A Day to Remember: Resistance and Liberation Day 2010

by Brenda Heard

Anniversaries measure time. In one respect, they are an artificial concept. We decide, for instance, that twenty-five years of marriage should be celebrated, but we ignore the subsequent days as merely marking the path to twenty-six years. And reaching twenty-six years, though obviously a greater length of marriage, will not be celebrated with the same gusto as the twenty-fifth anniversary that boasts pre-printed greeting cards and foil balloons.

As the contrivance of marking anniversaries in many ways defies common sense, we might ask ourselves why we do it. Perhaps it is because the infinite, amorphous magnitude of time must be taken in bite-size pieces. It would otherwise be overwhelming. When we stop the passage of time—no matter how arbitrarily, no matter how superficially—then we are in effect looking for significance in what we accomplish with our lives.

On the 25th of May 2010, we observe the ten-year anniversary of the Lebanese Resistance and Liberation Day. A full decade has passed since the victory that baffled the Western world. A twenty-two year military occupation was virtually uprooted and expelled. The balance of global power was unhinged.

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A Process of Change – Nasrallah to Petraeus

It’s important to remember that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches consist of more than mere rhetoric. One of the reasons for Nasrallah’s enormous popularity in the Arab and Muslim worlds is that, unlike other Arab leaders, he says what he means and means what he says. Hizbullah is the only force to have defeated Israel – once in 2000, when the brutal occupation of south Lebanon was brought to an end, and once in 2006, when Israeli troops attempted to reinvade in order to dismantle the resistance, but bled on the border for five weeks instead. During the 2006 war Israel bombed every TV mast it could find, but failed to put Hizbullah’s al-Manar off the air. Nasrallah spoke on al-Manar of “the Israeli warship that attacked our infrastructure, people’s homes and civilians. Look at it burn!” As Nasrallah uttered these words, a Hizbullah missile did indeed disable an Israeli warship, forcing Israel to move its fleet away from the Lebanese coast.

In mid-February 2010, Shaikh Nasrallah made a speech which may well mark a fundamental change in the Middle Eastern balance of power. The speech, quoted below, should not be read as a string of empty threats, but a signal of new weaponry and fighting capabilities.

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Europe’s Alliance with Israel

by David Cronin

Avigdor Lieberman meets Javier Soalan who has described Israel as a 'member of the European Union without being a member of its institutions.'

One of the pitfalls of specialising in European politics, as I have for the past 15 years, is that certain assumptions become hardwired in your brain.  For a long time, my critical faculties shut down when I heard senior EU representatives speak of the Middle East. I happily accepted the official narrative that they were striving for a just resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and that it would be foolish to park the so-called peace process in a “blood-soaked lay-by”, in the words of former EU commissioner Chris Patten.

Israel’s attacks on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza just over a year ago illustrated how naive and gullible I had been. In the first instance, Tony Blair blocked the EU from formally calling for a ceasefire because he wanted Israel to be given whatever space it perceived necessary to fight Hezbollah (Israel’s slaughter of Lebanese civilians in that 33-day war elicited no more than statements of “regret” from London).

It is true that the Union did urge a halt to the violence that Israel inflicted on Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants in late 2008 and early 2009. Yet by describing that attack as “disproportionate”, key EU representatives implicitly approved the Israeli version of events – that everything had been provoked by the missiles Hamas was firing on the southern Israeli towns of Ashkelon and Sderot. “Gaza was a crisis waiting to happen,” Marc Otte, the Union’s Middle East envoy, told me. “Do you think the Palestinians could continue to launch rockets on Israel without Israel reacting?”

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Mughniyeh Martyred

Imad Mughniyeh

It’s two years now since the assassination of top Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. Hizbullah is still promising retaliation ‘at a time of its choosing’. Meanwhile, Israel’s assassinations of resistance figures continue – most recently Hamas’s Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was murdered in Dubai. The Emirati regime has taken no retaliatory action. I wrote the following in the immediate aftermath of Mughniyeh’s killing.

In this post I will jettison my chances of ever being granted an American visa (update: I have since been granted an American visa), by committing imperially-defined thought crime and supporting the strategy, if not all the tactics, of the martyred resistance leader Imad Mughniyeh. In today’s sad world you can be demonised, even prosecuted, for refusing to sing the ideological chorus with Israel (specifically Danny Yatom) that assassinations of resistance fighters represent “a great achievement for the free world in its fight against terror.” But I believe it is important not to be cowed by such hypocrisy and intimidation.

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Israeli kidnapped on Lebanese border

Ok, so relax. It’s not true. I mean, if that had really happened, we would know about it, right? It would be all over the 24hr news, analysts would be wondering what it meant for the region, and whoever was responsible for snatching the civilian would be condemned as carrying out a gross provocation. In the event that the Israeli citizen was quickly released, we would all breathe a sigh of relief.

So let’s be glad that nothing like this has happened.

Israel allegedly snatched Rabih Zahra from an area along the Lebanese border with Israel on Sunday.

According to the source, Zahra’s arrest represents a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon…

A joint Lebanese army and UN team inspected the area from which Zahra was taken and announced he was arrested on Lebanese territory.

Zahra claimed that Israeli soldiers had beaten him and asked him about the activities of the Lebanese Shiite Movement, Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon.

What Comes Next

This is the extended version of a piece published in today’s Sunday Herald.

Erdogan reacts to his war criminal neighbour

A strange calm prevails on the Middle Eastern surface. Occasionally a wave breaks through from beneath – the killing of an Iranian scientist, a bomb targetting Hamas’s representative to Lebanon (which instead kills three Hizbullah men), a failed attack on Israeli diplomats travelling through Jordan – and psychological warfare rages, as usual, between Israel and Hizbullah, but the high drama seems to have shifted for now to the east, to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Arab world (with the obvious exception of Yemen) appears to be holding its breath, waiting for what comes next.

Iraq’s civil war is over. The Shia majority, after grievous provocation from takfiri terrorists, and after its own leaderhip made grievous mistakes, decisively defeated the Sunni minority. Baghdad is no longer a mixed city but one with a large Shia majority and with no-go zones for all sects. In their defeat, a large section of the Sunni resistance started working for their American enemy. They did so for reasons of self-preservation and in order to remove Wahhabi-nihilists from the fortresses which Sunni mistakes had allowed them to build.

The collapse of the national resistance into sectarian civil war was a tragedy for the region, the Arabs and the entire Muslim world. The fact that it was partly engineered by the occupier does not excuse the Arabs. Imperialists will exploit any weaknesses they find. This is in the natural way of things. It is the task of the imperialised to rectify these weaknesses in order to be victorious.

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Challenging the Dahiyeh Doctrine: the Samouni Family and the Goldstone Report

The Samouni family of Palestine lost 29 members of its extended family in Israel’s December massacre against the defenceless population in Gaza. Brenda Heard, founder of Friends of Lebanon, reveals how the goodwill of the Samouni family and assumption of continued cordiality with Israelis was repaid: in their family’s blood. The Samouni’s naive neighbourliness in the service of self-preservation was repaid with most of their extended family mercilessly wiped out by the occupying apartheid regime. This was not collaboration but a misguided attempt to co-exist under conditions of occupation and siege. The genocidal contempt towards genuine peace and all Palestinians is on display in a microcosm here as the UNHRC passes the Goldstone Report.

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Sabra and Shatila

Genre-specific readers be alerted: this is first draft fiction, not reportage – though its material is entirely factual. Twenty seven years ago today.

sabra shatila 1The militia were Arabs, brother Arabs.

The Phalangists were already baying from east Beirut, howling revenge. Now Israel flew Haddad’s militia, la crème de la crème, up from the south. Both groups assembled at the airport, for General Sharon to ensure all were properly kitted out: with weapons, military rations, medical supplies; Israeli cocaine and Lebanese hashish; Mediterranean testosterone, bad breath.

Then he uncaged them.

At six on Thursday evening. In the first penetration, three hundred and twenty men were brought on thirty trucks. Four gangs invading from four approaches. These were the most blood-addicted, rape-happy, battle-addled of militiamen, men long ago surfeited on outrage, men who required ever more extreme atrocities to stir their glutted senses. Ever wilder, ever sharper.

Israel lit the sky for them. White phosphorus flares trailing and dancing. Fire above like a terrible sun in the ceiling, a sun switched on in anger, while the children are sleeping.

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Sabra And Shatila: On massacres, atrocities and holocausts

In honour of the victims of the Sabra Shatila massacre, we are republishing this piece by Sonja Karkar from 2007. May we never forget this Israeli-enabled Phalangist crime. Warning: the following article depicts the horror of a massacre and should be read by mature readers — details of the atrocity appear over the fold.

candleSabra And Shatila
On massacres, atrocities and holocausts

by Sonja Karkar, Women for Palestine and Australians for Palestine

The Massacre

It happened twenty-five years ago – 16 September 1982. A massacre so awful that people who know about it cannot forget it. The photos are gruesome reminders – charred, decapitated, indecently violated corpses, the smell of rotting flesh, still as foul to those who remember it as when they were recoiling from all those years ago. For the victims and the handful of survivors, it was a 36-hour holocaust without mercy. It was deliberate, it was planned and it was overseen. But to this day, the killers have gone unpunished.

Sabra and Shatila – two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon – were the theatres for this staged slaughter. The former is no longer there and the other is a ghostly and ghastly reminder of man’s inhumanity to men, women and children – more specifically, Israel’s inhumanity, the inhumanity of the people who did Israel’s bidding and the world’s inhumanity for pretending it was of no consequence. There were international witnesses – doctors, nurses, journalists – who saw the macabre scenes and have tried to tell the world in vain ever since.

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Lebanon’s election results and the Age of Resistance

Franklin Lamb writing from Dahiyeh, Beirut.

Ready?Hundreds of muezzin called believers to Lebanon’s mosques at 3:35 a.m. this morning for the Al Fajr (the Dawn) prayer. The haunting and beautiful strains of Allahu Akbar (God is great) and Ash-‘hadu ana la elaha ella Allah (I bear witness that there is no God by Allah) wafted from minarets and flowed softly, pushed by the morning sea breezes, along Beirut’s sandy, but trash-strewn beaches at Ramlet al Baida. Drifting along the Corniche Mazzra and Raouche, below the American University of Beirut, they swirled around the silent and narrow streets and alleys of Lebanon’s capital and drifted east and up along her mountains. Caressing the mountain tops they embraced the majestic Basilica at Harissa, high above Jounieh, topped by its 15-ton bronze statue of Saydet Libnan or Notre Dame du Liban.

Proclaimed the “Queen of Lebanon” by the Patriarch of Antioch at the beginning of the last century, this Blessed Virgin is a shrine with claimed healing powers for Pilgrims, and the patron saint of Lebanon’s Christians. She is held in the highest esteem by Shia and Sunni Muslims, as well as Druze. The Koran contains 253 references to Mary, two hundred more than in the New Testament.

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