies than Hezbollah could ever dream of getting from Syria or Iran." (Justin Raimondo ‘Israel and 'Moral Equivalence'’ August 2, 2006). What is bizarre about this proposition is that Raimondo undermines its validity by rightly pointing out that the Jos’s response to Hezbollah’s arrest of two Jewish soldiers trespassing on Lebanese territory was "so grotesquely disproportionate". If the Jos’s response to this minor border incident was "so grotesquely disproportionate". then how can he smear Hezbollah as being equally as bad as the racist Jos? The Jews’ "grotesquely disproportionate" response indicates their utter moral depravity, even more so since they have been using these same tactics against unarmed Palestinians ever since the demolition of Jenin in 2002. Raimondo’s bizarre equivalence needs to be debunked since there are other commentators who fall into the same trap.

Firstly, Hezbollah launched roughly 4,000 rockets into the Jos. The vast majority of these rockets were Katyushas which have a warhead of a mere 50lbs! These rockets had little in the way of guidance systems and were thus highly inaccurate. Hezbollah fired only a handful of its bigger rockets which have a war head of a mere 100kg although they are more accurate than Katyushas.

In comparison, the Jos attacked Lebanon with fighter jets, ships, tanks and mortars on land, and pilotless drones. The Jewish airforce flew a large number of missions into Lebanon. "The Israeli Air Force had flown almost nine thousand missions as of last week." (Seymour M. Hersh ‘Watching Lebanon: Washington’s interests in Israel’s war’ August 14, 2006). Amongst the vast number of bombs dropped during these missions were cluster bombs containing thousands of bomblets. In other words, the Jewish airforce alone dropped more bombs on Lebanon than Hezbollah rockets aimed at the Jos. The Jews fired an even greater numbers of shells from ships, tanks, and mortars. To provide an inkling of the disparity between the Jos and Hezbollah in the number of shells fired, "The Israelis fired 1,000 shells at Khiam alone on Wednesday." (Juan Cole ‘More Bodies Found in Shiyah Rubble’ August 10, 2006). As a rough guess, the total number of bombs dropped by the Jews during the war was probably somewhere between one million and two million. What exacerbates the disparity in the firepower between the Jos and Hezbollah is that virtually all Jos’s artillery shells from ships, tanks, and mortars, had more explosive power than a Katyusha rocket. "These rockets cannot be targeted with any precision, and most lack the firepower of a single Israeli artillery shell." (Juan Cole ‘More Bodies Found in Shiyah Rubble’ August 10, 2006). Whilst Hezbollah was launching rockets with 50lb warheads, the Jos dropped a single bomb containing 23 tonnes of high explosives on Beirut in an effort to assassinate Nasrullah. It was estimated that after only two weeks of the war, "Israel has already dropped a greater tonnage of bombs on the country than it did during Sharon’s invasion in 1982." (Charles Glass ‘Learning from Its Mistakes’ London Review of Books August 03.2006). Another factor increasing the disparity between the Jos’s firepower and that of Hezbollah is that most of the Jos’s bombs were precision guided to cause maximum damage whereas Hezbollah’s rockets were so inaccurate they caused no damage whatsoever.

In conclusion, the Jos’s firepower was a substantial order of magnitude greater than Hezbollah’s. The total number of shells launched by the Jos must have been a thousand times greater than that launched by Hezbollah. The tonnage of explosives used by the Jos must have been equally disproportionate. And the accuracy with which the Jos’s bombs were delivered was far superior to that of Hezbollah’s bombs. The Jos launched anywhere between a million and two million shells, using thousands of tonnes of highly quality explosives, which were deliberately aimed with pinpoint accuracy at civilians.

How this vast difference in the lethality of the attacks launched by the Jos to those launched by Hezbollah can be interpreted to make both sides as bad as each other is beyond comprehension. It could even be argued that the main purpose of Hezbollah’s Katyusha attacks was not so much military as political - to indicate to the Jos and the rest of the world that Hezbollah refused to be wiped off the face of the Earth by Jews pursuing their lebensraum policies.

Secondly, even more tellingly than firepower, the great majority of those killed by Hezbollah were military personnel not civilians whereas the overwhelming majority of those killed by the Jos were civilians rather than military personnel. "According to the Associated Press, as of this writing Lebanese dead total at least 715, of whom 628 are civilians, 29 Lebanese soldiers (who, at least officially, are not in the fight), and only 58 Hezbollah fighters. So Israel, with its American-style hi-tech "precision weaponry," has killed 10 times as many innocents as enemies. In contrast, of 120 Israeli dead, 82 are soldiers and only 38 civilians, despite the fact that Hezbollah's rockets are anything but precise (think Congreves). Israel can hit anything it can target, but against a Fourth Generation enemy, it can target very little. The result not only points to a battlefield change of some significance, it also raises the question of who is the real "terrorist." Terror bombing by aircraft is still terror." (William S. Lind ‘Collapse of the Flanks’ August 11, 2006).

Thirdly, in absolute terms, the Jos killed far more civilians than Hezbollah. Even more strikingly, whilst the Jos deliberately killed civilians, Hezbollah did not. No civilian was deliberately killed by Hezbollah.

Finally, the Jos was responsible for initiating events to which Hezbollah merely responded. The Jos was clearly responsible for not merely starting the war but escalating it.
* the Jos was the first to start the kidnapping tactic in Lebanon not Hezbollah.

* since Hezbollah ended the Jewish occupation of Lebanon in 2000, the Jos has carried out far more violations of Lebanese sovereignty than Hezbollah violatations of the Jos. "Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports." (Anders Strindberg ‘Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon’ August 01, 2006).

* the Jos was holding Lebanese prisoners whilst Hezbollah was not holding Jewish prisoners. "As pundits and policymakers scramble to explain events in Lebanon, their conclusions are virtually unanimous: Hizbullah created this crisis. Israel is defending itself. The underlying problem is Arab extremism. Sadly, this is pure analytical nonsense. Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict." (Anders Strindberg ‘Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon’ August 01, 2006).

* Hezbollah’s arrest of two Jewish soldiers was clearly a military operation and yet the Jos responded by psychotically attacking Lebanese civilians.

* Hezbollah carefully escalated its responses to try and deter the Jos’s psychotic attacks.
Firstly, although the Jos launched a massive attack on Lebanese civilians, Hezbollah waited before retaliating in the hope that the attacks would cease. "Demanding the return of the soldiers, Olmert retaliated immediately by bombing villages, towns, and cities in Lebanon from the air and from the sea. It wasn’t until the next day that Hezbollah responded by firing rockets and mortars into Israel and on their towns and cities. In other words, it was Israel that first launched attacks on civilians." (Thomas Gale Moore ‘Israel's Quagmire’ August 5, 2006).

Secondly, Hezbollah waited for a few days after the Jos’s blitz on Lebanese civilians before it retaliated by launching rockets against Haifa. "If Israel bombed the suburbs, then Hizbollah roared, it would fire its long-range Katyushas at the Israeli city of Haifa. One of them had apparently already damaged an Israeli air base at Miron, a fact concealed at the time by Israeli censors." (Robert Fisk ‘From my home, I saw what the 'war on terror' meant - July 14, 2006). The Jos lied about Hezbollah attacking Haifa soon after the start of the war because it was attempting to whip up Jewish support for its unprovoked attack on Lebanon. "If that really was Hezbollah’s plan, it went wrong from the beginning. Tensions were already high, because of the Hamas kidnapping of an Israeli soldier in Gaza, two weeks earlier, and Israel responded with bombing raids, including one, the next day, on Beirut’s airport. That night, a rocket fired from Hezbollah territory hit Haifa, and more missiles, in both directions, soon followed, resulting in casualties and the threat of regional war." (Jon Lee Anderson ‘The Battle for Lebanon: Has Israel’s assault weakened Hezbollah - or made it stronger? July 31, 2006).

Thirdly, Hezbollah waited two weeks before it fired one of its larger rockets – once again solely in retaliation for the Jos’s hideously overwhelming bombardment of Lebanon. "On Friday Hizbullah fired its first khaibar missile, packed with 100kg of explosives, close by Nazareth - we could feel the earth tremble from the impact. The Shiite militia waited more than two weeks before launching a warhead of that size, after it made repeated threats to do so if Israel continued its onslaught. Who will point out that had Hizbullah wanted to, if Israel's destruction was the real aim, it could have fired those khaibar rockets from day one?" (Jonathan Cook ‘Birth Pangs or Death Throes?’ July 31, 2006); "The Fajr-5 was first used in the July 28 attack on the Israeli town of Afula, then again in an attack on the West Bank town of Jenin on August 3." (Andrew McGregor ‘Hezbollah's Rocket Strategy’ August 10, 2006).

Finally, Hezbollah even offered an end to its puny rocket attacks on the Jos if the Jos stopped its aerial bombardment of Lebanese civilians. "The leader of the militants (sic) promised that if Israel halted its bombardments in Lebanon, the group would halt its rocket attacks on Israeli cities. So far the Israelis have been unwilling to make that deal. Hezbollah has shown that it is willing to scale down the violence. During the 48 hours that Israel suspended air strikes partially, it virtually stopped missile strikes on Israel." (Thomas Gale Moore ‘Israel's Quagmire’ August 5, 2006); "On August 3, Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah made a televised offer to Israel to stop firing Hezbollah rockets in exchange for an end to Israeli air strikes in Lebanon. The Shiite leader warned, however, that Hezbollah would fire its rockets at Tel Aviv if the Israeli Air Force attacked Beirut (al-Manar TV, August 3)." (Andrew McGregor ‘Hezbollah's Rocket Strategy’ August 10, 2006).

In conclusion: it is blatantly transparent that the Jos was the transgressor whilst Lebanese civilians were its victims. Whilst the Jews sought to go on the offensive whenever it could, Hezbollah abided by its defensive military strategy. "Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern." (Anders Strindberg ‘Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon’ August 01, 2006). Hezbollah acted with moderation and restraint in the face of a psychotic Jewish attack.

Raimondo believes there is a moral equivalence between the Jos and Hezbollah. Given that the Jos initiated the attack on Lebanon; given that it deliberately targeted civilians; given that the number of bombs dropped by the Jos, their explosive power, and their accuracy, were vastly greater than that of Hezbollah’s rockets; and given that Hezbollah fought only a defensive war, "during this war Hizbullah's rockets have been a response to Israeli provocations, that they are fired in return for Israel's devastating and indiscriminate bombardment of Lebanon?" (Jonathan Cook ‘From High Wycombe to Nazareth’ August 11, 2006), then the Jos’s war crimes were vastly greater than those committed by Hezbollah. The disparity in war crimes committed by the Jos and those committed by Hezbollah is so great that it could be argued that Hezbollah’s contribution to the war was morally insignificant. In other words, Hezbollah’s war crimes against the Jos are insignificant in comparison to the hurricane of war crimes committed by the Jos against Lebanon. It would be like blaming Jews in the Warsaw ghetto for harming German citizens.

Raimondo alleges a moral equivalence exists between the Jos and Hezbollah. This is absurd – especially so since he has condemned the Jos for its "grotesquely disproportionate" attack on Lebanon. It is shocking that whilst many lefty or radical commentators have acknowledged that the Jos’s response to a minor border incident is grossly disproportionate, they nevertheless argue that morally and legally both sides are as bad as each other. Surely if the Jos initiated an attack, an indiscriminate attack on civilians, that was completely disproportionate to the original event, then the guilt for this war can be placed only on one side? It has to be asked what could anyone expect Hezbollah to do in the face of the Jews’ nazi-like aerial blitz? Just sit there and write letters to their mps in parliament? Anyone who suggests that Hezbollah should have done nothing, is inhuman and inhumane. Hezbollah has acted with moderation and restraint in the face of the monstrously evil assault launched by the Jos on Lebanon. Hezbollah is non racist, multi-religious, nationalistic, tolerant of secular society, and a supporter of multi-ethnic democracy. It is nothing like as reprehensible as the paranoid, hideously racist, pathologically violent, imperialist, Jos.

Raimondo’s Change of Views.
And, then, two weeks after proposing this moral equivalence between Hezbollah and the Jos, Raimondo changed his mind. "All fanatics are fond of systematic – and simplistic – explanations: in their view, everything is part of a vast narrative telling the story of a Manichean struggle between Darkness and Light. There is no differentiation, no variety in their analysis: from the neocon perspective, all Muslims are the same, there is no distinction to be made between Sunni and Shi'ite, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, the ayatollahs of Iraq and those of Iran, the Wahhabis and the Alawites. They are all servants of "the terror masters," as Ledeen, with his flair for melodrama, dubs the governments of the region. The jihadist internationalists, followers of bin Laden, are also inspired by a Manichean vision: they don't want to limit the conflict, but instead seek to expand it – to America, if possible. The neocons, for their part, don't mind putting the rest of us in mortal danger: it's part of the risk of their grand strategy, which they justify by repeating endlessly, "Don't you know there's a war on?" The jihadists and the neocons are brothers in spirit: both conjure the prospect of eternal war, and both, in their own distinctive and yet eerily similar ways, glory in the fighting of it. We are all of us caught between them, innocent civilians – and potential collateral damage. The question is: how do we get out of this untenable position?" (Justin Raimondo ‘About Those 'Birth Pangs' August 16, 2006).

To place equal blame on both sides for the war on Lebanon would be an utter travesty. "We cannot ascribe equal amounts of moral blame to all sides. Israel is the oppressor in Gaza, the West Bank and now Lebanon. America is the oppressor in Iraq. And there can be no hope for a peaceful resolution to these conflicts until Iraqis are freed from American occupation and Palestinians are allowed to build a viable state. It is the distorting and dehumanizing effects of occupation that made possible the proliferation of extremist groups that, albeit on a smaller scale, simply hand back to the occupier some of their own medicine." (Chris Hedges ‘Mutually Assured Destruction in the Middle East’ July 14, 2006). But this war was so one-sided, initiated, planned and executed by Jews that blame for it can lay only with the Jos. "If Hizbullah were a military, given Western standards, it would certainly be the most moral in the world." (Remi Kanazi ‘Losing its Morals and Marbles: Israel's Fight for Lebanon’'s%20Fight%20for%20Lebanon%20By%20Remi%20Kanazi.htm August 24, 2006).

Note 1.
To provide another example. Sheikh Bilal, a close aide of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah was interviewed by Syed Saleem Shahzad and the following exchange ensued, "Shahzad: Hezbollah and the Brotherhood are very close. What is the secret of their closeness, despite Hezbollah being Shi'ite and the Brotherhood predominately Sunni? Bilal: Yes, this is true that we are close and we both work for the Islamic cause beyond any sectarian differences. But let me tell you that does not mean that we like takfiris [those militantly intolerant of "infidels"] like al-Qaeda. We hate them because they kill innocent people and destroy sacred places." (Syed Saleem Shahzad ‘'We are just hit-and-run guerrillas' August 10, 2006).

Note 2.
"Religious groups have been the main basis of political organization in Lebanon. The National Pact of 1943 provided for a Maronite Christian president, a Sunni Muslim prime minister, and a Shia Muslim speaker of parliament. It also determined that the ratio of seats in parliament would be six Christians for every five Muslims. Muslims sought greater power when they later surpassed Christians as the majority population in Lebanon. Tensions erupted in a civil war, which ended with a peace accord that reduced the authority of the Maronite president in favor of the Sunni Muslim prime minister, and gave Muslims and Christians an equal number of seats in parliament." (Roxana Saberi ‘Lebanese Christians Caught in Political Crossfire’ August 9, 2006).

Note 3.
This view is shared by other commentators. "Appearing this week on al-Jazeera, Aoun reiterated his stance that a united Lebanon must include Hezbollah members because they are "an integral part of the people." Now that the Syrian troops are gone, Aoun believes the country can reunite across religious backgrounds. As leader of the third largest political party, the Free Patriotic Movement, Aoun even came to an agreement of understanding with Hezbollah last winter." (Israeli Onslaught May Spark Aounist Resurgence’ July 26, 2006); "By the second day in August Halutz's bombardment had achieved the extraordinary feat of prompting the Maronite Catholic patriarch - the spiritual leader of the most pro-Western populace - to assemble Lebanon's religious leaders - Shiite and Sunni Muslims and various Christian confessions. The group issued a joint statement of solidarity, condemning the Israeli "aggression" and hailing "the resistance, mainly led by Hezbollah, which represents one of the sections of society."" (Alexander Cockburn ‘Halutz's Bombing War. Hezbollah's Top Ally in Israel’ August 3, 2006).


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