Thursday, August 03, 2006

Waiting for Hassan

Hassan Nasrallah (not the grocery keeper/ construction worker who was captured in the Baalbek raid) just spoke on TV. Everyone gets excited when they announce that Nasrallah will imminently make an appearance. You call your friends to ask what they are doing, and they treat you like a common criminal: I'm waiting to watch Hassan speak, of course. How dare you suggest we go out for a meal or a beer when Hassan could appear at any minute? Call me later. (Slam down the phone)

That's right, folks. Disconnect the phone, get into your PJs, light some candles, make some popcorn and wait for the man and his surprises.

Nasrallah looks like he's fresh from the barbershop, after that rather scruffy appearance during the first week of the war. He warned that if the Israelis hit Beirut, the Hezbollah will hit Tel Aviv. "I'm not saying 'beyond Haifa', I'm saying 'I'm going to hit Tel Aviv'." I wasn’t paying attention now, but he just said "Condoleezza Wice". Gotta love that lisp.

He told Olmert, "You'll never be like Sharon or Rabin, as a leader. You'll only be like them as a criminal. So get over that little psychological complex of yours."
He said that the Hezbollah did not target Israeli civilian sites during the promised 48-hour cessation of air strikes so that they (the Israeli civilians) would have time to evacuate from the north. In other words, I'm deliberately playing as fair as they are.

Israeli planes dropped pamphlets over the Beirut suburbs, warning people to evacuate. My friend J. said, "It’s going to be a long, hard night." He always says that. The Beirut area is back on the map of targets. Shops and restaurants will close again only to re-open with the next "lull".

In many ways the Lebanese thrive under Israeli attacks (as long as they’re not simultaneously killing each other). Even in peace time, they are in war mode-- speeding, loitering, chain smoking, and cutting corners whenever they can. Now that behavior is entirely appropriate. You want to get everywhere as fast as possible to limit your exposure to the drones and fighter jets; you loiter because there's nothing else to do; you chain smoke because you're a nervous wreck; and you break the rules because there's no one to enforce them.

Every incident of violence or unrest I experienced prior to this war-- cartoon rioters burning embassies, other rioters smashing cars, the army on high alert and searching every car on the highway —-there was always someone who calmly and kindly responded to my question, “Is something wrong?” with “La, habibi, ma fi shi” (No, there’s nothing, darling); even as they’re reversing at full speed on the highway to avoid getting their windshield smashed by an angry teenager wielding a baseball bat.

4 comments:

Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Hi there,

Read this article by Gary Brecher on the Lebanese-Israeli war

Powerful stuff

Anonymous said...

If I may respond to victorino...

It occurs to me that perhaps pitting the best Hizbollah's got, their most experienced men, against some random unlucky border patrol manned by conscripts, isn't the most illuminating demonstration of the difference in combat skills.

Charles said...

Brilliant Stuff!!

Well written and understood.

Anonymous said...

We've barely seen the best that Hizbollah has got. The Israelis are still fighting the "village militias." These are the people in charge of defending various villages and towns - they're closer to the two-weeks-a-year guard than real professionals. Undoubtedly, a few of the top fighters have gotten killed, but we won't see them come out and really fight until Israel starts to think things are quiet and that maybe it's about to win.