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Candide Recommends: Friday, July 28, 2006
Hubris in Retreat
Beirut, unsanitized
  • And we're supposed to be grateful? "Israel Opts Not to Expand Military Offensive in Lebanon," goes the headline. Israel and its supporters have always had this way about them of making their going along with minimum requirements of law and morality seem like an immense favor. Israel opts not to expand its offensive? Notice the presumption of the headline, which is not the Washington Post's so much as that of the Israeli defense minister's: the option remains Israel to deal with Lebanon like a tiger with its prey, though the decision not to expand the offensive has also had something to do with the unexpectedly heavy losses Israel has been encountering in Sotuh Lebanon. Still, there's no favor here: the offensive continues; it's been lethal as it is. And rhetoric to calm the folks back home isn;t changing the reality on the gorund: Like the United States in Iraq, Israel is “bolstering” troops in Lebanon. Like the United States in Iraq, Israel claims its goal is limited to specific objectives. Like the United States in Iraq, Israel has lost both its moral and strategic compasses. The tool so far? “At least 445 people, most of them civilians, have been confirmed killed in Lebanon, according to a Reuters tally. Fifty-one Israelis, including 18 civilians, have been killed.” The Lebanese health ministry puts the figure at 600 dead, including those still trapped in rubble. Is it any wonder that the "Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hoezbollah"? Good job, Israel. As Cofer Black would say: Good job.
  • From the Wall Street Journal today: A story on Al-Manar, Hezbollah's television station, that Israel has been trying to take out: "Soon after the fighting began here, Israeli jets were dispatched on a mission: Take Al-Manar Television, the satellite news channel run by the militant group Hezbollah, off the air. The jets destroyed the station's five-story headquarters in a southern suburb of the city, then returned to strafe the rubble in case the network was broadcasting from underground, say Al-Manar executives. But thanks to elaborate advance planning, Al-Manar's signal returned after just two minutes of downtime, filling Middle East airwaves with the channel's unique mix of front-line war reporting and overt anti-Israel and anti-U.S. propaganda. Faced with more Israeli raids on its telecommunications infrastructure, Al-Manar's staff vows to press on." See the full article...
  • Leave it to Alabama always, always to stay a step behind, or blaze trails of backwardness: “As the fighting continues overseas,” Alabama’s WSFA-TV channel reports, “some lessons from the Middle East conflict are hitting home right here in Alabama.  Members of the Montgomery Police Department SWAT team are in a five day counterterrorism school taught by a former Israeli servicemember. [… Montgomery police] say this school fills a real need in their department and the new techniques will be applied to everything they do.” God help Alabamans. [With thanks to Liz at BlondeSense]
  • What Hezbollah would do, if it had full control of Lebanon: “On 15 August, 2004, Atefah Sahaaleh was hanged in a public square in the Iranian city of Neka. Her death sentence was imposed for ‘crimes against chastity’. The state-run newspaper accused her of adultery and described her as 22 years old. But she was not married - and she was just 16.” The BBC has produced a documentary piecing together the story and highlighting Sharia, or Islamic, law’s regressive reign in Iran: “In terms of the number of people executed by the state in 2004, Iran is estimated to be second only to China. In the year of Atefah’s death, at least 159 people were executed in accordance with the Islamic law of the country, based on the Sharia code.” I can imagine conservative readers of this paragraph naturally react with cries of “we told you so” and “see why Israel is doing us a favor?” Reactionaries do tend to miss the point. Opposing regression should not mean encouraging it. What Israel is doing in Lebanon now, as it did in 1982, is encourage regression. It gave birth to Hezbollah then. It’s now reinforcing Hezbollah’s hand while turning what fledgling moderate Islamic voices there are out there against it all over again. Deservedly.
  • Anthony Shadeed is one of the very best reporters in the field today. He writes for the Washington Post, has covered the Iraq war, won a Pulitzer for it and published a book about it. He’s now covering the Lebanon war. He was in Tyre recently, in the heart of the darkness Israel is descending on the country. He has a five-year-old daughter in Boston. “I try to call her every day, she knows what is going on - I know she has cried about it,” Shadid, 37, told E&P during a cell phone interview, referring to his only child, Laila, who lives with Shadid’s ex-wife. “It is a constant on my mind, that is the worst part about this job.” He’s staying in Lebanon until a cease-fire, which he doesn’t see happening any time soon.

The War in Photographs

  • L’Orient Le Jour, Lebanon’s French daily, is maintaining a photo page designed for the sensibilities of the lady from Dubuque—nothing gory, nothing that wouldn’t make it on US television’s “sanitized-for-your-protection” newscasts.
  • For images of the war’s human cost entirely unfiltered, you can brace yourselves and go to uruknet and .


  • Juan Cole is reporting that al-Qaeda is getting ready to step into the fray in Lebanon and Gaza, following Zawahiri’s declaration of a turn-about (al-Qaeda and Hezbollah have been enemies). I have my doubts. That may be the case with Hamas, which is terrible news for Israel on that front, but regarding Hezbollah, my sense is that, as I mentioned yesterday, al-Qaeda is panicking over the prospect of losing its top-dog status among Islamdom’s “bearers of the faith,” now that Hezbollah appears, on the Arab street, as the more effective force against Israel.
  • Cold Desert’s Ahmad: “Today I went to Beirut, the road took us between 2.5 hours and 3 hours; the coastal road used to take us 40 minutes before the IDF (aka Indiscriminate Destructive Forces) destroyed all the bridges and hence broke it at several points. The 2.5 hour trip is quite tiring especially that it is no more a highway; it is just narrow roads that allow one car in each direction. […] On my way back, I remembered the days before the war when we would go to Beirut just to watch a movie in the cinema or attend an exhibition and return back to Saida. Now, this is no more feasible. Driving in Beirut and avoiding the unsafe areas, I felt quite irritated. I would never forgive the Israeli government for their sin, destroying Lebanon; I shall never forget this. I miss the traffic in the roads... I miss the times when we used to feel safe... I miss the times when a person can have a “normal” life in Lebanon.” See the full post… (Meanwhile Jamal’s finds at least one good thing about Israel’s invasion: he’s lost weight.)
  • Whiskey Bar’s Billmon: “I’ve felt many emotions about the Israelis before. I’ve admired them for their accomplishments—building a flourishing state out of almost nothing. I’ve hated them for their systematic dispossession of the Palestinians—even as they smugly congratulated themselves for being the Middle East’s only “democracy.” I’ve pitied them for the cruel fate history inflicted on the Jewish diaspora, respected them for their boldness and daring, honored them for their cultural and intellectual achievements. But the one thing I’ve never felt, at least up until now, is contempt.But that is what I’m feeling now. The military and political leaders of the Jewish state are doing and saying things that go way beyond the blustering arrogance of a powerful nation at war. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they are behaving like a gang of miltaristic thugs—whose reply to any criticism or reproach is an expletive deleted and the smash of an iron fist.” See the full post…

Orthodoxy in action: First the love notes to impending Lebanese casualties, than the dancing on imaginary graves. How low you have fallen, O Israel.

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