On the bright side, one of the things you find in Lebanon — and most people don’t know this — is that the Christians in Lebanon are incredibly pro-Israel and incredibly pro-America. You don’t have to scratch them at all to get that to come out. You go, you talk to them — they have almost a sort of touching faith in our ability still to come and fix the problems.
I mean, I was sitting there this last summer with one of the most prominent Christian businessmen in Lebanon, who was absolutely convinced that the US was going to go and solve the Iranian nuclear problem. Wasn’t worried about it at all. I told him I didn’t think he had reason to be so optimistic.
What’s the takeaway? One thing I hope Israel and the US appreciate going forward, considering the split in Lebanon — and I’m not sure that tactically the 2006 war against Hezbollah was waged in the correct way. And what do I mean by that? I mean in terms of destroying infrastructure, like the bridge going over the mountains to the Bekaa Valley, and also the airport. I think, given that there remains such strong pro-Israel sentiment in the country, a more targeted campaign against the South, if there is going to be another war — and I imagine there will be.
And I think a more targeted campaign would probably be a smarter way to go. I think the idea that you’re going to hold the Lebanese government collectively responsible for what Hezbollah does isn’t quite fair. Because the Christians aren’t strong enough to do anything about Hezbollah. In Iran, it’s just an overwhelming force. They pour in at least $100 million a month to Hezbollah, and there’s no equivalent support going to the government, to the forces of good in Lebanon. They can’t compete.
So that’s one observation also. Now I’d like to talk a little bit about Turkey, and about the Gaza flotilla incident. Well, let me back up a bit. What surprised me is that the Israelis were surprised that their boarding party onto this vessel, the Mavi Marmara, was met with violence.
I think anyone who’s been following the Turks for the last seven or eight years has seen a very alarming, you know, intellectual trend developing in that country — anti-Americanism, anti-Israelism. Really, they’re very much linked. Because in the way the story is told in the Turkish press, America acts as muscle for the Jews.
This was going on very much after the Iraq war, when all kinds of utterly crazy conspiracy theories were circulating in the mainstream Turkish press. One thing you also have to remember about the Turks is — I mean, this is a large country. They don’t speak another European language, very few of them have access to any kind of outside media as a reality check. So once a story gets going inside their own press, it rarely gets contradicted; it picks up steam.
Some of the stories you started to notice — you know, just for example, in Turkey in, say, 2004, you know, they were often writing about how — well, one of the most outrageous ones that really caught my attention was that the United States was deliberately killing Iraqi prisoners and, with the connivance of the Jews, harvesting their organs, and taking them and sending them to rich people in New York and Tel Aviv.
You know, there was another story about how the US was throwing so many Iraqi bodies into the Euphrates River that the mullahs had issued a fatwa saying don’t eat the fish, it’s polluted.