Unfortunately, the position of the United States has been to send more missiles," while vetoing United Nations Security Council calls for an immediate cease-fire. "People here are looking to the rest of the world and asking, why aren't they doing anything about this?"
It's the kind of scenario that gave rise to Hezbollah in the first place. And today it's resulting in a widespread surge of support for the group. A whopping 87 percent of Lebanese — including, significantly, 80 percent of the Christians and Druze — support the resistance to Israel (synonymous with Hezbollah), according to a nationwide poll conducted by the Beirut Center for Research and Information. And that was before an Israeli bomb killed more than 60 civilians — including 37 children — as they slept in a bomb shelter in Qana.
"Had Israel not invaded Lebanon in 1982, there would be no Hezbollah," said academic Rania Masri, a blogger and regular contributor to www.electroniclebanon.net. "Had the international community enforced UN resolution 425 [demanding Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon], there'd be no Hezbollah. Had the international community [acted more decisively during] Israel's massive assaults on Lebanon in 1993 and 1996, there would be no Hezbollah.... This is the history that people need to understand. It didn't begin on July 12 with Hezbollah's capture of the two Israeli soldiers."
Another fact not widely understood in the United States is that Hezbollah isn't simply a militia or terrorist group: in many impoverished, largely Shiite areas — particularly in southern Lebanon and in the eastern Lebanese Bekaa valley — Hezbollah has provided schools, health care, and basic necessities where the central government failed to do so.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to draw clear distinctions between Hezbollah and Lebanon's "legitimate" government early in the conflict. But Hezbollah members are part of that government, and the two entities have each sought a cease-fire that the United States and Israel have rejected, claiming that Hezbollah must disarm.
"We get lectured all the time about democracy," Mankarem said. "But whenever we make a democratic choice, we get punished."
Many Lebanese insist they too have the right to defend themselves. And they view American collaboration as the result of a deep-seated racism that presumes that Arabs simply aren't as valuable as Israelis.
Regardless of the reasons for the assault, one thing is certain: it is resulting in a sharp spike in anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment, which isn't making either country safer.
"Even if Israel and the US were to kill every member of Hezbollah, there'd be people to replace them," Masri warned. "You cannot stop a movement for liberation." SFBG
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