No reasoning with Hezbollah (update)

08.23.06

Update on the stories below:

Stephen Harper backed Jason Kenney on his comparison of Hezbollah to the Nazis, claiming it was “fair”:

“Like all comparisons, it’s true in some ways, and not in others,” he said, “but as near as I can tell, both Hezbollah and the Nazi party stand for the elimination of the Jewish nation. So I think that’s pretty fundamental and, in that sense, I don’t think it’s unfair.”

Though Kenney and Harper both have a point, they ought to realize that Nazi comparisons, even when justifiable, tend to obscure the original argument.

Meanwhile, one of the three MPs who originally called for Hezbollah’s legitimization, Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj, has resigned as foreign affairs critic (hat tip: Puck):

All 10 leadership hopefuls condemned the remarks. Scott Brison and Carolyn Bennett said Wrzesnewskyj should no longer retain his post as a foreign affairs spokesman.

The Liberal party has been floundering lately, with no clear voices emerging in this conflict. Wrzesnewskyj’s resignation, and the condemnation of his remarks by the leadership candidates, is the first hopeful sign in a while that perhaps the Liberals might find their moral compass that has been missing now for quite some time.

It seems to me that the problem is one of perception, and of which historical comparison is the most apt. Some, like Kenney and Harper, see Hezbollah as the new Nazi party, and view appeasement as dangerous and ultimately more destructive. Others, like Boris Wrzesnewskyj, Peggy Nash and Maria Mourani, see Hezbollah as the new IRA:

“You want to encourage the politicians of this military organization, you want to encourage the political wing, so that the centre of gravity shifts to them.”

Wrzesnewskyj compared the situation in Lebanon to the decades of sectarian violence by the Irish Republican Army.

“If there wasn’t a possibility for London to negotiate with Sinn Fein [the IRA’s political party], we’d still have bombings in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Certainly, Hezbollah (and Hamas, and other groups that employ a political/social/terrorist combination strategy) would like to encourage the IRA comparisons. But there’s one key difference, that the Canadian MPs on their “fact-finding mission” seem to have missed: The IRA had, as its goal, the establishment of an independent Irish state. Say what you will about their methods – and I will condemn terrorism unequivocally – they did have a goal that could be pursued politically, and that would be legitimate if pursued politically. Hezbollah has no such goal. They aren’t vying for statehood or independence of freedom. Their goal is the destruction of Israel. And no matter what means they choose to pursue this goal, it cannot be legitimatized.

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