Friday, February 15, 2008

15-Feb-08: "We Arabs churn out the same boastful speeches..."

The MEMRI Blog performs an invaluable service in throwing light on articles and speeches that, because they are expressed in Arabic for an Arabic audience, are rarely received in non-Arabic circles.

Today's "open war" speech by arch-terrorist Hassan Nasrallah of Hizbullah will undoubtedly come in for its share of analysis within the Arab world. (The BBC's report describes him speaking to a vast crowd of Lebanese from his hiding place via a recorded video projected onto a giant video screen, blaming Israel for the death of the mass murderer Mughniyeh, and saying Hizbullah's war against the Jewish state is not over.)

Until then, here's MEMRI's report of an article from Saudi Arabia, criticizing Nasrallah for an earlier speech of his.The notes below come from the Saudi daily Al-Watan, where columnist 'Ali Sa'd Al-Moussa harshly criticized Nasrallah for expounding in mid-January on the strategic value of possessing the body parts of Israeli soldiers. Courtesy of MEMRI, some excerpts from the Saudi article.
Could Nasrallah Have Said Anything More Brutal or More Harmful to Our Image?

"'We have the remains of Israeli soldiers. Severed heads. We have some arms and legs and a nearly complete body – from the head to the middle of the torso.' Read the ugly details in the previous sentence and judge: Could Nasrallah have said anything more brutal, anything that does more to distort the image of our people, our religion and our nation?

"Mr. Hassan [Nasrallah], I do not think that our glorious religion [of Islam] has ever, throughout its history, described human beings as [collections of] spare parts. In our rich heritage – from the glorious battle of Badr to [Operation] True Promise [Nasrallah's name for the 2006 Lebanon war], I never read of any military commander who went into such disgusting details. Believe me, I would have kept silent had I not felt great shame at hearing the entire world – East and West – quoting this line at the head of its news broadcasts and in the main headlines of the newspapers.

"I know, Mr. Nasrallah, that the cruel Israeli administration places great value on any remains of Israeli soldiers, and that you mention these body parts for bargaining purposes. I am aware that in return for the severed head of the Israeli [soldier], we may receive dozens of living Arab [prisoners]. And I am also aware that even the [severed] leg of a Zionist may constitute a [valuable] bargaining chip, leading to the release of several living Arab prisoners from Israeli jails.

"[But] we also know that [the Israelis] place more value on, and have more respect for, the bones of their soldiers than we have for [living] Arabs. Life has become so cheap for us that the body parts of a dead Israeli are [exchangeable for] dozens of living Arabs."

Operation "True Promise" Yielded Nothing but False Promises Enveloped in Rhetoric

"Let us see why this is so: I have not the slightest doubt, Allah forbid, as to the justice of our [cause] and as to the sanctity of our wars against the oppressive and occupying Zionist entity. But what is the cause of this humiliation and devaluation [of life]? The reason, honorable sir, is that we continue to churn out the same boastful speeches which leave us with nothing but imaginary victories. The battles we wage yield nothing more than a few body parts [of enemy soldiers], or a couple of hostages. And what price [do we pay]? [The price is] hundreds, even thousands, of Arab youths in Israeli jails, whose numbers multiply with every [war] like [Operation] 'True Promise' – while our only reward is false promises enveloped in rhetoric!

"[But] the chief reason [for our humiliation] lies in [the fact that] our enemy knows how to speak] the language of the world. It knows how to tap into the world's emotions, and to sugarcoat its oppression, tyranny, occupation and violence, presenting itself as a victim surrounded by savage beasts... And our statements provide [our enemies] with a golden opportunity. If they now tour the world, spreading your famous line about the remains of bodies and human spare parts, they will consider it the greatest achievement of their [entire] long war. [It will enable them] to present themselves as the victims, while [in reality] it is we who are the victims.

"Honorable sir, war is not [fought with] Katyusha rockets alone. Half of it is [fought with] words, and it is words that will decide [the final outcome]."
He makes some interesting points. So does Kirschen in his Dry Bones comment from 2006 below.

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