There was a deep historical significance to taking to the streets in solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Palestine last Saturday, 22 July.
For that day was the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel by the Irgun Zionist gang in Palestine as part of their campaign to create the state of Israel.
The attack killed 92 people, most of them civilians, some 17 of whom were Jewish. It was organised by Irgun leader Menachem Begin who went on to be twice prime minister of Israel.
His second period of office saw Israel’s “limited” 1982 invasion of southern Lebanon. It quickly became an assault on the whole country and claimed many thousands of lives.
So when you hear commentators say the roots of the current conflict go back to the seizure of two Israeli soldiers a few weeks ago, the roots go back a lot further – they go back over decades.
They go back before the invasion of 1982, which Hizbollah was formed to resist, and even before 1948 when Israel was founded and 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes.
The aggression did not begin in 2006. It began in 1917 when an anti-Semitic British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave in the name of one people, to the Zionist leaders who claimed to represent a second people, the land belonging to a third people – the land of Palestine.
There was a commemoration of the King David Hotel bombing last week. Those lionised at it were not the victims, but the perpetrators.
Alongside surviving members of the Irgun, Binyamin Netanyahu, former Israeli prime minister and darling of CNN and the BBC, attended the event.
He told journalists, “It’s very important to make the distinction between terror groups and freedom fighters, and between terror action and legitimate military action.”
He’s exactly right. That’s why I have no hesitation in saying that Hizbollah is not and has never been a terrorist organisation. It is the legitimate national resistance movement of Lebanon.
What the US cannot forgive is the fact that Hizbollah succeeded in driving Israel out of Lebanon in 2000 after an 18 year occupation, liberating all but the Shebaa Farms area.
This gave it a prestige across the confessional and sectarian divides in Lebanon and across the Middle East. Central to the strategy of Israel, the US and Britain is an attempt to recreate and explode those sectarian divisions as part of this latest phase of the “war on terror”.
It seems like only yesterday we were being told that the US and Britain had liberated the long-suffering Shia Muslims of Iraq from Sunni domination. Opposition to the occupation was supposedly just the work of Sunni die-hards and “rejectionists”.
The occupiers have fomented sectarian division in an effort to stave off a national resistance front. Now, the same imperial powers and their local puppets are fostering a reverse sectarianism across the Middle East as they try to leave Lebanon and Hizbollah isolated in the face of Israel’s onslaught.
We are told that yesterday’s suffering Shia of southern Iraq are now part of a sinister crescent of would-be Shia ascendancy stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon.
The puppet presidents and corrupt kings who rule the Middle East from one end to the other almost without exception are spinning the same yarn. It is all they have to say as the standing of Hizbollah among the mass of Arabs – Shia or Sunni, Muslim or Christian – soars.
Just as all George Bush and Tony Blair have to say over the slaughter of Lebanese children is that Israel has a right to defend itself and all’s fair in the war against terrorists.
That makes it doubly important that the anti-war movement raises its voice clearly. To be for peace means to be for the justice without which there can be no peace. To be for justice means to take sides against injustice. The invasion of Lebanon by Israel, for that’s what it is, is a monstrous injustice.
I side with the resistance to that injustice. Hizbollah is leading that resistance. I do not hesitate to say, and Blair and his law officers may take note, that I glorify that resistance.
I glorify the Hizbollah national resistance movement, and I glorify the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
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