Israel Resource Review 1st August, 2006


Hezbollah's War
Dr. Michael Widlanski

"Here is the president of terror," proclaims a Hizballah propaganda film montage on Al-Manar television, showing the face of President Bush alongside an American flag. As faces of dead and wounded children appear on the screen, crude pictures of bombs rain down on the pictures, all of them labeled "MADE IN AMERICA."

President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have now gained "most wanted" criminal status on Hizballah's television station, as the terrorist organization escalates its anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda. While Bush, Olmert, Israel, America, Jews, and most Westerners have always been frowned on by Hizballah, the messages of hate have deepened noticeably in the last week as Hizballah has come under greater military pressure.

Hizballah's main propaganda arm, al-Manar television, has begun featuring video clips of Olmert saying, "[W]e believe in our struggle because no struggle is more moral." Out of nowhere, a Nazi swastika armband appears on Olmert's right arm and, through the miracle of television, Olmert, whose words are translated from Hebrew into Arabic, suddenly grows a Hitler-like mustache.

Similarly, a Hizballah commentator, identified as "Professor Ramouda," offered this take on Israel: "Israel is not a country, but rather a military base built on the principle of racism. They are using all the techniques used by the Nazis."

To those who are familiar with Hizballah's television, radio and Internet eructations, the charge of being a Nazi is somewhat out of charcter, because Hizballah daily features its uniformed terrorists marching in Nazi-like goose-step and using the familiar open-palm "zig-heil" salute. At the same time, al-Manar screens a relentless barrage of anti-Semitic propaganda.

Two days before the deaths of 27 Lebanese in the collapse of a building—used as a Hizballah rocket warehouse—al-Manar launched an unusually anti-Semitic attack on Israel when a featured commentator claimed that Jews were instructed to kill women and children. "What does their Torah say: it says kill all men, women and children and even animals," said the Hizballah commentator, Ghassan Matar, identified as a former member of the Lebanese parliament. "That is what their Israeli Zionist god, their racist god 'Yahweh' orders them," sneered the gray-haired Matar, gesturing broadly with his hands. Matar, who was wearing tinted eye glasses and a short-sleeved yellow jacket, said that Israeli conquest of some villages in southern Lebanon would not bring it victory.

Al-Manar is also known for broadcasting programs based on the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"—an anti-Semitic tract first developed by the Russian Czars and then distributed by the Soviets.

The growing anti-Jewish and anti-American assaults on al-Manar may be indicative of tension felt by Hizballah personnel in recent days. This would explain why the anti-American message has also been escalated as Hizballah emphasizes the "American role" in regional events, perhaps as an explanation for why things have not gone as well as Hizballah hoped.

"Land is not the most important factor, but rather the spirit of the people," declared a strategic commentator identified as Dr. Col. Amin Akhtai, interviewed on the television station that until now has been bragging about battlefield successes. Dr. Akhtai said that Hizballah was not concerned about loss of terrain, because "perhaps the remaining terrain is better suited for defense." Most telling about his remarks was the fact that he prefaced them with a lengthy and uncharacteristic eulogy to "those heroes who have become martyrs in the defense of Lebanon."

Israel regards al-Manar television as a potent propaganda force, but the IDF has so far failed to knock it off the air though it has caused obvious damage to Hizballah's broadcast product—interruptions and drops in the quality of broadcasting. But Hizballah's propaganda is still potent, and it is a complicated mix of psychological warfare, part of which is aimed at the Lebanese population, part at the broader Arab audience, and partly at Israelis, trying to demoralize them. There is still a bragging tone to much of the Hizballah broadcasts—including phony claims of sinking two Israeli missile boats and shooting down an Israeli fighter jet.

Still, there are many signs of Hizballah stress, including growing calls for Arab aid, international intervention and ceasefire. Facing growing criticism at home in Lebanon for the destruction of southern Lebanon, Hizballah is also draping itself, literally, in Lebanese flags and Lebanese nationalism, and pretending that it is looking out for Lebanese interests.

These messages of distress are beamed throughout the Arab world by Al-Manar's satellite broadcast, and many parallel messages are relayed by Al-Jazeera, the Gulf-based satellite TV channel, that echoes Al-Manar's pan-Arab and Pan-Islamic messages.

One suspects that the anti-American and anti-UN riots and demonstrations in some Arab capitals have to do not so much with Arabs upset at pictures of dead Lebanese civilians but rather with the increasing militant Arab outrage as "the Arab street" begins to sense the truth: Hizballah still has some rockets, but Israel has killed hundreds--over 400 by Israel's count--of Hizballah's estimated 700 active fighters in southern Lebanon.

The Palestinian media and many Israeli Arabs have echoed Hizballah's political messages, including the media of the Palestinian Authority (PA), controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, which receives millions of dollars in American aid. Nazir al-Ghul, anchorman of Voice of Palestine radio, began morning broadcasts this week with a condemnation of American transfers of precision laser-guided bombs to Israel.

The change in the Abbas regime's view of America is not unexpected, because Abbas and his Fatah movement have—for more than a week, at least—been supporting the killing and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as a legitimate form of "resistance." A cartoon in the Abbas-controlled Fatah newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida this week depicted an Arab holding up a bandaged hand in a sign of victory in which the fingers were kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

The stridently anti-Israeli and anti-American attitude of the supposedly moderate Abbas regime has been largely ignored or excused by Israeli policy makers and Israeli army intelligence analysts (such as former intelligence chief Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash) since Abbas publicly referred to Israel as "al'udu al-sihyouni"—the Zionist enemy—during his election campaign a year and a half ago.

For their part, the Palestinians make no attempt to hide their delight at the deaths of Israelis in or near Lebanon. Al-Ayyam, a Palestinian paper controlled by Abbas's Fatah movement, had a cartoon this week that showed an explosive mine—shaped like Lebanon—waiting to blow up an Israeli naval vessel. The largest Palestinian newspaper, Al-Quds, which is also vetted by Abbas and the PA, has featured several cartoons this week showing Israelis burying themselves in a grave marked Lebanon or in quicksand marked Lebanon, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert being hung out to dry on a clothesline.

A similar message also appears on Al-Manar. "Notice how scared and confused they are," noted a Hizballah commentator Friday afternoon to his colleague as they reviewed films from Israeli television showing bloodied Israelis against the background of destroyed buildings in Haifa and Nahariya Israel.

Both Palestinian and Hizballah criticism of American diplomatic support for Israel is clear in cartoons in both the Lebanese and Palestinian press. Some of these cartoons have a distinct racist or sexist tone, but one of the tamer cartoons, below, shows Condoleeza Rice seeing the situation—the need for a ceasefire—backwards through a telescope.

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times ,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post. He has also served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.

This piece ran on on August 1, 2006

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Netanyahu: Israel Must Finish the Job
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Correspondent, NewsMax

NewsMax senior correspondent and Middle East expert Kenneth R. Timmerman is in Israel reporting on the conflict there. Timmerman reports from Kiryat Shemona in this exclusive interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

KIRYAT SHEMONA, Israel -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found this northern Israeli city a ghost town today when he came to meet the residents officials.

Those that stayed behind were few. They also were defiant ­ and so was he.

In a town meeting behind the heavy steel doors and reinforced concrete of the city hall bomb shelter, Netanyahu came to reassure residents that he fully supported the government in the war in Lebanon. He said as much even though he became leader of the opposition to Prime Minister Olmert following the March 2006 election.

One resident gave such praise to Netanyahu and his Likud party that Netanyahu joked that he should run for parliament.

An impassioned woman blasted the government for pussy-footing around in its ground offensive in Lebanon. She said she was ready to stay "six months in the shelters" if that was needed in order to finish off the Hezbollah rocket attacks.

Netanyahu told NewsMax in an exclusive interview that he did not believe it would take that long.

"Finish the job. That is the goal set by the government. It's the goal that everyone here supports," he said.

Sporadic mortar fire hit the hills above this empty city today, setting brush fires. On Sunday, over one hundred rockets and mortars pounded the city and its immediate surroundings.

An artillery batallion has camped two kilometers outside of town in an empty field, and pounds Hezbollah positions day and night.

Hezbollah rockets have landed within the Israelis artillery position over the past two weeks, and have injured several soldiers, but none seriously, NewsMax learned today from batallion troops and officers.

"Our ambulance was hit by a katyusha," said Dr. Zev Wimpfheimer, the batallion doctor. Wimpfheimer, who hails from Teaneck, N.J., came to Israel two years ago and is nearing the end of his compulsory 18 months of military service as a doctor.

At 33, he is the oldest officer in the entire batallion, besides the batallion commander.

Netanyahu said that Iran was waging a "proxy war" against Israel and America, and that Hezbollah wouldn't last "two days without Iran."

The following is an exclusive NewsMax interview, held today, with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

NewsMax: What was the message you brought here to Kiryat Shemona?

Netanyahu: Finish the job. Don't do half the job. Remove the threat by breaking Hezbollah's fighting ability and destroying the missile arsenal. That is the goal set by the government. It's the goal that everyone here supports.

You saw me meet somebody in there who said, "I'm willing to stay in the shelters six months," perhaps not, and it won't take that long ­ but finish the job. That's the message.

NewsMax: Some people have called this Iran's proxy war against Israel and America. Do you agree with that?

Netanyahu: Without a doubt. One hundred percent. Hezbollah doesn't last two days without Iran. It doesn't last three days without Syria.

NewsMax: What do you think are Iran's goals?

Netanyahu: I think this is a test-fire, test-firing of rockets into a Western country. Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel. It denies the Holocaust while preparing a new Holocaust. But Iran is also committed to a demented branch of Shiism which sees an apocalyptic war of millions of casualties in which Shiism will rise and the West will go down.

We may be the first target, but we're not the last target.

The other kind of fanaticism we witnessed 60 years ago, Nazism, also tried to arm itself with atomic weapons. These mad militancies start with attacks on the Jews, but they never end there. And ultimately the target is our free civilization.

NewsMax: World War II started with the Spanish Civil War. Is this like the Spanish Civil War, testing out the weapons, testing out the techniques and the tactics?

Netanyahu: I think that radical Islam declared a world war on the rest of the world a quarter of a century ago, with the victory of the Mujahedin in Afghanistan and the formation of al-Qaida and the establishment of the first radical Islamic republic in Iran.

These are expressions already of that same ideology that has been gurgling forth.

Now it has established two beachheads: one in Gaza with the Hamas, the other with Hezbollah in the north. And the citizens of the world beware.

What you see here is what you'll get later.

Original article: -- Kenneth R. Timmerman President, Middle East Data Project, Inc. Author: Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran Contributing editor: Tel: 301-946-2918 Reply to: Website:

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