Today’s Lebanese Daily Star featured this editorial…
…It does not lessen the gravity or grief of what happened on Tuesday on Lebanon’s southern border to point out that Israeli aggression against south Lebanon is hardly a novelty. The communities stretching from Kfar Kila through Naqoura have borne the brunt of countless Israeli attacks since the 1950s. These villages have been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times; of course, it was the inhabitants who reconstructed their homes, because the Lebanese state was never in evidence there.
On the other hand, it was a rare occasion for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to stand up to the Israeli military. We do not mean this as any insult to the troops, who have sacrificed greatly; the truth is that the central government and political ruling class did not want the army to be a strong defender or even play any significant role in the south. Their philosophy was that if Lebanon’s military remained weak, Israel would not bother to wage war against it; in other words, they believed that a weak Lebanon was a strong Lebanon.
This approach was proved wrong again and again. Aside from not deterring Israeli assaults, it allowed for the strengthening of various Palestinian militias and Hizbullah.
The situation today has changed. The LAF has deservedly earned the support of all groups of Lebanese, even though we still lack the political and diplomatic structures necessary for a truly strong army. Israel, meanwhile, has come to take for granted that Lebanon is its whipping boy.
Israel should learn that, should it take on the LAF, it would be fighting an entire nation, not Hizbullah. This reality should give pause to the large camp in Israel itching for a battle in Lebanon; the Israeli military has a strategy for Lebanon, but that is for now complicated by what it must do for its US patron in the peace process with Palestine.
Many in Israel would love to wage a war against Lebanon, not just because of Israel’s agenda here, but also to allow the last-ditch Palestinian hopes for two-state solution to die out.
We do not know what Israel will do about Tuesday’s exchange of deadly fire; Lebanon should react with an unmitigated display of political unity to dampen the possibility for war.
At the same time, our leaders should move to spell out the dangers and potential consequences of any confrontation. President Michel Sleiman, who has already taken appropriate steps, would be wise to convene the National Dialogue, which should express unanimous support for the LAF and for a diplomatic campaign against a conflict.
Written and Reprinted with permission by Jamil K. Mroue, Editor-in-Chief of THE DAILY STAR, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org