“Western and Israeli pundits keep comparing Hizbullah to al-Qaeda. It is a huge conceptual error. There is a crucial difference between an international terrorist network like al-Qaeda, which can be disrupted by good old policing techniques (such as inserting an agent in the Western Union office in Karachi), and a sub-nationalist movement.
Al-Qaeda is some 5,000 multinational volunteers organized in tiny cells.
Hizbullah is a mass expression of subnationalism that has the loyalty of some 1.3 million highly connected and politically mobilized peasants and slum dwellers. Over a relatively compact area.”
“The Shiites of southern Lebanon are compact enough to likewise offer a subnationalism. Note that this is a new phenomenon. The Shiite masses were not socially and politically mobilized until at least the 1970s, and probably it is more accurate to say the 1980s. (“Social mobilization” refers to literacy, access to media, urbanization, industrialization and so forth; isolated small villages have difficulty organizing big movements.)
The main factor in causing these peasant sharecroppers to become politically aware and mobilized was the Arab Israeli conflict. The Israelis stole some of their land in 1948 and expelled 100,000 Palestinians north into south Lebanon, where they competed for resources with local Lebanese Shiites. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Palestinians became politically and militarily organized by the PLO. The Shiites’ conflict with the PLO in the southern camps in the 1970s was probably a key beginning, but from 1982 it was primarily their conflict with the Israeli Occupation army that spurred them on.”
“What the Israelis set out to do, if they intended to “destroy” or even substantially attrite Hizbullah, was completely impractical. What they have done is to convince even Lebanese formerly on the fence about the issue that Hizbullah’s leaders were correct in predicting that Lebanon would again be attacked in the most brutal and horrible way by the Israelis and that an even more powerful deterrent is needed. I.e more silkworms, not fewer. .”
The Israeli demographic project of thinning out the population of the far south of Lebanon will fail. They do not control that territory, and cannot stop people from coming back and rebuilding. The Israelis have an Orientalist myth that the Arabs are Bedouin and not attached to their ancestral villages. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon still group their neighborhoods around their camps in accordance with the geography of their former villages. The Lebanese Shiites will mostly come back.