By Daniella Peled
July 16, 2008
Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is a brilliant media manipulator. He managed to convince Lebanon and the wider Arab world that his group won a divine victory over Israel in the 2006 war, although in truth it was more a case of Israel losing than anyone winning.
This time it will be even easier for him to present the prisoner exchange as a triumph. It's not just the apparent high price being paid by Israel - five live prisoners, including the notorious terrorist Samir Kuntar, and the remains of some 200 more, exchanged for two dead Israeli soldeirs and a pitiful dossier on Ron Arad. Prisoner exchanges will always be skewed in that direction. But Nasrallah has managed once again to position Hizbollah as real power-brokers in Lebanon, strong both militarily and politically, and representing all the country's interests. Like Hamas delivering the Gaza ceasefire, it is the armed resistance, rather than the diplomatically acknowleged state actor, delivering the goods. Today's release, with a national holiday declared in Lebanon and with the prisoners being welcomed by the president and prime minister, only reinforces that position.