WASHINGTON - July 17 -
Israel has bombed homes of Hezbollah leaders and the group's Al Manar TV
station while likening the group to al-Qaeda. But a Washington Post
reporter wrote yesterday that "[Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah has
only disdain for bin Laden and the Taliban. In April, an al-Qaeda cell
in Lebanon tried to assassinate him."
AS'AD ABUKHALIL, http://angryarab.blogspot.com
AbuKhalil is author of several books on the Mideast including
"Historical Dictionary of Lebanon." He has just returned from several
weeks in Lebanon, where he met with Hezbollah leader Nasrallah among
others. AbuKhalil is a professor in the department of politics at
California State University, Stanislaus, and a visiting professor at the
University of California, Berkeley.
DAVID BARSAMIAN, http://www.alternativeradio.org
Barsamian is host of the program "Alternative Radio" and was
recently in Lebanon. He said today: "There is a context of the current
round of bombings and reprisals. It's clear that Iran has influence and
has armed and trained Hezbollah, but Hezbollah is an authentic
indigenous Lebanese group. And we can talk about Iranian-made missiles,
but Israel is using U.S.-made missiles. Some people are ascribing every
conceivable atrocity to Hezbollah without serious evidence. It's crucial
to understand why Hezbollah has such an important role in Lebanon. There
are many devoted to the group -- and even Lebanese who hate Hezbollah
admire them for their incorruptibility and the fact that they are
responsible for having driven Israel out of Lebanon.
"Also, Hezbollah provides services -- day care centers, hospitals,
clinics, schools, vocational training to people, particularly the Shia
who are typically looked down at by the upper classes in Lebanon. The
Shia are underrepresented in the parliament -- they probably constitute
about 45 percent of the population -- but don't get adequate
representation in Lebanon's system, particularly since Lebanon hasn't
had a census since 1932."
Makdisi holds the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of
Arab Studies at Rice University. He is author of the paper
"Anti-Americanism in the Arab World: An Interpretation of a Brief
History." Makdisi said today: "What the U.S. government is doing now --
basically giving Israel a blank check for bombing Lebanon, including the
civilian infrastructure -- is exactly the type of policy that causes
resentment against the U.S. in the region."
Makdisi is the author of the book "The Culture of Sectarianism"
about Lebanon. He added: "Even people who are opposed to Hezbollah in
Lebanon are not going to say anything because the Israeli assault is so
egregious. ... Israel has created its worst enemies -- they helped
create Hamas as a counterweight to Fatah and their occupation of Lebanon
created Hezbollah. ... Hezbollah has substantial respect in the region
because, unlike the regimes, it has actually done what it says it will do."