Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics


Posted by worriedlebanese on 23/10/2006

A reader told me yesterday that I was pro-anything-but-Israel… This sentence has been going around my head all day. And I wonder why. I’m obviously not pro-Israel. How could I be otherwise after what I lived through this summer? From
Lebanon, all we see of Israel is its arrogance, its acts of provocation, its victimisation, its military strength and its force of destruction. And this perception doesn’t come from our ignorance or prejudice. This is the face that Israel chooses to present to us (maybe not to us per se but to Hezbollah, but this lives amongst us and the only way you can get a message across to them is by sending the message to the whole Lebanese population.

Israel’s ambassadors to Lebanon are its army, its navy and its aviation. And they’re no ambassadors of good will. They are here to build fear, to seek and destroy, to terrorize all opposition to Israel. They’re telling us Lebanese “we are stronger than you”, “we could destroy you”, “take you twenty years back”. And these are words we heard from the Israeli government and the acts that followed proved that they were not just words. The only “good will” the Israeli government showed during the war was the dropping of paper messages or the message recordings we got on the telephone. And this seemed to us like little more than a clumsy propaganda.

Normally, if the Lebanese want to see Israel, they drive south towards Fatima’s gate. Only they do not have to do that. They could see it from their homes. Israeli planes fly over the Lebanese capital regularly (and sometimes quite low). And for over a month, I could see the Israeli battleships off the coast of Beirut, all in a row, crisscrossing menacingly. Obviously, one could argue that the Lebanon is the last front of the Arab/Israeli conflict; that in times of war, one always sees the other through its army; that Israel was exercising it’s right of ‘self defence’ (even if that means the destruction of it’s neighbours infrastructure, the use of cluster and phosphorous bombs, the whipping out of entire neighbourhoods and villages…).

So how can one expect a Lebanese to be pro-Israel? Well, one can try not to be anti-Israel. And that’s not always very easy. One can try to understand the “other’s” point of view, the Israeli people’s perspective, insisting that what he sees are the government’s policies and the army’s actions, not those of the “Israelis”… One can try to empathise with them and play it fair, condemning violence against civilians, combating the hate that is filling people’s souls… That’s what I try to do. I might not be pro-Israel, but I don’t believe I am “pro-anything-but”. I try not to be anti-Israeli. and many of my views are actually considered to be pro-Israeli in Lebanon, because I defend the right of the civilian Israeli population, consider them as being now part of the socio-political fabric of the Middle East (but do they consider themselves to be part of it, I sometimes wonder), and do understand and support their right to be a sovereign nation. But I certainly do not think that this right can limit those of other nations in the Middle East, and up to now this has been the case.

One thing’s for sure, I do not use this blog to wage war in another way, through other means. I am pro-Peace. But as the Israeli are not finding a Peace partner in Palestine, I believe there is no peace partner in Israel today, at least not on the governmental level. But on all other levels, probably… So maybe with good will from both sides of the divide something can spring up. One cannot blame me from hoping.


7 Responses to “Pro-anything-but-Israel?”

  1. taltalk said

    I’d like to say first of all that it is me who said you were pro-anything-but-Israel. As you may recall, I also said it makes complete sense. Additionally, I commended you for your outlook on the situation, as I have mentioned before. True, you see your side, and I see ours. The trick here is to try to see the other side.

    Israel doesn’t hate Arabs and Muslims and Lebanese, etc. We don’t have issue with the Lebanese majority who are NOT hezbollah people. You personally haven’t gone and kidnapped our soldiers (and you have to admit that until this happened we were not even close to Lebanon, inasmuch as we obvoiusly were looking around to make sure we weren’t going to get attacked – and you know we still had katyusha rockets falling in our country from southern Lebanon). I do not blame you or your friends for anything that happened, just like I know you don’t blame me personally or my friends.

    The proof of us wanting peace is our peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. We have a way to go with both countries until we have the same relationship with them as the US, but that’s okay. We have free traveling between the two countries, and Israelis go to Sinai all the time – even under threat of suicide bombers (which has already occured, as you probably know).

    Same goes for Jordan. Until the second Intifada began in 2000, people were going to Jordan all the time. There were special Jeep trips for Israelis. I was supposed to go a few months after the Initifada started but we cancelled once the fighting had begun.

    I know Israel is still flying over southern Lebanon, and while I don’t completely agree with it, I can, unforunately, understand it. We still live in fear. The kidnapping of the two soldiers, the act that provoked this war, occured almost as a complete surprise (apparently there was military intelligence that this was goig to occur).

    We live in fear every day, but unlike you, who are only afraid of one side, we are surrounded. We dont’ know where things are going to come from next. I’d like to point out, in case you haven’t understood before, that I do not think we are in the right on 100% of what we do, and I think you need to recognize the same.

    It isn’t true that we do not want peace with the Palestinians. As you can see from an article I posted on my blog, most US Jews believe there should be a Palestinian state, and so do most Israelis, mostly becuase we know it is coming, so we might as well accept it.

    How can you expect Israel to send good will embassadors to a country that is constantly attacking it? I know that the Hezbollah aren’t the ones ruling your country, but you have to recognize that were it not for their presence, neither the 82 war nor this one would have occured.
    We didn’t attack your government.

    We didn’t attack your people.

    We didn’t declare war on Lebanon.

    We didn’t declare war on your people.

    We declared war on the terrorist organization that took over your country and was doing things in your name.

    Our newspapers, both articles and opionions, all said time and again that our war is not against the people of Lebanon but against the Hezbollah, and by extension the people who are helping them.

    Instead of fighting us from every which way possible, maybe the Arab nations surrounding us (minus Egypt and Jordan who have already reached this conclusion)should realize that we have a lot to offer. We have a lot to offer in the areas of commerce and technology and a million other things.

    Our country is doing well not because of the situation but in spite of it.

    Our country is doing not because of US-backed dollars, both those coming from the government and those coming from Jews. You know that we couldn’t possibly receive an amount as large as what all the Arab countries can give, most of which are, unfortunately, funding terror organizations instead of giving it to the refugees in palestine and the broken infrastructure in Lebanon.

    We physically dried up the swamps and build this country up from nothing.

    We don’t have oil to make money and help ourselves survive.

    We can only use our brains.

    I would like your permission to post your post on my blog as well as my reply. Thank you.

  2. naya06 said

    hi, i was wondering if the blog of Talktalk is mentioned somewhere on this blog, i would like to check it. i will definitly participate in the debate, there it a lot to say,hopfully very soon. As a i’m reading some papers on democracy, i also want to initiate a reflexion: how can Israel be at the same time a Democracy and a “Jewish State”, how to combine this contradiction, i ‘m thinking about the arab israelians here and there political rights. would we ever see an arab isralian becoming prime minister for exemple. I think there is some fondamental dilemma about this issue and the concept of jewish state.

  3. naya06 said

    sorry for the orthograph horrors!

  4. taltalk said

    Hi Naya,

    If you’d like to read my blog, you can click on my name. THis is the address: http://realisrael.wordpress.com

    It is 140 am here and I have to go to sleep, but I will address what you wrote tomorrow. To start, however, i would like to let you know that the issue you stated, democracy vs jewish state, is a very heated topic. the country is divided on it. i do’nt know if you know, but there are arabs in our parliament, and technically they could get elected to be PM as well if they were to get the vote. unlike the USA, which has a law stating that only someone who was born in the states can be president, israel has no such law, and no law that states the religion of the PM or anyone else in government. the arab israeli popoulation is a minority, and for them to get so many votes that they would get to place the head of their party to be PM would mean they would need to have a larger base than jsut the israeli arabs. (palestinians don’t get to vote in israel, as i assume you realize.)

    Anyway, good night, and I will try to address your issues in teh morning after i have checked my email at work.

    Good night!

  5. naya06 said

    A well known lebanese journalist , Walid charara saw yesterday the projection of a short movie ” Sawa” (“Together”) a documentary about the activities some friends of mine were doing during July war, activities with children who were displaced from the south and placed in public schools in “safer regions”. The perspective of the whole project was to spread culture of peace and to beak clichés and preconceived ideas between children from different regions and confessions in the country. The group created a NGO called Peace initiatives that condemn violence.
    The journalist was completely shocked by the “peace” label. his argument is that the idea of peace initiatives have nonsense because it means that we “surrounded” to the enemy and the culture of peace should not be taught to the children ( and the population) because we have to keep fighting and encourage images and drawings of arms and fights till we get rid of the israelians . War against israel is not over and we should prepare ourselves and our children to ripost. So peace culture toward the enemy would be seen as a provocation and treason to the arab cause!! . So the whole idea of the movie an the creating of an NGO for “peace cutlure” was rejected and condemned. He was astonished when we explained that we were fighting the logic of “ an eye for an eye.” UNBELIEVALBE.
    Needless to express my feelings here. Lebanese journalism has too much to worry about and Lebanese peace supporters have to learn yoga and relaxation to deal with stupidity and blindness but I’m afraid anti depressors are more than welcome too!

  6. Dear talktalk, sorry to have taken two full days to answer your comment. Please feel free to copy or comment on your blog anything you find worth copying or commenting on.
    Thank you again for your enriching comments, I really appreciate them. It’s always interesting to listen to and learn from other people’s perspective.

    I know you were not criticising me when you said that I was “Pro-anything-but-Israel”, and that’s why I didn’t mention you in that post. I wasn’t reacting to you argument, but to a word that stayed in my head throughout the day, a word I took completely out of context.
    It made me wonder what my stand really was on Israel, and I thought it best to clarify it, for myself.

    I would like to react to one point you mentioned in your comment. You say that Israel was not waging war against Lebanon but against Hezbollah. Well, this might be true if one looks at the intentions. But Hezbollah is in Lebanon, it has a military structure, a civil structure and a political structure. It enjoys the support of a majority of Shiites (probably the largest of the country’s communities) and has MPs and ministers. Needles to say that one cannot attack it without attacking the country. And that’s exactly what the IDF did: attack the country and the whole country, from North to South, destroying bridges, roads, fuel supplies, the airport runway, entire villages, a whole neighbourhood in the Southern suburbs of Beirut…
    For a week I had no fuel for my car anymore because of the Israeli blockade. I couldn’t travel by plane as scheduled because of the same blockade. I am not a member of Hezbollah, and the children I worked with in summer were not and neither were there parents, but some of them in August, when the bombing stopped, had no home to return to. A war against Hezbollah is a way against Lebanon, whatever way you take it (and I’m not talking about political solidarity here), just simple facts.

    And what did the IDF and Olmert’s government achieve from this war? Nothing much, believe me. Only face saving measures. Everybody knows that Hezbollah could fire rockets at Israel from the Beqaa. The only thing they won’t be able to do is kidnap soldiers, and that is if the UNIFIL is vigilant enough.

  7. Dear Naya, thanks for the info on Walid Charara, didn’t know he saw the film. But I’m not surprised by his reaction. He fully supports the Hezbollah and is convinced that what they do is right.
    I don’t know how to argue with people like him. It’s a problem that Peace Initiatives will be facing when it will start working with children in the South or the suburbs; in “their” territories. I think a way out of this is to focus on people, not causes. The Palestinians for instance or Arab Jews… this could be a way to bring them to a peaceful outlook on things. What can be done to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians in Lebanese Camps and Gaza for instance (and think of creative things to do it, I have a contact in the French Embassy in Jerusalem that could help us out on this issue). Another question that one could ask them is don’t you the Arab world is poorer without its Jews, isn’t it less diverse? and what can be done about that? How can we be more tolerant than Israel?

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