Patrick McGreevy writes from Beirut:
‘ VL Day?
It’s 11 pm in Beirut, and honking cars and motorbikes are cruising the Corniche while their occupants discharge Kalashnikovs into the black air shouting “Allahu Akbar.” If only we had electricity and lights, the triumph might be more believable.
This seems like a time warp: we heard similar but more full-throated demonstrations in support of Germany and Brazil during the weeks of World Cup matches that preceding the rude interruption of the war. Surely people here feel released, as from a bad dream, but “victory” is too good a word. It is as if our war, like this summer’s World Cup, ended with penalty kicks—each side pounding away at the other side’s innocent goal tender. Hezbollah’s noisy supporters say they won, but what a tainted triumph!
In American baseball, such an anticlimactic conclusion is impossible. The teams simply slog on indefinitely until one vanquishes the other. The reason the World Cup final cannot do the same, we are told, is that it is a global TV event that must conclude within the purchased time slot. Having the eyes of the world focused on an event changes it. The Battle of Lebanon was a rude little war that played like a blockbuster summer film. This, perhaps, was the fundamental mistake that Israel and its US backers made: they underestimated the articulateness of Lebanon—a multilingual country, connected to a global diaspora, with a history so compelling that novice and seasoned journalists are drawn to its stories by instinct.
Hezbollah’s tactics countered Israel’s brilliantly before the world’s gaze. As the vastly more powerful force, the IDF could have crushed Hezbollah, but only by conducting a genocide on the Shiite people of southern Lebanon who support its resistance. And genocide, on global TV, is the one sin Israel cannot survive. Hezbollah is a designer resistance force, shaped by repeated Israeli blows against Arabs—designed not simply to counter its powerful adversary’s field techniques, but to infiltrate its soul and seek its deepest pain. It finds this pain like a heat-seeking missile finds its warm target because Hezbollah’s resistance, too, is born of pain. This is the madness we confront.
Patrick McGreevy ‘