Thursday, November 23, 2006
For background, here are three excerpts from the Library of Congress country study on Lebanon:
Formed in 1936 as a Maronite paramilitary youth organization by Pierre Jumayyil [Gemayel] (who modeled it on the fascist organizations he had observed while in Berlin as an Olympic athlete), the Phalange, or Phalanxes (Kataib in Arabic), was authoritarian and very centralized, and its leader was all powerful. It quickly grew into a major political force in Mount Lebanon. After at first allying itself with the French Mandate authorities, the Phalange sided with those calling for independence; as a result, the party was dissolved in 1942 by the French high commissioner (it was restored after The French left Lebanon). Despite this early dispute, over the years the Phalange has been closely associated with France in particular and the West in general. In fact, for many years the party newspaper, Al Amal, was printed in Arabic and French.The Phalangists collaborated extensively with Israel during its occupations of Lebanon and were Israel's instruments of hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinian deaths in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres of 1982.
Consistent with its authoritarian beginnings, Phalangist ideology has been on the right of the political spectrum. Although it has embraced the need to "modernize," it has always favored the preservation of the sectarian status quo. The Phalange Party motto is "God, the Fatherland, and the Family," and its doctrine emphasizes a free economy and private initiative. Phalangist ideology focuses on the primacy of preserving the Lebanese nation, but with a "Phoenician" identity, distinct from its Arab, Muslim neighbors. Party policies have been uniformly anticommunist and anti-Palestinian and have allowed no place for pan-Arab ideals. ...
During the 1980s, the Phalange lost much of its credibility and political stature. In 1982, under pressure from Israel, which occupied a good deal of Lebanon, Bashir was elected president. Later that year, before talking office, Bashir was assassinated. Subsequently, his brother Amin was elected president, again not so much for his Phalange Party connection as because of his support from Israel. ...
The American media is now pointing the finger at Syria and Hizbullah as the culprits in Pierre Amine Gemayel's death and while this may be the case, a strong brief can be made for Israel as the most likely suspect. Israel has never wanted a strong, unified Lebanon and Israeli leaders were probably not happy with the possibility of limited American rapprochement with Syria. Israel has a track record of covert assassinations--attempted and completed--in Lebanon (see links below) although this has not been widely reported in the US.
After defeating Israel this summer, the pro-Syrian Hizbullah was more popular in Lebanon than before the war. Just four days before Gemayel's death, Gallup's Richard Burkholder in "Lebanese See Hezbollah as Politically Stronger After Conflict With Israel" reported:
... 59% of all Lebanese say they regard the conflict [last summer with Israel] as "mostly a political victory for Hezbollah," while just 27% view it as "mostly a political defeat" ...Above: Graph from the Gallup News Service.
Nearly half (48%) of all Lebanese respondents Gallup interviewed say they personally have a better view of Hezbollah than the one they held prior to the conflict (including 33% "much better"), ...
The vast majority of Lebanese (92%) say it is very important to them personally that the country be maintained as a multi-faith society.
Lebanese are relatively optimistic that Hezbollah is committed to respecting the country's religious diversity. Just more than half (55%) say they believe Hezbollah is "very firmly" committed to seeing Lebanon maintained as a multi-faith society, while an additional 16% think Hezbollah is "fairly firmly" committed in this regard. Only about one in four Lebanese sees Hezbollah as either "not too" (10%) or "not at all" (13%) committed to this outcome.
Lebanon's Christians express the greatest concern in this regard, with just less than one-third indicating they think Hezbollah is "not too" (13%) or "not at all" (18%) committed to maintaining the country's religious diversity. They are offset, however, by the 39% of the country's Christians who say they view Hezbollah as being "very firmly committed" to Lebanon's continuance as a multi-faith society. One in four Christians think Hezbollah is "somewhat firmly" committed to this end. [emphasis in bold above added]
A poll conducted at the end of October by the Beirut Center for Research and Information showed that Hizbullah and allied parties had "crossed sectarian borders and can now be considered more secular parties." They had profited politically from the war and now enjoyed the support of nearly 60% of the Lebanon's people.
As Israel gears up for another attack on Lebanon, it can't have a strong Lebanon with Hizbullah in charge. The assassination of the pro-Western, anti-Syrian Gemayel has had a demonstrably disruptive effect on Lebanese affairs--probably to Hizbullah's detriment--and has once again resulted in crocodile tears from Washington over violations of Lebanese sovereignty, etc. There can be little doubt that Israeli leaders would assassinate a leader of the pro-Israel Phalangists if they thought it was in their strategic interests. After all, Zionists sacrificed millions of Jews to their racist dreams of conquest during WWII. And, as Yossi Alpher, a former senior Mossad official, notes: "... an Israeli leader looks at Iran through the prism of the Holocaust and his responsibility to the ongoing existence of the Jewish people ... at the end of the day, it matters, and so we may be willing to do the strangest things."
- Poll on Lebanese Support for Hizbullah
- Lebanon: New evidence Mossad behind assassination by Roee Nahmias in the Israeli Ynet News
- Lebanon 'smashes Israel spy ring' (BBC)
- Lebanon takes Mossad terror cell to the UN (Aljazeera Magazine)
- Gemayel, Syria, Israel and the war in Iraq by Patrick Seale in the Gulf News
- Assassinating Al-Hariri Fits Washington's Plan by Mike Whitney
- The assassination of Rafiq Hariri: who benefited? by Bill Van Auken
- Beliefs of the Christian Falangist Party of America