>Robert Pape on the true nature of Hezbollah

>(REPOST FROM Monday, August 07, 2006)

Robert Pape of the University of Chicago writes in the NYT:

Evidence of the broad nature of Hezbollah’s resistance to Israeli occupation can be seen in the identity of its suicide attackers. Hezbollah conducted a broad campaign of suicide bombings against American, French and Israeli targets from 1982 to 1986. Altogether, these attacks – which included the infamous bombing of the Marine barracks in 1983 – involved 41 suicide terrorists. In writing my book on suicide attackers, I had researchers scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and the biographies of the Hezbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were from leftist political groups like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union. Three were Christians, including a female high-school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.

The Lebanese Communist Party? Hardly Islamic zealots hellbent on destroying Israel for its Jewish-ness. And the milder Arab Socialist Union, together with LCP, make up 71% of the Hezbollah suicide bombers surveyed. And don’t forget the educated Christian female who felt compelled to end her life for the cause of simply expelling the Israeli military from her home.

The extent of Iran’s anti-semitic Islamic fundamentalism on the enthusiasm and material support for those fighting the IDF in south Lebanon is overstated. Look to the rational response of those engaging an overwhelming military force – and not abstract, detached hatred for “the other” – as the overriding reason for the resistance the IDF is facing.

(Addendum: Lebanon’s Muslims: Relatively Secular and Pro-Christian.)

Currently reading : Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism By Robert Pape Release date: By 24 May, 2005


this post is an exercise in orientalism.

it is absurd to rely on 1980s information to make sense of hezbullah today it would be like looking at the demographic information of the mujahideen in afghanistan to explain the taliban. furthermore, you have to remember that lebanon was in a civil war at the time, and the alliances among groups changed with disorienting speed.
remember, the PLO was an entirely secular organization, its leaders primarily from christian families, and yet it endorsed genocide until the late 1980s.

hezbullah is not using suicide bombers anymore (something iran invented during its conventional war with iraq).
um, i’ll go to the source and take them at their word rather than rely on mr. pape.

-richter scale

An exercise in Orientalism? A simplistic conception of those attacking Israeli forces as angry irrational Islamic fundamentalists would be closer to the view of Orientalism. I was positing, via Pape, that Lebanon’s ire is composed of more than simply Islamic fundamentalists. Orientalism denies nuance and instead relies on stereotypes and superficial readings.

It is not per se “absurd” to compare an organization today to itself twenty years prior.

What exactly is your disagreement with Pape? Do you think Hezbollah’s tacit support and active assistance comes primarily from hardcore anti-Semitic Muslims? I think the people of Dearborn, Michigan would disagree. His study, though dated, reveals the various kinds of people involved in resisting numerous Israeli attacks.

As for secular (?) support for genocide, I’ll take Israel’s “Justice” Minister’s words to mean that the impulse for collective punishment is widespread: “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah”.



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