September 01, 2006

Eyewitness Lebanon: In the land of the Blind

by Michael Schmidt - reporting for Anarkismo Friday, Sep 1 2006, 1:29pm
Hezbollah worship, slavish anti-imperialism and the need for a real alternative


I’m an anarchist communist journalist and wrote this piece specifically for I entered Lebanon via Syria, from the north during the second half of the war, on the last access road not yet bombed by the Israelis (yet a plantation I travelled through was flattened an hour after I passed). I travelled mainly in Beirut and in its bombed southern suburbs, and in Sidon in the south as far south-east as the target of Ghazieh, leaving on the first military transport flight out after the ceasefire came into effect.

Even for conservative capitalist journals such as The Economist, bearded, smiling Hezbollah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah is the face of the recent Israeli-Lebanese War - but for me, the face that defined the war will always be that of two-year-old Malak Jubeily, lying dead in a morgue in the southern port city of Sidon.

Malak lived in the predominantly Shi’ite suburb of Ghazieh, south-east of Sidon. Tall for her age, she had just complained to her father Ali Mohammed Jubeily, 31, that she was hungry, when an Israeli rocket slammed into the tiny cemetery next door to her house on August 8. Shrapnel from the rocket - targeted at a funeral being held for the entire families of a pharmacist named Khalifeh and a fisherman named Badran, killed in the Israeli bombing of the central square of Ghazieh the previous day - cut open Malak’s belly and sliced through her left thigh.

Malak bled to death.

Photo:Two-year-old Malak Jubeily, killed in the bombing of a funeral in Ghazieh, south-east of Sidon, shrouded in a bloodied sheet in the morgue of the Al-Raai Hospital in Sidon.
Picture: Michael Schmidt

Now she is merely a statistic (1), listed among the 1,261 Lebanese dead (60 of them non-combatant soldiers, and perhaps 100 of them combatant Hezbollah guerrillas) and 159 Israeli dead (116 of them combatant soldiers). And yet, in the inevitable capitalist logic, a victor had to be declared in this, yet another illegitimate imperialist war waged against a civilian population in the Middle East by US proxy Israel.

So, The Economist boldly proclaimed on its front page Nasrallah wins the war (2), arguing that the surprisingly sustained Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israel fostered “the old illusion that Palestine can be liberated by force” among other Islamist forces including the Hammas government of the Palestinian territories.

A debate has been raging in anarchist communist circles (see comments on articles on the war) about where the emphasis should lie in our analysis of the war. It is clear that for people living in Northern and Western countries, the strategic objectives of the US/Israeli powers in pursuing this imperialist war - weakening Lebanon presumably in order to pave the way for the conquest of Syria and Iran in the manner of the Iraqi invasion and occupation - need to be underlined. However, for many people living in the South and East - including both Lebanese and South African anarchist communists - the question of US/Israeli imperialism is patently obvious, and so our analysis shifts rather to Hezbollah which is being upheld by the left for its “legitimate defence” against attack.

This does not in any way mean we equate the nuclear rogue state of Israel with massive conventional forces on its side - surely a greater danger to Middle Eastern and world peace than Iran with its uranium enrichment programme - with the ill-armed, marginal, sub-state guerrilla forces of Hezbollah. And it’s not merely a question of a military imbalance, but a political imbalance between a people, many of them extremely poor, who for so long have been pawns in the geo-politics of the region, and a relatively wealthy people propped up by the world’s single-most aggressive super-power.
Story continued here


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