Middle Israel: To Hassan Nasrallah

There was something refreshing about you this week, you failed to predict Israel's reaction.

amotz asa el 88 (photo credit: )
amotz asa el 88
(photo credit: )
Mr. Nasrallah - There was something refreshing in your admission this week that you had failed to predict Israel's reaction to the attack you ordered July 12, and that you would not have ordered it had you known its consequences in advance. Frankly, that's a lot more responsibility than our own leaders are for now prepared to assume, not to mention the political norm across the Arab world, where presidents, princes, monarchs and Generalissimos, like Catholic popes, never err. Your admission is even more impressive concerning your frequent boasts to have studied us thoroughly. Well Hassan, since at least this one time you actually realize you have still got what to learn about us, let me draw your attention to a few more aspects of the situation of which you are apparently unaware, and which may help you avoid more mistakes in the future. FIRST, you must understand that the whole world and its sister saw through your statements. They realized that the situation at which you have arrived, whereby you are constantly on the run, is even more difficult for you than it might have been for others, because publicly addressing large audiences has become for you a way of life and a source of energy. Otherwise why did you dedicate to that TV reporter - a poorly veiled blonde female, God forbid - a full two-and-a-half hours of your time? Similarly, it took no Arabist to understand that the confession you made was meant to address the growing displeasure across Lebanon with the Israeli counterattack's impact, the one you now admit having both caused and failed to predict. Yes, curiously enough the Lebanese masses to whom you promised so conceitedly "a share in the victory" are unhappy, very unhappy, to foot the $10-billion-bill of damages with which your war games have left them, not to mention their displeasure with their human toll. In other words, Hassan, unlike what you and your Iranian masters believe, even where freedom is scarce there is a limit to the abuse that ordinary folk are prepared to take; at the end of the day they do speak their minds, and those minds in their turn seek life, opportunity and prosperity much more than the bickering, triumphalism, belligerence, chauvinism and eye-rolling piety that you offer them instead. Secondly, now that you concede having misread us, the question is in what way? WHAT YOU would like the Lebanese people to believe is that you have merely failed to predict Israel's response to one specific situation, but otherwise you remain convinced, as you have boasted many times, that no one knows Israel better than you. Well, the fact is that what you have misread runs deeper than one situation, and demonstrates that with all due respect to your efforts on this front, too, you are still in no position to say you know us. Yes, we may now be engaging in the kind of soul-searching which you and your puppeteers in Teheran think you can forever flee, and in the coming months we will be busy probing, despite our leaders' shameful trickery, various aspects of their conduct that we found unsatisfactory. Still, none of this should change the fact that beyond Israel's response to the attack you now admit you regret having launched lurks a popular will to fight that refutes your famous gloating that Israel had lost its will to fight. Evidently, Hassan, diligent though you may have been in studying the situation you are so obsessed with reinventing, here too you have been doing something fundamentally wrong. First, you completely misunderstood the very concept of democratic protest. Back in 2000, when you saw ordinary Israeli citizens both protest Israel's Lebanese policy and affect it, you mistook all this for weakness. Well, it turns out that this analysis was no more valid than Vietnam's illusion that it had beaten America - a conventional wisdom that proved so unfounded that the Vietnamese soon afterwards shed their ostensibly victorious communist faith, and in fact begged the US to restore its ties with them. Never mind the fact that we Jews are convinced that your fundamentalism's aftermath will be the same as communism's, fascism's, and all the other isms that were bent on oppressing their own people and conquering everyone else. What I wonder is - just what makes you think you know us; how do you go about studying us before you jump to your sweeping conclusions? Do you really think that by getting a daily digest of headlines written somewhere within the journalistic Bermuda Triangle that lies between Yediot, Ma'ariv and Haaretz you can purport to know us? The Jews? How much do you know about our origins, how long we have been around, what we have been through, how many swords have been smashed on our heads over the centuries, and how many pens have been broken in efforts to besmirch, debilitate or even just decipher us? Surely, no one here expects you to now start exploring, say, Exodus, Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, Philo and Maimonides, or Marx, Spinoza, Freud and Einstein, or S.Y. Agnon, Natan Alterman, Moshe Shamir and A.B. Yehoshua, or even just Ben-Gurion's memoirs, so as to get a somewhat broader perspective about us. Nor do I see you contemplating the many premature eulogies of the Jewish nation delivered by assorted scholars from Hegel to Toynbee, people who were probably even more learned than you. What we do urge you to do, as long as you live off your current diet of intellectual fast food, is to not take too seriously Israeli admirers on the one hand or European anti-Semites on the other. Your journalistic admirers here are the same ones who only yesterday hailed, and now condemn, our current political and military leaders. As for those Europeans, yes, they may happily accept this baloney about you being merely after the Jews, but they are taking you for a ride when telling you they are still in the business of shaping the Jews' history. In fact they have even given up on shaping their own destiny. Courting the devil has long been a European specialty, so much so that it took foreigners to save Europe from both fascism and communism. Back in the 1930s, most Europeans remained deaf to warnings that Hitler was after them, preferring to delude themselves he was "merely" after the Jews, and that the beast could be soothed by feeding it the Jewish prey it just could not resist. When Europe finally understood that the Jews were merely Fascism's warm-up act, it was too late. Today you and your Iranian masters are cleverly following that script, telling Europe all you want is the Jews, while what you are really after is Beirut, the most Western corner of the Arab world, the Paris of the Middle East, the metropolis whose takeover by Iran would be equal in its impact to Constantinople's fall to the Ottomans in 1453. Unfortunately, many Europeans still respond to all this with the same moral apathy and political appeasement that only a few decades ago set their continent ablaze. Even more unfortunately from your viewpoint, we Jews - that stiff-necked lot you thought you knew so well - are no longer prepared to play our part in the script: We fight.