What Does Hezbollah Want?

By threatening Israel, Hezbollah is undermining those who have the right and the obligation to battle it and those who express solidarity with the Palestinian people

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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A broadcast of a speech given by Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut, Lebanon, November, 2018.
A broadcast of a speech given by Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut, Lebanon, November, 2018. Credit: AZIZ TAHER/Reuters
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

I would really like to meet Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah someday, and not just because of his impressive persona. I would like to understand what he wants. Hezbollah is not Hamas, not only in terms of its strength and armaments – which we talk about a lot – but first and foremost in its degree of justification.

Hamas is fighting for a just objective – freedom for Gaza and liberty for the Palestinians. Israel cannot judge or criticize the means Hamas is using because Israel itself is committing far more serious crimes and abuses. When Hamas fires rockets, it is calling out in despair. It’s the only means it has available to remind Israel and the world of the disaster in Gaza.

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If Hamas would sit quietly and not fire, Gaza would be forgotten. If Gaza is forgotten, its inhabitants will perish. If Hamas doesn’t threaten Israel with force, the “by force alone” state will continue the siege forever.

Hezbollah, by contrast, is operating from a sovereign and flourishing state. Hezbollah and Hamas are both extreme religious organizations, and not just “terror groups,” as Israel calls them, but Hezbollah is not Hamas.

I would like to ask Nasrallah what he wants. Israel says he wants to destroy Israel. Israel says that about all the Arabs, but in this case it appears to be correct. Nasrallah says so himself. But since he is portrayed as a serious and intelligent leader, I would like to ask him if he really thinks this goal is legitimate, and if it’s practical. Meanwhile, he is causing damage to the Palestinians’ justified struggle, even though he claims to be defending them, and is liable to bring disaster on his own country.

Does northern op mean war?

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Shaba Farms, the murder of Imad Mughniyeh and the destruction of the Dahiyeh neighborhood in Beirut are not sufficient grounds for digging attack tunnels into Israel. Hamas’ tunnels lead out of a cage, but Hezbollah’s tunnels were dug from a sovereign nation with recognized borders.

When Hezbollah was fighting against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, it was justified. Even when it opposes Israel’s arrogant flights over Lebanon, and of course its bombings, Hezbollah’s struggle is justified. The organization is also permitted to eternally recall Israel’s actions against Lebanon. But if its struggle is aimed at achieving the Palestinian people’s liberation, it isn’t likely to work.

Hezbollah’s treatment of the most miserable Palestinian refugees, those in the camps in its own country, does not reflect much sympathy for them. Its threats to Israel achieve the opposite; they play into the hands of the Palestinians’ enemies. You see, says the Israeli right – in Lebanon there is no occupation, no siege, no territorial claims, Hezbollah is not made up of descendants of refugees expelled by Israel, and yet Israel is being threatened.

Hezbollah has no grounds or justification for threatening Israel, nor does it have any chance of destroying the Jewish state. By threatening Israel it is undermining those who have the right and the obligation to battle it and those who express solidarity with the Palestinian people. The tunnels in the north serve the Israeli propagandists, who insist that all the Arabs want to throw the Jews into the sea, and that it doesn’t matter what Israel does, it will be under threat forever. The tunnels strengthen Israeli paranoia and self-righteousness, which doesn’t serve either the Palestinian people or justice.

Hezbollah is giving Israel excuses for arming itself to the hilt, and for inciting its residents to hate Arabs even more and to lose faith in a diplomatic solution; it is also giving the West, and in particular the United States, another pretext for supporting Israel blindly.

I would like to meet Nasrallah and tell him that solidarity with the Palestinian people and a struggle against Israeli apartheid are exceedingly just objectives. A pan-Arab struggle for equal rights in a single democratic state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is also a worthy struggle, in which Hezbollah can and even must participate. But tunnels that threaten the Galilee and another war with Lebanon are the wrong moves in the wrong direction.

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