Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Palestine’s Wars in… Lebanon

Palestine’s Wars in… Lebanon

Monday, 7 June, 2021 - 10:45

During the Gaza war, many voices were heard in Lebanon; two among them are striking, at least on social media: one does not want to empathize with the Palestinians in the slightest, because of Lebanism, and the other wants to open the Lebanese border for war with Israel, citing their enthusiasm for fighting Israel, and also Arabism and Islam.

These two voices do not conceal their sectarian and identitarian origins, from which and from the sensibilities of which they derive most of their “ideas” and positions. The belligerent past is not absent either, near and far, real and mythical, from the “solutions” for the desired future put forward by the two sides. Thus, civil conflict and its accumulated grudges have managed to bring these two positions back to the fore, rather, to reinvigorate them after their apparent and superficial atrophy over the past few years:

A Lebanese position, which does not want to concern itself with anything that happens outside it, as though Lebanon were on another planet; it is to be highly influential without being influenced at all. However, on top of this, it does not want to sympathize with the victims of airstrikes, death and pain, even if they are children.

And an anti-Lebanist position that is not concerned with the ramifications for its country in the event that it is thrown into a war whose disastrous consequences for them can be anticipated with certainty, so long as we are invited to an irresistible feast of fighting Israel.

The first position raises fears of a homeland without a heart. Its cruelty could backfire on themselves. The second position raises fears for a heart without a country. Its enthusiasm starts off being for destroying another and ends up being for destroying itself.

But rekindling the past, with its grave fears and its myths, remains the two opposing positions’ most prominent common denominator.

Rekindling the past, as we well know, becomes strongly feasible once the present (1976 till today) does not succeed at overcoming or transcending the past. Indeed, the present like that we are living is nothing more than a constant re-founding of the many frustrations of the past. On top of that, the two strong voices stem from serious grievances that cannot be disregarded: one Christian and another Palestinian.

Regarding the former, it genuinely worries over a homeland whose prominent figures described as a safe haven and refuge, and it decided to distance it from armaments and armed conflicts.

With that, it was terrified about its opinion in not being asked for at the junctures of regional conflicts, and it had to endure armed groups’ violations of the country’s sovereignty with the Cairo Agreement of 1969, which was followed by the “promise” that the Christian city of Jounieh would be part of “the road to Jerusalem.”

As for the second, it suffered under the weight of Lebanese racism against it since the Palestinians took refuge in 1948, and it persists to this day despite the steep decline in the number of Palestinians in Lebanon. This anger was always reinforced by the Palestinians’ feeling that their Arab “brothers,” including the Lebanese, lie to them and exploit them for their own ends or those of their regimes.

Close to these two voices, where victimhood is mixed with victimization, is Hezbollah, which, fortunately, continues to avoid being drawn into “fateful battles” when it is not the faction waging them, does not have a monopoly on investing them, or when Iran does not have an interest or a desire to implicate itself directly. This is usually the case for Iran. Thus, Hezbollah distanced itself from hapless attempts and more hapless calls to “overrun the border and engage the Israeli enemy” (and it was noticeable, by the way, that those among the party’s allies who want this clash did not call on it to engage or use it to pressure the party.)

Generally, it is still possible to cram everything under the Palestinian question’s cloak: victimhoods, lies, opportunisms, personal ambitions, conflicts for which there are various reasons, legitimizing some factions or figures who lost legitimacy, new chances being granted to those who have been given enough chances and destroying every political possibility from which something promising could be developed. Briefly, burdening Gaza, and Palestine with it, with matters that few believe to be righteous and many see as unjustified; what is certain, however, is that they are far more harmful to Lebanon than they are supportive of Palestine.

In the same sense, Lebanon, a country in crisis that has not reconciled with its past, remains fertile ground for sparking this hopeless and costly equation that pushed its actors to become extremely cruel with themselves and others.

After that, are we asking for too much when we await a time when being in solidarity with Palestine carries different connotations, for it to become similar to being in solidarity with the future, building flourishing democratic Arab societies, whereby Christians do not fear what is associated with Palestine, and there is no racism against Palestinians because they are from Palestine.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks