While we're on the subject of Lebanon, consider the message of Hassan Nasrallah yesterday, as reported by the BBC: "Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has told thousands of supporters at a rally in Lebanon that the disappearance of Israel is inevitable. 'The presence of Israel is but temporary and cannot go on in the region,' he told the Beirut rally."
I make no more expansive claim than that Israel has strong geographical and historical warrant for treating this as a statement of intent rather than of aspiration, and that the latter would in any event be a threatening intervention in the affairs of the region. I'm a friend and supporter of Israel, not because she is a Jewish state but primarily because she is a democracy in a part of the world where constitutional government is rare. (I have no concern with the fortunes of Judaism, but plenty with those of the Jews.) Hezbollah threatens Israel in a sense I wrote about in the wake of Israel's intervention in Lebanon 18 months ago:
"UN security council resolution 1559, adopted in 2004, calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. That resolution, clearly covering Hizbullah, has not been implemented. In those circumstances Israel is entitled to defend its citizens and its sovereignty.
"Israel can't be defeated by Hizbullah, but an existential threat to the Jewish state is not the proper measure of a terrorist group's capacities. So long as Hizbullah remains in southern Lebanon, Israeli civilians face a continuous threat of rocket attacks or periodic incursions. The aim and effect are comparable to those of the suicide bomber in Israeli towns. Death may strike at any time. No democratic government can long survive, or ought to tolerate, a position in which civilians need reserves of courage merely to live within its boundaries."
Completely contrary to the spirit and the letter of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, marking the end of Israel's campaign in 2006, that threat has grown stronger. Nasrallah acknowledges receiving weaponry from Iran, via Syria. In the post immediately below this one, I recalled Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. That was a disastrous enterprise fought for illegitimate ends. Israel had neither justice nor prudence on its side in seeking to install the Maronite Christians as victors in Lebanon's civil war; or in pursuing an eventual annexation of the West Bank; or in undermining King Hussein of Jordan with a view to an east bank "settlement" of Palestinian national claims. But the rationale of Israel's intervention in 2006 was nothing like this: it was to defend Israeli civilians against a force whose very existence as an armed militia is in explicit defiance of international law. Standing with Israel is, in these circumstances, an imperative of progressive politics.