Let Lebanon Live

Presumably, at this stage of the war, when parts of the Lebanese public are prepared to be angry at Hezbollah and not only at Israel, Lebanese politics could make most impressive achievements.

In the last 10 days, Lebanon has been turned into a transparent country. Half a million Lebanese refugees, the stubble of the demolished houses, and convoys of food and medicine that don't reach their destination are nothing more than insignificant decorations. That's how it is for the international community, and certainly how it is in Israel's eyes. One can presume that had Israel made half a million Palestinians run for their lives, it would be facing an international tribunal right now. But in Lebanon, anything goes.

It's from there that the absurdity of the condescending position that imposes responsibility for what happened and what will happen on the government of Lebanon is derived. That's the reason for the crude lie that is winning support that the Lebanese want the IDF to continue pounding their country in the name of war against Hezbollah. Until this war, Lebanon was the dream of all those who believe in multiculturalism. It is the only state that grants equal rights to some 18 ethnic groups and sects, which managed, albeit with great difficulty, to build a balanced political system and in the last year was given a global round of applause for evicting a foreign occupier, Syria. The country was heading in the right direction, economic growth was surging, foreign currency reserves were piling up, reaching some $13 billion, tourism was flourishing, and this year was supposed to be the best year ever for tourism. In the terms of military minds focused on targets, Lebanon was a country with a lot to lose. And it also had done quite a bit to neutralize the dangers that were at its doors. The national dialogue underway in the country was meant to create a prescription agreed upon by all the political factions, including Hezbollah, for the reasonable application of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The new Lebanese leadership understood that to disarm Hezbollah it would have to liberate the Shaba Farms. And talks had already begun about that, with the reasoning going that if Israel agreed to withdraw from Shaba, Hezbollah would have no more excuse to bear arms. There was also talk about coopting the Hezbollah's men and weapons into the Lebanese army and talk - some say agreements - about ways to preserve the quiet in southern Lebanon.

More importantly, the new political leadership in Lebanon and the public strengthened the understanding in Hezbollah that to continue to exist as a political entity it's not enough to resist Israel and war against it. Pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian and even pro-Palestinian positions could no longer serve as a badge of honor for an organization that wanted to present itself as Lebanese in soul and spirit. Officially, Hassan Nasrallah even supported the disarmament of the Palestinians living outside the refugee camps, on condition that it not have an effect on his ranks.

The recognition of that political structure would have also prevented the illogical argument that the kidnapping of the soldiers was meant to remove the international onus from Iran. If Nasrallah did not expect such a harsh Israeli reaction - "was genuinely stunned," as one expert said - he could not have guaranteed a "show" that would displace interest in Iran.

It would be smarter to reach the conclusion that the kidnapping attack was the result of domestic Lebanese politics. Among other things, Nasrallah needs power to demonstrate his strength against the domestic pressure closing in on him and to free the prisoners he promised to free. Why does something that appears natural for a state appear inappropriate for an organization? The political structure of Lebanon still exists and there are forces that can set the agenda. Presumably, at this stage of the war, when parts of the Lebanese public are prepared to be angry at Hezbollah and not only at Israel, Lebanese politics could make most impressive achievements. Maybe not disarmament, but perhaps the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south; maybe not an immediate return of the soldiers, but a denial of legitimacy to Hezbollah's military activities. These are not minor goals, especially not when there is no certainty Israel's military actions in Lebanon, which is only intensifying in its brutality, will achieve anything better. And on condition that we let Lebanon live.