Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches have swayed Israeli public opinion, making him the first Arab leader to affect Israelis in decades, a study indicates.
The finding came in a study by the chief intelligence officer for the central command of the Israeli army who analyzed Nasrallah’s speeches in the course of graduate studies at the University of Haifa Ha’aretz reported on its website on Monday.
The high-ranking officer described Nasrallah as the first Arab leader in 30 years to affect the Israeli public so strongly through the power of his words, placing him after President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt in the 1960s.
In his study, the colonel identified by only his first name as Ronen analyzed 10 speeches by Nasrallah that were broadcast during the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon.
Nasrallah’s only public press conference during the war was on the first day of war followed by recorded speeches later broadcast by Arab television networks, amid threats of Israeli attempts to assassinate the Lebanese resistance leader, he notes.
Widely covered in Israel during the summer conflict, the speeches by the highly popular Hezbollah leader successfully highlighted solidarity among the Lebanese nation, laid bare the weaknesses of the Israeli military and political leadership while emphasizing the righteousness of armed resistance against Israel.
Ronen says the rhetoric and content of the speeches were influenced by Nasrallah’s understanding of the development of the war, based on information from the field.
The officer, who previously held senior positions in the research division of military intelligence, argues that had Israeli decision makers analyzed these speeches in due time it could have altered the course of the war.
Since the war, Col. Ronen writes, the resistance movement has held its ground and unity among the Lebanese has not been undermined.