Frequently Asked Questions:
- Who are the Lebanese, and what is their history?
- What was life like in Lebanon before Israel got involved and expelled the PLO?
- Why do you blame Arafat for the Lebanon War? Wasn't Israel the aggressor, and Arafat the hero who defeated Israel?
- While the world was shouting about Israel's temporary occupation of a sliver of land in southern Lebanon, why didn't we hear about the remaining 90% of Lebanon being ravaged by Syria?
- What is the Christian experience in Lebanon?
- Is Lebanon really the pit of anarchy and extremism that we have heard about?
Who are the Lebanese, and what is their history?
- The native peoples of today's Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine are
Semites who lived for thousands of years, competing among themselves,
building homelands, and defending them from outside as well as inside
conquests. Among these native peoples were the Assyro-Chaldeans and
Aramaeans in Syro-Mesopotamia, the Phoenicians, Canaanites, Hebrews
and others in Lebanon and ancient Israel. The region was predominantly
inhabited by Syriac speaking peoples. The region had enjoyed its own
identity for centuries, perhaps millennia, before the Arab Islamic
After the military defeat of Byzantium and Persia, the two superpowers of the time, at the hands of the Arabs, the native populations were given three options. Either to submit to Islam and arabize, or to become Dhimmi, a second class citizen. A third option was the equivalent of ethnic cleansing. Large segments of the Syro-Mesopotamian, particularly the Syriac-speaking peoples, were arabised, Islamized or displaced from their original birthplace. Many among them lived as Dhimmis in the Arab dominated urban centers or in the country side. However a group of Christian Syriac-speaking people, the Maronites, were able to form a homeland in Mount Lebanon starting from the 7th century. The Maronites founded an independent entity called the Marada states. They resisted the various Arab Muslim dynasties for seven centuries and kept most of their homeland free from occupation. But a series of internal crisis and civil wars weakened the Marada states leading hence to their defeat at the hands of the Mamelukes in 1305.
The Maronites, joined by other Christians from the region, succeeded in recapturing their autonomy in 1840. After the massacres of 1860, European intervention granted additional autonomous status to the Christians of Mount Lebanon in 1860. During WWI, the third of the Christians perished, another third emigrated. Under French rule, the Lebanese Christians chose Greater Lebanon as a modern state. Lebanese nationalism was the end product of centuries of struggle for freedom.
In 1943, a national pact between Christian and Muslim leaders undermined the ethnic nationalism of the Christians. Until 1975, Lebanon enjoyed a financial success, while ethnic tensions remained unsolved. Lebanon was divided between a pro-Arab, mostly Islamic camp, which supported the Palestinians, and a Lebanese nationalist, Christian inspired camp, opposed to the dilution of the country's historic identity. The war of 1975-1990 destroyed the country, causing generalized massacres against civilians, particularly the Christian populations of the Shuf, Aley and the south. In October 1990, the Syrian army invaded the central free enclave of the Christians, ousted their government, disbanded their resistance, and imposed an Arab identity on the entire country.
Since 1990, the Lebanese Christians were submitted to a systematic campaign aiming at their political and cultural dismantling. Christian youth are constantly arrested, their media denied freedom, their leaders harassed, and their identity denied. The West has abandoned their national and communal claim, while many other groups were granted basic rights in the region. While Christians in the center are under occupation, and Christians in the south are submitted to terror attacks, only Lebanese Christians in the diaspora are potentially capable of acting on behalf of their besieged community.
- Dr Walid Phares, a native of Lebanon and formerly a lawyer in Beirut, and an instructor of political sociology at the Jesuit University of Beirut and Florida International University in Miami, is currently a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. Dr Phares is the author of number of books and articles on ethnic conflict, nationalism, as well as Middle East politics and Lebanese affairs.
What was life like in Lebanon before Israel got involved and expelled the PLO?
- In 1970 Arafat and his PLO were kicked out of Jordan when he
began to move against King Hussein. That bloody day was known as
Black September. Arafat fled to the unsuspecting and friendly arms of
the Lebanese people. Lebanon was formerly governed jointly by Muslims
and Christians according to the agreement after WWII. In the twelve
years Arafat was there (1970 until the Israelis threw him out in 1982)
he turned Lebanon into one of the most bloody killing grounds in the
world. At least 100,000 Lebanese civilians were killed. Every corner
of Beirut was a checkpoint for the terrorists to collect money, take
your car, or simply blow you away. Muslim and Christian militia
killed each other with joy.
When Israel captured Beirut, they found that captured Christian soldiers were brought to Muslim hospitals where they were literally drained of their blood for transfusions to wounded Muslim PLO terrorists. One village chief made the mistake of defying Arafat. His 16 year old daughter was kidnapped and delivered to her father's doorstep in a sack, with her breasts cut off. The PLO adopted the Roman practice of tearing a man apart by using horses pulling his limbs in four directions. Arafat's men were more modern, using fours cars to dismember a man.
- Emanuel A. Winston
Middle East analyst & commentator
- "In the corners of the streets of Beirut, small children
exhibit bottle which contained human ears dunked in acid, like pickles
or artichokes in vinegar. Bodies are laying in the streets immersed in
their coagulated blood, some lacking their procreative organs, which
were cut off and put in acid for exhibition by children ...
"Nuns were raped in front of their parents and brothers and afterwards had their elbows slit....
"The number of those killed and wounded, and worse than anything the kidnapped whose fate was usually horrible and awesome, reached about 40,000, with both sides competing between themselves for the most ferocious actions. Complete villages were pillaged, set on fire, and all the population eliminated. The [PLO] Palestinian terrorists were the most extreme and cruelly vicious of all".
- Patrick Sills, British journalist
London Observer, 15 January 1976
- When, in 1976, Yasser Arafat's PLO destroyed Damour, a Christian Lebanese town of some 25,000 people, the
Palestinian murderers employed the same barbaric methods as the Algerian fundamentalists. The priest of
Damour, Father Mansour Labaky is quoted in J. Becker's The PLO:
"And I remember something which still frightens me. An entire family had been killed, the Can'an family, four children all dead, and the mother, the father and the grandfather. The mother was still hugging one of the children. And she was pregnant. The eyes of the children were gone and their limbs were cut off. No legs and no arms. It was awful....We buried them ...under the shells of PLO."
As J. Becker wrote, even before witnessing the atrocities, Father Labaky called Arafat and asked his aide to stop the shelling, saying, "I can assure you, as a religious leader, that we do not want the war; we do not believe in violence," He received a brutal reply, "Father, don't worry. We don't want to harm you. If we are destroying you, it is for strategic reasons."
- Free Lebanon
- The death and destruction caused in large part by the PLO and Syrian occupation of Lebanon during the era of the
Lebanese civil war resulted in an estimated 100,000 killed, 250,000 wounded, 800,000 Christians and 500,000
Moslems homeless, and 32,000 orphaned children from 1970 to 1981.
source: American Lebanese League, 1982
- "After August 1982, Arafat's PLO had
its existence only on his own lips, in the columns of Western newspapers, in
the briefings of European foreign ministers, and in long speeches at the
- Jullian Becker, in The PLO
Why do you blame Arafat for the Lebanon War? Wasn't Israel the aggressor, and Arafat the hero who defeated Israel?
- "Watching scenes of the Beirut evacuation this weekend, I was struck by how it is possible for the cameras to
magnify a lie. These Palestinian troops left town as if they'd just won a great victory. Arafat, they praised as
a conquering hero. In fact, they are leaving town in defeat. And in fact, Arafat led them to this cul-de-sac
where they made their last stand behind the skirts of women and among the playgrounds of children. The only
victory they won was to give General Sharon an excuse for total war and so to bring upon Israel the condemnation
of world opinion and to many Jews, a tormented conscience. But the world was condemning Israel even before
Beirut, and will for time to come. And the anguish of Jews at the suffering caused by their own war machine comes
from the bitter experience of having learned that those who die by the sword must live by the sword. Carnage,
indeed, and no one's hand too clean. But it could have been otherwise if Arafat and his allies accepted the
reality of Israel, if they had not established within Lebanon a terrorist state sworn to Israel's destruction,
and if Arab governments had not found it useful to nurture the PLO in the bloody illusion that Israel can one day
be pushed into the sea. Argue as you might about the events leading up to the establishment of Israel. Weep as
you must for the Palestinian refugees. But a fact is a fact, and Israel is a fact. Yet, the guerrillas leaving
Beirut this week are vowing to fight on until victory. Well, there will be no peace in the Middle East until the
Arabs stop asking their young men to die for a lie."
- Bill Moyers, CBS Evening News [from Roger David Carasso]
While the world was shouting about Israel's temporary occupation of a sliver of land in southern Lebanon, why didn't we hear about the remaining 90% of Lebanon being ravaged by Syria?
- Some forty thousand Syrian soldiers and an untold number of clandestine Syrian operatives and agents presently
control at least ninety-percent of Lebanese territory. All politics, domestic and foreign, emanating from the Beirut
"government" cater to Syrian goals instead of serving the needs of the Lebanese people and Lebanon's national
interest. To a man, the Beirut puppet government is subservient to the wishes of Damascus. The hitherto pathetic
spectacle of Lebanese "officials" scurrying across the border to seek favor and approval from their Syrian masters,
by now embarrassingly well known around the world, has subsided somewhat since the new Syrian installed team
took over last fall. Instead of boding well for Lebanon, this development signals, if anything, a tighter Syrian control
over the country. So high is Damascus' confidence in its new team of Beirut puppets that it has openly taken to
discouraging the two-way traffic of Lebanese politicians between the two cities, referring all would-be callers to the
new Syrian-appointed president of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud.
- David Epperly, The American Lebanese Institute, before The US Senate Foreign Budget Committee, March 4, 1999
- It seems almost incredible that the United States should have
tacitly accepted Syria's final aggression....Instead an anonymous
official was reported to have piously 'hoped' that the Lebanese would
finally be in a position to get on with building a united stable
government. That is like saying the Nazi conquest of France paved the
way for strong executive leadership in that country."
- Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Washington Post, 29 October 1990
- Lebanon continues to labor under the burden of Syrian
occupation of its national territory resulting in control of its political and economic life and continued conflict in
- George Zoghby, National Alliance of Lebanese Americans, before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, March 31, 1998
- At present, an artificial solution has
been imposed on the Lebanese. This solution consists in letting Syria
go on occupying Lebanon. But the Lebanese-Syrian war is far from
over. We would remind Westerners that 50 years of communist dictats in
Eastern European countries never choked these peoples' legitimate
From 1975 to 1984, the 750,000 inhabitants of East-Beirut and its vicinity (some 200 square kms) have contended with 67 kilos of explosives per person, namely 50 million kilos for the entire targeted region. A comparison with the Second World War: each German contended, between 1939 and 1945, with 5 kilos of explosives. In any case, while Germany paid for Hitler's paranoia, Lebanon, on its part, has never committed aggression against any one. Damascus feeds its imperial ambitions and has always dreamt of becoming a "Great Syria" in which Lebanon would be no more than one of the docile provinces. And yet, this means nothing: The annexationist dream is turning into reality under the silent complicity of nations considered civilized. Later, these same nations will say: "We didn't see anything, we didn't hear anything, thank you little Jesus".
Is it because the Lebanese do not have oil resources and because in Lebanon there are Christians who wear a cross around their neck that they must be sacrificed on the great altar of Realpolitik?
The Western hostages were exploited by the Syrians as a means of blackmail. International terrorism is still exported from Lebanon under their aegis: Abou Nidal, Ahmed Jibril, Amal and Hezbollah; the drug traffic, the growing of poppies and other illicit traffics are all under the Syrians' patronage. The poppies are cultivated in the Bekaa valley, heroine is refined in the laboratories they control and is exported through the seaports they rule and the Beirut airport they control.
There were western hostages in Lebanon solely because the Syrians wanted it. Many hostages were kidnapped 50 or 100 meters from the Syrian barracks, "fled" their kidnappers and came upon the Syrians after a 5 minute walk, or were liberated by the Syrians following some James Bond scene.
Assad owes his conquest of Lebanon to his patience, to the State terrorism he has every leisure to practice, and to international hypocrisy. President Hafez el Assad and his brother Rifaat have, in order to stay in power, constructed a system whose motor functions on violence. Deprived of this fuel, the system stops.
The Syrian leaders and the entire regime live in a state of permanent siege. The dictator had a palace-fortress built for him on the summit of Damascus, when he will be able to shell the city, even it its entirety rebels against him.
Syria has no tribunals, only prisons and tombs.
We cannot forget as well the Palestinian terrorism in Lebanon, and we refuse to accept this curious logic which states that the Palestinians must be excused for destroying Lebanon under the pretext that their "own country" was "taken" by the Israelis.
The plot of the nations who believe that by sacrificing the integrity of Lebanon they will be able to solve the problems of the region according to their own interests, this plot seems to have reached even those capitals regarded as incarnating the defense of the free world's values.
It cannot be accepted that the peace in the Middle East will be done with Assad and, who knows, maybe Hitler's heir will receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Hasn't a war criminal like Arafat received this same prize?
Peace must be achieved, but without Assad and without all those war criminals who surround him and who are preparing themselves as his successors. They must be arrested and judged for their crimes against humanity.
Three hundred thousand Lebanese dead because of Syria, twenty five thousand Lebanese handicapped because of Syria, half a million Lebanese in exile because of Syria. Was it necessary for Assad to use gas chambers so that his crimes against Lebanon might be called "war crimes"?
To those who tell us that agreeing to work with the Syrians is moderation and sound common sense, we will answer that Maréchal Pétain of 1943 and all the collaborators were national heroes and not traitors.
To those who tell us that the Palestinians must be allowed to stay in Lebanon until a solution is found for them, we will answer "Since you love them so, why don't you take them to your home?"
The Lebanese Resistance believes firmly that only justice and the law will win. It believes in stability and in peace for the region of the Middle East. But it must be clear that this peace must be achieved without Hafez el Assad and without all the war criminals who surround him.- - from SYRIA, THE PALESTINIANS AND THEIR LEBANESE ALLIES: TERRORISM AND WAR CRIMES
by Dr. Jihad Renéé Albani, the top official of the Lebanese Party: the Guardians of the Cedars, email@example.com
- Today Lebanon is experiencing a very strange phenomenon in its modern history. Although it used to be a free and
democratic country, it is being rapidly transformed into a Soviet-style satellite of its Syrian neighbor, a Soviet-style
police state that survived the disintegration of the original Soviet model. The agony of human rights in Lebanon
mainly stems from the export of the Syrian model of human, or rather inhuman rights, into Lebanon, both directly
through the Syrian army and Moukhabarat operating in the country and indirectly via the forces of the Lebanese
government which is a Syrian shadow. Furthermore, human rights in Lebanon have suffered from the importation of
the Saudi model in the person in of Mr. Rafik Hariri, the "billionaire" who runs a business empire based in Saudi
Arabia and who was appointed by the Syrians as prime minister.
...This is the kind of "human rights" culture that started descending on Lebanon from the day the country was forced to become a launching ground for a military confrontation with Israel that was not its own, culminating with the infamous "Cairo Agreement" signed in 1969 under heavy Syrian pressure. This agreement created a virtual state within a state for the Palestinian armed organizations on Lebanese territory. In 1976 the Syrian Army marched into Lebanon under the banner of curbing the Palestinians and preventing them from taking over the country. But the Syrians did not dissuade the PLO from continuing the confrontation with Israel that eventually provoked the Israeli Army into invading Lebanon in 1978 and again in 1982. The second Israeli incursion resulted in kicking the Palestinians out of Lebanon and sending the PLO leadership into Tunisian exile, but not the Syrians who stayed on. They first played dead then they resumed active interference in Lebanese affairs.
This Syrian "culture" triumphed with the total Syrian take-over of Lebanon on October 13, 1990, when Syrian soldiers marched into the ruins of the Lebanese presidential palace at Baabda. Since that fateful day Lebanon has been run as a fully owned subsidiary of the Syrian regime. The pictures of Mr. Assad and his two sons greet passengers at the Beirut International Airport much as they do at the Damascus Airport. Every government decision of any significance, including all major appointments, must first be cleared in Damascus. Not only the Lebanese Government, but also the Lebanese economy, fell effectively under the same Syrian management that reduced Syria to a police state, ruined its economy and impoverished its people.
...One of the greatest ironies, if not farces, of modern diplomacy is what we have been told by reliable sources for the last few years, that the Israeli Government, before and after the assassination of Mr. Rabin and even under Mr. Netanyahu, repeatedly expressed serious interest in withdrawing from Lebanon. We are also told by the same sources that the Syrian Government has not been agreeable to such withdrawal, however unconditional, for fear of separating the "twin" negotiating tracks with Israel -- the Syrian-Lebanese! Most Lebanese believe the Syrian position to be motivated not only by the wish to maintain Lebanon as a bargaining chip, a hostage, in the endless negotiations-cum-confrontation with Israel, but also by its evident preference for maintaining the status quo. Lebanon is such a valuable prize, and an Israeli withdrawal may ring the bells for a Syrian withdrawal long overdue under the Taif terms. So far the Syrian position on the Taif mandated withdrawal is simple: it is willing to withdraw if and when it is so requested by the Lebanese Government. One of the ministers perhaps expressed the views of his loyalist colleagues in the Cabinet by publicly threatening to throw himself before the first Syrian tank that begins such withdrawal!
- "Our government is not a government. Syrian intelligence forces are controlling this country. We are moving toward
a police state. Here in Lebanon, there are masters and servants. Lebanese government officials are the servants of
- The situation in Lebanon continues to be a matter of very deep concern to all American Lebanese. The
international community has allowed the dignity of Lebanon to be subjugated to Syrian hegemony and tyranny for
the past twenty one years. Yet this occupation has failed to prove itself as a factor of stability, normalcy or
moderation. To the contrary, the Syrian regime has turned Lebanon into a free zone for political machinations,
military provocation, drug trafficking and terrorist activities.
Lebanon has a constructive role to play in the Middle East peace process. It can only do so when it is free, sovereign and governed by a truly representative government. Only the Lebanese people, free from occupation, can provide genuine peace and security to all of their neighbors. Lebanon must be allowed to reclaim its right to negotiate peace with Israel free from the destructive influence of Syria. Lebanon is obviously no longer an independent country. More than forty thousand Syrian troops control ninety percent of its territory, and Syrian installed officials occupy all positions of authority within Lebanon's government, parliament and military. The country's domestic and foreign policies now reflect Syrian objectives, not Lebanese needs. The Lebanese are not the real players on the political scene. No decision can be taken without authorization from Damascus.
...There seems to be no attempt to address the basic issue of Syrian occupation of Lebanon or even Syria's supposed scheduled withdrawal from the country. While official US policy remains fixated on supporting the full implementation of the so-called Taif agreement, the clauses in that document pertaining to Syrian re-deployment to the Bekaa Valley, as they have been interpreted by the State Department, are all but being ignored. Numerous major international and local human rights organizations have repeatedly documented and published findings concerning systematic violations of the rights of innocent Lebanese civilians by Syria and its underlings. These incidents, too numerous to mention here, including murder, rape, torture and illegal detention, belie the facade which has been created for the outside world and provide a hint of the real inner-workings of the Syrian police state.
- Daniel Nassif, Council of Lebanese American Organizations (CLAO), the principle umbrella organization representing the vast majority of American Lebanese, before the United States House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, June 25, 1997
- HABIB MALEK, BLASTING THE SYRIAN OCCUPATION OF LEBANON, SAYS, CONTRARY TO DAMASCUS, ISRAEL HAS NO CLAIM ON THE COUNTRY
In an article published by the Middle East Quarterly (December 1997), Dr. Habib Malek, a founding member of the Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights in Lebanon, declared that one cannot compare the Syrian control of 90% of the land with Israel's occupation of only 10%. The Lebanese American University Professor wrote that the "Israeli government exercises no control over Beirut government while Syrian leaders effectively dictate its policies and actions." He added, "the Israelis of all points of view officially and repeatedly state they have no intention of remaining in Lebanon but wish to withdraw from every square centimeter of Lebanese soil (in return for security guarantees and a full fledged peace treaty)." Malek wrote that "no such statement of withdrawal have ever emanated from the Syrian side. On the contrary Damascus has made innumerable claims to Lebanon and uses such terms as brotherly relations between two statelets. These differences, added Malek, mean that any talk of foreign occupation of Lebanon refers principally to the Syrian occupation." Malek enumerated the massive violations of human rights by the Syrians in Lebanon. "Syrian occupied Lebanon does not present a pretty picture," he said.
What is the Christian experience in Lebanon?
PREPARED TESTIMONY OF SHAKBEL BARAKAT BEFORE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS
COMMITTEE, NEAR EASTERN AND SOUTH ASIAN AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE ON TUESDAY,
JUNE 7 1997
Honorable members of the Subcommittee Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank you Mr. Chairman for giving me this opportunity to testify about the persecution of the Lebanese Christians in general and the Christian population in south Lebanon in particular. This historic achievement will allow me to share with you, the representatives of the American people, a truth which was hidden for years by both the oppressors in the Middle East and by their protectors in the Western world.
My name is Sharbel Barakat. I was born and raised in the Christian village of Ain Ebel in south Lebanon. I studied in my village and later in Beirut. I became an officer of the Lebanese army, got married and had four children. I currently live in my village which is under siege by terrorist groups such as Hizbollah, and radical factions. I cannot travel in my country, nor I can go to the capital, Beirut. I cannot leave my country through the airport, nor through seaports. Hizbollah has issued death sentences -sentences which were made public by the leadership of the organization against large numbers of Christians in South Lebanon.
I live with my family and my Christian community under the constant threat of shelling, road side explosions, kidnapping, and torture, in an area , home to 150,000 Christians and other minorities. Our fault: We are Christians surrounded by Islamist fundamentalists. In order to respond to your invitation Mr. Chairman, I had to cross the border into Israel, and leave the Middle East through the only airport that connects us to the free world.
We, the Christians of South Lebanon do not live in a free world.
Throughout my life, my relatives, friends and community have been submitted to various forms of oppression and persecution for the mere reason that we are Christians. Today, I would like to testify about my own experience, the experience of my community, the present state of harassment, and what we expect in the future. I would like also to make few suggestions to the United States and world governments.
I - My experience:
Throughout my young years, I was raised in the fear of massacres, as our village's population was butchered in 1920 by Muslims. At the end of 1958, and before the US Marines intervention to put an end to the Islamic uprising, backed by Abdel Nasser of Egypt, I lost my eldest brother, a young Lebanese officer. When Benoit was killed, I was six years old.. In the seventies, the PLO systematically brutalized the youth and elders of Ain Ebel, and other villages, installing terror check points, arresting, kidnapping, and killing some of the villagers. On many occasions graffiti were written on the walls such as "there is no place for Christians in this land."
Since 1977, our village was encircled by PLO and other radical groups. Our world shrunk to less than three square miles. We were in a collective prison, more like a Christian ghetto surrounded by Jibad forces. On new year's eve of 1979, the day my wife gave birth to my older son her two parents were kidnapped by the elements of Abu Nidal for three months. On Christmas day of 1991, my brother-in-law, a middle school teacher, was kidnapped to the Ain El Helweh Camp and tortured for a whole month by the armed elements of Abul Abbas.
In 1984, a new organization, Hizbollah, took over from the PLO. Manipulated by the Iranians, protected by the Syrians, legitimized after 1990 by the current Lebanese regime, the terrorists of Hizbollah were bolder in their designs. They openly called for the establishment of an Islamic republic. For six years, we had to use fishing boats to exit Ain Ebel's region in order to reach Beirut, before it fell to the Syrians in 1990. Children, women, and the elderly were packed like cattle, under Hizbollah's fire. In 1985 a ship carrying 200 Christians sunk off Beirut's shores. I personally was on many of these horror trips. Life was forbidden to us, so was freedom. During the time we were oppressed by the fundamentalists, other Christians suffered as well: the Western and American hostages, held by the same Hizbollah ia Lebanon.
In the wake of the Syrian invasion of the Christian areas of Beirut and Mount Lebanon in October 1990, three civilians from my village were kidnapped by Hizbollah. Marun Nassff Attach was killed and his body was left in the valley of Wadi el-Sluki for fifteen days. The United Nations soldiers found him defaced and maimed. We were able to recognize him with the help of X-rays taken of his leg few weeks prior. Burros Nassif Atmeh died months after his release as a result of severe beating to his head during his kidnapping. The third Christian who is the nephew of a bishop and still alive, was reduced to a living martyr. I cannot bring his name for safety reasons. This environment of extreme violence against my village and the Christians of this area caused us to live m constant fear. We even considered emigrating, emptying the villages; however, we remained on our land.
Since 1979, under Syrian pressures, our wages from the Lebanese Army were suspended by Beirut's government. Furthermore, a great number of us is denied passports. More recently I worked hard to establish a Christian radio station to broadcast to the local community. As I made the first broadcast, Hizbollah threatened to shell the station. Later, Hizbollah's rockets were fired into the area, and we were forced to close it dogma to spare lives.
II - The experience of my community:
The pattern of suppression is an old one. The Christian community in that area was submitted to number of massacres throughout this century. Since the massacre of 1920 incidents occurred frequently.
Mr Chairman, the present speaker of the house m Lebanon, Mr Nabih Berri, who is considered as a moderate Shiite, publicly threatened by reminding us of this 1920 massacre three times. Targeting Christians is not specific to South Lebanon. The Lebanese Christians has been resisting the tide of Islamism since the seventh century. Our ancestors have paid the price for their faith. Lebanon is the only country ia the Middle East, where Christians from all denominations have been able to form a safe haven for over thirteen centuries.
In modern times, attempts were made to create a co-existence between Lebanon's religious communities. The Christians extended their hands to the Muslim leadership. Successful for a short period of time, this peaceful coexistence fell under the terrorism of the PLO, the Syrian occupation, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
For an insight on this history I recommend the comprehensive book of Professor Walid Phares, "Lebanese Christian Nationalism: The Rise and Fall of an Ethnic Resistance." (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995). In Phares' terms, the "Christians of Lebanon were and are still targeted because of their Christian identity and their determination to remain Christian."
Since 1975, about 150,000 Christians were killed during the war. Thousands of Lebanese Muslims died as well. Entire Christian villages were erased and their populations were ethnically cleansed.
In Damur (south of Beirut), for example, a thousand Christian civilians were killed while the armed bands shouted "Allahu Akbar" and "Jihad" (Holy war slogans) Churches were burned down by dozens. An account of the horrors is too long to include in this testimony.
Here are few examples of massacres:
1975: Belt Mellat, Deir Eshash Tall Abbas (north Lebanon), Damur (Mount Lebanon)
1976: Chekka (north Lebanon), Qaa, Terbol (Bekaa valley)
1977: Aishye (south Lebanon), Maaser el-Shuf (Shuf Mountain)
1978: Ras Baalbeck, Shleefa (Bekaa valley)
1983: Major massacres in Aley, and the Shuf mountains. Ia addition to the 241 U.S. Marines and 78 French paratroopers savagely assassinated by Hizbollah
1984: Iqlim el-Kharrub (Mourn Lebanon)
1985: East Sidon (South Lebanon)
1990: Matn district
III - The present state of harassment:
Since the so-called national reconciliation agreement of Taef was implemented by the Syrian army in 1990, Lebanon is under occupation and its Christian community under systematic oppression Under this Syrian controlled regime, freedoms were eliminated.
Here are some of the flagrant abuse of human rights against Christians around the country:
Constant and arbitrary arrests of young, men and women. Armed elements break into their homes by night and kidnap them to "security" centers. The last campaign was during December 1996, when 450 young Christians were thrown in jail and beaten for days. They spent Christmas alone in helplessness.
Christians are tried by military courts for "forming Christian associations," "opposing Syria," or allegedly for "contacting Israelis or Jews."
Christians are severely tortured in Lebanese or Syrian jails or in detention centers by Hizbollah. Even the President of Lebanon has recognized the existence of 210 detained in Syrian jails. Our estimate indicates around 600.
(See sketches drawn by a tortured person )
In the so-called "security zone" of south Lebanon Christians live under the fear of Hizbollah's terror. In 1996, Hizbollah issued a public religious fatwah (religious edict) calling for the murder of "all those who have been in contact with Jews." As we all know, there are thousands of Christians who work in the Galilee, inside Israel. All of these civilians will be put to death by the Iranian-backed organization if Israel withdraws. As of today, neither the Lebanese or the Syrian governments have issued a rebuttal to this Fatwah. We therefore, assume that Beirut and Damascus are endorsing the massacre of the Christians in south Lebanon by Hizbollah. Meanwhile, South Lebanon's villages are the target of snipers, bombs, kidnapping, and economic blockades.
IV - What to expect in the future:
Mr. Chairman, it is certain that my community in the security zone and Jezzine is under present and real danger. Christians are presently safe because of the presence of Israeli troops and the local defense force known as South Lebanon Army (SLA). However in the case of an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the area, and disbanding of the SLA, we expect a generalized massacre of Christians, an ethnic cleansing, and deChristianization of south Lebanon. This potential holocaust of Christians will have a tremendous impact on the region's Christians. For Lebanon has always been the hope for Middle East Christianity.
V - Suggestions:
For the short term, I present the following suggestions aimed at saving the Christians of South Lebanon, as long as Hizbollah and the Syrian occupation forces are present and influential in that
1) That the US government formally asks the Israeli government not to withdraw from the security zone before a solution is found for the protection of the Christian community in south Lebanon.
2) That the US government help the Christians of south Lebanon to form a local authority which will enable them to face the administrative, economic, social, and security challenges.
3) That the US government extend a direct humanitarian support to the encircled Christian community in South Lebanon, and help them establish a safe haven until the regional problem is solved.
4) That the US Senate, and the US Congress extend invitations to the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon, and other Christian leaders in south Lebanon and in exile to testify about the fate of their community.
Such a message can bring about the truth of persecution to the American people and allow Christians worldwide to extend their support to their brethren m faith in our tormented country.
Thank you Mr Chairman,
Ain Ebel, South Lebanon.
- Lebanon, a country bruised by an endless war is currently annexed by
Syria. This annexation was agreed to by the United States of America
in order to prod Syria to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
Lebanon was attacked by the Palestinians under Yasser Arafat's leadership and also by the Syrians under Hafez el Assad. The so called civilized world may offer these two war criminals the titles they wish for, in the eyes of the Lebanese they will remain war criminals and no less than war criminals. The tacit reaction of these so called civilized countries over the crimes committed by Assad and Arafat in Lebanon is the silence of accomplices. Even when western citizens were killed in Lebanon and elsewhere by Syrians or their friends, western governments offered muted responses and demonstrated their indifference and cowardice.- from SYRIA, THE PALESTINIANS AND THEIR LEBANESE ALLIES: TERRORISM AND WAR CRIMES
by Dr. Jihad Renéé Albani, the top official of the Lebanese Party: the Guardians of the Cedars, firstname.lastname@example.org
Is Lebanon really the pit of anarchy and extremism that we have heard about?
- "In the last decade, Islamist (fundamentalist) groups in Lebanon
have become a significant force not only in that country 's
politics but throughout the Middle East. Nowhere in the region do
such groups have the freedoms they enjoy in Lebanon, giving them a
wide cultural influence. In addition, Hizbullah is capable of
stopping the Arab-Israeli peace process from advancing by launching
Katyusha rockets against Israel and giving Iran an opening to act
directly against Israel".
- A. Nizar Hamzeh, associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the American University of Beirut. From the Middle East Quarterly
BESA homepage www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa
MERIA homepage: www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/meria.html
- RELATED SECTIONS:
- WWW RESOURCES:
- BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIAL:
- Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions, by William W. Harris
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
- The War for Lebanon, 1970-1985, by Itamar Rabinovich
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
- Phoenicians: Lebanon's Epic Heritage, by Sanford Holst, Antoine Khoury Harb
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
- The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967-1976, by Farid el Khazen
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
- Syria's Terrorist War on Lebanon and the Peace Process, by Marius Deeb
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
- Beacon of Hatred: Inside Hizballah.s Al-Manar Television, by Avi Jorisch
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
- Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israel Conflict, Second Edition, by Mitchell Geoffrey Bard
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
- Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions, by William W. Harris