Across the Bay

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ali Hamade Column (9/2/06)

Ali Hamade, columnist for the leading Lebanese daily An-Nahar, has been consistently telling it like it is on Hezbollah and Syria. His column today is no exception.

I'm producing a quick English translation for those who don't read Arabic.

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What is demanded of the proprietors of the "disaster-victory"

By Ali Hamade

An-Nahar, 9/2/06

There are two faces to the attempt to topple the government: the first is public and exposed, and appears violent in tone and position. The other lays low and feeds the "appetite" of the first and its "instincts," which are not new on the local political scene.

The second face is the more dangerous one because it possesses the tools to threaten the government, which today represents the best possible concoction to overcome the disaster that has befallen the country as a result of [a party] singularly seizing the decision of war and peace, and the sparking of the war on Lebanon as we have seen. It is a war that has led to a "disaster-victory." Some victories are so bitter that their proprietors wish they never had them.

Those who represent the second face are trying to escape not just accountability from others, but also the deafening silence of their own constituents; the hundreds of thousands who will follow them with questioning eyes saying: what have you done to us? What have you done to Lebanon?

We don't doubt for one minute that the propaganda machine, which is infested everywhere, will not hesitate one bit to suppress all opposing voices and to stifle dissent within that constituency, which has paid the highest price only to hear words like: "Had I known that the Israeli response would be this big, we wouldn't have kidnapped the two soldiers." Dissenting views that they tried at first to stifle by pumping money from outside the banking system, and then by demanding the state provide a reconstruction plan, even criticizing it three days into the cease-fire, as if it were the state which had brought on the heads of a million Lebanese this historic catastrophe -- not a historic victory as they claim. They forget that millions of other Lebanese, whose citizenship was demeaned on 12 July 2006, have paid and are still paying dearly in their livelihoods, the future of their children, their confidence in Lebanon, and, more dangerously, their confidence in those who tried fooling them into believing they were partners in the homeland, and confidence in their choices which have brought death and destruction.

A victory? Over whom? This was a victory over Lebanon before anything else. It was a victory over the idea of the single homeland. It was a victory over all the Lebanese who wanted nothing more for themselves and their children than a calm life; a civic life, looking ahead towards the future, praising life, not death. In this sense, it is the right of millions of Lebanese, inside and outside Lebanon, to wonder whether the victory which was declared was in fact a defeat for the meaning of Lebanon as a homeland for all the Lebanese. It is their right, in light of the fact that some continue to possess an armed force (and they have declared that they were and still are capable of mounting a coup against the government), to tell them: quit toying with Lebanon and with the decision of the Lebanese. Enough slogans that bring nothing but death, and that please the ears only of those who follow the war on the satellite channels.

It is demanded of those who brought this disaster upon Lebanon to humble themselves a little. To look around and see the size of the "disaster-victory." It is demanded of them to learn a historic lesson and to choose "Lebanon first and last." It is demanded of them to become regular citizens like everybody else, so that the others stop viewing them as a threat to their security and their future.

As for the alternatives, we don't even want to begin contemplating them.