Arguing in Shallow Little Circles
I think we should all admit we don’t know shit. Frankly I think both of you (Panda and Ayla) are only scratching the surface of facts and analysis. At such a level, it’s easy to offer rhetorical substantiations of either position. For the Anti Hezbs, look to Panda's lengthy comment. For the Pro Hezbs, here is an example what a completely ignorant college kid (me in this particular instance) can do when armed only with a selection of ‘indisputable’ Wiki-facts.
Hezbollah’s 10% of the vote should not be dismissed as paltry. The party with the most success in the recent election was “Current for the Future” with 36 Seats. The slot for the second biggest party is hotly contested:
- Progressive Socialists: 16
- Amal Movement: 15
- Hezbollah: 14
- Free Patriotic Movement 14
Hezbollah, on its own, is therefore only two seats away from being the second biggest party in Lebanon. Moreover, the Resistance and Development Bloc, a joint ticket by Hezb and the other main Shiite party (Harkat), won over 80% of the votes in the second round showing that the south of the country is fairly unequivocal with respect to its allegiances.
Other facts should also be considered before a dismissive attitude is adopted towards Hezbollah’s 10% of the Lebanese NA.
Panda quotes the country demographics as 40% Shia, and 70% Muslim. However it is mistaken to presume that a proportionate amount of seats (i.e. 40%) should have been acquired by Hezb for to be considered representative of the Shia. The Bloc of which Hezb is a part won 35 seats which constitutes 27% of the total number. Secondly, even though Muslims number 70%, Lebanese Christians were given equal representation in the NA. If the vote for Hezbollah’s Bloc was entirely Muslim, that’s 51% of all the 68 Muslim Seats in the country. Considering that those 68 seats equal 70% of the country, this could possibly give the Hezb Bloc around 35% of the popular vote. A figure which isn’t too far off from the original 40% of Shias in the country.
Alternatively if the vote was more diverse and not exclusively Shia or Muslim (i.e. implying heavier weighted Christian voters and a smaller total vote %) then this would strongly contradict the point Panda made later on. Hezbollah can hardly be said to practice narrow and theologically exclusive politics if it has electoral support spanning across Lebanon’s multi religious community. To his credit Panda admits that the Hezb have a lot of support from various quarters. The Wiki website also had some of these stats:
87 percent of Lebanese support Hezbollah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hezbollah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hezbollah along with 80 percent of Duze and 89 percent of Sunnis.
(Poll taken on the 26th of July 2006)
I do not understand however how Panda feels that broad support will not translate into votes if (and when) the time was to come for elections. Security and welfare (Arguably Hezbollah’s strongest cards) would play well in any election, particularly in light of the needs the whole of Lebanese society (Christian, Druze Shia and Sunni), will face during and after the current Israeli assault.
Panda then talks about the Hezb's charity work for Palestinian refugees and recognizes their contribution in this regard. However he feels that the very need for their charitable efforts stems from the fact that Palestinians are treated as second class citizens by the Arab States and peoples. From what I understand, his view is that Hezbollah are the hypocritical and self righteous curers of a problem that they and they're backers themselves are parties to creating and maintaining.
Frankly, there has been no analysis here, or any examination of the facts. Blame has simply been assigned. The Palestinians second class status, (where it does exist and it is by no means universal at a social or even state level) is a product of the socio economic status and conditions of guest Palestinian populations. These conditions are in turn a product of the fact that they are refugees. In that sense they face the same stigma that all refugees face from overburdened host states. Having actually studied Refugee situations while at Uni, I have no doubt on this issue; guest-host antagonism is a central part of the course. Moreover, Palestinian political activity within their host states can be destabilizing (often because of inflamed local Arab sympathies), which exacerbates this problem. Whilst I am aware of the incidents of infighting, (our own Zia was phsycially involved in the Jordan quellings) the fact remains that the Arab countries, (both state and populace) have hosted massive Palestinian refugee populations and have supported them politically, monetarily and militarily since the British mandate. It is therefore completely inappropriate to take the Arab relationship with Palestinians, and in any way rate it as even a distant, distant second to Israel’s ethnic cleansing and occupation.
Anyway. How any of this can detract from Hezbollah’s charitable efforts is beyond me. In all logic and probability, the efforts to improve the standard of living of the Palestinian refugees is probably something that will help them to overcome their second class status. Hezbollah is therefor one of the few organizations looking to rectify the problem that Panda himself identified.
There are also other contentions.
Perhaps my biggest grievance is that Hezbollah does a disservice to the Palestinian cause by tainting it with a vision of a pan-Islamic caliphate (Hezbollah's main objective).
They have abandoned this goal. So no more big grievance. (Dahr Jamail (2006-06-20): 'Hezbollah's Transformation'), Asia Times Online, as quoted by Wiki). Feel free to admit evidence to the contrary but do refrain from maintaining your opinion without as much.
Also consider what would happen id there was a viable peace solution, that would be a death blow to Hezbollah.
Hezbollah would not disarm immediatley if there was a peace solution, the accumualated distrust of Israel would not be overcome so quickly, even if there was actually a comprehensive settlement. Their ‘Reason for being’, as Panda considers it, would therefore remain for a considerable amount of time.
Furthermore, the Irish experience clearly demonstrates that there is an important role for ex militant liberators to play in the political aftermath of a peace deal. Hezbollah is already well established politically, and is socially committed in Lebanon.
It does not have near enough the support of Hamas in Palestine (it is Shia)
Panda said “Shias represent teh largest demographic group in Lebanon”. So why is that suddenly not near enough? Alternativley If Panda means that Hamas does not support Hezbollah, firstly they do, and secondly why does that matter for Hezbollahs future?
and its electoral support in Lebanon is hardly encouraging.
(I have dealt with this. Being two seats away from the second biggest party is probably a bit better than encouraging for an organization that, thus far, is primarily military in nature.)
I have a big problem with theological politics, especially in a multi-religious community.
I have discussed this issue above.
Yes an Islamic revolution worked in Iran, but you just have to look at Algeria where the Islamic sectarian parties turned on each other. The point when a party operates upon the purity of its vision it will always seek an impure being upon which to impose its dictat; at the moment for Hezbollah the greatest evil is Israel, but the Christicans and other variants of Islam still remain the lesser evils
This is a speculative opinion, and it is completley valid with respect to the example upon which it is based. I do not for a minute dispute the possibility, or the opinion's plausibility. However, it cannot be regarded as presumptively true that any organization in any country would follow exactly the same pattern simply because it is an Islamic resistance group. Hezbollah's relationships with Lebanese minorities need to be studied before an accurate opinion can be formed.
Oh and you can not call the Shias of Lebanon a 'disenfranchised' group, they are the largest denomination. And your very assertion that Hezbollah charities are working for the Shias in Lebanon validates my earlier point about sectarianism.
They are working for the Shia because the Shia also happen to be the most affected by poverty. CNN itself refers to them as the “traditionally poor and dispossessed Shiite community" (also as quoted on Wiki). Being the largest denomination has nothing to do with dismissing disenfranchisment. Shia's were also a majority in Iraq, where their disenfranchisement was self evident. This point is frankly a little bizarre and nonsensical.
And your statement that Hezbollah does not target civilians is just plain wrong. A bomb blast at a pizzeria or a club does kill civilians, as do rockets fired in settlements; Israeli civilians are still civilians!
I agree in that Hezbollah has no problem targetting civilians. However, they have a better track record with respect to their civilian- soldier target ratio than Israel, Hamas, the United States, and the IRA. Their targets have overwhelmingly been military.
The other civilisans being targeted are the 18 year old Palestinians on whom the bombs are strapped.But perhaps my absolute distaste for Hezbollah is a result of watching a video distributed by Hezbollah of 10 year old kids singing and dancing adn performing a song 'give us Klashnikovs adn the square will be filled with blood; give us a bomb and the gates of heaven will open for us with the blood of Israelis' and some more bollocks about martryom. These are 10 year old Kids!! so yes i am absolutely, most positively sickened to my gut by Hezbollah and wish them anything but good.
I fail to see how Hezbollah is exclusively responsible for the events you describe. The Palestinian culture of death is a well documented phenomenon. The social glory awarded to a murderous suicide bomber is just the flip side of the grief and rage experienced when a Palestinians are killed by Israeli troops. It is the frequency and manner in which Palestinians in the occupied territories and in refugee camps (read Sabra and Shattilla) encounter death which gives rise to these kinds of violent songs and dance.
These songs are part of popular Palestinian culture. As unfortunate as that may be, it is the fault of no single body, be it a militant group or the parents. No organization could be capable of even creating such a culture independently. Children learn from other children, from their elder siblings, and also from their parents, all of whom exist and have grown up in the midst of death. Everyone sings the same songs in Palestine. The parents hear it and they don’t object, they sing along.
I feel that a similar mistake was made by the interviewers on BBC's Panorama. They have seen militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah utilizing this culture to wage war, and have drawn the conclusion that they therefore created/sustain it. While they are guilty of the first, they are not guilty of the latter two. The culture now maintains itself, albiet with Israels help. Hezbollah and its militant agenda are amongst the the benefactors, but it would be completley incorrect to say that without them propping it up, this culture would simply fizzle away.
And this crap about martrydom has gone on too long, if you belive in religion and in Islam then you ought to realise that Hezbollah is sentencing children to eternal torture.
This is a cheap shot given your own religious views and doesn’t deserve any response.
So there you go.
Some of that I meant, and where I did its obvious. A lot of it however, I'm completely unsure of, and some I actually disbelieve. If you want to know how that's possible after having written all that, then read this. ALL of what I wrote is just something that I came up with after reading someone else's 'facts'. Information is cheap and overabundant. People are too eager to convert their fluff based speculations into fully entrenched positions. Maybe its more honest to say that one has a perspective, or a gut feel, and it'd certainlybe better to discuss it accordingly.
My point through all of this was therefore to get others to come out and say:
“Yeah, I don’t know shit.”
“I don’t have a very informed opinion and that’s ok.”
“What I actually have is a gut inclination based on my life experiences and bias’s, and bits and pieces of information I've read, heard and picked up.”
“Also, I promise not to argue that inclination vociferously just because someone else’s inclinations offend me”
“In other words, I’m not out to attack other peoples presumptions with (and because of) my own presumptions.”
These are things that I make myself say. Do the same and seriously just disarm, please. Maybe then we can discuss things with an objective to learning about what someone else thinks, and why. It'd be less acrimonious too.