Middle East

A Report from Lebanon

By Bilal El-Amine

Not surprisingly the voice of Arabs on the ground, be they in Lebanon or Palestine, are not being heard.

The latest news indicates that Israel is going to probably do its heaviest bombing of South Lebanon soon. One family that did try to flee was brutally cut down by Israeli rockets.

If you work in the alternative media or can by some miracle convince the mainstream media to allow the voices of those on the ground in Lebanon to be heard, Bilal can be contacted at 011 961 303 1737...if you can get through.

With most of the governments of the world having abandoned the Palestinian and Lebanese people, it’s important that people in the US and elsewhere continue to demonstrate, have teach-ins, speak outs, and even fundraisers because of the humanitarian crisis which has developed in Gaza and Lebanon will only be getting worse.

—Bilal El-Amine

Good Morning Beirut

Hi everyone. First of all, I am fine as are family and friends. We’re scattered in different places, some still in the south, some in Tyre, the rest in Beirut and its surroundings. Those who live in the southern suburbs where Hizbullah is based managed to leave before the latest strikes and are safe with relatives.

As most of you know, Hizbullah carried out a bold operation a few days ago and managed to capture two Israeli soldiers. The resistance has been saying for quite some time now that it intends to free the remaining Lebanese prisoners in Israel, most prominently Samir Qantar. Dubbed the “dean of the prisoners,” Qantar is the longest serving Arab prisoner in Israel. He was to be released along with other Lebanese prisoners in a swap between Hizbullah and Israel. The Israeli government voted not to release him and two others and stupidly kept the prisoner file open.

The Hizbullah operation was an attempt to put an end to the matter. There were several previous unsuccessful attempts that were costly to the resistance. This operation according to Nasrallah, the general-secretary of Hizbullah, was months in planning and its timing, which has been endlessly criticized, may have been logistical more than anything else.

In light of Israel’s ferocious response, it is worth noting that the capture of the two Israeli soldiers was a pure military operation and did not as much as scratch an Israeli civilian. Israel’s counter is exactly the opposite—collective punishment of the civilian population by destroying the country’s infrastructure and committing ugly massacres against families and fleeing refugees as they did yesterday in the south. Who’s the terrorist in this case, even by the self-serving definitions peddled in Washington.

Why did Hizbullah do this; did they not know that Israel would respond this way? I’m certain that they considered this scenario as one of several. But Hizbullah’s two decades of experience in dealing with Israel have taught it one thing and that is, Tel Aviv will never budge on any matter without threat of force. Israel was compelled to leave southern Lebanon in May 2000—only after over 20 years of occupation—only after the resistance gained the upper hand militarily.

The consequent prisoner swap in which nearly all Lebanese prisoners in Israel were released was only possible once Hizbullah managed to capture Israeli soldiers and offer them in exchange. As Nasrallah put it, the recent operation was the only logical conclusion given Hizbullah’s long experience with Israel. To get the remaining prisoners out, Israeli soldiers must be captured—Israel simply offered no other option.

The current situation only confirms Hizbullah’s experience. The whole world—and most painfully the Arab governments—have refused to lift a finger to restrain Israel. The UN met and decided to do nothing, yesterday the Arab League met and was even more insulting. The Lebanese government has yet to act, besides denouncing Hizbullah and distancing themselves from the resistance—not even providing the most basic services to the displaced and injured.

The Arab League meeting and statements by the Lebanese prime minister suggest that there is a convergence of interests between them and Israel over putting a halt to the Lebanese resistance by disarming Hizbullah and burying once and for all those forces in the region, including Hamas for example, that believe in a line of confrontation with Israel as the only road to get some semblance of justice. The Saudi royals and their slavish counterparts in Jordan and Egypt, want Arabs to submit and swallow the humiliation we are subjected to daily in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, all in the name of stability and rational thinking.

Since 1993 and the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Arab leaders, the U.S. and the UN have been saying that negotiations and normalization with Israel are the only way to peace. But we have yet to see Israel make the smallest concession, taking the opportunity to swallow up yet more land, butcher the Palestinian people and continue to imprison thousands. Hamas’s election was but one indicator that ordinary Arabs have understood that successive peace accords have brought them nothing but further misery—only resistance, with all the suffering that comes with it, bears fruit.

Like the Palestinians, the Lebanese are all alone, abandoned to be taught a lesson by the regional and global powers. Hizbullah’s incredible response (striking a warship and bombing as far as Haifa) shows that they perhaps considered and prepared for Israel’s ferocious response. Only their ability to strike back effectively can save Lebanon from complete destruction at the hands of Israel—the lunatics in Tel Aviv know no other language.

Bilal El-Amine is the former editor of Left Turn Magazine who returned to his native Lebanon last year. If you would like to contact Bilal you can reach him in Beirut at 011 961 303 1737 (Beirut is 10 hours ahead of PST)

—July 16, 2006