nasrallah tv 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
During the war in Lebanon, Israel faced two protagonists: A robe-wearing ranter and a crybaby in a suit. Terrorist chieftain Hassan Nasrallah and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora are both genuine representatives of the Land of the Cedars. It's a state very different from the mighty tree that so proudly symbolizes it on its flag.
The Lebanese character - with all its strengths and weaknesses - was set out in sharp relief during the war. It was a war in which the Lebanese again brought destruction crashing down on their own heads, led by these two leaders, the prevaricator and the nice guy, each competing with the other over who despises Israel more.
Sheikh Nasrallah - enough has been said about him. The leader of the Party of God and the Shi'ite minority is a unique phenomenon. Only in fragmented Lebanon, with its multitude of competing ethnicities and religious sects, could a cleric like him rise to such prominence, set up his own army, and be given free rein.
South Lebanon was turned into what the Golan Heights were in the 1960s under Syrian rule - a military compound threatening Israel's northern border. For six years, the area was dug up and tunneled, turned into a combat zone to threaten the Israeli enemy. Everything was in place, waiting for the right opportunity, the right moment to surprise and attack the complacent Israeli army.
And as in the Golan Heights, the IDF took control of the Hizbullah combat zone too, despite its mistakes and losses and despite the stammering hesitation of the government that sent it. The price of Nasrallah's arrogance is being paid by the entire Lebanese people.
He can console himself with one thing: Nasrallah himself is still breathing and still holding two abducted Israeli soldiers, and consequently he can continue to bargain over the price of their release and cruelly and obdurately stretch the nerves of their families. But that same Hizbullah snake can no longer raise his head. Nasrallah is hiding just like the Sunni terrorist chieftain Osama bin Laden. Nasrallah can no longer afford to give live interviews. He has lowered his profile.
BUT WONDER of wonders: The prime minister of Lebanon, the man with the tears, the leader that wept at the conference of Arab foreign ministers at what was done to his country and especially Beirut its capital, who did not lift a finger to halt the Hizbullah war machine, has now stood up to take the reins of power.
Saniora is trying hard. His good friends in Europe and the United Nations pity him and he is pinning his hopes on their help to rebuild his country. No commission of inquiry threatens him. No one in Lebanon is demanding that he pay the price and resign for his failure to lead, for making possible the destruction of substantial parts of his country. And if anyone expected that perhaps now, after the cease-fire, now that Nasrallah has admitted that he erred and is hiding like a rat in some Lebanese hole, that Prime Minister Saniora would rise up and courageously settle accounts with him - such a person would be very wrong.
Signor Saniora has complaints to only one side - Israel. The very idea that after the cease-fire the man would screw up his courage and try to introduce law and order in his country, that he would send Nasrallah and his suicidal murderers packing, is ludicrous. The man talking about rebuilding is in fact preparing the ground for the next catastrophe.
IT SHOULD not surprise anyone that Lebanon's pathetic excuse for a prime minister is pointing an accusatory finger in just one direction - toward Israel. As he sees it, it is not Hizbullah, which on July 12 crossed Israel's sovereign border, a border recognized by the United Nations, and carried out an unprovoked act of terror, or which has for six years taken control of Lebanese territory, that is to blame. Nor are Nasrallah's hate-filled, inflammatory speeches against Israel and the Jewish people to blame; or those meddling in Lebanon's affairs from Damascus and Iran.
Israel is the one that "started" the war; it is Israel that destroyed 15 years of development and progress, as he put it. Saniora is is frustrated. He is trying to stand tall; to rehabilitate his personal image through attempts to mobilize aid from the West and support from among Arab countries. And even though he and the sane elements in Lebanese society know in their heart of hearts who is really responsible for erasing 15 years of development, the Lebanese premier nevertheless aims his arrows at the neighbor to the south.
And in order to earn a place of honor among the proud Arab leaders, while winking sideways in the direction of Lebanon's true patrons - Ahmadinejad and Bashar Assad - he adds a "threat" to Israel: There will be no peace until it withdraws from Jerusalem, from Lebanon, from the Golan Heights and from all the "occupied territories." And in order to give added weight to his declarations, he valiantly pledges: Lebanon will be the last Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel.
FECKLESS, INEFFECTIVE leader? Whining crybaby? Not the remodeled, post-war Fuad Saniora; no way. An intrepid and determined Arab leader has suddenly materialized like a phoenix from the ashes. He is not to blame for anything and neither is Nasrallah.
Here in Israel, the war will be investigated, those culpable will be identified, heads will roll. People want to know how we were surprised, why we had difficulty fighting, why the war's goals were not attained.
None of this will happen in Lebanon, which will continue on the same path, without commissions of inquiry, in the same mafia-like style and with the same Levantine hypocrisy, the same well-known powerlessness - and the same unwillingness to foster a relationship between Beirut and Jerusalem that would benefit both sides of the blue line.
And in a short time, after the current prime minister in Beirut has left the stage, most likely not naturally, but rather in the way most natural in Lebanon, Beirut may once again find itself - because of the irresponsible parties within it and the lack of a strong, central government, and because of some new Nasrallah that may crop up - under the boots of the IDF. Once again, years of development and progress will be erased... and the beat goes on.
WE CAN only hope that Israel doesn't repeat the mistakes of the second Lebanese war - neither on the northern front, nor on the other fronts; nor on the nuclear front, whose frightening clouds are approaching us, and the entire world.
And to Saniora, we will say: Even without a Lebanese commission of inquiry, even if you continue (for a while) as prime minister, even if you strut and swagger in Stockholm or Paris with your finger pointed high - you, more than Nasrallah, are to blame for the fall of the Land of the Cedars.
The writer, director-general of the Jabotinsky Institute, is a former Likud MK. He was chief of staff to former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir.