Lebanese individuals might have been involved in Syria’s war from early days. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Aseer declared Jihad and went himself there couple of months ago with his fighters too for a show-off exercise, but permanent or independent Lebanese fighting battalion are not known to be present as of yet.
Hezbollah has institutionalised the Lebanese involvement in Syria with his recent public involvement in the battle of Qusair. Hassan Nasrallah has publicly called his Lebanese opponents “to meet them in Syria to fight”. Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese state and government and obviously has a regional weight – which means Iran.
The lebanese government, which is supposed to be adopting a dissociation policy, is in coma status with no comment whatsoever. Even more, “sovereign” Michel Aoun has defended Hezbollah’s intervention on the basis they are fighting the takfirees (beyond our borders.)
Sadly, some Lebanese will meet Hezbollah’s divisive call and go to Syria. This will expand Syria’s war into a sectarian regional one, and allow the war to spread to Lebanon too without a shadow of a doubt.
Below is the video of the 29 years old Lebanese Fadi AbdulKader declaring the formation of the Free Battalion of “Ikleem el Kharoub” under the Free Syrian Army command to fight Hezbollah. If you don’t know it, Ikleem el Kharoub is a Sunni area in the mostly mixed Druze and Christian Chouf district.
In what could be the first video of its kind for a Lebanese, Fadi AbdulKader shows a copy of his Lebanese passport (which expired last month) confirming his ID and date of birth. The video is done on the style of previous videos for defections from the Syrian army. He declares he wants to defend his religion and land in both Syria and Lebanon. Funnily enough, he gives The Lebanese Republic a new name by calling it the Arab Republic of Lebanon.
Hezbollah, which always prided itself not be part of the Lebanese civil war, is now creating a Lebanese civil war on Syrian land and contributing to the Syrian civil war. Hezbollah has officially turned into a militia, and seeking other Lebanese militias on the opposite side. This can only get worse for everyone.
Hezbollah promises another “divine victory” in Syria
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah stated clearly in his recent speech that his party has and will continue to fight in Syria next to the regime forces. His reasoning remained purely political: he linked it to Syria’s role as a strategic regional partner. However, within the Shiite community in Lebanon, this political rhetoric has no real value, as more dead bodies of ‘martyrs’ come back from Syria.
A different kind of narrative was needed to convince Hezbollah’s constituency why the enemy is now on the other side of the border. In Shiite villages and towns, the rhetoric has little to do with “foreign powers aiming to destroy Syria as a country, people, and army, and canceling its regional role,” as he mentioned in the speech. Hezbollah’s leaders managed to quell public discontent by adding a sacred element to their involvement in Syria: Karbala. The divine narrative has been invoked, yet again.
In the beginning of the 1980s, Hezbollah built its rhetoric to tie together political and historical narratives to gradually form a Shiite collective memory. The Party of God employed the memory of the battle of Karbala, when an army sent by the Sunni Umayyad caliph Yazid I defeated Al Hussein bin Ali, grandson of the prophet Mohammad. This battle marks the root of the historical schism between Sunnis and Shiites.
When Hezbollah decided to take over resistance in Lebanon and eliminate the National Resistance Front, the act of resisting Israel was intertwined with Hussein and his family’s resistance to Yazid.
The family Hussein suffered and were eventually martyred in order to preserve the Shiite faith, and Hezbollah invoked this martyrdom in reference to its ‘divine victory’ in the 2006 July War. In fact, tales of Hussein and his family’s spirits helping Hezbollah fighters in the battles against Israeli soldiers are still told and have been merged with the collective Karbala memories.
Today, as Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria can no longer be kept secret, this memory is being exploited again. Many of its symbols are being used by Hezbollah’s leaders to tie their fight in Syria to a scared mission. This time, it is not only to defend Shiites in Syria, or Lebanese on the borders, or even Shiite shrines for that matter; the real mission Hezbollah is marketing to its community is to save the Shiite existence exactly as Hussein bin Ali did in the year 680.
“It is a sacred battle and a religious duty,” their leaders tell them. “The Shiites in Syria are suffering death, torture, and thirst, exactly as Hussein and his family suffered before them. Their fault is that they loved Hussein,” states many of their Facebook pages and websites.
Recently, whenever Syria is mentioned, Hussein bin Ali and his family are brought up. Syria is no more a war between the regime that supports resistance and fighters that wish resistance to end. Instead, this war is painted as a divine battle to defend the Shiite faith and pave the way for the appearance of the “awaited” Al Mahdi, the twelfth Imam for the Shiites. People are recounting old forgotten tales of Mahdi’s appearance and now it is believed that he and his army are going to appear soon in Damascus with yellow flags to conquer and restore peace.
Hezbollah has realized that this collective memory is the only way to drag the Shiites again to a battle decided by Iran, which serves only Iran. But when more dead bodies come back from Syria and the promised “victory” is not fulfilled, Shiites will eventually realize that the divine narrative is not always a guaranteed recipe for power and victory. Hezbollah will then lose its last recourse, and eventually the collective memory will probably collapse and take down both the party and its popular base. Unfortunately, it will be too late for the Shiites as they will be in a bloody and violent confrontation with Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon.
But Hezbollah seems to have dropped Lebanon from its strategic map. In his speech, Nasrallah cast off all Lebanese-related issues and stated before he concluded that there is no time to discuss these as they are not significant. Lebanon is not important to the Party of God. When he declared war against the international community by saying that “Syria has real friends in the region and across the world that will not let the country fall into the hands of the US, Israel, or takfiris,” Nasrallah certainly did not have Lebanon’s interest in mind.
If Lebanese Shiites do not realize that they are being exploited in a war that serves Iran, not Lebanon, then they will have to face a civil war in which neither Hussein bin Ali, nor his family, can save them.
Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW. She tweets @haningdr
An artist’s rendering of the 680 Battle of Karbala. (Image via AbbasShalai.com)
“Tales of Hussein and his family’s spirits helping Hezbollah fighters in the battles against Israeli soldiers are still told.”
It was our first week in Lebanon, and my husband and I were driving up the freeway that links the south of the country to Beirut. A hulking 4WD pulled in front of us, with two people sitting in the front. As the boot of the car came into view, my jaw dropped. Sitting on the floor of the car, hugging her knees, was a Sri Lankan woman, dressed in a pastel servant’s uniform. The whole backseat of the car was empty.
When people call Beirut a ‘cosmopolitan’ city, they’re referring to the easy co-mingling of Lebanese and Westerners. Foreigners from Asia and East Africa — the vast majority of whom are here as domestic workers — are outsiders here, widely considered to be lowly by birth. It’s been now three months since we moved here, and I’m still shocked by the way many Lebanese people treat their domestic servants.
About 200,000 domestic workers work in Lebanon (a country of four million people), and come predominantly from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and the Philippines. In a country divided unforgivingly down lines of status, a foreign maid is the status symbol par excellence. On the weekends, restaurants around Lebanon are filled with families and friends enjoying each other’s company, their maids commonly sitting several tables away, staring into space. In Downtown’s central square, Place de l’Étoile, uniformed house slaves drag their feet after little princes, toddlers who have already been trained to ignore the hired help. They’re not just for the super-rich, either — you can get a full-time maid for as little as USD100 per month (USD250 is considered a generous wage).
It’s not unusual to see a family of four being attended to by two maids — one for each child. Why not? They’re as cheap as chips. They don’t even need their own room — in many houses maids are forced to sleep on the living-room floor, under the stairs, and in rooms built for storing brooms. Often these women have no kin or connections in Lebanon, so there are no consequences for people who treat them barbarously. It’s a miserable, lonely version of Downton Abbey, retooled for a post oil-boom Middle East, starring the world’s downtrodden-for-hire.
An activist at a March 2012 rally holds a sign in reference to Alem Desisa, an Ethiopian maid who took her own life after a video of her being abused was aired on national television.
Last week, I was appalled but unsurprised to read another stomach-turning account of racism here in Lebanon. At Beirut’s international airport, a female employee of Middle East Airlines (MEA), Lebanon’s national carrier, used the intercom repeatedly to instruct Filipinos and Nepalis to “stop talking” as they waited to board a flight. When Abed Shaheen, a Lebanese man based in Dubai, told the woman and her “macho” colleague that this racist behavior was unacceptable, the woman dared him to complain, adding that the airline’s management didn’t want these people on the flight, anyway.
“How would you feel if you ever wanted to travel to Europe, and while queuing for your visa they told you the same thing?” Shaheen repugned. “These people are different,” the MEA employee replied. Then her colleague asked Shaheen to back off from the counter and threatened to void his ticket.
When Shaheen blogged about what he had seen, it made headlines around the world. Lebanese bloggers and tweeters vented their rage at MEA. The female MEA staff member was fired.
But for some Lebanese, the racism exhibited by this woman — though shocking in its brazenness — was simply a reflection of mainstream attitudes in Lebanon. “It is easy to blame or demonise the flight attendants, and it is also easy to miss the real source of the problem. The flight attendants are offering the above “services” because they believe it’s what the customers (i.e. the Lebanese passengers) want,” writes Mustapha Hamoui, who blogs at Beirut Spring.
Commenting on Hamoui’s blog, ‘Dania’ wrote, “It starts at home, when kids see how their parents treat the help like slaves or act in a condescending and mean way to migrant workers at gas stations etc.”
Commenter Suzy Abboud was incensed: “All of you who are talking about Racism [sic] and the bad behavior of one single employee, just tell me honestly how you treat your own maid in your home. Do you allow her to eat with you on the same table. Do you allow her to use your bathroom? Do you allow her to have day off? Do you allow her to get fancy cloth? Do you allow her to go to the beach with you, to swim, not just to sit under the burning sun to watch over your kids? Do you allow her to sleep in a proper room, not on the floor, on the balcony or in the kitchen? You want to talk about MEA? Just start by talking about yourself in your own home before criticising a national and successful company that makes every Lebanese very proud.”
Of course, corporate accountability is vital in these situations, and this woman’s dismissal should at least give other MEA employees pause. The outcry over this incident is also a positive sign. There are activist groups like the Anti-Racism Movement, who work with migrant community leaders to challenge and expose racism, and the government is cracking down on private beach clubs that refuse entry to Asian and African migrants (like the club featured in the video below).
The racism foreign workers experience is so deeply engrained in Lebanese society the term hardly seems sufficient. It’s like a Middle Eastern caste system: these women are considered lowly by birth. Horrific stories circulate about the beatings and sexual abuse they suffer at the hands of their employers, and how almost a third of them live under house arrest. In 2008, Human Rights Watch reported that on average, one foreign worker was committing suicide in Lebanon every week. Many die after falling from a balcony while trying to escape.
But amidst these regular stories of brutality, it’s the way that Asian and East African women are reduced to objects of derision that disturbs me the most. One particularly creepy little example from earlier this year came from a bar close to where I live in the Christian area of Gemmayze. In January, Life Bar advertised a special Friday night on its Facebook page, encouraging punters to come dressed in their own maid costume. “Speak Like them and look like a Philippino [sic], Bengladish [sic], Sri Lanka [sic] or any maid you want and definitely win 100$ in cash. They do work all the month to get it. Imitate them and win it in some few comedy moments.” The owner canceled the event after it was howled down online, though she insisted it had been ‘misunderstood’.
The problem of racism in Lebanon is enormous, and can’t be solved merely by reactive spasms. Just like every other domestic problem maligning Lebanon — sectarianism, corruption, pollution — solving the problem of racism would require Lebanese people to work together, and to believe in the notion of a Lebanese society. But as one civil society activist told me recently, “Lebanon isn’t a country — it’s a country club.” People here expect the country to serve them, she said, not the other way around.
KABOBfest, June 2, 2011When he entered the topic of Syria, Nasrallah was unusually reading verbatim from his notes. Anyone who has routinely watched Nasrallah’s speeches would know it is not his style to read. This is the one and only excuse I could find for him, to explain his incredible hypocrisy and his utter disregard for the thousands of victims detained, tortured, injured, and killed by the Syrian regime these past few months.This is coming from someone who has openly supported Hezbollah and admired its charismatic leader for as long as I can remember. What is it that he owes to the Syrian regime that he had to back-stab the Syrian people? Are they not part of our Ummah (nation), as he himself reiterates? Of course he knows that! Some have argued that he sold out his Syrian brothers and sisters for a greater cause for the Ummah, i.e. by defending the Syrian regime it would somehow, in the long term, prove to save more lives, in addition to our freedom and dignity, than if it falls. But to stand with a tyrannical regime, you have already forsaken all dignity and all freedom.Nasrallah’s words show that he was aware that people would find it hard to buy his defense. At one point he stated that: “When we worry about Syria, we worry about its regime and about its people, not only the regime.” Also, he spent twenty minutes explaining the “elements” that his position of support was based on.
In the first element, he talks about all the gratitude that the Lebanese (and all Arabs in general) owe to the Syrian regime for saving Lebanon from division and stopping the bloodiest civil war in its history. Of course, he conveniently disregards the fact that Syria was part of that civil war which it allegedly helped stop, not to mention the Syrian army’s massacres (which he refers to as mistakes) of Palestinian refugees in the very same years he evokes.
In the second and third elements, he brings up Syria’s position in the region as part of the resistance axis. Does he not know that Syria’s position of so-called resistance is only a political strategy to get a better deal with Israel and the US? Did the Syrian regime not cooperate with the US in hunting down “terrorists” and in securing the Syrian-Iraqi border? Did he forget that it was Hafez al-Assad who refused Jadeed’s directive to intervene in Black September and save the Palestinian guerrilla fighters in Jordan?
In the fourth element, Nasrallah distinguishes the Syrian regime from those of Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Tunisia in that the Syrian regime is very serious about reforms and fighting corruption, and therefore they should be given a chance to enact those promised reforms “through dialogue, not clashes.” Well who’s the one rolling tanks into besieged cities, cutting off their water, electricity, and food supplies? Does he not see who’s the one doing the clashing? Of course he does, and that makes him a hypocrite and a liar.
In the fifth element, he affirms that the majority of Syrians (based on trusted information) are still supporting the regime and believe in Bashar’s ability to deliver on his promises for reform. He then asks rhetorically “Who/where are the Syrian people so we can stand by them?”
It is only in the last two elements that he provides the true reason for his support of the Syrian regime: “What happens in Syria has its consequences in Lebanon and the whole region. We must take this into consideration…. Lebanon has commitments and treaties with Syria, starting from Al-Taef Agreement to all other mutual interests.”
Based on these elements, Nasrallah said that the Lebanese are obligated (stressing that this is simply his point of view; that the Lebanese people can choose to disagree) to take the following positions towards what’s happening in Syria:
1. To be assiduous towards the stability and safety of the Syrian regime, army, and people.
2. To invite the Syrians to maintain their country and regime, and to give them the chance to make the necessary reforms, and to choose dialogue over clashes.
3. To abstain, as Lebanese, from interfering with what’s happening in Syria, unless it was a positive interference.
4. To strongly reject any sanctions imposed by America and the West which require Lebanese cooperation. Lebanon should never stab Syria in the back.
5. To work together and cooperate so that Syria can come out of [the crisis] strong and resistant, because that is in the interests of Syria, Lebanon, the Arab world, and the Ummah.
During the entire segment on Syria, which Nasrallah spoke with great enthusiasm and loud voice, there was no applause or cheers from the massive crowd in attendance. Perhaps even the people there thought the same as what many Arabs around the world who love Hezbollah thought: “I wish you did not talk about Syria at all!”
Not even the most cunning Zionist plan could have come up with a way to discredit Nasrallah the way he did to himself! This is a big blow (perhaps the biggest) to his image and influence as the greatest Arab leader since Gamal Abdul-Nasser (some even say since Salahuddin 1000 years ago). Regardless of the disagreements in ideology and the specifics of the overall Arab and Islamic cause, he was loved and supported by millions around the world, up until this speech on May 25, 2011 in commemoration of the liberation of the South of Lebanon. I don’t know how would he recover, unless he comes out in public and apologize for disregarding (and silently supporting) the brutal torture, incarceration, and murder of thousands of Syrians.
As for those Syrians and other Arabs who accuse the Syrian protesters of being part of a Zionist/American plot (thankfully Nasrallah did not openly stoop to that level), since when does peaceful protesting get punished with brutal torture and shots to the head? If you guys wish to support the regime in Syria after all the crimes it had committed, then at least have the decency to pretend to be ashamed of yourselves.
Arab leaders pay lip service to Palestinian rights – except when it comes to the rights of domiciled refugees in their countries
I moved to Beirut from New York nine months ago and began looking for an apartment. After 10 continuous years in America, I wanted to return to the Arab world – and returning to my family’s roots in Palestine wasn’t an option.
I knew that in Beirut, I likely wasn’t going to be renting from a faceless, impersonal property company; real people mostly own the real estate here – and often, they are interested in knowing their tenants personally. That’s how I learned, to my dismay, that being a Palestinian in Beirut is mostly a liability; anti-Palestinian racism is a fact of life here.
During my second month in Lebanon, I responded to an ad for an apartment in East Beirut, which is now predominantly a Christian district. The building owner called me and we arranged a viewing. The apartment seemed fine, and on my way out, the owner invited me into his apartment on the first floor of the building for a coffee.
The coffee turned out to be an interview – or rather, an interrogation. It began with a series of inquisitive but reasonable questions. Why did my family leave Palestine? What was my business in Lebanon? Why didn’t I go back to Palestine? Why didn’t I go back to America?
But from there, it became aggressively adversarial. The man suggested my father had behaved in a cowardly fashion by leaving Palestine – or that he left for love of money. I was shocked, and only said that it was clear that the man resented Palestinians. Needless to say, he didn’t want to rent the apartment to me and I didn’t want to rent it from him.
But my experience here in Lebanon has been a privileged one. I have the luxury of looking for an apartment in East Beirut – and I can afford the rent. Furthermore, I’m an American citizen, which makes life immeasurably easier. The vast majority of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees (10% of the population in Lebanon) who were born and raised in Lebanon do not have anything approaching the privilege I do. Today, Lebanon is the most hostile country to Palestinian refugees after Israel. They are second-class citizens here, but they are not the only ones.
Foreign guest workers also have a notoriously hard time in Lebanese society. Racism is so widespread (see Nesrine Malik’s recent Cif article) that African and Asian guest workers are openly barred from attending the beaches where Lebanese people frolic. And that’s saying nothing of the often inhumane working conditions they are subjected to on a daily basis.
There is an anti-Syrian current, as well. I remember encountering a barking dog while hiking somewhere in the northern part of the country. The owner rushed up and quieted the animal, remarking to me: “See how quickly he calmed down when I told him you’re not Syrian.”
The difference, of course, is that the Syrians, Ethiopians, Filipinos and others have consular support and countries to return to (although that is a serious problem for many guest workers, who are functionally indentured servants). The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have no such recourse.
Lebanese hostility to the Palestinian refugees is far from uniform. But it’s explosive and dangerous where it exists. For instance, the Lebanese Forces militia massacred up to 2,500 Palestinian refugees and others in the Sabra and Shatila camps in 1982 in coordination with the Israeli army. In the 1980s, the Amal militia besieged the camps, killing hundreds and starving thousands. More recently, the Lebanese army bombarded the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in the north of the country in an attempt to root out terrorists unaffiliated to the camp.
The Arab world is rife with hypocrisy when it comes to the Palestinian issue. Arab leaders frequently and rightly cite the chronic human rights violations in which Israel engages, but fail to address the marginalisation of Palestinians within their own societies. Historically, Lebanese citizens have declared that naturalising Palestinians will act as a disincentive to their eventual repatriation and the exercise of their inviolable right of return. But this is a specious and cynical misrepresentation of the issue.
First, many diaspora Palestinians who have been naturalised in foreign countries, including myself, still seek to return to Palestine. Second, an individual ought to have the right to lead a complete and fulfilling life in his/her country of birth, irrespective of national or racial identity; it is not up to the Arab leaders to safeguard the Palestinian right of return against the prospect of a meaningful life lived outside Palestine.
More plausibly, Lebanon’s miserable record regarding the human rights of Palestinian refugees (and others) is a result of the country’s sectarian structure. Lebanon has never been a cohesive political entity and remains divided by sectarian allegiances. Most Lebanese citizens are members of one of three communities: the Sunni community, the Shia community and the Christian community (each of which is further subdivided into competing forces). The country is less divided today than it was in 1991, in the aftermath of the 15-year-long civil war, but it remains fractured.
In this context, it matters that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are mostly Sunni Muslims. There is a fear that if Palestinians are integrated, they will upset the delicate confessional balance that prevails here. It is therefore difficult to see how Lebanon will undertake to improve the lives of the refugees before the Lebanese solve their own sectarian problems.
There has been some official movement on the issue, however. The current prime minister, Saad Hariri, recently remarked that “we included the ministerial statement with an article related to the Palestinians that guarantees their human and public rights”.
Major parliamentary leaders, like Walid Jumblatt and Nabih Berri, favour extending civil rights to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, but their efforts are being stalled by others like National Liberal party leader, Dori Chamoun. At the end of parliamentary proceedings on the issue last week, Chamoun said: “We hold on to Lebanon first and foremost and not onto the Palestinian cause at the expense of the Lebanese cause, and the Christians speak one language in this regard.”
But the issue is far from deadlocked. Elias Muhanna, a prominent blogger, writes that “several analysts are very optimistic that the law will be passed when it comes up again, thereby rolling back several decades’ worth of institutionalised discrimination against Palestinians in Lebanon.”
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will reveal “thunderous news” Monday revealing that Israel was behind the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, a party official said Saturday.
Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi told Ma’an that the evidence would be “comprehensive, revealing conclusive information” implicating Israel in the car bombing that killed Hariri in 2005.
A UN special tribunal set up to investigate the assassination will reportedly blame Hezbollah. Reports suggest that the tribunal will announce its findings before the end of 2010.
Speaking to reporters last Tuesday, Nasrallah said a Hezbollah team spent months compiling information on what he described as Israeli efforts to implicate the Shiite movement.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah met in July with Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman in an effort to diffuse the mounting political tension over possible indictments over the assassination.
Ten days ago I left California to join other U.S. citizens on the Lebanese Boat Brigade—the first such effort to penetrate Israel’s blockade of Gaza since the deadly attack on the Freedom Flotilla May 31. I joined other Americans—Jeff K and Noel I from Boston, Ron D from Maui, Bill S from South Carolina, and Sister Pat C from Wisconsin—enticed by an announcement from the Council for the National Interest and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign to bring women, journalists and writers to this latest effort to break the siege of Gaza now in its 3rd year.
We congregated at the Royal Garden Hotel in Beirut while others gathered in other places, two large groups intentionally brought to weaken Israel’s resolve to assert force—the first a large contingent of women from many lands including nuns to board a ship renamed Mariam for the Mother of God, carrying as well medical supplies and toys, the second a group of journalists without borders to accompany a cargo ship, the Julia, loaded with construction materials.
Each came determined to express solidarity with the people of Gaza who have suffered more than 62 years of occupation, oppression, siege and destruction by the Israeli state and the Congress of the U.S—a battalion of abuses fittingly described as “crimes against humanity.”
I will not speak for the others, American or foreign, but I will mark in passing the sense of futility they feel as Americans for their government’s complicity in Israel’s blatant and calculated destruction of the people of Palestine.
For years, certainly since the Presidency of George W. Bush, these Americans have attempted to condemn and to distance themselves from the crimes committed by their representatives, including their belief that the election of Barak Obama would offer change—yet change does not happen. Consequently, varying organizations, agencies and individuals have joined forces to confront the illegality of these two nations by using international waters to break the blockade of Gaza.
Needless to say, Israel and its Congressional Knesset in Washington have determined to stop the freedom flotillas from reaching Gaza or impacting their illegal siege of this strip of land where they have imposed collective punishment against the people. The interception of Turkey’s boat, Mamara, and the killing of 9 citizens of that NATO nation by Israeli naval commandoes breaks the governing principles of NATO’s obligations to its members, a virtual act of war, even as it breaks international law governing attacks at sea.
But Israel and the U.S. act with impunity in our name. Hence the need to take active measures to stop such unilateral betrayal of the agreements we have formed as a people with member states of the United Nations. The disaster resulting from the attack on the Mamara follows six decades of Israeli atrocities against the indigenous people of Palestine including a terrorist war against the authorized British government during the Mandate Period, the massacre at Deir Yassin and 27 subsequent massacres that caused the obliteration of 418 towns and villages, the ethnic cleansing of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes to refugee camps where they continue to live in poverty without rights of citizenship abandoned by the governments of the world, the subsequent invasion of Lebanon by Israel in 1982 and the slaughter at the Sabra Chatila refugee camp, one of the most brutal and savage massacres orchestrated by Israel through its mercenaries, and more recently the 2006 invasion of Lebanon capped by a return to the massacre of the Qana orphanage, the Christmas destruction of Gaza in 2008/9 and now its wanton attacks against international citizens on international waters.
How can anyone with a conscience allow such behavior to continue? I began this series on the Boat Brigade referring to Wagner’s Das Rheingold and its major theme—acquisition of power and wealth by repudiation of human love, the denial of sympathy or compassion for one’s fellow man, the creation of a people willing to forego all morals and principles to achieve ultimate power, the soulless human without conscience or remorse, the walking dead. There is an unfortunate consequence to such acceptance of a life lived for self and the acquisition of gold—a life lived in isolation from all others because success necessitates lies, deceit and manipulation if one is to defeat all others, an alienation from warmth and true concern that gives substance to spirit as opposed to pocketbook.
It is a life of self-imposed fear that another, especially fear of associates that are accomplices in this quest for the coins of greed and the trappings of power, will deceive and destroy their comrades to further their ends. It is a vicious cycle of psychotic siege mentality that grows as the coldness of the heart grows until every waking moment heightens the realization that all find repugnance in the acts that give purpose to those who repudiate natural love. Such is the present state of Israel.
Faced as they are with the world against them, Israel and the United States turn to devices of control to prevent the confrontations the freedom flotilla represent. Having lost once again acceptance of their brutal attack on the Mamara, they have found it necessary to link any who join such a flotilla to terrorist groups, enemies of the state of Israel and, therefore, enemy combatants which legitimizes in their distorted minds their right to engage and kill such people as if they were militarily threatening the state of Israel.
Since this Lebanon flotilla was announced shortly after the attack on the Marmara, with openness of intent and revelation of the groups, the women’s and the journalists’, Israel has alleged over and over that this flotilla is not manned by humanists but rather by terrorists, unsubstantiated charges of guilt by association, hearsay, omission of truth and outright lies, made in order to torpedo the boats even before they sail.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the government of Israel has “linked the boat to Hizbullah,” that Yasser Kashlak, Director of the Free Palestine Movement, is “a fervent Hizbullah supporter,” that the true intentions of the organizers “remain dubious,” that the possibility exists that “terrorists or arms will be smuggled on board,” that Lebanon is an enemy country and must be treated “as if they were hostile,” that these boats “which are carrying representatives of Hizbullah and Iran” mean that Israel “reserves its rights under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the existing naval blockade” and that the presence of Samar Haji, the wife of a former Lebanese General “jailed for his part in the assassination of PM Rafiq Harari, “means a real connection with Hizbullah. None of the above is substantiated, none of it belies the true intention of the people who left their homes to participate in a direct act of civil disobedience against the state of Israel which is supported by their representatives in the Congress, and none of it provides either the U.S. or Israel with legal justification for preemptive strikes against a flotilla in international waters.
Yet as a result, the flotilla has not and cannot sail as planned, not on the 25th of June, not on the 39th, not on the 3rd or 4th of July, and perhaps never. The accusations have forced the government of Lebanon to confront Israel’s contention that it will hold Lebanon responsible for any attack Israel must take against the ships; the organizers have had to confront the allegations of complicity with terror groups even though only the U.S., Israel and Canada have alleged that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization and not a legitimate political and humanitarian organization in Lebanon or that Hamas is labeled a terrorist organization although it too is an elected party in Palestine and only prevented from acting as such by Israel and the U.S.. And, finally, the individuals who have come to Lebanon have to contend with the consequences of the delays that result from such allegations and the threats that their own representatives contend will be imposed on them if they confront Israel, the ally they have justified in its criminal behavior. That these people are professors, lawyers, doctors, journalists, students, and human rights activists who arrived with their own views regarding Israel’s illegitimate actions is irrelevant and unsought.
Clearly, the power and control that Israel imposes on Palestine, its calculated willingness to steal as much land as it can from the rightful owners, its conscienceless drive to eradicate the people, its willing use of American soldiers for its own purposes, its control of our representatives through fear and intimidation, demonstrates that it will not tolerate demonstrations against its tyranny. Yet should they succeed, they will have once again perverted the very ideals on which America was founded and the voice of the people will be buried beneath the overwhelming power that gold represents—and the human need for love and compassion for all will be made irrelevant to and subjected to those who live without human sympathy.
These are my thoughts as I leave Lebanon this Saturday, a victim of those who have no conscience, no remorse, and no soul.NWCNEWS
*Dr. William A. Cook is an activist and a writer for numerous Internet publications including Counterpunch, Pacific Free Press in British Columbia, Dissident Voice and Information Clearing House, serving as senior editor for MWC News out of Canada, and contributing editor at the Palestine Chronicle, the Atlantic Free Press in the Netherlands, and the World Prout Assembly. He also serves on the Board of the People’s Media Project, interviews on radio and TV in South Africa, Canada, Iran and the United States.
SABBAH REPORT NOTE: (This is a Der Spiegel story in German, picked up from an Israeli Internet portal…. The google translation is all over the place but I have a German speaking friend who has provided me with a more coherent translation of the opening paragraphs:)
by Sarah Stricker, Tel Aviv
An enchanting young woman befriends Israeli military men on Facebook – and elicits secrets from them. According to a press report, 20 elite soldiers fell into the trap. The Lebanese Shiite militia is presumably behind it.
Hizbolla is supposed to have infiltrated the elite unit with a faked Facebook profile. With the photo of a pretty young woman who logged in with an Israeli name, the Shiite military is supposed to have built up contact to elite soldiers and elicited secret information, this was reported by the Israeli News portal MySay.co.il
The facebook page of Reut Zuckerman, who is lying on a sofa beaming into the camera in her profile photo went online about a year ago. The people behind the site made contact with numerous Israeli army soldiers. MySay reports that about 200 soldiers and reservists were on Zuckerman’s friends list.
Zuckerman concentrated particularly on an elite unite of paratroopers. Apparently many of the men suspected that the woman was herself an Israeli soldier in a special unit. The people behind the site worked slowly to gain the confidence of the soldiers and are reported to have gained key information regarding the activities of the unit in question.
The men in the unit gave their Facebook friend names of members of the unit, jargon, secret codes, and detailed descriptions of bases . Some of the soldiers began to be suspicious only after about a year when they realized how many soldiers in the elite unit were named as her friends. The army began investigating in January….
Lady Majida el Roumi
This song was made during the toughest days of the war…when traitors showed their true colours…(mask has fallen)…and the devastating results of betraying those who are in your protection and have your trust…The siege refers to the last breath one takes when surrounded by the enemy….
سقط القناع عن القناع… عن القناع
قد أخسر الدنيا … نعم
لكني أقول الآن… لا
يا آخر الطلقات… لا
يا ما تبقى من هواء الأرض… لا.
يا ما تبقى من حطام الروح… لا.
حاصر حصارك لا مفرٌ… إضرب عدوك لا مفرٌ
سقطت ذراعك فإلتقطها
وسقطت قربك فإلتقطني
وإضرب عدوك بي
فأنت الآن، حرٌ وحرٌ وحرٌ
قتلاك أو جرحاك فيك ذخيرة
فإضرب بها عدوك
فأنت الآن، حرٌ وحرٌ وحرٌ
حاصر حصارك بالجنون… بالجنون
ذهب الذين تحبهم… آه ذهبوا
فإما أن تكون أو لا تكون
فأنت الآن، حرٌ وحرٌ وحرٌ