Monday, July 17, 2017

Prepare the world for Hezbollah's next war

Gabriel Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post

Image from article, with caption: Supporters of Hassan Nasrallah listen to the Hezbollah leader via a screen during a rally marking the 10th anniversary of the end of the 2006 war with Israel, in Bint Jbeil, southern Lebanon, August 13.

Aside from the conventional military experience gained in the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah’s advanced and numerous rockets pose a severe threat to Israel’s civilian population.

A common and justified criticism of hasbara (Israeli public diplomacy) is that until recently it has largely been reactive instead of proactive.

While important, debunking various lies told about Israel puts us on the defensive and therefore automatically at a disadvantage. The pro-Israel community should go on the offensive and promote the issues that we believe are most important in order to reclaim the narrative. One of those issues should be to prepare the international community for the war Hezbollah will inevitably initiate against Israel and that will be unavoidably devastating. ...

Due to the severity of the threat Hezbollah’s weapons pose to Israel, the IDF is compelled to respond much more forcefully than in, for example, previous conflicts with Hamas. Just last month Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel strongly implied that this would be the outcome: “What we could do in 34 days during the Second Lebanon War, we can now do in 48 hours.” Furthermore, because of the extent of Hezbollah’s use of human shields, tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians will likely be killed.

This is where Israeli public diplomacy needs to step in and reveal the truth about Hezbollah in order to relieve some of the external pressure on the IDF to enable it to focus exclusively on its main task: to keep Israel safe. Different hasbara organizations and Israeli ministries are already engaged in promoting one or several of the arguments outlined below, however, to be truly effective there needs to be an intensified and united hasbara effort to devise a systematic long-term strategy to convince the international community of the following: 1) There is no moral equivalence between Israel, a Western-style liberal democracy, and Hezbollah, a radical Islamic terrorist organization that is similar to Islamic State.

2) Hezbollah does not only threaten Israel but is a part of the radical Islamic terrorist threat against the West and the entire world.

3) Hezbollah and Iran will be responsible for the war and all Lebanese and Israeli civilian casualties.

4) Hezbollah purposefully uses human shields to complicate IDF operations, a practice that will result in additional Israeli military and civilian casualties, and maximize Lebanese civilian casualties, under the assumption that the international community will punish Israel. Furthermore, if successful, it would only encourage more terrorist organizations to use the same method against the West.

By warning the international community of the true dangers and intentions of Hezbollah, hasbara might not only save Israeli lives but also Lebanese civilian lives. The democratic and civilized nations of the world must be convinced to unite and fight radical Islamic terrorism together regardless of its target, and that the barbaric terrorists who use human shields should be critically punished instead of the democracy acting in self-defense.

The author is a member of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps, a flagship program of the World Jewish Congress, and a board member of the Zionist Federation of Sweden.

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