by Samah Idriss, editor-in-chief, Al-Adab magazine (
is an important essay by Samah Idriss,
editor-in-chief of Al-Adab magazine, published in .
This article is to be published in Arabic in
the forthcoming July-August 2006 issue of Al-Adab magazine. See www.adabmag.com .
The translation from Arabic by Kirsten Scheid has been edited slightly for style purposes by Labor Standard .
An interview with Samah Idriss and a photo of him is also available at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4155.shtml
To the indignation remaining in Suheil Idriss’s eyes.
I write these words as the Israeli
What I pity about you, Lebanon, is
that you should be afflicted by a leadership that did not take advantage of the
liberation in 2000 to fortify the South and other areas against future Israeli
aggressions. (And anyone who took into consideration
What I pity about you, Lebanon, is
that you should suffer a leadership that does not provide its people with the
means for self-defense, though most of its governments, including the current
one, have been “on friendly terms” with the sponsors of the Cedar Revolution,
the United States and France, both of which provide Israel with whatever arms
it desires. No wonder, of course, when we consider that Lebanese authorities
have consistently held for decades that “
What I pity about you, Lebanon, is
that you should be governed—these days in particular—by a cabinet that does not
“adopt” the capture of Israeli soldiers for the sake of liberating Lebanese
prisoners, thereby officially orphaning the Resistance before the world, and
indeed, providing a cover for the Israeli aggression. It is pitiful, Lebanon,
that you should be stricken with a Prime Minister who condemns the Israeli
aggression for its being “disproportionate” to the HizbAllah’s
operation. Does that mean that he would have supported the former had it
matched the latter, even though it is
What I pity about you,
What is pitiful too about you,
What I pity about you, Lebanon, is your class of phony leftists (specifically the “Democratic Left”) who have no other concern but to suspect everything redolent of dignity and to seek out anything with which they can denounce the Syrian and the Iranian regimes, HizbAllah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP-General Command—anything, even that which might result in the ultimate release of heroes who paid the price of their freedom to attain ours. Indeed, some Hariri Leftists went as far as to claim that NasrAllah [the leader of HizbAllah] is the one who destroyed the Lebanese economy with his daring military operation, thus deliberately failing to remember how the policies of Prime Minister Hariri abetted debt, squandering, and corruption (in coordination with some of his allies as well as leading figures in the Syrian regime).
This is not to say that those whom
the February 14th Bloc likes to criticize are blameless. Least of all the
Syrian regime, whose “strategizing” intellectuals (such as Dr. `Imad Fawzi Al-Shu`aybi) disgust me with their pouring praise on the
Lebanese Resistance without once, for example, wondering aloud about the absence
of official Syrian resistance in the Golan. Such praise strikes me as the
other face of the position taken by the likes of MP Elias ‘Atallah
(of the Décor-atic Left) who criticizes both the
acquiescence of the Syrian regime in the Golan and also HizbAllah’s
non-acquiescence and resistance in
Would Mr. ‘Atallah like us to follow the Syrian suit in this case or
not? Along those lines too, criticism of the Lebanese leadership, its
political right and “left,” should not keep one quiet about the twisted logic
of the Iranian regime, which fights imperialism in
All the same, it is truly shameful that the February 14th bloc, along with its “theorists” and media figures, denounces the Lebanese Resistance‘s coordination with Syria and Iran, as if it were possible to stop American-Israeli war (or at least put a limit to it) without regional alliances. Rather, one would expect that if that bloc sincerely cared about the persistence of Lebanon, its dignity, and the security of its lands, it would immediately call upon the Lebanese government (of which it is the majority) to request military support from Syria and Iran, regardless of its alleged antagonism to religious or one-party rule. Or do the advocates of “sovereignty, liberty, and independence” believe that it is possible to confront American-Israeli violence with a vanguard led by tabbouleh, kibbe nayyeh, and home-brewed `araq; a rear-guard composed of dabkeh, the “Libinese” poems of Sa`id `Aql, and the conservative credo that rejects “the war of others on our land” (referring specifically to Syria, Iran, and the Palestinians); and a banner flapping in the wind above them, decorated with those symbols of co-existence, crosses and crescents?
Whenever anyone says, “I pity you,
1. Is there any way other than capturing Israeli soldiers to bring home Samir al-Qantar, Yahya Skaf, Nasim Nisr, and Ahmad Farran, not to mention—and as long as we are Arab nationalists and leftists, we must mention—thousands of prisoners of Palestinian, Arab, and other nationalities? Yes, one other way is for the prisoners to declare their repentance, and to swear to be decent, cooperative people. A possible second way is for the leadership of the Islamic Resistance to follow Oslo’s suit, vow to “renounce and denounce” armed resistance, and resort to the Security Council to request the return of its prisoners (as well as the liberation of its territories, the cessation of Israeli theft of Lebanese water…). I have no doubt the Lebanese state may realize these demands after the repatriation of Palestinian refugees (in accordance with Resolution 194, and scores of other UN resolutions)! There may be yet a third way: if Sheikh Hasan NasrAllah changes his identity at the nearest notary public and takes the name “Mr. Hasan Karzai” or “General Hasan Lahd,” or “General Hasan Rajjoub.”
2. Other than arms, is there any way to intimidate Israel, if only a bit, before it thinks of strolling anew in Lebanon’s lands, waters, and skies, or expelling more refugees and committing more massacres in Al-Houleh, Kfar Kila, Al-Mansuriyyah, Qana, Marwahin, and ‘Aytaroun?
It feels banal to remind hip
liberalists that history (Arab at least) has not witnessed genuine victories
without bloodshed, arrests, torture, or death. Even non-violent struggle, such
as strikes, boycotts, and divestment campaigns (in
Furthermore it will be extremely
trite to remind those who spurn HizbAllah’s operation
(and armed resistance generally) in favor of reliance upon the “international
community” and “UN resolutions,” that the United States consistently (and occasionally
Western Europe) have refused to implement international resolutions against
If there remains no means to bring
back Lebanese prisoners beyond that of capturing Israeli soldiers (a tactic
whose success was confirmed in the recent past through operations carried out
by PFLP-GC and HizbAllah among other groups), why
condemn it? And why limit its application to Lebanese territory as long as
What national consensus are they
talking about? Resistance needs neither national consensus nor national unity. That
is a preposterous fib that is not supported by any historical instances, to the
best of my knowledge. For example, the French Resistance in World War II—a
particularly important example, as the February 14th bloc adores France, its
civilization, and especially Jacques Chirac—did not by any means represent the
majority in France when it was launched. Historian Elizabeth Thompson (in Colonial Citizens, Columbia U. Press, 2000, p.196) shows that one-third of
the bureaucrats in the Vichy administration in Lebanon refused to serve Charles
de Gaulle and returned to France to serve the Vichy proxy government for the
Nazis. Likewise the entire French military forces in
Or take an example closer to home:
in 1982, most Lebanese were terrified of the Israeli occupiers, and many tossed
their weapons in public trash for fear of being caught “red-handed.” The
nationalist resistance to the Israeli occupation of
So why should the Resistance today seek a national consensus about its national, legal, and religious right? And from whom?
From the “Lebanese Forces” who collaborated with the Israelis for many years on the excuse of protecting the Christians?
From parties with ambiguous identities—sectarian and socialist and conservative—and whose leadership cooperated with the Israeli occupation (as elaborated by Faris Abi Sa’b in an article published a month or so ago in Al-Diyar newspaper)?
From parliamentary “representatives” who would not have received one hundred votes in the last parliamentary elections if not for the funding of Sheikh Sa’d al-Hariri and for the exploitation of popular sympathy for his family following the assassination of his father?
From other MPs who confessed that they were forced to vote for President Emile Lahhoud’s unconstitutional extension in office, out of fear of the Syrian regime’s retribution lest they vote against it? Can people who betrayed the trust of their constituency represent a national consensus?
Indeed, did not Hasan NasrAllah, who already had in his possession Ra`ad, Zilzal, and Shihab missiles, show great patience in conferring hours upon hours with various Lebanese leaders (Michel ‘Awn, Sa’d al-Hariri, etc.) to attain their recognition of the Lebanese identity of the Shab’a Farms and Kafar Shuba, and the right to bring back Lebanese prisoners? Was that not enough before HizbAllah could undertake concrete action to obtain the prisoners’ release?
After the “National Dialogue” and the slew of coordination meetings, was “national consensus” still necessary? What if a public referendum (not of the MPs, not of the party leaders, but of the people themselves) was held about the resistance? Would it result in anything less than a declaration by the majority of Lebanese (not all, since that would be impossible for any cause) in support of the armed Lebanese Resistance?
Lastly, what I pity about you,
(By the way, does not the
destruction of the airport indicate Hariri’s gross misestimation of national priorities? Should the priority
What I pity is that it should be
said, “Lebanon has paid enough for Palestine,” so it no longer has to act in
solidarity with the subjugated Palestinian people, not even through an
operation whose prime aim is to liberate Lebanese prisoners but whose timing
might coincide with the Israeli military machine’s pressuring the elected Hamas government. Is it too much to ask of you,
Likewise, how pitiful for Lebanon that some of its residents of Palestinian origin, who came as refugees decades ago, acquired citizenship (contrary to hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians), and attained wealth, today stress the importance of separating the fates of Lebanon and Palestine. Now that they have become Lebanese they even reject that the “timing” of HizbAllah’s operation should come to Hamas’s aid. This, in fact, is not so much a case of renouncing one’s origin, or neglecting one’s tortured people, as it is a case of forgetting an obvious historical fact: this entire region was one common territory for its residents before it got ripped apart by mandates and empires that separated Lebanese from Palestinians.
What would a
It is the fate of