It seems like
only yesterday, we were breathing a collective sigh of relief. Could it be that
we had finally rid ourselves of all the remnants of our war torn past? Was it
possible that the children of Lebanon
finally had reason to be optimistic, to look forward to a brighter future, one in which we could focus on reconstruction without
having to constantly look over our shoulder?
began to reinvest in our country, pouring blood, sweat, and tears into a vision of a future for our children that didn’t
involve death or destruction. Many of us took out loans to start new businesses,
while others spent their hard earned savings to rebuild their homes.
Each and every
time we saw one of our countrymen make an investment in Lebanon,
it spurred us to follow suit, to invest, to rebuild, and to heal our wounds. We
were all in this together; the one thing we had in common was the universal hope, belief, and conviction that we could carry
our country back to prosperity.
Our confidence was
slowly returning, and you could feel the unbridled optimism in the air. People
were flocking the streets of Beirut night in and night out, at clubs, cafes, and
restaurants. Monot was filled with a vitality that was unparalleled in any other
hotspot in the world. Foreigners were clamoring to spend a few summer nights
in Lebanon. It
was to be a record-breaking season: 1.4 million tourists in three months. Even
50 Cent was making a cameo appearance in what was to be Lebanon’s
glorious return on to the world’s stage.
was back. Or, so we hoped.
The day we
were told that Hezbollah had kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, killing several others in the process, we were shocked. A dark fear for the worst overcame us, and we almost universally condemned this reckless
act. Why put Lebanon
at risk at a time when we were in the midst of rebuilding? Why invite disaster when we were in the process of healing our
wounds from the last war?
To say the
least, our anger at Nasrallah was immense. He gambled with the future of our
country and its people, and no human being has the right to do that. There is
no doubt that most Lebanese people sympathize with the cause of freeing the prisoners, reclaiming Shebaa Farms, or any of
the other grievances we have with Israel. But, not at the expense of the people, especially not when our reconstruction efforts have come this far. The initial act by Hezbollah was both unacceptable and unforgivable by any standard. It was a treasonous act that threatened the livelihood of every man, woman, and child
The fact is, you
would have been hard pressed to find a Lebanese person who was not furious with what Hezbollah had done. After all, we were
all in this together; each and every one of us had invested something of value into the reconstruction of Lebanon. Each and every one of us had harbored hope that we would finally be free from the
shackles of war that had held us back for so long.
capitalizing on the widespread Lebanese anger aimed at Hezbollah as a launch pad for demanding that it lay down its arms,
you decided to punish our entire nation: erasing in a matter of days what took us more than a decade to create.
Had you given
the Lebanese people even one day to react to the kidnappings, you would have seen substantially more pressure being exerted
on Hezbollah to disarm. The reality is that many Lebanese had already lost their
patience with Nasrallah. We were fed up of seeing large portraits of the Khomeini
on our soil, and we were sick and tired of constantly playing the role of the battlefield in other people’s wars.
It may not
have happened in a matter of days, but we would have eventually forced Hezbollah to change its ways. After all, we are not a terrorist nation; we want peace, stability, and a healthy future for our children,
and it was obvious that as long as Hezbollah continued to provoke you, we would never be able to fulfill our dreams.
So, this represented
a golden opportunity for you to achieve what you claim to be your purpose; namely, to neutralize Hezbollah’s ability
to threaten the Israeli people. Moreover, this would have prevented any Katyusha
rockets from reaching Northern Israel in the first place.
The only people
in the world that have the power to pressure Hezbollah to disarm are the Lebanese people; not you, not Blair, and certainly
not Bush. We were ready, and more than willing to try to enforce UN Resolution
1559, right there and then. And because it would have come from within our country,
from our own people, it would have been permanent.
It is the right of
the Lebanese people, and absolutely no one else, to determine for ourselves how we will be governed, who will be in power,
and whether Hezbollah should be disarmed. At the end of the day, Hezbollah is
Lebanese, and as such, they are much closer to us than any American, Israeli, Syrian, or Iranian will ever be. They are a part of our family, and even though we might not support all of their actions or agree with
all of their beliefs, they are our problem to solve.
However, what you
have to understand is, we have to tread a very fine line in Lebanon. Our government cannot openly challenge Hezbollah without risking civil war, and at
the time, this prospect was simply not worth the risk. We needed a viable reason
that would be universally accepted by all of Lebanon, and
this came in the form of the reckless kidnapping of two of your soldiers. As
soon as Hezbollah showed us that they were willing to risk our lives and our future with no regard for our opinion, they became
a threat to the interests of our nation; one that we surely would have wanted to remove from our soil.
If you had
realized this and respected our inherent right to self-determination, everything could have worked out the way you wanted
it to. But, because you ignored this, you now find yourself locked in a dangerous
quagmire, where defeat is all but guaranteed.
so callously dismissed our identity and our humanity, instead of declaring war on a militant group of resistance fighters,
you have declared war on every Lebanese citizen - Christian, Muslim, and Druze alike.
building you demolished, you crushed a dream of peace and prosperity, replacing it with a seed of hatred and a thirst for
child you slaughtered, you cut out a piece of our soul, filling our hearts with a raging fury aimed in your direction.
When we look
back on this, we will not remember that Hezbollah were the protagonists, nor will we care that they crossed the blue line
and kidnapped two of your soldiers. Our thoughts will be focused on the devastation
you inflicted on our nation.
We will forever
cherish each and every innocent life you stole from us, each and every sacred dream you ruthlessly shattered, and each and
every grieving mother you left in your wake. We will never forget that it was
Israel, and not Hezbollah, that bombed our bridges, destroyed
our homes, and filled the streets of Lebanon with the blood
of hundreds of our children.
You have given
every son and daughter in Lebanon a reason to fulfill your
ignorant prophecy by aspiring to inflict terror on your nation and your people. You
have vindicated Hezbollah in the eyes of many of us by transforming them from the cause of all of our problems into the sole
defender of our powerless people. And you have ensured that Hezbollah will never die, and instead will multiply in strength.
To give you
some perspective, I am lucky enough not to have lost a loved one in your assault on Lebanon. I am also relatively educated and a pacifist by nature. Yet, even I struggle to put out the flames of fury that rage within me when I see images of the death and
destruction you have inflicted on my country.
Think about it: if
I have to force myself to block out thoughts of retribution, what about young, impressionable, twelve-year old Ahmad who lost
his home, his parents, and his younger brother to one of your bombs?
Or poor, helpless,
two-year old Muna, who will forever be reminded that she was orphaned by the ruthless Israeli war machine?
Or, worse still,
twenty-four year old college graduate Salim, who was forced to recover the bloody, mangled corpse of his fiancée from the
rubble of their new home?
How do you think
they will remember this war? What do you think their new hopes and aspirations
You have stolen our
dreams of hope, life, and prosperity, and replaced them with visions of hatred, death, and revenge. You squandered an opportunity to work hand in hand with the people of Lebanon
to achieve a common goal – to disarm Hezbollah and ensure that they can no longer threaten the interests of either Lebanon
or Israel. You
have also guaranteed that the future of both Israel and Lebanon
will be fraught with more violence and bloodshed.
The truth is, you
have already lost this war and you have no one to blame but yourself.