Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hezbollah - The Beauty and the Beast within

Armed resistance against Israeli occupation and Israeli aggression on Lebanon and in affinity with the Palestinian struggle has been a mark in Lebanese modern history and society since as back as 1948. There have been communist, socialist, Lebanese and Arab nationalist, Palestinian, and Muslim parties and individuals in Lebanon that picked up arms against the Israeli war and occupation machine. Hezbollah is not the first to use armed struggle nor will it be the last as long as Israel continues its political and military agenda in the region; yet in recent years there is a noticeable absence of leftist and progressive groups from the resistance front. The absence of leftist and/or progressive armed resistance cannot be attributed to lack of support or conviction in such strategies but rather to the lack of arms and needed financial resources within leftist groups. The support for armed resistance against Israeli occupation within radical leftists groups in Lebanon is strong and is blended with serious criticism of Hezbollah´s political discourse on the internal Lebanese front - an intricate discussion that takes up a lot of space in the Lebanese society.

Before Hezbollah came into existence mid eighties, there existed a long line of armed resistance against Israel. There have been as well many operations with the objective of capturing Israelis for prisoner-exchange attempts whether for Lebanese prisoners, Palestinians or both. Hezbollah assumes a continuation for this extended line of armed resistance that was backed by a wide popular support strengthened by a diverse participation of Lebanese and Palestinian political parties. For example, one of the key figures in the current prisoners exchange equation, Samir Kontar, is imprisoned by Israel as a result of his active role in the resistance against Israeli occupation years before Hezbollah came into existence. This line linking Hezbollah´s armed resistance to an adorned herstory of struggle contributes today to its popular support outside its Shiite base. Yet it is important to note that Hezbollah´s popularity outside Muslim Shiite circles feeds on a leftist frustration - and a general Arab one - when it comes to confronting the Israeli war machine. The differences between Hezbollah´s armed resistance - both ideologically and in practice - from the precedent currents of resistance and from the discourse of a wide base of the supporters of Hezbollah´s resistance today, are clearly and strikingly marked by both sides. Yet the collective frustration resulting from the helplessness of leftist and progressive parties in the face of Israel, added upon by international criminalization of the resistance, both silent and vocal support for Israeli crimes, and the lack of viable alternatives, play an important role in shaping people´s views of the disarmament of Hezbollah.