Opinion

Israelis, Leave Lebanon Alone

Odeh Bisharat
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A demonstrator waves the Lebanese flag in front of riot police during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, August 8, 2020.
A demonstrator waves the Lebanese flag in front of riot police during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, August 8, 2020.Credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Odeh Bisharat

A seconds-long television news flash reflected the essence of the Lebanese attitude toward Israel: A few hours after the apocalyptic explosion in Beirut last week, a Lebanese man appeared on the screen and said that in 2006 he traveled to the south. He immediately he began to compare the scope of the destruction there after the 30 days of Israeli shelling to that wreaked by the explosions in the Beirut port.

That’s how the Lebanese see Israel, that’s how the Arabs see Israel: as a measurement for destruction, killing, expulsion, arrogance and blind force. And still, official Israel has the chutzpah to join the wave of solidarity with the Lebanese people; Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, of all people, the man who boasts of killing 1,364 Gazans (whom he calls terrorists), is behaving as though he were appointed successor to Mother Teresa, and wholeheartedly offering Israeli assistance to the Lebanese.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai lit up city hall with the Lebanese flag. I sincerely hope that none of the Lebanese whose homes were destroyed or whose children were killed in an Israeli airstrike saw the show in Tel Aviv; it would make them see red.

There’s an Arab folk tale about a cat that fell into the lap of an unfortunate bird. Said the cat: “May Allah watch over you.” Replied the frightened bird: “If I survive, a thousand thanks to Allah.” Yes, I beg of you, leaders of official Israel, if only you leave Lebanon alone, a thousand thanks to you and to Allah.

Don’t worry, the show is just beginning, now there is a hypocritical battle being waged between those in favor of illuminating the city hall building and the extremists, who oppose it. In the end the hawks will embrace and condemn the hostile Lebanese attitude toward Israel’s outstretched hand, they will express surprise at the chronic Arab refusal, and may even say that as usual, the Arabs don’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. As we know, these palliative slogans clear the conscience far better than hand sanitizer.

The Israelis feel betrayed by the Lebanese response, as if they had flooded the markets of Beirut with flowers rather than bombs. As though the convoys of hundreds of thousands of refugees that flooded Lebanese in 1948, and years later the waves of refugees from the south to Beirut, came from Cyprus rather than from their loving neighbor. With its own hands Israel shook up Lebanese society, which is deeply divided in any case, economically, socially and politically. Israel is saying to the Lebanese, our job is only to expel, and the job of almost impossible job healing is yours.

Now Israel is weeping over the bitter fate of Lebanon because of Hezbollah, but it is Israel that reinforced Hezbollah’s status. Had there not been an occupation that lasted for about 20 years, today Hezbollah would have been an ordinary Lebanese political party at most. Israel continues even now to maintain its power, when it makes additional threats against Lebanon, and belligerent declarations from extreme right-wing elements that Israel will destroy all of the country’s infrastructure.

Meanwhile a new species of leaders has arisen here, with an inexplicable longing to be loved by everyone. They deliver a resounding slap in the face, and then they’re angry at you when you cry out in pain; for them that’s the epitome of antisemitism. They evict you from your home and expect you to celebrate Israeli Independence Day, in other words the day of your eviction, with joy and merriment. And if you don’t have a big smile on your face, you are subverting the very existence of the State of Israel.

Ariel Sharon, whose name is tied to the massacre in the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and before that to the Qibya massacre in Jordan, melted the heart of our beloved friend Gideon Levy, when he related how every morning when they were in season he would pick a cluster of grapes and serve them to his wife Lily, in bed. Yes! This man, whose name is tied to innumerable bloody incidents against the Arabs, was a hopeless romantic.

Sharon is the ultimate representative of this species of leaders, who despite all the horrors connected to their name, want to be counted among the giants of the spirit and of humanity. Excuse me friends, that doesn’t add up.

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