Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

On both sides of Galilea – 1: Security threats

Posted by worriedlebanese on 05/11/2006

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Security is always seen from one’s own perspective. And it’s in the name of security that the Israeli air force is violating the Lebanese airspace and flying low over Beirut and its suburbs. The French have been trying to convince the Israelis to stop these flights, but to no avail. The IDF believes that these trips have a deterring affect on the Lebanese, and shows them who the stronger player is. This seems to be another one of its psychological miscalculations (we have seen many of them during the July war, especially the one pertaining to the popular backlash against Hezbollah and to its possible psychological collapse). And the Israeli air force’s almost daily excursions over the Lebanese capital is not seen as a warning sign but perceived as bullying and provocation. Everybody in the Middle East knows of the Israeli power of destruction (just as we know about
Syria’s nuisance strategy). This knowledge might dissuade government who take into account the economic risks involved in warfare with Israel, but it certainly doesn’t put off radical groups, quite the contrary it feeds them because it radicalises some fringes of the population that doesn’t see any alternative to violence; “You’ve got to fight fire with fire” they’d say, or “as long as Israel is around, we can’t hope for any peace, security or prosperity because of the violence Israel has been sowing since its very existence”. Hezbollah is seen by Israel as a security threat in itself because it can launch missiles across the border and threaten the security of the northern region (even after its military pullout from Southern Lebanon and redeployment in the Beqaa valley). But Hezbollah on the other hand says that its weapons would make the Israelis think twice before attacking Lebanon (assuming that Israel is a violent and irrational nation that enjoys attacking its neighbours).One can easily combat their racist or anti-Semitic stands and language whenever they spring up. One could also try to convince them that even though Israel is known to react very violently and disproportionately to violent acts coming from Lebanon, its acts are nevertheless reactions, furious ones, but reactions nonetheless. But how can one counter their other arguments? They are well founded in the national narratives of the Arabic peoples.
Israel is seen as a belligerent and military State from the Arab point of view. It’s seen as a settler society that owes its existence to Western support and military strength, that its existence and prosperity are at the expense of its neighbours, and that Lebanon has paid the highest price possible for it. These arguments need to be disentangled, and one should remind them that there’s another side to the story, that there is a shared responsibility in the consequences of events… but one cannot escape a couple of facts: Israel is a settler society, this settler society is heavily militarised one and has used its military strength in a very irresponsible matter in the name of survival, and that Lebanon has suffered greatly from it (not to say anything about the Palestinians).Security issues in Lebanon are not all related to Israel. We have problems with armed groups, mostly Islamic in character that gravitated in and around the Palestinian camps. We also have the Syrian intelligence (remember their nuisance strategy) and the remnants of the Lebanese security apparatus that it had established during its 15 years of unrivalled reign. Most Lebanese blame them for the bomb explosions and killings that marked the year 2005 and the smaller incidents that burst out up this year.  These security issues are similar to those encountered in Israel, a country that is marked by the suicide bombing of the second Intifada. One should also see the security issue from a Palestinian perspective. They are certainly those who suffer the most from it, in the camps, villages and towns they inhabit. No Palestinian is truly safe, and the likelihood of him being hurt or of his livelihood being shaken or destroyed is very high. The only contact he might have with Israel today is through its soldiers and military and they’re synonymous with harsh, disrespectful and arbitrary treatment, and daily humiliation (at checkpoints that are scattered around the West Bank, in the fields, from the airplanes when they are regularly bombed at, in their homes which can be raided anytime during a military operation that the IDF calls ‘targeted assassinations’…).Security issues on both sides of Galilea are obviously inextricably intertwined, wouldn’t it be best to address them globally.

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