Nasrallah on Jews
Several people asked about COLIN SHINDLER’s New York Times piece in terms of nasrallah’s quotes in it regarding Jews. His piece suffers from a number of problems which others are pointing out, which make it not very useful to understanding the Left, resistance, Islamism – i.e. all the normal polemical tropes that dont get us very far on several measures (Broad claims with no evidence such as this are when you usually stop reading an article: “Today, a sizable section of the European left has been reluctant to take a clear stand when anti-Zionism spills over into anti-Semitism.)
On Nasrallah, well, there is a correction that the NYT should make, BUT NOT ON THE QUOTE ITSELF. I have two speeches which I consider anti-jewish in my book of Nasrallah’s speeches and interviews. Both are excerpted below. Nasrallah did in the 1990s – and so did hizbullah – use a language equating jews and zionism; both did reproduce koranic maxims about jews = apes and pigs and both did throw anti-jewish slurs at the enemy they were fighting in occupied South Lebanon. The piece which Shindler quotes is in fact from the 1997 speech which Nasrallah gave right after he was told his son had been killed by the IDF fighting in occupied south lebanon.
BUT – here is how the author erroneously describes it:
“…In recent years, there has been an increased blurring of the distinction between Jew, Zionist and Israeli. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the militant group Hezbollah, famously commented: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli.”
— Herein lies the sloppiness of Shindler’s piece: ACTUALLY IN “RECENT” YEARS the blurriness he describes has been largely reversed as far as Hizbullah is concerned. Indeed the obvious anti-jewish slurs of the 1990s/references (which I believe are very very likely still harbored in Nasrallah’s mind and many Hizbullah cadre’s minds, private discourses etc.) have actually been noticeably absent in the last 12 years (save for one fabricated quote from 2002; another quote attributed to a february 2006 speech is mistakenly cited as an apes and pig slur, which is not there, but does indeed include the slur and trash accusation of nasrallah saying that a french dude had “proved” the Holocaust was a myth).
There has been, in the more religious speeches, over the past 12 years some limited reference to jews as jews, but the apes and pigs slurs and the “cowardly” slurs are gone, to my knowledge (please let me know evidence to the contrary). Also, the Hizbullah owned Al-Manar TV – after it was banned in many countries and faced pressures on some of its earlier anti-jewish programming – has noticeably shifted away (though certainly not in totality!) from the earlier line, which is interesting.
One can debate WHY nasrallah and Hizbullah have changed their public discourse (there are many practical reasons of course) and whether it is genuine (I dont think the discourse shift is very genuine at all)…. but the fact of the matter is that the OPPOSITE TREND OF WHAT Shindler tells his unknowing Time’s reader is in fact what is going on! This is of course an interesting trend to discuss seriously, to question/problematize etc, but one which Shindler gives up on (or does not know about) in order to help his overall thesis which seems to be built on very little hard evidence!
Here are some excerpts from the worst trash of what nasrallah has said during the 1990s on jews – again I am NOT arguing the anti-jewish discourse is ABSENT in the last 12 years…. I am JUST ARGUING THAT THE OPPOSITE TREND has been occurring compared to what Shindler claims:
When his son hadi was killed by the IDF in 1997:
“…The message of the incident at Ansariya is clear to the whole nation and to the Palestinian people: it tells this oppressed and struggling people in Palestine once again that the path to victory and justice and the path to the future is the one chosen by the great mujahidin and martyrs in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and across the sacred land of Palestine. Everyone should understand this message, and should also know that our enemy is weaker than we think, and lowlier than we think. If we search the entire globe for a more cowardly, lowly, weak and frail individual in his spirit, mind, ideology and religion, we will never find anyone like the Jew—and I am not saying the Israeli: we have to know the enemy we are fighting. Then there was this great victory and the ensuing need for the resistance to pursue its jihad, operations and confrontation. The resistance is not only there to protect village gates, but first and foremost to break into the occupied land and set up a trap here and a bomb there, and for its martyrs to blow themselves up either here or there. It was therefore only natural that these operations and confrontations should continue, chief among them yesterday’s honorable and heroic confrontation during which the mujahidin of the Islamic Resistance in Iqlim al-Tuffah fought alongside officers and soldiers from the Lebanese army.4 The resistance lost martyrs, and so did the army, and these martyrs bore witness to how this resistance, steadfastness, presence and honor were displayed on the field. They are also the real witnesses to life. The blood of the resistance and of the army’s martyrs is calling out, and the echo of their voice is reverberating in all ears. Let no one believe that this nation has died; look at how life goes on in Lebanon, clamoring with will power and blood, jihad and martyrdom; such a nation can never die.
And from a 1998 speech (I should stress that when I presented these writings to Hizbullah to verify their authenticity or to see if they had any claims against what we were publishing, they did NOT object to the arabic transcript we had OR the translation… this was in 2007):
My introduction to the speech
The following speech to a political rally in Beirut, broadcast live on the nascent Hezbollah- affiliated Al Manar television station, contains a rare series of publicly pronounced vilifications directed against Jews as Jews. Perhaps not surprisingly, the first several lines of the speech, which describe “Zionists Jews” as “the descendents of apes and pigs” (the Zionist qualification is quickly dropped thereafter), was among the most widely circulated quotes attributed to Nasrallah by the English language media during the 2006 Hezbollah–Lebanon war— submitted as evidence, along with a handful of other quotes referring to Jews, of Nasrallah’s and Hezbollah’s apparently uncompromising and totalizing hatred of adherents of the Jewish faith.
The careful reader and analyst should of course note that Nasrallah’s rhetoric here directly contradicts the previous statement, where he points to the experience of Iran’s Jewish community as evidence that “our war is not against Judaism or Jews but against Zionism which created its racial state in Israel.” As several scholars have suggested, this apparent contradiction enormously complicates the potential for any kind of future reconciliation or normalization between the two sides (though it should be said that it does not preclude a potentially containable, non-violent level of hostility). For although Nasrallah at times suggests that Hezbollah could live side by side with Jews—of course only under Hezbollah’s particular vision of a unified Palestinian state where many Jews would be forced to leave—this statement, in particular, suggests that Hezbollah’s skepticism of Judaism, exacerbated over sixteen bloody years of fighting the state of Israel, had run so deep as to become dangerously mired in what amounts to racial hatred.
Of course, there may also have been a more immediate element of populist politicking in the statement that follows. In an effort to offset the effects of its previous loss of three parliamentary seats in 1996, the Party vigorously appealed to its base ahead of the country’s first municipal elections in late May 1998. At the same time, the regional situation, too, appeared to be moving Hezbollah into an ever more radical overall stance. Only one month before this speech, amid a general air of accommodation created by Mohammed Khatami’s 1997 presidential win in Iran, the country’s culture and Islamic guidance minister, Ayatollah Mohajerani, had declared that “if Israel withdraws from south Lebanon with guarantees for fixed and secure borders, there will be no further need for Hezbollah’s resistance operation there”1—a suggestion angrily rejected by Nasrallah.
With Syrian and Israeli negotiations still frozen, but looming nonetheless, a worsening political split in Tehran reverberating in Lebanon, and the process of Israeli–Palestinian negotiations well on their way to October’s Wye River Accords, Nasrallah’s words may therefore indicate, perhaps more than anything, the Party’s creeping realization and fear that regional normalization might soon be imposed on the Party, regardless of its concerns about Israel— or Jews, for that matter.
(…) Very regrettably, the 10th of Muharram [the day of Ashoura]2 this year coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the historic catastrophe and tragic event: namely, the establishment of the state of the Zionist Jews, the descendants of apes and pigs, on the land of Palestine and the holiest of our holy places. This enemy celebrates its overwhelming victory. A few million vagabonds from all over the world, brought together by their Talmud and Jewish fanaticism, are celebrating their victory over the nation of 1.4 billion Muslims. This is why I say that it is a tragic, painful, and bitter thing that a small number of people gather in Palestine, dancing and holding celebrations in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy city to celebrate their great victory over the nation of Muhammad. When this Muslim nation was small, the Jews were unable to defeat it, and the Jews of Bani al-Nudayr, Bani Qurayzah and Khaybar3 were forced out of their castles and fortresses.
Over the past fifty years, the Jews have succeeded in defeating the nation of 1.4 billion Muslims and the nation of hundreds of millions of Arabs. Fifty years have passed and the enemy is still wagering on its superiority, backed by the US administration. Here, I would like you to know that the historical position of this administration towards Israel is based not only on interests and political and economic considerations, but also on ideology. It is [based] more [on] ideological commitment than political interests.
They bet that, with time, they will be able to impose peace on the Arab countries and on the Palestinians by giving them a very low percentage of the West Bank. They do not want any discussion on the issue of Jerusalem. They imagine they can impose peace on Syria, which would enable them to keep part of the Golan Heights, and that they can impose a peace on Lebanon under which the Lebanese state and army would turn into guards to protect the Israeli border, while the mujahidin and honorable people are punished, and the collaborators and traitors are awarded medals.
But despite all these Jewish ambitions, we in this nation say that the dreams of the Israelis have come to an end. The blood that will not be defeated by the sword that has been unleashed in southern Lebanon, western Bekaa and Palestine—today, this blood is boiling in the veins of Arabs and Muslims. The dreams of the Israelis are over. We promise and warn them that their dreams are over, and that the time has come for them to wake from their dreams and face reality, a reality in which people refuse to live in humiliation, and view life with the Zionist Jews as nonsense; a reality in which every man, young and old, loves to blow himself up to tear apart the bodies of the invading, occupying Jews…