Saturday, May 17, 2008

What Doha should really be about

Now with Hezbollah showing its true colors by having raised its arms against fellow Lebanese despite repeated promises to the opposite, that has left many convinced that its role as Resistance has come to an end, it’s time to talk about the last remaining political taboo in Lebanon: peace with Israel.

For some odd reason, the mere topic alone triggers a strong Pavlov reaction among certain Lebanese who simply refuse to even think about it. Peace with Israel is the unthinkable, unspeakable topic one should never ever bring up. Well, for those readers still with me, here are the arguments.

If Hezbollah would truly care about the wellbeing of the Shiite population, having peaceful, open borders with our southern neighbor is a no-brainer. It will stimulate trade, would offer job opportunities and many villagers would be able to make a nice living out of tourism: the south of Lebanon is among the most beautiful regions.

Consider me a hopeless romantic, but if anyone really wants to feel how the earth must have been when Jesus (or Mohammad for that matter) was walking it, the south of Lebanon still offers that unique feeling. Opening up the borders with Israel would attract many tourists who’d like to visit the places of miracles in Lebanon: Qana where Jesus turned water into wine and Jiyeh where Jonah was spit out by the whale.

It’s an illusion to think the old adagio “War is good for business” holds any truth, except for those in the weapons industry. Peace would be good for all other sectors of Lebanon. The Palestinian areas are a good example of the relationship between peace and economic prosperity: the Palestinians had it the best (all relative, of course) when violence was absent and had it the worst when violence peaked.

A second argument is the obvious exception Lebanon occupies right now with respect to Israel’s borders: all other neighbors have made official peace or a de facto peace, like Syria which border with Israel is among the most peaceful in the Middle East. There is no reason why Lebanon should carry the full burden of the Arabs, often token, aggression towards Israel. Go anytime to the Gate of Fatme (the closest point to the border of Israel) and watch the Arab tourists throwing stones at Israel while their family is busy taking pictures of 'hero dad' to realize how empty the idea of Resistance has become.

The third argument would be Hezbollah’s attitude: what have they done ever since the withdrawal of Israel in May 2000 to fight Israel? Pretty much nothing, a conclusion that’s confirmed by Hezbollah’s disastrous actions in July 2006 which has hardly hurt Israel but has brought plenty of havoc to Lebanon.

The most concrete results of Hezbollah continuing “resistance” was the release of a large number of their prisoners a few years back. Certainly, this was an achievement worth celebrating, but wouldn’t such talks be much easier among friends?

But what about the Shebaa Farms? Ah yeah, the Shebaa Farms: supposedly property of Syria but donated to Lebanon so it could continue pressuring Israel. Talk about a poisoned pill. Despite many requests, Syria has never officially confirmed it has donated the Farms to Lebanon, reason for Israel to consider the area officially Syrian. So why should Hezbollah hold all of Lebanon hostage over a gift Lebanon has not officially gotten? If anything, place the Farms under UN mandate, like Sinioria has proposed after the July War.

In conclusion, given that all Arab states are quite careful to avoid attacking Israel, realizing that Lebanon is the odd one and knowing that peace with Israel will bring wealth and prosperity to the Shiite population in the South, the Doha Talks will best be used to convince Hezbollah that its role of Resistance is highly counterproductive for its own people and should be ended.

It’s easy to dismiss this article as written by a foreigner who has no clue as to the true emotions connected with this topic. True, I am a foreigner and most certainly, I am missing out on a lot of emotions. And that, actually, might be a good thing when it comes to this highly controversial topic. Isn’t it time to let go of decades old emotions and evaluate the case by its merits?


R said...

your arguments would make sense in a region where sense and reason had a place in the discourse, let alone the negotiation table. What is worse is that the particular party that has hegemony over the Shia representation is ideologically bent not only on "resistance" to Israel but perpetual war with it. Moreover, being an ideologically radical Islamic party, its hidden objective has always been, is, and will always be the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon. What we are seeing now, and what we saw in 2006 is the surfacing of the contradictions between Hizbulla and the rest of Lebanon on one hand, and between Hizbulla and the realities on the ground on Lebanon's southern border. With the Syrians no longer here to bend arms and control the political landscape, this was bound to happen and will continue to happen until a new stable equilibreum is reached....

Anonymous said...

How do you convince a baker to give up making bread?

The problem is that the only perspective that matters on the ground is the perspective of the military organization ... and military organizations want to do military work. How can peace keep them in business?

Mind you, that is the reason we will always have shit around. The military industry everywhere has one and one goal only. Self interest, to stay in business.

So while your arguments make perfect sense from a civilian perspective, what the military sees in your points is military suicide. Wish they could turn their suicdal powers to kill off a military mentality.

Anonymous said...

syria HAS said that sheeba is lebanese. and so has the UN in a report last summer. and hezbollah has suggested that when sheeba is returned to lebanon, the resistance might be incorporated into the army.

Lalebanessa said...

"...Jiyeh where Jonah was spit out by the whale"
that's the first time I've heard of that one!
Did you know St.George slayed his first dragon in Beirut?

R said...

"hezbollah has suggested that when sheeba is returned to lebanon, the resistance might be incorporated into the army"

Right, they also suggested that pigs might fly and hell might freeze over.

pascat said...

Mabrook Libnan! Looks like a deal is in the works!