Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Introducing 'Horror-ism'

Let’s face it; the word terrorism is so over-used. So taking a page from the Israelis, I’ve decided to coin some new vocabulary of my own. After all, it was the IDF that brought us such wonderful phrases as “security zone” i.e. occupying someone else’s country and thus making both you and that country’s inhabitants less secure;
“Security fence” i.e. an enormous concrete wall to encircle your ‘Palestinian neighbors’ also known as the world’s largest prison population (by the way, its okay democracies can do that).
And who could forget the IDF itself, such a clever invention, the Israelis managing to be the only country in the world to have convinced the international media to call its military a “defense force.”
But I digress…
As I record these thoughts, that damn unmanned drone is in the air again, buzzing in and out, getting closer and closer, louder and louder—over and over again.
I hear it when I go out during the day, when I’m driving, when I park, then when I get back in my car again. I hear it at home, at night, when I watch TV, when I’m writing, when the sun comes up. I even hear it when I’m in the bathroom, on the throne. Is it stalking me?
It’s probably only a matter of time before the Israelis strike at the hillside near my home. There is this one Lebanese Christian politician who lives there. He allied with Hezbollah a few months back; some said he was reaching out to Shiites, others said he was just trying to increase his influence. Either way he’s a likely target. Anyway, who cares about the mish-mash of Lebanese politics now? Political debates are for comfortable people, living under peaceful circumstances. Right now all I can focus on are those little remote controlled spy planes… and I wonder.
How do they travel so far? Do they have little gas tanks and radars? I mean I live about 40 miles from the border and they are over my head literally all day long. How is that possible?
One thing’s for sure: any childhood dreams I had of owning a remote controlled plane are definately out the window now. Hell, that noise they make is traumatizing. Everything sounds like a drone now, the scooter bikes on the highway, the air conditioning units in my house, even a lawn mower down the street.
And if the drones (here they come again by the way) weren’t enough, the F16’s usually follow, rumbling over the hills like an impending volcanic earthquake. You wait for them to erupt with thunderous blasts. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
The F16’s sound like other things too: trucks on the highway, traffic in the distance, any kind of rumbling at all actually, even moving a piece of heavy furniture. “Was that the washing machine or a bomb?” You laugh it off.
When you do hear real jets dropping off real bombs, even if they make impact 10 miles away, it can sound like they’re going off just outside your window. The other night I was almost sure someone had taken a sledge hammer to my front door. I even went outside to check, stepping over a puddle of coke that had leaked onto the kitchen floor. The bottles in the pantry seemed to have had their own reaction to the sonic booms that shook the house.
Watching news can also be surreal. Sometimes you’re not quite sure if the planes are flying over you or the reporter on screen. It’s kind of like watching a movie when you hear the phone ring and reach for your pocket-- same thing here, only with bombs.
Actually living in Lebanon over these past few weeks has been like living in a movie, a horror movie. There’s plenty of suspense, especially at night. Like driving down a highway with no lights or walking around downtown at midnight when your footsteps produce the only audible sound. How about talking to a supermarket manager who tells you there is only 2 weeks of food left in the country because all supply lines have been cut off? What do you eat when the supermarkets close? Any suggestions?
Israel’s land, air and sea blockade also meas that there’s no gasoline coming in, so eventually there will be no electricity, unless of course the Israelis let some oil tankers in. Will they? What do you think?
The tankers have been waiting off our coast for days now apparently. Remember Lebanon, unlike its oil-rich neighbors, has nothing short of natural beauty to boast of in terms of resources. Well at least before Israel spilled our oil reserves across our cherished coastline. That was kind of a double whammy, I guess. Forget about beauty though, let’s talk about survival. When you cut us off from the shipments; medicine, food, energy, how long can we really survive? We know that people in need of hospital care or life support won’t last much longer unless the ships make it in time. So will they? More suspense.
Even if the ships do make it, how will supplies ever be distributed? Lebanon is covered in mountains and with barely any of our bridges left, how will goods be trucked?
You see this whole reality we are living—all 4 million Lebanese living in Lebanon right now; it’s not “state-sponsored terrorism,” that we are facing. This is not just about deadly indiscriminate explosions here or there.
The totality of our broken reality cannot be escaped from in a bomb shelter. What we live everyday is a panorama of fear, suspense and anger; a real life horror movie systematically imposed upon millions, orchestrated by a sophisticated government and implemented by its military machine. We know it’s not terrorism, because democracies don’t commit acts of terrorism. That would be selling them too short on strategy.
A third-world terrorist with his crude weapons is simply not capable of turning back the hands of time on an entire society. Only a civilized military machine can do that. Only a civilized government is capable of implementing a full scale act of “horror-ism".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even Hollywood would not have been able to outdo the Isreali Destructive Force AKA IDF this is a case where reality outdo fantasy

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Habib,

You might want to see someone about those little drones in your head....that is, when the doctors come back. You may want to give special thanks at your next prayer to Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran for creating this wonderful lifestyle you seem to be adapting to well. Don't worry, once the Iranian Shi'ite (There seems to be one too many i's)incorporate their style of life, this will all seem like a cake-walk. Well, goodnight and sleep tight...BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....just kidding, don't freak out that was me, not a drone.

7:43 AM  
Anonymous lilosh said...

When missiles started in Haifa I took some pills called 'Regeonim' which means relaxations in Hebrew...
After a while I took a quick turn into my mom's medications - XeNoX - now that's realy does the work. you just become so practicle.. no fear.

Habibi, be well. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. get your anger out. fuck the IDF for doing this horrible shit. fuck Hizbulla too.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Thank you for this post. HB you have my total sympathy. Has anyone managed to shoot down one of those wretched drones?

8:28 AM  
Blogger shishbarak said...

My heart goes out to everyone who is caught up in the middle of this war...It's absolutely surreal hearing everyone's stories and watching the media coverage about the entire issue...Imagine in this day and age, where people have supposedly become more civilized over the years and the world is supposed to look back and learn from previous acts of aggression, that nations are to never repeat ever again. And yet, all I see is history repeating itself...
Hb, you're on the frontlines of it all, as are millions of civilians in the region, and i think it's good you're showing your point of view...it's a glance at what goes on beyond what the mainstream media chooses to show.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous ylikethis said...

Its a terrible reality, lets make a stop to that. Kick Hizballah terrorists out!!

9:01 AM  
Anonymous ck said...

HB..plzzzzzzzzzzz post this....check it out!!!!!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Avrum. said...

Easy. The drones are launched from a boat which is pretty close to Beirut.

As to food supplies - there are food shortages in Kiryat Shmone as well. Stop the bombing of Israel and you will have plenty of food.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Nehal said...

Instead of chitchatting over the sorrow and misery that the people in Lebanon and Palestine are going through we should be acting. I have compiled a list of things we can do to help end the conflict. Any more suggestions are welcome. In addition to putting pressure on our governments to stop Israeli cease fire we need to put pressure on Hizbullah to end its retaliations. This is giving the Israelis an excuse to keep doing what they are doing. We need to start thinking with our heads, strategically, not with our emotions, which has got us nowhere fast!

Top ten things we can do to help the end the crisis in the Middle East

1. Embrace the cause. Do not sit at home and complain, use this energy to act. We need to unite now more than ever. Otherwise we will lose our land and continue to be treated as second class citizens. We must not support any form of violence for any reason. People will listen to us when they can no longer say “but the Arabs are just as bad”. We must unite for peace. It worked for India through Ghandi, it can work for us.

2. Call/write to our Member of Parliament. You can easily find your MP by visiting http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ and entering your postal code. Do not be discouraged it you get a generic letter, keep writing back until you feel you are heard. We must engage them in dialogue.

3. Call/write to the media in response to articles/shows that you feel are biased. Remember the media needs to present both sides, we must ensure our side is sufficiently represented. Provide them with websites and other alternative sources of information. These need to be reliable, objective sources. Do not write emotional vague emails. You must have a very specific point to make. Only state facts and preferably have numbers, legislation or pictures to back your claim. Never say anything you are not sure of. Do not use an accusatory tone, rather see it more as an opportunity to educate them. View them as potential allies rather than enemies.
A useful website with action alerts is: http://www.arabmediawatch.com/amw/

4. Boycott products from the USA and Israel. Arabs and their sympathisers make up a significant portion of the world population. We can have an economic impact. This means we don’t buy any product that has the label “made in the USA or Israel”. For example, many produce at supermarkets, like herbs, are made in Israel. Stop buying them, and request that the supermarket provide an alternative.

5. Boycott television shows or newspapers that you feel are consistently biased. If we stop watching and reading, their ratings or sales will drop. They will have to change their representation because their livelihood will be lost. Promote shows and newspapers that are balanced to help increase their ratings and sales.

6. Talk to people. Talk to your friends, tell them how you feel. Show them pictures, explain our point of view and listen to what they have to say, address any doubts they may have. Be calm and educated in your answers. Visibly announce your opposition to what is happening by wearing pins or stickers. The more visibility we can get the more likely we will have an impact.

7. Write about our leaders. Express our dissatisfaction with their silence and apathy to what is happening.

8. Request an interview from the BBC of Hisbullah leaders. Although they have been appearing in the Arab media, the western public does not hear from them. This side needs to be represented.

9. We need people trained in diplomacy to represent us. We need to encourage our men and women that are trained in diplomatic relations or that have very good speaking and rationalising ability to represent us, especially in the media. We should request interviews rather than wait for the media to find these people.

10. We should not wait for others to change things for us. We need to take initiative and change things for ourselves. Not through violence but through education and better representation. Remember the pen is mightier than the sword. Let us stop playing the victim.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I really feel for you and the bloody drones. this is something that is consistantly raised on all blogs across the board! I am sorry you have to experience this annoying noise and apologise for this.

lets hope this bloody war stops now! and no more killing and drones on any side!

12:07 PM  
Anonymous cstar said...

Habib, your posts send shivers down my spine. Thanks for reminding all of us who are watching this on our bias screens at home what you guys are going through everyday.

I see you're still mistaking the air conditioning in your room for planes :) No worries, when i was there i convinced myself that our cat could predict when the planes where coming...

2:22 PM  
Blogger HB said...

to lilosh, thomas, cstar, shisbarak and frank and others thank you. Your support is encouraging. To avrum, you are right civilian suffering is wrong, but please don't make a comparison with one small town or a few villages that will be easily re-supplied and an entire country with thousands of cities and millions of inhabitants that have literally been completely cut from the rest of the world. This is always the problem with the Israeli military point of view, the belief that Arabs should suffer 10, 50 or 100 fold what Jews suffer, that one Israeli life is worth scores of Arabs. This is the logic of hatred and I fear that the more it is perpetuated the harder it will ever be to achieve peace. Everyone in this conflict has a responsability to put their guns down especially Israel, which when it kills innocents is no better than anyone else, I don't care what the strategy is. Look at where it has gotten us so far

2:44 PM  
Anonymous tool said...

fack! you're an anti-semite! I hate people like you!


3:30 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Exactly, "tool" (what a wonderfully appropriate name. And you don't even know why.) You "hate people like you." That's the prevailing Israeli opinion of people they think don't like them. Don't talk. Don't try to understand. Just accuse them of being "anti-semite" to explain why you hate them. I don't think it's anti-smitism. I think it's just that I cannot stand to be around whiny, stupid people like you who can't put five words together to make a sentence. You talk and talk and talk without ever realizing just how stupid you sound and really are. You always say "fack" like you've invented some cute word in the hope people will look and think, "now there's a smart semite." Know what? You smell bad, too. Go take a shower.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would venture to guess the name "tool" was no accident, nor would I guess he doesn't know how annoying him saying "fack" over and over again is...

He will now come back and say "facking fack you both" and you have wasted your time and encouraged him by even noticing his existence.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous tool said...


4:23 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

You're right and I'll ignore it from now on. But .... well, you're right. It's a bad smell and I've got some incense burning now.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous cstar said...

leave your d*cks at the door people, you can compare sizes later. You're undermining what the contributors are doing here. If you want to resort to personal insults then please do it else where, its not the time or the place.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Chris Baker said...

HB - Have you considered e-mailing your blog post to the New York Times as an op-ed - oped@nytimes.com. Their readers would appreciate your excellent writing.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Israel former peace beliver said...

I was once a peace believe thinking that one day we could leave with our neighbors in peace. We are not that different we both act from that stupid place called owner and we are both kind of primitives in our thinking. Any way the Arab world has made us militant there was a time that we had a lots of peace believers that their voice had been starting to be a popular one. But then came the violence and more violence and made us peace believers look bad as if we were talking nonsense. Today after along time has passed from the days of Rabin, I too feel that I was a fool believing that there could be peace and that we could leave together. Today I believe that as long as there is terror there will never be peace and tranquility in the region cause voices of peace believers will never be heared when innocent people are been killed. You harbor terror actions among you allowing them to arm and act on there own agenda. You should have thought about it before not after it has become so bad. You do not really have a country but a pass through area for Iran ,Syria and militant terrorists. You talk about IDF as it funny that it is called "DEFENSE" while two soldiers were taken after owner borders were violated by people that came from your territories. Thousands of rockets aimed at Israel from your country and they are in the arms of extreme people that act upon the will of Iran and sire that every day saying that Israel should be wiped from the earth. This is what I call defense. We have in Israel a saying that goes like this: "If some one wants to kill you, kill him first". You talk about killing civilians when the IDF is against the hizballa and civilians been killed is first of all that they are among you. You can say that civilians are targeted but deep down in side you know that it is a lay we all are acting upon a moral code that we where raised on. You can not say that about the terrorists you are harboring among you. Who only see the killing of Israel civilians as a means to an end.

Any way as I see it in my former peace believer eyes. Peace is dead and not wanted in our region.

5:30 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Well said, "former peace believer." And you'll be just fine so long as you maintain a weapons superiority. And your fence. And your Mossad raiders who cross borders to assassinate and capture. And your fundamentalist Knesset. But, you need to worry if there are people on the other side of your fence that feel the same way. If so, the misery - on both sides - will never stop.

You say "peace is dead and not wanted in our region." As unfortunate as it is, I think you are partly right about it not being wanted. It's not wanted by the politicians whose position depends on the hate and violence. And it's not wanted by the fundamentalists who see nothing but their own bigoted view of the world.

But it is sincerely wanted by those least able to affect either the situation itself or those who have created the situation. The mothers and grandmothers and infants and toddlers and basket makers and weavers and poets and farmers and so on. They've never thought of making war and, therefore, don't have the ability to do so. Nor do they have the ability to protect themselves from those who do have the ability. So the few - those who hate and don't want peace - have armed themselves and have determined to fight to prove themselves. Without regard to the enormous human suffering they cause. All the while saying "it's HIS fault." And all the while saying things like you do - "you should have thought of that before ...."

Shalom? I guess not ....

5:46 PM  
Anonymous former peace believer said...

If both sides go against their own extreme people their may be a chance but the problem is that it seems like Lebanon has not got the power or will to stop it. And I guess that if Lebanon can not do it we have to do it for Lebanon. Same goes for the palestinien that want to be released of occupation and have there own country. If you can not be a country and act as a country do not expect neighbors to see you as a country. Can you imaging a situation that we (Israel) have a terror militia in our country that acts on it own will and kills Lebanon and we would say that we can not do nothing with it. You expect a country to have one voice, one army and most important one will. Comes a day that Lennon starts acting as a country and the Palestinians too even before they have an official country, then peace voices like was once heard will again raise.

6:19 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

How does bombing the country flat "do it" or "stop it?" Yes, I can imagine Israel having a terror militia in its country - it's the Mossad. What I can't imagine is Israel ever saying there must be some other way than the way we're doing it. From what you say, I don't think you've read too awfully much on WHY Hezbollah or Hamas ever came into existence. But that's a first step to figuring out some other way than simply maintaining an arms superiority to how to stop the insanity.

Your argument, with respect, is too simplistic. You say Lebanon should "start acting as a country" "and the Palestinians too." How? Palestine has been reduced to hovels that are bombed or bulldozed. Lebanon has been physically destroyed and hundreds of thousands of its people have been displaced. There's no power, no food, no services and no communication in much of the country because it's been destroyed. The country now is a war ruin with armed hoodlums running around screaming "I told you so" - just like you do. You have chased hundreds of thousands of people into Syria just to get away from your bombs and missiles and tanks and artillery. You have created the chaos necessary to the success of radical extremists who hate Israel from the depths of their beings. You have provided the same kind of breeding ground for terrorists as the US has in Iraq. But you say, "ok - now start acting like a country and we can have peace?"

You really need to read some Israeli history. It's not that much - a little more than half a century. Whether you agree or not, the fact of the matter is there are sound arguments on the other side. And so long as you insist on ignoring them, yours is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It also is the root of terrorism.

6:54 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Please read this, Former Peace Believer


"We Went into Lebanon like Angry Bulls into the Arena"

Israeli author Meir Shalev discusses the war in Lebanon and the policies of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He argues that Israel is incapable of destroying Hezbollah. Instead, the Israeli's should weaken the militia to the extent possible and implement a program of "pain management."

SPIEGEL: Mr. Shalev, is the Israeli Army fighting a just war?

Shalev: The cause of the war was a just one, but the conduct has not been. And by this I do not just mean the tragedy of Qana, but also what already happened in the first days: Attacking Beirut like this, killing civilians in Lebanon. From the very first day we should have limited ourselves to attacks against the Hezbollah strongholds along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

SPIEGEL: Why haven't limitations been placed on the scope of the attacks?

Shalev: You could feel a high level of testosterone, of hormones that shouldn't be there in such a situation. (Hezbollah leader) Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah drives everybody crazy in Israel. He sits there with this very calm voice. He is never angry, he doesn't curse, in a way he even looks gentle. For that, our political leaders and the military wanted to take revenge.

SPIEGEL: The Israeli government considers its behavior to be morally correct because they have, after all, forwarned the Lebanese population about the bombardments.

Shalev: Even if they warn the people, many people are not able to leave their towns, especially since roads, bridges, ports and the airport have been destroyed. But it is not only a question of morality. These Lebanese are going to be our neighbors forever, but many people are now against Israel. These citizens would support us if we had conducted our fight with the Hezbollah in a more measured way.

The rest of the interview is at http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,430429,00.html

7:02 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

thanks so much for sharing this perspective. i hear those planes over my had all day as well, on their way to you. and for 3 nights i couldn't sleep well, i jumped from every motorbike noise imagining it's the Zilzal coming to tel aviv. this is so surreal, how all of this is sweeping us to an alternate reality. humanity has come so far in its thinking and technology and yet it's psychology is still in the level of a child. will we live to see it grow?

8:25 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

It IS surreal, Carmel. But you are a breath of air in a stinking, hot environment. The trouble is the ego of the "leaders." They (on both sides) huff and puff and then have to back up the tough talk. It really doesn't matter what the people think - look how Rumsfeld and Cheney have taken over the United States while three quarters of the people think the US is mistaken. But - if there are people like you on both sides, there's hope. It doesn't mean simply giving up - it means giving up the bigotry and hatred that fuels the fire so two people with vastly different histories and societies and beliefs can begin to talk to each other about their mutual problems. That also means one side or the other has to start it - nothing will happen so long as it remains "it's his fault" and "you must do this first."

Here's another part of the Shalev interview. Read especially the last sentence.

SPIEGEL: Do you think Israel can win the war?

Shalev: Olmert should have defined the objectives of the war from the beginning. But all he said was: "We will be victorious" without defining what victory means. Also with defense minister Amir Peretz we cannot win. He said, with great overestimation of his capacities: "Nasrallah will not forget the name Peretz." Olmert and Peretz behave like two bullies in a pub.

SPIEGEL: The announced goal is the destruction of the Hezbollah.

Shalev: What does this mean? Is it getting all of them to crawl on their hands and knees and hand over their weapons? We do not deal with a state which will surrender in an official ceremony. In medicine you have something called "pain management." You don't totally eliminate the pain. You try to manage it in a way so that patients can live with it. This is what we have to do with the Hezbollah. We have to weaken them, destroy their first lines. But militarily, it is not within Israel's ability to solve all of our problems. Our strength is the democratic character of our society which Nasrallah fully underestimates. We lost, when Olmert said, we will win. Despite that, we will win at the end, because the Israeli society is smarter than its political leaders.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can this really be defined as "war", where the key players actual target innocent civilians rather than each other? What a silly war....

Both sides are cowards, with the people caught in the middle. Makes zero sense.

Why dont we put them in an open field somewhere and have them go at it--no civilians, no bombs, no planes--have them act out their male, testosterone-filled fantasies...that's all this is really.

Thanks for sharing Habib.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Lilu said...

I completely agree with every word by Meir Shalev (and he's a pretty wicked author, too). "The cause of the war was a just one, but the conduct has not been".

Nehal, you are spot on with that Hizballah on BBC idea - I would love for the Western world to hear the hate from the horses' mouth.

And, dear Habib.... first of all I think you choose to be misinformed. It is NOT 'one small town, a few villages'. Try 2 million civilians who are residents of the north - and we are talking about ALL of the north that is under constant rocket attack, down to Hadera which is a 30-40 minute drive north from Tel Aviv (and Haifa which is under many attacks, where people are killed and homes destroyed, is the country's third largest city and a big university town). Northern residents constitute about a quarter of the country's population, and they are all either cut off from the world (having not left their bomb shelters since the attacks began if they have shelters at all), or in refugee status (either with family, friends, in volunteer's homes or refugee camps like Nitzanim). Many shelter residents by the way are lacking in basics like clean water and diapers - someone I know has been up there volunteering and saw people who ran out of diapers 2 days before that. You should also know these people never had much to begin with, many of these northern towns are pretty poor (and now their main source of income, summer tourism, is of course gone), and most of the people who are still up there simply can't afford staying in central Israel or even the commute down. The government is not as easily helping out and re-supplying as you think, in its usual way of handling poorer regions, and there is alot of outrage at the internal mismanagement of the crisis (for example by Social Security and the Electricity Company), and just look at the Arab villages, which seem to suffer the most casulaties - no bomb shelters even. Sound familiar?

"the Israeli military point of view, the belief that Arabs should suffer 10, 50 or 100 fold what Jews suffer, that one Israeli life is worth scores of Arabs" - not really, they're not about blind revenge. Maybe they don't care much about Arab lives but it's not about getting more of them as payback for getting us. However, there are many so-called "resistance movements" who do believe in those mathematics - namely Hamas or Hizballah, who with each death of one of their own vow to pay threefold - and they stay true to their promise with their suicide bombers and rockets rigged and upgraded with additional material to achieve as many casualties as possible.

As for horror movies... well if this is your first encounter with horror movie type life, you are a lucky man. Luckier than most of us in Israel actually. The phrase "What we live everyday is a panorama of fear, suspense and anger" is quite familiar and well describes what my life has pretty much been like thus far (and now Hamas is running their parliament, I'll even take that "orchestrated by a government" sentence - albeit, excluding the word "sophisticated"). Well, for us it's more a mix of genres - it's horror-action-romantic-comedy-drama all at the same time. Take two weeks ago for example, me and my sister were on our way to my parents' house, and we barely made it out of our house when we got caught up in the seizure of a female terrorist (or freedom fighter, or "horror-ist" if you will) right there in the street - you had the SWAT teams running along the car with guns ready, the whole action thriller script. Then we got to my parents' and my dad gave us a horror movie transcript of the other day, when a suicide bomber had managed to get to town and was moving along the street next to the house. He was eventually caught at a construction site 10 minutes away. My dad said he could practically sense the guy walking by our house. But we all get that feeling alot. I take a central Tel Aviv bus to uni, and my last month of school was high alert time - every morning and every afternoon was a horror movie scene of anxiety and paranoia, waiting for either something to happen or for the ride to be over. You're in constant suspense - hey that guy looks suspicious, and maybe it's that guy over there? maybe it's that girl that just sat in front of me? she looks a bit weird. Plotting and strategizing - maybe I should hurry and sit at the back, cause that guy that just got on looks strange, so if he blows up front maybe I'll only get by with shrapnel wounds if I sit as far away as possible. Or maybe I should sit close, might as well have it end as quickly as possible, maybe I wont feel anything, better than feel being amputated. You go to sleep wondering - will I die tomorrow? will I just lose a leg or an arm? be burnt all over? lose my sight? will I get blown up tomorrow? but it ends up happening to the guys at the Shawarma stand in the market, and from school I hear and think 'got spared this time'. But when and where will the killer strike next? you know he will. Whenever there is crisis you especially brace yourself. I go to the market once twice a week - I get paranoid the minute I go in cause it's the perfect place for a bombing. Lots of people there, small spaces, plenty of opportunities for terrorists to blend in with the crowd - I walk through feeling like a bomber is behind me hiding among the people and I do everything frantically and quickly so I can get out of the busy alleys and into a safe place asap. Or going to the beach on a Saturday - I walk on the other side of the street, not the promenade, because it makes sense that a bomber would blow up where the biggest concentration of people is. In summer you try to find the less popular beaches - the bomber would most likely choose the busier ones. Life is one big suspense scene.
Maybe the circumstances of our horror flicks are different, but the feeling of horror, of being hunted is always the same. Dare I say welcome to my life?

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Lilu, dire as your life sounds, I'd rather be an Israeli in Israel than a Palestinian in the Israeli controlled Gaza prison camp. I guess we can't hear too much about what that's like as they don't have any electricity to enter the blogosphere. What we do know is that since the last intifada began, the number of Palestinian civilians and children killed is about three times the number of Israeli civilians and children who have been killed. And, no, i don't want to see more innocent Israelis killed to level the score, I just want you Israelis to have a sense of proportionality.

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is presumed, but nevertheless:

you have an education, therefore a house, therefore electricity, therefore internet, therefore access to this website and therefore your sharing of your perspective via these blogs....we do see your perspective.... Do you see from the eyes of the Palestinian who does not have these things or the Lebanese who just lost his home, perhaps family, to this nonsensical "war"? True, you live in fear of death. What about your neighbor's perspective? Do you understand a 4-year old Palestinian's perspective and why he grows up to blow himself up? No? Why dont you give him education, internet, a voice so that you may understand and prevent.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Lilu said...

But no one is denying that. And what's to say I don't have a sense of proportionality? who said I don't agree with you? when did I contradict the suffering of the Palestinians? I may even know more about that than you. But this isn't a contest. One person's pain isn't worth more or less than another, no amount of pain is proportional, that's the whole point. If there are more people suffering in one place, is that any reason to belittle the suffering of people in another place? is that proportionality to you?
I was just adding my own personal story for the sake of those who have no idea what it's like to be an Israeli, you I imagine being one of them - I think you should know those you judge, don't you think?
See, here is the prejudice. "you Israelis". Thanks for the generalization. Some of you people out there are so solidified in your one sided view of the situation in the Middle East, it is all so clear for you, that the mere mention of an Israeli point of view seems to send you into a panic. What are you so scared of? you probably immediately labeled me as propaganda. Why can't you just listen and try to understand? what does that take from you? how is my story threatening your opinion of the Palestinians, or anyone's for that matter? the two can co-exist you know, they do not contradict. I'm not trying to win you over, no one's making you choose sides. But it's much easier to know who's fault everything is if you block out the other side's voices, doesn't it?

I'm sorry to disappoint you, anonymous, but the answer to your questions is Yes, not the No you just presumed for no apparent reason, as you don't know me at all. I wonder if you can handle finding out Israelis are just as human as you are.

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you understand a 4-year old Palestinian's perspective and why he grows up to blow himself up? No? Why dont you give him education, internet, a voice so that you may understand and prevent.
Do you do the same for the many impoverished individuals in your country or territory, wherever that may be? No? You mean being middle class isn't like a magic wand that lets you fix everything?

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lilu---Yes, you understand a 4-year old Palestinian's perspective and why he grows up to blow himself up? Great. Please share. I would like to know myself.

There is no blaming, only recognition of the fact that there are always two sides to the story, as you stated. You probably dont even know your Israeli neighbor's perspective, as no two are exactly alike. It is not an attack on you or the next person, but rather the whole western perspective and its view of the current and existing situation in the middle east.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon--dont confuse impoverished with oppressed. i dont fully understand the situation myself, but try to understand before i speak.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Lilu said...

hang on then - but how would you label me? western or middle eastern? and what are the Lebanese? western, or middle eastern?

That 4 year old grows up to blow himself up because he lives a pretty miserable, poor life which is constantly threatened. All he knows from the day he develops an awareness of the world around him is that he and his family's life is fairly miserable. The minimal education that he receives tells him exactly who is responsible, and shows him where to find them. He is also taught that life is not worth that much - it's not a difficult lesson to teach, as his life isn't great to begin with. He is offered a way out of his own misery, convinced that he is doing something in the name of idealism, that he is contributing to bettering the lives of his family and his people. Finally he is given the chance to mean something. In a place of chaos, where education is of poor quality, it is not difficult to teach these lessons of ignorance. And he really doesn't have that much to lose. He was never taught that killing is such an awful thing - revenge is a positive trait. Most of all, those responsible adults around him, fuel him with hatred. Many of them have probably gotten the chance to see some of the world, to get a better education, so why shouldn't he listen to them?
By the way though, not all Palestinians live that way. Their ministers and politicians for example have a tendency to live quite cushioned wealthy lives, with well furnished offices and extravagant homes. You see, the poverty of the Palestinians is all too easily blamed on the Israelis, when actually alot of the people's money was simply stolen by their own corrupt officials - especially during the time of Arafat. If you had seen the ministers giving interviews at their rich mahogany desks with the gold trimmings..
And by the way there are also Palestinians with internet, and of course Palestinian bloggers such as Dr. Mona El-Farra who has a blog called From Gaza, with Love.

And maybe I have a better understanding of this because there are similar states of mind in Israeli society. the military is a part of all our lives from the day we are born. Conflict and war, attacks on us - we have always known them, seen them since childhood. There are many who hate and develop a blind rage against the other side, because this is what they see and taught at home. True though that most of us get a better education, more liberal and open minded, so we value life much more than the Palestinians. But what do you think combat military service is (and service is mandatory here)? 18 year olds, children, being taught they must go out and fight and be willing to die for their family and their people. I remember my time in the army. I was exposed to very specific things, and I became quite right-winged then. I was a kid, and I didn't know much, except that I saw many bad people on the other side and not much else. Only when I got out did I start to understand the situation better, deeper, be aware of the other perspectives.

As for my own Israeli neighbour, I talked to her the other day so I happen to know her perspective well. She's very scared and mainly prefers to pass the time in denial, puffing herself away - that's one way to handle the situation. We Israelis actually know alot about each other's opinions, talking politics is an inherent part of being an Israeli, everyone does it, all the time, everywhere, regardless whether you are acquaintances or strangers.. we talk at the market, in the grocery store, at the bank, in the taxis.. Yeah, everyone's got a different opinion, and we really love to argue about them..

So how does this fit with your perspective of our perspective?

3:37 AM  
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3:47 AM  
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3:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lilu, although you give a good account of your own perspective, if I were you, I would not presume to know the perspective of a Palestinian. No one should easily judge another's value for life. Have you ever considered that maybe they value life more than you and that is why they are willing to blow themselves up? If anyone valued life like they claimed, than they would be doiong all that they can to improve their lives and the lives of others.
You say that you are always scared of suicide bombers and see suspicious people. I would bet that those people you are talking about are Arabs. As long as people have fear, they have hatred. As long as Lebanon will have fear of Israel attacking, Hizbollah will remain. Remove the fear, and there is no reason for them to remian armed.
And by the way, proportionality is a way to determine sides. We have based our lives aroung good and evil or right and wrong.Although things are not so simpl, with proportionality, we can determine that Israel has killed 10 times more people than Hizbollah and we can therefore deduce that Israel is in the wrong here.

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Lilu, I know it is not a competition. I was reacting to the last sentence of your post where you suggested that the feeling of horror is the same in Israel as it might be in Lebanon.

"Maybe the circumstances of our horror flicks are different, but the feeling of horror, of being hunted is always the same. Dare I say welcome to my life?"

I know that many thousands of Lebanese civilians were killed in the last IDF invasion of Lebanon and the infighting that followed in the wake of it, and I know that it took many years for the Lebanese to rebuild their country, only to see it destroyed again in a matter of weeks.

But I do think that your perspective is important to be heard. And I wish more Israelis were as thoughtful about their neighbours (in all senses) as you seem to be.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Ian said...

'Can this really be defined as "war", where the key players actual target innocent civilians rather than each other? What a silly war....'

Yes, this is what war is about. It is not a sport played in an open field somewhere for unimportant reasons. Ultimately war is usually about civilian things (stuggle to control land, water, the ecconomic system, the political system etc), so fighting will tend to take place around the things in dispute. Those with enough military power will try fight away from their own populated areas, those without would do the same if they could.

In this case Israel is: trying to get its soldiers back (not for their rather minimal military value but for their civilian value), stop attacks on their towns, dismantle what they see as a threat (Hezbollah) to their towns. Hezbollah is: trying to get its fighters back (again not for their military value), stop attacks on their towns, dismantle what they see as a threat (Zionism) to Arabs.

It is not a big leap from here to believe that threatening or actually attacking civilians will be an easier way to achieve your political goal than military to military fighting. If you are on the receiving end you call this terrorism, if you are dishing it out you think of something else to call it, or claim it is an accident or necessary or whatever.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Lilu said...

dear anon 4:49 (guys would it kill ya to come up with nicknames..??? no pun intended),

You know, I would agree with you that no one should judge another's value for life. A lot of people seem to be judging Israel's value for life, specifically Lebanese life, all too quickly. But I can understand why that is.

But no, I really don't see how suicide bombers value life more than me. They do not value their own life enough to go on living it, they sure don't value my life as they are out to end it, and I'm not sure they value the lives of their families and brethren so much as they would like to think, since reality shows blowing yourself up doesn't exactly bring peace and prosperity to your palestinian land - the IDF generally retaliates by destroying your family's home, possibly arresting them and your friends, and clamping down harder on your brethren in their everyday lives. It's a violent cycle that doesn't end. No, I don't think suicide bombers value life so much, this is probably why they are not so against ending it for themselves and for others - they just feel death is a better option for them.

As for suspicious people, sorry to disappoint you again but no, it doesn't equal Arabs (again, you hurry and judge..). First of all, you can't know if someone is Arab or Jewish unless you hear them speak and even then it's not always a sure thing. There are no characteristic physical features for suicide bombers, as there aren't for Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs, Jews, etc. Besides, suicide bombers tend to disguise themselves. The profile I look for has more to do with behaviour, and the general vibe you get from a person. It applies to anyone. Usually I would suspect someone who seems dressed out of place for the weather, someone who is alone, who seems nervous and agitated, who looks around strangely as if checking out the surroundings, someone who is carrying a large bag and is holding it close to him or her - someone who looks out of place. Someone who looks strange. It could be the orthodox religious Jew 2 seats away (they even get special attention since they're a classic disguise choice) or the young girl staring blankly at the floor.
If you go on the public transportation wherever it is you live, just look around and pick out those people who give you an odd feeling, this will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

Anyhow, I dare say you really don't give Hizballah enough credit. Remove the fear and they will have no reason to stay armed? I bet they have many more reasons to stay armed, they're probably just not letting you in on it. If you think they are just there to fight Israel you are way way naive... Hizballah has greater forces behind it, and has enemies other than Israel. If Israel was to go away, they would just come up with another justification for themselves. Take down America, get at the Sunnis, pick one. You should read that interview from the Guardian, may give you a clue things aren't as simple and on the surface as you seem to think they are: http://beirutlive.blogspot.com/2006/07/rare-look-into-hizbullahs-military-arm.html
In any case, I'm sure Hizballah will be more than happy to keep providing Lebanon with reasons to fear Israel, even if it means making stuff up. So forgive me if the solution does not seem as easy to me as you say.

No, proportionality of results is not that good a way to determine who is right and who is wrong, especially in this situation. The reason for the quantity outcome that we have, that IDF killed more civilians than Hizballah, is probably mostly due to the sheer luck of the Israelis - because Hizballah is firing directly at civilians with the intent to kill, and they're not doing calculations to hit the least amount of civilians. If most of the missiles were not crappy old Katyushas but more advanced stuff, as Hizballah would have liked, like the few Zelzals they have in store for a very worthy cause (wouldn't wanna waste those expensive buggers now would ya), the Israeli casualty numbers would be tenfold what they are now. Result is one thing, intent is another, and for Hizballah intent is the same in either case. But that seems not to be part of the equation for you. And you know the numbers could have easily been equal on both parties, if one of those rockets that landed in Haifa or Hadera had hit a few meters right or left and got at one of the power or chemical plants there, which would have exploded and killed possibly thousands. The numbers would be reversed, even. Then suddenly Hizballah would be the bad guys instead? we were just lucky that day - so that makes us bad and them good?
Imagine another 6 years had gone by quietly. Situation would probably have remained the same as far as the peace situation goes, progress is slow to none in these parts. I doubt anyone would have succeeded in disarming Hizballah by now, as they have their own personal reasons to keep existing, they wouldn't let themselves just get ennulled. So in those 6 years, they replace their entire katyusha stock with Zelzals. Then they carry out the same abduction attack and the war begins - how many Israeli casualties do you think there would be then? more proportional? more justified?somewhat circumstancial, isn't it.
There is more to making these conclusions than mathematics, one needs to look at the intent as well. The reason the results are disproportionate is in no reason due to the merciful Hizballah - if only given the right chance they would wipe out all 7 million Israeli citizens in a sec. They would've loved to use Zelzals on Tel Aviv from day one, and wipe out a few thousands right at the beginning, but they figured it would be better to wait with it and start off with the smaller guns, gain some support on the way, not waste too much too early.

That makes them smart, not good.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

HCB, thanks. you're probably right. i think our current leaders are people without backbones who are not capable of taking responsibility or a stand that would be received by them as less popular. it takes a lot of guts to stop using cliches and address reality, to design public opinion instead of being moved by it like a candle in the wind. there are a lot of people to talk to here, some of them lay even amongst IDF soldiers who do their jobs but long to speak, believe me. even our soldiers are smarter than their leaders.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Logic said...

lilu, as a lebanese i appreciate and agree with most of what you are saying. The problem though seems to be mixing religion with politics which makes people nuts on all sides

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Lilu I was wrong. You don't really get it. The IDF has killed more civilians not because you are "lucky" or God is on your side, but because it has a much more terrifying arsenal of WMD supplied by the american taxpayer. No matter how much you try and talk up the Hiz threat, their weapons are puny by comparison with yours, and unlike the people of Lebanon, your people are in no danger of occupation and having their state dismantled around their ears. Even if Iran/Hiz got the nuke, none but the deeply paranoid think they would use it offensively:

1. your nukes are better and backed with the US's

2. there isnt space enough to deploy the nuke without wreaking ruin on Palestinians and Jordanians and other friends or neighbours.

The only reason I can think for Iran/Hiz/Syria to want the nuke is so as to deter the US/UK and other crusader countries from invading and doing an Iraq. We can see the way the US backed off from N Korea after it tested a long range missile.

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

as for your statement about hezbollah

"They would've loved to use Zelzals on Tel Aviv from day one, and wipe out a few thousands right at the beginning, but they figured it would be better to wait with it and start off with the smaller guns, gain some support on the way, not waste too much too early."

how do you know all this? got any friends at the top of the Hez tree? Been talking to Nasrallah?

What actually happened is that hez only started with the rockets after the IDF wasted Beirut international airport. They have consistently said that they will stop the rocket attacks if the IDF stop its bombing raids.

Yet you insist on judging them by their intentions of which you assume an expert knowledge. Of course it is vital to build up the Hez bogeyman and paint them as bent on another Holocaust or else the IDF's actions are seen for what they are: utterly disproportionate and provocative.

1:29 AM  
Blogger A. J. Bladderwait said...


"No, proportionality of results is not that good a way to determine who is right and who is wrong, especially in this situation. The reason for the quantity outcome that we have, that IDF killed more civilians than Hizballah, is probably mostly due to the sheer luck of the Israelis - because Hizballah is firing directly at civilians with the intent to kill, and they're not doing calculations to hit the least amount of civilians."

I agree that the score card of the slaughter is not a good way to determine who is right and wrong – but the ever increasing number of Lebanese civilians killed makes it very hard for Israel to look any more civilized than Hezbollah or Hamas.

I disagree with your argument over the relevance of either side’s targeting intent. If Hezbollah put out a statement tomorrow saying that they were only targeting military sites and units in Israel and continued to fire rockets in the same manner as they are now, it would make their actions no less despicable. Likewise the IDF lost its credibility when it comes to explaining the “accidental” deaths of civilians in Palestine or Lebanon a long time ago. There are only so many times that one can publicly state that they “seek to avoid civilian casualties” etc etc whilst on a daily basis, creating civilian casualties before the statements become nonsensical. I personally do not believe that the IDF deliberately targets civilians as policy, but I do believe that they do set the threshold for preserving innocent life lower than that which should be expected from a sovereign nation state and therefore accept indiscriminate civilian casualties as a result of their actions as a matter of course. The systematic destruction of Lebanese and Palestinian infrastructure on the basis of “potentially” hampering enemy movements gives an insight into the relative value the IDF (and by extension the Israeli government) has placed on foreign civilian life and it is not acceptable.

Ultimately, if my child was killed by an IDF shell or a Hezbollah rocket or a Hamas suicide bomber I really would not care what the person who ordered the attack, or those who carried it out intended to achieve.

I also disagree with your argument about what MAY happen in 6 years time. As the saying goes, IF my Autnie had balls she’d be my uncle. If you believe that you know what will happen for certain in the future, then you are either a god or a delusional American President. The idea of pre-emptive war should surely have been discredited as a result of the tragedy in Iraq – if Israel (or any country) really believed in this type of policy, they should apply it internally and with their civilian population first, ie if we THINK this person might be a thief we should lock him up before he has a chance to steal. It is a completely idiotic approach to justice and when the result involves killing people it can also be described as terrorism.

If the IDF wishes to fight terrorism with terrorism, it should come out and say so and not pretend to be representing a civilised country which represents higher morals or a modern system of justice.

My Prime Minister Blair cannot bring himself to say that the killing of Lebanese children by the IDF missiles, bombs or shells is wrong. This is not about which side has committed the most number of atrocious acts (and god knows the Israelis have suffered) but this is about a nation state having the power to act like one and refrain from killing children or other innocents. I can and will say now that the IDF is totally and criminally wrong. Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli civilians are similarly despicable but the difference is that one group is a terrorist organisation and the other represents the policy of a nation state. If Israel really believes that the destruction of infrastructure and the civilian casualties it has inflicted upon Lebanon are justified then there is not much left between their current operations and deploying nuclear weapons. It seems that philosophically the Israeli government and her US and now UK government supporters have already accepted mass civilian casualties as an acceptable price for some notional “security” for Israel.

3:26 AM  
Blogger Lilu said...

frank, you're just gonna have to trust me when I say I'm quite familiar with Hizballah and their intentions, secret as well as revealed. I'm not sure where you get your information from that you are so certain of your facts, but I know I have my fair share of reliability about where I get my information from and that's that.

You're not reading between the lines, friend. Yes, most of HZ's weapons are puny. But it's due to no intent on their part to keep it that way. They have been upgrading their arsenal, no reason to stop upgrading. it's not ideals that would keep them from acquiring nukes if they were easily available to them.
"your people are in no danger of occupation" - well thanks for telling me, now I can sleep at night. Just because the threat isn't visible to YOU doesn't mean it isn't there. Most of our neighbours, or large groups within their population, don't like us much, I think it's quite evident. Many have uttered their wish that this state did not exist. Do you think if they were given the chance, or suddenly thought they had one, they wouldn't try and go for it? what reason would they have not to?
When the entire region surrounding you is pretty hostile, I think that's plenty of reason for "paranoia". If you wanna rely on history by the way, you will see attempts have been made.
Regrarding those nukes - so, our nukes are better. Yes and this would stop someone from tossing the first one on us, how? this country is tiny. One nuke cause immense damage. As for the consideration you believe the Iranians/HZ have for neighbours or even themselves, well you must be saying that because of those parties' compassionate and merciful ideals.. you know, Nasrallah has addressed the Israeli Arabs as his friends, and though he expresses his sorrow for the losses he is causing them, he hasn't stopped aiming at them, or their general direction. He writes their victims off as shahids, as he does suicide bombers (like the ones the Iranians send), etc. You see, to fundamentalists, human life is a reasonable expense, it is a resource. This is perhaps the great advantage they have over the IDF - the IDF is very sensitive to suffering casulaties. So, if the Iranians/HZ had nukes and believed using them would bring them what they have publicly stated they want - the end of Israel - they wouldn't let something like Palestinians or Lebanese stand in the way of achieving their ultimate goal. They would be, after all, worthy sacrifices for the cause - they already are (hell, they're letting ruin be wreaked on their 'friends' already, Ahmednijad's affection seem to fairly restricted to the HZ portion of the Lebanese people).
Oh and by the way, I never brought God into this.

But nevermind. I base my views on the facts that I know. I would love to discover that I am wrongly "building up the Hez bogeyman and painting them as bent on another Holocaust", that it's not true. Many people would be able to sleep much better at night. Kindly provide me with the factual proof you have that it is otherwise.

Enough, frank, I have a feeling unless I start calling the IDF zionist murderers you and I will never agree, so let's just agree to disagree.

bladderwait (original name by the way), I totaly agree on the way Israel looks. I honestly have no idea why Olmert and Halutz are handling this war the way the are. It is quite obvious, and to many Israelis by the way, that this war has no chance of resulting as Olmert, Peretz and Halutz seem to be envisioning (or envisioned) in their testosterone-suffocated heads. Well, IAF pilots (like Halutz) always were arrogant pricks. Apparently 60 years of constant fighting has rendered our leaders incapable of seeing anything but military options, and it is a great shame to me.

Incidentally I wasn't predicting what WOULD happen in 6 years time, just what easily COULD. If you're looking at HZ at the past 6 years, the way it was arming and progressing within Lebanon and the friends it had, it was going down a certain path. Historically, it is likely that path was leading to a planned pre-emptive attack, if uninterrupted. It was not arming with bigger weapons for the fun of it.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not justifying the results of the IDF's actions. I think the operation has been horribly mismanaged from about day 2. It should never have come to this. Some action was necessary - not this action.

I dare say one thing though - perhaps in the Israeli, US and UK government's mind, this is about more than Israel, and that is the reason they are letting it go on this way. There is alot more going on that none of us are aware of, and politicians have a tendency not to always say what they are really doing and really thinking. Things are never as simple as they appear. There is probably a bigger picture whose parts we are not seeing.

4:11 AM  
Anonymous blogwatch said...

A great quote by Golda Meir:

"We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us."

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Lilu thank you for your post. It is a great gift to be able to see so clearly into other people's intentions. I still prefer to judge people by their actions however. But your post has helped explain to me how the moral and righteous soldiers of the IDF are able to fire upon stone throwing children. They must think to themselves, "these are only stones, but the intent is surely to kill me. When I look into their eyes all I see is hatred. Why do they hate us so much? But there is no time to answer that question, I better kill them quickly before they acquire a bigger stone".

Love and Peace

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Rick in SF said...

In WWII, the German army was called the "Wehrmact," which translates as "defense force," I believe.
Nazis dreamt up this construction during their pre war buildup. Nobody wanted Germany to have an army, but who could object to a "defense force?"

2:52 AM  

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