Sunday, August 06, 2006

In Lebanon, Support for Hezbollah Spikes as Israel Attacks

In a previous post I made the following assessment of the future impact of Israel's total war in Lebanon:

Imagine for a moment these Hezbollah "operations" that are being targeted are not military in nature at all. Suppose instead that, like the victims in the attack on the UN observation post, the people who are being attacked are ordinary folks, citizens seeking social services and the workers there to provide it for them. The survivors, who politically may have been fence-sitters, might experience a change of opinion in favor Hezbollah after seeing their loved ones torn to pieces by Israel's US-made bombs. It just so happens that these multi-pronged activities Hezbollah provides in that community positions them uniquely to take advantage of any groundswell in anti-Israeli sentiments this bombardment may inspire. It gives them instant access to streams of disaffected, displaced and angry victims to whom they can provide shelter, nourishment, clothing and, most significantly, an immediate outlet for revenge.

Yes. As a result of this Israeli campaign in Lebanon, Hezbollah will be stronger. Just as one previous occupation created them, the second will strengthen them.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was already happening and being documented. The Christian Science Monitor, for example, has recently reported on a huge spike in popular support for Hezbollahthat has occurred in the wake of Israel's latest invasion of that country. The money quote:

Ghassan Farran, a doctor and head of a local cultural organization, gazes in disbelief at the pile of smoking ruins which was once his home. Minutes earlier, an Israeli jet dropped two guided missiles into the six-story apartment block in the centre of Tyre.

"Look what America gives us, bombs and missiles," says this educated, middle-class professional. "I was never a political person and never with Hizbullah but now after this I am with Hizbullah."

Multiply that by about 4-million people and you will understand how Israel, contrary to myth, has actually made Hezbollah stronger than it otherwise would have been. The same CSM report documents a 29% rise in Lebanese support for Hezbollah as per the results of a poll conducted in Lebanon after Israel began its offensive. The poll, conducted by the Beirut Center for Research and Information between July 24th and 26th, confirms that support for Hezbollah has soared disproportionately compared to the results of the same poll taken in February of this year. Most significantly, the increase is evident across sectarian lines. Here's a brief rundown of respondants indicating support for Hezbollah's fight against Israel:

  • 87% of Lebanese in general
  • 96% of the Shia population
  • 87% of Sunnis
  • 80% of Christians (Christians represent roughly 40% of Lebanon's population)
  • 80% of Druze

Please realize, I write this with the full understanding that this wasn't exactly a hard one to call. The US/Israeli conventional "wisdom" that claims that a population under indiscriminate bombardment will be moved to rally against their own countrymen instead of the forces who are actually dropping the bombs on them was always absurd on its face. Ask yourself, is that how America responded to 9/11? Is that how we reacted to Pearl Harbor? If not, why should anyone believe that such a perversely unnatural reaction should be expected elsewhere in the world, whether we're talking about Lebanon or Iraq? No, it was not a very difficult call at all. But I feel it still it has to be pointed out because we apparently cannot depend on our supposedly erudite and wise media spokesmodels to notice how people worldwide tend to dislike being bombed.

Yes, Hezbollah will stronger.