A Lebanese Journalist's Perspective on the Hizballah-Israel Conflict
The most hypocritical people on earth
Sunday 30 July [ 21:23:00 BST]
By Michael Béhé in Beirut
[Translated from the French by Llewellyn Brown]
The politicians, journalists and intellectuals of Lebanon have, of late, been experiencing the shock of their lives. They knew full well that Hezbollah had created an independent state in our country, a state including all the ministers and parallel institutions, duplicating those of Lebanon . What they did not know – and are discovering with this war, and what has petrified them with surprise and terror – is the extent of this phagocytosis.
In fact, our country had become an extension of Iran , and our so-called political power also served as a political and military cover for the Islamists of Teheran. We suddenly discovered that Teheran had stocked more than 12,000 missiles, of all types and calibers, on our territory and that they had patiently, systematically, organized a suppletive force, with the help of the Syrians, that took over, day after day, all the rooms in the House of Lebanon. Just imagine it : we stock ground-to-ground missiles, Zilzals , on our territory and that the firing of such devices without our knowledge, has the power to spark a regional strategic conflict and, potentially, bring about the annihilation of Lebanon .
We knew that Iran , by means of Hezbollah, was building a veritable Maginot line in the south but it was the pictures of Maroun el-Ras and Bint J'bail that revealed to us the magnitude of these constructions. This amplitude made us understand several things at once : that we were no longer masters of our destiny. That we do not possess the most basic means necessary to reverse the course of this state of things and that those who turned our country into an outpost of their islamic doctrine's combat against Israel did not have the slightest intention of willingly giving up their hold over us.
The national salvation discussions that concerned the application of Resolution 1559 and which included most of the Lebanese political movements were simply for show. Iran and Syria had not invested billions of dollars on militarizing Lebanon in order to wage their war, simply to give in to the desire of the Lebanese and the international community for them to pack up their hardware and set it up back home.
And then, the indecision, the cowardice, the division and the irresponsible behavior of our leaders are such that they had no effort to make to show their talent. No need to engage a wrestling match with the other political components of the Land of Cedars . The latter showed themselves – and continue to show themselves – to be inconsistent.
Of course, our army, reshaped over the years by the Syrian occupier so it could no longer fulfill its role as protector of the nation, did not have the capacity to tackle the militamen of the Hezb [ hezb-Allah : the party of Allah. Translator's note]. Our army whom it is more dangerous to call upon – because of the explosive equilibrium that constitutes each of its brigades – than to shut up behind locked doors in its barracks. A force that is still largely loyal to its former foreign masters, to the point of being uncontrollable ; to the point of having collaborated with the Iranians to put OUR coastal radar stations at the disposal of their missiles, that almost sunk an Israeli boat off the shores of Beirut . As for the non-Hezbollah elements in the government, they knew nothing of the existence of land-to-sea missiles on our territory… That caused the totally justified destruction of all OUR radar stations by the Hebrews' army. And even then we are getting off lightly in these goings-on.
It is easy now to whine and gripe, and to play the hypocritical role of victims. We know full well how to get others to pity us and to claim that we are never responsible for the horrors that regularly occur on our soil. Of course, that is nothing but rubbish! The Security Council's Resolution 1559 – that demanded that OUR government deploy OUR army on OUR sovereign territory, along OUR international border with Israel and that it disarm all the militia on OUR land – was voted on 2 September 2004.
We had two years to put implement this resolution and thus guarantee a peaceful future to our children but we did strictly nothing. Our greatest crime – which was not the only one! – was not that we did not succeed but that we did not attempt or undertake anything. And that was the fault of none else than the pathetic Lebanese politicians.
Our government, from the very moment the Syrian occupier left, let ships and truckloads of arms pour into our country. Without even bothering to look at their cargo. They jeopardized all chances for the rebirth of our country by confusing the Cedar Revolution with the liberation of Beirut . In reality, we had just received the chance – a sort of unhoped-for moratorium – that allowed us to take the future into our own hands, nothing more.
To think that we were not even capable of agreeing to “hang” Émile Lahoud – Al-Assad's puppet – on Martyrs' Square and that he is still president of what some insist on calling our republic… There is no need to look any further : we are what we are, that is to say, not much.
All those who assume public and communicational responsibilities in this country are responsible for this catastrophe. Except those of my colleagues, journalists and editors, who are dead, assassinated by the Syrian thugs, because they were clearly less cowardly than those who survived. And Lahoud remained at Baadbé [the president of the Lebanese Republic 's palace. Editor's note]!
And when I speak of a catastrophe, I do not mean the action accomplished by Israel in response to the aggression against its civilians and its army, which was produced from our soil and that we did strictly nothing to avoid, and for which we are consequently responsible. Any avoiding of this responsibility – some people here do not have the minimal notions of international law necessary to understand! – means that Lebanon , as a state, does not exist.
The hypocrisy goes on : even some editorialists of the respectable L'Orient-le-Jour put Hezbollah's savagery and that of the Israelis on a par! Shame! Spinelessness! And who are we in this fable? Poor ad æternum victims of the ambitions of others?
Politicians either support this insane idea or keep silent. Those we would expect to speak, to save our image, remain silent like the others. And I am precisely alluding to general Aoun, who could have made a move by proclaiming the truth. Even his enemy, Walid Jumblatt, the Druse leader, has proved to be less… vague.
Lebanon a victim? What a joke!
Before the Israeli attack, Lebanon no longer existed, it was no more than a hologram. At Beirut innocent citizens like myself were forbidden access to certain areas of their own capital. But our police, our army and our judges were also excluded. That was the case, for example, of Hezbollah's and the Syrians' command zone in the Haret Hreik quarter (in red on the satellite map). A square measuring a kilometer wide, a capital within the capital, permanently guarded by a Horla army , possessing its own institutions, its schools, its crèches, its tribunals, its radio, its television and, above all… its government. A “government” that, alone decided, in the place of the figureheads of the Lebanese government – in which Hezbollah also had its ministers! – to attack a neighboring state, with which we had no substantial or grounded quarrel, and to plunge US into a bloody conflict. And if attacking a sovereign nation on its territory, assassinating eight of its soldiers, kidnapping two others and, simultaneously, launching missiles on nine of its towns does not constitute a casus belli , the latter juridical principle will seriously need revising.
Thus almost all of these cowardly politicians, including numerous shiah leaders and religious personalities themselves, are blessing each bomb that falls from a Jewish F-16 turning the insult to our sovereignty that was Haret Hreik, right in the heart of Beirut, into a lunar landscape. Without the Israelis, how could we have received another chance – that we in no way deserve! – to rebuild our country?
Each Irano-Syrian fort that Jerusalem destroys, each islamic fighter they eliminate, and Lebanon proportionally starts to live again! Once again, the soldiers of Israel are doing our work. Once again, like in 1982, we are watching – cowardly, lying low, despicable, and insulting them to boot – their heroic sacrifice that allows us to keep hoping. To not be swallowed up in the bowels of the earth. Because, of course, by dint of not giving a damn for southern Lebanon, of letting foreigners take hold of the privileges that belong to us, we no longer had the ability to recover our independence and sovereignty. If, at the end of this war, the Lebanese army retakes control over its territory and gets rid of the state within a state – that tried to suffocate the latter –, it will only be thanks to Tsahal [the Israeli Defense Forces. Translator's note], and that, all these faint-hearted politicians, from the crook Fouad Siniora, to Saad Hariri, the son of Lebanon's plunderer, and general Aoun all know perfectly well.
[Beirut by satellite (Google Earth)]
As for the destruction caused by the Israelis… that is another imposture : look at the satellite map! I have situated, as best I could, BUT IN THEIR CORRECT PROPORTIONS, the parts of my capital that have been destroyed by Israel . They are Haret Hreik – in its totality – and the dwellings of Hezbollah's leaders, situated in the large Shi'a suburb of Dayaa (as they spell it) and that I have circled in blue.
In addition to these two zones, Tsahal has exploded a nine-storied building that housed Hezbollah's command, in Beirut 's city center, above and slightly to the left (to the north west ) of Haret Hreik on the map. It was Nasrallah's “perch” inside the city, whereby he asserted his presence and domination over us. A depot of Syrian arms in the port, two army radars that the Shiite officers had put at the Hezb's disposal, and a truck suspected of transporting arms, in the Christian quarter of Ashrafieh.
Moreover the road and airport infrastructures were put out of working order : they served to provide Hezbollah with arms and munitions. Apart from that, Tsahal has neither hit nor deteriorated anything, and all those who speak of the “destruction of Beirut ” are either liars, Iranians, anti-Semites or absent. Even the houses situated one alley's distance from the targets I mentioned have not been hit, they have not even suffered a scratch; on contemplating these results of this work you understand the meaning of the concept “surgical strikes” and you can admire the dexterity of the Jewish pilots.
Beirut , all the rest of Beirut , 95% of Beirut , lives and breathes better than a fortnight ago. All those who have not sided with terrorism know they have strictly nothing to fear from the Israeli planes, on the contrary! One example: last night the restaurant where I went to eat was jammed full and I had to wait until 9:30 pm to get a table. Everyone was smiling, relaxed, but no one filmed them: a strange destruction of Beirut , is it not?
Of course, there are some 500,000 refugees from the south who are experiencing a veritable tragedy and who are not smiling. But Jean [Tsadik. Editor's note], who has his eyes fixed on Kfar Kileh, and from whom I have learned to believe each word he says, assures me that practically all the houses of the aforesaid refugees are intact. So they will be able to come back as soon as Hezbollah is vanquished.
The defeat of the Shi'a fundamentalists of Iranian allegiance is imminent. The figures communicated by Nasrallah's minions and by the Lebanese Red-Cross are deceiving: firstly, of the 400 dead declared by Lebanon , only 150 are real collateral civilian victims of the war, the others were militiamen without uniform serving Iran . The photographic report “ Les Civils des bilans libanais ” made by Stéphane Juffa for our agency constitutes, to this day, the unique tangible evidence of this gigantic morbid manipulation. Which makes this document eminently important.
Moreover, Hassan Nasrallah's organization has not lost 200 combatants, as Tsahal claims. This figure only concerns the combats taking place on the border and even then the Israelis underestimate it, for a reason that escapes me, by about a hundred militiamen eliminated. The real count of Hezbollah's casualties, that includes those dead in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, Baalbek and their other camps, rocket and missile launchers and arms and munition depots amounts to 1,100 supplementary Hezbollah militiamen who have definitively ceased to terrorize and humiliate my country.
Like the overwhelming majority of Lebanese, I pray that no one puts an end to the Israeli attack before it finishes shattering the terrorists. I pray that the Hebrew soldiers will penetrate all the hidden recesses of southern Lebanon and will hunt out, in our stead, the vermin that has taken root there. Like the overwhelming majority of Lebanese, I have put the champagne ready in the refrigerator to celebrate the Israeli victory.
But contrary to them – and to paraphrase Michel Sardou [a French singer. Translator's note] –, I recognize that they are also fighting for our liberty, another battle “where you were not present”! And in the name of my people, I wish to express my infinite gratitude to the relatives of the Israeli victims – civilian and military – whose loved ones have fallen so that I can live standing upright in my identity. They should know that I weep with them.
As for the pathetic clique that thrives at the head of my country, it is time for them to understand that after this war, after our natural allies have rid us of those who are hindering us from rebuilding a nation, a cease-fire or an armistice will not suffice. To ensure the future of Lebanon , it is time to make peace with those we have no reason to go to war against. In fact, only peace will ensure peace. Someone must tell them because in this country we have not learnt what a truism is.
 Michael Béhé is alluding to the book Le Horla , by Guy de Maupassant [Editor's note].
JOIN THE COALITION CONTACT