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Daniel Dworsky
 
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 14 November 2006 at 1:35pm
David Grossman is a man greatly admired and loved by my family. While
most of us here left of center were dead against the war from the onset,
David made surprising public statements in support of our governments
decision to send troops into Lebenon. I was profoundly shocked that he
did this. I felt downright marginal but set in my opinion.
David is a good person a brilliant talent (writer) Whose books for adults
young adults and children are moving, witty and wonderful in any
language.

Midway through the war David changed his mind about the war and a few
weeks later lost his son to the Hezbollah in Southern Lebenon. If there is
not a saying that "God punishes the righteous swiftly, brutally and with
out mercy." Then there should be after this.




Uri Avnery
18.11.06

                Grossman's Dilemma

THE KEY word was "Hamas". It was spoken from the tribune and appeared
on printed material - but in two very different ways.

On the tribune of the large annual memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin, two
weeks ago, the writer David Grossman, the sole speaker at the event,
gave an important speech. Coming to the climax, he advised the Prime
Minister: "Appeal to the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert. Appeal to them over
Hamas's head. Appeal to the moderates among them, to those who, like
you and me, oppose Hamas and its ideology!"

At the same time, dozens of Gush Shalom activists dispersed among the
100 thousand participants of the rally to distribute a sticker that said,
simply: "Peace is made with enemies - TALK TO HAMAS!" They later
reported that some refused to take the stickers, but the majority accepted
them willingly.

These two attitudes illustrate the dilemma which the Israeli peace camp is
now facing.


GROSSMAN'S SPEECH aroused many echos. It was a brilliant speech, the
speech of a writer who has a way with words. The speech lifted the spirits
of those present and was treated by the media as an important event.
True, Grossman did not mention that he had initially supported the war
and changed his view as it went on, but this fact did lend even more
credibility to his penetrating criticism of the government.

He did mention the personal tragedy that hit him, when his son, Uri, was
killed in the last hours of the war: "The calamity that my family and I
suffered…does not give me any special privileges in our national debate.
But it seems to me that facing death and loss brings with it a kind of
sobriety and clarity."

He coined a new phrase that gripped the imagination and took hold of the
public discourse. "Our leadership, both political and military, is hollow!"
he declared. And indeed, that is the general feeling since the war: that
this is a leadership empty of all content, devoid of any plan, lacking all
values, whose only aim is to survive. He spoke about the "leadership" and
not about Ehud Olmert personally, but this adjective fits the man himself
exactly: a party functionary whose entire talent consists of devising
tactical combinations and spins, without any intellectual depth, without
vision, without an inspiring personality.

Another image also caught the imagination. Speaking about the inclusion
of Avigdor Liberman in the government as Minister for Strategy, he said:
"This is the appointment of a compulsive pyromaniac to head the
country's firefighters."

I could wholeheartedly identify with 90% of his speech. I could identify
with everything he said about the state of the State, about the moral and
social crisis, about the stature of our leaders and the national need to
achieve peace. If I had stood on the tribune (something quite impossible,
as I shall explain later on) I would have said similar things, which indeed
my colleagues and I have been saying for decades.

The difference between us, and a profound difference it is, concerns the
other 10% of his speech. And, even more so, the things he did not say.

I don't mean tactical matters. For example, in the entire speech there was
no mention of the role of the Labor Party in the government, in the war
and in the appointment of Liberman. Olmert is to blame for everything.
Amir Peretz has disappeared.

No, I mean more substantial matters.


AFTER THE frontal attack on the "hollow" leadership, which lacks vision
and plans, one would have expected Grossman to lay before the tens of
thousand peaceniks assembled in the square his own vision and plan for
the solution of the problem. But, as much as his criticism was clear and
loud, his proposals were vague and banal.

What did he propose? To appeal to the "moderates" among the
Palestinians "over the head" of their elected government, in order to
restart the peace process. Not very original. That was said (but not done)
by Ariel Sharon, that was said (but not done) by Ehud Olmert and George
W. Bush.

This distinction between "moderates" and "fanatics" on the Arab side is
superficial and misleading. Basically, this is an American invention. It
evades the real problems. It contains a large measure of contempt for
Arab society. It leads to a dead end.

Grossman's proposal diverts the discussion onto the path of "who to talk
with" and "who not to talk with", instead of stating clearly what to talk
about: the termination of the occupation, establishment of the State of
Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, withdrawal to the pre-1967
border, solution of the refugee problem.

One could reasonably expect that in such a speech, at such a place, on
such an occasion, these statements would be voiced loudly and clearly,
instead of a repetition of intentionally blurred formulas. "Go to them with
the boldest, most serious plan that Israel is able to put forward, a plan
that all Israelis and Palestinians with eyes in their heads will know is the
limit of refusal and concession, ours and theirs." Sounds nice. But what
does it mean?

After all, it is clear that one has to make such a proposal to the elected
Palestinian leadership, whatever its composition. The idea that we can
talk with a part of the Palestinian people (now the minority) and boycott
the other part (now the majority) is false and misleading. It is also imbued
with the overbearing arrogance that is the hallmark of the occupation.

Grossman has much empathy for the poor and downtrodden in Israeli
society, and he expresses it in moving words. It is obvious that he tries,
really tries, to feel a similar empathy with the suffering Palestinian
society. But here he fails. His is an empathy without pathos, without real
feelings.

He says that this is "a people no less tortured than we are." No less than
we? Gaza like Tel-Aviv? Rafah like Kfar-Sava? The effort to create a
symmetry between occupier and occupied, which has become typical for
some of the peaceniks too, testifies to a basic fault. That is true even if
Grossman meant the untold suffering of the Jews throughout the ages -
even that does not justify what we are doing to the Palestinians now.

About the Palestinians, who voted for Hamas in a manifestly democratic
election, Grossman says that they are "hostages to fanatical Islam". He is
certain that they would change completely the moment Olmert "speaks
with them". That is, mildly put, a patronizing attitude. "Why did we not
use all our flexibility, all our Israeli creativity, to extricate our enemy from
the trap in which he ensnared himself?" Meaning: we are the thinking,
creative party, and we must liberate the poor Arabs from their mindless
fanaticism.

Fanaticism? As a genetic trait? Or is it the natural wish to free themselves
from a brutal, choking occupation, an occupation from whose devastating
grip they did not succeed in freeing themselves when they elected a
"moderate" government?

The same is true for Grossman's second proposal - the one concerning
Syria. On the face of it, a positive suggestion: Olmert must accept every
appeal from an Arab leader who proposes peace. Excellent. But what does
he advise Olmert to do in practice? "Offer him (Assad) a peace process
lasting several years, only at the end of which, if he meets all the
conditions, lives up to all the restrictions, will he get the Golan Heights.
Force him into a process of ongoing dialogue." David Ben-Gurion or Ariel
Sharon could not have put it better.

Bashar al-Assad certainly did not fall off his chair for sheer enthusiasm
when he read this.


IN ORDER to understand Grossman's words one has to remember their
background.

There is not one Israeli peace camp, but two - and the difference between
them is important.

The first camp, the Grossmanian one, calls itself the "Zionist peace camp".
Its strategic concept is that it is wrong to stray from what is called the
"national consensus". If we lose contact with the consensus, so they
believe, we shall not win over the public. Therefore we have to tailor our
message to what the public at large is able absorb at any time.

The "Peace Now" movement is located at the center of this camp, and
several other groups and personalities belong to it. It is a perfectly
legitimate strategy, if only it were successful in winning over the masses.
Unfortunately, that has not happened: "Peace Now", which succeeded in
1982 in mobilizing hundreds of thousands in the protest against the
Sabra and Shatila massacre, succeeded last week in attracting a mere 150
protesters against the Beit Hanoun massacre. (The other movements
which joined the demonstration brought a similar number. Altogether, we
were some 300.) About the same number appeared in other recent
demonstrations of "Peace Now", even those which had more time for
preparations.

This camp keeps in close contact with two political parties: Meretz and
Labor (at least with the left wing). Almost all the founders and leaders of
"Peace Now" were candidates of these two parties, and several of them
were elected to the Knesset. One of the founders is now the Minister of
Education in the Olmert-Peretz war government.


THE SECOND camp, usually called the "radical peace camp", carries out
the opposite strategy: to spell out our message loudly and clearly, even
when it is unpopular and far from the consensus (as it usually is). The
assumption is that the consensus will follow us when our message proves
right in the test of reality.

This camp, to which "Gush Shalom" (in which I am active) belongs,
together with dozens of other organizations, is engaged in strenuous
daily work: from the fight against the Wall and all the other evil doings of
the occupation up to the boycott of the settlements and the support for
soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories.

This camp differs from the other one also in its close contacts with the
Palestinians, from the leadership down to ordinary villagers who are
fighting against the wall that robs them of their land. Recently, "Gush
Shalom" started a dialogue with Hamas leaders. These contacts enable us
to understand the Palestinian society in all its complexity, feelings,
insights, demands and hopes.

Not being aligned with any party, this camp knows that it will not become
a mass movement. That is the price it has to pay. It is impossible to be
popular while taking stands and carrying out actions that are contrary to
the consensus. If so, how does it have an impact? How did it happen that,
in the course of the years, many of its stands have been accepted by the
general public, including luminaries like Grossman?

We call this the "small wheel effect". A small wheel with its own drive
pushes a larger wheel, which drives an even larger wheel, and so on, until
it moves the center of the consensus. What we say today "Peace Now" will
say tomorrow, and a large part of the public on the day after.

This has been proven dozens of times in the past, and was proven again
in the last few weeks during the Second Lebanon War. We called a
demonstration against the war on its first day, when the overwhelming
majority - including Amos Oz, David Grossman and others - supported it
openly and wholeheartedly. But when the real motives and the fatal
results started to become obvious, the consensus began to change. Our
demonstrations swelled from 200 to 10,000 protesters. Even "Peace now",
which had supported the war in the beginning, changed its stand, and
near the end of the war called its own anti-war demonstration, in
conjunction with Meretz. In the end, the entire "national consensus"
moved.

It may be true that the "radical peace camp" and the "Zionist peace camp",
while playing different roles, complement each other in the decisive fight
for public opinion.


GROSSMAN"S SPEECH should be judged in this spirit.

It was a moving speech, even a great speech. It did not contain all we
would have wished for, but for Grossman, and the camp he belongs to, it
was really a big step in the right direction.
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superme
 
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Quote superme Replybullet Posted: 14 November 2006 at 10:42pm

Thanks Dan for the article. I am living in the snailing world of "Dial Up" now after making a hard decision to drop the broadband which kept me netting.-----

We call this the "small wheel effect". A small wheel with its own drive pushes a larger wheel, which drives an even larger wheel, and so on, until it moves the center of the consensus. What we say today "Peace Now" will say tomorrow, and a large part of the public on the day after.

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Quote herjihad Replybullet Posted: 18 November 2006 at 9:42pm

He says that this is "a people no less tortured than we are." No less than
we? Gaza like Tel-Aviv? Rafah like Kfar-Sava? The effort to create a
symmetry between occupier and occupied, which has become typical for
some of the peaceniks too, testifies to a basic fault. That is true even if
Grossman meant the untold suffering of the Jews throughout the ages -
even that does not justify what we are doing to the Palestinians now.

About the Palestinians, who voted for Hamas in a manifestly democratic
election, Grossman says that they are "hostages to fanatical Islam". He is
certain that they would change completely the moment Olmert "speaks
with them". That is, mildly put, a patronizing attitude. "Why did we not
use all our flexibility, all our Israeli creativity, to extricate our enemy from
the trap in which he ensnared himself?" Meaning: we are the thinking,
creative party, and we must liberate the poor Arabs from their mindless
fanaticism.
Salaams and Bismillah,

During people's excitement here over the Democrats winning the majority of seats for a caucus in the House and the Senate, Beit Hanon was devastated by vicious attacks by Israel's powerful military on a few defenseless homes, which had no chance but to be destroyed along with the frail lives within and near them.

The comments I heard on NPR of a lovely sounding Israeli woman justifying those murders as just retaliation for bombings from near those homes was the most frightening sound I have ever heard.  The sound of smooth talk covering up bloody actions always terrifies me.  But everyone was so busy with the Euphoria of having "won."

These words of Uri's calm my soul from that painful experience.  Every life is precious.  An Arab life has value and the Phalasteenee have not forgotten their slogan of "Phalsteenee are like the stars in the sky" (numerous as), all valuable and yet replenishable and dedicated to the freedom of their land.

Thanks Uri.  Thanks Daniel.

Al-Hamdulillah (From a Married Muslimah) La Howla Wa La Quwata Illa BiLLah - There is no Effort or Power except with Allah's Will.
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 19 November 2006 at 2:34pm
It's sort of like the McArthy era here in Israel now. I've been slapped with yet
another tax audit as well as huge fines for past due parking tickets dug up
from almost a decade ago. I'm hearing similar stories from other activists
with cancelled credit cards hacked bank accounts and child pornography
links sent from fake email address's. I'm on more black lists now than I can
count. We have a government run by thugs and supported by riff
raff.

Regarding the shelling of Beit Hanon. There have been only three incidents
of accidental shellings in the entire history of the IDF all three of them have
been in the last 18 months.
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Quote herjihad Replybullet Posted: 19 November 2006 at 8:04pm

Originally posted by Daniel Dworsky

It's sort of like the McArthy era here in Israel now. I've been slapped with yet
another tax audit as well as huge fines for past due parking tickets dug up
from almost a decade ago. I'm hearing similar stories from other activists
with cancelled credit cards hacked bank accounts and child pornography
links sent from fake email address's. I'm on more black lists now than I can
count. We have a government run by thugs and supported by riff
raff.

Regarding the shelling of Beit Hanon. There have been only three incidents
of accidental shellings in the entire history of the IDF all three of them have
been in the last 18 months.

Bismillah and Salaams,

We're sorry to hear that you are going through so much to be a decent person and do the right things.  May Allah, The Powerful, reward your efforts and guide your thoughts and actions.

Al-Hamdulillah (From a Married Muslimah) La Howla Wa La Quwata Illa BiLLah - There is no Effort or Power except with Allah's Will.
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Daniel Dworsky
 
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 20 November 2006 at 4:22am
These are desperate acts by people with no future.
The good guys always win in the end.

Word is that the Beirut redundant raids on Nasrallah's empty bunker was an
IDFAF practice run for Iran's nuclear facilities. At least that is what my Piano
tuner (A Likudnik) told me not ten minutes ago. He's never lied to me
before. God help us if it's true. There's a word for this in psychology. It's
called catastrophizing
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 26 November 2006 at 3:46pm
Uri Avnery
25.11.06

                An Evening in Jounieh

DURING THE first Lebanon war, I visited Jounieh, a town some 20 km
north of Beirut. At the time, it served as a port for the Christian forces. It
was an exciting evening.

In spite of the war raging in nearby Beirut, Jounieh was full of life. The
Christian elite spent the day in the sun-drenched marina, the women
lounging in bikinis, the men slugging whisky. The three of us (myself and
two young women from my editorial staff - a correspondent and a
photographer) were the only Israelis in town, and so we were feted.
Everybody invited us onto their yachts, and one rich couple insisted that
we come to their home as guests of a family celebration.

It was indeed something special. The dozens of family members belonged
to the cream of the elite - rich merchants, a well-known painter, several
university professors. The drinks flowed like water, the conversation
flowed in several languages.

Around midnight, everybody was slightly drunk. The men got me into a
"political" conversation. They knew that I was an Israeli, but had no idea
about my views.

"Why don't you go into West Beirut?" one portly gentleman asked me.
West Beirut was held by Arafat's PLO forces, who were defending
hundreds of thousands of Sunni inhabitants.

"Why? What for?" I queried.

"What do you mean? To kill them! To kill everybody!"

"Everybody? Women and children, too?"

"Of course! All of them!"

For a moment, I thought that he was joking. But the faces of the men
around him told me that he was deadly serious and that everybody
agreed with him.

At that moment I grasped that this beautiful country, rich in history,
blessed with all the pleasure of life, is sick. Very, very sick.

The next day I indeed went into West Beirut, but for another purpose
altogether. I crossed the lines to meet with Yasser Arafat.

(By the way, at the end of the party in Jounieh my hosts gave me a parting
present: a big packet of hashish. On the morrow, on my way back to
Israel, after Arafat had made our meeting public, I heard over the radio
that four ministers were demanding that I should be put on trial for
treason. I remembered the hashish and it went sailing out of the car
window.)


I AM reminded of that conversation in Jounieh every time something
happens in Lebanon. This week, for example.

Much nonsense is being spoken and written about that country, as if it
were a country like any other. George W. Bush talks about "Lebanese
democracy" as if there were such a thing, others speak about the
"parliamentary majority" and "minority factions"' about the need for
"national unity" to uphold "national independence", as if they were talking
about the Netherlands or Finland. All these have no connection with
Lebanese reality.

Geographically, Lebanon is a torn country, and there lies a part of the
secret of its beauty. Snow-covered mountain chains, green valleys,
picturesque villages, beautiful sea-shore. But Lebanon is also torn
socially. The two schisms are inter-connected: in the course of history,
persecuted minorities from all over the region sought refuge between its
mountains, where they could defend themselves.

The result: a large number of big and small communities, ready to spring
to arms at any moment. At best, Lebanon is a loose federation of
mutually suspicious communities, at worst a battlefield of feuding groups
which hate each other's guts. The annals of Lebanon are full of civil wars
and horrible massacres. Many times, this or that community called in
foreign enemies to assist it against its neighbors.

Between the communities, there are no permanent alliances. One day,
communities A and B get together to fight community C. The next day, B
and C fight against A. Moreover, there are sub-communities, which more
than once have been known to make an alliance with an opposing
community against their own.

Altogether, a fascinating mosaic, but also a very dangerous one - the
more so since every community keeps a private army, equipped with the
best of weapons. The official Lebanese army, composed of men from all
communities, is unable to carry out any meaningful mission.

What is a Lebanese "community"? On the face of it, it's all about religion.
But not only religion. The community is also an ethnic tribe, with some
national attributes. A Jew will easily understand this, since the Jews are
also such a community, even if spread around the world. But for an
ordinary European or American, it is difficult to understand this structure.
It is easier to think about a "Lebanese nation" - a nation that exists only
in the imagination or as a vision of the future.

The loyalty to the community comes before any other loyalty - and
certainly before any loyalty to Lebanon. When the rights of a community
or sub-community are menaced, its members rise up as one in order to
destroy those who are threatening them.


THE MAIN communities are the Christian, the Sunni-Muslim, the Shiite-
Muslim and the Druze (who, as far as religion goes, are a kind of extreme
Shiites.) The Christians are divided into several sub-communities, the
most important of which are the Maronites (named after a saint who lived
some 1600 years ago.) The Sunnis were brought to Lebanon by the
(Sunni) Ottoman rulers to strengthen their hold, and were mainly settled
in the large port cities. The Druze came to find refuge in the mountains.
The Shiites, whose importance has risen over the last few decades, were
for many centuries a poor and down-trodden community, a doormat for
all the others.

As in almost all Arab societies, the Hamula (extended family) plays a vital
role in all communities. Loyalty to the Hamula precedes even loyalty to
the community, according to the ancient Arab saying: "With my cousin
against the foreigner, with my brother against my cousin." Almost all
Lebanese leaders are chiefs of the great families.


TO GIVE some idea of the Lebanese tangle, a few recent examples: in the
civil war that broke out in 1975, Pierre Gemayel, the chief of a Maronite
family, called upon the Syrians to invade Lebanon in order to help him
against his Sunni neighbors, who were about to attack his territory. His
grandson by the same name, who was murdered this week, was a
member of a coalition whose aim is to liquidate Syrian influence in
Lebanon. The Sunnis, who were fighting against the Syrians and the
Christians, are now the allies of the Christians against the Syrians.

The Gemayel family was the main ally of Ariel Sharon, when he invaded
Lebanon in 1982. The common aim was to drive out the (mainly Sunni)
Palestinians. For that purpose, Gemayel's men carried out the horrendous
massacre of Sabra and Shatila, after the assassination of Bashir Gemayel,
the uncle of the man who was murdered this week. The massacre was
overseen by Elie Hobeika from the roof of the headquarters of the Israeli
general Amos Yaron. Afterwards, Hobeika became a minister under Syrian
auspices. Another person responsible for the slaughter was Samir
Geagea, the only one who was put on trial in a Lebanese court. He was
condemned to several life prison terms and later pardoned. This week he
was one of the main speakers at the funeral of Pierre Gemayel the
grandson.

In 1982, the Shiites welcomed the invading Israeli army with flowers, rice
and candy. A few months later they started a guerilla war against them,
which lasted for 18 years, in the course of which Hizbullah became a
major force in Lebanon.

One of the leading Maronites in the fight against the Syrians was General
Michel Aoun, who was elected president by the Maronites and later driven
out. Now he is an ally of Hizbullah, the main supporter of Syria.

All this resembles Italy at the time of the Renaissance or Germany during
the 30-Years War. But in Lebanon this is the present and the foreseeable
future.

In such a reality, using the term "democracy" is, of course, a joke. By
agreement, the government of the country is divided between the
communities. The president is always a Maronite, the prime minister a
Sunni, the speaker of the parliament a Shiite. The same applies to all
positions in the country, at all levels: a member of a community cannot
aspire to a position suited to his talents if it "belongs" to another
community. Almost all citizens vote according to family affiliation. A
Druze voter, for example, has no chance of overthrowing Walid Jumblat,
whose family has ruled the Druze community for 500 years at least (and
whose father was murdered by the Syrians.) He doles out all the jobs
"belonging" to his community.

The Lebanese parliament is a senate of community chiefs, who divide the
spoils between them. The "democratic coalition" which was put in power
by the Americans after the murder of the Sunni Prime Minister Rafik
Hariri, is a temporary alliance of the Maronite, Sunni and Druze chiefs.
The "opposition", which enjoys Syrian patronage, is composed of the
Shiites and one Maronite faction. The wheel can turn at a moment's
notice, when other alliances are formed.

Hizbullah, which appears to Israelis as an extension of Iran and Syria, is
first of all a Shiite movement that strives to obtain for its community a
larger part of the Lebanese pie, as indeed is its due in accordance with its
size. Hassan Nasrallah - who is also the scion of an important family -
has his eyes on the government in Beirut, not on the mosques in
Jerusalem.


WHAT DOES all this say about the present situation?

For decades now, Israel has been stirring the Lebanese pot. In the past, it
supported the Gemayel family but was bitterly disappointed: the family's
"Phalanges" (the name was taken from Fascist Spain, which was greatly
admired by grandfather Pierre), were revealed in the 1982 war as a gang
of thugs without military value. But the Israeli involvement in Lebanon
continues to this day. The aim is to eliminate Hizbullah, remove the
Syrians and threaten nearby Damascus. All these tasks are hopeless.

Some history: in the 30s, when the Maronites were the leading force in
Lebanon, the Maronite Patriarch expressed open sympathy for the Zionist
enterprise. At that time, many young people from Tel-Aviv and Haifa
studied at the American University of Beirut, and rich Jewish people from
Palestine spent their holidays at Lebanese resorts. Once, before the
founding of Israel, I crossed the Lebanese border by mistake and a
Lebanese Gendarme politely showed me the way back.

During the first years of Israel, the Lebanese border was our only peaceful
one. Those days there was a saying: "Lebanon will be the second Arab
country to make peace with Israel. It will not dare to be the first". Only in
1970, when King Hussein drove the PLO from Jordan into Lebanon, with
the active help of Israel, did this border heat up. Now even Fuad Siniora,
the prime minister appointed by the Americans, feels compelled to
declare that "Lebanon will be the last Arab state to make peace with
Israel!"

All efforts to remove Syrian influence from Lebanon are bound to fail. In
order to understand this, it is enough to look at the map. Historically,
Lebanon is a part of the land of Syria ("Sham" in Arabic). The Syrians have
never resigned themselves to the fact that the French colonial regime tore
Lebanon from their land.

The conclusions: First, let's not get stuck in the Lebanese mess again. As
experience has shown, we shall always come out the losers. Second, in
order to have peace on our northern border, all the potential enemies,
and first of all Syria, must be involved.   

Meaning: we must give back the Golan Heights.

The Bush administration forbids our government to talk with the Syrians.
They want to talk with them themselves, when the time comes. Quite
possibly, they will then sell them the Golan in return for Syrian help in
Iraq. If so, should we not hurry and "sell" them the Golan (which belongs
to them anyhow) for a better price for ourselves?

Lately, voices have been heard, even of senior army people, that hint at
this possibility. It should be said loudly and clearly: Because of a few
thousands of settlers and the politicians who do not dare to confront
them, we are liable to be dragged into more superfluous wars and to
endanger the population of Israel.

This is the third conclusion: There is only one way to win a war in
Lebanon - and that is to avoid it.

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herjihad
 
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Quote herjihad Replybullet Posted: 26 November 2006 at 5:46pm

Originally posted by Daniel Dworsky

Uri Avnery
25.11.06

                An Evening in Jounieh

DURING THE first Lebanon war, I visited Jounieh, a town some 20 km
north of Beirut. At the time, it served as a port for the Christian forces. It
was an exciting evening.

In spite of the war raging in nearby Beirut, Jounieh was full of life. The
Christian elite spent the day in the sun-drenched marina, the women
lounging in bikinis, the men slugging whisky. The three of us (myself and
two young women from my editorial staff - a correspondent and a
photographer) were the only Israelis in town, and so we were feted.
Everybody invited us onto their yachts, and one rich couple insisted that
we come to their home as guests of a family celebration.

It was indeed something special. The dozens of family members belonged
to the cream of the elite - rich merchants, a well-known painter, several
university professors. The drinks flowed like water, the conversation
flowed in several languages.

Around midnight, everybody was slightly drunk. The men got me into a
"political" conversation. They knew that I was an Israeli, but had no idea
about my views.

"Why don't you go into West Beirut?" one portly gentleman asked me.
West Beirut was held by Arafat's PLO forces, who were defending
hundreds of thousands of Sunni inhabitants.

"Why? What for?" I queried.

"What do you mean? To kill them! To kill everybody!"

"Everybody? Women and children, too?"

"Of course! All of them!"

For a moment, I thought that he was joking. But the faces of the men
around him told me that he was deadly serious and that everybody
agreed with him.

At that moment I grasped that this beautiful country, rich in history,
blessed with all the pleasure of life, is sick. Very, very sick.

The next day I indeed went into West Beirut, but for another purpose
altogether. I crossed the lines to meet with Yasser Arafat.

(By the way, at the end of the party in Jounieh my hosts gave me a parting
present: a big packet of hashish. On the morrow, on my way back to
Israel, after Arafat had made our meeting public, I heard over the radio
that four ministers were demanding that I should be put on trial for
treason. I remembered the hashish and it went sailing out of the car
window.)


I AM reminded of that conversation in Jounieh every time something
happens in Lebanon. This week, for example.

Much nonsense is being spoken and written about that country, as if it
were a country like any other. George W. Bush talks about "Lebanese
democracy" as if there were such a thing, others speak about the
"parliamentary majority" and "minority factions"' about the need for
"national unity" to uphold "national independence", as if they were talking
about the Netherlands or Finland. All these have no connection with
Lebanese reality.

Geographically, Lebanon is a torn country, and there lies a part of the
secret of its beauty. Snow-covered mountain chains, green valleys,
picturesque villages, beautiful sea-shore. But Lebanon is also torn
socially. The two schisms are inter-connected: in the course of history,
persecuted minorities from all over the region sought refuge between its
mountains, where they could defend themselves.

The result: a large number of big and small communities, ready to spring
to arms at any moment. At best, Lebanon is a loose federation of
mutually suspicious communities, at worst a battlefield of feuding groups
which hate each other's guts. The annals of Lebanon are full of civil wars
and horrible massacres. Many times, this or that community called in
foreign enemies to assist it against its neighbors.

Between the communities, there are no permanent alliances. One day,
communities A and B get together to fight community C. The next day, B
and C fight against A. Moreover, there are sub-communities, which more
than once have been known to make an alliance with an opposing
community against their own.

Altogether, a fascinating mosaic, but also a very dangerous one - the
more so since every community keeps a private army, equipped with the
best of weapons. The official Lebanese army, composed of men from all
communities, is unable to carry out any meaningful mission.

What is a Lebanese "community"? On the face of it, it's all about religion.
But not only religion. The community is also an ethnic tribe, with some
national attributes. A Jew will easily understand this, since the Jews are
also such a community, even if spread around the world. But for an
ordinary European or American, it is difficult to understand this structure.
It is easier to think about a "Lebanese nation" - a nation that exists only
in the imagination or as a vision of the future.

The loyalty to the community comes before any other loyalty - and
certainly before any loyalty to Lebanon. When the rights of a community
or sub-community are menaced, its members rise up as one in order to
destroy those who are threatening them.


THE MAIN communities are the Christian, the Sunni-Muslim, the Shiite-
Muslim and the Druze (who, as far as religion goes, are a kind of extreme
Shiites.) The Christians are divided into several sub-communities, the
most important of which are the Maronites (named after a saint who lived
some 1600 years ago.) The Sunnis were brought to Lebanon by the
(Sunni) Ottoman rulers to strengthen their hold, and were mainly settled
in the large port cities. The Druze came to find refuge in the mountains.
The Shiites, whose importance has risen over the last few decades, were
for many centuries a poor and down-trodden community, a doormat for
all the others.

As in almost all Arab societies, the Hamula (extended family) plays a vital
role in all communities. Loyalty to the Hamula precedes even loyalty to
the community, according to the ancient Arab saying: "With my cousin
against the foreigner, with my brother against my cousin." Almost all
Lebanese leaders are chiefs of the great families.


TO GIVE some idea of the Lebanese tangle, a few recent examples: in the
civil war that broke out in 1975, Pierre Gemayel, the chief of a Maronite
family, called upon the Syrians to invade Lebanon in order to help him
against his Sunni neighbors, who were about to attack his territory. His
grandson by the same name, who was murdered this week, was a
member of a coalition whose aim is to liquidate Syrian influence in
Lebanon. The Sunnis, who were fighting against the Syrians and the
Christians, are now the allies of the Christians against the Syrians.

The Gemayel family was the main ally of Ariel Sharon, when he invaded
Lebanon in 1982. The common aim was to drive out the (mainly Sunni)
Palestinians. For that purpose, Gemayel's men carried out the horrendous
massacre of Sabra and Shatila, after the assassination of Bashir Gemayel,
the uncle of the man who was murdered this week. The massacre was
overseen by Elie Hobeika from the roof of the headquarters of the Israeli
general Amos Yaron. Afterwards, Hobeika became a minister under Syrian
auspices. Another person responsible for the slaughter was Samir
Geagea, the only one who was put on trial in a Lebanese court. He was
condemned to several life prison terms and later pardoned. This week he
was one of the main speakers at the funeral of Pierre Gemayel the
grandson.

In 1982, the Shiites welcomed the invading Israeli army with flowers, rice
and candy. A few months later they started a guerilla war against them,
which lasted for 18 years, in the course of which Hizbullah became a
major force in Lebanon.

One of the leading Maronites in the fight against the Syrians was General
Michel Aoun, who was elected president by the Maronites and later driven
out. Now he is an ally of Hizbullah, the main supporter of Syria.

All this resembles Italy at the time of the Renaissance or Germany during
the 30-Years War. But in Lebanon this is the present and the foreseeable
future.

In such a reality, using the term "democracy" is, of course, a joke. By
agreement, the government of the country is divided between the
communities. The president is always a Maronite, the prime minister a
Sunni, the speaker of the parliament a Shiite. The same applies to all
positions in the country, at all levels: a member of a community cannot
aspire to a position suited to his talents if it "belongs" to another
community. Almost all citizens vote according to family affiliation. A
Druze voter, for example, has no chance of overthrowing Walid Jumblat,
whose family has ruled the Druze community for 500 years at least (and
whose father was murdered by the Syrians.) He doles out all the jobs
"belonging" to his community.

The Lebanese parliament is a senate of community chiefs, who divide the
spoils between them. The "democratic coalition" which was put in power
by the Americans after the murder of the Sunni Prime Minister Rafik
Hariri, is a temporary alliance of the Maronite, Sunni and Druze chiefs.
The "opposition", which enjoys Syrian patronage, is composed of the
Shiites and one Maronite faction. The wheel can turn at a moment's
notice, when other alliances are formed.

Hizbullah, which appears to Israelis as an extension of Iran and Syria, is
first of all a Shiite movement that strives to obtain for its community a
larger part of the Lebanese pie, as indeed is its due in accordance with its
size. Hassan Nasrallah - who is also the scion of an important family -
has his eyes on the government in Beirut, not on the mosques in
Jerusalem.


WHAT DOES all this say about the present situation?

For decades now, Israel has been stirring the Lebanese pot. In the past, it
supported the Gemayel family but was bitterly disappointed: the family's
"Phalanges" (the name was taken from Fascist Spain, which was greatly
admired by grandfather Pierre), were revealed in the 1982 war as a gang
of thugs without military value. But the Israeli involvement in Lebanon
continues to this day. The aim is to eliminate Hizbullah, remove the
Syrians and threaten nearby Damascus. All these tasks are hopeless.

Some history: in the 30s, when the Maronites were the leading force in
Lebanon, the Maronite Patriarch expressed open sympathy for the Zionist
enterprise. At that time, many young people from Tel-Aviv and Haifa
studied at the American University of Beirut, and rich Jewish people from
Palestine spent their holidays at Lebanese resorts. Once, before the
founding of Israel, I crossed the Lebanese border by mistake and a
Lebanese Gendarme politely showed me the way back.

During the first years of Israel, the Lebanese border was our only peaceful
one. Those days there was a saying: "Lebanon will be the second Arab
country to make peace with Israel. It will not dare to be the first". Only in
1970, when King Hussein drove the PLO from Jordan into Lebanon, with
the active help of Israel, did this border heat up. Now even Fuad Siniora,
the prime minister appointed by the Americans, feels compelled to
declare that "Lebanon will be the last Arab state to make peace with
Israel!"

All efforts to remove Syrian influence from Lebanon are bound to fail. In
order to understand this, it is enough to look at the map. Historically,
Lebanon is a part of the land of Syria ("Sham" in Arabic). The Syrians have
never resigned themselves to the fact that the French colonial regime tore
Lebanon from their land.

The conclusions: First, let's not get stuck in the Lebanese mess again. As
experience has shown, we shall always come out the losers. Second, in
order to have peace on our northern border, all the potential enemies,
and first of all Syria, must be involved.   

Meaning: we must give back the Golan Heights.

The Bush administration forbids our government to talk with the Syrians.
They want to talk with them themselves, when the time comes. Quite
possibly, they will then sell them the Golan in return for Syrian help in
Iraq. If so, should we not hurry and "sell" them the Golan (which belongs
to them anyhow) for a better price for ourselves?

Lately, voices have been heard, even of senior army people, that hint at
this possibility. It should be said loudly and clearly: Because of a few
thousands of settlers and the politicians who do not dare to confront
them, we are liable to be dragged into more superfluous wars and to
endanger the population of Israel.

This is the third conclusion: There is only one way to win a war in
Lebanon - and that is to avoid it.

Salaams,

Complexity by definition surely.



Edited by herjihad
Al-Hamdulillah (From a Married Muslimah) La Howla Wa La Quwata Illa BiLLah - There is no Effort or Power except with Allah's Will.
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