One of my many discomforts with the state of affairs in Lebanon

How could my friends, after paying the Palestinian cause lip service , and admitting that maybe Palestinian civilians were caught in the cross fire, argue that more Lebanese have been killed (that is Lebanese army members) than Palestinian civilians, make the claim that the army hasn't jeopardized the lives of civilians? How could they say that this was an unavoidable mishap imposed by the nature of the battle? Did they accept it when the Israelis were bombing south Lebanon and civilians were getting killed?

It seems that we forgot (or were made to forget) never to equate the life of a civilian to that of combatant. I am sorry for the young men dying from the Lebanese army, but unfortunately that is part of their job; they are trained and equipped to minimise such a possibility, and they get the work indemnity and other benefits because of that probability. It is sad yes, but if you don't accept that as part of a soldier's job description then you don't agree to the idea of an army in general (that is actually were I stand to make my position clear). What I said earlier, is not a personal opnion, it is there in the Geneva conventions; The death of civilians is at a level all together different than the death of combatants (army personnel and militants alike). Below is one of many declarations from the ICRC made for that purpose:
"International humanitarian law strictly prohibits attacks against civilians and civilian objects and requires that a strict distinction be made between the civilian population and military objectives".
So why is the death of civilians (in this case that of Palestinian refugees) still accepted? For one, the Lebanese media is making a point of screening the funerals of some of the soldiers, along with images of their mourning families, but continues to fail to give a proper estimate of the number of civilians that died, let alone interview their families. The army is presented as the symbol of the "Lebanese national unity", and I doubt that we were ever as further away from that as we are today. We are all caught in a performance where the "heroic army" fights "the dark forces of evil Islamic militants", all orchestrated in Hollywood style, that seem to have learnt a lot from the United States "war on terror" experience. Some of my friends say they are scarred of Lebanon turning into "another Iraq"; it is with some of these same friends that I discussed the manufacturing of fear from terrorism by the US government as we read the security alerts in one of Washington DC's tube stations. If they accept to be consumers of that same product of fear, let them at least think of the moral ramifications of it (and I am not going to go through the many other consequences such as its impact on how we relate to the state and its institutions, let alone all the misgivings I have with portraying home grown militants as “terrorists” that “seem” to have descended upon us from outer space !).

As we present the militants as a threat to the "nation", where then are we positioning the Palestinian civilians? Would we have accepted the battles to be fought just the same if the civilians caught in the cross fire were Lebanese? Isn't there a deeper prejudice held against Palestinian refugees which allows us to blur the limits between the civilian Palestinians and the Islamic groups by accepting the way the battle is fought? Yesterday, a friend of mine, a handsome young Palestinian, after being asked for his identification card, was beaten and humiliated by a member of the security forces just for being Palestinian, and I am sorry to tell you that stories of that same kind are numerous and many are yet to come. Would that have happened had it not been for the way the events in the north were handled? Maybe, but the events will make them more numerous. Are we not contributing to that by not taking a moral stand against the performance being pushed down our throats in Al-Bared camp?

For information related to Nahr El-Bared:
Nahr El-Bared Information
Electronic Lebanon


Golaniya said...

Unfortunately, we only witness "unity" when we have someone to oppose, 14th M are unified against Syrians, and now Lebanese are unified with the Army against Palestinians.
so if there is no "other" will there be unity?
I share your anger and disappointment.
Sad but good post.

EDB said...

Well said. Thank you. These are dark times on the new front line of the "war on terror".

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

May God strengthen all you Lebanese and Palestinian activists as you work to aid your helpless brothers and sisters.

Lujayn said...

Muzna, I think our hatred and prejudice is rarely resolved, but always simmers under the surface of “civilized” co-existence. An incident like Nahr al Bared bares it in the ugliest way possible.

Tania El Khoury said...

was good reading you again Muz. I was really touched by this text. thanks.