War etc

Defend Hassan Nasrallah, kind of.

While I’m on the subject of things that people may or may not have said, HP commenter Alec MacPherson was kind enough to email HP writer Graham about Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s alleged statement that Jews were “a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment”, and how it appears that he might not actually have said this. HP writer Graham was kind enough not to bother writing a post about this, and forwarded the email to HP writer wardytron instead.

As it turns out, Mark Elf at Jews Sans Frontieres has already written about this. His post was based on a letter by Charles Glass to the London Review Of Books. Referring to the statements attributed to Nasrallah, Glass writes:

If I am unfamiliar with the statements, it is because they are in all likelihood fabrications. The first (‘If they (the Jews) all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide’) was circulated widely on neo-con websites, which give as its original source an article by Badih Chayban in Beirut’s English-language Daily Star on 23 October 2002. It seems that Chayban left the Star three years ago and moved to Washington. The Star’s managing editor writes of Chayban’s article on Nasrallah, that ‘I have faith in neither the accuracy of the translation (from Arabic to English) nor the agenda of the translator (Chayban).’ The editor-in-chief and publisher of the Star, Jamil Mrowe, adds that Chayban was ‘a reporter and briefly local desk sub and certainly did not interview Nasrallah or ‘anyone else.’ The account of Nasrallah’s speech in the Lebanese daily As Safir for the same day makes no reference to any anti-semitic comments. Goodheart’s second quotation – ‘They (the Jews) are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment’ – comes from the Israeli government’s website at http://tinyurl.com/99hyz. For the record, a Hizbullah spokeswoman, Wafa Hoteit, denies that Nasrallah made either statement.

The letter, incidentally, came in response to criticism of a previous article Glass had written about the Israel-Lebanon war, which is well worth reading. In particular, I agreed with this:

Israel misjudged Lebanon’s response to its assaults, just as Hizbullah misjudged Israeli opinion. Firing its rockets into Israel did not, as it may have planned, divide Israelis and make them call for an end to the war. Israelis, like the Lebanese, rallied to their fighters in a contest that is taking on life and death proportions for both countries…If the UN had any power, or the United States exercised its power responsibly, there would have been an unconditional ceasefire weeks ago and an exchange of prisoners. The Middle East could then have awaited the next crisis. Crises will inevitably recur until the Palestine problem is solved. But Lebanon would not have been demolished, hundreds of people would not have died and the hatred between Lebanese and Israelis would not have become so bitter.

Assuming that Nasrallah didn’t make genocidal remarks about Jews, then that is, of course, a good thing. In as much as it’s possible to congratulate someone for not being guilty of inciting racist mass murder, then he should be congratulated. But as Mark Elf says, “What’s fascinating here is that these statements attributed to Nasrallah have been doing the rounds, unchallenged, for a few years now. Googling the whole sentence throws up over a hundred sites and googling chunks of it yields thousands. I can’t be bothered to check right now but I’m sure there were many zionists who justified the recent Israeli onslaught against Lebanon simply by reference to these statements”.

A couple of thoughts present themselves in response to this. Firstly, the We Are All Hezbollah “left” decided that they were all Hezbollah regardless of whether Hassan Nasrallah believed that the Jews were “a cancer”. It was incidental, irrelevant, not worth mentioning. True or false, they were happy to wave Hezbollah’s flags. Secondly, if he didn’t say this, if he doesn’t believe in “going after” the Jews, or that they’re a “cancer”, then it’s really easy to make that clear. You don’t need a letter by Charles Glass in the London Review of Books. All you need to do is to say something along the lines of “I don’t believe that the Jews are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment”. That would clear up any misunderstanding. And, of course, it would have helped undermine the zionists’ justification of the recent Israeli onslaught against Lebanon.

Gene adds: Considering the Hezbollah TV channel’s choice of Ramadan entertainment in 2003– a 30-part series based on the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”– I’m not quite as ready as Charles Glass to believe the quotations attributed to Nasrallh are “in all likelihood fabrications.”

And when Mark Elf can be bothered to check, I doubt he’ll find many instances of Zionists “justifying” the Israeli military response in Lebanon based on Nasrallah’s statements, as opposed to Hezbollah’s actions in crossing a UN-recognized border to kill and capture Israeli soldiers while launching rockets at Israeli civilians.