Going with Hezbollah

US historian Norman Finkelstein, Lebanon, January 7:

After the horror and after the shame and after the anger there still remain a hope, and I know that I can get in a lot of trouble for what I am about to say, but I think that the Hezbollah represents the hope. They are fighting to defend their homeland.

Noam Chomsky, Lebanon, May 2006:

I think [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and persuasive argument that they should be in the hands of Hezbollah (the arms) as a deterrent to potential aggression, and there is plenty of background reasons for that. So until, I think his position reporting it correctly and it seems to me reasonable position, is that until there is a general political settlement in the region, the threat of aggression and violence is reduced or eliminated there has to be a deterrent, and the Lebanese army can’t be a deterrent.

I’m a strong supporter of both Finkelstein and Chomsky and recognise the importance of Hezbollah within Lebanese society – not least its victory against Israel in 2006 – but I wonder how wise it is to express any kind of true solidarity with Hezbollah (and Hamas or any group, for that matter.) Being opposed to US and Israeli policy in the region is one thing, as I am – as well as encouraging the immediate Western engagement with these Islamist groups – but I’m not sure of the political wisdom of prominent anti-Zionists befriending such forces.

UPDATE: More on the current Finkelstein visit of Lebanon from the Daily Star.

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