Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If Everyone Else was Jumping off a Cliff, Would You do it? Middle East Answer: Yes, if Israel Didn’t Like It

By Barry Rubin

Who won that Lebanese election again?

True, Hizballah doesn’t control the majority, but with a president who is pretty submissive to Syria and Hizballah having a veto, the next government of Lebanon won’t be too independent-minded. Forget about condemning Syria for its involvement in past (and future?) terror attacks against Lebanese leaders, journalists, and judges. Forget about stopping massive arms’ smuggling to Hizballah or keeping Hizballah from treating the south of the country as its own private estate.

Saad Hariri, who will probably be the next prime minister and whose father was assassinated by Syria says:

"The national unity government will include the [Hariri’s] March 14 alliance, and I also want to assure the Israeli enemy that Hezbollah will be in this government whether it likes it or not because Lebanon's interests require all parties be involved in this cabinet.”

Wow, sounds like a real tough guy. But the problem, as Hariri well knows, is not that Israel won’t like it but also that he and most Lebanese won’t like it. If Hizballah again provokes Israel into a war, as happened in 2006, Lebanon’s interests will be once again smashed because of the interests of Iran, Syria, and Hizballah, using Lebanon as a battlefield to achieve regional hegemony and spread Islamism.

And this also points the way to a deeper problem: the Israel excuse can be used to justify and maintain everything preventing progress, democracy, human rights, higher living standards, freedom, and just about every other positive development in the Arabic-speaking world.

If Israel doesn’t like it, well then it must be good. Iraq invades Kuwait? Hizballah drags Lebanon into war? Hamas seizes the Gaza Strip? The Palestinian Authority doesn’t make peace?

Whatever it is: “Israel doesn’t like it” is the justification for every failed policy, action leading to stagnation, and stampede to disaster that happens in Arabic-speaking countries.

It’s like your mother used to tell you when you justified doing something on the basis that everyone else was doing it.

“If everyone else was jumping off a cliff would you do that?”

Answer in the Middle East: Yes!

By the way, though, sometimes the situation becomes too intolerable for average people to accept. Here video of villagers in Merwakhin, Lebanon, chasing out a Hizballah force which had arrived to store weapons and rockets in their homes. They didn't want to become a military target.

Usually, of course, Lebanese (or Palestinian) citizens have no choice. Hizballah (or Hamas or Fatah) turns their homes into weapons' dumps, rocket-launching sites, or firing posts. If Israel fires back, they then run to the UN, human rights' groups, the media, and Western governments and yell about war crimes. It's a very good strategy if you have enough suckers or ideologically motivated people violating professional ethics to play along with it.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books:
To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports:

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