Without the elixir of history, it is impossible to fully digest the story of Israel's ongoing interest in Lebanon and the reasons why Israeli governments have repeatedly both interfered with this country's internal politics and provoked "incidents" at it border since the 1940's.
Today's Lebanon, a narrow country stretched along the eastern Mediterranean coast was once the land of the Phoenicians. Centuries later while the mountain areas were being settled by early Christian sects fleeing Byzantine rule, the southern parts accepted Muslim dissidents who coalesced to form the Druse community. Those Christian Maronites recognized the church in Rome in 1736 and accepting support from Catholic France in the 18th century further alienated the Druse with whom they then warred until European powers intervened to establish an autonomous province. Following WWI modern Lebanon came into existence with extended borders as a French mandate in 1920.
The Vichy government took charge after France's defeat in WWII, following which Lebanon was reconquered by the British and Free French. Lebanon's independence was then recognized by France in 1941. President Charles De Gaulle sent troops into the area in 1943, but Britain intervened and by 1943 both the French and British had pulled out. In 1958, following a revolt in Iraq during which King Faisel was killed, our U.S. Marines landed in Tripoli at President Chaumoun's request only to pull out by October on that year.
The intimate details of Israel's manipulations in Lebanon are detailed in the diary of Moshe Sharett, who shared the Prime Ministership of Israel with Ben Gurion only to be forced out of the cabinet because Sharett would not tolerate what he considered Ben-Gurion's immoral and clandestine methods. Sharett's diary was published posthumously by his son, despite a campaign of physical threats and legal confrontation by the Zionists.
As author Livia Rokach demonstrates in her book Israel's Sacred Terrorism, "Sharett's diary provides the entire documentation of how in 1954 Ben Gurion developed the diabolic plans to "Christianize" Lebanon, i.e., to invent and create from scratch the inter-Lebanese conflict, and of how a detailed blueprint for the partition and subordination of that country was elaborated by Israel more than fifteen years before the Palestinian presence became a political factor."
As early as 1918, Zionist leaders meeting in Europe with a committee of the British Palestinian Mandate discussed the northern border of Palestine as extending into southern Lebanon and at the Paris peace conference the next year proposed boundaries up to Lebanon's Litani River, emphasizing the "vital importance of controlling all water resources up to their sources... The Zionist military forces that invaded Palestine in 1948 also occupied...the vicinity of the Litani River, but were forced to withdraw under international pressure.
In 1954, meeting with Eisenhower's envoy Eric Johnson on water matters, Israel threatened to use force against Lebanon to prevent utilization of the Litani water to develop South Lebanon... In Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon (Operational Peace for Galilee) the entire length of the Litani River came under Israeli control."
In May 1955 Sharett in his dairy described Israel's plans to destabilize Lebanon's government, a diabolic enterprise that eventually produced the 1978 Lebanese War. Sharett quotes Moshe Dayan, Ben Gurion's defense minister at a secret cabinet meeting on May 16th: "According to him [Dayan] the only thing necessary is to find an officer, even just a major. We should either win his heart or buy time with money, to make him agree to declare himself the savior of the Marionite population. Then the Israel army will enter Lebanon, will occupy the necessary territory, and will create a Christian regime which will ally itself with Israel. The territory from the Litani southward will be totally annexed to Israel and everything will be alright."
On May 28th Sharett notes: "The Chief of Staff supports a plan to hire a [Lebanese] officer who will agree to serve as a puppet so that the Israeli army may appear as responding to his appeal "to liberate Lebanon from its Muslim oppressors." As a matter of history, in accordance with Moshe Dayan's plan, Major Sa'd Haddad declared a Maronite State in 1979.
"Moshe Dayan, then Israel's Chief of Staff, explained why Israel needed to reject any border security arrangement of Arab states, or by the United Nations, as well as by the formal security guarantees suggested by the United States. Such guarantees, he predicted, might "tie Israel's hands... As Dayan admitted...much anxiety had to be generated... The lives of Jewish victims also had to be sacrificed to create provocations justifying subsequent reprisals, especially in those periods in which the Arab governments succeeded in controlling the reactions of the harassed and enraged Arab border populations. A hammering daily propaganda, controlled by the censors was directed to feed the Israeli population with images of the monstrosity of the enemy."
With this background, the present tragedy unfolding in Lebanon is easier to understand. The basic Zionist plot is unchanged, only new players have appeared on Israel's stage.
With President Clinton safely in Japan, Israel, obviously with a green light from the U.S. administration, felt free to carry out "Grapes of Wrath," her fifth major terrorist attack on her old killing fields in southern Lebanon. Using as an excuse a few Katyusha rockets aimed at her military (who have been illegally occupying and threatening the southern Lebanese people since 1978), Israel's army on the anniversary of the Holocaust, bent on murder and mayhem, is presently destroying millions of dollars in property, killing civilians and creating chaos as she stampedes populations as far north as Beirut. On the morning of the 18th, Israeli shells plunged directly into a UN refugee camp south of Tye where thousands fleeing Israeli fire sought shelter and food. The latest figures reported over 60 deaths and hundreds wounded. Most victims were women and children. This is Israel's fifth major terrorist assault on her northern neighbor.
Within a year following Israel's 1967 war during which an additional 200,000 Palestinian refugees had fled the country, Israel first launched massive ground and air attacks against this country. President Johnson, who "failed to recognize the seriousness both of Israel's '67 war and the attacks on Lebanon," did nothing. The Lebanese were left to lick their wounds.
Then in 1969, just before Nixon took his first oath of office, as the Lebanese were preparing to celebrate the New Year, Israeli planes bombed and destroyed Beirut's new Khalde airport, thus turning the hub of that area's commercial traffic into a "smouldering mass of burnt-out fusilages from thirteen planes." Israel's excuse: an Israeli citizen killed in Athens by an Arab.
Next, following Lebanon's civil war in 1978 for which Israel had carefully laid the groundwork, Israel launched another full-scale invasion of Lebanon with 20,000 troops, supposedly in response to Palestinian guerilla activity, but later studies showed the invasion (Operation Litani) had been planned two years prior to this. A "security zone" was established by Israel to be manned by her puppet army of mercenaries, the SLA,. but more important, the invasion had moved north to the Litani River, killing over 2,000 civilians in the process. Though the UN finally intervened and eventually a UN Security Force was sent, Israel now had the access she had coveted, access to irrigation waters from the Litani River which had been the real object of both her incursion and her refusal to leave Lebanon.
Then, moving forward to July 1981, Israel, using a supposed arms buildup by the Palestinian as an excuse, again subjected Lebanon to terrorist attacks. Israel bombarded Beirut killing over 450 citizens and wounding 800 more. President Reagan publicly stated: " I don't think violence is ever helpful in the peace process," and to show his firm resolve actually held up the delivery of F-16s to Israel for a whole month.
Things were reasonably quiet for a time but in February, 1982, Israel's Major General Yehoshua Saguym Chief of Israel's Intelligence, met with Pentagon officials and Secretary of Defense Haig to outline Israel's plans for a major invasion and Lebanon. Following this meeting Israel took delivery of $217,695,000 worth of military equipment from the U.S., whereupon our media began to prepare Americans for the military operation by "revealing" the PLO was receiving Soviet rockets and other supplies supposedly to threaten Israel.
"The fifth Arab-Israeli War...began with an aerial bombardment of Beirut on June 4th and 5th, 1982...Israeli forces launched a massive land, sea and air offensive of Lebanon which resulted in the occupation of a third of the country...destruction of Syrian missile batteries in the Bekaa Valley; the elimination of over one-quarter of the Syrian airforce, and the destruction of all the political, social and military organizations of the PLO. The invasion included a seige...of Beirut. The campaign lasted 67 days... The United States was virtually the only nation in the world that did not issue a statement criticizing the invasion."
In the prolonged negotiations that followed, PLO officials and other Palestinian refugees were evacuated by ship to Tunmis and other Arab countries. Some of their families, who were to follow and who were promised safe-keeping by the U.S. were then massacred by the Phalanges forces under Israeli orders. Over 1,000 women, children and old men were thus butchered in the Sabra and Shatila refugee centers. Israel's General Sharon, strongly criticized for this mayhem (thousands of Israelis marched in the streets), and eventually by his own government, was relieved of his command but rewarded by a cabinet post in the Knesset. This 1982 Lebanese War which killed some 30,000 civilians, devastated Beirut where over 500,000 were driven from their homes. As those who had not been killed by Israel's "cluster bombs" fled to surrounding villages. President Reagan's USS New Jersey sitting offshore, fired shells into these towns. Beirut today is still in the process of rebuilding as Israeli planes are again repeating the destruction. The U.S. involvement in Israel's 1982 war destroyed what little credibility we had in the Mideast, cost our taxpayers billions plus almost 300 U.S. Marine lives, but left Israel still occupying southern Lebanon despite the UN Security Council directive to get out.
In 1993 Israel once more devastated southern Lebanon. "After Israeli air raids, smashing thousands of houses, had killed over 100 civilians and sent 300,000 fleeing north," a tacit agreement was reached wherein Hezbulla could fire rockets into Israel only if Israelis or their mercenary SLA forces attacked civilians. Israel broke the agreement July 9th, wounding a whole family and killing two teenagers with anti-personnel shells from a tank. Things then remained reasonably quiet along the Israeli-Lebanese border until the present hostilities which are now in their sixth day.
Americans need to understand that the much-vilified Hezbulla organization was formed in 1982 after that terribly destructive invasion, specifically to protect southern Lebanon from further acts of Israeli violence. Iran was party to its formation and has maintained some degree of support as has Syria's Assad, which is one reason our Israeli lobby in Washington has pressed Congress to isolate Iran and vilify Syria. It really makes little difference who supports Hezbulla. Israel's smoke and mirrors campaign to vilify the two Muslim countries and their leaders is intended to distract the world's attention from her intent to continue the economic destruction of Lebanon as well as to steal vital irrigation waters from the Litani River. Most Mideast authorities agree the Lebanese will need Hezbulla's support until Israel troops have left the country. After all, our own colonial rebels were happy to receive help from France back in the Revolutionary War days.
The U.S. State Department, however, which has sided through the years with Israel whether she was right or wrong, while advertising itself as a "honest broker," is presently calling on the Syrians and Lebanese to "disarm the Hezbulla." Our American Ambassador in Beirut, Richard Jones, "listed several demands that essentially reflected the Israeli position. These included an end to Katyusha rocket attacks on northern Israel and Lebanese guarantees for the security of the region; the disarming of the Hezbulla and a cessation of guerilla attacks against Israeli soldiers inside the nine-mile "security zone"...and a Syrian guarantee for the agreement."
Neither the Lebanese nor Syria nor the Hezbulla forces are likely to accept this offer. In the first place, according to the Geneva Conventions which Israel signed along with 140 other countries, Lebanon has a perfect right to attack a foreign army [Israel's] occupying her soil with any means at her disposal." It is Israel, not the Lebanese that are at fault as the UN has said to Tel Aviv many times. Just a sour American patriotic forces would have been fools to have disarmed until old George III gave the Colonies their liberty, the Hezbulla, a volunteer force created for similar reasons is not going to disarm until Israel is out of Lebanon.
Just how much political coin President Peres stands to gain from his present Lebanon Campaign is anyone's guess. "Hanging tough" as if to shoulder the military cloak of the murdered Rabin, while appearing to meet the challenges of Netanyahu and the Likud Party is a dangerous game. Many Israelis, remembering the tragic outcome of their '82 Invasion are already critical of Peres' action. The April 18th massacre will create worldwide pressure on the Security Council to respond, George McGovern, former United States Senator, in a letter to the New York Times April 17th perhaps said it best: "I urge him [Peres] to take whatever political risk is involved in placing his ideals and the principles of his nation above lesser political concerns. There are some things worse than losing an election. One is killing innocent children and destroying their home."
Hopefully, some of these truths will come home to Washington before more Lebanese blood is shed, and the chance for a true Mideast peace fades again into the distance.