Nasrallah “to go to Damascus today” (& Hizbullah's “Nazi salute”)

July 27, 2006

* English language exclusive: Nasrallah’s latest speech on al-Manar TV was recorded in a Syrian intelligence studio



1. Kuwaiti paper: Nasrallah “to go to Damascus today”
2. Hizbullah’s “Nazi salute”
3. Ohio professor held in Israel on Hizbullah spy charges
4. “An explicit debt” (By Daniel Johnson, New York Sun, July 27, 2006)
5. “For Israel this is a ‘proportionate’ response” (By Dominic Lawson, Independent, July 25, 2006)

[Note by Tom Gross]


The Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassa this morning reports that Hizbullah leader Sheikh Nasrallah is due to travel to Damascus today for a secret meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani. (Larijani is also partly in charge of Iran’s nuclear program.)

The purpose of the meeting, according to the Kuwaiti paper, is to discuss further tactics to extend their war on Israel, and to continue to supply Iranian arms and ammunition to Hizbullah through Syria.

Nasrallah, according to the report, will travel in an armored vehicle belonging to Syrian intelligence, dressed with “regular clothes” and without his turban. He will be escorted by a Syrian Lt. General.

According to the paper, the latest speech of Nasrallah delivered on al-Manar TV was also recorded in a Syrian intelligence studio.

(This is the first time that these details are being reported in English. They have been translated exclusively for this email list/website from


A geography professor who holds both American and Canadian citizenship has been jailed in Israel on charges that he was spying for Hizbullah for the past 19 days. Prof. Ghazi Falah of the University of Akron, Ohio, was detained on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border where he was taking photographs in a security zone.

Falah, who planned to travel soon to Beirut, is the founder and publisher of the Arab World Geographer and is considered to be an expert on the issue of Mideast border disputes.


I attach two interesting articles below. Both of them draw on information supplied by this email list/website.

The Hizbullah “Nazi salute” photo, referred to in Daniel Johnson’s article, can be viewed at several websites, including this one:

Dominic Lawson’s article is particularly significant since it comes in the anti-Israeli and anti-American paper the Independent, of which Robert Fisk is Chief Middle East Correspondent.

Lawson writes: “President Chirac, whose former ambassador to London described Israel as ‘a shitty little country’, was among those Europeans who criticised Israel’s retaliation as ‘totally disproportionate.’ This was the same President Chirac who in January declared that ‘states who would use terrorist means against us must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part. This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.’ Or, in other words: we might nuke the bastards. Having already escalated the diplomatic language to ‘totally disproportionate’, imagine the words Chirac would unleash if the Israeli government this week threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, unless its proxies in Lebanon desisted from their acts of terrorism.”

Dominic Lawson and Daniel Johnson, weekly columnists for The (London) Independent and The New York Sun respectively, are both subscribers to this email list.

-- Tom Gross



An explicit debt
By Daniel Johnson
The New York Sun
July 27, 2006

This is the first Middle East war in which the main threat to Israel comes, not from secular Arab nationalism, but from Islamism. Both Hizbullah and Hamas draw their main inspiration, armaments, and funding from Islamist sources, ranging from the Sunni ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Shiite demagogues of Iran. What unites them all is a fanatical dedication to the destruction of Israel.

There are, however, parallels between the present war and previous campaigns waged against Israel by Arab nationalists. One thing that Arab nationalists and Islamists clearly have in common, though it is usually ignored in the Western media, is their explicit debt to the Nazis.

This extends even to overt Nazi symbolism. I am indebted to one of the most seasoned observers of the Middle East, Tom Gross, for a photograph of a Hizbullah rally on the Lebanese side of the border fence, shortly before the present conflict. With houses in the Israeli town of Metullah in the background, hundreds of uniformed Hizbullah terrorists are raising their arms in a Nazi-style salute. This obscene ceremony, complete with yellow standards and mullah commanders taking the salute, was happening in full view of Israeli civilians. Mr. Gross asks pointedly, “Are all those now attacking Israel around the world even capable of imagining what an elderly Holocaust survivor who happened to glance across the fence might have felt?”

Hizbullah’s Nazi salute is not just a historical curiosity, though it evokes memories of Hitler’s support for Arab agitators such as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem or the pro-Nazi coup in Iraq. Today the Nazi legacy manifests itself in Holocaust denial, an obsession that unites the most extreme Islamists, such as President Ahmadinejad with “moderate” secularists like the President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Arabs appropriated anti-Semitic ideology directly from the Nazis and have recycled it ever since. During the dark days of appeasement in the 1930s, a Hungarian emigre philosopher, Aurel Kolnai, wrote a book about the Third Reich entitled “The War against the West.” That is exactly what the hydra-headed forces of Islamism think they are fighting right now.

In the 1950s, the Baathist parties in Syria and Iraq modeled themselves on Hitler’s heady brew of nationalism and socialism, while rejecting western democracy. Charismatic dictators from Nasser and Gaddafi to Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat turned themselves into little Hitlers. Today, Islamists have adopted that Nazi legacy too, using a sham democracy merely to bolster theocracy. However, the Nazi connection is usually mentioned by Arab nationalists and Islamists sotto voce, because they constantly identify Zionism with Nazism in their propaganda.

A second key similarity between today’s Islamists and past Arab nationalists relates less to ideology than to geopolitics. Both movements are more or less openly imperialist. As the historian Efraim Karsh convincingly shows in his new book “Islamic Imperialism,” the pursuit of empire has been a constant theme since the time of Muhammad.

Both Islamists and Arab nationalists, however, deploy anti-imperialist rhetoric against Israel and the West. Ayatollah Khomeini notoriously denounced America as “the Great Satan” while attempting to annex his neighbor, Iraq. The purpose of Osama bin Laden’s jihad on behalf of “oppressed Muslims” is to subject them to a universal Caliphate. Even as Nasser dreamt of what John Dulles called “an empire stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean,” the Egyptian dictator posed as the champion of the “non-aligned” nations, struggling against European colonialism and superpower hegemony.

All these and other “anti-imperialist” empire-builders, of course, were and are happy to accept help from Western powers when it suits them. Their power depends on their ability to manipulate the free world: during the Cold War by playing off one superpower against the other, more recently by setting Americans against Europeans, Russians or Chinese.

The issue of imperialism is invariably accompanied by much hypocrisy. Today, for example, America is criticized because of its refusal to intervene to stop Israel from retaliating against Hizbullah. Apart from the British, Condoleezza Rice is almost isolated at the Rome conference on Lebanon. But America’s critics are demanding that a superpower should intervene to prevent a sovereign state from defending its population against bombardment by proxies of a government that has declared its intention of wiping that state off the map. What could be more imperialist than such an intervention?

The classic example of Arab exploitation of the West’s confusion over imperialism was the Suez crisis of 1956. Fifty years ago this week Gamal Nasser, the Egyptian dictator, nationalized the Suez Canal, thereby precipitating an international crisis. The British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, decided it was his duty to stop Nasser from becoming an Egyptian Hitler. President Eisenhower, campaigning for re-election, refused to have anything to do with it. The French, still embroiled in Algeria, feared Nasser and plotted with the Israelis to overthrow him. Mr. Eden, lacking American support, joined in this hare-brained scheme at the last minute, keeping Mr. Eisenhower in the dark.

And so, in late October, the crisis came to a head. Israel attacked and swiftly defeated Egypt in the Sinai. In a moment of hubris, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s chief of staff, Moshe Dayan, announced to the troops the “Third Kingdom of Israel.” After some delay, an Anglo-French air-and seaborne force captured Port Said. Nasser seemed doomed.

But Mr. Eisenhower reasonably enough felt betrayed, and appalled by what he saw as a reassertion of colonialism. He demanded that the British and French withdraw, and held a financial gun to Mr. Eden’s head: the pound sterling collapsed on the exchange markets. This left the British with no choice but to pull out, with the French reluctantly following suit.

Meanwhile the Soviet Union, led by Khrushchev, faced a crisis of its own in Hungary. Recently released documents seen by Professor Jonathan Haslam apparently reveal that Khrushchev had resolved not to crush the Hungarian uprising, when the Anglo-French landing in Suez persuaded him that Soviet prestige required a show of force. So Hungary was invaded and 200,000 refugees fled. Eastern Europe had to wait three more decades for freedom.

The Russians followed this up with an ultimatum to the British, French and Israelis, threatening nuclear war. Ben-Gurion wrote that the note “could have been written by Hitler,” but the threat was serious. He resolved there and then to acquire nuclear weapons in order to stand up to nuclear blackmail. With covert help from the French, Israel built its own nuclear reactor and eventually its own bomb.

Nobody comes out of Suez well. None of the key players – Eden, Eisenhower, Ben-Gurion – saw the bigger picture. The British and French deluded themselves that they could act without America, while the Americans failed to foresee the effect on the Arab world of humiliating the European powers without filling the power vacuum in the Middle East. So Nasser snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and the Arab war against the West began. Fifty years on, it is by no means over. Indeed, if those Nazi-saluting Hizbullah thugs are anything to go by, we may have seen nothing yet.



For Israel this is a ‘proportionate’ response
By Dominic Lawson
The Independent
July 25, 2006

As he walked through the rubble of buildings destroyed by the Israeli air force, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, described what he saw, inevitably, as “a humanitarian tragedy.” He was talking nonsense. It is, of course, a human tragedy. But for some reason it is now the habit of every commentator – especially on the BBC – to add four meaningless syllables to the truth, as if it was necessary to impress upon listeners just how terrible it all is. We do not need to be impressed. No sentient person who has seen the pictures of children killed or orphaned in the hostilities between Hizbullah and Israel requires such clumsy finger-pointing.

What is needed, however, is a little bit of context. And where better to get it than in the words of Sayad Nasrallah, the General Secretary of Hizbullah in Lebanon? He is, after all, the man who planned the rocket attacks and military incursions into Northern Israel which have provoked the Israel Defence Forces into such dire retribution. Nine years ago, after his 18 year old son was killed by the IDF in an anti-Hizbullah operation, Nasrallah gave a very wide ranging interview which is now to be found on a website devoted to the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini (look up on if you want to see the full text).

Asked by his interviewer whether he felt hatred or grief at the loss of his son, Nasrallah ticked none of the above: “I am happy. He will certainly take us to paradise. As the family of a martyr we will experience that joy.” He went on to gloat that the then Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu “no longer demands a security zone. He wants only a guarantee that we will not pursue him to Northern Israel. But never will we recognise the existence of a Northern Israel… the Jewish entity is the symbol of terrorism. There can be no peace with such an entity. ”

The interviewer points out – and how prescient that now seems – that if Nasrallah carried out his threats to continue its war against ‘the Jewish entity’ on Israeli soil then “Israel has threatened to destroy the infrastructure of Lebanon – roads, bridges, electricity, water supply – to make the Lebanese realise what price they would have to pay for the attacks on Israel. Do you really want to risk everything that has been rebuilt after 15 years of civil war?” The Hizbullah leader responds: “We are very well aware of these threats. They are nothing new. They reflect nothing but sheer fear and helplessness; they prove that the Zionists are no longer able to defeat us by military means.” To which his interlocutor replies, rather bravely I think, “Oh yes they are”.

That feisty retort sheds some light on the other over-used word in the current crisis in Lebanon: ‘disproportionate’. What is the correctly proportionate response to a terrorist organisation which repeatedly sends rockets packed with ball bearings to cause maximum civilian casualties in your main domestic tourist resort? And what do you do if that organisation, backed by Iran and Syria, also has two ministers in the government of the country from which they are sending those rockets? President Chirac, whose former ambassador to London described Israel as “a shitty little country”, was among those Europeans who criticised Israel’s retaliation as “totally disproportionate.” This was the same President Chirac who in January declared that “states who would use terrorist means against us must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part. This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.” Or, in other words: we might nuke the bastards. Having already escalated the diplomatic language to “totally disproportionate”, imagine the words Chirac would unleash if the Israeli government this week threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, unless its proxies in Lebanon desisted from their acts of terrorism.

We do not, of course, have any proof that Teheran has, as some allege, engineered the latest crisis to deflect the increasingly impatient Western powers from pursuing their action against Iran’s nuclear programme. Let us assume that it was a complete coincidence that the Hizbullah capture of two IDF conscripts (and the killing of eight others) within Israeli territory took place on the day after Javier Solana warned the chief Iranian negotiator, Ali Larijani, that his country’s nuclear dossier would be referred back to the Security Council. And let us also accept that it is a complete coincidence that on his way back to Teheran from that bruising meeting, Ali Larijani dropped in to Damascus for a meeting with Hizbullah’s other backer, President Bashar Assad.

Who needs to construct conspiracy theories when everything is so plain to see on the geo-political chess board? Last week the Iranian News Channel broadcast a speech by the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel. Addressing his remarks to Israel – but for the benefit also of the crowd in front of him – Gholam Ali declared: “Today the confrontation is not only within the borders of Lebanon. It is taking place deep within your own land. Today your flourishing cities in the North of Israel are within the range of the fire of the fighters and lion cubs of Hizbullah. No place in Israel will be safe.” At which observation the crowd chanted “Khameini is the leader! Death to America! Death to England!” The speaker continued: “As said by Hassan Nasrallah, this courageous, vigilant and informed religious scholar, the war has just begun. To Hassan Nasrallah we say ‘well done’. This religious scholar roars like a lion and the blood of the Imam Khomeini rages in his veins.” To these remarks the crowd chants: “No more humiliation! No more humiliation!”

It is humiliation, in fact, which the Israeli government is trying to avoid. Perhaps a former military leader such as Ariel Sharon could have withstood the terrific domestic pressure for retaliatory measures – always assuming that he would have wanted to. But the new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has no such track record with which to reassure the Israeli people. Like any democracy, Israel’s actions are ultimately conditioned by sensitivity to public opinion – its own and not other countries’. It was, after all, domestic public opinion rather than the requirements of military strategy which caused Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000. Its own people had sickened at the casualties to its conscript army. But when the Israeli public believes that national survival is at stake, as it has proved on a number of occasions since 1948, it will be deterred by no amount of international opprobrium. Although the British state was not founded upon of the experience of genocide, I suspect that most of the people of this country, in similar circumstances, would feel the same way.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.