To Nasrallah, without love
An open letter to the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah
To the Honorable Hassan Nasrallah:
Please forgive me if that’s not the correct salutation for the leader of a terrorist group like Hezbollah, for I live half a world away as an American and a Jew (both of which I’ll return to in a moment).
You’re suffering from cancer, the media reports, and you’ve left your hideout in Beirut to get some treatment in Iran. I even read somewhere that Iran’s president sent a private plane to pick you up.
I’m not surprised by the star treatment. After all, if Tehran can send you $100 million a year as its most important terrorist client, empowering you to threaten Israel with your powerful missiles to its north and even hunt Jews far beyond the region, then it certainly can ensure that you travel in comfort.
But, if Tehran wishes you well, I hope you’ll forgive my shortcomings as a person when I acknowledge that I can’t do the same. The fault lies with me, for I have a long memory and, alas, a tendency to carry grudges.
As an American, I recall that it was barely a year after September 11 when you declared on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV: “Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [a.k.a., the United States] is absolute… Regardless of how the world has changed after September 11, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America.”
Though you didn’t take command of Hezbollah until 1992, you were a member of the group in 1983 when it set off a truck bomb that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, at our embassy in Beirut and then another one that killed 241 U.S. servicemen at our Marine barracks in that city.
A year later, your group set off a truck bomb outside our Embassy annex in Beirut that killed more than 20 people and bombed a restaurant in Torrejon, Spain that killed 18 U.S. servicemen and injured 83 others. I also remember vividly when, in 1985, your group hijacked TWA flight 847, held passengers hostage for two weeks, killed U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, and dumped his body on the tarmac.
Then, at your command in 1996, Hezbollah set off a truck bomb at the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen, wounding nearly 500 other people.
All told, as I’m sure you like to boast, Hezbollah killed more Americans than any terrorist organization before September 11.
As a Jew, I have even more problems overcoming my grudges and offering you any compassion. You helped found Hezbollah after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and you often say that your gripe is with the Jewish state that you’d like to eliminate – not the Jews who live there or anywhere else.
But, while your plan for Israel, which you call a “cancerous entity” of “ultimate evil,” is disgusting enough, your genocidal agenda for the Jewish people extends far beyond it.
After all, it was after you took command that the group targeted both Israelis and other Jews in Buenos Aires. In 1992, you bombed the Israeli embassy there, killing 29 and injuring more than 100. Two years later, you bombed a Jewish community center in that city, this time killing 86 and injuring another 200.
Besides, you have let your hair down (figuratively speaking, of course) from time to time to reveal your Jew-hating.
It was you, after all, who said of the Jews in late 2002: “If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
It was you who also said around the same time: “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.”
It was you, in 2006, who described Jews as the “grandsons of apes and pigs” and called them “Allah’s most cowardly and greedy creatures.”
You once explained your confidence in defeating the Jews by comparing your followers with them.
“[O]ur nation’s willingness to sacrifice their blood, souls, children, fathers, and families,” you said, provides a tangible advantage over Jews “who guard their lives.”
You’re right. As a Jew, I favour life over death – both for myself and for humanity in general.
Nevertheless, I do hope you’ll understand if I can’t quite bring myself to wish you a speedy recovery.
Lawrence J. Haas was Communications Director and Press Secretary for Vice President Al Gore. He writes widely about foreign and domestic affairs and is the author of “Sound the Trumpet: The United States and Human Rights Promotion.”
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