Harper Government Sides with US and Israel Against Lebanon
In response to hotly contested claims that Hezbollah was responsible for bombing Israeli citizens in Bulgaria last July, immigration minister Jason Kenney called the Lebanese group a “vile anti-Semitic terrorist organization” and urged the European Union to “follow Canada’s lead in listing Hezbollah as a proscribed and illegal terrorist organization.”
Kenney’s comment last week is part of a concerted campaign against a group the Los Angeles Times has called “Lebanon’s largest political party and most potent armed force.” Stephen Harper blamed Hezbollah for Israel’s summer 2006 invasion, Israel’s fifth, of Lebanon, which left 1,100 (mostly civilian) Lebanese dead and much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed. The month after Hezbollah successfully held off the Israeli invasion, foreign minister Peter MacKay said: “Lebanon is being held hostage by Hezbollah. There can be no doubt about that. Hezbollah is a cancer on Lebanon, which is destroying stability and democracy within its boundaries.” For his part, public safety minister Stockwell Day claimed the “stated intent of Hezbollah is to annihilate Jewish people.” (Despite Day and Kenney’s claims, Hezbollah was created in response to Israel’s 1982-2000 occupation of southern Lebanon and its pronouncements suggest it is largely concerned with Israel’s occupation of Arab lands.)
Almost entirely ignored by the Canadian media, the Conservatives’ demonization of Hezbollah gathered steam when Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian official, took charge of the international investigation into the February 2005 assassination of five-time Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. In November 2007 Bellemare, deputy attorney general and special advisor to the deputy minister of justice until October 2007, was appointed commissioner of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) into the bombing that killed Hariri and two dozen others. Concurrently, he was named prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which was set to continue the UNIIIC’s work beginning in March 2009.
Both the internal and international investigations into Hariri’s killing were far from conclusive. Initially, Syrian security officers were implicated in the killings and in the post assassination upheaval Syrian troops were driven from the country. Four Lebanese generals were also incarcerated for four years in the killings but they were released when the evidence against them was dismissed.
In 2010 the Netherlands-based STL began to point its finger at Hezbollah and in August 2011 four members of the Party of God were formally charged in the Hariri killings. But before the charges came down the international investigation was discredited in the eyes of many. A July 2011 survey of 800 Lebanese, sponsored by leading Arabic-language daily As-Safir, found that 60 percent of the country believed the international probe was politicized. The poll also found widespread distrust of Bellemare, who was accused of being pro-Israel and anti-Hezbollah. He also had suspiciously close relations with US officials.
Just after Bellemare issued the indictments against four individuals with ties to Hezbollah Lebanese daily Al Akbar published a detailed article on the Canadian titled “UN Tribunal: A Prosecutor’s ‘Tunnel Vision’” (translated by its English edition). “An example of this bias appears in paragraph 59 of the indictment, where Bellemare states that ‘all four accused are supporters of Hezbollah, which is a political and military organization in Lebanon. In the past, the military wing of Hezbollah has been implicated in terrorist acts.’ Bellemare does not offer a reference supporting his assertion that Hezbollah was involved in terrorism, and, so far, no international judicial body has issued a decision describing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In fact, there is no international consensus surrounding Hezbollah’s ‘terrorism’ status, and the UN does not recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Several countries, including the US, Israel, and Canada have officially labeled the group as a terrorist organization — though, notably, the European Union has not. Bellemare seemingly chose to include his personal political opinion and perhaps the views of some of his colleagues in an international indictment.”
Many Lebanese believe the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had a hand in Hariri’s death yet Bellemare refused to say if he interviewed any Israeli suspects. A TV station linked to Hezbollah, Al Manar, claimed Bellemare “lost credibility” for his “politicized tribunal” because he was unwilling to investigate Israel’s possible implication in the killings. The “Israeli enemy is ‘innocent’ and will remain so in the eyes of the international community and the STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare.”
The most damning evidence against Bellemare came from the US State Department. A series of US diplomatic cables, released by Wikileaks, suggest he worked closely with the US embassy in Beirut. On one occasion Bellemare asked US officials for information on Syria and for help in convincing the British to assist an investigation committee. The former deputy attorney general also requested two temporary FBI investigators be paid by the US. An October 2008 cable from the ambassador in Beirut to Washington read: “Bellemare showed a good understanding of the problems [for the US] associated with complying … but his frustration was nonetheless evident: ‘You are the key player [he said]. If the US doesn’t help me, who will?’” The US embassy gave Bellemare “an ‘excellence’ preliminary assessment for his effort and determination, and we urge Washington to exert every effort to respond to the investigation committee’s request related to the information and support.”
Hezbollah claimed the Wikileaks cables confirmed that the US manipulated the probe. “The information leaked on meetings between the prosecutor and the US ambassador confirms what we have always said — that the US administration is using the court and the investigation committee as a tool to target the resistance [to Israel, i.e. Hezbollah],” noted Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah in December 2010.
In January 2011 the Lebanese government collapsed when 10 cabinet ministers and one presidential appointee withdrew over then Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s refusal to reject the STL. At the start of 2011 many feared that the STL’s expected indictment of Hezbollah members could re-ignite the country’s civil war, which lasted from 1975-1990. This didn’t bother Washington. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in favour of the STL and announced $10 million in added funding for the floundering tribunal. The US ambassador in Lebanon Maura Connelly said “the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is an irrevocable, international judicial process; its work is not a matter of politics but of law.” Even President Obama chimed in, saying the STL’s first indictment could end an “era of impunity” and that it was “a significant and emotional time for the Lebanese people.”
In the first 10 weeks of 2011 Foreign Affairs released three statements that dealt with the STL. On January 13 the ministry complained about the dissolution of Lebanon’s government over the matter. “These resignations are an attempt to subvert a safe and secure Lebanon and cannot be tolerated. Hezbollah’s actions in bringing down the government are a clear attempt to undermine the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Canada believes that the work of the Special Tribunal should go forward so that justice can be served.” A follow-up statement explained: “We urge the future Lebanese government to continue to support and cooperate with the Tribunal and to continue to uphold its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions on Lebanon.” In March 2011 the Conservatives gave a further $1 million contribution to the STL. “Canada has been a strong supporter of the Tribunal, having already contributed $3.7 million to the voluntarily funded Tribunal since 2007,” explained foreign minister Cannon.
An August 2011 Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report, detailed in Montréal daily La Presse, found that “many Lebanese consider the work of the STL an inquest led by Canadians.” At the time more than 20 Canadians were involved in the Tribunal’s work and last March another Canadian replaced Bellemare. According to CSIS, this country’s association with the highly divisive tribunal increased the likelihood of Canadians being targeted.
The Conservatives latest salvo against Hezbollah is another reminder that the Harper government has sided with the US and Israel against most Lebanese.
Yves Engler’s latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy
Syrian TV has broadcast images of what it said was the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on a research facility near Damascus. Israel has implicitly admitted it was behind the raid, which allegedly targeted a weapons convoy headed to Lebanon.
The footage broadcast on Saturday by Al-Ikhbariya TV and Syrian state TV showed destroyed cars, trucks and military vehicles, and a damaged building with its windows broken and interior damaged. The video was allegedly shot at Jamraya, northwest of Damascus. The Syrian military earlier said that Israeli jets bombed the area.
Israel has not officially confirmed the allegations. But on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that “What happened in Syria several days ago… that’s proof that when we said something we mean it. We say that we don’t think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon.”
“Hezbollah from Lebanon and the Iranians are the only allies that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad has left,” Barak told reporters at a security conference in Munich, adding that the “imminent” fall of the Assad government “will be a major blow to the Iranians and Hezbollah.”
Earlier, it was reported that the Wednesday airstrike targeted a convoy carrying SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. The advanced Russian-made missiles would have enabled troops in Lebanon to target Israeli warplanes, which can currently intrude into Lebanese airspace unopposed.
The reports were denied by the Syrian military, which said that no such weapons transfer had been planned.
Damascus vowed to retaliate against the Israeli airstrike, while Syrian rebel forces battling the government criticized President Bashar Assad for not responding to the bombing.
On Sunday, President Assad accused Israel of trying to destabilize Syria through the attack. He warned that Syria will confront “current threats… and aggression” against it during a meeting in Damascus with Iranian national security council secretary Saeed Jalili. The remarks were the Syrian leader’s first public comment on the airstrike since it happened on Wednesday.
Israel maintains the most advanced military of any nation in the region, and has carried out a number of airstrikes against foreign targets over the past few decades. The latest high-profile incident attributed to Israel was the bombing of an arms factory in Khartoum, Sudan, last October.
Israeli jets also reportedly bombed Syria in 2007, destroying what was alleged to be a nuclear reactor being constructed with the help of North Korea.
Israel and Syria are embroiled in an ongoing land dispute over a portion of the Golan Heights occupied by the Jewish state during the Six-Day War of 1967. The two countries do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, and hostilities between the two have been sparked on several occasions, most recently in the 2006 Lebanon war.
Israel has avoided interfering in Syria’s ongoing 22-month-long armed conflict, but said it would deploy troops if needed to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and prevent them from being captured by Islamist forces.
A week ago, Israeli newspaper Maariv published an article titled “Kibbutz Lands Over Lebanese Border.” The story indicated that the management of the Misgav-Am kibbutz, a settlement located across from the Lebanese town of Adaisseh, “was informed by the Israeli interior ministry that a part of [the colony] falls on sovereign Lebanese territory.”
The ministry’s statement came in response to the kibbutz’s request to re-zone certain plots of land from agricultural to residential. The ministry said that the request would be considered following “the withdrawal towards Israeli borders and amending the Blue Line.”
It seems the enemy admitted that Adaisseh was confiscated by the occupation – with the collusion of the UN – when the Blue Line was demarcated following the liberation of South Lebanon in 2000.
This is the land where Israeli bulldozers uprooted what became known as the “Adaisseh tree.” That incident in the summer of 2010 led to a battle between the Lebanese army and its Israeli counterpart where soldiers Abdullah Tufaili and Robert al-Ashi, and Al-Akhbar’s correspondent Assaf Abu Rahhal were killed by Israeli fire.
The Lebanese state should raise the issue of occupied lands and reiterate the points of reservation during the drawing of the Blue Line, especially following this latest Israeli admission. This the least of what is expected of the state.
All the while, Israel, which today admits that the land where its soldiers are deployed belongs to Lebanon, recently protested at the UN a plot of flowers adjacent to the army point where the Adaisseh operation was launched, claiming it falls inside the Blue Line.
Adaisseh mayor Khalil Rammal took us on a long tour of occupied lands and the Blue Line. From the borders at Hounin and Markaba in the south, to Kfar Kila northwards, the enemy has stolen around 2,500 dunams (1 dunam = 1,000 square meters) of property since before the 1948 nakba in Palestine.
The mayor says that every time a demarcation was made, the town lost more of its land, beginning with the demarcation based on the the Sykes-Picot agreement in 1920, to the international demarcation of the borders between Lebanon and Occupied Palestine in the armistice agreement in 1949, and finally during the drawing of the Blue Line in 2000.
Rammal recounts the history of settlements since 1908, when the wooden settlement of Kfar Giladi was set up at the Adaisseh borders near the point now occupied by the Indonesian contingency of the UNIFIL.
Misgav-Am was set up in 1945 on a hill called al-Tayyara. Later, a military road was built and more land appropriated between al-Thughra and Abl al-Qamh and into Khalleh, Arabsalim, Dabsh al-Awjeh, al-Marj al-Faouqani, and Mussaisah, up until the 1978 Israeli invasion.
Rammal mentions that his father, who was mayor then, went to the governor of South Lebanon, Halim Fayyad, to complain about Israeli violations of Adaisseh, including tens of dunams with title deeds.
Fayyad relayed the message to the Lebanese government, which sent a complaint against Israel in Adaisseh’s name to the UN Security Council. He says his father told him that the Israeli ambassador in the Security Council claimed that “the appropriation of land is a precautionary measure. When Palestinian fighters withdraw, we will leave the land.”
Rammal says that the occupied territories amount to 2,000 dunams taken in 1948 and a further 1,200 in 1948. As for the Blue Line, Rammal maintains that the demarcation committee ignored Adaisseh and did not ask for the statement of the mayor or the inhabitants.
In this respect, a security source indicates that the borders at Adaisseh and Shebaa Farms are under reservation by the Lebanese government, which rejected the demarcation proposed by the enemy and UN Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen. He maintained that they were sovereign Lebanese territories.
What can owners of lands that Israel admitted to be Lebanese do?
Rammal says that the mission of the Lebanese government today should be to ask the UN to return the land, especially since the foreign ministry had requested from landowners, following liberation, to provide it with the deeds to send to the UN.
But the owners were never informed officially of the status of the dossier. One of them is Salim Hassoun, who inherited 15,000 dunams of land from his father, Abdul-Rahman Hassoun, who had in turn inherited it from his own father.
The grandfather had bought the land from Shaker Said through a deed registered at the Marjayoun Department in 1953. Hassoun says that the barbed wire and the Blue Line cut off his land, whose deed indicates the borders with Palestine.
Based on this, he will be using the Israeli admission to file a complaint against Israel to return his land, either to the UN or to Israeli courts.
However, informed sources say that Israel would never abandon the Misgav-Am hill. It’s one of the tallest along the southern border and Israel has installed long-range surveillance cameras looking into Lebanon and five military posts.
It should be noted that many of the lands liberated in 2000 are still not free of UNIFIL and Lebanese army roadblocks. These are agricultural lands whose owners have been prohibited from visiting since 1968 due to security concerns and the presence of mines – even though demining operations were completed three years ago.
The Zionist entity’s aircraft attacked a scientific research center in Jamraya, near the capital Damascus, killing two people and injuring five others.
“The Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research center in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defense,” the Syrian Army said in a statement on Wednesday.
This is the first Israeli aggression of its kind since the outbreak of the crisis in Syria, and was preceded by Israeli hints of fear from transfer of strategic-value weapons to the Islamic resistance in Lebanon.
Military sources told Al-Manar TV that the aggression was carried out by four warplanes which dropped nine rockets.
The Army command also said in its statement that the attack was carried out against the center after terrorist groups made several failed attempts in the past months to take control of the site. The statement said the Israeli planes had flown below radar range and destroyed the building. It denied that a convoy had been hit near the border with Lebanon, calling the reports “baseless.”
A Western official and a former Lebanese security official said earlier Wednesday that ‘Israel’ had attacked inside Syria along the border with Lebanon, and the former Lebanese official said an unmanned aircraft had hit a truck carrying weapons.
The Zionist entity declined to comment, as did U.S. officials, who deferred to Israel. It claimed earlier that it had targeted a convoy of chemical weapons in Syria.
Hezbollah denounced on Thursday the Israeli strike which targeted a scientific research center in Syria a day earlier, saying the raid aimed to negate Damascus’ role in the path of resistance.
In a statement released by Hezbollah Media Relations, the party considered the strike as a “savage attack that carries out the Zionist entity’s policy which aims at preventing any Arab and Muslim state from developing its technological and military capabilities.”
“As Hezbollah firmly condemns the new Zionist attack against Syria, it sees that the assault blatantly uncovers the reality of what’s coming on in Syria since two years ago.”
The party noted that the strike “discloses the criminal attempts aimed at negating Syria’s role in the resistance path, in a bid to pass the chapters of the conspiracy against Damascus and our Arab and Muslim people.”
Hezbollah urged the international community along the Arab and Muslim countries to condemn the attack, but said “we were used to the silence of this community,” in front of such attacks, “especially when the Zionist entity is the attacker.”
“As Hezbollah voices solidarity with Syria, its leadership, army and people, it stresses the importance of realizing the gravity that Syria is being targeted,” the statement said.
The party also considered the raid “an opportunity for some sides to review their stances and adopt the dialogue as the only solution to stop the bloodshed” in Syria.
… Dr. Ali Mohamad, editor-in-chief of the Syria Tribune news website, believes the fears of chemical weapons was a pretext to destroy Syria’s military research centers and ensure that Damascus is unable to produce arms for its military or regional allies.
Syrians know that “this is not at all about chemical weapons,” Dr. Mohamad told RT. “It’s about stopping the Syrian scientists’ military research projects.”
“It finally makes sense because the rebels or as they like to call themselves the revolutionaries, they have been attacking air defense bases near Damascus for the past seven months,” Dr. Mohamad said. “They’ve managed to attack the S-200 base and over four other surface-to-air missile bases. Now this followed by an airstrike from Israel. So it all adds up, it makes sense. It only shows that Israel has a great interest in the instability in Syria and that it is being helped by groups of armed rebels in Syria.”
“Military research centers are responsible for developing weapons, in particular land-to-land long range missiles,” and Israel wants to stop this research process, Dr. Mohamed explained. “Of course Israel will claim that this is connected to a chemical weapons arsenal, but this is of course not true because nobody stores chemical weapons in a research center.”
“Let’s remember that the Syrian official who was responsible for all military research projects has been assassinated in Damascus by the rebels,” he said. “Let’s also remember that the person who orchestrated the Syrian long-range missile project colonel Dawoud Rajiha was also assassinated in Damascus. This is about stopping the Syrian scientific military research projects and is about breaking the link that will help [Israel] overcome the Lebanese resistance and the Palestinian resistance.”
Syria will likely retaliate, but not in the form of a direct attack on Israel. Instead, Damascus will seek to arm Hezbollah, the Lebanese resistance, Dr. Mohamed said.
Hezbollah’ Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah told his cadres in a private gathering that the Islamist group “has changed” and that the group’s ultimate priority is to “protect Lebanon”, a source reported to Al-Akhbar.
“Hezbollah has changed and its priorities have changed based on circumstances,” Nasrallah said.
“There was a time when we used to see Lebanon as a colonial construct that was part of the Ummah,” he added. “That was in our early days, and the country was going through a civil war. All parties were calling for a nation that fit their liking.”
“Today conditions have changed. We believe that this country is our country, and that the flag of the cedar is our flag that we need to protect, too. At this stage, our priority is to protect the state in Lebanon and to build it.”
The remarks appear to fly in the face of accusations by Hezbollah’s opponents that the group is a proxy of Iran, functioning as a “state within a state.”
“What I am telling you isn’t mere rhetoric. We are convinced of this and must work to apply it,” Nasrallah said at the close of his remarks.
Hezbollah launched into the Lebanese political scene during Israel’s brutal invasion of Beirut in 1982 as a hodgepodge of Islamist groups supported by Iran.
In 1985, the groups coalesced under a single party with a manifesto that declared its loyalty to be to the Islamic Ummah, and Iran’s supreme leader rulings to be a source of the group’s bylaws.
The 1985 manifesto also mentions “the obliteration of Israel” as one of its primary goals.
This is not the first time Hezbollah rescinds Ummah-related sections of the manifesto. In 2010, an updated group charter identified Lebanon as the party’s “homeland and the homeland of our fathers and ancestors.”
“We want Lebanon to be sovereign, free, independent, strong and capable … it should be mentioned that one of the most important conditions for the establishment of a home of this type is having a fair state, a state which is capable and strong, as well as a political system that truly represents the will of the people and their aspirations for justice, freedom and security, stability and well-being and dignity,” the charter went on to say.
This is the winding road that the leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions has had to take in the French justice system. (Photo: Haytham al-Moussawi)
“We don’t think he [Georges Abdallah] should be released, and we are continuing our consultations with the French government about it…We have serious concerns that he could return to the battlefield.” This according to a statement from Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US Department of State, on Friday, 11 January 2013.
This was more than an enough of a hint for the socialist government in Paris to block the decision to release Abdallah, who, from today, 15 January 2013, is essentially a hostage at the Lannemezan Prison.
Yesterday, Abdallah was supposed to appear one last time before the French judge, to be read the terms of his conditional release, which requires him to be deported from France. But French Minister of Interior Manuel Valls refused to sign Abdallah’s deportation order.
One judicial source said that the Sentence Enforcement Chamber of Paris (TAP), which held a hearing on Monday to evaluate the 8th request for parole submitted by Abdallah, “has not yet made a decision pending the deportation order.”
On 21 November 2012, the TAP had approved Abdallah’s request for parole on the condition that he be expelled from France. On 10 January 2013, the Court of Appeals in Paris upheld the TAP’s ruling, and rejected the appeal submitted by the French Public Prosecution, settling the controversy regarding its final and unequivocal decision to release Abdallah.
The sudden French move triggered many questions. For instance, is it possible for the French interior minister to completely block the procedures for the Lebanese prisoner’s conditional release? And, will the French prosecution be able to appeal the parole ruling again, having lost the appeal battle?
A French legal source familiar with the case of Abdallah in Paris told Al-Akhbar that political considerations had trumped legal ones after the interior minister’s move. Usually, he affirmed, the authorities may refrain from deporting a foreign national if it suspects that the country of destination, whether it is the foreigner’s home country or a third country, may mistreat or torture him.
In this event, the authorities often respect the wishes of the foreigner to be deported, to remain under house arrest or in refugee facilities, after serving his or her sentence.
The source added, “In Georges Abdallah’s case, the opposite is true. The Lebanese government has expressed on several occasions its willingness to receive him.”
Concerning whether the prosecution can appeal the parole ruling again, the judicial source said that this was unlikely, but stressed that the interior minister’s insistence on not signing the deportation order practically meant that Abdallah’s release has been obstructed.
This is not the first time that legal proceedings have clashed with political calculations, which makes Abdallah’s case the “scandal of the age,” in the words of Yves Bonnet, the former head of French intelligence services (DST). Since 1999, Abdallah has met all the conditions that make him eligible for parole, something that prompted the French judicial authorities to revisit his case several times over the past years.
As it turns out, there are five parole requirements stipulated in the French Penal Code. The first condition is good conduct in prison, which Abdallah has met according to the testimony of the French court itself.
Second, there has to be someone providing him with assistance in case he is released, a requirement that is met as per the documents that have been provided by Abdallah’s family, at the request of the French authorities, since 2003.
Third, the parolee must be able to pursue a vocation, a condition already satisfied by Abdallah, who is part of the Lebanese Ministry of Education’s teaching cadre.
Fourth, the parolee must be in good mental health, which, according to the reports of Abdallah’s psychiatrist, has been fulfilled.
Finally, the parolee must not pose a threat to French society, a requirement that the judiciary has undertaken to fulfill by ensuring that Abdallah is deported by the French interior ministry to Lebanon, or any third country that agrees to host him.
It was this requirement that the French interior minister exploited on Monday, in reverse fashion, to block the Lebanese prisoner’s conditional release.
A History of Abdallah’s French Court Rulings
On 19 November 2003, the parole court in the French district of Pau agreed to release the Lebanese national. The move angered the French Public Prosecution, which rushed to appeal the decision at the request of the justice minister. It succeeded in having the ruling suspended by the court in Pau.
On 16 January 2004, the National Parole Court reexamined the case. However, the court came under pressure from the French justice minister, who in turn was under US-Israeli pressure. Abdallah was subsequently denied parole.
On 31 January 2006, the court refused to release Abdallah after prosecutors argued that France’s image would be undermined with the US and its allies should it release him.
The prosecutors further claimed that Abdallah’s deportation would not guarantee that he wouldn’t return to the same types of acts he carried out in the past and that the psychiatrist’s report was insufficient in this regard.
While he may be in good mental health, they argued, what guarantee was there that he would not return to “terrorism”? (As though Abdallah is a common criminal or a drug addict who is being treated to quit his habit.)
The prosecution gave another reason for opposing Abdallah’s release, namely that he had not paid compensations to the victims, estimated by the court to stand at 53,357 euros, bearing in mind that his family has pledged to pay all such compensations.
On 6 February 2007, Abdallah requested parole for the 7th time only to be rejected once again. Abdallah appealed the ruling, but a decision was postponed until April 2008. The surprise was that the judges, instead of pronouncing the appeal verdict, decided to refer Abdallah’s case from the parole court to a special committee.
On 17 June 2008, Abdallah’s case was referred to a “special committee” in accordance with the provisions of Dati’s Law. Abdallah was formally notified of this, and the committee was set to issue its ruling in September 2008. The ruling was postponed yet again to 9 January 2009 when the court rejected the parole request.
This is the winding road that the leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions has had to take in the French justice system. Yet Monday’s court session was one of its most sinister junctures.
So will Jacques Vergès, Abdallah’s lawyer, play the ace up his sleeve and demand a retrial? He most definitely will if Abdallah is not released come January 28.
Lebanon is incredible - an intoxicating blend of natural beauty, rebellious spirit, pious clarity, tolerance, wild night life and unbelievable hummus. I landed in Beirut four days ago. The purpose of my visit wasn’t all that clear. I knew that a talk and a musical performance were scheduled by Almayadeen TV, but I never expected such a spiritually transforming experience.
It was my second visit to the country. 30 years ago I crossed the Lebanese border along with an IDF convoy escorted by tanks and armed vehicles. Then I was an occupier, this time I came with only my saxophone and a desire to share my thoughts and deliver some beauty.
But it didn’t take me a couple of hours to realise that Lebanon is much more than just humus, shisha, the sea and some captivating rural scenery. Early on Friday we left Beirut for the south. Our first stop was Mleeta – a Hezbollah front line outpost and a symbol of Lebanese defiance. Mleeta is located on top of a mountain, surrounded by the South Lebanese Massif which, until 2000, was controlled by the Israelis. From Mleeta, the Lebanese Mujahedeen launched daily attacks against the Israeli invader and gave the Israelis a true taste of their own medicine. Now Mleeta is a Jihadi tourist resort, there to tell the story of the heroic Hezbollah, those brave paramilitaries that confounded the ‘best army in the world’. The truth is, though armed only with light weapons, they were well supplied with Shia, spiritual ammunition.
Mleeta provides an overview of three decades of Islamic resistance in Lebanon and, in exhibiting all that the fleeing IDF soldiers have left behind, it proudly demonstrates the reality of Israeli cowardice. Mleeta is a symbol of confidence – confidence that the IDF is gone, never to return. Because when, in the summer of 2006 Hezbollah routed the IDF, it also demolished their confidence forever. The Jewish state was taught a lesson it would never forget – their phantasmic expansionist dream had come to an end.
But Mleeta was just a beginning. South Lebanon is dripping with defiance – every village, house and person is an emblem of Shia’s heroic resistance with the villages bedecked with Hezbollah posters featuring Leader Hasan Nasrallah and the many martyrs who taught the IDF those very necessary lessons.
Like Mleeta, Khiam the notorious Detention Centre is also a monument to Israeli brutality. Khiam is where Israel detained and tortured its political opponents, in some cases, for as long as 14 years. My visit there reminded me of a devastating memory, which on occasion, I share with my audience. It concerns Ansar, an Israeli concentration camp located in South Lebanon. It was back in 1984, on a piece of flat land in the middle of the camp, I noticed a dozen concrete boxes with small metal doors, they looked like dog kennels being only about 80 cm high, 100 cm long and probably about 80cm wide. When I pointed out to the commanding officer that these concrete construction weren’t suitable for dogs, he told me not to worry: no one would even think of putting dogs in them. “Put a Palestinian in one of those for 24 hours,” he laughed, “And he’ll come out singing the Hatikvah.” They were solitary confinement units for Palestinian prisoners. That was it. Then and there, I realised that Israel was not my country.
In Khiam this week I saw the exact same Israeli torture facility where the Israelis would shove their political opponents into tiny metal boxes, lock them in for days and then occasionally hit the top with a heavy stone. This time I took a picture.
But someone in Israel must have felt some shame at what Israel was leaving behind in Lebanon. In 2006 the IDF attempted to erase all trace of the detention centre at Khiam. In a desperate attempt to hide Israeli brutality, Israel sent in its engineering squads to blow up the cells and all remaining evidence of torture. But that clumsy effort to conceal the true reality of Israeli inhumanity achieved only the complete opposite. It now only affirms that Israel has, indeed, a lot to conceal.
The journey to occupied Palestine’s Border is over the most beautiful, wild and rural terrain. But then, suddenly, we were there, faced with the Jewish ghetto walls, guarded by cameras, army posts and barbed wire. Israel clearly doesn’t even try to convince its neighbours that it belongs in the region. It looks different, it smells different, it sounds different – it is in fact, just one extended Jewish European shtetl that has matured into a neurotic, psychotic and murderous collective fuelled by PRE traumatic stress. In that regard, the Israelis indeed have great deal to keep under wraps.
Inspired by Lyotard’s “Heidegger and the Jews” and my visit to the south, I decided, in my talk in Beirut, to speak about ‘History as a form of concealment.’ Instead of telling us ‘what really happened’, I argued that history is there to hide our shame, to repress that which we cannot even utter. It is, in effect, there to make us forget. Jewish history, for instance, is there to suppress Jewish shame, to disguise that which Jews prefer to hide from themselves. Jewish history is an attempt to talk about the past while avoiding the horrendous and embarrassing fact that Jews, throughout their history, have been bringing on themselves one Shoa after the other.
But concealment wasn’t invented by the Jews. The Brits also find it hard to cope with their past chain of murderous imperial genocides. This may explain why they entrusted the writing of Churchill’s biography to Jewish Zionist Sir Martin Gilbert, and why their historians have dedicated a whole floor of the Imperial War Museum to the Nazi Holocaust. As if Brits do not have enough shoas and suffering inflicted on others to remember. One of those British-inflicted shoas is obviously the Palestinian Nakba. Britain should own up to this disaster and perhaps find a little room for it also in its Imperial Museums. And like Britain, the Israelis have yet to acknowledge their own role in the original sin of 1948.
Looking at the state of the refugee camps in Lebanon, it became very clear to me that the Lebanese also might engage in some soul searching. For 65 years Palestinian refugees have lived in Lebanon and in other Arab countries in unbearable conditions and have suffered terrible discrimination. Palestinian refuge camps in Lebanon are nothing short of hell on earth. Palestinians cannot be naturalized. They are banned from certain professions and jobs such as medicine and law. In some ways, their situation is worse even than their brothers’ in Gaza or The West Bank, because for them there is not even any prospect of hope or change.
Those endless solidarity discussions about ‘One State’, ‘Two States’ or ‘BDS’ have zero significance or impact on their lives or their livelihoods. These displaced and dispossessed people need immediate change in their political status, but, being excluded from the political process, they lack the wherewithal to bring such change about. Not able to travel, their voice is hardly heard within the Western solidarity discourse and the International Palestinian solidarity movement is hardly engaged, or even concerned with their tragedy. Even that most absolute of rights, the right to return to their land has been compromised by the BDS in Ramallah and other prominent Palestinian leaders.
On my last day in Beirut I visited Sabra and Shatilla. I saw the mass graveyards, I saw the poverty, I saw the piles of rubbish in the streets, the outcome of the complete absence of even the most elementary municipal services. I have been traveling around the world for many years but this is, without doubt, one of the saddest sights I have seen. But, in those camps, I also saw some of the kindest people on this planet. People who against all odds, in spite of being crushed, humiliated and tortured for more than six decades, still look forward, still live their lives. They raise their kids and care about their education. They greet you in the warmest possible manner and, no sooner have you approached their shop, they have invited you for coffee. Surely, their suffering must be our primary concern.
- Shifting responsibility: the propaganda of The Jewish Chronicle (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Gazans fall victim to Israel’s experimental wars (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the European Union and its member states to designate Hezbollah a ‘terrorist group’.
The resolution, approved on Wednesday, urges the European Union member states to also impose sanctions on Hezbollah, the Times of Israel news website reported.
Based on the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 85 House representatives, Hezbollah would be prevented from employing the territories belonging to the European Union for fundraising, recruitment and training.
On July 24, 2012, the European Union flatly rejected an Israeli call to blacklist Hezbollah as a “terrorist group”, because it regards Hezbollah as an active political party in Lebanon and there is not enough evidence to warrant listing the Lebanese group a ‘terror group’ as the United States does.
European countries argue that their relations with Lebanon, where Hezbollah provides extensive social services and its political wing holds government power, would be damaged by the designation. Among the 27 European Union member states, only the UK and the Netherlands are in favor of the designation, which would freeze the group’s Europe-held financial assets.
Are they STILL pushing this absurd line? The Jewish Chronicle is propagandising again. In its recent article “Britain’s anger with Israel over 1982 Lebanon War,” the JC states the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador to the UK in June 1982 “provided the spark for Ariel Sharon to spearhead Israel’s incursion into Lebanon.” The JC states that the ambassador was “shot in the head by Palestinian terrorists,” and that the “invasion of southern Lebanon” demonstrated “Israel’s determination to stamp out terrorism from its northern border.” NOT BY A LONG SHOT, GUYS.
In case you missed it, the ambassador was shot by a Jordanian who was working within the Abu Nidal Organisation (ANO)—which in turn was run by a Palestinian who had been based in Jordan, Syria, Sudan and Iraq . . . but not in Lebanon. The ANO was characterised by its international, mercenary approach. The Jordanian gunman was accompanied by a cousin of Abu Nidal. . . and an Iraqi intelligence operative.
At best, the JC is being disingenuous. The 1982 military invasion of Lebanon was simply an escalation of Israeli aggression dating back decades—the aim of which was to eradicate the Palestinian resistance. The 82 invasion targeted the PLO, with whom the ANO were enemies. Thus the attempted assassination has long been widely acknowledged to have been a thin pretext. Yet the JC laments that, when the ambassador was shot, Israel had had to defend itself by running over Lebanon—a tired and feeble excuse.
As stated at the 7th emergency special session of the UN General Assembly (16 August 1982):
“For more than two months now the international community, as a whole, has focused its attention on Lebanon, where one of the most lethal wars of aggression the Middle East has ever known throughout its history is going on. The capital of a member nation of the United Nations [Beirut] has been besieged by the armed forces of a neighbor State [Israel].
This premeditated operation, which has already resulted in thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilian victims, was planned well in advance, designed to bring about a final solution to the Palestinian problem. At the same time, acts of intimidation and terrorism towards the Palestinians on the West Bank of the Jordan and in the Gaza Strip are increasing, leaving the victims convinced that the only way, to survive is to submit to domination.
Thus the military operations conducted by Israel in Lebanon replicate the political war against the PLO . . . . the Israeli leaders continue to flout the fundamental principles contained in the Charter and to violate numerous resolutions of the United Nations which, however, presided over the creation of the State of Israel. The most recent and most flagrant example of this attitude was Israel’s rejection of resolutions 508 (1982), 509 (1982), 512 (1982), 513 (1932) and 516 (1982) of the Security Council, and resolution ES-7/5 of the General Assembly, which all required Israel to put an end to the hostilities and to withdraw its forces behind the internationally recognized frontiers of Lebanon. The diplomatic efforts which have been undertaken here and there have always been met by the same Israeli reaction. That is, an escalation of violence.” 
The platitudes of the JC are routine. This article does serve, however, to draw attention to one disheartening reality. The attitude of far too many—not just Israelis, but also Americans, Arabs and Europeans—has been to view the Palestinians as nothing more a problem. Send them here, send them there, blast them into oblivion, just sort it. But the Palestinians are not a problem, they are a people. They deserve neither scorn nor pity; they deserve simple human equality. Was Britain “angry” with Israel for stampeding Lebanon in its attempt to eliminate the Palestinian “problem” and to pave the way toward a greater Israel? In retrospect, it seems they were not angry enough.
 For further reading, the British National Archives documents referred to in the JC article: http://filestore.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/prem-19-824-1.pdf ; CAB 128/74/7 (08 July 1982); CAB 128/74/5 (24 June 1982)
 Massamba Sarre (Senegal) Chairman, Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People: UNGA A/ES-7/PV.25 (16 August 1982) http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/6DC9C76A00B3E8E085256A16006D4056. See also further international statements UNGA A/ES-7/PV.27 (17 August 1982) http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/0C46FBC69F3D95F685256A260072FE9E.
- Israel forces Jordan Valley Palestinians from homes ahead of war drill (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Almost 4,000 Palestinians were detained by Israel in 2012 (arabworld360.blogspot.com)
Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy says his country plans to forge “tight” relations with the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah.
“You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hezbollah,” Hamdy said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star published on Saturday.
In a clear policy shift from Egypt’s Mubarak-era policy, the envoy described the resistance movement as “real force on the ground” with “big political and military influence.”
Hamdy said that the government of President Mohamed Morsi would pursue a policy to stretch “[its] hand out in the proper, balanced way to all regional powers” including Hezbollah, in order to forge “tight” contacts with Lebanon’s rulers.
Hamdy also said that he had met with Hezbollah’s political bureau members in efforts “to understand each other better.”
“Resistance in the sense of defending Lebanese territory … That’s their primary role. We … think that as a resistance movement they have done a good job to keep on defending Lebanese territory and trying to regain land occupied by Israel is legal and legitimate,” he said.
The relations between Egypt and Hezbollah reached rock bottom in 2008 during the previous Gaza war, when Hezbollah Chief Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah criticized Cairo for failing to support Palestinians. The ties generally were strained under former President Hosni Mubarak, in large part due to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
Egyptians launched a revolution against Mubarak’s regime in January 2011, which brought an end to over three decades of dictatorship by him in February 2011.
- New Egypt warms up to Hezbollah: ambassador (dailystar.com.lb)
- Egypt to strengthen ties with Hezbollah (rt.com)
- US pressures Europe to label Hezbollah a “terrorist group” (alethonews.wordpress.com)