Saturday, August 12, 2006

Siniora: Man with a three-track mind

I have to say that all the Lebanese today agree on one thing: Siniora's effective leadership throughout this conflict. He truly amazed all of us. But what's really surprising is to see that even the Israelis are impressed by his tact, and that by itself is a great boost - especially at times when Olmert's decision-making ability is being put in question. Again, great leaders show their true capabilities during the most difficult conflicts, and Siniora today is considered Lebanon's hero. Hopefully, under his leadership Lebanon will be able not only to reconstruct, but also build a solid, united and forward-thinking state - one which will become a role-model for the whole region. As a Lebanese I can easily say that this is our dream and we will achieve it no matter what.
Thank you Siniora!

The following is an article written by Haaretz on Lebanon's PM.

By Zvi Bar'el

When Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman invoked the name of Hiram, king of Tyre, to prove that Israel and Lebanon used to enjoy good neighborly relations, the beginning of a smile appeared on the face of Dr. Tarek Mitri, the Lebanese special envoy. The Greek Orthodox Mitri, who acts in normal days as Lebanon's minister of culture, can't be caught off-guard with historic tales of Lebanon. Mitri has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the American University of Beirut, and a master's in philosophy and a doctorate in social sciences from the University of Paris. He studies the Phoenician past of Lebanon as a hobby, and has promoted the inclusion of archaeological sites in the country as part of the UNESCO World Heritage conservation program. Thus, in his response at the UN, Mitri had no need to consult any history books when telling Gillerman that "Hiram the king was a builder - you only destroy."

But rhetorics were not the most important aspect of this meeting. The real question was, what was Mitri doing at the UN in the first place? Why wasn't Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh there? The answer is that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora decided not to send the minister because he does not trust him. When Siniora put together his government last year, the question of who would be the foreign minister came up. Hassan Nasrallah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Beri wanted him to be one of their own. Siniora wanted another man, a confidant, but when confronting the power struggles and the need to maintain a balance in the government - as well as the threat by Nasrallah and Beri to boycott and prevent approval of the government in the parliament - he agreed to appoint an "independent Shi'ite," one with no ties to any organizations. The choice was Salloukh, who soon turned out to belong to a very specific "camp."

In March this year, with the Arab summit conference in Khartoum then approaching, controversy arose over who would represent Lebanon there: the president or the prime minister. To avoid a crisis the organizers decided that the event would include participants at the level of "leaders and heads of state," thus allowing both Siniora and President Emil Lahoud to participate. The conference was of great importance for Lebanon, since it was the first time that the government's - and particularly Siniora's - position on the status of Hezbollah was to be presented. Siniora agreed with Salloukh that the Lebanese proposal that was to be made should include the country's demand to regain control over the Shaba Farms, "in accordance to UN Security Council Resolution 425 from 1978." However, behind his back, Salloukh and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem agreed on another version, according to which "the Arab League supports Lebanon's efforts to liberate the Shaba Farms ... and this using all legal means, including the drawing of the borders as part of the bonds of brotherhood between Syria and Lebanon, while emphasizing that the Lebanese resistance [i.e., Hezbollah - Z.B.] is a true and natural expression of the Lebanese people's right to liberate their lands." Siniora heard of this version of the conference decision for the first time upon arriving to Khartoum, and only after sitting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who failed to update him on this matter. Siniora was enraged, but in order to prevent greater embarrassment, he proposed his own version, which mentioned the resistance but left out Moallem's and Salloukh's superlatives.

Syria was very satisfied, but Salloukh realized that his status as foreign minister had been damaged. This incident testifies to the set of pressures and problems that Siniora also faces in normal times, when there is no war and no difficult decisions to be made. "It is a government that reminds one of an octopus," a Lebanese reporter commented this week. "Everyone seems to always be dressed up for a feast, but it is a feast of carnage. Every tentacle operates in a different direction, any pair of them can form a coalition against another four tentacles, and you can't always tell where the head is."

Numbers and finance
This portrayal, together with the goings-on in Khartoum, actually testifies to Siniora's skills. He is a man of numbers and finance, who ran Rafik Hariri's business empire before becoming prime minister and served as a finance minister as well. Since the war erupted, Siniora is running his government on three tracks: He deals with Hezbollah through Beri, with the Lebanese public through Information Minister Ghazi Aridi, and with the world through Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, who spent the last week in France. In all three tracks this man, who broke down during the conference of Arab foreign ministers in Beirut this week, has managed to surprise everyone. His decision regarding stationing Lebanese army reserve soldiers to prove that his intentions are genuine, was a perfect move in negotiations. The story began when Siniora received the French-American proposal for a cease-fire, and understood that even if he could live with it, he would have a problem with Beri and Nasrallah, without whose support the war will continue.

Therefore, it was necessary to revise the proposal. A phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the press conference she held earlier this week made it clear to Siniora that there was no chance of such a revision. Perhaps a "normal" politician would have thrown in the towel at this point, but not Siniora, who has on many an occasions seen the rise and fall of business deals over the way negotiations were handled. Together with Hariri Jr., he decided that a new element had to be introduced into the equation. It's not exactly clear who proposed deployment of the Lebanese army, Siniora or Hariri, but ultimately the latter suggested to test the idea on the French, and if it would be well received, and there would be a willingness for flexibility, Siniora should present it to his partners in government.

France approved, and even relished the idea. "Will Nasrallah accept?" the French asked Hariri. At the time Hariri could only answer on principle. Nasrallah and Beri would not be able to object to this idea, since it is rooted in the 1989 Taif Agreement. In other words, Nasrallah need not "surrender" to UN Resolution 1559, nor to the 1949 truce signed between Israel and Lebanon. With these arguments in hand Siniora faced Beri, who understood that he would be unable to object to the proposal - not only because of its legal arguments, but also since it might represent a one-time opportunity to prevent the deployment of a powerful multinational force in Lebanon, and to leave the bulk of work in the south to a Lebanese force over which he wields considerable influence.

This leaves Nasrallah, who is still to publicize his version of how the proposal was presented to him, and what convinced him to accept it. Siniora now had an answer ready for the French, only in the meantime he had to host the Arab foreign ministers who had assembled in support of Lebanon. Again Siniora proved his mastery of negotiation. Two weeks ago in the Arab League's emergency conference in Cairo, the league's secretary general, Amr Musa, announced the bankruptcy of the organization and of the regional peace process. Siniora used the Arab League as leverage, and the tears that choked him were well timed. While pushing Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem into the opposition corner in the process, Siniora managed to convince the other ministers to send a respectable team to New York to display a tough but practical Arab position. No longer was there the familiar whining, but a concrete proposal. And Siniora, with his knowledge of negotiations, knows that when he is being asked about the make-up of the Lebanese army that will descend into the reaches of southern Lebanon, the deal is done.


Anonymous Mike said...

great work you are doing! Keep on with your great articels - the world has to wake up to this tragedy.

There is another blog of a lebanese living in the Beqaa giving very detailed descriptions and analyses of the events. It can be found under

All the best for you.
Greets from Germany.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous rafiek said...

seriously, Sinora has shown his ability to lead is country, and the passion and love that he has for his people. A true leader, one that hezbollah should support in the next few months.

I agree with Mike. Excellent posts!

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly hope that mr. Siniora can lead Lebanon to peace.

Please remember that not all of us in the west are fascist warmongers, and that you are in our thoughts.

3:20 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Now Lebanon is known in the world as a place much different than most had imagined. Likewise, Israel is exposed for what it is.

The differences in the humanity, intelligence, statesmanship and abilities of the prime ministers of Lebanon and Israel could not have been more dramatically presented. It's a terrible, terrible thing that's been done to Lebanon. But it certainly seems the future for Lebanon now is much brighter in the mideast and the entire world than it was even before the invasion. On the other hand, the future for Israel and the US is not so bright. The perception of these two countries will improve from that of foolish, bumbling, bloodthirsty bully only when the current administrations of the two countries are soundly condemned and then properly buried somewhere well out of sight.

It is truly remarkable what has been done. Mr. Sinioria brings to mind Winston Churchill in his finest days.
Brave, smart, able, intelligent and sincere in the face of adversity unimaginable to most. Mr. Sinioria responded for Lebanon to the grotesque butchers with calm aplomb while Israel lies its way to its goal of destruction and the imposition of misery beyond comprehension. Israel presents the world its version of its righteous cause of preventing its destruction by its "enemies." But it doesn't attack its enemies - it attacks and attempts to destroy a completely defenseless neighbor. A "normal" man would have broken under the pressure in the face of such evil. Mr. Siniora kept his wits while dealing with the devil in his faith that the world would not permit the evil to continue indefinitely. And so he emerges with a stronger, brighter Lebanon while the US and Israel continue in their attempts to justify the unjustifiable while they try to ignore the filth they have piled around themselves for all the world to look at and then turn up their collective noses.

Some day thoughtful people will learn how to effectively disarm the evil doers among us, Perhaps the thoughtful people in the US and Israel will do it themselvs. And then the world will be brighter and happier. Once the Olmerts and Bushes and Prevetzes and Rumsfelds are finally dead and buried.

Thanks for this blog and thanks to all the truly lovely people I've met here.


3:28 PM  
Anonymous hadi said...

Siniora sounds ok, but just ok as we still need to wait and see how he keeps Beri and Hez under control and comply with the new UN resolution.

3:40 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

As we have to wait and see how Israel does. Obviously it currently is ignoring that and all the other resolutions it doesn't like. On the pretext of a Sunday meeting to present the resolution to its government, Israel would have the world ignore it continues trying to quench its blood thirst by widening its attack and continuing to ignore the entreaties of the world and so many resolutions of the UN.

So - while "Siniora sounds ok" Olmert and Prevetz and Bush and Rice and Rumsfeld continue to demonstrate just who and what they are - the pigs of war.

I'm American. But I've got a lot of Lebanese spirit in me, apparently. And proudly so.

4:06 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Can any of our Israeli friends tell me if the following is true?

According to Steve Priestley, Director for International Projects at the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), who has been following the number and the nature of the Israeli bombs which have been falling on the Lebanese territory since the beginning of the offensive, it is more than 3.000 appliances that have been landed in Lebanon by Israel since the 12th of July, and which are waiting to be ignited on the Lebanese soil.

It seems the Israeli army is “sowing” in all the regions it bombards at least 800 mines and other appliances per day, appliances which do not explode as they reach the ground, but have to be ignited.

One can predict the number of casualties on the Lebanese side is definitely going to increase, even after the official end of hostilities…

4:13 PM  
Anonymous lola said...

HCB, it's been a pleasure reading what you've been writing. And i especially loved what you've been writing to Sam. Made me laugh so much. Apparently, you and I at one point really gave it to him. But I do have to admit, I also enjoyed reading what he was writing. Stupid idiot that he is.
Anyway, he is at the "beach" now. I really wonder.

5:11 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

What's been so important to me, Lola, is meeting people like you. This site's creators have done a thing I doubt even they imagined when they started it. It's a spark that grows inexorably. People don't have to love each other or even agree. They should, however, respect each other. For all his idiocy, Sam helped immensely by giving everyone a focus for blind stupidity which paves the way to blind aggression - on both sides. I don't think anyone thought Sam has anything valuable to add to a debate between what I call the evil doers and the victims but I think everyone saw how disruptive and senseless his blindly spewed insults are. The value, I think, is that it's not a great stretch to analogize that blind spouting of thoughtless invective to the blind hostility that led to the bombing and destruction of Lebanon. Someday soon, the debate should and might center on why the airport and bridges and highways and beaches and oil storage facilities were destroyed. Why the blockade was imposed. The question also will be asked as to why it was Lebanon who was destroyed rather than Iran and Syria - if the Bush/Olmert Crowd are serious in their contentions that it really was a "proxy war" with those countries. The truth of the matter was that Lebanon was perceived the least risky (to Israel) way Israel could flex and display its military muscle. The idea was it would frighten Iran and Syria and the rest of the mideast.

But that thinking supposes there are no thoughtful people outside the government "leaders." That the people in Israel and the US will continue as sheep guided by the fear mongering of their governments. If ordinary people like you, Lola and so many others who have displayed understanding, thoughtfulness, sincerity and compassion are heard, the world can change. People like Rice and Bush will not be heard to say idiocies like "you're witnessing the birth pangs of a new mideast." They will be ignored or shouted down by the REAL people of those areas. The people who want nothing more than to wake to a sunrise and enjoy the day with their families and friends. They have no interest at all in killing or maiming or destroying. They simply want to live and let live.

That is what I've always hoped and that is what the majority of people - on both sides of the current situation - have displayed. Now the spark needs to be tended so it will catch and the warmth of that fire will spread.

Thank you for your kind words, Lola. It's been my pleasure to meet you.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Check out Jostein Gaarder's condemnation of Israel

God's chosen people
By Jostein Gaarder, Aftenposten 05.08.06

From the Norwegian by Sirocco

There is no turning back. It is time to learn a new lesson: We do no longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the South African apartheid regime, nor did we recognize the Afghan Taliban regime. Then there were many who did not recognize Saddam Hussein's I

6:15 PM  
Anonymous ghassan said...

So the ability to choke and have a record of zero achievments after more than a year in office is the sign of an outstanding leadership. No wonder we are in trouble.

6:44 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

You apparently, Ghassan, are in Lebanon and I don't pretend to have your knowledge of his abilities as a leader insofar as what the Lebanese think. But "leadership" is, in large part, perception. Churchill is perceived a great leader only because of how he handled himself during the war. He certainly was not so considered otherwise. So, I think the world sees Mr Siniora as a "great leader." Maybe not in the strictest sense but he's the one who everyone sees and with whom everyone was impressed. He's perceived as having stood up and done great things. That's what's really important. Whether or not it's true, he appears to be a stronger, better person than the prime minister of Israel. That perception is very important to Lebanon. And it's very important in the UN and the entire world when the time comes to figure out what else needs to be done. And that time will begin Monday.

6:59 PM  
Blogger mrtez said...

i think we should have left it to Lahoud then - the man who wanted to send the lebanese army against israel. that option would have been great indeed. we would be in hell today.
siniora is a hero because he has so far been able to muster a great deal of support locally and internationally and bridge the needs of all lebanese people. he stood fast against proposals which did not take lebanon's interest into consideration and is currently steering us to the right direction.
if he did not achieve that in the last year is due to many forces opposing him, including lahoud and syria. but him achieving this now, during such a crisis is memorable.
his love for lebanon is evident, and we need to take all our caring of lebanon in consideration for us to build a solid state.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous ghassan said...

I have been posting about this for a very long time and I should have explained myself a little bit more.
Of course I am not in favour of Lahoud, the Syrian agent and of course I believe that Siniora is a decent man, an honest man who cares passionately about his country. But the fact speak for themselves. Leadership is measured by achievments, by influencing events and by taking strong clear positions based on the principal of the common good. No matter how hard you try the Siniora government has wasted the last 18 months . They have failed to take a single measure to protect the constitution and they have shown that they have no backbone. Even up until this moment Fouad Siniora is being wishy washy. he has failed Lebanon not because he does not believe in it but simply because he could not deliver the goods.

7:41 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Ah - but Ghassan, may I suggest "leadership" is NOT measured by achievements? "Leadership" is the ability to get people to do together what none of them thought possible alone. Leadership is "influencing events" but not by the leader. Leadership results in the events being influenced by the led. That's why Mr. Siniora is now perceived a leader - he was the person you most needed right now. What he did or did not do in the past 18 months really is irrelevant to what he did in the past week. He may not be prime minister much longer for the reasons you cite. But there can be no real question that he stood on principle and effected an outcome for the common good. What you perceive as "wishy washy" I'd bet is being perceived as "cagey" or "calculating" in other quarters right now. Mr. Siniora is supported in principle by a very large part of the world, right now. And most of them had never heard of him or really knew much about Lebanon a month ago. Whether or not he has been effective domestically, he's been VERY effective internationally. For that reason, I'd disagree with your assessment that "he could not deliver the goods."

7:55 PM  
Blogger Nasser said...

Siniora showed some great performance for a technocrat and care-taker (until Saad Hariri takes over). But I guess the one emerging to take the lead after the end of July 2006 War will be Nabih Berri. Wait and see.

thanks for the post

7:57 PM  
Blogger Byron said...

I am a Barazilan- Lebanese Christian who really wants to see a change in the constitution of Lebanon where anyone regardless of religion/sect can be elected to be a president of the republic. That day I will elect Siniora. He is a true leader who is of great value to our country as opposed to the current muppet of president lahoud. Bravo Siniora!

8:12 PM  
Anonymous mna said...

Hey everyone!

Check out Jostein Gaarder (Sophie's world) Condemnation of Israel:

God's chosen people
By Jostein Gaarder, Aftenposten 05.08.06

From the Norwegian by Sirocco

There is no turning back. It is time to learn a new lesson: We do no longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the South African apartheid regime, nor did we recognize the Afghan Taliban regime. Then there were many who did not recognize Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the Serbs' ethnic cleansing. We must now get used to the idea: The state of Israel in its current form is history.

We do not believe in the notion of God's chosen people. We laugh at this people's fancies and weep over its misdeeds. To act as God's chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call it racism.

Limits to tolerance

There are limits to our patience, and there are limits to our tolerance. We do not believe in divine promises as justification for occupation and apartheid. We have left the Middle Ages behind. We laugh uneasily at those who still believe that the God of flora, fauna, and galaxies has selected one people in particular as his favorite and given it funny stone tablets, burning bushes, and a license to kill.

We call child murderers 'child murderers' and will never accept that such have a divine or historic mandate excusing their outrages. We say but this: Shame on all apartheid, shame on ethnic cleansing, shame on every terrorist strike against civilians, be it carried out by Hamas, Hizballah, or the state of Israel!

Unscrupulous art of war

We acknowledge and pay heed to Europe's deep responsibility for the plight of the Jews, for the disgraceful harassment, the pogroms, and the Holocaust. It was historically and morally necessary for Jews to get their own home. However, the state of Israel, with its unscrupulous art of war and its disgusting weapons, has massacred its own legitimacy. It has systematically flaunted International Law, international conventions, and countless UN resolutions, and it can no longer expect protection from same. It has carpet bombed the recognition of the world. But fear not! The time of trouble shall soon be over. The state of Israel has seen its Soweto.

We are now at the watershed. There is no turning back. The state of Israel has raped the recognition of the world and shall have no peace until it lays down its arms.

Without defense, without skin

May spirit and word sweep away the apartheid walls of Israel. The state of Israel does not exist. It is now without defense, without skin. May the world therefore have mercy on the civilian population. For it is not civilian individuals at whom our doomsaying is directed.

We wish the people of Israel well, nothing but well, but we reserve the right not to eat Jaffa oranges as long as they taste foul and are poisonous. It was endurable to live some years without the blue grapes of apartheid.

They celebrate their triumphs

We do not believe that Israel mourns forty killed Lebanese children more than it for over three thousand years has lamented forty years in the desert. We note that many Israelis celebrate such triumphs like they once cheered the scourges of the Lord as "fitting punishment" for the people of Egypt. (In that tale, the Lord, God of Israel, appears as an insatiable sadist.) We query whether most Israelis think that one Israeli life is worth more than forty Palestinian or Lebanese lives.

For we have seen pictures of little Israeli girls writing hateful greetings on the bombs to be dropped on the civilian population of Lebanon and Palestine. Little Israeli girls are not cute when they strut with glee at death and torment across the fronts.

The retribution of blood vengeance

We do not recognize the rhetoric of the state of Israel. We do not recognize the spiral of retribution of the blood vengeance with "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." We do not recognize the principle of one or a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye. We do not recognize collective punishment or population-wide diets as political weapons. Two thousand years have passed since a Jewish rabbi criticized the ancient doctrine of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

He said: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." We do not recognize a state founded on antihumanistic principles and on the ruins of an archaic national and war religion. Or as Albert Schweitzer expressed it: "Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose."

Compassion and forgiveness

We do not recognize the old Kingdom of David as a model for the 21st century map of the Middle East. The Jewish rabbi claimed two thousand years ago that the Kingdom of God is not a martial restoration of the Kingdom of David, but that the Kingdom of God is within us and among us. The Kingdom of God is compassion and forgiveness.

Two thousand years have passed since the Jewish rabbi disarmed and humanized the old rhetoric of war. Even in his time, the first Zionist terrorists were operating.

Israel does not listen

For two thousand years, we have rehearsed the syllabus of humanism, but Israel does not listen. It was not the Pharisee that helped the man who lay by the wayside, having fallen prey to robbers. It was a Samaritan; today we would say, a Palestinian. For we are human first of all -- then Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. Or as the Jewish rabbi said: "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?" We do not accept the abduction of soldiers. But nor do we accept the deportation of whole populations or the abduction of legally elected parliamentarians and government ministers.

We recognize the state of Israel of 1948, but not the one of 1967. It is the state of Israel that fails to recognize, respect, or defer to the internationally lawful Israeli state of 1948. Israel wants more; more water and more villages. To obtain this, there are those who want, with God's assistance, a final solution to the Palestinian problem. The Palestinians have so many other countries, certain Israeli politicians have argued; we have only one.

The USA or the world?

Or as the highest protector of the state of Israel puts it: "May God continue to bless America." A little child took note of that. She turned to her mother, saying: "Why does the President always end his speeches with 'God bless America'? Why not, 'God bless the world'?"

Then there was a Norwegian poet who let out this childlike sigh of the heart: "Why doth Humanity so slowly progress?" It was he that wrote so beautifully of the Jew and the Jewess. But he rejected the notion of God's chosen people. He personally liked to call himself a Muhammedan.

Calm and mercy

We do not recognize the state of Israel. Not today, not as of this writing, not in the hour of grief and wrath. If the entire Israeli nation should fall to its own devices and parts of the population have to flee the occupied areas into another diaspora, then we say: May the surroundings stay calm and show them mercy. It is forever a crime without mitigation to lay hand on refugees and stateless people.

Peace and free passage for the evacuating civilian population no longer protected by a state. Fire not at the fugitives! Take not aim at them! They are vulnerable now like snails without shells, vulnerable like slow caravans of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees, defenseless like women and children and the old in Qana, Gaza, Sabra, and Chatilla. Give the Israeli refugees shelter, give them milk and honey!

Let not one Israeli child be deprived of life. Far too many children and civilians have already been murdered.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous jessie said...

They bombed close to my house numerous times this morning. And right next to my grandmothers house. Enchanting way to wake up - to feel like the walls are going to cave in around you.

They just bombed a bit further away right now, and they just won't stop.
If its not the bombs going off, its the sound of the F16, if its not that, its the sound of the MK surveying the area and probably taking trophy pics of the areas they've bombarded. [they bombed again just this second]
I live in an area where there is no hizbullah, the only terrorists around are israel it seems.

A few questions to ponder over [some answers would be great too]:

1. How can bombing a city's electricity transmittor [embedded in a purely residential area of a non-hizbullah stronghold] be called defending israel against "terrorism"? [they bombed again just now]

2. How can bombing a convoy of civilians escorted by UN and police which israel allowed to move out - be called defending israel against "terrorism"?

3. How can bombing a building full of civilians and knocking it to the ground as they sleep be called defending israel against "terrorism"?

4. How can bombing a truck carrying lettuce/bread/humanitarian aid [and of course innocent people] etc, be called defending israel against "terrorism"?

5. How can bombing every bridge in the country be called defending israel against "terrorism"? [while innocent civilans were driving/walking by of course] I think we all know that the "isolation" of hizbullah could have been accomplished with a little less damage now.

6. How is bombing TV/Radio transmittors, defending israel against "terrorism"? [not to mention banning the media from showing whats really going on down in southern Lebanon] What you trying to hide?

And the list goes on - but of course if its not israel defending itself, then "oops" it was an accident [e.g qana]. The regions most powerful army certainly is careless, and their "intelligence" is non-existent.
Not to mention a little cowardly - lets look at the attack on marjayoun... when they were caught during one of their rambo commando drops - instead of fighting back like [soldiers?] - they chose to run and hide in a building filled with 400 civilians, taking cover - taking them hostage and using them as human shields.

Lets face it, this was never about the two soldiers, this was never about defending themselves.
Hizbullah was not the first to fire into israel. Their attacks were the ones in defense.
Their act of capturing two soldiers was a dumb move but truth says it was done to initiate negotiations for a swap- to release some of the thousands of lebanese people living [if you wanna call it that] in israeli dungeons - many of whom are women and many children who were born in these prisons who have never had the chance to live their lives normally.

I've never taken a political side, i'm not even into politics, it suxs. But what i'm seeing here is so horrible i am unable to find words to explain it.

Lets just hope a cease fire is put into place - so maybe the death toll here can be layed to rest at the almost 1200 figure its appraoching [excluding the hizb fighters] if it hasn't approached it already - and same goes for israels death toll of 124 [of whom 80 are military].

Its sad for civilians of both countries.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous lola said...

After doing some curious reseach, this is what I found... By Nostradamus

During a period of continuing unrest, the leader of a Middle Eastern country will be able to obtain a nuclear weapon. He will go to the greatest lengths over the smallest things and will not hesitate to use the weapon because of his obsessions with deadly warfare. The people he is warring against retaliate with a nuclear weapon. The country has a coast on the Mediterranean.

One of the bombs will land in the Mediterranean instead of the land, poisoning all the fish. The passages of trade in the region will be disrupted so that the people on the other coast will be desperate for food and will eat the fish anyway. It will happen near the east coast of the Mediterranean in a region of dark-colored cliffs. The nuclear weapon being dropped by one of the Middle Eastern countries will spark off yet another war on top of that war. European and Western nations will try to interfere to diminish the threat to oil supplies. When the European countries try to interfere, the crazed leader will use the rest of his arsenal on Europe, most striking the closer southern part.

The European Mediterranean coast, particularly that of Italy and France, will be almost uninhabitable, and Italy will get the brunt. This leader is not the Antichrist but helps to set the stage for the Antichrist to rise to power with little or no opposition. The Antichrist will wield great power and authority; no one can argue with him.


8:55 PM  
Anonymous Ms Grateful said...

To Sidon, with love. (A personal account)

After a night a restless sleep, it was only until the early hours of the morning that I started to doze off into what could be classified as a deep slumber. How could I have been so stupid to think that I could cram in some much needed sleep, 48 hours before a ‘complete ceasefire’? (Presuming there will be a ceasefire by Monday.)

Everyone knows that it is only polite to give the host of a party a going away present. Right?

And what a gift we were to receive. (The IDF have such taste!)

It was at about 6.30am when the first of 4 explosions resonated across Saida. With intervals of about 5 minutes between each explosion I had just enough time to jump out of bed, meet my family gathered in the corridor, exchange uncomfortable smiles and run to the balcony to catch the last two attacks. I was to find out later those explosions were aimed at the electricity posts.

I didn’t realize that in order for the IDF to protect themselves, they had to go and cut the electricity. I should have known better.
(Now they will surely be safe from the big bad bullies hiding away in Lebanon.)

But now I am faced with a problem. Due to the land, sea and air siege placed upon us, I am unable to really show my gratitude for the gift I received this morning.

Any suggestions of how I could overcome this dilemma?

8:56 PM  
Blogger Lilu said...

hcb, I have no idea if it's true. Haven't heard anything about mines, surely not in the media and definitely not from people who have been there fighting. I know there are mine fields that have remained from the previous IDF occupation of south Lebanon.

As for Siniora, it will take some more time to say for sure but he seems to be on the right track. Maybe it took him some time, maybe he had to be awakened a bit that rapid action is neccesary, but he seems to be aware and ready now. He seems to have a realistic grip on the situation, dare I say more realistic than Olmert's.

I can say this much - at this point of the war, it definitely seems that people are sobering up from our newly elected government. The Israeli perception of those guys has changed for the worse - on all sides. The war had great public support at the beginning, but as time went on, the moderate crowd (moderate left wing and center) lost its faith because it began realizing that we are losing too many people and that the damage being to Lebanon is far too great, and the more extreme right wing crowd lost its faith because to them Olmert was not doing enough. In any case, many are disillusioned, and most of all, every one's just so tired of this war. We're tired of the constant destruction of the north, we're tired of our sons and brothers dying in combat they never wanted to be in, and we're overcome with nightmare memories of the previous occupation of south Lebanon. Everyone is saying, enough, this has gone on too long - whether you say it for the sake of the Israelis or the Lebanese, enough already (that was actually the cover of Time Out Tel Aviv this week - just the words 'how about enough?'). And now Olmert's latest brain storm is extending the ground offensive? everyone's hating the idea - either because they realize there is no choice but a diplomatic solution at this point, or because they think it is a military misjudgment and favor air strikes. It is pretty clear, whether you are left or right winged, that a wide ground action will just bring us many more casulaties and not much success over Hizballah - it is a bad idea.
So, regardless what we will all be when this war ends, macho Olmert is surely losing. I would say that the Israeli public is winning, because you see many more voices becoming realistic, favoring a compromise and cease fire, realizing what a mistake this war is and what a poor job the three stooges at the helm are doing. People are starting to get their heads around it all. Ha'artez's latest poll showed that support of Olmert has dropped from 75% (other papers' polls in recent weeks) to 48%, with 40% dissatisified with his leadership. Peretz also dropped in the polls, from 65% support to 37%, 51% dissatisfied.
Bring on Livni I say. She thought the war played itself out after 3 days. She is the only one rightfully retaining her 61% support according to the poll - though, how surprising, her boss in not among them... Yediot Ahronot reported this weekend that Olmert is unhappy with the support she is getting from the public and is trying to reign her in (he cancelled her trip to the Security Council meeting). The report quoted one of his confidantes: "if she thought that the public would remember Olmert as conducting the war with her bringing the peace, than she's wrong". Typical. This is apparently what matters to Olmert at times like this, who has bigger nuts.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous lola said...

I am so sorry you had to go thru that, Ms. Grateful. I can't say i know what you mean as i left Beirut 5 days after the war broke out. But i have been glued to my TV and the net as if my life depended on it. Actually, my life does depend on my TV and the internet right now. And i hate that. I can't wait to go back to my country. I am orignally from Tyre, but live in Beirut. I wonder what i will be looking at when i go back to visit it. But i think whatever will be left of it, it will still be beautiful, as all of Lebanon is.
To all those who are still in Lebanon and living the terror, I salute you.

9:09 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

And on this side of the world, Lilu, Bush has suffered much the same fate. Condoleeza Rice is portrayed as a parrot and Cheney is "Uncle Dickey." Now we run into real trouble - what and who to believe? Was there really a plot to blow up airliners between the UK and the US? Bush's "handling terror" points have risen. Not a lot but they are up. Is that the real reason for the "plot?" Add to that mix the arrests in the past couple of months of people "plotting" to terrorize within the US. The most ludicrous was the gang of black men hanging out in an abandoned warehouse outside Miami. They fashioned themselves as military, wore a kind of "uniform" and practiced "Army stuff" in the yard while keeping themselves away from other "regular" people. An FBI agent "infiltrated" this group, pretended to be from Al Queda and offered them $50,000. They jumped on the offer, promised that if they got the money and a truck load of AK-47's they'd blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. They are in jail with no bond waiting trial. The FBI and Attorney General say they were still in the "aspirational" stage with no ability to do anything but they were seriously thinking about doing it and had to be stopped. Which means I have to be careful about telling our esteemed president to "drop dead."

And now - with "code red" and police and armed troops patrolling the airports, we now are prohibited from carrying anything liquid on an airplane other than baby formula - if the baby is present. God help the poor woman who appears to have had a really "good" boob job - she might be considered a martyr in waiting?

The point is how easily people are misled by fear mongering. People like you and Carmel prove Israelis are not born with horns, tails and forked tongues. But people like Olmert and Peretz create that perception. I suppose I could be completely wrong because a lot of blood has been spilled and a lot of hatreds created, but if fair minded people could just get together and maybe drink beer, eat pretzels and dance for just one night without any talk of anything except how good or bad the beer is and how stiff or limber the dancers, maybe .....

It might be naive and impossible. But the alternatives attempted so far surely haven't worked.

It's nice to have met you, Lilu

9:21 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

I have just visited
Thank you for the reference, Lilu. I hope others whose vitriol has so shaped their beings will also take a look. No judgments, no editorial comments are required. Just look.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Chris Baker said...

> According to Steve Priestley, Director for International Projects at the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), who has been following the number and the nature of the Israeli bombs which have been falling on the Lebanese territory since the beginning of the offensive, it is more than 3.000 appliances that have been landed in Lebanon by Israel since the 12th of July, and which are waiting to be ignited on the Lebanese soil.

I've seen photo's on the US wire services where Israeli soldiers were wiring anti-tank mines together inside a building in southern Lebanon. It was like a demolition crew wiring a high-rise building to be brought down by explosives, however they were wiring anti-tank mines not explosives. Another photo showed the same anti-tank mines sitting on top of an Israeli tank waiting to enter Lebanon, with wires pre-attached to each mine. I wonder if these might be activated electronically as Israeli forces leave?

12:56 AM  
Blogger HCB said...

The concern is three fold:

1. In vietnam, the air force "seeded" fairly large areas with "gravel" mines to deny access to the area. They are chemically fused, 7/8th ounce explosives calculated to remove a foot at the ankle. They arm on impact and explode on the next impact. They are plastic and molded to look like gravel or leaves. They are designed to become inert in two days. They don't. Obviously, larger anti-personnel mines could be used so that no one could safely enter the area. It would be "occupied" without having to have troops in place.

2. It is not very difficult to detonate a bomb remotely - as has been demonstrated repeatedly by both sides with, for example, cell phones. Thousands of cell phones can have different numbers and operate in an area no larger than a city. Thousands of devices like cell phone signal receivers could easily be implanted in thousands of explosives left behind for later detonation.

3. Mines traditionally are used to deny territory and to participate in defense. If a proper minefield is not laid and mapped, then hundreds or thousands of very small explosives are lost until accidentally detonated. That is what the MAG is about. And that is why mines should be prohibited just as chemical agents. They are indiscriminate and are still killing men, women, children and farm animals in various places through the world many years after they were planted.

I hope the report is wrong. I hope, if it is true, a direction to remove the mines will issue immediately. It is the ultimate cruelty - far worse even than sowing salt to destroy fields. Sowing mines to kill long into the future is truly the depths of evil - beyond any attempt to simply describe. If they are discovered, then a war crime of immense importance has been committed and should be prosecuted against every person involved from the field commander who was "simply following orders" to the highest levels of the government. The horrors and terror of the past month should not be extended into the indefinite future under any pretext whatsoever.

1:26 AM  
Blogger HCB said...

Here is the link to the Mines Advisory Group (UK)

There is a report on the unexploded ordnance left behind as well. Which is another important point not to be overlooked. In Vietnam the air force supported the ground troops (of which I was one) with "CBU" - Cluster Bomb Units." In our case, that meant several hundreds of small - about one pound - bomblets in a canister carried under the aircraft like a conventional napalm tank. An F-100 supersabre would drop to about 100 feet at 450 miles per hour and release the CBU in a line. They explode like flashbulbs in rapid succession.

The bomblet is not armed when it is in the canister - it was armed by spinning vanes that opened when the bomblet left the canister. If the vanes didn't spin properly, the bomb was not armed. If the vanes did spin properly and the bomblet armed, the fuse might be bad and the bomb would not explode. For a variety of reasons, the dud rate approximated 25 percent. There were, as I understood it, 750 bomblets to a canister. I could not begin to estimate how many canisters of CBU were opened over vietnam.

The Israelis use American supplied bombs and artillery munitions which are very similar to the CBU - a large bomb explodes but, instead of shrapnel, it sprays small bomblets in a relatively small area. The idea is to spread explosions and shrapnel throughout, for example, an artillery battery or infantry hiding in trenches. Each of those small bomblets is separately fused and I would guess, they don't all explode as planned. That being so, the unexploded ones are lying in the fields and villages at this moment. They may or may not explode when moved. But any prudent soldier is going to stay well clear of a dud he or she finds and let EOD (explosive ordnance demolition) handle it. Given the thousands of bomblets that likely were spread during the attack, even a five percent dud rate will result in a lot of them.

The first to find them - if they are there - will be the Lebanese Army and the UN. Or Hezbollah if they try to return to areas that were bombed. The last to find them will be the farmers who, in ten years, have forgotten the area was bombed in August, 2006.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do admire Siniora for his strength and courage and steadfastness. He represents the potential unity of Lebanon.

I sincerely hope that Beirut, the south and the rest of the country will re-build with lightspeed, explode in economy once again and unite under one common national interest of preserving the country and national character of the Lebanese--the world got a little taste of it this past month, with Siniora providing the first serving.

Even in death and destruction, Lebanon will never die.

3:51 AM  
Anonymous Omar said...

I'd like to thank you for your comments and open-mindedness. It's relieving to see people still the truth through the mist.

3:57 AM  
Anonymous uk said...

Princess Diana must be turning in her grave, she may have sometimes seemes a little 'fraught' but her willingness to court the media for subjects such as the horror of land mines should be remembered

4:05 AM  
Blogger Lilu said...

frankly, hcb, I never understood how that hick got himself voted into office a second time... I gotta tell you, it is popular opinion here that Americans are sort of air heads, no offense.. you know what you said about creating perceptions? well the folks that voted for Bush for second term gave that perception about you. Here in Israel we just take a few years to forget what idiots they were before we vote them back into office :)
I gotta tell you also that the mass hysteria and paranoia that has gripped your country since 9/11 also looks a bit ridiculous from this side. But that's probably because these kind of acts can't catch us by surprise, it has been happening here for so long and it happens so often, there's no surprise in it, so we're also more realistic about it. We're aware of it and live our lives around it - El Al security is some of the best after all..

Let me tell you something about that beer idea. 2 weeks after finishing my army service I flew to Australia for a month. I came back saying how much I loved Australia and how fun life is there, and people here kept telling me "Aussies? but they're air heads, they don't understand reality, they don't know what real problems are". And I wondered - the main theme of Aussie life is sun, sea and beer, and they walk around tanned and beautiful with big silly smiles plastered on their faces most of the time; meanwhile we're here, paranoid and high strung, the main theme of our life is war and being suspicious, scared and stressed out... and THEY'RE the air heads? yeah, we must be doing something right.
So ever since then I've been saying that exact same thing you said :)

Anyhow it's nice to meet you too hcb, though sometimes I think you go a bit too far, but to each their views. There's many more sane minded people here in Israel by the way, not just me and Carmel, most of us are pretty decent, just war weary..

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the poet asked:

“Where are the powerful and invincible Roman armies? However, here we see the wings of the butterfly”

5:57 AM  
Blogger Chris Baker said...

Re: lilu

> I gotta tell you, it is popular opinion here that Americans are sort of air heads, no offense

"Airheads" isn't an accurate representation, although history and international affairs often draw a complete blank for Americans. Most Americans aren't even very aware of current affairs either, unless it involves celebrities. This is not a great state of affairs for a so-called super-power.

Somehow we have elections with about half the population really not having a clue what is going on. Thus we get a President like DUBYA - that's the popular phonetic spelling of "W" in a southern drawl, to distinguish him from George Sr. It's now becoming apparent that DUBYA has this unhealthy compulsion with Israel. Bush's blocking the UN Security Council from considering a cease-fire because Israel hadn't damaged Hezbollah enough, or whatever, was border-line madness.

9:12 AM  
Blogger HCB said...

Dubya's not simply border-line mad. He is Sam with an oval office. Surrounded by people who want a position of power and celebrity. Colin Powell understood. Ms Rice also understood. Rice and Powell demonstrate how two very intelligent people can see the same set of facts and come to diametrically opposite conclusions. But Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney are simply arrogant blowhards who exercise power the way an 18 year old uses a muscle car. The headlines after the election, borrowed from France, I think, were "50,000,000 Frenchmen can't be wrong but 53,000,000 Americans can."

America is far from what it once was - very far and I hate that fact a lot. We are a nation of bumper sticker philosophies and decision by prejudice. Our congress has devolved to foolish wrangling over nonsense. Our "department of homeland security" is a sick joke foisted on the public by an administration that feeds on fear. It's no problem listing all that is wrong here - including the fact the only reason we survive in the world is the size of the economy and the distance from danger. The truly awful result is that most Americans care not to know anything of the rest of the world - nothing. Most Americans know only what they hear on shock radio talk shows buttressed by breathless tv "news" readers who speak in bumper sticker headlines. So, "it's the damned Arabs." It's religious intolerance and racist energized hysteria. No different from the days when the ku klux klan rode.

It's disgusting what has happened here, Lilu, and you're right - I go too far sometimes. Many times, in fact. Thank God I don't have an F-16 or a tank or a Katyusha rocket. You know - "sticks and stones ...." I excuse myself as a person who lives too far in the past - when people used to enjoy taking a few minutes to just talk to each other. When people used to listen - not just say their piece and dare you to disagree so they could shout some silliness in your face and then storm away in anger. On top of that, I truly AM angry about what my country and yours have done to Lebanon. I will always insist you and we stupidly and angrily went far beyond anything that was remotely necessary or even prudent. I recognize their may be a lot I don't know that motivated our governments but I don't trust my president or your prime minister to do ANYthing right or moral. I believe both are liars who will say what is expedient in their minds without regard to the truth. I don't think either of them are fit to lead decent people and I think they have more than adequately proven that fact to the world.

I used to have a very good friend in Cleveland - an orthodox jew lawyer (I'm a lawyer and christian) with whom I worked and negotiated on behalf of our respective clients. He and I clicked so well it truly worked to our clients' benefit. We referred to each other as "Mensch" and he decided I should know some Yiddish and undertood to teach me. But we grew apart for a variety of reasons - not the least of which was the distance. We didn't nurture our friendship and it died - I haven't talked to him in a couple of years. That's what has happened in the world. We are trying too hard to homogenize while we don't try to make friends. We impose McDonalds and Euros and a common language so we don't have to deal with the differences that make different parrs of the world so fascinating. In the United States, the south I grew up in was different. It was laid back and comfy. It was hot in the summer and cool in the winter. Strawberries were not available year 'round and people talked gently. There were fireflies and iced tea on the porch on summer nights. There was night blooming jasmine and cereus scenting the air. No more. It's condos and eight lane highways and hurry-up. People don't care to talk anymore - they lock themselves away to watch football. They don't mingle, they gather in like-minded cliques to talk about "those damned Arabs" or some other prejudice du jour.

That's why I'd love to have one opportunity to meet you and your friends with Mrtez and Omar and Yossi and Carmel and Rick and even Sam somewhere nice on a warm summer night. We'd drink beer and eat something very unhealthy and laugh and dance and forget all the reasons we just can't get along. If we did it a second or third time we'd start forgetting why we didn't get along and we'd look forward to the fourth time.

I apologize for my general condemnations of Israelis. I realize the ordinary citizen had no more to say about what was done than the ordinary Lebanese citizen had to say about Hezbollah's activities. God bless you and keep you well.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'll bring a couple of 2-4s.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous wally said...

Some of your writtings began to make some sense, that was until you identified yourself an a lawyer and a christian, and spoke of your jew lawyer in Cleveland.
At that point your credibility was lost as either. If you were a good lawyer you wouldn't have time to write here, and a good christian would not refer to anyone as pigs.
Your rants aganist the US and it's elected government are not those of a christian at all. Another who enjoys the freedoms of America, but can never accept things as they are voted by the majority.
If it's really as bad as you think, and we airheads do not fullfill your sense of government, feel free to renounce your citizenship and join the French or any other government you feel is better.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kudos wally

8:25 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Yup, Wally and Anon 8:25. You make my point. You and Sam and Nicholas. First out of your mouth is nonsense: you thought I made sense "until you identified yourself an a lawyer and a christian, and spoke of your jew lawyer in Cleveland." For the life of me, I can't imagine what that is supposed to mean. Unless it's like, I thought you could think until I saw your pickup with the gun rack and bumper stickers saying "we support the troops" and "America, love it or leave it."

You follow with the standard gibberish of people who either can't or refuse to think - "if you don't like what I think - get out." And "if you don't like who I like - get out." It was people like you who had to be convinced in 1776, Wally. And then again in 1782. People like you told blacks to "live with it" - and still do. People like you agree with people like Condoleeza Rice and George Bush and Donald Rumsey - "we're birthing a new mideast - made on OUR model." It's people like you who don't care about anything or anyone until they threaten your prejudices and then you have to talk.

It's people like you who are the scourge of democracy - you talk a lot but have no idea about what. And so you vote - if you vote - for people who impress you most with their belligerent sound bites. It's people like you who can look right through the devastating misery inflicted on an entire country and say nonsense like "you should have gotten rid of the Hezbollah."

So - here's a better idea - if you really think every thing is ok here, then don't trouble yourself telling me how I should think or what I should do. Just go back to your tv, pop a beer open and watch reruns of The Simpsons.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why reruns?

1:25 AM  
Blogger HCB said...

oh - ok - watch whatever you like.

5:54 AM  
Anonymous NZ web designers for Lebanon said...

Here in New Zealand the only media coverage of the Lebanon attacks are those re-published from US news services. Based on this one sided news coverage, a group of New Zealand web designers have developed a website that will allow victims of Israeli aggression to post a marker on a Lebanon satellite map describing what has happened. We hope it will help show the world the personal perspective of this tragedy.

1:51 AM  

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