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by Jean-Paul Piérot

The Lebanese: An Abandonned People

Patrick Bolland

Translated Monday 17 July 2006, by Patrick Bolland

Have the World’s Great Powers - we can’t bring ourselves to call them the World Community - decided to abandon the Lebanese people to Israeli bombs? President Chirac asked on 14 July, the French national holiday, “Are we willing to watch Lebanon being destroyed?” Considering the buildings reduced to ashes and the rubble covering Beirut’s streets, reminding us of photos taken in the 1980s, this question merits being asked.

But there is another question: Why the almost complete absence of diplomatic reaction in response to the extreme gravity of the situation created by Olmert’s Israeli government. No-one will be surprised by the support offered to Israel by George Bush at the G-8 summit in Saint-Petersburg, a gathering of the Heads of the world’s richest nations. Nor any surprise at the justification offered by Tony Blair, perhaps thinking of future battle-grounds, where he referred to “an arc of extremism supported by Syria and Iran”. Are these two countries now being held responsible for the Iraqi chaos? And yesterday, the G-8 Heads discovered they couldn’t even find the words needed to formulate a call for a cease-fire!

In such a context, it is appropriate to ask Jacques Chirac not merely to adopt another manner of expression, but also to show determination in opposing another crime against a people and against a country that has traditionally been close to France. Yet, the President limited himself to referring to “all forces that put the security, stability and sovereignty of Lebanon in danger”. The Head of State didn’t even mention the Israeli government, leaving his listeners the impression that they share responsability with the Hesbolah. But Chirac was less laconic when he suggested in his Friday night television-interview that the Lebanese Chi’ite movement could not have decided all alone to capture the two Israeli soldiers ... You could see his eyes turning to Damascus and Tehran.

We are clearly very far from the the role that France played when the White House was attempting to drag the world community into their disastrous Iraqi adventure. If the war wan’t stopped, at least it didn’t receive the approval of the United Nations. How have we arrived at the paralysis we find today? It’s exactly as if the the leaders of France wanted to excuse themselves for their earlier audicacity in opposing the United States. With the wording of the Resolution 1559, which resulted in the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, where they had remained as part of the agreement to end the war, France showed concretely how it was cozying up to Bush.

Today, as Israeli bombs rain down on Beirut, just as they did 20 years ago, we are being told that land-forces are being deployed, that Tsahal is demanding the exodus of the population from the south of Lebanon, occupied by Israel until 2000 - of all this, France is saying nothing. Yet its voice would receive the same echo as in 2003 at the international level, and particularly in the Arab world and on the shores of the Mediterranean. If, for instance, our country were to call for a UN General Assembly hearing, confronted as it is with the powerless of the Security Council process, while Beirut is under the hail of bombs, it would be better than producing yet another resolution on North Korea.

Lebanon must not pay the price for Paris returning into the Bush fold and for the weakness of the leadership of the European Community. Just like the Palestinian people, pushed into despair by Israeli politics, enclosed behind a wall on the West Bank and bombarbed in Gaza. In the common collective memory of Palestine and Lebenon, the spectre of Sabra and Chatila is very much in mind - the executioner and leader of which was Sharon. We must not allow this dirty page of history to repeat itself.

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