More Thoughts on Hezbollah - from Mark Perry
From An Economics Of War To An Economics Of Peace

Hezbollah - Thoughts about Mark Perry's analysis

A few things stick out for me reading Mark Perry's email published last month. First is his goal to  "deny the efficacy of those in the West who would refuse Islam the richness of its diversity at the same time that it rejects Islam's rhetoric of the West's collective guilt." Maybe its my own mental efficacy, but it took me five times reading the second part of the sentence, namely who is doing the "rejecting" of "Islam's rhetoric..." to get his point. Nevertheless, the first part of the sentence has my sympathy. And so does a lot of other things he says, probably because unlike an awful lot of those urging the West to better consider the legitimacy of Hezbollah and Hamas, Perry acknowledges a basic amount of integrity to Israel. His ability to speak of this Zionist nation calmly and with insight gives me hope, as it comes from someone who is passionately pursuing ways to bring in supposedly mortal enemis of the Jewish State to dialogue with their closest ally, the United States. Notice, Perry does not just give the boiler plate lip service so often provided by Hezbollah sympathisizers or admirers... namely they accept Israel's right to exist. And Perry is a man who acknowledges actual relationships with Israelis and reading him, you get the sense of someone who is genuinely interested in the human beings behind the politics. Or rather the human beings at the center of politics. The other thing that strikes me is his commitment to addressing and attacking anti-semitism. What's odd to me is his contention that Hezbollah's leadership is free of this ugly bigotry against Jews, Israeli as well as non-Israeli. In an article in the Israeli/Palestinian web site Bitter Lemons, he attacks New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Goldberg for supporting this charge. Goldberg is a real journalist, not simply a pundit, someone who reads what others say and riffs on it (like me and other bloggers, but also like 90 percent of the leading voices "in the news") by which I mean he puts his feet before his mouth, in the trenches with the people about whom he writes. Goldberg latest piece in this week's New Yorker writes about Hamas fighters associated with those behind the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. To write that piece, Goldberg chanced getting killed by Israeli and Palestinian fire. But Mark Perry also puts his feet on the ground. And he swears that he has never seen or heard any anti-Jewish verbiage from Hezbollah. All to say, I wonder who the hell to believe. How can two men who seem committed to a deeper truth be so divided on this point? Honestly, I looked for online translations of anti-semitic words from Hezbollah and could find none. But Goldberg's thoughts are mirrored by other analysts. Should we care? Here's why it has my interest, indeed why Israel has my interest. Beyond being Jewish and, more, having spent three months as a journalism student in 1978 (covering the early settler movement on the West Bank), and having Israeli and Palestinian friends, it strikes me as an awfully lucid reflection of the promise and failures of the modern nation state. A microcosm in which the best and worst of human instincts can live side by side, even as they boil up against each other. Certain of its laws about blood and faith reflect their own reservoirs of bigotry. Its bureaucracy, which acts as infrastructure to support those laws, is as pain-inducingly inflexible as many in the world. Unyielding. Its recent war against the Palestninians as well as Lebanese shows a similar brain-dead brutality. A violent strategy pursuing political ends with all the nuanced calibration of the worst kind of cop, drunk with technological power but also emotional inadequacy. But the country also has a vitality that is particular and captivating and very human. Just as good chefs and musicians will tell you that pre-Katrina New Orleans had riches of culture that lived side by side with its desperation and corruption, Israel is a similar overwhelming stew. A robust spirit, indeed generosity, in the parance and conflict of everyday life. A gumbo of ethnicities and longing and will. Its problems around creating a nation between immigrants reflects what most modern countries confront today, only Israel does it under a microscope, and in a very shaky part of the world. More on that in another post. In the future, we hope to have Mark Perry on That's Capital to speak, and also folks like Jeffrey Goldberg as well as the Lebanese blogger Faysal Itani
Jonathan Field


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