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Hizballah, Heroism and Mortal Danger

In Now, The Fallout, Lee Smith makes a critically important observation about the various Lebanese figures touting Hizballah - though often not using the name - as national heroes of resistance.

Here in Israel the reckoning has been underway at least since the U.N.-brokered ceasefire started Monday morning. The papers are loaded with detailed analysis of varying opinion, but much of the criticism of the military and political leadership has nothing to do with how they waged war against Hezbollah. Among other scandals brewing, it has been reported that IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz sold nearly $26,000 worth of stock right after the kidnapping of the two soldiers that sparked the conflict, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seems to have gotten a sweetheart deal on a luxury Jerusalem apartment last year.

My Lebanese friends are curious to know if all this means that Israel is tearing itself apart at the seams. They know better, but the man who is de facto leader of their country, Hassan Nasrallah, believes that a free press and dissent are signs of weakness.

Of course, it is very dangerous in Lebanon to disagree with Nasrallah, which might be why future MP Saad Hariri, son of the slain ex-Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, says he is so proud of Lebanon's "victory," which he credits to the arms of the resistance. Perhaps Saad means to preserve Lebanon's illusory "national unity," a fiction that may only serve to make it easier for IDF planners during the next round of fighting, which many believe to be inevitable. [Emphasis Added.]

As Ehud Yaari pointed out, one of Hizballah's ideal conditions is to be recognized officially as an arm of the Lebanese armed forces by pushing a measure through parliament under threat of breaking the current coalition government - of which Sa'ad Hariri is a part.

This would surely be a more costly move for Lebanon than resisting it in the face of Hizballah's threat. As Lee Smith points out, their verbal support is likely dangerous enough...a danger perhaps not worth the peace of mind (and body) that conflict avoidance with Iran's Hizballah terrorists entices.

To be sure, Hariri, Jumblatt and others in the Lebanese government are in a very tough spot. But at some point, the difficult choice will have to be explicitly made: Does Lebanon support Hizballah or do they want to rid themselves of Hizballah?

As it is for nearly the entire region, none of the choices are free from mortal danger or long term implications. Many hope that Hariri, Jumblatt & Company will make the principled choice...especially the many of us separated by the Atlantic Ocean.

A funny thing, principle, when the immediate safety of one's family is at stake. Unfortunate predicament, but a fact nonetheless.

This is not a criticism of Lee Smith at all. He simply brings up the issue. It is a criticism of our own actions.

With the Cedar Revolution, Lebanon made the brave principled choice in the face of an occupying Syrian intimidation machine largely because they sensed the support of the world behind them following the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

Now, with the world buckling to a non-state entity - a terrorist Hizballah organization - what have we done to encourage them to once again make the principled choice? On one hand, we have demanded that Hizballah be disengaged from, while on the other we are going to criticize the rest of Lebanon for fearing personal retribution from the most heavily armed terrorist organization in the world right in their own backyard?

We could have done much more to help them, even if they publicly railed against the manner in which it was being done. But there is no other way to disarm Hizballah, regardless of who is making the attempt. And we are back to that principled choice before the Lebanese.

Sadly, the world is full of glass houses and stone throwers and we all take our turns, intentionally or not.