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Delivering Community Power CUPW 2022-2023

Hezbollah still a useful bogeyman for Israel and the US

The militant group may currently be an Iranian proxy but it owes its genesis to Israel’s territorial ambitions

Middle EastWar Zones

Hezbollah fighters march in a parade in Beirut. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Israeli state is rightly concerned about the possibility of large-scale attacks from the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah. Much is made of the group’s links to Iran, Israel’s former ally and current Middle East competitor. In the subjective world of realpolitik, good and evil are defined by whether or not a given state supports the actions of another.

In 2021, Israeli officials claimed that Hezbollah’s violation of a 2006 United Nations ceasefire resolution somehow justifies the intimidating presence of low-altitude Israel war planes in Lebanese air space. The resolution forbade Hezbollah “from building up its military capabilities and operating near the Israeli border.” UN resolutions notwithstanding, foreign aircraft that violate Israeli air space have a low survival rate.

The context for these Lebanon over-flights is Israel’s ongoing policy of bombing Iran-backed forces in southern Syria. While that is understandable from a purely military perspective, Israel’s resort to the UN resolution defence represents remarkable hypocrisy considering its long history of indifference to the international body.

Most mainstream media provides a general account of Lebanon’s history but fails to provide historical context for the origins and role of Hezbollah in that troubled nation’s fortunes. Perhaps editors assume their readers are sufficiently well-informed on such matters. Most outlets describe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and an Iranian proxy but ignore Israel’s vastly greater role as a US proxy and beneficiary of American military, financial and diplomatic support.

Hezbollah may currently be an Iranian proxy but it owes its genesis to Israel’s territorial ambitions. Southern Lebanon’s UN refugee camps were gradually populated by Palestinians displaced by Israel’s creation and its later seizure of Gaza, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Not surprising, a Palestinian resistance movement developed in these camps and began launching guerrilla attacks against Israel. Israel’s military response, combined with its desire to annex southern Lebanon’s water resources (the Litani River) led to the creation of the Hezbollah militia; now casually dismissed as an Iranian pawn and a terrorist organization.

While Hezbollah has gradually fallen under Iranian influence, its deterrent power has nevertheless prevented Israeli annexation of southern Lebanon, a long-standing goal.

According to Andrew F. Krepinivich Jr., writing in the July/August 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs, “during the Second Lebanon War [2006], Hezbollah irregulars hit an Israeli warship with an Iranian-made guided ASCM and destroyed or disabled over 50 Israeli tanks with sophisticated Russian-made guided anti-tank missiles.” That fact that this stunning military upset went unreported in the mainstream press is informative.

I return now to the bizarre notion of Israel’s official outrage at Hezbollah’s failure to obey the UN since Israel is the world leader in ignoring its resolutions. From 1948 to 2017, the State of Israel, with full US support, has blithely ignored nearly 70 UN resolutions, mostly pertaining to its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and mistreatment of Palestinians both within Israel proper and those under martial law in the Occupied Territories and Gaza.

History shows that nothing taken by force may be enjoyed in genuine peace. This truth is irrelevant to Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters in Israel, Canada and the United States. The defunct peace process was always an Israeli expansion tactic and its recent Abraham Accords with Arab states are cynical public relations stunts creating illusory good will while transferring high-tech weapons and surveillance gear to brutal autocrats determined to silence dissent.

Unfortunately, the Hamas attack of October 7 was the inevitable result of the Israeli policy of terrorizing Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel itself. This intentional brutality has been occurring since at least 1948 and seems to be increasing in scope and intensity.

Beyond the immediate horror of violent oppression is the fact that it doesn’t achieve the stated goal of humbling an occupied population. Occupied people don’t quit and an idea cannot be bombed out of existence. The Israeli leadership’s indifference to reality is a grave threat to their nation’s reputation and privileged position as a bastion of Western power in the Middle East.

Morgan Duchesney is a Canadian writer and Karate teacher whose work has appeared in Humanist Perspectives, Adbusters, Briarpatch, Canadian Dimension, Shintani Harmonizer, Victoria Standard, the Hampton Institute and the Ottawa Citizen. In addition to political writing, Morgan has published martial arts work and short fiction.

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