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Originally published in Marxism Alive # 14, 2006

The recent invasion of Lebanon by Israel and their defeat by Hezbollah was not just another war waged by the Zionist state in its 58 years of life. A new reality has started taking shape as the invasion advanced and the defeat of Israel by the Lebanese became obvious. 

Both, the genocide nature of that state and its increasing political and military brittleness, became evident as they have to face increasing repudiation and accruing resistance by the Arab and Moslem masses. Evidence that “it is possible to defeat Zionism” has spread all over Middle East. Even inside Israel voices from the state apparatus and Zionist personalities declare concern regarding their survival as racist state.

It is necessary to recall here the role of each one of them in the region and the history of the 58 years of war waged between Israel and its neighbours. Despite the myth that it is “a small country”, the David against Goliath, Israel has never been in real danger during the previous wars. Actually, with the total support from imperialist powers, confronting enemies endowed with corrupt governments, as the Arab countries, the battles were short and demolishing, as was the case of the famous War of Six Days in 1967, or in the blizkrieg over Sinai in 1956.

In this latest war, however, they had to confront not a regular army but a resistance organisation, Hezbollah, who used the typical guerrilla warfare. Israel was defeated and both, their administration and their armed forces, formerly regarded as “invincible” were in crisis. Even the famous Israeli “commandos” were routed on two occasions. The first one was the “seizure of Blint Jbeil” which after being proclaimed on the entire TV network, ended in a striking counterattack by Hezbollah with dozens of Israeli soldiers dead and injured and the evacuation of the Tsahal of the city.

The other event was an attempt, shortly after the ceasefire, of kidnapping a high official of the Hezbollah in the Baalbek valley: they tried to outwit the local population by arriving at dawn, dressed up as Lebanese soldiers and speaking Arab. But the population suspected of the way they spoke and they warned the Hezbollah fighters. The raiders were unmasked, attacked and had to fight a battle that ended with a high officer dead, another commander seriously wounded and the Zionist troops fled in panic in a helicopter abandoning their original aim under the fire of the guerrilla.

The amount of Israeli bombs and missiles blasted over Lebanese cities and towns; they mobilised over 30 000 soldiers and used the latest military technology. In spite of that they never managed to break down the military capacity of Hezbollah, which, even in the final conflict, continued shelling out over 200 missiles a day on Israeli territory. Israeli troops suffered a great number of casualties and also the loss of many tanks and military equipment.

Apart from that, it has been decades since Israel had their territory attacked in a military conflict. In this case, missiles launched by Hezbollah constantly affected the north of the country, including Haifa, the third Israeli city. Consequently, for the first time in the history of Israel, thousand of people had to leave their homes and campsites of thousands of refugees cropped up for there were no special buildings where they could be received.

In spite of the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert and George Bush declared that Israel had won the war against “the terrorists of Hezbollah”, it is becoming increasingly clear that the contrary is true. In spite of all the destruction suffered by Lebanon, the Zionist army received a hard blow and had to withdraw without achieving their military or political goals. This is a momentous fact because it poses on the agenda the possibility of fulfilling a historic task: the destruction of the racist and gendarme state of Israel.

The result of the war

International Courier 123 editorialised: “The best demonstration of the real result of the war is the clear contrast between the joy of the inhabitants of the south of Lebanon returning home in spite of finding it almost destroyed and the political crisis the began in Israel.”

The Israeli attack was meant to respond aggressively to two combined crises. The first one is that of the political crisis of the “war on terror” initiated by Bush after September 11 2001. This policy is totally mired in Iraq and now the fighting begins in Afghanistan again. The second one is the political crisis of the Oslo agreements after the electoral triumph of Hamas in Palestine aggravated the general situation of imperialism in the region. And yet, just as Bush in Iraq, Olmert in Lebanon had to tackle the colossal ascent of the Arab and Moslem masses, the highest pitch of which is expressed in the wars of national liberation against the imperialist invader.

There can be no doubt that Hezbollah has developed an efficient military force and its militias fight with courageous determination. However, it was the political reasons that determined the result of the struggle. When the Lebanese toiling masses perceived that it was national sovereignty that was at stake against the hated Zionist invader, the gave their full support to the resistance by means of direct support or explicit sympathy and they all flocked together against the invader. The Shii were the first ones to do so but soon ample sectors of Sunnites, Christians, atheists, etc joined in. During the pitch of the war, a public opinion survey showed that 85% of the Lebanese supported Hezbollah, in spite of all the destruction suffered. Israel tried to use this destruction to divide the Lebanese toiling masses blaming Hezbollah for the catastrophe. But they failed and practically the entire Lebanese people backed the struggle. When the war was over, the refugees returned to their destroyed homes and many of them cried out their hatred against Israel and many of them cheered for Hezbollah.

The defeat started a serious crisis in Israel

An article in the Zionist Israeli newspaper, Haaretz (2/9/06) titled A state in Danger, reflects the tough internal debate after the war, where the focus of the criticism is centred on the role of the government and the military top-notches. The article by Yair Shegel tries to discuss the new reality created by the defeat in Lebanon.

Why should a defeat deliver such a bad blow to a country like Israel? We must bear in mind that the nature of this country is that of a “gendarme state”. That means it must guarantee by hook or by crook, using an unchallengeable military superiority, their predominance in the area in order to defend the interests of the imperialists.

Israel has always been considered a key tool for the imperialist policy in the region, especially in the “war on terror”. But now, several commentators have reported the displeasure of the Bush administration because Israel had not “settled the accounts” stemming out of their commitment to annihilate Hezbollah in just a few days and free the region of an armed and rampant enemy in the region. Their failure at achieving this aim disgraces Israel in the eyes of imperialism, who take more lightly their commitment of total adhesion.

Olmert and Bush believed they would obtain a fast and definite victory that would allow them to commence reverting the situation of crisis that we have analysed above. But Israel not only failed to achieve this brilliant victory but also was defeated and that turned into a boomerang that deepened even further the political crisis of imperialism.

It also generated insecurity inside the Zionist state itself and another dispute between all the political forces to find culprits and envisage a solution. The right-wing opposition days that the problem was the shilly-shallying at having to invade by land right from the very first day of the war. The assert that it was necessary to carry the determination of destroying Hezbollah and Hamas to the last consequences, even if the cost were hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian casualties and much greater toll of lives in the Israeli army. There have been demonstrations on the square in Tel Aviv demanding Olmert’s head and/or that of the Defence Minister, Peretz and the immediate return of the captured soldiers. On the other hand, some pacifists, a minority, insist that it would have been better to negotiate with Hezbollah and Hamas to exchange soldiers taken as hostages. Not only the administration is being criticised: the army HQ are also under criticism and there are those who demand their heads.

One fact is obvious today: the Zionist project has been jeopardised. The double character of the State of Israel (colonial enclave and military gendarme in the service of imperialist domination) cannot absorb a defeat that would challenge their superiority and coexist with an expanding ascent and an increasingly radicalised resistance and backed by the toiling masses of the region. That is why their present crisis is so deep and especially the crisis of their fundamental institution, the Armed Forces.

Let us make not mistake about that. The immense majority of Israelis are all for the destruction of Hezbollah and they backed the war against Lebanon, even when its genocidal character clear. Everything seems to indicate that, as a reaction to the defeat, they will swerve even further right and, in a future election, they will give their support to Likud party against Kadima and Labour, base for the current Olmert government. But the defeat has opened this deep crisis and both, especially the Army, as Haaretz pointed out, show that Israel is “a vulnerable country”. In other worlds, today Israel is much weaker than before the war.

Attacks on Gaza and West Bank

The Zionist project is stuck in mire. But it is an outcome of its nature that allows Israel to answer only with more aggression against the Arab people. The constant attacks of Palestinian territories are a proof of that.

The Oslo Agreements and the creation of the National Palestinian Authority were an attempt at creating a mock “Palestinian State”, actually Bantustans in the South African Apartheid state with the support of the Al Fatah leadership. This policy was completed by the so-called “unilateral separation” of Sharon/Olmert that meant to annex all the land of the settlements of the Jewish settlers on the Western bank and the entire region surrounding Jerusalem. As from there, the frontier between Israel and the “Palestinian State” were defined unilaterally.

The triumph of the Hamas in the election to the NPA sent this plan crashing. It is true that at present the leadership of the Hamas seems to be advancing along the path of capitulation for they have accepted to share the administration with the Al Fatah and Mahmud Abbas, factually admitting the existence of Israel. But after the triumph of the Lebanese masses it looks unlikely for the Oslo Agreements to be once again “sold” peacefully to Palestinian and Arab masses. That is why Israel is compelled to raid against the Palestinian territories to impose their policy. But this is not proof of their strength but of their weakness. 

The end of the myth of David and Goliath

For years on end, especially between the date of its foundation in 1948 and the 1073 war, Israel was presented to the eyes of the world public opinion a small country, of “socialist” ideology, born out of the will of the Jew persecuted during the II World War and harassed by “Arab and Moslem hordes” who refused to let them exist. That means: a “progressive” country, victim of close-to-feudal countries.

Supported by the 1947 UN resolution, with the approval of the USA and the formers USSR, in the middle of the world commotion triggered off by the Nazi genocide, the Zionists, imperialism and the soviet bureaucracy manoeuvred cunningly to create this image for the consumption of the world. Even an important part of the left gave their consent with the argument that, after such an ordeal, the Jews could only create a country to live “in peace and democracy” and that the despotic Arabic governments loathed such an example of “democracy and prosperity”.

A new version of the story was invented saying that Israel was the outcome of “a people without land for some land without people” and the reality of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians expelled from their land by the army and the Zionist militias by means of the method of terror. Anybody who dared to challenge these lies was promptly accused of “anti-Semitism”.

Today the monster is exposed. It had actually begun to appear in full light with the repression of the two Intifadas. Now, the scenes of the attack on Lebanon reveal the brutality, the scorn for the lives of the civilians and the destruction of the infrastructure of a small neighbouring country that Zionism has been capable of in order to try and impose surrender on to the Lebanese people. Even observers from the UN and other organisation, who have always been careful to avoid any pronunciations on this issue, have found it impossible to duck a condemnation of Israel for their “crimes of war”.

The cruelty of the Zionist methods is so evident that an increasing number of the middle sectors, of the left and the progressive intelligentsia stood apart from or even began to expose the role of Israel as a “terrorist state”. The Portuguese Jose Saramanga, Nobel Prize in Literature, declared, “Israel is losing the capital of compassion, of admiration and respect that the Jewish people had deserved for the ordeal they had been through. They no longer deserve this capital.” The Argentine Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Prize in Peace, described Israel as “a terrorist State”, and Ralph Nader, former candidate to the presidency of the USA, defined the aggression on Lebanon as “terrorist bombarding”.

The repudiation of the methods used by Israel has been growing steadily in spite of all the media campaign blaming  “Hezbollah and Hamas attacks” for the entire situation. In England, a public opinion polls showed a vast 62% majority expressing their opposition the continuation of the policy in Lebanon in spite of Tony Blair’s unconditional support of it. This triggered off a public debate in the Parliament between the leaders of Blair’s Labour Party on the correctness of the continuity of such policy. The nations of the world increasingly associate.

The only place where most of the population still supports Israel is the USA, where both, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, have a clearly pro Israel position.  But even there, the popular support for this posture has begun to fade: 54% of the Democrats and 39% of the Republicans are in favour of a policy of “neutrality”, opposed to the total support for Israel by the Bush administration and the Congress (survey by Times-Bloomberg, 25/7-1/8/2006). As an expression of this new case of dynamics, a petition of American Jews against the Israeli aggression against the Lebanese and Palestinian people can already boast over 1000 signatures.[1]

Even Zbigniew Brzezinski, former foreign intelligence consultant for Carter, Ronald Reagan and former member of the national security board with Bush father, is now heard saying that changes in the policy of the “great ally” are necessary. “I hate saying that, but I am going to say it. I think that what the Israelis are doing now, for example in Lebanon, is the practice – perhaps not intended – of killing off hostages. Because when one kills 300 or 400 people who have nothing to do with the provocations by Hezbollah, and this is done as deliberate practice and with no concern about the magnitude of the collateral damage done what we have there is the killing off of hostages with the intention of intimidating those that we want to intimidate. And more likely than not, these will not be intimidated. They are simply outraged and turn them into permanent enemies the number of whose will never stop increasing.”[2]

In a nutshell: the crisis of Israel is part of a general crisis of imperialist policies for the Middle East and the debate that stems out of this situation inside imperialism itself. At the same time, the real character of the Zionist state becomes increasingly obvious for the masses and the progressive intellectuals all over the world and their genocidal policy is increasingly repudiated, even by prestigious figures who so far have been defending the existence of Israel. All these factors additionally contribute to its weakening.

Sensation of victory among the Arab and Moslem toiling masses

As a counterpart, the defeat of the Zionist troops caused an immense joy among the Moslem and Arab peoples. An Arab leader expressed this very clearly: “For years on end, Arabs of the previous generations have been told that nothing could be done against the power of Israel. Now all the Arabs are waking to a different reality (…). Beyond Lebanon, this sensation is spreading like fire across a dry field of the entire Arab and Moslem world. (…) It is a sensation of powerfulness that may eventually mark out the fate not only of Israel, but also of those Arab governments that are regarded by the people as “salesmen” of the wrong idea of Arab helplessness and corruption…”[3] 

This “sensation of powerfulness” will certainly mean a great impulse for the struggle of the Arab and Moslem masses, not only against Israel but also in the struggle against the government responsible for decades of capitulation, especially those most friendly with Israel or imperialism, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. We might add that it would also stimulate the struggle of the Iraqi and Afghan people against the imperialist occupation of their countries.

Here are some examples to follow: “The Arab street was turning to something similar to when one lights fire under a kettle of water: it was getting warmer and warmer until it reached boiling point. The demonstrations in Egypt, for example, were significant, where the Moslem Brothers mingled with the left of the Kefaya (Enough) movement, where the portraits of sheik Nasrala mingled with those of Nasser and Che and where Al Manar television competes overtly with Al Jazeera. But it was not Egypt alone. In the entire Moslem world demonstrations each one more numerous than the other marched through the streets to the unanimous chant “without justice there will be no peace”. This positive concept of peace frightens imperialism so much in any part of the world: resolution of the causes that produce conflicts And in the Middle East this conflict has a culprit Israel.”[4]

There were brutally repressed demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, several people were arrested but it is necessary to highlight that the Shiite in the northeast are extremely upset about the monarchy and sympathise with their brothers from Lebanon and for Hezbollah. Even in Bahrein, an oil sultanate where there is a USA base, there were protests demanding justice for Lebanon.

The UN in disgrace

The UN is very implicated and disgraced for it appeared as an instrument of the imperialist oppression and a support for Israel. Allegedly, it is an institution in the service of peace and respect for nations. But it has not been able to guarantee a ceasefire even when the genocidal nature of the Israeli attacks was very obvious. Blaming permanently Hezbollah for the beginning of the war, the UN constantly demanded their disarmament and the fulfilment of their previous resolution 1559. That is precisely the policy of Bush and the Zionists. Nothing more graphic to understand the wearing away of this imperialist institution than the demonstrations in the streets of Beirut against the diplomatic representation of the UN. The demonstrators, not only sympathisers of Hezbollah but also people of different political creeds, invaded the UN premises chanting “Death to USA! Death to Israel!”

Also the stormy visit to Beirut by Kofi Annan, the secretary general, after the ceasefire, when he was mobbed by demonstrators waving flags of Hezbollah and Lebanon and demanding vociferously that he should take a stand against Israel. Some of them, interviewed for TV said that Annan should not mislead Lebanese people while Israel continued with the sea and air blockade of Lebanon. Lebanese masses understood that the right to veto of the 5-G in the security Council of the UN had for all practical purposes turned into one for the USA-Israel relation, into the Zionist right to veto any legitimate aspiration of the populations of the region and into their right to use all their genocidal military force and the entire arsenal of weapons forbidden even by the Geneva conventions itself, such as fragmentation bombs. The government of Israel says cynically that their actions were not breaching any of the international convention and the UN accepted these statements without as much as threatening the Israeli government with an effective sanction.

Actually, what Bush and Olmert were out to achieve was to sweep away Lebanese resistance in a few weeks, but the plan backfired and the defeat of the Zionist troops deepened the crisis of the imperialist policy in the Middle East. An example of the above were the difficulties and the hesitation about forming the “peace Force” foreseen by resolution 1701.

Consistently with the role of a tool of imperialism that this organisation has, the resolution did not condemn the Zionist aggression or the destruction caused. It merely called for a ceasefire and sent “blue helmets” to the Lebanese side of the frontier. Simultaneously it insisted on the mandate of resolution 1559 to “disarm Hezbollah”.

The real aim pursued is to cushion the defeat of the Israeli defeat and to get the “Peace Force” to establish a “stopper zone” between Lebanon and Israel preventing missiles attacks by Hezbollah. Many of the countries invited to send in their troop either refused or proposed reduced numbers. France, the former dominating power in Lebanon, with an eye on resuming their influence, did not take the responsibility for commanding the troops and send 3000 men, because the generals rejected the proposal. They wanted to send not more than 200 because their participation in the UN in the 80s, when they were literally “blasted to smithereens” is still fresh in their memory. This caused Bush to protest and exert pressure on France and for other European countries, such as Italy and Spain, rushed to offer themselves to substitute France at this task.

For those who still would like to see the UN as an “instrument of peace”, it is impossible to hide the image that has been impressed pin-sharp in the eyes of Arab and Moslem militants, such as is revealed in this piece of the interview to a Hezbollah militant given to Mohamed Ali Nayel, Nicole Younness and Jaume d’Urgell:[5]

“The United Nations always defend the interests of the United States of America and their friends, the occupants of Palestine and aggressors against Lebanon. Let us  take the example of the kidnappings. Why is it that when the occupants of Palestine kidnap somebody and torture him for 11 years, this is not called terrorism? Why does not Annan speak on TV to expose this type of deeds? Why do they only expose the deeds (comparatively insignificant) committed by Hezbollah? In my opinion, an international organisation aspiring to occupying the position  the United Nations pretends to achieve, and acts a judge and interested party in such an evident manner, is no longer justified.”.

A new war is inevitable

The ceasefire reached in Lebanon is very precarious. Israel continued with the sea and air blockade for over three weeks after. Furthermore, the Israeli government has just announced that the country had to be prepared for “a second offensive” against Hezbollah unless Hezbollah accepts their own disarmament or the Lebanese army imposes that event, something that seems rather unlikely after the result of the war.

In such case, Israel would not allow the presence of such a challenge at their doorstep. In some time, the Zionist state will once again attack and is already getting ready for that even if still licking their wounds. A new demonstration as well that there will be no peace in the Middle East until Israel is not definitely destroyed. The conditions for carrying out this historic task are better now than ever before in these nearly sixty years of their existence. The defeat suffered in Lebanon shows that , given a joint struggle of the Arab and Moslem masses, this task will be feasible.

[1]Petition for USA Jewish Solidarity with Muslim an Arab Peoples of the Middle East in www.jewishsolidarity.info/petition.php.

[2]Extract from Juan Gelman, Climas, 4/8/06

[3]Gayath Armanazi, The Independent, 11/8/06,reproduced in International Courier.

[4]Alberto cruz in Rebelión 31/8/16. El grito de la calle árabe: “Sin justicia no hay paz”.

[5]Published on the 5/9/05 in the Rebelión site