Monday, January 19, 2009

A war that never occurred

(Saja kindly translated one of my articles from Al-Akhbar (from a few months ago) on the anniversary of the Lebanese civil war)

In Memory of a War That Never Occurred

The history of the Civil War is being rewritten before your very eyes. Had we never witnessed the war or remembered its small and large battles, we would’ve believed the erosion of history and we would’ve become hostage to the fabrication of events. The details, stories and secrets differ dramatically. Had we not lived through that era, we would’ve thought they were talking about a civil war besides our own. Heroisms, theatrical plays and roles that bear no connection to reality. The retired general of the Lebanese army, Wahba Qatisha appear on the army’s channel and define the war’s general features. It’s a conspiracy crafted by the international left and the Palestinian resistance against Lebanon, with support from the Syrian regime. That was the essence of the war. He smiled after stating his pearls of wisdom. This almost rises to March 14’s official narrative, with a few differences and bastardizations. Someday the involvement of Lebanese groups besides the Lebanese forces, which are called “resistance”, which defended the entity against the Palestinian onslaught. Even in Ayn Ar-Rummana Bus, civilians formed armed brigades. The focus on the bus incident in the Hariri Mustaqbal memory may change or disappear altogether (consult the official report which Rashid Al-Sulh submitted in Parliament. It is considered one of the war’s most important documents. Amin Al-Gemayel became so frustrated during the session, he almost struck Al-Sulh had two members not restrained him.) The bus may become a tank or armored vehicle. They may rewrite the history of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Why not? Wasn’t the butchers’ leader an esteemed guest in Hariri’s palaces? Didn’t Al-Hariri appoint him as a minister, with the blessing of the Syrian regime, not only his sponsor Abdulhalim Khadduri, the new democratic advocate? It will be said tomorrow that the victims of Sabra and Shatila provoked the aggressors, or that they threatened the “eternal entity”. Sabra and Shatila victims, your turn is coming up on the Match 14 historical line.

According to the March 14 narrative, the war wasn’t a civil war. Even Walid Jumblat, who had met with Awn at the American embassy after returning from exile, stated that the war in Lebanon was a civil war, now says he is convinced of “the other’s war” theory or “wars waged for others.” But that’s Walid Jumblat.

The civil war’s internal dimension has disappeared and will continue to disappear to the point of diminution. The Lebanese loved each other until an outsider divided them. What happened to Lebanese organizations during the war? They vanished. Muhammad Qabbani, leader of the national movement’s local committees, never existed. Muhammad Kashali was never a leftist, misled by outsiders. Tariq Mutri and George Nasif were never members of a leftist group allied with the nationalist movement. Those are more lies. Charlies Rizq was never kidnapped in a car trunk. Michael al-Mur didn’t support Bashir Al-Jamil’s wars and his Israeli nomination, only to later support Rustum Ghazala. The mountain battle never occurred. It could’ve happened on Ararat Mountain, which isn’t far from green, beautiful Lebanon. We never recall those facts and events. Didn’t the Maronite Patriarch visit the mountain? Isn’t that enough to prove that the Jabal War never happened? The Nationalist Movement never existed in Lebanon and it didn’t offer a transition program. Perhaps that happened in Cyprus or Sardinia. The Lebanese never joined the ranks of Palestinian organizations. All members in Palestinian organizations were exclusively Palestinians in addition to some Somalis and Sudanese (does anyone remember the phalange media which took advantage of Israeli advice during the war, which didn’t happen, displaying pictures of dark-skinned Palestinians as proof of the involvement of Somali fighters? Does anyone remember Israeli media’s claims during the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 about finding three Iranian bodies in southern Lebanon, a claim which Saudi and Hariri media later parroted?)

As for identity-based killings, that never happened in Lebanon. It never happened at all. Stop vilifying the “great” Lebanese people. How can there be identity-based killing in a country that prides itself on harmony and love (not civil war as historian Brodell wrote about France in his book about the history of French identity)? Black Saturday was misunderstood. All there was to it was that Bashir Al-Gemayl ordered arrest of Muslims in the eastern parts of Beirut because they welcomed massacres with open arms, just like Bashir Al-Gemayl welcomed Charle Rizq in the car trunk in the best of Lebanese hospitality. It is true that hundreds were killed, and that genital organs were chopped off and thrown in barrels at the dock. But all this was the doing of “undisciplined parties” or a fifth column, nothing more. Stop being unfair to Lebanon and the Lebanese.

Also, who said that the phalange and Ahrar militias committed sectarian and ethnic massacres towards Muslims and Palestinians in eastern Beirut? No, this didn’t happen at all. All of this is part of malicious propaganda against a homeland that specializes in civil peace (and raw kibbeh). Whoever talks about sectarian massacres in Damur and Ishia against Christians is fabricating stories that never happened. Burning churches and raping nuns never happened either. The Lebanese never fought. They were made to appear like they were fighting while they were actually tolerating and embracing each other. What’s wrong with that? Why the accusations towards perpetually peace-loving Lebanon? Wars in Lebanon, as we’re told in new narratives, happen because of wanton outside forces. Ask Wahbi Qatisha, the expert. He was there. He coordinated with Lebanese forces during his years of service in the army. It’s patriotism Sa’d Haddad-style. The man is not just an individual, but an entire school of thought in this homeland which produces discoverers of the cure to cancer at a rate of one per week. Qatisha himself spoke about the evil role of the Palestinian resistance, Syria and Iran only. Israel never invaded Lebanon according to Qatisha’s narrative.

Does anyone notice that March 14’s propaganda perfectly mirrors Israel’s propaganda about the Israeli role in Lebanon? Jumblat’s discourse about the history of Israel’s role in Lebanon doesn’t differ at all from the Zionist narrative. Only the Palestinian resistance’s provocation and Hezbollah’s provocation of Israel caused the wars Israel waged on Lebanon. At this point, in order to get the narrative straight, you’re supposed to forget about the history of Israeli hostility towards Lebanon prior to the formation of the Palestinian resistance. In accordance with an innovative refreshing perspective, you’re required to submit to the official Israeli narrative, which is about to enter educational curricula. Before long, the student in Lebanon will be asked to list the conspirators against Lebanon. To succeed, they’ll have to list Abdul Nasser and end with the Syrian-Iranian axis only. Whoever accuses Israel will fail. We’ve entered the Dahlani-Allawi system.

It’s a new phase which requires new events and facts. The social and economic reasons which caused and expedited the onset of the war have evaporated.

The new narrative focuses on abundance and growth. How southern Lebanon flourished under ongoing Israeli shelling. The peak of growth happened in southern Lebanon and in the Akkar region also. The workers didn’t strike, and the tobacco farmers didn’t rebel. Nobody in the south rose up against feudalism. Shushu didn’t sing to the triumph of the hungry. The workers of Ghandour Factory didn’t strike. Lebanon’s youth didn’t talk non-stop about revolutionary discussions. Lebanon didn’t assume the position of the Spanish Civil War even if the Franco of Lebanon, I mean Bashir Al-Gemayel, suffered the clone’s resemblance to the original. But never mind. His father did what he could to revive the model of Lebanese Nazism, which he brought with him from a trip of bewilderment to Hitler’s Germany. No, Lebanon’s young men and women didn’t rush to join the ranks of the Palestinian revolution. Christians and Muslims didn’t fight alongside the Palestinian revolution’s organizations (this was before the Hariri era separated Sunnis and Shiis). However, Qatisha’s narrative contradicts reality. So let’s bury reality altogether. Of course, we understand the requirements of the Saudi-Israeli alliance’s propaganda. But Qatisha innocently forgot that Syria was at odds with the Palestinian resistance, not in sync with it. Qatisha forgot that the left in Lebanon waged gang warfare against the Syrian military involvement in Lebanon, and that the Syrian regime didn’t want the national movement to continue work after 1977. It’s known that it preferred the framework of what’s called “the national front”, which gathered pro-Syrian groups that lacked popular support (Walid Jumblat forgets to mention in his speeches about Shii thought that Musa Al-Sadr, along with Asim Qansoh, was one of the most solid proponents of the Syrian regime). But those are details, and recalling history is frustrating, even if it’s modern. Stop memorizing and love life just like Samir Ja’ja’, Muhammad Ali Al-Juzu and the mufti of Tyre and Jabal Sinin love it, and as did Sa’ad Haddad before them, in the “Free Republican of Lebanon”, which the Hariri clan wanted to spread across Lebanon with American, Israeli and Saudi support. Has anyone contributed to the love of life more than Ja’ja’, Al-Juzu and the mufti of Tyre and Jabal Sinin? Was the Barbara barrier erected for any purpose other than spreading the culture of life? As for killing with axes in Al-Jabal battle, that was meant to reject backwardness. Walid Jumblat reminded us recently that the custom of firing bullets into the air has nothing to do with Lebanon because it is a symptom of backwardness and underdevelopment. But killing with axes is a sign of progress and modernity. Public beheadings in Saudi Arabia belongs to the age of liberalism, which is followed by educated media and Hariri elite in Lebanon. Is there anything more poetic than Paul Shaul’s stating “bravo, Seniora”. And doesn’t Seniora love life too? Killing with axes and killing based on identity were part of a Syrian-Iranian plot to divide the Lebanese.

Some say that civil wars have befallen the Lebanese, or those who have lived on the beleaguered geographic area which has represented support for the Zionist entity since its foundation in the nineteenth century. But those forget that the mountain wars were the design of the Qajar dynasty. It was an Iranian plot ever since. How could we forget that Patriarch Safir’s visit to the mountain, which was an historic event according to the trustworthy historian Walid Jumblat, ended all disputes and founded an era to spread love. Doesn’t the March 14 movement remind you of the hippie movement in America in its encouragement for peace and opposition to wars, especially those which are waged to defend Israeli aggression? Meaning that the sight of the glorious Hariri movement is the famous musician John Lennon, although speculation Mustafa Alloush and Michael Mu’awath project a Kantean philosophical image on March 14’s “execution committee” (the 14th of March coincides with Karl Marx’s death, unfortunately).

It is true that the March 14 movement promises and cheers for civil wars, but that’s detail. If it did in fact happen, it’s because they face sects which refuse to join the civil state. Some wonder about the civil state and say that there is no civil state in Lebanon, and that the state is reactionary, sectarian and built on favoritism and betting on countries extreme in religious authority and repression. Some say that the slogan of involvement in the state offered by the mufti of Tyre and Jabal Sinin, who had issued fatwas about Hezbollah before issuing fatwas about the Amal movement and the Hariri family, is inapplicable because there never was a Lebanese state. Others point to the Hariri family and the establishment of Rafiq Al-Hariri as a parallel body, actually an opposition body, on the entirety of Lebanon. But they forget that Rafiq Al-Hariri was a comrade to Johnny Abdu, Eli Hbeqah, Daoud Al-Sayigh and Zahi Al-Bustani. Couldn’t they, in addition to Al-Hariri who at the time used to wear a kuffiyah headdress, implement the May 17 agreement? Meaning they were ahead of their time by striving towards the 1559 resolution about twenty years before it was issued? They called for a civil state pursuant to May 17, and what’s wrong with that?

The fabricated narrative of the Civil War forgets Israel and its incursions. Israel didn’t respond through Qatisha. Rather, the “Palestinians” whom Wasfi Al-Siniora promised to return to Nahr Al-Barid camp at the nearest available opportunity. Does anyone notice that the new discourse expunges what those militia committed in the eastern parts of Beirut, in addition to militia warfare in the western parts of Beirut, not to mention monstrous camp warfare which the Syrian regime assigned to the Amal movement? It is said that the Syrian regime was responsible, but the hands which actually carried out the killing were Lebanese. Furthermore, Bashir Al-Gemayil’s wars to unify fascist-Nazi forces in eastern Lebanon, with Israeli support, were not designed in Tehran. Unless the Iranian conspiracy involved division among Lebanese forces’ ranks, which is likely. No, the Lebanese never fought. They joked and exchanged jokes and offered each other toasts, sometimes on top of corpses. The Lebanese are builders of a great civilization, which inspired its ingenuity from the unique mixture of potatoes and cilantro. If this isn’t conclusive proof of Lebanese genius, then there is no such thing as ingenuity or civilization. The Lebanese never fought amongst themselves, only the foreign Arab did (because western and Israeli foreigners are innocent per March 14’s narrative). Therefore, separating the two American occupations of Lebanon is no longer mentioned in books and novels. This chapter of Lebanese history has been forgotten, and history books will never mention the New Jersey battleship. And didn’t Walid Jumblat apologize for his misgivings, thereby giving the United States the right to raid Lebanon and occupy it whenever it wants? Actually, it could be said that the only disagreement between the ruling elite and the United States does not involve American incursions and wars, but rather American reluctance to wage more wars for the sake of the good son, Sa’d Al-Hariri, who assumed a position of power in Lebanon not based on inheritance, but only because of his merits and talents.

They’re others’ wars. The Lebanese, according to what Ghassan Tuini would say, were innocent of wars. They were in shelters, sipping whichever iceless beverages were available. Tuini tried to remedy this by saying that the wars were fought for others’ sake, which exonerates the Lebanese, even though this theory is more criminal. Civil wars usually result from conflict between internal visions even if outer forces conflict with internal ones. As for that clear enthusiasm on the part of some Lebanese organizations to return to civil war: those are only part of the Safavid media apparatus. Shah Ismail and Shah Abbas control the affairs of opposition groups in Lebanon, and they are popular in the circles of the free national movement. And who said that Asif Shaokat wasn’t active in igniting tribulation in Lebanon in the nineteenth century?

Abbas Zaki, the Hariri clan’s ambassador to the camps, added to the Lebanese’s illusions and their contrived history. He offered them a free apology on behalf of the Palestinian victims in Lebanon for what they’d done to the host country. He apologized for the humiliation, displacement and murders that befell the Palestinian people when they entered and resided in Lebanon. He apologized for the history of Maronite Patriarchic collaboration with the Zionist movement, which was memorialized in the 1946 agreement between the two parties. He apologized to them for the history of alliance between the brigades and Israel, and for the monetary payments Elias Rababi used to receive from Israelis. Zaki apologized for the aggressions and harassments from the second office towards the people of the camps before the Palestinian resistance was strengthened. Zaki apologized for the assistance the resistance had offered to various Lebanese parties over the years. The only apology Zaki missed was on behalf of the Sabra and Shatila victims because they bloodied the killers when the Lebanese troops were splitting open the bellies of pregnant women.

It is interesting that a group that classified itself in a sectarian fashion as “the Christians” apologized, in response to Abbas Zaki, to the Palestinian people for what they called “unjustified acts.” But justified acts are … justified. Why the sectarian designation for apology? Is there a group or sect in Lebanon that hasn’t been involved in the murder of Palestinians? How can we forget the Amal militia (and the Syrian regime’s) unforgiveable camps’ war, and also in Sabra and Shatila? Do we forget the Hariri group’s role in destroying Nahr Al-Bared camp? “Unjustified acts” is a polite term for the massacres, identity-based killings, barbaric displacements and camp destructions.

Everything is changing in Lebanon. Everyone is participating in re-drawing history and reframing biographies. Contradictions, contradictions, left and right. Bilal Al-Ilaili is independent, even if he had worked for the Hariri Corporation, and he’s nominated for the engineers’ union leadership. He approaches Samir Ja’ja’ and the phalanges appealing for mercy. Perhaps he didn’t read his father’s book, Shiekh Abdullah Al-Ilaili, entitled “The Arab Nationalist’s Manifesto”. Al-Ilaili himself ended up advocating for sovereignty. He forgot how he dragged his father to Al-Qirdaha to offer condolences to the Asad family. In his visit to the phalange party, did he ask how phalangist elements destroyed his father’s previous library in Baydoun neighborhood? But if the civil war never happened, what is Muhsin Ibrahim apologizing for?