‘First Arab Leader to Affect Israeli Opinion in 30 Years’

Syed_Hassan_Nasrallah1Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah was the first Arab leader in 30 years who, through his speeches, had the potential to affect the Israeli public.

The acknowledgment was made by a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer, whose last name cannot be disclosed and who studied Sayyed Nasrallah’s speeches during the Second Lebanon War, which began four years ago today, in the course of graduate studies  at the University of Haifa.

Israeli daily Haaretz said that Colonel Ronen, the chief intelligence officer for the Central Command the Israeli army, previously held senior positions in the research division of Military Intelligence. The study analyzed 10 speeches by Sayyed Nasrallah that were broadcast during the 34 days of warfare.

While claiming that apart from the rockets it lobbed into the occupied territories the speeches were the only offensive weapon that Hezbollah used in the war, Colonel Ronen said that Sayyed Nasrallah was the first Arab leader to affect Israeli public opinion since Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, in the 1960s.

The Israeli officer emphasized that the rhetoric and content of the speeches were influenced by Hezbollah Secretary General’s understanding of the development of the war, based on information from the field. He argued that had Israeli decision makers analyzed these speeches in real time it could have altered the course of the war.

According to him, the main term that Sayyed Nasrallah repeated throughout the war in his speeches was “sumud,” Arabic for “standing firm” or “steadfastness.” Ronen explained that Sayyed Nasrallah’s rhetoric was aimed at supporting and strengthening the “steadfastness” in terms of social unity and solidarity among the Lebanese; among the Hezbollah fighters, heroes and the civilian population; and in the context of deterring Israeli attacks.

Ronen said that throughout the war, Sayyed Nasrallah tried systematically to undermine Israelis’ confidence in their political and military leadership.


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