After decades of periodic conflict with Lebanon that cost thousands of lives, Israel successfully eradicated all traces of anti-Semitism from its northern neighbor with a series of heavy bombing attacks in July.
"Israel really turned us around on the whole Jew-hating thing," said Hezbollah leader Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, shortly after a U.N.–brokered ceasefire was declared on Aug. 14. "After destroying much of our infrastructure and displacing nearly 1 million civilians, we've come to respect Israel as a legitimate power and a beacon of democracy, and not a pack of lying, usurping, hook-nosed dogs."
The last-ever Israel–Lebanon conflict began on July 12, when Hezbollah militants launched Katyusha missiles into Northern Israel, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Despite this initial success, Israel eventually prevailed in ridding the majority-Arab nation of a pervasive prejudice, the roots of which extend to Phoenician times.
Many in the international community were greatly surprised by the development. "We assumed this was just another regional war of attrition, a short-term, semi-effective defensive measure at best, a conflict-feeding 'eye for an eye' tactic at worst," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said. "But we see that we were being far too cynical. It's basically resolved now."
Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, a Washington–based think tank, said that there was "very strong" evidence that not only was a virulent anti-Jewish sentiment completely wiped out in Israel's bombing campaign against Lebanon, but so was any hard-line political opposition to Israel's existence or its annexing of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights following the Six-Day War in 1967, and general anger over Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
"It's remarkable to think that, had Hezbollah been capable of making surgical pre-emptive strikes against Israeli military installations and densely populated urban centers, Israel would most likely be renouncing Zionism and abandoning the region at this very moment," Talbott said in August.
The bombings have had the most significant impact on Lebanon's youth. Many who saw parents and friends killed in the attacks said they will now spend the rest of their lives supporting Israel.
"I was upset at first when a bomb destroyed my school and killed many of my schoolmates and left me without legs," said Tyre bombing victim Sherifa Ayoub, 14, as she wheeled down her rubble-strewn street. "But as the days went on, and the bombs continued to fall, I began to realize that I had spent my whole young life arbitrarily lashing out at a people I thought I hated, when, all along, what I really hated was myself."
Israel's crushing victory has led Talbott and other Mideast experts to speculate that the nation may go on to bomb the anti-Semitism out of such hostile neighbors as Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.