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The Forward Forwards a Lebanese Threat By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 25, 2008

The liberal American Jewish weekly Forward has seen fit to print a supposed appeal to Israel by Firas Maksad of the Lebanon Renaissance Foundation that is actually an expression of thinly veiled threats and hostility to Israel. This is not surprising given that a few months ago the Forward ran an editorial blaming Israel for Palestinian terrorism.


Maksad reacts in his article to a decision earlier this month by Israel’s security cabinet to start holding Lebanon as a state responsible for any further attacks by Hezbollah. Maksad attributes this Israeli policy shift to “Hezbollah’s participation in Lebanon’s newly formed national unity government and a Lebanese Cabinet statement recognizing the right to ‘resistance’ until the disputed border area of the Shebaa Farms is returned”—both of which are serious misstatements.


First of all, Israel is not reacting to Hezbollah’s mere “participation” in the Lebanese government, which goes back to 2005, but to the fact that it is now the dominant force in that government. Here Maksad—though one would not have expected the factually challenged Forward to question it—makes a statement so misleading as to be outright mendacious, claiming that “Hezbollah’s participation in Lebanon’s current government is restricted to one token minister out of 30.” The truth is that, while only one minister is formally a member of Hezbollah, 11 of the 30 ministers are loyal to the organization and its Syrian and Iranian patrons and constitute the veto-wielding bloc that this axis has long been seeking.


Indeed, it was because of the power of that bloc, and President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora’s submission to it, that the Lebanese government adopted the policy this month that—as quoted, for instance, here—“Lebanon, its army, its people and its resistance [Hezbollah] have the right to take action to liberate lands that have remained occupied at the Shebaa Farms, the hills of Shuba village and the northern portion of the village of Ghajar, with all legitimate means possible, and to resist Israeli aggression”—or here—“Lebanon, its people, its army and its resistance [have the right] to liberate its land.”


Either is, of course, a clear and open-ended fusion of the state of Lebanon with Hezbollah terror and goes well beyond Maksad’s above-quoted misleading and inaccurate phrase “the right to ‘resistance’ until the disputed border area of the Shebaa Farms is returned.”

Maksad manages to cram a good deal more such nonsense into the small space of his article. Complaining that “Israel’s latest decision on Lebanon demonstrates…its lack of regard toward Lebanese moderates,” he identifies these as “the more than 1 million Lebanese who [took part] in the 2005 Cedar Revolution” and “supported the government earlier this year when it confronted Hezbollah by deciding to dismantle the organization’s countrywide communications infrastructure and remove the pro-Hezbollah security chief of Beirut’s airport.” Fine—except that the government “was forced to rescind its decision after being left to fend for itself, with little support from the international community, against an armed assault by Hezbollah.”

In other words, the Lebanese groups that fought Hezbollah last May were soundly defeated by the terror organization, setting the stage for its present cooptation of the Lebanese government and bending of the suppliant Lebanese state to its will. Although that, indeed, is not the outcome that Israel (or the West in general) hoped for, what seems to escape Maksad is that it is now the reality that Israel must deal with and for which Lebanon itself, which has been allowing and encouraging Hezbollah to amass power over the past quarter-century, is responsible.

But whereas Israel now faces saber-rattling statements from the Lebanese national unity cabinet, Maksad sees only Israeli aggressiveness and warns that “Israel will not defeat Hezbollah by adopting failed strategies that force Lebanese society into embracing the militant group as its only viable means of defense.” No, Mr. Maksad, Lebanon already did that—“embrac[e] the militant group”—last May when, after the anti-Hezbollah forces’ quick collapse, Lebanon adopted the Doha Agreement that was widely recognized as signaling its capitulation to the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah camp.

Maksad, though, says further: “By lumping all of Lebanese society into the same category with Hezbollah and threatening collective punishment, [Israel] will leave the Lebanese with no choice but to grudgingly stand behind Hezbollah, just as they were forced to do last month when Israel repatriated Samir Kuntar and other Lebanese prisoners to the militant group instead of to the Lebanese state.” This is an extraordinary statement on several counts, implying that official Lebanon was somehow “forced” to fete, laud, and shake the hand of the child-murdering terrorist and that this same “Lebanese state” should, as distinct from Hezbollah, have had the honor of receiving him and the other “prisoners” (Maksad’s own strikingly value-neutral term) itself.

According to the mission statement of its website, Maksad’s Lebanon Renaissance Foundation seeks “a free, democratic and open society, one that is fully integrated into the global economy and which offers its people free choices under the rule of law….” That is a vision of Lebanon that all Israelis will assent to. But Firas Maksad’s seeming inability to face how far Lebanon now stands from that vision, to take any blame for this state of affairs on Lebanon itself, and penchant instead to darkly warn Israel of his solidarity with Hezbollah, raises a question as to which side he’s actually on.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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