Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The mood in Lebanon

There is a mood of anxiety in Lebanon. People are really concerned about the prospects of an Arab-Israeli war. A friend called me from South Lebanon yesterday because his wife was freaking out being there and wanted assurances from me that there is no war. I tell people who ask me daily that there is no war coming here, but that it is hard to prove. I had a long argument/discussion with Norman Finkelstein last week about this issue: he thinks that war is coming and I don't. Don't get me wrong: all sides are preparing but Israel does not have any more tricks up its dirty sleeves against Hizbullah. They tried all that they had and got humiliated back in 2006. Why would killing more Lebanese civilians and destroying many more buildings advance the Israeli cause, you would as. Israel ran out of options against Hizbullah a few years ago. The uncovering of wide network of Israeli spies in Lebanon is the biggest espionage story in the history of the Middle East conflict. Israel "uncovers" one Arab spy in Israel and it becomes a sensational international headline. Lebanon and its police--Lebanon for potato's sake--are producing Israeli spies at the rate of one a week--and the international press is barely taking notice. This is big. This will set back all Israeli criminal espionage decades backwards. That is what Hasan Nasrallah meant about the "blind elephant." Gulf tourists did not show up in large numbers this summer: partly due to anxieties about war and partly because the Gulf tourists now prefer Syria and Egypt because the people there don't cheat them like the Lebanese do. A Lebanese can't see a Saudi without seeing dollar signs over his/her head. It is pathetic. One should say more about Saudi Arabia: the ruling elite is fragmented more than ever. Every prince is practically running his own media and his own foreign policy.