The Lebanese Foundation for Peace (LFP), an international organization of Lebanese Christians, issued a press release recently that called upon Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “to hit them hard and destroy [Hezbollah’s] terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation.” The LFP also said that “thousands of volunteers in the Diaspora” [are]“ willing to bear arms and liberate their homeland from [Islamic] fundamentalism” with the logistical support of Israel.
Another well-known expatriate Lebanese individual calling for Israel to decisively win the war in Lebanon is Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the American Congress for Truth, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating radical Islamic fundamentalism in the West. She compared the current destruction in Lebanon to a painful operation aimed at removing a cancerous growth, which will hopefully release Lebanon from the “hijackers” — Iran and Syria. To that end, Gabriel said, the roots of the Islamist movement in Lebanon must be completely destroyed.
One reason for the adamant stand of those aforementioned groups against allowing Islamist seeds to remain in Lebanese soil is their people’s experience of bloody and vicious internecine warfare. Lebanese Muslim militiamen active against Israel in the 1980s, as they kept up attacks on Lebanese Christians, encapsulated their vision for the Middle East in a catchy phrase, “After Saturday comes Sunday,” or in a more obvious formulation, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people,” as it was once reported by the historian Bernard Lewis in reference to the buildup to the 1967 Six Day War. (In recent years, versions of that taunt have been tossed at Christians in several cities in the Palestinian Authority; such as Bethlehem, which went from 80 percent Christian under Israel to less than 20-percent Christian under the PA.)
Such forthright statements of support for Israel by expatriate Lebanese, primarily Christians, carry a certain undertone of worry, however. They fear that Israel will not press its offensive against the Lebanese Islamists, that Israel will again fall victim to a mistaken ideology of limited engagement with an absolutist enemy.
After all, it has happened before. Speaking before the Knesset shortly after Israel’s overnight unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May of 2000, Abu Arz charged that Israel had “made heroes out of Hezbollah.” Suddenly left without Israeli support, many members of the South Lebanese Army were forced to flee into Israel for safety’s sake, leaving behind homes, cars, and sometimes families.
In an Associated Press report released just before Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Berta Trebitsch, 46, of Misgav Am, an Israeli border town, was quoted as saying of her children, “Once we were afraid that they would have to go into Lebanon to serve there, but now we’re afraid of what will happen to them here.”
If Mrs. Trebisch still lives in Misgav Am, then she is likely in a bomb shelter, under Hezbollah rocket fire. And her army-age children may well be in Lebanon after all.
And so, Lebanese Christians are not fully depending on Israel to destroy the Islamist Hezbollah, as much as they may hope that Israel will fulfill its potential to do so.
The Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC), a coalition of six organizations, released a statement on July 24 recommending the dispatch of international combat forces to Lebanon, armed with the “full authority and sufficient firepower” to implement all clauses of U.N. resolution 1559. This would include the mission to “disarm the Hizbullah group and the Palestinian organizations, and prevent and intercept the transfer of weapons to them from Iran and Syria.”
In addition to the LCCC, the press release was endorsed by eleven Lebanese groups from the USA, Europe, and Lebanon.
Another item on LCCC’s and its allies’ agenda is pushing for “a resolution by the United Nations condemning Syria and Iran, holding them responsible for the escalation leading to the catastrophe that has befallen Lebanon, and making them liable for the damages incurred by the Lebanese people and the costs of reconstruction.” The LCCC also seeks to establish an international commission of inquiry “mandated with the task of determining Hizbullah’s legal responsibility for the events leading to the cycle of violence inflicted on Lebanon today.”
The LCCC statement warned all Lebanese against “the deceitful calls aiming at surrendering to the will of the fundamentalist Hizbullah group and the dictates of its financiers and sponsors in Damascus and Tehran…To remain silent over their crimes or to turn a blind eye to their practices, violations and threats is itself an act of treason to the nation and an unforgivable crime.”
If the “Saturday people” are victorious this time around against the Islamic fundamentalists, then Lebanon’s “Sunday people” may well be spared future Iran– and Syria-inspired tragedies.
— Nissan Ratzlav-Katz is opinion editor at www.IsraelNationalNews.com