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Uri Avnery – My Terrorist Your Terrorist

 "Teach 'em young", the Jihadis do.

“Teach ’em young”, the Jihadis do.

 by  Uri Avnery,    … with Gush Shalom

Uri has been in the middle of it all - with Begin and Sadat

Uri has been in the middle of it all – with Begin and Sadat

[ Editor’s note: Uri gives us a good concise history of how the polyglot country came into being at France’s behest after WWI and planted the seeds of eternal conflict, which the Versailles Treaty did, culminating in WWII to convince any doubters.

Some of the treasures of my library are books by independent journalists and statesman who saw the run-a-way train that treaty had become, where a cataclysmic end of the story was guaranteed. One of those was Francesco Nitti, Prime Minister of Italy (1919-20) who described it all in detail in his seminal book, The Wreck of Europe (pub. 1923).

One of his many gems was:

“The deeply rooted economic crisis, which threatens and prepares new wars, the deeply rooted social crisis, which threatens and prepares new civil conflicts, are merely the expression of a state of mind. Statesmen are the most directly responsible for the continuation of the language of violence.”

And thus the religious and ethnic local struggles continue while the main geopolitical colonial hustlers still ply their evil trade, where the targeted victims are always blamed for their bad fortunes. Their hands often are on their own demise, as we see happening now, with poor Libya where 148 tribes are at each other’s throats, and a modern billboard advertisement that some people are born for strong-man authoritarian rule.

Uri knows the history. At 93 he has known it for a long time, and the perfect pen to and barbecuist to go after the spinmeisters of “Hezbollah the alleged terror organization”, when Israel and those who have backed ISIL and a myriad of other terrorist orgs are called Western democracies of Gulf State countriesJim W. Dean ]


San Bernadino - the husband and wife go out with a bang, many actually

San Bernardino – the husband and wife go out with a bang, many actually

– First published  …  March 19, 2016 –

So is Hezbollah a terrorist organization? Of course not. So why has the Arab League decided that they are?

Because most of the league’s member states are Sunni Muslims, while Hezbollah is a Shiite organization supporting Shiite Iran and Alawite (quasi-Shiite) Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Curfew after Sunni-Shia clashes in Lebanon

Curfew after Sunni-Shia clashes in Lebanon

So were Israel’s Arab parties right when they condemned the league’s resolution? Right, yes. Wise, no. Let’s start with Hezbollah. Surprisingly enough, it is in a way an Israeli creation.

Lebanon is an artificial state. For centuries, it was considered a part of Syria. Because of its mountainous terrain, it was an ideal place for small persecuted sects, which could defend themselves there. Among them is the Maronite Christian community, called after a monk by the name of Maron.

After World War I, when the victorious Great Powers carved up the Ottoman Empire between them, France insisted on the creation of a Christian Lebanese state under its stewardship. Such a state would have been very small, devoid of a major port. So, unwisely, the territories of various other sects were added to create a larger state, consisting of several mutually antagonistic communities.

There were (a) the Maronites in their mountain bastion, (b) diverse other Christian sects, (c) the Sunni Muslims, who had been settled by the Sunni Ottoman Empire in the major port cities, (d) the Druze, who had split from Islam many centuries earlier, and (e) the Shiite Muslims.

The Shiites are the inhabitants of the South. They were the poorest and weakest sect, despised and exploited by all the others.

In this federation of sects which is Lebanon, the constitution gives each sect a senior job. The president of the state is always a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, the army commander a Druze. There was nothing left for the poor Shiites, except the post of the Speaker of Parliament, a title without power.

For more than a generation, the Israeli-Lebanese border, which is in practice the Israeli-Shiite border, was Israel’s only peaceful one. Farmers on both sides worked in close proximity, without fences, without incidents. The saying was that Lebanon would be the second Arab state to make peace with Israel – not daring to be the first.

Once in the early 1940s I crossed the unmarked border by mistake. A nice Lebanese gendarme intercepted me and politely showed me the way back.

Israeli Lebanon border

Israeli Lebanon border

After the “Black September” in Jordan (1970), when King Hussein crushed the Palestinian forces, South Lebanon became the new Palestinian base. The quietest border became quite unquiet.

The Shiites did not like the Palestinians and the trouble they caused. When the Israeli army invaded Lebanon in 1982 with the unspoken aim of pushing the Palestinians out and installing a Maronite dictatorship, the Shiites were happy. The pictures of Shiite villagers receiving Israeli soldiers with bread and salt were not staged.

I crossed the border on the fourth day of the fighting to see for myself. A Yemenite soldier, who vaguely remembered seeing my face on TV and assumed I was somebody high up in government, opened the gate for me.

I traveled with two female colleagues in my private car with the yellow Israeli license plate through the Shiite villages and was received everywhere with great joy. Everybody wanted us to visit their home and have coffee.

The reason for this spontaneous friendship was obvious. The Shiites assumed that the Israelis would rid them of the arrogant Palestinians, say goodbye and leave.

But Israelis are not good at leaving. After some months, the Shiites realized that instead of a Palestinian occupation they now had an Israeli occupation. So they started a classical guerrilla war. The docile, downtrodden Shiite farmers turned overnight into fierce fighters.

The moderate Shiite party which had represented the Shiites for so long was replaced by the very militant new Hezbollah – the Party of God. The Israeli troops were ambushed by an invisible enemy. Soldiers moved in convoys. I once joined such an army convoy. Some soldiers were literally shaking with fear.

Hassan Nasrallah

Hassan Nasrallah

After 18 years of this, the Israeli troops left for good, almost in a panic. They left behind a mini-state ruled by Hezbollah. Its leader was assassinated by Israel, and the vastly more able Hassan Nasrallah took his place.

Today the Shiites are by far the strongest community in Lebanon. They are an important part of the powerful “Shiite arc” – Iran, Iraq, Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Hezbollah.

Binyamin Netanyahu believes that this arc constitutes a mortal menace to Israel. He has secretly allied himself with Saudi Arabia, which has created a Sunni counter-force with Egypt and the Gulf monarchies and is loosely connected with Daesh, the Islamic “Caliphate”.

Hezbollah our most dangerous enemy? I beg to differ. I believe that our most dangerous enemy is Daesh – not because of its military prowess, but because it is a powerful idea, and is inflaming hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world.

Ideas can be more dangerous than guns – a fact alien to Israeli thinking. Hezbollah now has regular troops and is fighting in Syria against Daesh and othersBe that as it may, one thing Hezbollah definitely is not: it is not a terrorist organization.


What is “terrorism”?

By now, it has become a cuss-word without real content. Originally, terrorism just meant a strategy of striking fear to achieve a political end. In this sense, every war is terrorism. But the term is more precisely applied to individual acts of violence, the aim of which is to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy population.

By now, every country and every party calls its enemies “terrorists”. It is the fashionable expletive. It has no real meaning. If at all, every army is an instrument of terrorism. In times of war, armies always try to frighten the enemy into accepting their demands. Dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima was a terrorist act, and so was the incineration of Dresden.

In the past, the term terrorism was used to describe the acts of Russian revolutionaries who killed Russian ministers (acts condemned by Lenin) or the Austrian heir to the throne (the act which ignited World War I, which itself was not called “terrorism” because it killed millions, not just a few).

State-sponsored terrorists

State-sponsored terrorists pulled a major psyops against the Western world

Terrorists do not achieve their goals owing to the magnitude of their deeds but rather by their psychological effect. The killing of a hundred may be forgotten the next day, the killing of one may be remembered for centuries. Samson, the arch-terrorist, has been immortalized in the Bible as the great hero of Israel. (Because the psychological effect is so important, most reactions to acts of terrorism only serve the terrorist.)

Modern terrorists – real terrorists – lay bombs in markets, shoot at random civilians, run over people. Hezbollah does none of these. One can hate Hezbollah and detest Nasrallah. But calling them “terrorists” is plain stupid. All this came up because of a chain of incidents that has recently rocked Israel.

The Arab league, dominated by Saudi Arabia, has declared that Hezbollah is a “terrorist” organization. This is almost meaningless, a little gesture in the battle between the Saudi monarchy and Iran. Or between the “Shiite arc” and the “Sunni bloc”.

Two small Arab parties in Israel, both members of the 4-party Arab “Joint List”, have condemned the League’s declaration and sided with Hezbollah. They are the Arab nationalist Balad (Motherland) party and the (pro-Assad) Communist party.

The Knesset exploded. How dare they?! Defending our enemies? Denying that these arch-terrorists are arch-terrorists?

Jewish members, practically from wall to wall, are demanding the outlawing of the two parties, expelling their members from the Knesset, and what not. Since there is in practice no legal death penalty in Israel, they cannot, alas, be hanged. Pity.



Were these Arab members right in their statement? Of course they were. Was their statement logical? Indeed it was. But logic can be poison in politics.

For ordinary Jewish Israelis, Hezbollah is a deadly enemy. Nasrallah, with his sneering, superior style is detested by each and all. By making their declaration, which actually had nothing to do with Israel, the Arab Knesset members just provoked and upset the entire Jewish public.

Of course, these Arabs are part of the Arab world. They have the right to express their opinion about everything that happens in the Arab world. The right, not the duty.

Arab members of the Israeli Knesset are torn between two seemingly opposite tasks: to serve the interests of their constituents and to take a stand on issues concerning their Palestinian nation and the Arab world in general. By criticizing the Arab League’s condemnation of Hezbollah, they served their second task.

But by widening the gulf between Israel’s Arab and Jewish citizens without an urgent reason, they definitely harmed the first. Thereby they also harmed the chances of peace. I understand them, but I believe that it was not a wise thing to do.



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5 Responses to "Uri Avnery – My Terrorist Your Terrorist"

  1. Peter Johnson  March 21, 2016 at 1:00 am

    Uri’s articles are carefully crafted propaganda pieces. For the record:

    There was no “Israel” when Uri wandered across the border in “the early 40’s”.

    Samson may have been a hero of Israel in biblical times but there has not been a continuously operating state with that name since then.

    “Israel” did not “eventually leave” Lebanon — they still occupy a portion of it and were it not for Hezbollah they would occupy at least as far as the Litani River by now and all of it eventually.

    The Palestinians are not universally hated, as evidenced by the loose border that existed between Lebanon and Palestine before the Jews from Russia, Poland, America, and elsewhere took over Palestine.

    The sectarian differences are a fabrication of the divide and rule Western powers — the differences between the various people in the Levant are slight and not worthy of war. Everyone got along before and will get along again once the foreign occupying entity leaves.

    Hezbollah has only defended Lebanon from further invasion by the IDF, who contrary to Uri’s assertion are not pissing themselves in fear, but are daily flying F-16’s over Lebanon, and every few years invading and murdering vast numbers of Lebanese with the latest American weapons.

    Repelling a sophisticated invader with light infantry is not the same as carpet bombing foreign cities or indeed nuking them, so it’s not clear why he draws a parallel between this and roasting hundreds of thousands of civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima.

  2. US-First  March 19, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    A cogent, concise, fully illuminating and keenly wrought piece indeed on Lebanese/Israeli relations and on the subject of terrorism. “Modern terrorists – real terrorists – lay bombs in markets, shoot at random civilians, run over people. Hezbollah does none of these.” Indeed.

    If I might be allowed to segue this wonderful article to a piece, equally fascinating in its way that appears in the latest edition Israeli paper Haaretz. It has to do with the coming AIPAC policy conference in Washington which will be boycotted by many American Jews, angered at the prospect of Donald Trump taking the podium. The article, by Roy Isacowitz harps on the hypocrisy of the American Jews and it is a doozy. Due to the constriction of space I will attempt to do justice to the article without compromising the main thrust. I will mark the pieces (1) and (2) to include as much as I can.

    • US-First  March 19, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      (1) From Haaretz: “AIPAC, that bastion of Jewish values…(R)ather than sitting in complacent silence, it has given repeated and resounding standing ovations, years after year, to Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli demagogues and racists, who not only talk the talk – as Trump has done so far – but walk the walk, as well.

      Israel has already built the wall that Trump only talks about. It has blighted the lives of millions of Muslims, as Trump says he would like to do. Its behavior has been far more bellicose than anything Trump has exhibited so far and its racism is not only more extreme, but a lot more deadly.

      The supporters of Israeli Trumpism have assassinated a prime minister, gunned down worshippers in a mosque, burned a Palestinianbaby to cinders in its bed and committed thousands of other racist atrocities. But when the Israeli Trump-in-chief arrives in Washington, he is feted by AIPAC as the true representative of Jewish values.

    • US-First  March 19, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      (2) Haaretz article continued:

      ” What perversion allows American Jews – or the majority of them, it would seem – to regard Donald Trump as the antithesis of their Jewish values and Benjamin Netanyahu as their exemplar? What cognitive bypass enables them to recognize the potential fascism of Trump, but not the existing tyranny of Israel’s rule over the Palestinians, under the decade-long leadership of Netanyahu?”

      Written by Roy Isacowitz.

      [We might ask the NeoCon, non-Jewish Zionist politicians of the Senate and Congress to gauge their hypocrisy against the logic of this article…and cringe.]

    • Dr. Abu-Bakr Susta  March 19, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      U-First: The Haaretz article to which you refer is entitled “Protesting Bigots and Demagogues at AIPAC? Don’t Stop at Trump. Call Out Netanyahu Too.” Very good.

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