Bulgaria finally released its much-anticipated report on the terror bombing at its airport last year which killed five Israelis. It said that several of the bombers and accomplices had clear connections to Hezbollah’s military wing.
As I’ve said many times here, I don’t support terror attacks, especially not on civilians. I denounced this attack at the time. The victims were, like all such victims, pawns in a game played by their leaders angling for political advantage or ideological vindication.
But neither do I support hypocrisy. And the notion that Hezbollah’s alleged act of terror is devoid of any history or context and that the group is Islamist spawn of Satan for that reason is nonsense. Israel’s own acts of terror against the group go back at least as far as the assassination of its prior leader, Abbas Musawi. In 2008, Meir Dagan assassinated Hezbollah’s number two leader, Imad Mugniyeh in an operation he’s practically bragged about on Israeli TV.
So I have no problem with the EU labeling Hezbollah a terror organization if they name Israel along with it. If they add Hezbollah to the list and leave Israel off, then it’s nothing but arrant hypocrisy. While we’re at it, let’s add the U.S. to the list too as we’re quite proficient at killing several thousand Muslim civilians throughout the Middle East. In fact, as I’ve written before, counter terrorism and kill lists seem to be the substitute for a real foreign policy in that region.
The spin Barak Ravid and his Israeli government source put on this story last night was interesting. He said that Bulgaria knew and believed there was Iranian involvement, but that Israel feared out of a sense of needing to trim its sails to the prevailing winds that Bulgaria would hedge in blaming Iran. It did more than hedge. It offered no proof whatsoever of Iranian involvement.
That didn’t stop Bibi:
Mr. Tsvetanov did not mention Iran, but the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a statement on Tuesday, “This is yet a further corroboration of what we have already known, that Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons are orchestrating a worldwide campaign of terror that is spanning countries and continents.”
I am not making the claim that Iran wasn’t involved in this attack. I am saying that Israel has a long history of blaming whoever is Public Enemy #1 of the day for whatever heinous acts have befallen it. It often does so with little or no evidence. It does this so often that in the rare instance when an Israeli claim is right, the world doesn’t believe it. Remember Chicken Little and his warning the sky was falling? That’s Israel. The only difference is Chicken Little really believed the sky was falling. Israeli leaders often don’t believe a word of what they peddle to their domestic or international audience.
If Iran was involved, it too would have ample justification (in Iran’s eyes) for such an attack including numerous acts of sabotage and assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
So if Israel wants to trumpet these findings as proof that its enemy is a terrorist, fine. But let’s not lose track of the fact that Israel is just as proficient and active in this game. But unlike Hezbollah, it has no justification for engaging in acts of terror as a nation-state.
Finally, like a broken record I say for what seems like the 100th time: terror doesn’t solve anything. It makes things worse. Israel’s terror, being on a far more lethal scale because of the more destructive weapons at its disposal, makes things far worse. Make peace. That’s what will end terror. If instead of Operation Cast Lead, Ehud Olmert had concluded Turkish-led talks with Syria with a peace agreement; if Ehud Barak had signed the deal offered to him in 2000 by Assad–there could be peace with Lebanon right now.
There is one reason alone why terror continues unabated: Israel is not prepared for peace. It shuts the door whenever the opportunity is offered.
Kevin Herbert says
Does anyone believe any of Netanyahu’s comments on anything?
He’s a fascist stooge for the far right religious extremism, & Israeli terrorism.
Idi Amin had more street cred than Bibi
End of story.
Don’t you see a different between Israel’s action’s targeting Hezbollah leaders (Musawi., Mugniyeh and others) and Hezbollah’s actions directed at random Israeli tourists ? You think these type’s of totally different operations are the same ?
Richard writes: “So I have no problem with the EU labeling Hezbollah a terror organization if they name Israel along with it. If they add Hezbollah to the list and leave Israel off, then it’s nothing but arrant hypocrisy. While we’re at it, let’s add the U.S. to the list too as we’re quite proficient at killing several thousand Muslim civilians throughout the Middle East. In fact, as I’ve written before, counter terrorism and kill lists seem to be the substitute for a real foreign policy in that region.”
This is SO absolutely right — if you believe, as I do, that nation-states (as contrasted with militias and political parties) can be “terrorists”. The kindly and definitionally-generous USA has quite a few statutes which define “terrorism” for a variety of purposes, and I believe that some of these definitions even would allow the term to embrace actions by governments, but I believe that the general tenor of these definitions excludes governments (you know, e.g., Israel, Iran, USA itself) from falling within the definition of “terrorist”. And the media certainly NEVER apply that term to governments of which the USA approves. OTOH there seems to be a concept of “governments which support terrorism”. You know, like Israel would be doing if it hired MEK to do terrorist acts in Iran.
But we are not governments, but human beings, and we can use language for its informative and communicative purposes rather than for legal purposes. So, yes, Israel and the USA are “terrorists” because they do violent things for the purpose of persuading populations to change their political behavior.
Assuming that a “nation that supports terrorism” means a nation that pays money so that others — not employees of that nation, but contractors of that country — will do terrorism, then was the USA doing terrorism when it hired Blackwater/XE and other mercenaries (“military contractors”) to do violence in Iraq adn Afghanistan. I know that the USA (and most nations) like to distinguish (legitimate) war-fighting from (illegitimate) terrorism, but war-fighting used to require that the “soldiers”  wear an identifying uniform and  be subject to orders from a military hierarchy and  be subject to military law, and mercenaries often fail on some or even all of these 3 requirements to be “soldiers” — so that anyone (like the USA in recent wars) which hires mercenaries seems to be hiring people who, not being “soldiers”, might (depending on their acts) be “terrorists” and the SUA itself might qualify as a “nation which supports terrorism”.
Richard, Israel is fighting a war with Hezbollah, and killing Imad Mugniyeh is a legitimate action in war time and I fail to understand how is killing a person responsible for killing hundreds of innocent people (Israelis, Americans, Jews, Christians) such as the explosions in Argentina is in your view terrorism?
On the other hand, the Bulgarian bus driver and the 5 Israelis that were killed by Hezbollah were innocent of any known crime or alleged crime – they were killed simply because Hezbollah wanted to kill ordinary people that were living their lives and enjoying it in order to inflict terror on Israeli citizens (and maybe EU ones) – that’s the definition of terrorism.
What you are basically doing is acting disingenuously with definitions of English words and with basic human morals just to make your point about the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Richard Silverstein says
Certainly if Hezbollah was responsible, it would’ve preferred hitting an Israeli general or Mossad officer. But it likely had no choice since those targets were too well defended. If the table were turned & Israel was in Hezbollah’s position I have little doubt Israel would make precisely the same choices Hezbollah may’ve made.
There are no angels here. Each side is dirty. One side has better weapons & the benefit of the resources of a state to protect it. The other has pure grit & willingness to die for a cause in which it believes & the willingness to take its enemies along with it.
Richard Silverstein says
You’re only the 40th person who’s dragged Argentina into the mix. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a red herring & I don’t want you or anyone to pursue that line of discussion since we’ve been over too many times before.
Mugniyeh was a fighter on behalf of a cause. Whatever he did was nothing different than Israeli fighters for their cause did in advancing it & gaining independence and national sovereignty. Those fighters ended up running the new country. Which is what Mugniyeh might’ve done if Ehud Olmert had accepted the peace deal offered on a silver platter by Turkey & Assad in 2006. But he didn’t.
I mourn the loss of civilian life in this terror attack. But this follows an ineluctable law of tit for tat vengeance in such situations. There is once again only one way to stop this. You know it & I’ve written it here what seems like 100 times. If you want peace, you know how to get it. Until Bibi does what he knows needs to be done, until he stops murdering his enemies, you will have terror.
I’m “making a point about the Arab-Israeli conflict?” Isn’t that precisely the point and what terror is all about? The fact that you don’t see the connection is a perfect illustration of the blindness of all of your fellow Israelis toward this process. Terror doesn’t come from nowhere. As I wrote it has a context & history. When you’re blind to all of this you’ll be forced to relive this nightmare over & over until you gain sight.
I don’t seem to be able to make sense of your claims:
1. What cause do you think Mugniyeh fought for? what new country do you think he would have ended up running?
Mugniyeh was not a Palestinian but a Lebanese Shia, he also did not fight for the return of the Golan Hights and a deal that might have been between Israel and Syria in 2006 on the Golan Hights was not his life’s ambition. Hezbollah is not fighting for the liberation of Lebanon as Israel is not occupying that country. There was never any peace offer from any party (please correct me if i’m wrong) that included Hezbollah in any way as no one actually thinks its possible bearing in mind that the ideology of Hezbollah is basically that Jews have no place being in the middle east and of course not running a country in this neighborhood.
2. It is always preferable to negotiate peacefully and compromise but its not always possible. Do you think Bin Laden after 9/11 should have been approached by the US and negotiate a deal with? do you think there was anything the US could have agreed with him about? what the navy seals did in Abbottabad was the only way to interact with him and the same goes for Mugniyeh and (you can quote me on this as your source) that would be the interaction with Nasralla in 2013.
3. I was not aware Argentina is a touchy issue for you, I have no idea why and I wont raise it again but I just gave it as an example of one of many terrorist attacks Mugniyeh was responsible for.
4. Regarding the first paragraph of your response to my comment. Are you claiming that Hezbollah had no choice but to commit a terrorist act? what about the choice of any moral person not to commit a terrorist act? they had a quota they needed to reach of killing innocent people? you seem to be very understanding – over understanding – of murderers.
Richard Silverstein says
I find it as odd that you would think yourself fit to pass judgment on Imad Mugniyeh’s values, motives or national aspirations as him passing judgment on yours or your country’s leaders. BY what what measure do you feel yourself equipped to make an informed judgment about them? And if you feel yourself qualified to do so why wouldn’t he or Hassan Nasrallah be equally qualified to dismiss your own sense of devotion to your nation and its ideals and values?
You certainly have no idea what position he took on a Syrian deal with Israel. Nor is that relevant to anything. That deal wasn’t to be negotiated with Hezbollah, but between Syria & Israel. And it was Israel that abruptly turned its back on that deal. Not Assad and not Hezbollah & not Mugniyeh.
Mugniyeh is fighting against Israel because Israel DOES occupy territory that is not Israel’s, both the Golan & Shebaa Farms. Not to mention hundreds of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails. You know these issues. You know (or should know) they are important to Hezbollah (as they are to Syria). Yet you either conveniently forget or ignore them. I wonder why.
When you’re finished considering Hezbollah’s views about Jews, you might consider that many Israelis believe that Palestinians have no place in Israel. There is no difference in these particular sets of offensive views. Yet you seem offended by only one of them.
But the short answer is Mugniyeh considered himself an Arab patriot and nationalist just as you consider Menachem Begin or Yitzhak Shamir Israel patriots. They too were once terrorists. Your beliefs in your nation are no different than Mugniyeh’s. If your national movement was in the same situation his was in, your choices or the choices of your leaders would be (& were) little different than his. The same terrorism, the same killings, the same patriotic fervor and belief in sense of national righteousness. To be clear, I reject any acts of terror Mugniyeh may’ve perpetrated just as I reject the act of terror by which he was murdered by Meir Dagan.
Bin Laden is Bin Laden. No comparison can or should be made between him and any other Arab nationalist. Hezbollah is not Al Qaeda. If you believe it is then you’ve done absolutely no research and have no business talking about this until you study the comparisions more closely. I find your assertion that assassinating a figure who you could easily have apprehended and brought to trial to be offensive. My comment rules do not permit advocating or defending murder as you have done. Please read these rules carefully.
As for attempting to paraphrase my views & questioning me about whether I was saying what you paraphrased–I don’t accept this sort of tactic. If you want to know my views on a subject, quote what I actually wrote & ask the question based on a quotation, not your paraphrase.
After I said I do not defend terrorism you ask whether I said that Hezbollah had no choice but to commit a terrorist act. Do you realize this sounds absurd (at least to me)? I don’t know what Hezbollah’s motives were if it committed this act. I don’t defend them. They don’t need me to do that. What I was pointing out was that there is a historical context to what Hezbollah did. If you kill someone, someone will want to kill you. For you (that is, Israel) to wax indignant when you find someone wants to kill you is the height of hypocrisy.
Itai Leshem says
It is funny how you stirred our discussion (in a civilized manner though) from a specific criticism I made about your assertion that Israel’s targeted killing of Mugniyeh is morally equivalent to the bombing in Bulgaria (both are considered terrorism by you) to a broader discussion of the political situation and even philosophical arguments.
Based on what I read here I feel that such a behavior on my part would have qualified me with a “stay on topic” warning. But I will play along.
you said (cutting to the core arguments):
“I find it as odd that you would think yourself fit to pass judgment on Imad Mugniyeh’s values, motives or national aspirations… BY what measure do you feel yourself equipped to make an informed judgment… so why wouldn’t… Hassan Nasrallah be equally qualified to dismiss your own sense of devotion to your nation and its ideals and values?”
You and I both pass judgement on other’s values, motives and aspirations (if that wasn’t the case you would have no blog).
I think I am equipped to make an informed judgement because I am a thinking entity that lives here and absorbs, in many manners, all the information and knowledge that I feel is needed for an informed judgement and I believe you think you are equipped at least as well.
I also think that by trying to kill me and my peers (I have even been to Burgus a few months before the terror attack) Nasrallah made it clear that he dismisses my ideals and values and feels he also has a right to make an informed judgement on me.
So I don’t understand what you find odd or what is your point here.
“You certainly have no idea what position he took on a Syrian deal with Israel. Nor is that relevant to anything.”
I have quite a good idea what’s Nasrallah position on any deal with Israel. He does not accept any and you would not find one sentence from him about a desire or need to talk to Israel, negotiate or compromise only the opposite. If we are talking about the larger picture then his position is very relevant to our discussion.
“Mugniyeh is fighting against Israel because Israel DOES occupy territory that is not Israel’s, both the Golan & Shebaa Farms. Not to mention hundreds of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails. You know these issues. You know (or should know) they are important to Hezbollah (as they are to Syria). Yet you either conveniently forget or ignore them.”
“According to the UN itself Israel has left any part of Lebanon while Sheba farms are part of the Golan which belonged to Syria. But in my opinion this is a mute issue as Nasrallah needs the resistance to continue no matter what, if we give him the Sheba Farms and the prisoners he would find another issue to keep the resistance going, just like he did after we left Lebanon. According to his views and he has been extremely adamant sbout it Tel-Aviv and Haifa are also conquered territory that must be returned to the Palestinians so there is no basis for any agreement with him as long as he holds such views..
“When you’re finished considering Hezbollah’s views about Jews, you might consider that many Israelis believe that Palestinians have no place in Israel. There is no difference in these particular sets of offensive views. Yet you seem offended by only one of them.”
If we were “off topic” before than we are now “off off topic”. You have no way of knowing what else I am offended by and there is a lot in Israel that fits this category including Israelis that believe that Palestinians have no place in Israel.
“If your national movement was in the same situation his was in, your choices or the choices of your leaders would be (& were) little different than his. The same terrorism, the same killings, the same patriotic fervor and belief in sense of national righteousness.”
This remark again brings us to core and original issue I wanted to raise with you and that is your total blindness to the difference between Israel and Hezballah.
The instances in Israel’s history where some groups/people killed on purpose innocent civilians are a stain on our history and it is seen as such by most Israelis and by most if not all of our elected officials. You would not find a single leader in Israel and not even one current Knesset member that talked about tragedies like the Goldstein massacre in Hevron (a terrorist attack in my book) in a positive way. That is the difference – for most Israelis Goldstein is a murderer for Hezbollah Mugniyeh is a hero and a martyr for his acts of senseless killings of innocent people which he orchestrated as part of Hezbollah.
“I find your assertion that assassinating a figure who you could easily have apprehended and brought to trial to be offensive. My comment rules do not permit advocating or defending murder as you have done. Please read these rules carefully.”
We could have easily apprehended? Mugniyeh was on FBI’s top list for years and Israel also looked for the guy for years and we were unsuccessful and Nasralla is even harder to grab. I don’t know why you think it is easy.
“As for attempting to paraphrase my views & questioning me about whether I was saying what you paraphrased–I don’t accept this sort of tactic. If you want to know my views on a subject, quote what I actually wrote & ask the question based on a quotation, not your paraphrase. After I said I do not defend terrorism you ask whether I said that Hezbollah had no choice but to commit a terrorist act. Do you realize this sounds absurd (at least to me)? “
I did not paraphrase your views but tried to show the hypocrisy in your statements. It seemed to me that you pay lip service when you write “I don’t support terror attacks, especially not on civilians” when afterwards in your reply to me you write that because Israel protects its military/mossad personal Hezbollah had no choice but to explode a tourist bus. If that is not what you meant, I would ask you to clarify your statement above.
Reading the bulgarian news the accusation seems very sketchy, its rather portrayed like ‘ties to Hezbollah’ which could bizarrely mean a descendent to a lebanese man which brother have a son that have a friend which in turn have a son, his girlfriend have a flag of Hezbollah in her room. Thats the “ties”.
Besides its hardly Bulgarian intelligence that have found these alleged “ties” to Hezbollah, rather Israel have provided Bulgaria with information and we all know how non-credible these could be..
It doesnt really follow Hezbollah strategy neither, what would they gain by doing this? Absolute zero. In my opinion it rather looks like a sting operation that for one, are so heavily used by the U.S. administration today to show the alleged great terror threat against the homeland.
How can you say this?? Hezbollah is not a freedom fighting group, or fighting oppression etc. It is an organization that seeks to destroy another country, Israel, for its own theological reasons having to do with fundamentalist Islam. You can’t compare Israeli attacks against it to Hezbollah’s own murders of Israeli civilians around the world. It makes no sense to do that. Hezbollah wants to kill Israelis, period. Israel defends itself against that, by attacking their military leaders etc. It’s not on the same moral plane. And as for historical context, everything has one, including the Holocaust. But that shouldn’t stop us from being able differentiate one event from another, or concluding that one side ahs the upper hand morally.
Richard Silverstein says
I do find it amusing that Israel’s most ardent supporters are so quick to make judgments on the mission of Arab groups about which they know very little. But they’re far less willing to make damning judgments of the mission of their own country, its armed forces or intelligence agencies, despite the fact that the motives and outcomes in both cases are very similar. I think I’d prefer to allow Lebanese decide what they think Hezbollah is rather than accept your opinion as fact.
Also, I find it dubious that you know much about fundamentalist Islam, Hezbollah or Islam in general.
But as I said, I’m perfectly willing to consider that Hezbollah may’ve engaged in acts of terror if your lot concedes Israel did as well and is prepared to bring both parties to the Hague. When you’re there let us know. Until then, your ideas fall on deaf ears.
” As far as I’m concerned, that’s a red herring ”
I thought Argentina indicted Mugniyeh for the bombing.
Richard Silverstein says
Hey I’m perfectly fine w indicting Mugniyeh & every other Arab militant you can find as long as you indict Israeli generals & Meir Dagan for all their assassinations & acts of Israeli terror. Deal?
Are you gonna indict Obama for killing US civilians in Yemen and Pakistan?
Richard Silverstein says
@Eden: Fine with me.
Piotr Berman says
The kidnapping of Dirar Abu Sisi was clearly terroristic, and so is his continuing solitary confinement.
Bulgarian accusations are without details and criticized inside Bulgaria, so it is hard to evaluate them.
Besides, the accusation presented in the western press rings hollow, what Bulgaria really said was that they just had an “assumption” on who was behind it. In the western press however it was presented as decisive evidence against Hezbollah.
“Bulgarian Charge of Hezbollah Bombing Was an assumption”