HEZBOLLAH and its sponsors, Iran and Syria, are relying upon our soft hearts and softer heads to destroy us.
Many think Israel suffered a major defeat last Sunday when the Israeli air force bombed a building in the village of Qana, near the Lebanese port city of Tyre. Initial reports were that 57 people - most of them women and children - had been killed. The Red Crescent (the Muslim version of the Red Cross) has been able to confirm only 28 deaths.
The bombing's aftermath featured some of the most dramatic pictures of the war. Several featured a man wearing an orange reflective vest and a green helmet, carrying a dead child from the rubble to an ambulance.
Dr. Richard North, a British Web logger, noticed something odd about the photos. Some of the workers are wearing different gear in different photos, yet they were clearly carrying the same corpse. For instance, by the time the man carrying the dead child reached the ambulance, he had shed both the green helmet and the reflective vest. The time stamps on the photos suggested they'd been taken hours apart.
The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse denied the photos had been staged.
But the event clearly was stage-managed by Hezbollah. Within hours of the first reports of the tragedy in Qana, there was a demonstration in Beirut. The protesters had a 30-foot color banner featuring a photograph of Condoleezza Rice, and an Arabic caption blaming her for what happened there. The banner - at least that portion of it with Ms. Rice's photograph - had to have been prepared before Israel dropped its bombs.
"Hezbollah gunmen placed a rocket launcher on the roof in Qana and brought disabled children inside, in a bid to provoke a response by the Israeli air force," charged Libanoscopie, a Lebanese Christian Web site.
I won't address in this column the interesting question of why so much international outrage is directed at the Israelis for the accidental killing of civilians, and so little at Hezbollah for its deliberate efforts to kill Israeli civilians, and its use of Lebanese civilians as human shields.
Nor will I address the equally interesting question of whether some in the news media are dupes of Hezbollah propaganda, or complicit in it.
The point I want to emphasize today is that Hezbollah's hopes for victory depend entirely on its propaganda campaign.
What constitutes "victory" for Hezbollah is imposition of a cease-fire that will prevent Israel from crippling the terror group, and would permit Syria and Iran to rearm it.
There is little Hezbollah, Syria, or Iran can do to impose such a cease-fire by force of arms. The terror group can "win" only by so tugging on heartstrings in the West that we act contrary to our interests (again).
Support for Hezbollah in Europe and the Middle East has surged since Qana, wrote the Washington Post's Jefferson Morley on Wednesday.
But world opinion is overrated. Intellectually and morally, it is no more valuable than Mel Gibson's opinion, after he has consumed a bottle of tequila. But leave that aside. The only non-Israeli whose opinion matters much to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is President Bush, who remains steadfast in his support.
The propaganda war matters more than ever before, but still matters less than what happens on the battlefield, where Hezbollah is getting its clock cleaned, though that's difficult to tell from the news coverage.
If President Bush doesn't succumb to world opinion, Israel will win, soon, a decisive victory. And then world opinion will change.
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