Thursday, August 24, 2006

Israel at a loss

By Azmi Bishara

"Journalist: When the war started, you said that Nasrallah would remember the name of Amir Peretz for years to come.

Peretz: Who's Amir Peretz?

The resistance had not anticipated the war; nor, for that matter, had Israel. However, the resistance had anticipated how Israel would handle a war and prepared itself accordingly. Israel, on the other hand, had no idea of the resistance's strength and was taken by surprise by the resistance's combat performance, in spite of the fact that Israel had had the offensive advantage. Such considerations are important in determining the success or failure of military leaders under given circumstances.

Hizbullah's real victory resides in its grassroots base. Just as some envy Lebanese society for its resistance movement, that movement should also be envied for its society. Specifically, I refer to the society of southern Lebanon, Dahiya and Bakaa -- that unique historical, cultural, political, literary, aesthetic blend of tobacco farmers and resistance fighters, neighbours to Palestine and Syria, on the dividing line between the acceptance and rejection of the Sykes-Picot agreement, mountain dwellers and coastal peoples from northern Galilee and southern Lebanon, theologians of the underprivileged and oppressed, advocates of ethnic-free Arabism and Lebanese authenticity and believers in communism, nationalism, pan-Arab nationalism, religious devotion and denominational pluralism, all within a small stretch of land each patch of which has its own name, its own story to tell and its own sense of identity.

Once the ceasefire went into effect the people of the south did not wait a single moment more than they had to in the public gardens and schools of Beirut. As soon as they could they headed back to their towns and villages to shoo away the Israeli army. That's the people of Lebanon for you: tougher than rock and gentler than a mother cradling her child. They are the people making the great march southward, even before the bridges are rebuilt and the roads repaired, because they are the country's roads and bridges."

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