From The Forward, Aug. 11:
JERUSALEM — Young Israeli activists are fighting back against Hezbollah — with a boycott on smoking hash.
Hashish, or oil resin from marijuana plants, is one of the primary recreational drugs available in Israel. It’s smoked in much the same way that marijuana is, and because the marijuana available in Israel is generally of a low quality, hashish is the preferred choice of most of the country’s pot smokers.
And it’s being smuggled in by Hezbollah.
“A Persian-backed terrorist organization is the primary supplier of hashish to the Israeli market today,” activist and Jerusalem resident Dan Sieradski said on his blog, OrthodoxAnarchist.com. “And this is why, with a heavy heart, I am officially boycotting hashish, effective immediately.”
According to an Israeli police report, Lebanon is the number-one source of hashish in the country. (Coming in at number two, Israeli backpackers returning from India.) Historically, Israeli Arabs, Bedouins and Druze nomads have been the middle men in Israel’s drug trade, smuggling hashish, cocaine and other drugs across the Israeli-Lebanese border. Since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, however, Hezbollah has seized control of the smuggling operation, and the Islamic militant group continues to control the drug trade — and profit off all transactions made.
“Hezbollah is directly overseeing the entire operation,” Police Captain Avi ElGrisi was quoted as saying in The Jerusalem Post. “They say where, when, and how much drugs are brought in.”
The quantity of hashish being smuggled into the country started to soar in the late 1990s; Israeli officials seized and confiscated 143 kilograms in 2001. Since then, the Intelligence Department of Israeli Police Headquarters says, the amounts coming into the country have only increased.
Most hashish users in Israel are believed to be adolescents and young adults in their 20s. Sieradski’s proposed boycott has met with agreement and enthusiasm from other hash smokers around the country. Many see it as a means to give their opinions a voice with a vehicle other than petitions and e-mail forwards, by using their buying power to cut off at least one source of Hezbollah’s funding, or what activists commonly refer to as “the economic vote” — in other words, putting your money where your mouth is.
“The thing is, if you buy your drugs from Lebanon, you could well be funding terrorism through Hezbollah against Israel,” a user named invisibleplanet wrote on Sieradski’s Web site. “Who among us would want that on their conscience? Not me!” Another young man involved in the boycott commented: “It’s bad enough that they’re trying to blow up our country. I’m not going to pay them to do it.”
Some boycotters argue that the only way to ultimately cripple Hezbollah’s role in the drug trade is not merely to shut down the terrorist group’s smuggling operation but also to decriminalize the drug itself. If hashish were made legal, they say, the demand for underground sources would vanish and Hezbollah’s monopoly would collapse.
Not all Israeli hash smokers agree with Sieradski’s sentiments. One Jerusalem-area dealer, who asked not to be named, said, “It all comes from Hezbollah.” When asked what he thought of the boycott, he said, “Roll that s—t, light that s—t, smoke that s—t.”
But Sieradski and his compatriots remain confident that, even if their boycott doesn’t single-handedly overthrow Hezbollah’s shelling of Israel, they’re doing their part to contribute.
Since the start of the war, Sieradski’s Web site has been bombarded with three times its normal number of visitors. Israeli police said that they had no statistics for the amount of drug smuggling over the Israeli-Lebanon border, but it’s likely that, given the other activity on the Lebanon border, the dangers in smuggling hashish have increased significantly.
“You cannot stop people from smoking cannabis,” Sieradski said. “But you can have a profound impact on where they get it from.”
Actually, as we have noted, there has been a vigorous crackdown on hashish production in Lebanon in recent years—the fruit of a heartwarming instance of US-Syrian cooperation. The cannabis farmers of the Bekaa Valley, however, are not happy about it, having been plunged back into poverty by the eradication of their crops. We wouldn’t be surprised if more of the hash entering Israel was of Turkish or Afghan origin. The hashish and heroin trade is booming in US-occupied Afghanistan. Life’s little ironies.
See our last post on the Lebanon crisis.