Sunday, January 20, 2008

Israeli ministers gnash their teeth and call for the murder of Hassan Nasrallah

From Haaretz:

After Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday that his organization is holding the remains of Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed in the Second Lebanon War, several government ministers on Sunday called for the militant chief's assassination. "Nasrallah is a cruel and crazy man," said Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "I don't understand why he is still breathing. We should have liquidated him a long time ago. I recommend the cabinet assassinate the man". Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) echoed the sentiment, saying, "Nasrallah is a person who has crossed all lines of inhumanity. We don't need to negotiate with him, we need to destroy him." Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim called Nasrallah a "sewer rat," adding, "we must make sure he does not see the light of day."
Commentary: Nasrallah has long been the top target on Isarel's assassination list, so this is not big news for him, and it is hardly the first time that Israeli officials call for Nasrallah's murder. What is new here is that these calls come from Cabinet members, i.e. the very people who could order such an assassination. But how much of a victory for Israel would the murder of Nasrallah really represent?

For one thing, he is arguably the most popular leader in the entire Middle-East and his unique charisma and personality are impossible to replace. So in a sense, killing Nasrallah would definitely put a lot of balm on the collective Israeli ego bruised by so many defeats at the hands of Hezbollah. This would also be a very risky proposition: Hezbollah's retaliation for such an act would be devastating but that, in turn, might just provide the Israelis with the needed pretext for another war. Even better, any Hezbollah retaliation could be blamed on Iran. Lastly, the Israelis could kid themselves with their usual delusions that since "Arabs only understand force" killing Nasrallah is going to shatter the morale of the "arrogant" Arabs who needed to be reminded not to mess with the "Jewish state". I think that all these arguments are fundamentally flawed,

While no current Hezbollah leader has the charisma of Nasrallah, several extremely capable candidates are already available as possible successors - the name of the brilliant Hezbollah Deputy Leader Naim Qassem, author of the best book in English about Hezbollah Hizbollah: The Story from Within (a must read!), immediately comes to my mind. Listen to what Naim Qassem has to say about the life, death, life and martyrdom:

It is likely that, sooner or later, the Israelis, possibly with US assistance, will succeed in killing Hassan Nasrallah and that his murder will be a great source of chest-thumping and back-slapping in Israel. They will, no doubt, ignore the warning of Tertullian that "the blood of martyrs is a seed", nor will they take heed of Hegel's law of dialectics which says that each action inevitably triggers a reaction. As is the case with all Neocon victories, this one will be a hollow and short lived one, and it will soon be followed by even more weeping and gnashing of teeth (something of a Neocon speciality it appears). Nasrallah, as a shaheed, will be even far more dangerous for Israel than the one living in Beirut today, but I don't expect the folks in charge in Israel today to understand that.