[lbo-talk] Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV survived attacks

Joel Schalit managingeditor at tikkun.org
Sun Aug 27 14:36:58 PDT 2006

Marvin -

I knew you'd raise the contradiction issue and should have addressed that, so I will now: There is no contradiction between my stating that the Israelis had X strategy vis Iran, and yet would be willing to do something as irrational as attempt to kill Nasrallah. Israel has always demonstrated, in its policies, a willingness to practice such contradictions. One cannot underestimate how the decision to kill Sheikh Yassin was a decision of equal forseeable consequences, and yet they chose to kill him anyway.

I am willing to flag this specific government as having made numerous ill-founded decisions that can easily be characterized as 'stupid,' in terms of how these decisions undermined Peretz and Olmert's own self-interests as politicians, not to mention the best interests of Israel as a whole. Peretz career is essentially finished. One cannot underemphasize why someone with Peretz' background, politics and talent could commit suicide so easily. But he did, and he subsequently buried the only version of the Labor party that had genuine social democratic aspirations.

One may also point to the poor judgment calls made by Israel's political echelon to prosecute the Lebanese campaign, especially considering all of the other obvious options they had at their disposal. I could go on, but my point remains the same. The consequences of the current Israeli government's policy decisions regarding Lebanon have been catastrophically negative for Israel, and for that, one can ascribe far more pejorative terms than simply 'stupid.'

Look, as far as your judgment call about sources of info vis Nasrallah - I'm not going to go there. What I will say is that like many editors and journalists, I have to spend a lot of time creating constellations of information to help me make reasoned editorial and political judgments. I've chosen to take that position based on the information available to me, and it comes from numerous sources I've cultivated over the years as a Mid-East focused newsperson. You can disagree with it, and that's fine, but its my opinion.

Best, Joel

On Aug 27, 2006, at 2:12 PM, Marvin Gandall wrote:

> Joel writes:
>> Hey Marvin - I have to disagree.
> [...]
>> If they could have obtained Nasrallah's head, they would have,
>> irrespective of the
>> consequences.
> ==================================
> But that's my point, Joel. I have to assume if YOU knew this was where
> Nasrallah and al-Manar were from "various sources", then - unless it
> is a
> fabrication - all of these sources are ultimately traceable back to
> Israeli
> intelligence.
> So the Israeli leadership would have known too.
> But Jim suggested that the Israelis were afraid of the consequences of
> a war
> with Iran, to which you expressed your concurrence, and then went on
> to say
> that they would have "obtained Nasrallah's head", if they could have,
> "irrespective of the consequences". You'll forgive me for thinking
> you've
> contradicted yourself.
> I really don't know how much Israel wants or does not want a
> conventional
> war with Iran and/or Syria, which they're much better equipped to
> fight than
> an irregular conflict with Hezbollah.
> But I don't believe in nay case that the Iranians would have taken the
> bait
> and used the incident to do anything other than perhaps fire a few
> longer-range missiles at Israel, and likely from south Lebanon through
> Hezbollah. If they wanted to engage Israel militarily, they and/or
> Syria
> could have done so when the Israelis launched their assault.
> Incidentally, I don't believe leaders are "stupid" (ok, I will make an
> exception for Bush) although they do miscalculate. Olmert, Peretz, and
> Halutz, as we know, miscalculated badly.
>> On Aug 27, 2006, at 1:23 PM, Marvin Gandall wrote:
>>> Joel Schalit wrote:
>>>> I hear tell from various sources that Al-Manar had a backup studio
>>>> operating out of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, which is where
>>>> Nasrallah is
>>>> alleged to have sat out the war. One can understand why the
>>>> Israelis
>>>> would
>>>> not target said building.
>>> ==============================
>>> It's not quite as self-evident to me, Joel, why the Israelis would
>>> balk
>>> at
>>> doing so. There's a whole body of opinion which thinks Israel is just
>>> itching to have a go at Iran, and if Israeli intelligence knew this
>>> was
>>> where Nasrallah and Al-Manar were holed up, and blew up the place,
>>> wouldn't
>>> this have restored domestic and international credibility to Israel's
>>> military prowess, which took an incredible beating during the war?
>>> For
>>> sure,
>>> the effect on its morale and on that of its enemies would have been
>>> different than Qana, at any rate.
>>> Even assuming Israel wouldn't have wanted to incite a wider war
>>> over it,
>>> I
>>> doubt the Iranians would have been provoked to start one either. What
>>> reprisals could they, in fact, have taken which would have
>>> outweighed
>>> the
>>> value of the strike to the Israelis - closing the Hormuz strait
>>> (unlikely)?
>>> Some missiles hitting Tel Aviv? As for making Nasrallah a martyr, he
>>> couldn't be more popular than he is now anyway.
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