The Third Lebanon War

The decision-maker is trying to kill two birds with one war. The first is neutralizing the threat from the north and the second – returning Iran to its proper place in the East, vulnerable to pressure.

Salman Masalha || The Third Lebanon War

Once again the gears of war are turning and the pressure is ratcheting up, as everyone knows that every seven to 10 years, as though in obedience to some law of nature, a new-old war breaks out in this battered region. And the land is in ferment.

This is the impression created by the flood of reports and news items about the progress of the Iranian nuclear project, about the “immunity space” and about the national fortitude needed in these fateful times. It appears that a war is at the gates. It is hard not to smell the fumes of jet fuel in the air.

However, since no one has real information about what is truly happening behind the scenes, all the commentaries that are being published are just speculations or commentaries on someone’s behalf.

So allow me, too, to present a speculative commentary, one that is somewhat different.

Israel is not a major power. Israel is not the United States, which can declare so publicly its intention to use military might against a distant country. Certainly Israel cannot name dates when such an attack will take place. When the Iraqi reactor was destroyed, that became known after the fact. This was also the case with the Syrian reactor. This being so, only incorrigible, messianic and megalomaniac true believers – and total idiots – can make belligerent statements of the sort we have been witnessing of late.

Therefore, it is more reasonable to assume that all the talk about Iran is aimed achieving two goals. The one is to increase the pressure on Tehran and the other is to serve as a distraction maneuver, from the school of “the decision maker,” aimed at lulling another, closer arena to sleep. That is, the aim hiding behind such talks is to arrive at a different “war of compromise.”

The next war of compromise is not the First Iran War but rather the Third Lebanon War. On the one hand, the belligerent discourse on the Iranian issue is aimed at obtaining firm guarantees from the United States that it will deal with the Iranian atom. On the other hand, it is aimed at causing the United States to give Israel a green light to deal with Hezbollah.

Thus, it is not to the east that we should be looking, but rather to the north. Only a fool – with respect to strategy – would rush into a war move of such magnitude against targets that are located far to the east. This would require around-the-clock deployment of the Israeli air force, leaving the civilian home front vulnerable to that distant countr’s minions who have an arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles and rockets.

The conditions for dealing with Hezbollah are riper than ever. The collapse of the Syrian regime is bringing the moment closer. The pretext for such an attack in Lebanon is ready and waiting; in recent months there has been much talk of Syrian chemical weapons trickling into the hands of various elements as a red line that must not be crossed.

When the final moment of collapse comes for the Syrian regime, which is supported by Hezbollah and Nasrallah as faithful emissaries of the ayatollahs, every blow Israel inflicts on the Shi’ite organization in Lebanon will be greeted with rejoicing by many Sunnis, in Syria and elsewhere. It is possible many Syrians will dance on whatever remains of the rooftops of Homs and Deraa and maybe they will even hand out sweets to celebrate the misfortune of those who collaborated with the murderous Ba’ath regime and destroyed their cities, slaughtered their old people, raped their women and mercilessly killed their children.

The decision-maker is trying to kill two birds with one war. The first is neutralizing the threat from the north and the second – returning Iran to its proper place in the East, vulnerable to pressure.
Published in Hebrew: Opinions-Haaretz, August 20, 2012


The Crimes Of The Regime And Of The Opposition

What is happening now in the Syrian arena, and has been happening for months, is the best proof of the ruin and desolation [that afflict] this land – except that this desolation, which is essentially a moral desolation, is not new.

Salman Masalha 

The Crimes Of The Regime
And Of The Opposition

Recently, many websites, especially YouTube, have posted a series of films documenting the murder and mutilation of bodies [perpetrated against] the followers of the fascist Ba'thist regime, who were themselves part of the mechanism that brutally oppressed the Syrians who rebelled against this same criminal regime. These films are similar to the films which documented the crimes of the [Syrian] regime's shabiha and army against the Syrian citizens. In other words, we are [only] now witnessing the reality which this oriental country [Syria] has been experiencing for a year and a half. The ultimate goals of Assad's 'Alawite regime, which used the fascist pan-Arab [Ba'th] party as a no more than a rhetorical tool, was to consolidate [Assad's] tribal, sectarian rule. Now this regime is facing the ugly outcome of the sectarian, tribal seeds it sowed. We are now facing a reality that is best described by the old proverb 'you reap what you sow.' The Assad regime is the source of all this sectarian, ethnic destruction.

What is happening now in the Syrian arena, and has been happening for months, is the best proof of the ruin and desolation [that afflict] this land – except that this desolation, which is essentially a moral desolation, is not new. It is part of the character of this region, which has never been characterized by the virtues of modern civilization. The great scholar Ibn Khaldun, may he rest in peace, recognized this character a long time ago – [a character] that has always been incapable of embracing civilization. [He wrote:] 'Whenever the Arab nomads conquer a place, destruction soon follows, because they are a barbaric people. The habits of barbaric existence have taken hold of them and have become [part of] their nature, and they like it that way… This nature is the very antithesis of civilization… For example, if they need stones to place beneath their cooking pots, they will destroy a building to use its bricks… Therefore, their very presence is incompatible with construction, which is the basis of civilization' [Muqaddimat ibn Khaldun, p. 146].

In this discussion of Arab nomads, Ibn Khaldun speaks of the material [aspects of] civilization. However, we should extend his approach to a new domain, and speak of other [aspects], namely of the non-material [aspects of] civilization. While Ibn Khaldun speaks of stones, I wish to extend his reasoning to human beings. Whether the crimes that the world is witnessing on the modern media are perpetrated by the brutal henchmen of the fascist [Syrian] regime or by those who oppose it, any member of the homo sapiens race is shocked by the enormity this human brutality. While Ibn Khaldun speaks of the stones that the Arab nomads placed under their cooking pots, I [wish to] speak about human beings that the Arabs used as support for their pots. Because today's crimes, which the Arabs and the whole world are witnessing, can be traced back to the cultural legacy upon which generations of Arabs were raised.

For example, let's read what previous generations have recorded for us about [renowned military commander] Khalid ibn Al-Walid, known as Allah's Sword, and how he ordered to cut off the head of [tribal chief] Malik bin Nuwayra in order to place it under a cooking pot used by his army. [The source says:] 'Malik was the hairiest of men, so when the soldiers placed their pots on the heads of the slain enemies, all the heads burned as soon as the fire touched them, except for his. His head did not burn even when the food was already cooked, because his hair protected the skin from the heat of the fire.' And that isn't all. Cultural heritage teaches us that Khalid ibn Al-Walid did this because he desired Malik's wife, of whom it was said, 'no legs were more beautiful than hers.' And indeed, [according to the source,] 'it is said that Khalid ibn Al-Walid married the wife of Malik and consummated the marriage, and this fact is agreed upon by all historians.' This historical report is found in [a number of] sources, such as Tabari's Tarikh Al-Rusul Wa'l-Mulouk, Ibn Kathir's Al-Bidaya Wa'l-Nihaya, Ibn A'tham's Kitab Al-Futouh, Ibn Hajar's Isaba, and many others.

As another example, let us read about the head of [the Prophet's grandson] Al-Hussain ibn 'Ali. It has been recorded by ancient writers that [Umayyad provincial governor] 'Ubayd Allah bin Ziyad placed Hussein's head upon a tray and started to play with it, using his cane. This report, [too,] can be found in a number of sources… And there are many more bloody [stories] of this kind in the heritage upon which generations of Arabs were raised.

What is clear in all the Arab countries that emerged out of the ruins of the Ottoman [empire] and later out of the colonial rule, is their absolute failure to cultivate the non-material aspects of civilization, that is to say, cultivate an integrated humane civilization. These countries grew out of one kind of autocracy and replaced it with another kind of autocracy, which purported to be nationalist when in fact it was tribal and sectarian. In other words, these countries exchanged foreign colonialism for a tribal colonialism under those called 'family.'

The ancient Arab poet put his finger on an essential human truth when he described injustice coming from one's family as the hardest to bear. Yes, discovering the falseness of family is hardest to bear, and leads one to despair and depression. When one is surrounded by injustice, it leads one to distrust all of mankind, [and] this distrust of mankind is the source of [all] ruin. It is the source of the moral desolation, which, in turn, leads to spiritual disintegration. Yes, this is the very opposite of humane civilization. This, essentially, is the great failure of all the regimes that are [now] gradually perishing in the so-called Arab countries. For none of these various regimes succeeded in building an integrated people. Every one of them is based on tribal and religious tyranny. And since religious and tribal tyranny is the opposite of freedom and of human spirit, it cannot last. It is a temporary state, which soon collapses when faced with the outburst of a call for human freedom. Ultimately, freedom is the [true] human nature.

The way out of this bloody Arab whirlpool is obvious, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The Arab needs only to look at the world around him in order to clearly see the way. The Arabs urgently need to base their societies upon foundations that transcend the boundaries of religious, ethnic and tribal affiliations. Such a development can only be realized in civil states, which transcend all such affiliations. This does not mean non-affiliation; it only [means] building the social structure upon stronger foundations: those that underlie modern civilization.

For this reason, there is also an urgent need to reevaluate [the entire annals of] Arab life and civilization since its appearance on the stage of history. Everything published about the crimes committed in Arab countries, whether they are committed by the regime or the opposition, shows that there is a thin but powerful line connecting all these crimes that have been documented by Arabs since ancient times, examples of which we have given above. Anyone who truly wishes for a way out of these bloody Arab whirlpools must sever this line and sever the connection with those crimes. Indeed, there is an urgent need for an Arab self-examination. And for this self examination to have an effect on the Arab fate in future generations, it must be held publicly. It must be absolutely frank, and everything must be subjected to public questioning and discussion, without hiding any dirt under the carpet. Because only through frankness one can make peace with oneself and with the other. Without such an examination, [the Arabs] will have no way [forward], except the way towards ruin and moral desolation.

English translation by MEMRI

For Arabic, press here
For Polish, press here


Social injustice by popular demand

Time has come to say these things loud and clear: I do not have the slightest shred of sympathy for the bearers of slogans like “social justice,” “equality in the burden” and other such utterances from the Zionist workshop and its ilk.

Salman Masalha ||
Social injustice by popular demand

It has been decreed, we are told, that we must pay the salaries of the cabinet ministers, the deputy ministers, the Knesset members, the council heads and the last of the parasites who run our lives, as well as the price of the luxury cars they drive. And that is not all. It has been decreed, by all the above-mentioned functionaries, that we must also pay for the tax breaks granted to corporations, tycoons and all kinds of people with very large bank accounts and very sharp elbows in the corridors of government.

“There are no free lunches.” The prime minister tossed this slogan into the air as a teaser for the new economic decrees. The hand of the self-satisfied Israeli refusal front government is still outstretched to decree the fates of citizens in the near future. There are no free lunches, asserted the man who certainly knows what he is talking about, yet it is very strange that this slogan is issuing from the mouth of a man about whose payment morality for all kinds of free lunches at restaurants much has been said.

It’s not political, the pullers of the social protest strings have declared repeatedly. “The new Israelis” is what some have called the people who took to the streets. But this protest has given rise neither to Israelis not to anything new, but rather to old-time Jews and new Zionists with seasoned shticks. They fled from “the political” so they could all gather together, the settler from Hebron with the harasser from Migron, the slacker from Rishon Lezion with the “homeless” from north Tel Aviv and along with them the lands robber looking out over the natives in the Upper and Lower Galilee. This is the face of the so-called “Israeli” social protest.

These professional protest activists are demanding nothing just and nothing social. Indeed, if it is justice they are seeking, then why does this justice stop inside what is called the Green Line and also the Blue Line, the Jewish line? And if it is something social they want to awaken, then would they please be so kind to explain to an ignoramus like myself for exactly what Israeli society, if indeed any such animal exists, they are seeking justice.

Social justice cannot go hand in hand with the continuation of the Israeli occupation. Justice cannot go hand in hand with the Israelis’ continued harassment of an entire people. Anyone who divorces the demand for social justice from the need for an immediate end to the occupation is an active collaborator with the occupation.

And there is more. Social justice does not go along with the inbuilt discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens and against the Arab locales in the land of the Green Line. Therefore it must be clearly and unambiguously said that as long as there is not an explicit demand for ending the occupation on the one hand and on the other for total social and civil equality in Israel, equality that consists of equal rights and obligations for all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion, race and sex – nothing good will come of one sort of protest or another, now or ever.

Therefore, the time has come to say these things loud and clear: I do not have the slightest shred of sympathy for the bearers of slogans like “social justice,” “equality in the burden” and other such utterances from the Zionist workshop and its ilk. As far as I am concerned the entire Israeli middle class can shatter into fragments and go to hell. I may add that this would not be any great comfort from the perspective of the lower classes in the cities, the villages, the outlying locales, the moshavs and the development towns who are crawling on all fours or sifting though garbage bins.

You are invited to eat your fill of this porridge called the legislature and the government, which you elect and cook up for yourselves time after time on Election Day, until the taxes and the decrees are coming out of all your pores. I have no sympathy for people who are not prepared to listen, not prepared to learn and not prepared to change their bad electoral habits.

You call yourselves a chosen people. You deserve this choice of yours.

Published: Haaretz-Opinions, August 5, 2012

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מיון החומרים


Selected Topics

  • Martin Niemöller

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the Socialist
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Read More

  • Salman Masalha

    Beyond my door which faces west
    Lives a woman who'll never rest.

    She likes to tease my nomad soul
    With words she keeps for gloomy fall.
  • Balkrishna Sama

    He who loves flowers, has a tender heart.
    he who cannot pluck their blooms,
    has a heart that's noble.

    Read more