ON launching the military attack on Lebanon following the capture of two of his country's soldiers by the Lebanese Hezbollah in a cross-border raid on July 12, Israeli Defence Minister Amir Pertez said "Nasrallah should now pray to his Allah". By this statement, he probably meant to say Allah would not be able to protect the Hezbollah leader --Shaikh Nasrallah -- from the wrath of the Israeli invasion forces.
The Israeli invasion has been halted by a UN Security Council resolution. The big powers in the council took over a month -- 34 days of war to be exact -- to prepare, agree on and pass the resolution giving the Israeli soldiers enough time to assess whether Allah or God or whatever one may call Him was enough to protect Nasrallah.
The Hezbollah leader is alive. From a militia leader, he has now become a hero in the Arab world. A widely sold popular Cairo poster reportedly proclaims -- Nasser in 1956, Nasrallah in 2006. The Egyptian hero-- President Nasser -- had beaten back the invading Anglo-French forces while they were trying to retake the Suez Canal in 1956. But Nasser lost in the Arab-Israeli war barely in six days in 1967 when the Jewish country alone simultaneously took on Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
Nasrallah, on the other hand, endured Israeli ground and air attacks for 34 days. Not only he has survived, his forces inflicted heavy damage upon Israel in terms of men and materials. 118 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians in a nation of six million are reported to have been killed in Hezbollah missile attacks while over a thousand Lebanese including some Hezbollah guerillas are said to have perished in the Israeli attacks. But the real extent of Israeli losses is unlikely to become known soon. The Arab or Muslim media do not have access to events inside Israel. As past records suggest that the western media must have exercised self-restraint in stating or exposing the Israeli damage lest it could embolden the angry Arabs.
One may remember that it took more than two decades for the Americans to tell the world that Egypt almost defeated Israel in the war in 1973 and that the war was partly or decisively fought by the United States at the later stage to prevent the collapse of the Jewish state. As the advancing Egyptian soldiers reached near Tel Aviv breaking through the previously conceived as invincible Israeli Barlev Line, one American spy plane -- Black bird -- took off from its base on the US soil on a trans-Atlantic flight for mapping the positions of the advancing Egyptian soldiers. It did the job meticulously, flew back to its base to have the pictures developed, took to wings again and handed over those pictures to the Israeli command in Tel Aviv in the evening. This decisive but secret American involvement in 1973 war enabled the Israeli operation commanders to air drop their soldiers selectively at the vacant rear positions of the advancing Egyptians for launching a bewildering two-pronged attack on them -- a strategy that worked to force the Egyptians to agree to a ceasefire. Israel would have just collapsed in 1973 without this decisive American involvement.
The Reader's Digest published this story of the US involvement in the war in one of its issues in the early 1990s. The six billion dollar 'Black bird', dismantled after the break-up of the Soviet Union, used to fly at a speed of 2050 miles per hour -- two and a half times the speed of the bullet of a high velocity rifle, a speed five miles higher than that of the 29th version of the former Soviet-made, now Russian-made surface-to-air missile. Its electrical wiring was reportedly done with gold to endure the immense heat that its high speed used to generate and its exterior was coated with titanium to endure even greater heat kicked up by air friction. The US created only 34 or 36 such spy aircraft at a cost of six billion dollar each after the former Soviet Union shot down its U-2 spy plane while on espionage over the latter's territory sometime in the 1960s.
The Reader's Digest published this story after the world became unipolar following the demise of the Soviet Union. It might have been intended to expose the level of the American might and technical ingenuity to convince the world that the US would continue to lead and dominate without having to risk any effective challenge from an equal in the foreseeing time.
How much help the US extended to Israel this time in carrying out its assaults on Lebanon is not yet fully known. It was only reported some consignments of sophisticated American arms were delivered to Israel. The US planes, which took off from Texas, the home state of President Bush, carrying those arms and had stop-over for refuelling in Scotland, drew angry reaction from the pacifists in the United Kingdom. Some people suspect that those arms were trans-shipped to prepare Israel militarily for an American joint attack along with it on defiant Iran, not ready to give up its nuclear programme in spite of the western pressure. Next few months or weeks might reveal what was the real intent behind the arms shipments.
But the fact that the latest Israeli attack on Lebanon created is that the Arabs have begun to compare they six-day war of 1967 between Israel and Nasser's Egypt, Hafiz Al-Asad's Syria and King Hossein's Jordan -- all leaders now dead, with Nasrallah's stubborn resistance for long 34 days and successes of his forces in inflicting cognizable damage on Israel.
In other words, the Israeli attack has created the inspiration for new Nasrallahs to emerge in the Arab world. The inconclusive Israeli invasion, which was mainly intended to wipe out Hezbollah, has also exposed the vulnerability of Israel. If Nasrallahs of the future begin to attack with equal ferocity from different neighbouring Arab states simultaneously, the Jews who migrated from different countries to form Israel may emigrated to their places of origin in search of safety. Since the neighbouring countries in Asia and even some in Europe will not tolerate Israel using its nuclear arsenals driven by the fear about the ultimate effects of nuclear fallout, Israel will continue to exhaust itself in trying to exhaust its known enemies all across the Arab world. Its existence at some stage may be at stake.
Hezbollah's success in standing up against full-scale attacks of Israel has revealed that Israel will have to be peaceful and live in harmony with the neighbouring Arab countries. But peace is unlikely to be attainable by it under its existing structure, as made evident by the sordid events that took place so far. Instead of the two-country solution to resolve the Israel-Palestinian problem, which has been found unworkable, this continuing problem may be solved with a single country approach. There may be one country encompassing present Israel and all of the Palestinian territories, where all Israelis and Palestinians will live together as citizens with equal rights and dignity. The proposed country should be a secular state, as was proposed by late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat years ago in his first speech in the UN General Assembly.
The western powers -- particularly, the US and the UK which are specially sympathetic towards Israel, should begin to evaluate the very many incidents and wars that have so far taken place involving that country and assess whether it would be at all possible on their part to guarantee the security of Israel in all time to come. Even if securing the oil supply from the Middle East is their main reason for maintaining a strong Israel now-which may be currently an economic decision, events have shown they will have to continue to help this entity indefinitely for its existence even after the oil wells have dried up. In the event of no such help coming from them, the entity will crumble at that stage. The Israeli leaders and people should also think about those not-too-distant days and work for implementing a viable option. The other option-- which is the present one, will always require it to face hostile Arabs. Even the third world war will not help terminate this threat to its existence on a permanent basis.