Hezbollah Is More Than Just Missiles Pointed at Israel

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Lebanon's Hezbollah members and supporters attend the funeral of three fighters who were killed while fighting alongside the Syrian army, October 27, 2015.
Lebanon's Hezbollah members and supporters attend the funeral of three fighters who were killed while fighting alongside the Syrian army, October 27, 2015.Credit: Reuters

For the average Jewish Israeli, whose mind hovers between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton but whose boots are dug in at the Balata refugee camp, Hezbollah means rockets shot at Haifa. But for Arab citizens, things look different.

So amid the condemnations of the Hadash and Balad parties after they objected to the Gulf states’ designation of Hezbollah as a terror group, I’ll try to shed some light on the matter for those who think Israel is the center of the universe.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese organization that arose following the repression of Shi’ites in that country. According to the political compromise up there, a Christian will always be the president, a Sunni the prime minister and a Shi’ite, representing 40 percent of the population, the head of parliament.

Until 2000, Hezbollah devoted all its efforts in the battle against the Israeli occupation. Clashes with Israel in 2001 and 2006 came against the backdrop of Israel’s refusal to close the file on the occupation of Lebanon.

When the issue of Lebanese prisoners ended a decade ago, Hezbollah was mired in Lebanese domestic politics, and for the past four years it has been mired in the Syrian quagmire. If Israel had settled the issue of Lebanese prisoners still held after Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, a lot of blood would have been spared.

It can be said Israel is trying to open the gates of hell, settling scores on both sides of the border, on top of its daily sojourns in the skies over Lebanon. Currently, Hezbollah is seen a threat based on the arms it’s acquiring, but there has never been a report of a Hezbollah man patrolling the streets of Kiryat Shmona.

Yet Hezbollah only benefits from Israel’s assessments and threats, which give it political capital in its battles in Lebanon and Syria. It makes veiled threats against Israel, which it calls the Zionist entity, such as the threat to bomb chemical plants in Haifa. These are designed to cover up the group’s involvement in the criminal morass in Syria.

Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria has been generating a lot of criticism, even among the group’s leaders. After all, what business does a Lebanese party have in a Syrian civil war?

It’s true that all the world’s fanatics are coming to Syria, but the main reason  is that the Syrian regime continues to cruelly suppress any sign of democracy there. Meanwhile, Hezbollah is supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, who claims to support the Palestinians but who opposes the Palestinians’ legitimate leadership, the PLO.

Therefore the dispute with Balad and Hadash is over the way Hezbollah is operating at the moment. No concessions can be made to the organization whose sectarian face is revealed in its support for a dictator whose hands are covered with the blood of his own people.

In conclusion, I’d like to crack the code regarding the conduct of the Arabs in Israel. The Arabs have been burdened with a lot of painful historical baggage since the Nakba, amid arrogant criticism of them for alleged defeatism.

Every time the Arabs complain about discrimination, they’re reminded of the National Insurance Institute benefits they receive and are beseeched to thank God they’re not being slaughtered like their brothers in Syria.

All this helped burnish the image of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as an answer to Israeli arrogance. But that didn’t detract from the decision of Israel's Arabs to be part of the country as citizens with equal rights.

After the second Lebanon war in 2006, there was a terrible accident in Sinai in which 11 Israeli Arab tourists were killed. Amid the Egyptian rescue services’ problems, an elderly Arab woman from Israel's north said: “May Allah strengthen you, Nasrallah, and protect you, Israel.”

The time has come to take off the boots and return the focus in Israel to the region that’s where the future is being shaped.

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